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Come home quickly your house is on fire!


This is a picture of the garden at our new place if it all goes through. It needs a lot of work but I’m looking forward to the planning and learning all about gardens, flowers, vegetables and all.

Exciting seeing as our present pad has a postage stamp garden and should you stumble you’ll probably be at the other side in a shot.

The solicitors are working hard and we’ve received the survey report which mentions a few things that will need immediate attention but nothing too drastic.

I want a brand new kitchen and to rip out the downstairs bathroom and I know we’re going to have many a discussion on this 🙂

Oh the fun that lies ahead!

However, we can just move in and live their quite happily but I have never had my very own brand new kitchen. In fact in 2003 I got really really close when we were renovating our house after a fire two years earlier…

It was 8th March 2001. I remember it well as it’s International Woman’s Day and a festa in Italy celebrated with your female friends. In fact I was shopping in Rovereto with Alessia and we were happily chatting about our plans for that evening.

The children were at school and would go to the hotel straight after for merenda, the Italian afternoon tea. So I had time to browse the new spring collections.

I wasn’t paying full attention when Ale answered her phone as I was mesmerised with a fantastic skirt that was sooo me. I didn’t even really notice the worried look on her face, in fact it was the first time since my return from the UK that I actually felt I was starting to relax. Times were tough but I kept reminding myself the children were my focus here.

‘We’ve got to go back’ Alessia said smiling, ‘My mum was on the phone and seems there’s a problem at home’

‘Oh? What’s up?’

‘Seems there’s a fire at your house and the fire brigade are already there, but mum said the children are both fine.’

‘Oh My God!’ ‘My house is on fire?’

The 25 minute journey up the mountain seemed interminable, the pair of us questioning what could possibly be the cause.

As we  passed the viewpoint at Serrada we saw a plume of smoke reaching up into the sky.

‘Wow, that looks like a big fire’

I was nervous and I kept reminding myself that the kids were ok. Alessia dropped me off as close to the house as she could and I pushed my way through the crowds of people standing looking at tomorrow’s news.

The flames were licking the roof. The windows had exploded and the blackest smoke was pouring out of them. You could hear the wooden beams crack and split, hissing as the fire tore through them.

‘That’ll sort the woodworm out!’ I heard myself think to myself. I chastised myself for being so frivolous in such a dramatic moment.

Enrico was standing on the pavement with Danielle watching the fire brigade as they struggled to reach the flames due to our house being in an awkward position. He carried his usual contempt in his eyes that he held just for me and for the umpteenth time I felt like a piece of shit.

I sought out the children and ran to them. Megan was babbling so quickly her words were getting caught up and Thomas was so sweetly trying to be the man of the situation. He would be 15 in a couple of weeks.

Megan had been in the house with her school friend Francecsca, they had been watching cartoons and eating biscuits. They had noticed the smoke creeping down the stairs central to the open plan living space. They had tried hiding in the downstairs bedroom at the back of the house with the door shut but Meg had realised she ought to tell someone so closing Francesca back in the room she ran out of the house and down to the hotel where she rasied the alarm. Her uncle had ran back up and got Francesca.

The following day we went to verify the damage.

The smell of a house fire is strong, acrid and sticky. You can smell it still in your hair after a shower, on your clothes and on your skin and every saved object will carry the smell forever.


Black is everywhere, black soot on the furnishings, black water marks running down the walls from the hoses. Black the mark where ashes had fallen on my prized red leather jacket.

There was a hole in the lounge ceiling and looking through it you could see the blue sky through the burnt roof in the bedroom above.

The stairs were still in place and safe and an upstairs inspection showed the roof had gone. Everything that had been in the main bedroom had simply disappeared in ashes up in the sky. My book collection, my papirus from Egypt, my treasured bedcover, my clothes. Megan’s room was gone too, her clothes, toys, books, her school bag with homework! Everything gone. Her cuddly toys, her dolls and all of her childhood memories. Gone.

Basically if the flames hadn’t got to it, the water had and our home as we knew it was no more. Miraculously I found our family photos still intact, they stank of smoke and when I go through them every now and again they still hold a whiff of house fire smell.

Quite apt a fire at this point in my life, destroying everything we had worked for over the years. Was this a warning from the Gods to Enrico and I? If so what were they trying to say?

If nothing else, this was the first chapter of the total destruction of our relationship.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. 23/04/2010 2:37 pm

    Oh my how upsetting that must have been. I would hate to lose all my treasured posessions. I dont have many but things like the boys memory boxes

    • 26/04/2010 12:48 pm

      Yes I lost all of the childrens drawings form nursery school upwards – heartbreaking.

  2. 23/04/2010 2:39 pm

    Garden ? How about Alan Titchmarsh and Ground Force? Of course you can have a new kitchen !!!!! I still have the grey hairs following your house fire !

  3. romana permalink
    23/04/2010 2:55 pm

    Maybe that was a warning as you said, for a new chance that Enrico and you didnt’take. No, it’s not exact; you and Enrico tried again but the destruction was worse than the fire.
    After this terrible days you have your family and with them you tried to had a new life..what happened next you told in this blog.. didn’t you?

  4. ourprivateblog permalink
    23/04/2010 6:40 pm

    What a terrible thing to have to go through – I can’t imagine what it must have been like!

  5. 24/04/2010 12:00 pm

    I just can’t imagine it…awful. I’m not a sentimental person generally but my photos etc…thank goodness you were all okay, and so were your photos.
    I hope the house goes through quickly for you. x
    I have tagged you at mine, not sure if you’ve already done it , if you have sorry.

    • 26/04/2010 12:50 pm

      Thansk for the tag, will nip over later and check it out. House seems to be going very quickly, I have a conservatory of packed boxes right now!

  6. 24/04/2010 2:56 pm

    A house fire is something that scares me the most. The thought of loosing everything. I cant begin to imagine what it was like for you all but no doubt it has made you stronger!

    • 26/04/2010 12:51 pm

      Yes, another experience passed. I cannot bear to see in the papers when louts put petrol bombs through door boxes though (this weekend’s news) So thoughtless and so soul destroying, in this case the family lost two children….

  7. 25/04/2010 2:09 pm

    goodness, what a story! I’m glad to hear that you were all okay.

  8. 25/04/2010 7:56 pm

    Oh dear, that must have been dreadful.. Like others have said it’s my worst nightmare too.


  9. 17/12/2010 11:12 am

    I just found your blog and read this post. We had a house fire back in 2005. I had just come out of hospital after an op. The kids were 3 and 5, and the fire began in the eves next to my daughter’s room. If it wasn’t for the smoke alarms going off, they would not have survived (they were in bed). We also lost almost everything – and we had just finished a 6yr project slowly doing up the house. It was perfect – down to the new door furniture and flowers on the doorstep. I was so proud of it, and the fire devastated me. Lily also lost all her baby memories. However, we got through it, and came out the other side stronger. We decided to move away from London and start afresh. I think when something like this happens it forces you to re-evaluate; I was desperate to create something positive out of this experience. I never talk about it now – I haven’t posted about it on the blog. I cry every time I hear of chilren dying in fires – I can’t bear thinking about how close my babies came to the same fate.

    • 17/12/2010 4:17 pm

      I know exactly where you are coming from and I am so sorry to hear you suffered the same fate, after so much hard work as well it must have been soul destroying. I am glad it spurred you on to a better life though. A house fire I think is one of those experiences you wouldn’t want your worst enemy to suffer, it’s a hurt that reaches so far down isn’t it? I know what you mean about children dying in fires too, horrifying. We must count our blessings. Very nice to meet you, I shall pop over when I get a tick 🙂


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