“We need to fill in your holes”.

“Nooo… you are not to go near my holes,” I shout back. It’s not the first time I have had one of these weird conversations with Mick Kelly (Michele) our Italian Architect.

“I like my holes they’ve been there forever, why do you feel the need to fill them now?” We are talking about the alcoves in the three rooms that were once kitchens in the apartments which will now become bedrooms. I have visions of making them into nice inset shelving units for books and candles or a wardrobe space.

“Rosie it is better for the seismic level of the house. If it was straight brick it would be okay but the walls are stone so they are irregular and with movement holes are dangerous. A solid wall is safer than a wall with a hole. Holes in the wall make the structure weak and you have a lot of holes already for window’s, doors and fireplaces. We need to fill in the unnecessary holes for safety.”

What he is saying is that in the event of an earthquake the house would less likely to crumble on top of us if we had more walls and less alcoves.

“But we live here beside the lake where there are no earthquakes,” I grumble.

“Yes, the lake does protect us from earthquakes, but there is still potential of movement.”

I still find it a little magical that the lake somehow absorbs movement and protects us from earthquakes in such a seismic prone country.

“When the lake dries up and drops below a certain water level, the surrounding land moves a little and can affect the structure of the house,” he explains patiently.

“I don’t think there’s any fear of that have you seen the front garden? It looks like we’ve moved to Venice.” The Venetian theme around the house has been caused by the unusual heavy rainfall we have been having and exaggerated by the fact that the roofers and plumbers were not watching what each other were doing, so the roofers put one drainpipe on the far corner of the house and the plumbers put the ground drain inlet hole on the near corner of the house. The realisation that never the two shall meet only came about when the scaffolding came down.

This is noted in Mick Kelly’s notes. We’re walking around the house on a ‘finalising phase 1 inspection tour’ with Andrea our builder who has proved to be amazing. Mick Kelly speaks some english but Andrea speaks none he just goes by my facial expressions and hand gestures and understands perfectly. Our project manager disappeared about a month into the project so a new project manager was elected called ‘Google translate’. It’s done quite a good job but sometimes makes mistakes with the finer details. I’m rolling my eyes behind Mick Kelly’s back and Andrea is laughing.

We walk into the bedroom. “You sleep here?” asks Micko. “Yes,”

“But it is dangerous,” he says pointing to the plaster that has been chipped away to put in the new wiring for the light. “It needs to be filled otherwise pieces could fall and it is heavy.”

I find enough Italian to say, “It is okay it over Ronan’s side of the bed.” Andrea is laughing again but Micko isn’t having any of it, “I am serious it is dangerous!”

“Okay okay” I say rolling my eyes again. Andrea is agreeing to get Roberto out to finish filling the ceilings asap.

Later that evening myself and Ronan are laughing about how safety conscious Mick Kelly is when we hear a crash upstairs. It takes us a while to find where the noise came from and then we walk into the room Ronan is using as his office. A large piece of plaster has fallen from the ceiling and smashed all over the computer and printer.

“Maybe he has a point,” I say. “Well, at least it saves us knocking the old plaster off.”

We quietly cross the hall and move our bed to a room downstairs. It’s the 5th room we have slept in since we moved in six weeks ago. Sleeping around has a very different meaning to us.

I text Mick Kelly to say they can fill my holes, better to be safe than sorry. I’ll buy a bookcase.