What a strange feeling it is to look up at the untamed pile of dirt that officially belongs to you and realise that this could be the very last time you see it in its state of utter wildness. This is it. The big day has arrived. Things are about to start happening on this raw piece of northern Portuguese soil.
We walk up the hill, otherwise known as the future driveway, my heart all aflutter. But why is it so quiet? Why can I hear only the bleating sheep in the distance? And why is there no audible rumble of machinery? At the top of the future driveway sits a giant yellow backhoe, idle and forlorn, no driver in sight.
Hmm, what now? 10 minutes become 30. Soon Tom, occasionally also called Project Pete, (I wonder why…) finds something to do. The hosepipe that’s been watering the few baby oaks and chestnuts we planted months ago needs to be moved from the excavation site. This is no small task – we’re talking about a pipe that’s 40mm in diameter, 200 metres long and filled with water. An hour later, I’m hot, sweaty and irritated. It looks like the momentous step of moving the hosepipe is the only thing that will happen here today. Not quite the start I had in mind. My bubble is burst, the flutter in my chest silent.
A quick phone call assures us that work will start after lunch. Should we be surprised? Given the fact that we’d hoped this day would arrive almost six months ago, the answer is a resounding no. No surprises here. Whether it’s extra paperwork, a cup of coffee or yet another conversation, there is often something that takes priority over actual action. But, we are in Rome and we did choose to be here, so we take ourselves off to lunch too. Turns out that last view we thought we had this morning, will have to be the second last.
When we return, there’s activity.