2013 back to UK roots and italian trip
Prelude to nostalgia
*Day 1 - June 20 - LHR-Cornwall
*Day 2 - June 21 - Summer Solstice, longest day. St. Just, Sennen Cove, Porthcurno, Minack Theatre,
Mousehole, St. Clare's School, Penzance.
*Day 3 - June 22 - Penzance and surrounding areas
*Day 4 - June 23 - South Coast, Helston, the Lizard, Porthleven.
*Day 5 - June 24 - Last of Cornwall, on to Devon
*Day 6 - June 25 - Dartington - Cirencester.
*Day 7 - June 26 - Cirencester - Bristol - flight to Rome.
*Day 8 - June 27 - Rome - Zoe's 5th birthday.
*Day 9 - June 28 - Rome
*Day 10 -June 29 - Fireworks
*Day 11- June 30 - Zoe's birthday party at the Castel Sant'Angelo
*Day 13 -July 2 - Piazza del Populo, Borghese Gardens, Zoo
*Day 14 - July 3 - Pickpocketed on the Metro.
*Day 15 - July 4 - Exploring Rome with Zoe.
*Day 17 - July 6 - Fourth of July celebration.
*Day 18. July 7 - Trip to San Prancrazio in the Puglio area.
*Day 19 - July 8, "Contrada Torrevecchio" Via per Avetrana, San Pancrazio, Salentino (Br)
*Day 20 - July 9 - Lecce, Santa Croce
*Day 21 - July 10 - Gallipoli
*Day 22 - July 11 - Castro and Otranto
*Day 23 - July 12 - Porto Cesare and Torre Lapillo
*Day 24 - July 13 - Back to Rome via Alberobello
*Day 25 - July 14 - Adopted Wanda from the cat sanctuary.
*Day 26 - July 15 - Borgese Gardens, Concert in the Villa dei Quintilli in the Old Appia Way.
*Day 27 - July 16 - Palazzo Doria Pamphilij.
*Day 28 - July 17- Borghese Gardens, Tiber Summer Festival, Mexican restaurant for Dan's birthday dinner.
*Day 29 - July 18 - Rome-UK- Alderholt - Meryl
*Day 30 - July 19 - Meryl - Alderholt
*Day 31 - July 20 - Salisbury - London - Louise, Globe Theatre "Gabriel".
*Day 32 - July 21 - Daniel's birthday. London - Downe (village) Down (House).
*Day 33 - July 22 - London to Crowle via Scunthorpe.
*Day 34 - July 23 - Crowle
*Day 35 - July 24 - Harewood House
*Day 36 - July 25 - Crowle to LHR
*Day 37 - July 26 - LHR-RDU
Prelude to nostalgia
A bit of background before beginning our tour around Cornwall, where I spent many happy times as a child in St. Ives, St. Just, the Rectory at Landewednack at the Lizard, Porthleven, Mousehole, Penzance, Bodmin. We would arrive at Southampton or Tilbury Docks in London, in cold, grey weather as far as I can remember. We would stay with my friend Louise's grandmother Alice, (how life cycles continue, I now stay with Louise not far from where her grandmother lived in South London.) Used to the heat of Africa, I was always cold and and remember walking in the fog, colored yellow by the street lamps. It was so good to get to the house to warm up with a cup of tea, the beginning of a life-time habit. In North Carolina the situation is reversed, so good to get home out of the heat and enjoy a glass of iced tea! After staying a few days in London, the next part of our exciting journey was to take the train from Paddington to Penzance in Cornwall, the south west tip of the UK. Why Cornwall? I wish I had talked more to Mum about her choices of the places we stayed in, I can only think it was due to, a) finding the warmest spot in the UK, b) economics, c) friends or jobs.
The train was of course a steam train, and I had many specks in my eyes as I hung out of the window looking at the scenery. Thus began my lifelong passion for trains and train journeys. Everything was so exciting, especially afternoon tea in the dining car. Little tables on either side of the carriage were laid with the train company's crested china and silverware, just like the Orient Express. Tea in silver pots, little sandwiches, cake = bliss! Somehow the other meals didn't make such an impression on me. Perhaps at that age I didn't go in to dinner, as it would have been more formal. Or maybe all the meals are blurred in together, with tea being the most important. It was a sleeper train and the excitement of a night on the train was high. Arrival in Penzance was too early in the morning, so the train stopped somewhere and we slept until it was a suitable time to arrive. Breakfast was brought in on a tray.
In 2002, when on a visit to Cornwall with my older brother John and his wife Betty, we went to visit St. Ives. I remembered the shop on the harbor owned by the father of Daphne, a school friend at St. Christopher's when were around 8. Robin Nance, her father, was a woodworking craftsman making beautiful furniture and other items. My mother must have met him and started making raffia lampshades to put on wooden lamp bases which were sold in the shop.
We found it the shop, of course her parents were long gone, but it was still owned by the family. The shop assistant kindly took a note I wrote and sent it on to Daphne who was living in Exeter, Devon, the county next to Cornwall. Daphne replied and in 2011, we met at her home in Cirencester, I with 3 year old grand-daughter Zoe in tow! In March of 2013, Daphne visited me in North Carolina. She had not been to the USA before, so I was determined to show her the real America after her few days in New York! We drove to the mountains and to the beach and had a grand time. One day when we were chatting, the idea came up about a similar trip around Cornwall visiting all the places where I had lived. And 3 months later, there I was, with Daphne driving around Cornwall looking at the places I remembered.
Day 1 -Thurs. June 20 LHR-Cornwall
Arrived early at Heathrow overnight from Raleigh, NC. Took the coach to Exeter, Daphne met me there and we drove to Cornwall to her sister Crit's home in Jacobstow. She gave us a delicious homemade cream tea, a wonderful homecoming treat for me!
Drove on to St.Ives where we stayed at the Regent Hotel overlooking the harbour. Walked through the town down to the Harbour waterfront, where we had a supper of Pasta Carbonora. Love the long light evenings at this time of the year.
Day 2 - June 21. Summer Solstice, longest day. St. Just, Sennen Cove, Porthcurno, Minack Theatre, Mousehole, St. Clare's School, Penzance.
Wonderful breakfast at hotel - poached egg and haddock. Walked up the very steep hill to our old school, St.Christopher's, no longer in existence, the two ladies who ran it are long gone. I didn't remember the building, after all it is 60 years since I was there from the age of 8 until 9 or so. Daphne was there until she was 11, so was able to point out various landmarks and tell stories.
After that we drove around the north coast of Cornwall, stopping in Zennor, a tiny village with a very old church where her family is buried. Fantastic views of the the fields and coastline. On to the places my Mother and I lived for various periods of time. Couldn't have been long anywhere, as I remember going back to South Africa when I was around 9 or 10. St. Just is a small town more inland, and I remembered it as being freezing cold and very windy. Now it is a popular stopping place for walkers and other hardy people walking the coastal path and enjoying the rigors of the Cornish Peninsula. Further along was Sennen Cove where we used to swim, and then onto Porthcurno, a small but very important place during WWII. Many ships gathered there before going over to France on DDay. It was also the place where telegraphs were sent all over the world when the British Empire was at its height, and many young people (mostly young men) got their training and worked there. A great boost to the social scene in Penzance, not far away. There is a fascinating museum in Porthcurno showing how the operations of the telegraphs worked, and also photos and details of the laying of the cables. It took 5 tries to get the cable across to the US, finally in 1886 it was accomplished. Also in Porthcurno is the famed Minack Theatre, carved out of the rock on the cliffs. My connection to it was when Mum was involved with an opera being performed there. Titled "The Logan Rock" it was composed by English composer Inglis Gundry. The rehearsals were in Penzance with members of the Royal Philharmonic, my first exposure to orchestra and opera. The performances were in the Minack Theatre.
Our last stop was in Mousehole, on the coast, where we lived in the Garden House, a beautiful old building with a very large garden. I loved that house, and funnily enough, it belonged to a good friend of Daphne. When we lived there, the owners were overseas, so I suppose Mum rented it or house-sat. I had a good friend in who lived nearby, and whose whose parents were farmers. Unfortunately, although she had been friends with some of Daphne's friends, we were not able to track her down to meet up. We just made it in time for supper at the Ship Inn of a delicious cauliflower cheese soup and a shandy at the Ship Inn overlooking the harbour. It was from here one night, I went on a fishing boat all night with a friend around my age who was staying with us for a holiday. The fisherman was a neighbor of ours at the Garden House, and had invited us to go on the boat. Quite an adventure. However, to this day, the smell of diesel fumes makes me nauseous, but it was exciting, especially in the early morning when we went around the coast from Mousehole to Penryn, to unload the catch which was sent immediately out to suppliers. Truly fresh fish!
Our last place of the day was my school in Penzance, St. Clare's. It was a private school and I would take the bus from Mousehole to Penzance. After Mum bought an old Austin car for 25 pounds, sometimes she would drive me. That was such a luxury, having a car! From St. Clare's I got my passion for glass receptacles. We had home economics and when cooking in the kitchen, I loved working with the Pyrex dishes and bowls, all shining clean. Still the same to this day. I enjoyed the school very much, learning to dance the Hornpipe and discovering that I was vertically challenged and pretty useless at netball, the equivalent to American basketball. However, I was a whiz at rounders, (softball). I can't remember if it was at St. Clare's that I was taken off the hockey team for being too aggressive. It happened in one of my 16 schools! I was mad about horses then, and had horsey friends. My best friend in Mousehole came from a farming family, and I would ride at the top of the hill. One family lived in a large manor house near Penzance, and I would ride there sometimes. Every so often we would go to a Pony Club gymkhana in a field overlooking the bay and St. Michael's Mount. A very happy time. Memories in Penzance when I went to the doctor for treatment for conjunctivitis, and hearing that Roger Bannister has just broken the 4 minute mile, May 6, 1954. Everyone was cheering!
We continued on to St. Ives, across the glorious countryside and coastline. It had been quite day, emotionally and physically, a good night's sleep was easily managed.
Day 3 - June 22 - Penzance and surrounding areas
We drove again to Penzance to get my iPhone set up correctly. Sadly the town has suffered badly with the recession and looks run-down. When living in Mousehole I took the bus to St. Clare's school in Penzance - lovely views of the coastline and Penzance's palm-lined sea-side Promenade. The tourist towns and villages are doing well, most with very upmarket boutiques and restaurants, but Penzance is not so touristy. We continued on to visit Daphne's older sister in Ludvgar, a small town close to Penzance. Her very old cottage has been beautifully renovated - small and cosy. It was a very stormy and rainy day, but we went out for lunch to Tremenheer, a place with lovely gardens, including a sculpture garden and a very upmarket cafe. I had tomato and lentil soup with chillies, and with fresh artisan bread, made a delicious lunch. As it was so cold and windy, we couldn't look at the gardens, so decided to take some slices of home-made cakes and have them with hot tea at Sue's house. Definitely the right idea. After arriving back in St Ives and getting totally soaked by the driving rain, we changed and bared the rain again to see the movie "Summer in February". This was so appropriate for us, as it was filmed in Cornwall at many of the places we were seeing. It is based on a true story about the artist colony of Lamorna Cove and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Dan Stevens was still Matthew Crawley from "Downton Abbey", he will always be typecast as that unless he takes totally different roles.
On to the places Mum and I lived for various periods of time. We couldn't have stayed anywhere long, as I remember going back to South Africa when I was around 9 or 10. St. Just is a small town more inland, and I remembered it as being freezing cold and very windy. Now it is a popular stopping place for walkers and other hardy people walking the coastal path and enjoying the rigors of the Cornish Peninsula. Fantastic views of the fields and coastline. Further along was Sennen Cove where we used to swim, and then onto Porthcurno, a small but very important place during WWII. Many ships gathered there before going over to France on DDay. It was also the place where telegraphs were sent all over the world when the British Empire was at its height, and many young people (mostly young men) got their training and worked there. A great boost to the social scene in Penzance, not far away. There is a fascinating museum in Porthcurno showing how the operations of the telegraphs worked, and also photos and details of the laying of the cables. It took 5 tries to get the cable across to the US, finally in 1886 it was accomplished.
Also in Porthcurno is the famed Minack Theatre, carved out of the rock on the cliffs. My connection to it was when Mum was involved with an opera being performed there. Titled "The Logan Rock" it was composed by English composer Inglis Gundry, and also participating were two of her Old Vic Theatre colleagues, Edith Coates who was the principal singer, and her husband Harry Lloyd who coached the chorus. The rehearsals were in Penzance with an orchestra including members of the Royal Philharmonic. The performances were in the Minack Theatre. It must have been such a special time for Mum. She had been away from the London opera scene for over 20 years and here she was amongst some her oldest friends from her Old Vic days in the 1920s. Although I didn't realize the enormity of the event for her, it became one for me, as it was my first exposure to an orchestra and opera and I was bowled over, especially by the sweetness of the oboe sound.
Day 4 - June 23 - South Coast, Helston, the Lizard, Porthleven.
A lovely day, warm and not too blustery. Drove to the Lizard via Helston where I attended Miss Williams School for Young Ladies. I remembered the main street as that is where I and most of Helston's schoolchildren danced the Furry Dance, a traditional dance celebrating the coming of spring. We all wore white with bluebell garlands in our hair. I have no recollection of the school premises and 60 years on, no-one is going to know either, and I didn't have the time to go archiving. We didn't live in Helston as far as I can remember, however I do remember in that area living in the Lizard and Porthleven. We drove on to the Lizard, to Landewednack where we had a flat in the Vicarage. It was a beautiful old house set in large grounds with lovely lawns and areas where hundreds of daffodils bloomed in the spring. At the back on the side, still part of the house, was where we lived. I was very fortunate to get to talk to locals, to reinforce my memories. Church had just finished and the helpers were very friendly and informative. The Church (called Landewednack Church in my day) was prominent in my memory as it was at the bottom of the garden. Someone was mowing the lawns while we there, and it turned about to be the owner, who kindly showed me around. I described the flat to him and loved the look on his face when I mentioned that in the kitchen there had been a gravestone and I had been uneasy about walking on it. I don't think anyone else knew about it, so now he realized I really had lived there. He then took me straight to the flat which I recognized immediately. The wall between the kitchen and living room had been taken down, but the kitchen had the same slate tablets on the floor including the gravestone of Laura who died in 1845. When renovations were being made, the coffin was found under the stone, so no wonder I was uneasy walking around in the kitchen! Poor soul, no last name, there must have been a story behind her death. Upstairs there were 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. Apart from the gravestone, I loved that house and I was very happy there.
From the the church and rectory we drove down to the edge of the coast and had lunch at a popular cafe which served great food. I had a homemade crabcake and salad. Fantastic views for miles of the coastline. I was so happy being there again.
After lunch we went to Porthleven, just a few miles from the Lizard. I can date when we lived there, June 1953, as it was coronation year , and unfortunately I missed all the festivities on the day of the coronation as I had an infection. It was treated with penicillin, and that's when the doctor found out I was allergic to it and became very ill. I missed the town party, didn't get a coronation mug, a real let down. I do remember in St. Ives seeing the film of Sir Edmund Hillary scaling Mount Everest , which was shown around that time. We found Cliff Road which I remembered clearly, it is a narrow road near the edge of the cliff, with small terrace houses on one side and little gardens right by the cliff on the other side. I remember ours had a little hut where we could have tea and enjoy the unbelievable sunsets. You had to watch out for the seagulls, they would swoop down and pick up anything edible, which happened to me when Daphne and I were having tea at the harbor.
It had been a long and exciting day exploring, our last day in Cornwall. :(
Day 5 - June 24 - Last of Cornwall, on to Devon
Being a train fanatic, I got my train fix going from St.Ives to St.Erth. A 15 minute journey, with the most spectacular coastline views, which cannot be seen from the road. The beaches of Porthminster and Carbis Bay where we lived overlooking them, are still pristine and the estuary mud flats of Lelant provide a wonderful feeding ground for many birds. The highlight of that day. Daphne picked me up and we drove to Fowey, which was the part-time home of Daphne du Maurier, author of Rebecca and Frenchman's Creek. She had leased Menabilly, a lovely old house in great need of repair, and after renovating part of it, lived there for 26 years bringing up her children and writing her books. I was sorry that there was no access to the house, but the tourist bureau in the town had a good exhibition and information bank of her stay there. As it was a lovely warm day, we bought Cornish pasties and shandies from the pub, and sat out on the quay for lunch. After that, we drove to Dartmouth, home of the Royal Naval College. I was disappointed not to see cadets all over the place, but Daphne said it was mostly a theoretical curriculum so they were up in the college. The practical side takes place in Plymouth where there is a large Royal Naval base. Nearby, is Brixham, where another authoress' home, Greenway, is that of Agatha Christie. Sadly not enough time to catch the ferry to Greenway to see the house, just had time for a quick cup of tea on the Dartmouth quay, then to drive to the B&B in Ashprington.
Day 6 - June 25 - Dartington - Cirencester.
Ashprington wasn't far, and soon we were in this lovely little village and going down the avenue after which the Avenue Cottage is named. It used to be part of the Sharpham estate nearby, but was sold some years ago. The present owner, Richard Pitts has owned it for 30 years, providing a lovely, private and quiet B&B. Daphne had come across it some time ago when on a course nearby, and chose it for us. Richard has been developing the garden since he bought the place, and it is truly spectacular. We walked around in the evening and morning. Our room had a little veranda overlooking the gardens down the valley, and the sunset was spectacular. Breakfast was delicious - eggs, bacon and tomato, local honey. All the finer things in life! After a final walk around the gardens after breakfast, we set off to Dartington to meet my viol-playing friend Valerie whom I met 30 years ago when living in Exeter. We roomed together at the 2011 Dartington Summer School. After a good cup of coffee and catch up at the Roundhouse cafe at Dartington while Daphne went craft shopping, we walked around the gardens, looking wonderful as usual. We met up with Daphne for a delicious fish and chip lunch at the 13th c. Cott Inn, a favorite place. Eventually Valerie had to get home, a 2 hour drive, and we had to get to Cirencester, Daphne's home, about 3 hours. We arrived in time to have a quick snack before going off to a talk on Portraiture by art expert Alice Foster. We were shown several types of portraits and how they were designed to incorporate many facts of the sitter and location. It was fascinating. Back to the house to do laundry, pack up, have a glass of wine and finally to bed for the next adventure - Rome!
Day 7 - June 26 Cirencester - Bristol - flight to Rome.
It was a somewhat harrowing drive to Bristol Airport from Cirencester. 3 different routes had been suggested, and we chose the one that had the huge backup. Fortunately we were able to get off the M4 and on to the M5, so we didn't lose too much time. The flight on Easy jet was comfortable even though it was full, and the 2 hr+ flight smooth. Spectacular view of Swiss Alps with snow, and the descent over the Mediterranean was breathtaking in its colors. Because of the school timetable and a birthday party, Dan was not able to meet me, but I had bought a bus ticket on the plane and took it to the Vatican stop minutes away from their apartment. Note to prospective travelers to Rome, the taxi costs 50 Euros, the bus 6. I did take a short taxi ride to the apartment from the bus stop, because of my luggage. Elisa was there to meet me. Soon after, Dan and Zoe came in and it was wonderful to see them all again. The apartment has been well renovated - open plan kitchen/living room, bathroom and main bedroom, loft upstairs for guest area, play area, bathroom, and tucked away in a little corridor is Zoe's room. All very cosy. It is small but works for them. Elisa walks to work (opposite the Vatican Wall) and Zoe's school is also about a 10 minute walk. After it got dark Dan took me up to the rooftop to see an amazing sight very close to us - the Basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican, all lit up.
Day 8 - June 27 Rome - Zoe's 5th birthday.
Because of so much going on at school and her final ballet lesson, we're celebrating Zoe's birthday on Saturday with just us, and her party on Sunday with friends. How fast the time has gone!
I went to the school in the morning, everyone was very friendly, but the babbling of Italian was a bit overwhelming. Zoe loves her class and her teachers are very kind and helpful to her. There is one other child who speaks English, a little boy, Leo, they are good friends. After picking her up at the end of the day, we had time for a quick cup of tea, then it was off to her last ballet class of the school year. I was impressed by her concentration as she went through the warmup exercises and dance routines, ending with free dancing to Tschaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty music. Her teacher is strict but very supportive, and it was lovely to watch. Italians take nearly 3 months off from lessons in the summer, so she doesn't start again until the end of September.
Day 9 - June 28 Rome
Last day of school for Zoe. She is sad as she loves it and will miss her friends. In the afternoon I got up the courage to go and pick up her birthday cake for Sunday. The shops will be shut Sat. and Sun. due to saints holidays. Armed with a map and my google GPS following me around I braved the streets of Rome. We are in a very nice area being so close to the Vatican City, with streets full of designer shops. The shop - Cake and the City, was just off a main street and easy to find. I also bought some cupcakes for tomorrow's family celebration. After having sampled pieces of several cakes including cheesecake to die for, I knew this was a great cake shop. It was with a sense of relief I arrived back at the apartment with the cake safe and sound!
Day 10 - June 29.
We celebrated Zoe's birthday today with presents and cupcakes in the morning. She was so excited with everything and spent the whole day enjoying her presents. The train set, together with her Legos will make a great play village. We all had fun with that!
Later we went shopping for the party essentials. In spite of the holiday, a supermarket was open.
We ended the day by going up to the rooftop of the building with wine and snacks to enjoy the spectacular fireworks from the Castel d'Angelo. This 12th c. Castle has been hosting firework displays since Michaelangelo instigated them to celebrate the Saints days of Peter and Paul. So there we were on a gorgeous evening with the fireworks on our left and the illuminated Basilica on our right. Zoe was thrilled to have fireworks on her special day.
Day 11-June 30 - Zoe's birthday party at the Castel
Zoe's birthday party in the Parco Adriano which surrounds the Castel Sant'Angelo (built 139 AD) where yesterday's fireworks show was held. Perfect day, warm but cool breezes. We set up blankets on the grass and the children had a great time. There were games and a hilarious egg and spoon race where everyone won, because we couldn't keep up with up with them! The chocolate birthday cake was rich and delicious, a small piece went a long way. Fortunately most of the adults spoke English so interesting conversation was possible. Although we had taken a taxi to the park because of all the party stuff, we walked home with friends who live near Dan and Elisa. It's so great not to be having to be in the car all the time. Although I have been complaining about Rome since my first visit, I am enjoying getting to know the neighborhood and the way of life as a resident instead of a tourist. The shops are nearby, people are friendly and I love the apartment building.
Day 12 - July 1
Relaxing after yesterday's festivities. Their new kitten, Cornea, had to get vaccinated, so we walked to the vet to have that done, taking in the surrounding area of the Castel where we had the party.
Day 13 -July 2
Zoe and I went off to visit the zoo in the Borghese Gardens. There wasn't a really direct way, so we went on the tram, then walked to the Piazza del Populo (Rome's elegant public living room). It looked too far and complicated to walk to the Zoo, so we got a taxi, and were glad to do so. The zoo is good for younger children - the different areas, African, South American, Lake and individual animal enclosures, were close to each other for easy walking. It was quite hot, but plenty of shade everywhere. Zoe was pleased to see the African animals again and the huge bears. She was fascinated by the double hump camels, different from those in Kenya, was a bit nervous in the Butterfly Hall, but did admire the myriad of colors on the wings. We took the 15 minute mini train ride around the zoo which showed us a good perspective of it. The small cafeteria had a delicious Caprese salad for me, and pasta with tomato sauce for Zoe. It was a fun day. After 4 hours of walking we opted for a taxi to take us home! A cup of tea at home revived us so that Dan, Zoe and I could set off to pick up the second cat they have adopted. Black and white Wanda, 3+ months old is at a sanctuary in Largo Torre Argentina, above the ruins where Julius Caesar was killed. The paperwork had been done last week but they forgot to tell Dan and Elisa that Wanda was being spayed tomorrow, so we cannot take not take her until we get back from our holiday in the south. She's a very friendly kitten, good temperament and should get along well with Cornea.
Day 14 - July 3 - Pickpockets on the Metro
Zoe was wanting to practice her dancing this morning, so I found a neat website set up by a pianist playing music suitable for ballet classes. It is very similar to what is played at her ballet classes. She spent quite some time with her warm ups and then with the free dance. She especially enjoyed the tango selection. Unfortunately, I can't download the video here I took of her dancing. Later we took the metro to the Republica stop to get tickets at a nearby office for a 4th of July celebration being held by expat Americans on Saturday. It sounds as if it will be fun. After looking around the market stalls, we got on the metro to go home. I decided to stop off at the the Spanish Steps, but as there is very little shade there, it was going to be too hot for Zoe, so they continued on. I liked it a lot 4 years ago, still can't afford the tea at Brabingtons Tea shop, but well worth looking around. Stopped at the British Council for information on summer camps and a violin teacher for Zoe, but they didn't have anything. Then the shocker - as I was getting on the subway, someone pushed against me quite hard and when I turned around I saw a girl getting off the train. A woman next to me was trying to tell me something, but it took me 3 tries to understand what she was saying and pointing at. Someone had stolen my wallet! The pushing against me was to undo the zipper of my backpack purse and grab it. Of course earlier I had gone to the ATM so had nearly 100 Euros and my debit card, plus 3 train tickets in the wallet. I got back to the apartment within 15 minutes and called my bank, no debits had been made. My other credit cards were in a separate wallet, and my iPhone was in a different compartment, so she didn't get those, thank goodness. There are warnings in the guide books, and Dan and I had been discussing safety issues this morning. Bummer! I didn't feel like going to a really nice concert this evening by myself (Dan had conference calls in the evening), so that was also a bummer. Instead though, I had a lovely outdoor dinner in the neighborhood with Elisa and Zoe, and enjoyed being serenaded by a duo of accordion and guitar and later a strolling violin.
Day 15 - July 4 - Exploring Rome with Zoe Day.
Expedition with Zoe to the Piazzale Garibaldi on Gianicolo Hill to see a puppet show at the Teatro di Pulcinella. It was a 15 minute walk to get to the bus, then a short ride up the hill to one of the best vistas of Rome. Unfortunately the guide book was out of date and the puppet shows are now only on the weekends. The little puppet theatre is one of the last of many, so it was disappointing. However we were in time to see and hear the daily ritual of a cannon being fired at noon that can be heard all the way to the Coliseum. The reason for this ritual is to provide a reference point for all Rome's church bells. This was decreed by Pope Pius 1X in 1847.
After a ride on the carousel and walking around the park a bit ( it's huge), we took the bus back down the hill and meandered along the Via della Conciliazione which connects St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City to the Castel Sant' Angelo. We stopped to have a slice of pizza and a gelato in a little shop, delicioso! Home was not far away, I am getting familiar with the streets now I use the Vatican as a marker! It was quite a hot day, and we were pretty tired when we arrived home, so took things easy the rest of the day.
Day 16 - July 5
Really hot day today. We went to the Lego store, as I had promised Zoe she could choose a set for her birthday present from me. She chose the Friends' Veterinary Hospital. We had also planned to go to the Disney store but it was too hot to walk around, so we spent all afternoon building the set, Dan and I taking it in turns to put it together. Zoe was involved the whole time. In the evening, Zoe's babysitter came, and Dan, Elisa and I went to the local castle in their backyard, the Castel Sant'Angelo. There was a baroque ensemble playing a program of Corelli, Bach and Vivaldi in the castle and a tour afterwards to some areas not open any other time. It was magical - an excellent ensemble, glorious music, beautifully performed in an incomparable setting.
Day 17, Sat. July 6. Fourth of July celebration.
4th of July celebrations hosted by the American Club at Marymount International School, north of the city. We got there by bus. Actually, there seemed to be more Italians than Americans. Good jazz band and singer, and the food was pretty standard - burgers, hot dogs on the grill as well as (eventually) steak and pork ribs. Some veggies - tomatoes, corn. Lots of beer and drinks. They were games and races for the children as well as face and arm painting, and a crafts table. Zoe painted a bird feeder. There were lots of items in a raffle, but we didn't win anything, it was all rather curiously handled. Sparklers were given out at the end of the evening.
Day 18. July 7 - Rome to San Prancrazio in the Puglio area.
Picked up our rental car from the Termini office. Drove to the apartment using my IPhone 5 google maps. Works really well, although the Italian accent is sorely brutalized by the English announcer. The 8 hour drive from Rome was very pleasant. Dan and I took turns driving. The highways are well taken care of and signs easy to read. Speeds are unbelievable, but since all the signs were in kilometers which I am not familiar with, I just drove as fast as I could comfortably. Some cars were passing me at 150 kms/ mile. I had no idea Italy was so mountainous. Going towards Naples they were huge and blocked the view of the Mediterranean. We detoured the city, missing Vesuvius to turn east crossing the middle of Italy to the coast of the Adriatic Sea. We drove through many short tunnels in the mountains before going down to the plains where vineyards and olive groves abound. The area we were going to, Puglio, produces most of Italy's olive oil and wine. There were glimpses of the Adriatic sea as we drove south. We plan to have a day at a beach. The last few miles confused the GPS by a sudden road closing. After seeing other cars going through the barrier, we did the same in pitch darkness, going through a field and onto a bed of a new road before getting to the town near the farm. At 10:30pm we had to get directions, but no problem, everyone in Italy in the summer is sitting outside with a digestivo after dinner. We arrived safely at our destination, warmly welcomed by the owner. Our rooms are comfortable and we slept very well.
Day 19. July 8, "Contrada Torrevecchio" Via per Avetrana, San Pancrazio, Salentino (Br)
"Contrada Torrevecchio" Via per Avetrana, San Pancrazio, Salentino (Br)
Our home for the next few days is a farm, part of the Agritourist program. Farmhouses cater to those who do not want the typical beach or city experience, but tranquility and relaxation. Ours is just that. Our rooms on the ground floor open onto a wide covered patio overlooking the gardens. The architecture follows the style of the 12th c. crypt which is being excavated in the garden. The stone used for the new building is also that of the ruins, local creamy yellow sandstone. Arched high ceilings.There are chairs and tables on the wide veranda for sitting around in the cool of the evening.
Zoe and I got up early and walked around the property. Beautifully landscaped gardens and lawns. Palm trees on both sides line the avenue leading to the house, and are dotted around the house as well. Fields surround the farmhouse, some for grazing for the goats, sheep, cows and horses, some for crops. The swimming pool is huge, a delight for Zoe who is making progress and gaining confidence in her swimming. There's also a shaded playground and boule alley. Fig trees galore, but sadly I can't lie under them and gorge myself on the fruit, as it's not ripe for another 2 weeks or so.
Breakfast is a buffet on the veranda of the dining room. Most everything comes from the farm - yoghurt, fruit , milk, cheese, homemade jams and coffee cakes. We are on half-board which means breakfast and dinner is included. Today, as there was an outside group having lunch, we were invited to partake in the lunch as well. It was a 4 course meal, taking 2 hours. Home-grown olives and bread on the table. Antipasto of potato-mint croquettes, mini potato balls made from diluted pizza dough stuffed with soft cheese filling. Primo was pasta with sauce, Secondo - frittata, mine came with thin slices of beef. Dessert was creme caramel. Unlimited house wine of course. Then it was siesta time as we couldn't move. Later, and after a swim it was dinner time! This time we chose less wine and only 3 courses - cheese platter, veal in delicious sauce and fruit platter.
Today's menu totally convinced us that breakfast and one other meal a day was sufficient here.
Day 20 July 9, Lecce, Santa Croce
A slow start to the day. Breakfast out on the veranda, then swimming in the pool and reading a book " Uncommon Reader" by Alan Bennett. A good read - funny and witty.
Early afternoon we drove to Lecce, in the region of Apulia, founded around 200 BC. About 19 km from the farm, it is in the heel of the Italy boot. Commonly known as the "Florence of the South" because of the rich baroque architecture, it has had rulers from many countries - Roman, Saracens, Lombards, Hungarians, Slavs and Normans.
After a late lunch in a narrow street next to the most important church, Santa Croce, begun in 1353 but not finished until 1695, we meandered around this fascinating town. There are so many baroque buildings, churches, convents (some of which have been converted into municipal offices), that it is impossible to see more than a few at a time.
Lecce seems a thriving town with arts and crafts stalls, terra cotta shops, upmarket clothing, shoes and gift shops for the tourist crowd.
Day 21 - July 10, Gallipoli
After the obligatory morning swim in the pool, where Zoe is really progressing with her swimming skills, we went for a beach day to Gallipoli (not the place of the horrific battle in WW1), about 50 kms from the farm. An easy drive through the countryside, many olive groves and vineyards surrounded by walls made from the local creamy yellow sandstone. We passed through several villages and towns, some more prosperous than others. As we got closer to Gallipoli, hotels in large grounds became more common, so it must be a destination vacation area. This Gallipoli is on the west coast of Italy just near the tip of the boot almost touching Sicily. It has a huge bay with lots of beaches on the Ionian Sea. Most of it is rocky, but there are pockets of glorious sand. The Italians have beach-going down to an art form. Umbrellas with chaises line up along the sand, on ours there was a bar on a big rock with relaxing music floating over the area. Just plain fun. Walking down from the parking lot there was a grove of trees, perfect for picnics and siestas during the brutal mid-day heat.
We returned early evening in time to have a short pool swim as it was getting chilly, and afterwards a lovely hot shower before the evening meal. Bruschetta, eggplant parmigiana and fruit salad was just right (together with the house wine and a small glass of limoncello!). A really lovely day in southern Italy.
Day 22 - July 11 - Castro and Otranto
Today we explored the eastern coast of the boot of southern Italy. The sea is the Adriatic and at one spot Croatia is only 70 km from Italy. No wonder that there are so many old watch towers (Torres) dotted around the countryside so that the Italians could keep an eye on marauders. Many different people have invaded these parts - Turks, Greeks, Normans and others. The countryside is very flat and the towers are very prominent. Most of them are ruins, after all they can be anywhere from 200BC to WW2. Americans were stationed in the area during WW2 to keep a check on the surrounding foes.
It was about an hour or so drive to Castro with a bit of meandering around. We were looking for the coast road as the guide book extolled the breath-taking views of the sea and coastline. The GPS got us on to a pretty rural road (one-lane) and while we admired the olive groves, there was no sign of the sea until just before Castro when we took the high road. That was breath-taking indeed. White houses overlooking a very wide bay , the sea was a myriad of shades of turquoise going to blue. We made our way down to the parking area, and walked down towards the Marina, stopping at a restaurant for lunch (not a 2 hour one this time!) We all had fish dishes - Elisa had mussels and mini ravioli with shrimp and mushroom, Dan had a large whole white fish and I had a combination of fried shrimp, white fish and lots of inch-length whitebait fish you pop in your mouth whole!
We walked down to the Marina, a wonderful public swimming area surrounded by 2 breaker stone walls and the cliff below the road going through the town. There was plenty of space for sunbathing, no umbrellas, but to cool off all you had to do was jump in the sea. It was hard to tear ourselves away, but we wanted to see the mosaic floor of the 11th c. Cattedrale in the Piazza Basilica, Otranto. We went on a different coastal road, even more spectacular than the first one, and got to the Cathedral before it closed at 8pm. Navigating the narrow winding streets in the town is a challenge, especially when the GPS loses contact. For the last few yards we had to walk through narrow winding streets to get to the Cathedral. The 12c. mosaics are quite sensational, covering the whole floor of the large church. It shows scenes from the Old Testament and chivalry, as well as medieval figures of people and animals, along a "Tree of Life". The mosaics are not covered up, in fact pews are put in place for masses and congregants walk throughout. A unique find.
Day 23-July 12 Porto Cesare and Torre Lapillo
Our last day :( Swimming in the pool, then off to Porto Cesare, a 30 min. drive east of the farm. We missed a huge thunderstorm we had seen the lightning further away, but by the time we got there, the sun was shining. There was some flooding but no difficulties.
Porto Cesare is a small town with a wrap-around marina but no sandy beach. Many good-looking hotels and restaurants, so we decided to have lunch there, and found a good cafe near the water. I had a focaccia sandwich of turkey, cheese etc which was delicious. We looked in the guidebook and saw there were 15 miles of sandy beaches to the north, so we drove 4kms to Torre Lapillo and from the sandy public beach swam in the warm azure sea which was shallow until quite far out. Very much a family beach at that time of day. Sellers offering coconut slices and nuts, and Africans hawking all sorts of trinkets and bags.
Day 24 - July 13 Back to Rome via Alberobello
After a final swim in the pool, and last minute photos, we packed up the car and drove north up the Adriatic coast to the town of Alberobello. We went through farmland and then on to the coastal route. There is a resort town along that route built with only white houses, so it is quite a site to see. Alberobello is a good place to see trulli in all their glory. A trulli is a circular building built with local limestone stacked without mortar. It has a conical roof and domed within. The walls and openings are generally whitewashed, while the stone roof tiles are either bare or have religious or folk symbols painted on them. There is a tiny steep street of them, now converted into shops selling tourist stuff and beautiful locally made linens and crafts.
In Taranto, a major town, as a musician I was sorry to have missed the annual "Tarantella" ritual held late in June. This dance in 6/8 time grew out of tarantism - the hysteria that appeared in 15-17th c. Italy and was prevalent in Taranto. Supposedly, alleged victims of the tarantula's spider's bite could cure themselves through frenzied dancing, which sweated out the poison. It was a long drive back through the mountains before Naples and then on to Rome, with a most glorious sunset on the way. After unloading everything at the apartment, Dan and I were challenged by driving through Rome to drop the car off (fortunately it was late Saturday night, not so much traffic). We returned by the subway , exhausted!
Day 25 - July 14, Adopted Wanda from the cat sanctuary.
Recovery day. In late afternoon, Dan, Zoe and I went to the Cat Sanctuary to collect Wanda, their new young cat. She had been spayed while we were gone, and had recovered well. We had an exit interview with the Director of the Sanctuary, and it was very intensive. Instructions were given several times over regarding feeding, immunizations, care of the cat and responsibilities. At the end we were afraid he might burst into tears at having to let Wanda go. This is after 2 previous interviews! Finally we were allowed to take her in the carrier, with more instructions to not let her out of the carrier on the way home whatever happens, as she would never be found again. Italy requires dogs to be micro-chipped, but not cats. She survived the noisy bus ride pretty well, not terribly loud wails, then at the apartment was put in the main bedroom to settle in. Later the striped kitten, Cornea, was allowed to meet her in the room, and after some hissing and spats they seemed to settle down. By bedtime, they were buddies and slept on Dan and Elisa's bed all night. www.romancats.com
Day 26 - July 15, Borgese Gardens, Concert in the Villa dei Quintilli in the Old Appia Way.
Morning activities were mostly deciding on what to do and see for the rest of my time here. How fast it has gone! I wanted to see more of the Borgese Gardens, there is a children's pavilion in the gardens so Zoe would have something to do. She and I went off to navigate the bus system and thanks to a wonderful transport app, Moovit, we had all the necessary information. It's still a challenge though seeing the bus stops early enough so as to get ready to leave the bus. The drivers don't wait around! After getting to the Gardens we still had a fair amount of walking to do and in spite of the heat we covered a lot of ground. The drinking fountains in front of the Galleria Borgese were ice cold, straight from the aqueducts. It was a disappointment after all that walking to find that the children's pavilion was closed. It was still too hot for Zoe to play on the outside equipment so we went to have a slice of pizza and a gelato for lunch from a food truck. That gave us the energy to find the bus stop. We just made it back to the apartment before my iPhone with the directions ran out of power. Dan had planned to take Zoe to the movies, and I to go to the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, but a good shower seemed preferable.
After Dan had finished a conference call to the US, he and I went out to the Villa dei Quintili in the Old Appia Archeological Park to hear a concert in homage to Corelli who died in Rome in 1713. Members of the Festival Euro Mediterranean orchestra, played baroque music for counter tenor, theorbo, Chittarone and harpsichord under the perfect evening summer sky and incredible background of the ruins of the villa.
It was a enchanting experience, the counter tenor has a gentle sweet voice, perfect for the arias by Caccini, Frescobaldi, Monteverdi and others. The theorbo/Chittarone player was outstanding in his solos, and the harpsichordist was also. The only slightly unnerving thing was wondering how we get home. The venue was quite a way out of town. We had come in a taxi, but worried about getting one after the concert.
It was very dark and a long way over the real Appian Way which is pretty rocky. However, we did get one, in spite of Dan's concern about it not showing up, and we were dropped of at the Metro and home in 20 minutes.
Day 27 - Tues. July 16, Palazzo Doria Pamphilij.
Met Dan and Elisa's landlady, Caroline, for coffee and a croissant. She is English and an amateur cellist, so we had a lot in common, and it was interesting to talk to her about the musical scene in Rome. After breakfast I took a bus to the Palazzo Doria Pamphilij, still owned by the family, who live upstairs. The Doria who built the Palazzo was the brother of Pope Innocento X.There are four fabulous public rooms which are open to visitors. Their picture collection is phenomenal, the highlight is the painting of Pope Innocente X by Velazquez. Quite wonderful. One room has mirrors, like Versailles, but on a smaller scale. The ballroom was especially constructed with a lovely wood parquet sprung floor for the wedding reception of a daughter. There is a small area divided by a brass grille where the orchestra played. It was fascinating to me to see it. While the main part of the ballroom had been refurbished, the orchestra area had not, and you can see where the musicians' chairs had rubbed up against the original wallpaper. There was a 15-16th c. harp, the only one in existence inlaid with ivory and ebony. Handel was much feted in Rome and as the Dorias were very much into the arts, he visited the Palazzo often.
Another especially interesting painting was one with an angel playing the violin with her back to the audience. In front of her was a man holding up a manuscript of the music for her to read from. Recently there was a concert in the Palazzo featuring the piece from the painting. How I would have loved to have been there! Marble statues abound in the last room in spite of a disaster when one winter, the roof collapsed from the weight of the snow which had fallen. Many statues were damaged, but have been repaired.
I had the equivalent of a piece of quiche for lunch in the Palazzo cafe and enjoyed looking through the bookshop.
Day 28 - July 17 Borghese Gardens, Tiber Summer Festival, Mexican restaurant for Dan's birthday dinner.
Last day in Rome :( Went to the Borghese Gardens with Zoe and Dan. Very hot, but cooled off paddling in the fountain overlooking beautiful vista towards the Vatican, while we took a lunch break on the lawn. I had not seen that part of the gardens, more formal than the parts we had walked around. Rented a pedal bike for 3, Dan pedaling up steep hills, hairy going down, had to pump the brakes! After Zoe got the balloon she had waited for 2 days for, we took a short bus to the Piazza del Populo, then Dan and Zoe had an ice cream sundae from Burger King which I refused to participate in, when there is so much delicious gelato everywhere!
We took the Metro to get home quickly as Zoe had a play date with Leo, an English classmate. They had a great time together, and it was nice to meet Sarah, Leo's mum. They had just returned from Berlin where Sarah was teaching a yoga course. When in Rome during the summer, Leo goes to a camp held at a local school. Zoe is going to try it out tomorrow, if she likes it then she can go full days until the end of July. Rome shuts down in August, except for tourists, but the camp starts the last week and continues until Sept. 12 when school starts.
Tonight's dinner was a special one for Daniel's birthday. I had read an article about a summer festival along the banks of the Tiber, and we went down there to investigate. The place was popping and we chose a Mexican restaurant. All the buildings on the banks are temporary for the summer, as during the winter the river rises and the whole area is flooded. The food was good, as was the sangria, and it was fun to be part of a festive evening. There were also stalls along the banks with clothes, arts and crafts and such. That part of the river is near the university so students mingled with the locals and tourists. It was a lovely evening for my last one - the sun setting, the river, the atmosphere and most important, sharing it with Dan, Elisa and Zoe. My last taxi ride around the city.
Day 29 - Rome-UK- Alderholt - Meryl
The photo is of 2 Italian boys in the metro playing for the passengers. They were really good and delighted to get a tip!
Last morning for last minute shopping. Oh the cool morning air! Back to the flat to finish up packing. All too soon it was time to leave for the coach. It was a longer hike to the bus stop than we anticipated, but we got there in time and then the awful business of goodbyes. How I will miss them all.
The comfortable coach whisked me away to the airport and I had plenty of time to check in and have some lunch before going through security. We boarded a little late as the plane had arrived late, then had a 45minute wait on the plane as the handlers were not able to remove the ramp from the plane and another crew had to be brought in. We finally left and had a smooth flight back to Bristol catching up some time and arriving only a few minutes late. A quick bus ride to Bristol Temple Meads train station, but missed the train I wanted to get. However, I was able to call Meryl to let her know when I was arriving. The train journey was one of the prettiest I have been on since Cornwall. Rolling green fields, beautiful vistas, this area has to be one of the loveliest parts of England.
Meryl and Nia were at the Salisbury station to meet me, so pleased to see them again and am looking forward to spending some time with them. Meryl and I chatted until late until I realized I was one hour ahead of UK time coming from Rome. No wonder I felt so sleepy !
Day 30 - Meryl - Alderholt
The heat wave continues - glorious. Meryl's flowers in pots are lovely, very colorful. We had a croissant and tea breakfast on the patio and caught up with news. For lunch we went to the Royal Oak pub and had quiche and salad with a shandy, sitting outside under an umbrella. Perfect.
By the time we got back Nia had returned from school. Rhys has finished college for this year and is doing various summer jobs, one as a bartender. We went to see him in action at their local pub, and I'm sure he'll be very successful at it. Outgoing personality and friendly. His passion is skateboarding.
Nia is doing very well with her singing and playing and we made a video to send to Zoe so she could dance along with it. It would be fun to see those two together.
Such a quick visit, packing up to go to London tomorrow.
Day 31 - Salisbury - London - Louise, Globe Theatre "Gabriel".
My favorite transportation - train from Salisbury through the glorious English countryside. Arrived at Waterloo station and left luggage there. Walked to the Globe Theatre and after a salmon sandwich lunch sitting by the river opposite the theatre, met up with Janet and Louise. Very concerned about Louise as she has had a lung infection for weeks. She had come to the Globe a couple of days earlier to see the play, but had fainted in the heat in the first half. That night 15 other people fainted! She wanted to see the first half which she had missed, which she did, then left us and went back home. It was cooler and I only saw one person faint! The play or "entertainment", "Gabriel", was excellent. It was based on true facts about musicians and actors not getting paid for their performances. It was in turns serious, hilarious, 15th. C bawdy, very bawdy, and finally victorious. The centerpiece were the musicians, all baroque, performing music by Henry Purcell. The natural trumpets featured in most pieces, were outstanding, especially Alison Balsom, one of the foremost players today of the natural trumpet. They also sang along with the actors, and the whole thing was truly an entertainment.
Janet and I walked along the embankment and had a delicious risotto with asparagus for supper at a restaurant nearby. It was wonderful being in London on a warm day with everyone milling around - going to the Globe, pubs, walking along the riverside as people have done for hundreds of years. We had a good catch-up sitting amongst all of that. After supper we went to the station to pick up my luggage and wait for Louise to meet us across from the Old Vic Theatre where Mum sang in the operas. It was very meaningful to be where Mum spent so much of her singing career , going to the Old Vic on her way to sing and then back to the Girls' Friendly Society Hostel where she lived. She was in her early 20s and it would have been so exciting for her.
Day 32 - Daniel's birthday. London - Downe (village) Down (House).
Phoned him to wish him happy birthday. He's having a good day and going to a concert with Elisa in the evening.
Went with Louise to check out a cattery for her cat while she is away soon. Near the village of Downe in the Kent countryside, it was a reasonable place, smelled good and the cages large and separated from the cat neighbors. The resident cats seemed contented. Wolfie would have been the sole screamer. He hated cages. From there we went into the village to visit Down (without the e) House, the home of Charles Darwin and his wife and ten children. It's a lovely family home, not at all pretentious. The gardens and lawns are a delight, and the shaded rattan chairs on the veranda were a perfect napping spot to get away from the heat.
The house looks as if the family just left it. Darwin's study was full of his books, experiments and other items needed for his writing. His book "On the Origin of the Species" was written there. Games equipment was stacked in a cupboard, as if ready for someone to grab a racquet or ball to play outside. The dining room was set for company with the Wedgewood china service especially made for the Darwins on their marriage. Both Darwin and his wife were related to the Wedgewood dynasty. They enjoyed entertaining and did so, often.
There was an interesting exhibition and description of the 5-year voyage of the Beagle, a ship that sailed around the earth to collect specimens. Darwin was accepted on the voyage, partly as someone who would provide intelligent conversation at the Captain's dinner table, and also to help with the collection and recording of the specimens. Run by the English Heritage, Down House makes a fascinating and informative day out.
Day 33 - London to Crowle via Scunthorpe.
Travel day from Louise's to Crowle. Taxi to Eltham to pick up coach to Victoria Coach Station. Very crowded as usual, but easy to get to the gate for the Scunthorpe coach. The coaches are huge, very comfortable and good air conditioning. Very much needed as today turned out to be the hottest day so far this year. Exciting day today awaiting the birth of Kate and William's baby. With a stop at the Leicester service area for a cup of tea and some cold water, we trundled north along the motorway. I did so enjoy seeing the changing terrain, from the rolling hills of the south to the flat fields of Lincolnshire, with the dykes and canals. As in Cornwall, there were several windmill areas, with different sizes of windmills - groups of huge ones, to a single one for a farm.
Noreen and her friend Margaret who drove, were at the Scunthorpe bus station to meet me. Crowle is about a 20 minute drive from there. The farmhouse is very quiet now with John gone. Noreen lives there alone, although Clare and Marcus often spend the night there during the week . Noreen has always been a hands-on grandmother while Clare works, by taking care if him as a baby and later on picking him up from afterschool.
We stayed glued to the TV for the announcement of the birth. It finally came around 8:30pm, four hours after the actual birth at 4:46 in the afternoon. A boy - I was hoping for a girl. 3 kings in a row.
After all that exhaustion, I fell soundly asleep in a comfy bed. So quiet around here after London.
Day 34 - Crowle
Recovery day. Catching up on news with Noreen. Ian came in for lunch, then later he and Jeanette brought 3 year old Lewis. Gave him a Lamborghini model car which he loved. Good to see them and to catch up on their news. They now live in Epworth. Ian rents out his house at the bottom of the lane.
Late afternoon, Noreen and I went to pick up Marcus now 6. Today was the last day of school, but he will continue on with daycare during the summer, as Clare is working.They also provide after-school care until 11 years. The school is within walking distance, so very convenient.
We were all waiting to see Kate and William come out of the hospital with the baby, and finally a little after 7pm they did. A few words at the microphone, showing off the sound-asleep baby, then popping back into the hospital to put him in the car seat before William drove them all to Kensington Palace. Kate looked marvelous, William tired but elated.
Noreen made a great dinner which we ate quite late because of all the baby excitement. Roast lamb, my favorite! Lots of vegetables also. Dessert was rhubarb crumble, another favorite.
Day 35 - Harewood House
Drove with Clare, Noreen and Marcus to visit Harewood House, the Lascelles pile outside Leeds. The 6th Earl married Princess Mary, the daughter of King George V, so it became a royal residence. They modernized it quite a bit in the 1920s. The original house was built in the 1700s, with "Capability " Brown landscaping the lovely grounds and vistas. There have been buildings on the site since the 12c. but not much remains of them now.
We had a picnic in the field where the cars were parked, it was quite hot, hat and lotion weather, then I went in to the house. Noreen and Clare had seen the inside several times, so they sat out outside while Marcus had a wonderful time in the children's area - penguin feeding, the bird sanctuary, playground. Lots to do to keep him interested. We had a hard time getting to leave at the end of the day.
I just made it to the talk by the head chef who was a mine of information and very willing to share it. He has a staff of 8 and they do most of the catering for the family and guests. There are several dining rooms seating various numbers, 32 in the state dining room, 40 in the other downstairs dining room. There is a smaller one upstairs for the family. Last Monday, they had had a banquet for 40 for Prince Charles and his Princes' Trust. I was particularly interested in this stately home, as the 7th Earl of Harewood was a great patron of the arts, and in fact married a very fine concert pianist, Marion Stein. He did a lot for music during his lifetime. They also collected contemporary paintings, and his study was filled with them. In the state rooms, there are pictures and drawings galore by all the famous artists of the day. Princess Mary had a suite of rooms with beautiful furniture, mostly Chippendale, and gorgeous furnishings. It's not a huge house, but exquisitely decorated.
I ended up on the terrace and knew I had to fetch Noreen and Clare to join me for tea overlooking the formal gardens. There was just time before the cafe closed, and because it was my last day, I had a cream tea. The vista from the terrace overlooking the formal gardens and rolling hills created by "Capability " Brown is one of his finest and it was a perfect spot to end a lovely day.
After leaving Harewood House, stopped by at Clare and John's house which I had not seen before. They have been renovating it for several years and it is beautiful, as you can see from the photo. The property backs onto the river Trent, and when Marcus gets older, John will clear the bushes and trees to make a pretty view. It was quite late by then, but we managed to find a pub that was still serving meals. Had to have fish and chips at least once in England and it was very good.
Day 36 - July 25. Crowle to LHR. Last day in England :(
To PO to send off mail to Louise and Daphne, then walked back to the farm. I realized it was 60 years since I first came to Crowle to stay with Granny. I walked past the empty lot where the Brewery was where she worked and I would play. Just a few houses down was her little semi-detached 2 up, 2 down with a garden at the back. It is now joined together with the other attached house, and with an extension has become quite a large house with a big garden. It is on the edge of the town, at the start of the long lane going to Cottage Farm. I learnt to ride Granny's bicycle on that farm lane and now enjoyed the memories as I walked along to the farm house. A surprise visit by cousin Paul Hope, Auntie Elsie's son as we were finishing lunch. It was good to catch up and hear about his daughter Charlotte's life as a policewoman. Regular police officers still do not carry guns. Some are selected to have taser training and she has just been on that course. They have regular refresher courses on baton handling.
Clare drove us to Scunthorpe for me to catch the train to Reading. It had been a lovely visit seeing everyone and catching up. As always on the train I so enjoyed going through the countryside, changing from the flat fields of Lincolnshire to the rolling fields of the Cotswolds. A particular thrill to pass through Oxford, I don't know why, but it was. Arriving in Reading, I was glad that I had made the decision to go that route, as the direct bus to Heathrow waits right outside the station. An easy 40 minutes and we were there. I went into Terminal 3 to book a hotel, and after a coffee got on the shuttle to the Comfort Inn. Apart from the price of the room, it was very pleasant.
Day 37 - July 26, LHR-RDU
I had a good night's sleep and a cooked breakfast in the morning before catching the shuttle to the airport, just a few minutes away. So much easier this way, not having to deal with getting up very early and fighting traffic. I checked in and went through security with plenty of time to wander around duty free. Nice to look at but not to buy. I saw the Rector of Chapel of the Cross at a table and chatted with him. He and his wife have been away on sabbatical for a few months. This flight is my favorite one, AA direct to RDU. I wish I had kept count of the number of times I have been on this flight. It's the best ever, and today was no exception. Sat next to a friendly young mum who was travelling with her family, together with her 2 brothers and their families, for a reunion with an aunt and uncle who live in Durham. The uncle works for Glaxo and I told her how grateful we Triangle area travelers are to have this flight. If it weren't for the employees of the British companies located in the Triangle we certainly wouldn't have it.
My good friends Ann and Phil picked me up from the airport and soon I was back in my house, untouched by the disastrous floods Chapel Hill had earlier this month, but oh, so quiet without Wolfie. Later the children told me Miss Magnolia, Wolfie's sister, died earlier this month, just a few weeks after Wolfie. The same symptoms, but she was not put to sleep, she waited for Jennifer to come home and passed away peacefully with her there.