Time to sum up my view of our little Italian trip.
Stu's summary is simple - everything ends in o or i and everyone speaks Italian very fast.
Of course there is more to it than that! Where did it rate on my holiday experiences? Way down I'm afraid. But then I like cold places. With no mosquitos.
The driving experience:
Yesterday was a sun-chasing day. We found it. And we had a huge beach to ourselves. That has to be the bonus of Italy at this time of year.
We haven't heard another Brit since we got off the plane. As Stu pointed out "everyone is Italian".
In fact Stu had a deep conversation in Italian with a chap in a white coat in Ceglie yesterday. We were looking for a bakery. White coat = baker...right? Nope. Barber (Stu managed to come to that conclusion when he peeped in the chap's shop and they both mimed scissors). And a very kindly barber at that. He seemed to want to get in the car with us to show us the way to the bakery around the corner. Nice chap.
As Stu was hungry he came out of the bakery with a big bag of bread and a variety of Italian cookies. They were bloody awful. One type even had aniseed flavouring in it.
Stu had a rude awakening this morning. He felt something bite his shoulder. And for once it wasn't me. As we couldn't see anything we ignored it. Getting out of bed at a leisurely pace. Then we saw something...on his side of the bed. He says it was some kind of centipede. I'm sleeping standing up tonight - in the middle of the room.
It's very windy today. Blowing the garden furniture around kind of windy. And cloudy. But still warm.
So we set off for a stroll in the local area.
And arrived back at the trullo to no electricity or water. But at least the sun was out.
Got a bit of dirt on my white pumps! And Stu's trainers STINK.
The weather apps (all of them) predicted rain today. Over much of the region. So after the morning croissant we set off for a drive.
And didn't see a single spot of the wet stuff.
We did see some rather big houses. And lots of tiny country roads. Before we headed off to a forest for a couple of hours walking. Much needed exercise after far too much bread, pasta, beer and pastries.
We then went in search of the castle in Ceglie Messapica. Once we had done the usual drive round the town trying to avoid pedestrians, other cars and dead ends we found a free parking spot (parking in Italy is ridiculous. So many different rules. But Stu had hit Google before we set off this morning so we had a much better idea).
As we walked up to the castle we could hear a brass band. Playing a rather slow tune. We had stumbled upon a funeral. So we put on our best sombre faces and waited as we didn't want to appear rude and walk past the mourners.
To be honest I was moved. Huge flower arrangements adourned the sides of a white van. As the coffin came out the mood of the band changed to something a little more upbeat. There were some words shouted and everyone clapped. Us included. Then the funeral procession set off slowly through town (we didn't follow).
We learned after that is was the funeral of a 38 year old man.
After a quick visit to the castle (disappointing tbh) and a couple of coffees (not at all disappointing and surprisingly cheap) we headed back towards the Trullo.
The road takes us past a massive cemetery. Which happened to be open. So we popped in.
I have never seen anything like it. Not even those in France compare. It was a little awe-inspiring tbh. The amount of care (and money) spent on the dead. Extraordinary. And humbling in a way.
We did feel like weird stalkers as we stumbled across the coffin of the 38 year old. But we rushed past respectfully.
I did take a couple of photos in between doing my best respectful sad face. Then tried my best to hide the huge camera under my top. It just felt very wrong.
I took a couple of photos of the 38 year old chap's flowers at the entrance. I want to look back and remember. It seems right somehow.
Back at the Trullo we raised a Peroni to the unnamed man. Before Stu started prepping the pasta!
At home there's a sound which drives us mad. It sounds a little like a duck. We hear it in the middle of the day. And have no clue what it is.
So. We're in Italy and there's a very similar noise. But when it goes dark.
After three nights googling "what bird makes a squeaky noise at night" or "what is that sonar type sound at night" Stu finally found the cause of the Italian version of the Lawrence Road duck.
It's a Scops Owl.
And tonight I can get to bed a little earlier and abandon my bird sound search.
Another frustration of this holiday is the Sat Nav. As we don't know the area we tend to enter a city / town rather than an address. Of course the Sat Nav takes you to 'city centre'. So invariably we have ended up literally in the centre of some city...down tiny one-way streets. Lost.
So I normally just head right back out again. Stressed. And head for the next place. And do the bloody same.
Today we tried Gallipoli. For those who don't know Gallipoli is an island, reachable by bridge and kind of circle shaped. The Sat Nav took us right there. We drove round the circle. And back off it. No photos. From what we saw as we navigated the narrow road...it had shops and bars. And some fortifications.
We pulled up somewhere safe and asked the Sat Nav to find a beach...near our current location. Genius.
We ended up on the quietest beach ever. With our own little rocky, sheltered haven. Time for a spot of lunch and some much-needed rays.
Before we set off again. To drive some more.
The forecast for tomorrow is rain. Everywhere within a driveable distance. So we need to think of something to do. There is a safari park. Not really what we came to Italy for but the reviews I've read are good.
Or we might just drive around the local area. Avoiding trafiic.
We nearly died a couple of times today. Italian drivers are completely insane. And impatient.
We drove all day. Pretty much.
We did manage an hour to stretch our legs in one of the national parks. And another hour on a beach. And one taking in some views.
We pretty much covered this area....
We arrived back at the Trullo around 7pm and inhaled a Peroni. It cost around €1.89 for three. I don't buy beer often but I think that's cheap.
It's a little noisy around here tonight. Dogs constantly barking, some weird bird squeaking and something that sounded like thunder. All of it in the distance. Sound travels here.
No clue what we're doing tomorrow. It depends on the weather (today was sunny and ranged from 21-30c). All our weather apps say something different for tomorrow. But rain could be on the menu. But it was for today too and we didn't come across any.
Just a few pics from today...
Italy - Day one
Up at 3am. Grumpy. Cup of tea. Less grumpy.
Cappuccino at the airport. Able to manage a smile.
At Bari we went to collect the keys for our Fiat 500 cabrio. The man at the desk showed me on his little car diagram that there was just one scratch - by the wing mirror on the driver's side. When we finally found the car - that one scratch turned into half a wing mirror missing, 10 scratches, a damaged front light and so on. We made sure they updated their little diagram (we just drew a circle round the whole car).
It's cute though.
The drive from the airport was hair-raising. Wacky bloody races. Italian cars don't have indicators. They don't seem to understand the concept of a speed limit...or lanes on a motorway. It was almost funny. If it hadn't been so bloody scary.
Anyway - I got off the motorway as I needed to breathe. This is when I discovered that the Fiat doesn't do hills. And hairpin bends with a steep incline? A little embarrassing. Reminded me of when I was little and Dad saying we might have to get out and push...
So impressions of the car so far? Cute car - powered by a couple of gerbils.
The benefit of getting off the stock car race track meant that we could divert to Alborobello. To take a look at the numerous trullo buidlings. Very quaint. With the usual tourist tat.
I forgot to mention. As we had the roof down, Stu burnt his head in the car - I thought it was hilarious. Until he pointed out that I had burnt my neck / shoulder.
But don't worry. We now have rain.
The Trullo is just as promised. Private and peaceful. With 360 views. And it has treats. Just for us.
I've had my first ever spray on tan.
Why have I avoided it so long? Because I don't like the colour orange. It doesn't suit my complexion. And I don't like the thought of getting near naked in front of a stranger.
So why did I decide to have one now?
Well - firstly I was told the colour of spray tan is olive. Not orange. But then I thought olive was green. What do I know!?
And then - 'do you want to wear these paper thong knickers - or your own?'
Tough decision that. NOT.
'So we'll just rub some cream on your dry bits - knees, elbows etc.' she says...
'Do you have any other dry bits'
Is she having a laugh? I'm 50. My whole body is dry!
'Now you can get in the tent - and take your bra off'.
NO. WAY. JOSÉ.
Aimee is young, tiny with abs and pert boobs. There is no way I was releasing mine. Even the cat hasn't seen them and he's always in the bathroom when I have a shower.
Anyway - enough of the boobs.
Aimee told me about her experiences of spray tans - wearing paper thongs - she was told to bend over so the spray would get into the crease beneath her bum cheeks. Dear God. (Must add here - Rachel I love you...but there is no way I am bending over in your tan box).
Anyway - the result. Not too bad to be honest. Aimee kept it light so the dogs still recognise me. My dry patches aren't darker than the rest of me. I look like I've just had a week in Italy.
Result. Thanks Aimee xx
.When your baby arrives you are shown how to feed it and bath it. Instinct also kicks in. And if that fails....there are a million books on how to stop a crying baby, how to educate and nurture.
No one told me - NO ONE - that when they get into their twenties you need a bloody Masters Degree in coping. Dealing with your own daily shit and anxieties whilst providing a full-time counselling service for your 'grown-up' children.
Don't get me wrong - I love my kids to the moon and back. Or somewhere even further away.
But I am running out of room in my tiny brain to juggle everyone's things (things - the best word in the English language. It can literally mean anything - and extremely useful if your brain is full of fluff like mine).
When I had my second baby I cried. How could I provide the same amount of love and attention to two little beans? It just happens. Until they reach their teens. Then it gets REALLY HARD. The issues aren't as simple as 'where's my dummy' or 'I don't like peas' or 'I need a n'ug' or 'I just pooed on the stairs'.
The shit (sorry - no pun intended) gets real...
'I can't afford new tyres for my car' or 'can you pay my parking ticket cos I haven't got enough money in my account' or 'I need help with writing tomorrow's lesson plan' or 'I need to be in Manchester in like five minutes...what am I going to do...' and so on.
Proper serious 'empty my purse' or 'lose a whole evening relaxing with feet up, a bar of chocolate and a cup of tea' type shit.
To be fair though...it is feeling pretty horrendous right now because I have started a new contract. I need to concentrate at work. I have a lot to take in. I need to find something suitable to wear every day. I need to decide what day to wash my hair. I need to be able to decide if I don't wash my hair will it look fuzzy by the end of the day. I need to decide which shoes. Etc.
And I forgot. Mandy had the bright idea that we both needed to join the brand new gym round the corner from me.
We agreed that if we don't go once a week AT LEAST...we're cancelling the membership. That simple.
It opens tomorrow and we're already off to a bad start.
We don't want to go on the day it opens (it will be far too busy) - we can't go on Wednesday as Mandy has plans. We can't go on Thursday as I am getting my nails done after work. We can't go on Friday night as...erm...there was a reason. I just can't remember.
We can't go the following week as I am in Italy.
Great - that's two weeks worth of the first month gone.
We'll just have to go twice a week once I get back from the sun. Yep. Twice in one week. Which will probably coincide with one of the beans needing my attention. For lifts or a pep talk or some general motherly advice. Then I will be too brain-dead to get off the sofa.
And besides - the gym just makes my hair sweaty and wrecks my weekly hair-washing timetable - plus I will have to keep on top of the pit hair.
Today is bean two's birthday. He's 22 and gorgeous. But he looked like this when he was born...(I posted this on his page on FB...I think he's hidden it...NOT A CLUE WHY!)
Tuesday. C-Day. The start of a new contract.
Which means I will have to root out some bras. And set an alarm each morning for some unearthly time. And go to bed on the dot of 10pm. And I won't be able to swan around in pyjamas - I will have to actually get dressed five days a week.
The upside is that I won't be swanning around in pyjamas most days - I will have a routine back. I will be motivated. And I might just stop booking holidays.
And the major bonus of this particular contract is that I get to drive to work (no metrolink!). Of course the downside is that I will increase the mileage on my two and a half year old Kuga. By the end of the contract (October) it might actually have done 11,000 miles.
So in preparation....
I have just booked our anniversary trip to Iceland. And tried a couple of outfits on to make sure my 'work clobber' still fits (it has only been three months since I was last in contract...but thats a long time in the life of a pyjama slob with a sweet-tooth). I've found a couple of half decent bras (but still trying to decide if I wear baggy - can I get away with 'cropped-tops'? Maybe if I walk slowly at all times round the office no one will notice). And I have added some motivational 'driving to work' playlists to my iTunes.
Notice how I quickly glossed over the booking of the November Iceland trip? I booked it with my eyes closed. That way it's not really cost me an arm and a leg.
So - back to earning my keep - with less than three weeks before we're off to Italy for a few days of sun and scenery. Perfect timing!
Right - best get on - I need to practice smiling!
And here's an Icelandic horse. With bad hair. Reminds me a little of Trump.
My finger is still not fixed. It's still strapped up. And even though I change the strapping daily my fingers stink. Sorry – but that's the way it is. No amount of soap or handcream takes away the ingrained sweaty stench. I didn't realise that fingers could sweat.
On a brighter note, I've now dictated five chapters of my dad's first book. In fact I've probably dictated double that–if you count the number of times I've had to undo, overtype and correct the iMac's translation of my Altrincham accent. The chapter I dictated last night introduced my grandad, Donald (GonGon), his love of the sea and how he met my grandma, Deborah (Ninny).
My own memories of my grandad are quite sketchy - I've summed up a few below:
Today, for some reason, I googled caravans (quick subject change so I don't relive that trauma!!). And looked at how much they cost.
I have no idea why. Maybe I have a yearning to be one of those irritating types on the inside lane of the M6 motorway. But I just thought I would throw that in here.
Today was also the day that I switched from winter to spring wardrobe. However this year I've been a little bit smarter - I have kept some warmer spring items out i.e. winter jumpers. Every year I switch my wardrobe during a lovely warm, sunny start to spring - which is then followed by a windy, rainy, dreary and cold few weeks.
GonGon and Ninny - looking well posh.