Kitchen Sink Drama

I’m a firm believer that when you move house rather than change everything at once, it can often benefit you to live in the space for a while and see what works and what doesn’t work for you. When we purchased our house in Abruzzo, it came with several unique things. A lavatory in the living room opposite an old television set – handy if you don’t want to miss an episode of your favourite show. A bathroom downstairs that had everything apart from a lavatory. A desiccated grasshopper in the shutters and an old outside sink.

A lot of Italian houses have these ugly concrete sinks complete with washboard under an outside tap. Now part of me would like to think that this was the family sink for washing dishes, cleaning clothes and possibly baby bathing. But maybe that’s too romantic a notion. Maybe the outside tap was the family’s only water source many years ago, but back then I guess it would be buckets that were filled and later, possibly 1950’s, the invention of the ghastly concrete sink was the mod-con every rustic cottage wanted.

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They really are rather unattractive objects and our first thought was to remove it and once smashed to smithereens it would become part of the hard core in the new downstairs floors.

However we never did get around to doing this as our sole water supply at the start of the restoration was the outside tap and it made sense to retain the sink until it became obsolete.

Unlike my neighbour (see photo) ours didn’t have the horrible tiles and lumpy feet so aesthetically it was more pleasing on the eye. (But not much).

Over the coming months people commented on how the sink remained and how they’d removed theirs. We nodded and did mention that we’d be doing the same once we had a fully functioning kitchen sink.

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However over the coming months the sink proved itself; you could say it became worth its weight in concrete. I even grew to like the thing, especially its chipped edge and its two balletic legs, displayed at an angle.

It is possibly one of the most useful things we have inherited with the house, it’s great for washing vegetables from the orto saving splashing the kitchen tiles with mud. On passata making days, it’s great for washing large tomato stained saucepans and the washboard is good on sunny days for drying the pots and pans.

It’s also good for using as a cold frame for hardening off tender plants. In fact ours did spend one year as a planter, it looked very nice with geraniums and summer bedding flowing over the edges: But pretty gave way to functionality and after the summer was over it was consigned once again to proper usage.

But how things change – we often have people say to us that they wish they’d kept their old sink as they now find they have need for it, and I know of one person who after smashing up one has since paid to have another one installed.

It just goes to show, that you’re better off living with things before making snap decisions. My outdoor sink is still ugly but I wouldn’t be without it.

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More Signs

Welcome to 2014, to start off, here’s another selection of signs I’ve spotted recently.The first was on a water fountain where you bring a bottle and for five-cents you can get ice cold mineral water, still or sparkling. This fountain in town claims to have happy water, although what unhappy or downright miserable water is like I don’t have a clue.

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My second sign is from a signpost at the beach at Ortona Port, I love the idea of people choosing holiday destinations that care for their ‘environmental’ or could that be mental environment? while enjoying the ‘nature’ of their beach: there’s a beach not far away where they literally enjoy the nature, or rather it’s often inundated with naturists.

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In town a new American diner has opened and they’ve erected an enormous menu board outside, here’s a selection of their fare. Peppers or poppers, that could have caused a few problems back in those eighties high-energy discos, lots of moustachioed men sniffing peppers as they dance.

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Have a splendid 2014 everyone.

Now you see it… Now you still see it

I can pretty much cope with anything, I believe I’m able to adjust to most things and I think it’s these traits that have enabled me to settle in another country. Here in Italy you have to be adaptable, one day the road may be closed without notice for a cycle race, the electricity may be turned of for an hour or so and during really hot weather the water supply may be restricted. These things might appear to others as inconveniences, and I’m sure people would be up in arms in England if they woke to find their water supply turned off just to conserve water: It’s the Italian equivalent of the ‘hose-pipe ban’.

I’ve actually found this relaxed attitude has helped my OCD to settle down. Okay so I still only write my notes with a Steadtler pencil and have different types of cutlery for different types of meals, but other unfathomable traits have disappeared, I no longer have my shoe episodes, and recently I measured the wall for our wall lights, they were fitted yesterday and they are not level, in fact one is a tad wonky too. Months ago this would have been a major issue for me, so my partner was surprised when the builder asked me if he should reposition them and my response was, “Nah, they’re okay. Niente problemo.”

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Since moving here I think I’ve coped with Italy’s foibles quite well. My neighbour at the top of the lane had a tin shed, now despite it being an eyesore, it never really bothered me, that was until today.  The council have sent some workmen to clean our road, they’re digging up the potholes and making good the surface, following on from the major resurfacing further down I imagine. There’s been a couple of men with hedge cutters and strimmers tidying up the vegetation and we’ve even had a vehicle that can only be described as a giant vacuum cleaner on wheels, drive along slowly sucking up the environmental detritus.

SO I pop to the shop, remembering to get there while its quiet, as it’s bonkers around 4pm. I’m driving down our newly cleaned road with, Melanie Fiona singing Running on the iPod, enjoying the breeze sucked into the car through the open windows. I make my purchases and return to discover the unsightly shed has gone. At first I’m a tad confused almost driving past the turn to our house. I get out of my car and my neighbour tells me one of the council workers has removed it with a JCB digger. At first I think well the lane will look better now, maybe the space will be good for more parking, maybe… Then I spot where the shed has been removed to, a short way down my road and it now sits perched upon a derelict house. A few expletives issue forth and as the JCB driver returns he’s faced with an irate Englishman. He looks at me, wondering why I’m upset, our builder wades in and explains to him that he’s just dumped it on private property, as the land belongs to another neighbour. I mention the Forestale (environmental police) and still he can’t see what the problem is.

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So every morning I shall be greeted to the rusting heap of metal as usual, only now it’s closer to my house. I failed to see the irony when a passing Romanian asked me it we had any scrap metal.

I imagine there’ll be several phone calls to the council over the next few days.