Sunday, 31 October 2010

October 2010

Our last day in September was spent travelling to Naples for the winter and what a rotten journey it was.  Thanks to the usual one and a half hours getting through Immigration in Atlanta (no, I'm not exaggerating) we missed our connection.  We then became 33rd on the standby list for the next plane half an hour later.  Clearly this was totally unrealistic as all the flights were fully booked for that day.  We booked seats on the 8.30 am the next day as it still had space.  Delta weren't liable to give us a hotel room as their flight had been on time and it was Immigration's fault we'd missed our connection.  Great!  Just by pure luck we had a one day pass to the Delta Sky Lounge (where the rich folk wait!).  I asked if the girl on their desk could do anything for us.  She got us to 3rd place on the standby list for the last plane out at 8.30 pm.  We spent a comfy couple of hours in the lounge eating nibbles and surfing the web and joined the frazzled backed up queue for the last plane.  Even at 3rd on standby we were the last to get a seat just as it started to board!  Talk about skin of our teeth.  All this meant we arrived in Naples very late and very tired.

Day one is always taken up with just putting the condo to rights.  We weathered the heart-stopping ''Will the car start?" performance - Bingo - first time.  To compensate for this we discovered one toilet and the dishwasher were kaput.  That's OK until day two when we discovered the washing machine was also kaput.  Over here we have a repairs insurance for all our white goods and more importantly (and more expensively) the air conditioning system.  We seem to pretty much get our money back each year!  They also come out very quickly.

The repair man duly arrived and jiggled something in the dishwasher and hey presto it was fixed, but he then suggested the washing machine was past its sell by date and to expensive to repair and if they came next time and it was not repairable that would be it.  They would give us half the price of a new one which is what it would cost them to repair this one. Off we toddled to Home depot for a machine.  Ken repaired the toilet and then discovered the garage door opener's remote receiver had somehow been fried - possibly one of the summer storms.  That worked out cheaper to buy a whole new system ($139) than get a repairman and the parts to fix it.  So clever clogs Ken switched old for new.  So far a few hundred dollars poorer and a lot of frustration.

So all of you out there thinking we have a great life in the sun - think again - two homes just means the potential for double the trouble.

Within a couple of days we had driven nearly three hours to our nearest Ikea store.  I was hunting up all sorts of stuff for the house.  We had switched beds around a couple of days before we left last year and that meant new drapes, lamps and things.  Totally wasted trip - didn't buy a thing!

 All of the above is pretty much how we spent the rest of the month interspersed with with finishing knitting a jacket, a hat and a teddy for Lucy and making the cutest little (well big actually) felt shoes.  

Our only fun outing pretty much, other than the usual meals out, was the strangest film (our freebie Library series) 'Nine'.  This is a remake of Nine and a Half, which I vaguely remembered as being good back in the olden days.  It had a hugely talented cast all acting their socks off and producing very little. It also succeeded in being a musical with not a single song to remember. That said, seeing one of my 'heart throbs' (Daniel Day-Lewis) dancing his little socks off was probably reward enough; not to mention Dame Judy Dench in tights and whip!

I had a great time trawling every second hand shop in Naples for two pairs of lamps which were very cheap $4 one pair and $12 the other pair.  Now all I had to do was spend an arm and a leg on lampshades, new angels, finials and even paint for one of the pairs.  Mmmmm possibly cheaper to buy new?  But not half as much fun as thinking  how clever you are saving money.

We also ordered (and Ken built) a pair of matching new computer and, in my case, sewing desks/tables with drawers.  They are spiffing.  They fold down to nothing and will be easily transported on their six little wheels to our bedroom when we have guests .  Meanwhile they look jolly nice in the guest bedroom.

The most painful thing was replacing the perfectly functional, as Ken kept reminding me, vertical blinds with curtains for the sitting room.  First of all can you believe that it was far cheaper to buy Martha Stewart already made up ones than to buy the fabric by the yard - less than half the price.  So I began by dismantling Ms Stewart's hard work and joining up two by two and a half eight foot lengths to cover a twelve foot width; not an easy quantity to handle. 

All the fabric shops which sell stuff for curtains don't sell the things to make them with!!!  Deadly seriously the internet and everyone I asked in various stores and designer shops agreed the only place in Naples which sells header tape is Joanne fabrics.  I bought what looked 8 yards of OK tape even though not like the one I'm used to in the UK and proceeded to sew it on to two twelve foot curtains. When I drew it up discovered that this 1" translucent for sheers tape drew the curtains up into pinch pleats.  Heaven knows why; it looked weird and now wouldn't fit the space!!!!  I unpicked all that, cried over the wasted money and trawled the web.  I  spotted a 1'' shirring curtain tape and set off again for Joanne's.  They had a space where it should be - a hunt then ensued (three staff and Ken) as they couldn't find their roll which according to the stock checker machine had 30 yards on it.  Could I ring the next day?  Did just that - no we can't find it but we have ordered some more.  Meanwhile they have some in Town Center shops (about a forty minute drive); or the machine said they did.  Later that day, undecided, we went round the corner to Wal-Mart for a boredom trawl and bingo there was the exact same product and for half the price!!!!  Smiles all round.  More money spent.

Got back and I picked up the curtains ready to sew this on and thought maybe I'd better do a double-check.  I had looked at how it pulled up in the shop and it was OK.  Yes it shirred OK but there were no pockets to put the hooks through and no exposed strings - they simply ran through two woven channels in the tape fabric.  I now had two lots of useless tape and the blinds taken down and stored in  the garage and no way of getting what I needed.

How can two English speaking countries be so different.

Back to the internet - found some I could buy by the yard (generally you have to buy whole rolls $30 -$50).  It had a poor picture and I still wasn't sure it was OK.  It cost me $7.60 to buy and $7.95 for shipping!!!  An English site sold what I wanted for 20 pence a yard but they wouldn't ship to the States.  Worse than that I have yards and yards of the stuff in my sewing box back home.  I once bought in bulk as I generally make all my curtains.

The third and final tape arrived within the week and did the job - but that was on November 6th, which has another story attached to it.