Autumn is an exciting time of year here in the Langhe. For a start, it’s harvest time and everyone is talking about how good this year is going to be.
The tourists are in town too, ready for white truffle season, Cheese in Bra and countless other festivals, including Alba’s annual donkey palio, a sarcastic nod to Asti’s real palio. Couple that with the perfect weather (warm, sunny days, misty, atmospheric mornings and exceptionally clear air) and the Langhe is a pretty good place to be right now.
Our life, though, is rather less exciting. Living the dream has rather been put on hold of late, though hopefully only temporarily. If we’re not in a queue at the hospital, staring blankly at a raffle ticket bearing an insanely high number, we’re locking doors, picking figs, looking up pellet boilers and window frames on google or explaining our plans to builders.
Getting quotes from builders is supposed to be our geometra’s job, but so far he hasn’t entirely succeeded. Two months in and he’s yet to deliver his first, no doubt eye-watering quote. So, we’ve taken matters into our hands. We’ve been getting recommendations (and quite a few warnings) from everyone we know and my wife has her mobile phone pressed constantly to her ear speaking to plasterers, pool makers and plumbers. We’re getting rather tired of talking people through the plans but at least it feels like we’re moving forward, albeit “piano, piano”.
Yesterday someone came around to quote on building us a roof using a groundbreaking new system. It’s modular, which means it takes less time and is less expensive than building a roof in the traditional fashion. It looks exactly the same though. Perfect. Except on further questioning it turns out it doesn’t, it isn’t and it doesn’t. It actually takes roughly twice as long to build, costs slightly more and looks a bit, well, Ikea.
Our main challenge, though, is finding a builder we like, trust and can afford. Negativity abounds, particularly among the older generation, who say ‘No’ an awful lot, moan about how big a job it is and suck air through their teeth relentlessly. One even explained to us that our tumbledown stable will need a roof if it is to become a bedroom. While I appreciate he is almost certainly correct, I don’t think he’ll be getting the chance to put said roof on said bedroom.
The younger the builder, the more positive they seem to be. Whether this is youthful naivety or just eagerness and ambition remains to be seen. One of our neighbours is quoting and he falls into both the youthful (I’m sure he’ll appreciate that…) and seemingly trustworthy category, so we’re keeping everything crossed that we can afford to use him.
Enough of the moaning though. We’ve got the weather, the wine and the food, and the views are getting better with each passing day. This really is a great time of year. We may not exactly be ‘living the dream’ right now, but it’s not too bad…