Contadina's Blog

Living the contadini life among the olive groves

Portafortuna December 31, 2010

Filed under: diy — contadina @ 12:21 pm

With the end of year fast approaching, it’s time to take stock and look forward to the next one. I don’t know about you but 2010, as a number, has never really stuck for me, so I’m rather hoping that 2011 will quickly become firmly embedded in my mind and become a year to remember.

Our major achievement of the year was getting double-glazed doors made for the kitchen. To get new doors meant we had to remove the old rusty metal garage doors and Jeremy had to build a new wall to fit the new doors.

Can you guess what it is yet?

We knew timing would be crucial, so spent a lot of time liaising with Pablo, the carpenter who was making them for us. What neither he, nor we planned for however was a problem elsewhere within the supply chain and a hold-up at the glaziers meant we had a gapping hole for three weeks. Getting new doors at the start of August. What were we thinking?

The light and insulation the new doors provide has made a huge difference in both summer and winter. The old garage doors were too hot to touch and turned the kitchen into a furnace, and that’s before the pizza dragon arrived. As a sign of their effectiveness the kitchen floor has become the favoured place for the dogs to find respite from soaring temperatures during the summer.

Since knocking a doorway through to the living room the cold from the kitchen was not something we wanted to experience for a second year in a row. Now, whether we’ve lit the range-style cooker in the kitchen or the wood burner in the living room, the warmth spreads through to both rooms.

It took a while but was worth the wait

As a stop-gap measure to improve the insulation of the rest of the doors and windows Jeremy finished adding panels of wood and insulation sheets to each one and I’ve hung some lined curtains.

We’re hoping to change a few windows this year, which should be a breeze as they’ll be the same size as the old ones. We also need to change the front room door (these metal doors with shutters are great for security but provide no insulation and they are brutal looking) but as wood is really expensive in Italy it will have to wait a while.  As it is, paying for the new kitchen doors meant we had to shelve many of the other plans we had for the year.

So looking forward to next year; in a few days time Jeremy’s going to begin repairing the stone walls at the front, add some fencing and some wombled gates. This is going to be an ongoing task, as we need to secure our land before we can ever think about getting livestock. We had hoped to just fence off small areas for livestock but wild dogs are too big a problem and we’re always worried about our own dogs being poisoned as far too many contadini spray weed-killers, so we’ve decided to enclose it all. After much searching we found someone who is willing to assist with the first section as every other muratore or stonewaller only build new rather than repair existing walls. If anyone wants to lend a hand dry stone walling before liming at da beach let us know.

A before shot of our neglected walls

Outstanding projects include building a pergola, a poly-tunnel and a rustic retreat (for me to write in when we have guests and to house HelpXchangers during the olive harvest).

We had some wonderful HelpXchangers last year and look forward to hosting more from April-onwards. Big thanks for all your help, good company and laughter to (in order of appearance) Richard, Matthias and Tanja, Chiahui, Andria and Chelsea and Silv and Steve. I wish them and you all a very happy New Year.


7 Responses to “Portafortuna”

  1. Laura : ) Says:

    Happy New Year guys!!! Gosh this is a nice change from a facebook! ; ) Good to hear you and dogs are all keeping well. I am just back from Valentia Is to see my Dad for Christmas. His wife gave me a pair of gloves crocheted by your friend Rosemary! They are v nice blue stripy ones : ) Hope you enjoy whatever you do tonight and best wishes for 2011 xxxx


    • contadina Says:

      Thanks Laura. I’m surprised you didn’t extend your trip to take in the lawnmower race !! We’re probably going to cook up a feast tonight and then go into town. Cirque du Soleil are, allegedly, performing in the main piazza. Have yourself a wonderful time tonight.xx

  2. Oohh new doors – such luxury!

    Enjoy your feast, and whatever the circus turns out to be! Kevin and I wish you both and your canine family, a very happy and fulfilling 2011!

    N xx

  3. doors are looking great………don’t laugh, I thought the cement mixer was a pushchair for a minute, lol.
    Well done Jeremy : )

    • contadina Says:

      Funny you should say that Julie, a neighbour uses an old wheelbarrow (with planks and minus the barrow bit) to wheel her beautiful baby boy round to visit us as the lanes are too wobbly for regular pushchairs 🙂

  4. Mike Says:

    Your doors look amazing, such fine workmanship on both the frame and the doors…very nice. I look forward to hearing more about your future endevours in regards to the outstanding projects. Happy New Year.

    • contadina Says:

      Thanks Mike and warm wishes to you too. We’ll be starting on the front wall this morning. It’s -4 at the moment and I reckon lugging rocks around should soon warm us up 🙂

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