One year on

Yet again I’m skipping more than a month in reporting on our progress.
It’s been a year now since we moved to Italy and set up home in The Old Stable and I guess there is room for a short reflective post about how it has been so far.

We came with great ideas to make our home a place to work from and share our passions, there were plenty of ideas to develop and keeping a blog and a website was a way for us to play with ideas and help us monitor our progress.

We came with big ideas

Most of the pages in the website, if you had a look before are pretty much like having a virtual bank of activities we could run in The Old Stable. Aside from a couple of children Rhyme and Time courses and one adult session of ‘Tea and Talk’ , we haven’t put into practice any of the other ideas this year. We had put aside some enough funds to allow ourselves to work at home for a year without really earning.

External changes within the first summer

This allowed us time to plan our own activities and save a bit by doing whatever we could in renovations, on our own.

From day one we had our hands full with all sorts of construction work: from fixing the roof to installing a stove and rebuilding and painting the shutters before winter, to arranging the vegetable plots and getting chickens. At the same time our minds were trying to imagine what kind of activities we’d manage to set up from home to at least cover our running costs. Now time is up and we hope opening The Old Stable for regular activities this autumn.

As I mentioned in early posts, we realized that during autumn and winter times we can’t really hold activities in the actual Stables without a properly installed heating system. The barn building needs a lot of initial investment in order to make it suitable for holding activities in it, but that is really the long term plan.

So it was about in late May, when spring came with its new energies that we started insulating the very top floor so that we could use the rooms upstairs.  The rooms at the top floor were used in the first year as a storage place for old furniture given to us as presents. Things we knew we could use one day but didn’t really have the space to mount them. During the winter it gets very cold and in summer it gets unbearably hot. It’s only later that I learnt that these conditions (extreme hot and cold) are ideal for making Balsamic vinegar to allow slow acetification during winter and sufficient liquid evaporation during summer. That’s why traditionally, those that make thier own balsamic vinegar keep it in the top floor.

The first room to be tackled. The top floor, without insulation turns out to be ideal for making your own Balsamic vinegar.

The first thing to do was to do some research on the materials we could use. Although we wanted to use sustainable and as much as possible natural materials, we also wanted a material with high insulation capability, economically viable and relatively easy to work with. That’s quite a lot to ask for. But we settled with a multi-layer reflective and breathable material which was not cheap and probably not the most ecologically sustainable, but I believe that a good insulation saves a lot of energy and that pays back on the ecosystem too.

Initial wooden frame to external walls.

Building wise you can follow the pictures to see how it all went. From a basic wooden frame to laying the silvery shiny NASA-like material to adding a spacer (practically another frame to allow an air gab between the insulation material to the cover which was either cellulose fiber wall or a tongue and groove wall ceiling. For the roof we used a double layer insulation, meaning that two spacers were used. Sounds simple but it took a lot of time and frustration to get things in good shape.

Laying the first layer of insulation on the external walls

Now the rooms are ready to be painted but I haven’t downloaded the pictures that show the wooden ceiling and the cellulose plaster boards, yet. Within a month we should have them arranged as classrooms and a small guest room and I hope to post these as soon as we are ready to start publicizing our teaching activities.

The months of August and September are planned to be dedicated to updating our website pages, especially those that are related to the English teaching. We plan to arrange a few promotional events and start recruiting students for next year.

The hops are growing, and beer is being drunk, chickens are happy and the rabbit too.

Until the next one.

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