First Day in France
Moving South
Vienne and Vinsorbes
Dutch Campground
First Days in Italy
Montelcino Antonio
First Days-South Italy
First Days-Giovinazzo
Living in Giovinazzo
Picking Olives
Outings and School
Rosa's show
Hols & New Yr
Back to School
Croatia-Plitvika, Krk, Cres
St. Pierre
Camping on the Med
Eli's Diary
Rosa's Diary


March 2005 - Engine work, Communal oven, Party, Goodbyes

Mothers' Day

Mike & William getting the engine in

Mike's treehouse

Bread from the communal oven (5.7 meg movie)



Tues 1st March

We are getting a routine again, Early morning tai chi Mike has started to join me as he is feeling tense about all the things coming up. Then I go for a walk with Chantelle. This morning it is freezing and their are flurries of snow.  This doesn't deter Irish and Swiss girls but few others are out. We collect laundry from William. Their tiny flat is always warm and cozy due to its lack of windows and the bakery next door. At home ours is harder to heat so we wear a lot of jumpers. Mike goes to  Lorella's to do more computer internet stuff.  He brings the guys home and we have a veggie curry and rice inspired by the weather and pompodoums from Chantelle. Its a nice change from pasta and Eli and Rosa like it.  William drops in later for tea and the kids are delighted.  He is very like certain male cousins and uncles as they climb on him. Sammy gets his knee this time and he patiently listens to Spiderman stories. After he leaves, Mike goes out with Finn and Rosa for a bit of shopping and Cal finally performs.  She is fully recovered now, much to our relief.  I get a little computer time as I am trying to get more articles out before we leave. I have had one published in issue 10 of the WOOFer newsletter.

Wed 2nd March

It's still freezing and Mike goes off to work at the Massera.  When the sun is up it is warm later and I take the kids to the park after school. After that I bath the boys in the blue tub and we all sit and draw after diner. I tell the kids about "Pointilist" painters and they do their own versions. They are all asleep when Mike gets in.

Thurs 3rd March

The sun is warming things up this morning and I call for Chantelle for a walk but she is going to Bari with Toni for errands.  I walk them to the bus stop and wait with them for a bit. It's late.  I get a call from Shannon and walk to meet her and Katie in the pouch, and we wander about doing her errands until Nicole calls looking for car keys. We meet up with him for a coffee, Italian style. That is pop in and stand at a counter and down a coffee in a few minutes.  My tea takes longer. Nicole heads to work and we go for a sea side walk. I want to introduce Shannon to William and Jane so we stop in when I see the car. They can get together to chat about writing some time. Shannon is a successful romantic thriller author and William is hopefully an up and coming crime/thriller writter.  Later I meet Mike at Lorella's and do some internet looking up environmental stuff- Eli wants me to give his school some materials to help combat littering (I find a great sight on the impact of litter on marine life in the med), Campsites in croatia - some do open all year,  and other bits.  I chat to Lorella as I'm there when she gets home and then go and join Mike for a  picnic port. We go home when the wind picks up and chat about our future plans once back in Ireland again :) Chantelle calls in later and I go to her house do internet searches for her. Its been a computer day. Eli and Rosa come too and on the way home we stop into a pizza place and try out a fried food popular here. I think its called Arangini:  a ball of rice with tomato, and cheese deep fried. The are good. We bump into Maria Grazie and her sister Anna and invite them to our party we have finally picked a date for it.  The 12th. 

Friday, 4th March

As expected there is no engine today, but it has arrived in Milan from the UK and may be here Monday.  I spend a while getting the journal up to date as Mike has organized new web hosting so we have more space and can get photos on again which will be great. Sammy has another blue tub bath as we hadn't got to his hair. I told him the other day he looked like a scarecrow and he would let me go near his hair for days as he was delighted with the idea of scaring birds.


Saturday 5th March

It was a later night than usual last night due to two movies, but the small boys woke me at 5.30 anyway.  Sammy climbs in to get warm and Finn wakes then anyway.  Usually Mike gets up at 6.30 with them and I get to go back to sleep which helps my sanity, but this morning the phone goes at 7a.m. It is Dominico; a worker has cancelled and he needs Mike to come and plant almond trees. He said he'd be here in half an hour so I get up and shower to wake me up enough to take all the guys out to drop Eli and Rosa to school. Just before it is time to go Dominico rings and cancels due to rain.  We make us of our morning by begining to sort and minimise all our clothes.  Later I go and have tea at Lorella's and she rings her travel agent for me to sort ferries. It turns out there is one sailing a week at this time of year on a Wed. So if the engine arrives and all is well we will go on the 16th.  I spend some time looking at campsites, and by then it is time to get the guys and go home for lunch. After lunch Mike goes to help Chantelle with computer things. She has invited us to join her later for supper. I spend more time sorting. This time its art and it is a pretty big job as Rosa especially is always prolific.  When we are done, we go to the playground. On the way the kids notice that the fountain in the big Piazza is off so we detour because they want to run arround its low wall.  I hold Finn's hand but am scolded by a man for letting Sammy run around himself. He goes of and exclaims to others when I ignore him. Locals really think our style of parenting- natural consequences, where not dangerous- is more like the worse neglect they have ever seen.  I make a speedy exit for the park.  We are regularly scolded there because my guys climb on top of small play houses and such. Rain threatens so we go to Chantelle's. The kids watch some videos and Mike and Chantelle sit at adjacent laptops and play with a new photo sorting program.  We have some pasta and I do some sewing, repairing bits before we travel, and by then it is late so its home to put the gang to bed. 

Sunday 6th March

Amazingly nearly every Sunday is sunny and we wake to sunlight streaming in the appartment windows. It has moved further and further round until it hits the balcony first thing in the morning. This morning I have had the longest lie in and when I wake the kids bring me a tray with tea, poptarts and mother's day cards. Its lovely. We hang out for a while but the sun is inviting so we get ready and go to the park and playground.  Everyone else in Giovinazzo has had the same idea and the park and piazza are full of strolling folk.  We stay for ages and meet kids from the school and Maria Grazie and her nephew.  We eventually go home our own piazza is lively too but the fresh air has given us a big appetite so we go in for an early lunch.  In the afternoon I have a siesta and Mike does a few jobs in preparation for leaving. The kids just hang out and play.  Later they watch the same Tango movie we watched on Frid on loan from William and Jane.  Chantelle drops in for a min to give us bits we left at her house and we have diner early too.  I finish reading William's as yet unpublished novel. It is great and I look forward to telling him so.

Monday 7th March

The rain came back last night but it is starting to clear this morning. Mike get the kids off to school and I go for a walk. I drop in to William and Jane to give them back stuff and borrow a scarf as the wind is cold again. While I'm walking Mike phones to tell me the engine has arrived.  I go back to William for a cuppa and have a great chat about his novel.  Mike has managed to put the engine in the van for now as its still showery and cold. He goes to do internet stuff and I hang out with the boys and start sorting my desk too. Finn has a long sleep. The guys get back and make cards for Sorcha's birthday which we need to get in the post asap. I have a nap after lunch and then take Eli and Finn shopping with me since neither of them are going to be tired for a while.  We get a few bits and drop in on Shannon and baby Katie for a wee bit. By the time we get home it is 9pm but Mike and the rest are asleep!

Tuesday 8th March

It is nice and sunny this am so it is up and at 'm with the engine sitting waiting.  I get the kids to school and Mike goes to it. I stop in to tell Rosa's teachers the kids will finish school on Saturday they and I are very sad about her leaving.  A child gives her and then me some Mimosa blossom as it is womens day and I see bouquets being delivered all morning with all manner of yellow flowers but always with some Mimosa. I do some party shopping with the boys.   Although it goes against our environmental grain we are going to have to use plastic plates as everyone does here, but at least they are dirt cheap.  When I get back Mike is dug in although there is a part, the oil filter that has arrived dinted but he has already spoken to the company and there will be a replacement here tomorrow, by courier.  There is plenty more to do. I clean up inside all morning and then go for the guys.  The kids are all very excited about the new engine and watch Mike for a while. We have a late lunch and I let Eli and Sammy work on the computer while I write some letters and assemble packages.  William comes over to help Mike with some lifting and to keep him company which I know Mike is very pleased to have. He's doing very well but being a VW novice, and taking great care he won't be wining any speedy engine in and out competitions.  Eventually he has to stop and come in for a break before diner. I go out because of it being womens day or Festa Della Donna with Chantelle, Maria (Toni's mother) and Shannon. We go to the creperie restaurant for desert, and I learn that the day here is a particular commemoration of a tragedy from 100years ago in New York when 100 women workers were killed in a fire in a warehouse. The doors had been lock to prevent anyone skiving off and they couldn't get out. Many were Italian. Shannon gets a call to go back to her baby before her crepe arrives so we have ours and chat for a while, mostly in Italian.  Shannon never reappears so we get her a carryout crepe and go  drop it in on the way home.

Wednesday, 9th March

We are up again to sunshine and this time Mike drops the kids to school and goes to Lorella's to follow up on the missing part and check answers to some of his queries re the engine. When he gets back I take the boys to the park which is full of children. My boys attract lots of attention for their picnic and their blonde hair as usual but today especially for their sandles with no socks!  The other kids still have hats on despite attempts to the contrary. We meet a nice young Swedish women with two kids. She is married to an Italian and I tell her about Shannon and Chantelle and she is very keen to meet up with them so I give her phone no's etc.  We go back and just hang out in our piazza watching Mike and the boys play with their knights stuff. Shannon and Nicola drop by for a bit Katie and later William and Jane pass. Everyone is interested in Mikes progress.  Later I go to get the kids and when I get back the oil cooler part thingy has arrived. After lunch Mike works on all day til near dark apart from a run to shops for bits and pieces.  He take a while working out all the metal shrouding and exhaust bits but I think he'll write it all up for anyone who's interested.  When he come in I pop out for an hours break passing by Shannon with a message and going to the supermarket. I meet Maria and she helps me order meat for the Irish Stew I plan to make for the party. I get back and the kids are watching a movie but are soon to bed when it finishes. I have a quick list making time trying to keep ahead of all that's to be done.


Thursday 10th March

We woke up to what looked like a dull day but half an hour later I saw a flash of lightening and we all jumped when really loud thunder followed straight after. After the storm the sky cleared and it was beatiful. Mike was keen for an early start so we got up and out and he started at the van. I stopped into Lorella's with the boys. She hadn't to go to school until 9.30 so we had a chat and I checked emails for Mike on engine queries from the engine company. I got home and had a quick sit in the sun on the balcony before Chantelle arrived. Sammy stayed with Mike and we set off to do errands all morning splitting up at one point. I went to say goodbye to the Pepino and Luigi the first people I met in Giovinazzo a postman and cheese seller. I had fun chatting and realizing how much Italian I have managed to learn since those early days even if it is bad I can communicate pretty well. They were really nice and sweet about us going. I have to drop into Luigi for ricotta in the morning as he hadn't enough for my Lasagne. I met up with Chantelle and we walked back to drop off stuff at home. Then Maria joined us to show me where the communial oven I heard about months ago is. I am finally going to use it for the lasagne for the party.  It is just in a little doorway that I would never have know was there.  They had trays of torelli (little crusty bread twists a bit like pretzels) sitting on shelves and I looked into the huge wood oven with Sammy and Finn. It is a large arch of bricks with a flat base and an open fire going in one side. Really cool. Everyone says the flavour from the wood is great.  We'll see. I drop back home again for a picnic and go and get the guys at school. To much amusement I take off my jumper as all the running about has me too hot. The rest of the people at the school are in quilt coats, scarves and hats.  Even the little dogs have coats. I watched one have a coat fitting in the pet shop the other day and tried not to giggle. We head to the playground, deserted as usual at this time of day-2pm, and the kids let off steam. When we get home Mike is nearly ready to have William come over to lift the engine in. I get the kids in front of a movie when he comes in case I'm needed. They do call at the critical part of lining up the studs for the transmission and we all manover and fiddle together to get it on.  As we are doing this the beautiful weather disappears and another thunderstorm arrives but this time with freezing hail. We get it secure and get indoors for tea to warm up, Mike is freezing and has a shower, William goes home for one but comes back with oven chips which he has cooked and rushed over while I make a garlic sauce. We have a nice tea together and the kids are delighted. William goes off to teach at work and we get the kids off to bed. We are all wrecked. 

Friday 11th March

Up early still sunny. Mike takes Finn with him when he dropped off the guys to school and then to Lorella's for computer time. Sammy and I get out too but stop off at Toni's for a croissant to fortify us for errands. We go pick up the ricotta from my friendly Latteria and he is a bit down in the mother because he says his mother is depressed. I think get the whole story because yesterday I told him I was a psychotherapist.  We part and go get the lamb, and then go back and meet up with Mike. He stays with the little guys while I get more stuff for the party and I indulge in buying a sampling of savories from the bakery for supper. We have been restrained until now.  My arms are an inch longer when I get back from carrying heavy apples and other groceries. I keep meeting parents of kids in the school who haven't spoken to me before but who are all saying their child knows Rosa and is sad she is going.  When I get back Mike starts on the car and I do a bit of cooking before going with Finn, Chantelle and Maria to borrow Maria's lasagna dishes and carafes. I get the big guys and we pick up Sammy and go for early ice cream as Toni isn't working tonight. When we bring Mike back his he hops into Newbie and starts the engine! We are thrilled. It sounds great and he is really happy about it. He has some concerns about the shrouding not being great but I'll leave those details to his journal.  William drops by and congratulates him and I keep our fingers crossed that all is well. Later Mike continues tuning while Rosa and Eli make decorations, Sammy has a bath, and Finn and I start the Irish stew.  I am happy to hear Newbie purring from time to time outside and later to here him go around the piazza. Mike come in to wash up and goes with Finn and Eli to get wine and other bits He is back in time to help thorough the witching hour. I warm up all the bits from the bakery for tea. The wee guys are pretty tired and we get out our first movie in Italian. Bergini's Pinocchio. It is a little odd but the big kids manage and Rosa seems to have the best comprehension. Mike stays up to make me some tomato sauce for lasagna and I keep up the journal and finish making the lamb stew.

Saturday 12 March

Its last day for the kids at school and I go in a take photos and chat when I drop off the kids it is really great to see their progress and relationships there. We had William print up little cards with a photo of Eli and Rosa with their address on it and they hand it out. I head home because I am all a buzz with party prep. fever and hurtle about all morning getting bits and assembling lasagnes. Mike and the boys and I walk round to the communial oven (forno a'lanio??) and drop off the lasagnes. It is such a cool place and we watch the man scoot bread out from deep in the oven. Finn goes to sleep and I get a bit more done before it is time to go back to school to get the guys and drop in some sweets and things to Eli's class. Rosa's have had a party for her with lots of gifts. We hurry back so Mike can go back for the lasagnes and he dashes upstairs to get a bag and in his haste slips and bangs his head on the door giving himself a Harry Potter graze. He manages to get them and we have a quick lunch and start rearranging furniture and making our beds into couches and cleaning. Eventally Mike takes the guys to Chantells for a bath and leaves me to finish apple crumbles that Eli and Rosa have prepared the apples for and get them to Toni's for cooking later. I ask if our local shop which is also a baker can heat up the lasagnes later and go home and get myself dressed. I go meet up with Mike and the guys and Chantelle walks over with us with her dips and stuff and heads off to change.  Then there is that moment when we hope people come while we sit and wait. The first to releive us of the feeling are Shannon, Nicolaa and baby Katie. Then others start arriving, Chantelle and Toni, Luigi and the girls- Sabino and his kids, Lorella comes a bit later with Carla, and Maria Grazie and a friend drop in. Lastly Dominico, Emilia and some of their friends we met in the mountains arrive.  William, Jane and Alice Rose and Ellen and her husband come too and things start to get lively. I get Ellen to advice me on the delivery of the food so after dips and stuff we start with Lasagne, followed by nachos, salad, and lastly stew. All seems well recieved. We see a lull and Nicola, William and I decide to start the music. Shannon come in and sings with baby in sling and has an amazing voice. It is a great little session and we have a ball. Everyone enjoy it. We stop for apple crumble. William and I think we'll start up again after but it seems to signal departure for everyone else. When they are gone William, Jane and Alice Rose feel the night is young at 1.30 and as Mike is falling asleep I go on out with them fun is had more music played in the pub and on the street, hot baileys is tried and I am home at 4am.

Sunday 13th March

Needless to say I am pretty wrecked in the morning and Mike takes over and I don't surface properly til pretty late. The day is beautiful though so we do eventually get outside mid-morning and hang out in the piazza while Mike tinkers. We have a visits from one of Rosa's teachers and her daughter who is in Rosa's class and chat for a while. Our piazza is very full of kids and the Finn and Eli play ball for a while with some kids. Later a girl falls and hurts her chin and I am called apon to supply steri strips and go in with Anna to attend to her and phone her mum. Shannon, Nicola, baby and a friend drop by and then we go to look at the big piazza which is swamped with people passagaring up and down in their sunday best and in some cases fur coats my t-shirt attracts strange glances. It is a great atmosphere and fun to watch. It like a summer's day in Steven's Green, in Dublin or somewhere similar. We go to Toni and have an Ice cream and chat he and Roberto are both there and have new aprons so we have a photo shoot. We go home and indoors for a while and do a bit more sorting, and eat leftovers for lunch. Eli is delighted with the quanities of ready made food. We do some more tidying and sorting and later have a nice walk in the balmy evening through the old city and along the pier by the calm harbour. We are starting to feel nostalic all ready. I get the kids to bed and fall asleep with Finn. Mike pops over to Shannon's and gets gifts of some cd's of their music including a concert in Castle de Monte with amazing acoustics.

Monday 14th March

The day looks as promising again today as yesterday weather wise. We were up and packing and organising very early but it was already warm by 9am in the piazza. I walked round to William to drop off some laundry with Finn with both of us in t-shirts and all the women out washing balconies and steps commented adn asked were we not freezing and I gave my standard reply about it being summer for us. We had a quick cuppa with William.  When we went outside to look at his exhaust which turns out to have a big hole in it,  an old woman starts on to William about Finn being cold. He tells her about hardy Scots and Irish children meantime Finn is behind him. He is shivering and pulling miserable faces because it was roasting in William's we are standing in the cooler shade. William doesn't notice and so continues to say we are all warm while Finn makes a lier of him and the womans face remains horrified. When I get back Mike goes to Lorella's mid morning I washed the kids car seats. When he come back I bring Eli and Rosa off and we drop off bits and pieces to Toni, Lorella and Shannon and sort the ferry. It all booked for Wednesday from Bari. I talk to Toni again about a mechanic or garage to do fine tuning on the engine after family and our scotish VW relative have expressed concerns about Mike's know how for the final checks. He tells me that his partner in the ice-cream shop Roberto's father is a mechanic and a well known wiz with all kinds of cars. When I tell Mike he says that Roberto only mentioned to him the other day that he had taken and engine apart just for fun once. I will talk to him later. We all have a nice picnic using our picnic table Francesa is very impressed with it. I play with the guys while Mike sorts all his tools and fiddles with the engine. When Roberto opens up again I pop over with the little guys. He gives them tiny cones and we chat about the engine. He says his family are all in the car business and he know exactly what I am talking about when I mention the things Mike wants help with. He phones his dad and arranges for him to come by in the morning. We are hoping that due to his fathers age he may have some idea about a VW engine, although they were never popular in South Italy. Apparently he knows lots of garages here though if necessary he can recommend one. William and Jane come and get Eli and Rosa they are taking them to the english school where they teach for fun and to let their kids and teenagers here english from them. They have a great time and are home late. Chantelle calls over for a short while. We feed the big guys the wee'n are all ready asleep and later Jane, William, and Alice Rose come to finish off the stew and have some wine and chat too.

Tuesday 15th March

Woke up feeling a cold coming on or is it just allergies? Took a bit longer getting going but into sorting before long and the sun breaks through some haze mid-morning. Roberto and his dad (babo) come round and give the van a once over with Mike. They are really nice and helpful and the father tells us stories with little bits of English of his early days trying to get agencies for cars and how they repaired everything including VWs. He fiddles with timing but puts it back to where Mike had it. He was a carboreter man and fiddles with that too as he says the mix is too petrol rich but the adjustment screws are not working so it has to stay as is. He fiddles with the automatic choke Mike can tell the details but he explains how it works to Roberto. He checks a few more things and I take it for a spin and he thinks it is all fine. Mike is very pleased with the verdict although he was confident it was me who needed a bit of reassuring after the comments.  We get back to packing and Mike drives into town looking for paint and a few bits. He takes Finn and the other three play happily in the sun in the piazza while I clear the kitchen. When Mike gets back Frank appears with a huge bag of goodies for the kids for the journey. We have a picnic and then pack up and go to the Massera to collect the bikes and big tent. Its still lovely when we get there and we meet Voila again, half of the Polish couple who are staying there at the moment. The kids are really pleased to see Yippy and also the new adopted pup -Lucky, and to get to see and play in Mike's tree house. We don't stay too long though as there is too much still to do and people we want see. We get back and go straight to Lorella's. We have a nice cuppa and Mike does internet stuff. Carla drops by so I get to see her again before we head home. We get the guys some diner and then people start dropping in. Chantelle, William, Shannon come, Chantelle goes home but comes back with Toni and we have some wine and Guiness and a bit of Craic for a nice while before they all go off. My cold has come on for real so it is good to go to bed.

Wednesday 16th March

The day has come and I am not looking forward to all the goodbyes when I wake full of the cold and feeling miserable. Adreline from being nervous or excited drives me on though so after a couple of paracetimol I am out of bed and started with organising. The kids steer clear for the most part leaving Mike and I at it. Rosa helps for a good while but Eli just goes and hangs in the piazza which is probably very smart. There is so much stuff still to sort and pack before we clean the appartment too. We stay at it until mid-morning til I pop over to Williams to get some photos printed for Francesca. The boys come with me and Jane chats with them while William interviews me for an articule he's hoping to do for a teaching english magasine. We go back with them to Piazza Porto as Mike is going with William to try to get a few last minute things. Shannon and Nicola pop over and the goodbyes begin. Its not fun. After they leave and Mike is gone with Sammy, Rosa watches Finn and Eli has gone to help Toni and stay out from under our feet, I can really tuck into packing the van. I stay at it until Mike returns and we grap a quick lunch.  I go to see Lorella but she isn't home, I txt her and go collect last e-mails.  Then I go to colour photocopy some of my paintings I am giving away and bump into Patrick to can say goodbye to him.  When I get back to the piazza, Lorella is there. We have an chat but eventually she has to go. It is really hard to part. The day is getting very tough. I don't remember it being this hard when I travelled when I was young perhaps it is just that we were all on the move then. We get close to done and William and Jane come back and Shannon comes back. We call out Francesca and Frank drops by. This is it.  We hug and kiss and then get in and wave and shout ciao ciao and then we are off beeping round the piazza as we go and taking one last photo of the fishing boats,  the fishermen wave too. I see that the boats have complete a seasonal cycle. When we arrived they were taking off the night fishing lights and they spent the winter stripping back the boats and repainting them. The lights are just back on freshly white too and the fishermen are reveing engines and checking the lights work. We turn into the big piazza and see some of the young men from ARCI so we pass out our little contact card and say come visit and then its one more tour of the big piazza. We think we are off but Mike spots Abbey and pops over for another goodbye and then he runs into a shop for a bag of biscotti for Sammy. Then its really off. We make a uneventful run to the harbour and figure out where to go. Its a huge port and bits seem haphazard but we get in the right queue of cars and then Chantale phones and I walk to meet her close by. She comes back to the car and says her goodbyes to the kids and I walk her to the gate. I am feeling overwhelmed by the day by the time Dominico comes back with Mike and we chat through the window. Finn is asleep on my lap in the van. We thank Dominico for all they have done for us and Emilia and the boys arrive and we have a short while to say our goodbyes. Mike has to get our boarding passes but once he is out we move swiftly onto the ferry and are the first vehicule on board. The kids wake and are excited to be on the boat. Its not very big but the staff are very friendly and seem to all speak English well and have a good sense of humour. We get to our cabin and Mike and I avail of the copious hot water and the kids go to sleep eventually.

Wed 2nd March

Domenico brought me to the Massera just for the day, to finish off the treehouse.  On the way we discussed his website; he wants to greatly expand the content of my prototype, so more to be done there. 

At the Masseria, I met the polish man (Paolo) who he is now hosting there, and when I finished my work for the day I also met his wife, who according to Domenico, spoke Russian.  However she was either too shy or really didn't remember any Russian, I couldn't communicate with her at all!  I sat at the table with Paolo as she made and served us food and wine, he and I attempting to converse in a mix of Italian, English and Russian.  He's trained as a cabinetmaker, has been in Italy (on and off) over the past 1.5 years, and speaks (with Domenico) what sounds to me like pretty fluent Italian. 

Thu 3rd Mar

I really slept well last night, having the physical exercise yesterday did it.  Today it was sunny and warm; I took the little guys to the playground for a while before going home for a snack.

We then went indoors for a while at Lorella's so I could get some web development work done.

Suzie arrived from her walk and I took the guys to pick up Eli and Rosa, and we all went off for a picnic in the harbour.  We must have been there 2 hours, just hanging out and playing in the sun.  Two men who were throwing a stick for Cal watched the kids play with an old doll they had found in the water.  The men headed off and then returned with a brand new teddy bear for the kids, who were delighted!

Our engine has arrived in Northern Italy from the UK.  It's been sent on to me so we hope to have it by Monday.

I have the feeling of things beginning to complete:  I've finished the treehouse at the Masseria and have taken away most of our things we had stored there.  The camper should be (fingers crossed) sorted next week.  The web development stuff I'm doing with Mickey in Ireland is in pretty good shape.  We have a party/Irish seisun planned here with all our friends before we leave.  We're beginning to get more clear information on camping and ferries for Croatia. 

7 March

The engine is here!  Unfortunately it is raining so I only got to do a little bit of work on it.  Just as I was packing it up some town workers came to do something on the square so I got them to help me load the new engine into the van to keep it safe.  Also the instruction booklet included is the wrong one.

8 March

I spend most of the day today at the engines, cleaning the shrouding and components that were to be moved over, cutting off broken bolts from the shrouding, moving over components etc.  As expected the shrouding is the most hassle:  it is mucky, bent and has a couple of frozen screws that snapped when I was removing it from the old engine.  I hope to reuse this stuff; a new set is another 100 euros at least, but we'll see how well it fits and then I may decide to get new ones if I think they won't cool the engine well enough.

Discovered the new oil cooler was damaged in transit and VEGE were excellent on the phone, apologised and said they'd get another one to me tomorrow.  Also said they'd email me the new instruction booklet.  Had to pause in the morning during a rain shower and later William came over and gave me a hand.  It was much easier doing the work with him, particularly discussing ideas or approaches to things.  At the end of the day we had the old engine ready for shipping in the metal frame the new engine came in, and had the distributor, fuel pump and clutch installed, though I couldn't measure the torque of the clutch bolts so had to wing it.  Also I adjusted the valves (some of which were very loose; I tightened them up but still left them on the loose side for now; will re-do them very soon after trying the engine in the car anyway).  Turning the new engine over by hand, you can feel and hear the amazing amount of compression it has, compared to our old one. 

One problem I found was that the oil pressure sensor doesn't easily screw into the hole in the new engine; the hole seems slightly too small, so that I could force it in but it might mess up the threads.  I think it needs a new one with the correct size, but the JK catalogue shows only 1 version for all air cooled engines. Will have to ring VEGE.

Also the round oil sump (is that the term?) at the bottom of the new engine has no hole for an oil drain plug!  I assume I should just swap this with the one from the old engine, but it is strange they left it out.  Maybe it's safer to ship it that way?

Finally the engine support bracket is mounted to the engine in a different way on the new engine; the old one had a swivel and two fixed points, one at the centre and one addtional bracket on the right.  The new engine uses 3 bolts, no extra bracket.  It is definately a stronger connection but is not adjustable like the old one; I think but am not positive the bracket will meet its attachment points in the car when I install the engine.

Stopped work about 4 or so and cleaned up and took the kids off to the post office, where I tried to get a customs docket for a package I was shipping to the USA but just could not get her to understand what I wanted!  Then on to the ferramenta (hardware store) for some bolts and grease for the engine.  And finally to the pet shop; the owner is the guy who recommended the vet to us; he said he felt we had paid too much for the vet for poor Cal, saying that vets were expensive in this region.   

9 Mar

Council worker told us someone had rung complaining about my doing mechanic work on the street, but then went on to say he personally didn't care, he was Francesca's cousin and it was fine by him.  We basically said I was waiting on a part and would be done soon.

Later walking downtown with my work stuff on, lots of funny looks!  Italians, even working men, don't walk around in grubby clothes!

10 Mar (Thu)

Got a lot done on the engine today, to the point where it was ready to go into the car.  Weather turned threatening but Suzie, William and I got the engine lined up and took ages trying to get it in.  It turns out the transmission had sagged a bit over the week so it was lower than it should have been for lining up.  Anyway we were in the midst of this when rain anbd then sleet started coming down on us!  It continued and we still couldn't get it right, I was crawling around under the car from side to side, getting soaked as the water pooled underneath us.  Eventually we got enough bolts on to secure the engine and we quickly cleaned up.  I came into the house shivering and with some fingers numb, but the engine was in.

11 Mar (Fri)

Started late today as I knew it was a less daunting job.  Few problems, Frank hung around helping and watching.  Tried to turn it over but didn't catch.  Connected the second battery and it went perfectly first time!

Tried a drive around and the clutch is very soft so will have to look at that.  Also need to revisit the bellows thermostat as it doesn't seem to be opening up when the engine gets hot.  I may have to position it permanently open (which will keep the engine cool all the time, making it warm up a bit more slowly in the morning). 

12 Mar (Sat)

The clutch adjustment is supposed to be a simple turn of a wing nut, but ours was rusted frozen, and because its in an awkward place it took me ages to get it to turn.  Finally got it though and the clutch was much too tight so I loosened it loads and it seems much better.

Tried relaxing and then tightening the throttle cable; tighter the engine runs better but I think that's masking another problem, tho not sure what it is.

14 Mar (Mon)

Suzie test drove the van yesterday and today, and with a lot of playing with the valves, points and timing I couldn't get it really good. 

I was hoping the valves had loosened or something after driving it a bit, so after the car cooled down later in the day I did the valves, points and timing again.  Nothing was dramatically wrong.  Then I decided to do the timing by EAR instead of staticly, and found that the best position was a good distance away from where static timing would dictate. 

Suzie booked and paid for the ferry today, a bit scary in terms of the car!

We drove together to Molfetta, both on the open road and in traffic, and engine seemed fine.

Roberto's (Tony's partner) father is a mechanic and Suz has arranged for him to call by tomorrow to have a look. 

Had William Jane and Alice Rose over for late food and drinks.

15 Mar

Roberto's father was supposed to arrive at 10, but it was an Italian 10.  Anyway he had a look at the engine and tried to adjust the idle by turning the adjuster screws in the carb which I had carefully *never* turned.  Oddly, the adjusters did nothing.  I'm not sure what that means, but he said it was all fine except that it was idling a bit fast so would burn more petrol.  He also tried timing it by ear and came up with almost the same setting I had; he had it slightly less advanced than me, possible to compensate for the high idle.  So overall he pronounced it fine, which was nice to hear.  We gave him some Guinness which he didn't want to accept, but it was a small price for reassurance (mainly Suzie though it was good for me too to get the thumbs up).

16 Mar - leaving

This is the day.  When I woke up (early) I couldn't believe we really would be leaving today.  We got some done in the AM then I went with William and Sammy to get some bits at hardware shops, in particular brake fluid as it was low.  When I got back it was getting very close to time to go, I was stressed over it.  During the day several of our friends visited and we had some more goodbyes.  I really hope they show up in Ireland some day, I'd hate to think we won't see them again.

Newbie is fully laden, bikes on the back, roof rack full, inside full, and we worry for our new engine.  We drive slowly and get to Bari port about 6, when we were told to be there.  The ferry doesn't leave until 10pm.  Signposting is unclear and the place is dark and feels unsafe.  We drive past the ferry terminal and come back into a long disorganised queue which is for all cars to several destinations.  The port isn't secured, so street vendors walk along the row of cars.  Suzie goes off to the terminal to check we're in the right place, and to find Chantelle who has rung us as we arrived.  They come back together and we talk for a while before our goodbyes.  I get back to the terminal to queue for checkin and I understand why they make us come so early.  Already I feel like i'm in the eastern bloc, the amount of time and paperwork for each person in unbelievable.  I am standing there with Sammy for more than 15 minutes with no movement in the queue when Domenico shows up, so we walk him back to the car and talk for a while until I see the line of cars has started to move.  I rush back into the terminal and the queue looks about as bad.  It proves to be so, and my wait is very long.  At the last minute when I'm next a man tries to cut me and I have to practice being assertive in Italian, which works fine, and the fellow behind me backs me up.  Suzie rings me on the mobile and has to pull out of the car queue while I wait, but I finally get our tickets and we are ready.  A cursory check and we drive to the "last boat" where a crowd of passengers in standing on the ramp, but not a single vehicle inside!  The boat lads are amused by Newbie and direct us into a corner because they say some buses and trucks are expected.  At least one is very friendly with very good English. 

We take our time getting ourselves organised since we have a cabin.  Upstairs the main bar/lounge/reception area is pretty small and run down.  Friendly crew guide us and give us our keys, all in English.  We worry about them being sticklers for 6 people in a room for 4 but nothing is said.  Our room is fine, and I take the older two for a brief tour of the boat, then Suz and I have showers before going to sleep.


This site was last updated 04/26/05