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Cowes

It was summer. No really, it was. The sun shone, there was no rain and we all moaned about how hot it was. So that was that then. In amongst the sunny days there has been the evidence of urchins who have been to visit. And learned to ride bikes.

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Lessons

We had them to stay for a couple of days whilst their parents selfishly went away for a much deserved break!

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Urchins

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Slip sliding away

What larks we had…

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Larks

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End of the cone

A fun time was had by all. They then reappeared a week later…

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Boys

And all was going swimmingly until some one (not the next one) was caught weeing in the pool…..

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Washing basket swimming

Well, boys will be boys…

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Yes I am alive. But just stupidly busy. My lovely part time life has turned into a full time writing roller coaster but I’m not complaining. Not at all. To be able to do something that you love and get paid for it is fab. But doesn’t leave much room for anything else!

The urchins are of course always in evidence and the smallest girl child does love a selfie.. “Show me, show me,” she says and just loves to see herself captured on the phone. They make me smile. Because apart from all the madness in the world, it’s all really about family isn’t it.

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Plenty of silliness. That’s the ticket!

 

 

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TG and I went to Italy a week or so ago and it was shut. No really. There were holiday resorts on the coast from Bari to Otranto that were so shut that if tumbleweed had blown past us it wouldn’t have been a surprise. There was not a man, woman, child or dog to be seen in what were akin to post apocalyptic towns in the middle of nowhere. But anyway apart from that it was great. We flew across the snowy Andes and landed at Bari – on the unfashionable coast and headed for our first night’s hotel in the dark.

I hadn’t expected to like Bari – a shipping port but it was charming. An old town and a new sensitive redevelopment of the esplanade made for a very pleasant evening of pizza, pasta and a drop of plonk. It was but a pit stop on one of our odysseys but we had a little walk before setting forth.

There was the fish market with its blue rowing / fishing boats (of which more later) and a man bashing seven bells out of a poor octopus

And then we were off

To Alberobello – land of the Trulli – little tiny houses / farm buildings which were dotted all around the countryside leading to the town but concentrated into a town within a town in Alberobello. They were quite astonishing and had been revived as shops and hotels and with their whitewashed walls were a peaceful spot despite the tourists. Actually there weren’t that many people about as it was not just the unfashionable coast but also October – which suited us just fine!

And then it was on to Ortusi – the white city. Now if you watched the cookery programme where Georgio Locatelli went to Puglia with his art historian mate Andrew something then you’ll recognise this. Again, another amazing spectacle that you come upon from below so that there is just a sheer hilltop white town with every house whitewashed. How anyone ever finds their way back to their own house from Tescos I’ll never know…

There was a quick sojourn at Lecce (very quick as it was hot and shut)

And then on to relax for a couple of days at Otranto

A quick dip in the Adriatic right down at the bottom of the heel of Italy where you can go no further downwards

And then on to Gallipoli. I hadn’t quite known what to expect of this town of previous horrors but it had a very pretty harbour where we had some lunch – me an unidentifiable but delicious fish – TG a nice safe pasta. The sun shone and it was glorious.

There were the prerequisite blue boats

And an Ape which had been given a whole new lease of life!

We carried on to the outskirts of Taranto and stayed in a rather lovely hotel which was an agriturismo – a sort of working farm with a hotel and spa

A novel way to store your fruit and veg..

And then the last leg via Matera and the Sassi. This is a UNESCO world heritage site and despite the weather being a bit pants and the light being therefore a bit dim I hope that you get the sense of enormity of what was originally and what still is to some extent, a cave dwelling community. From the unprepossessing town of Matera you climb to the top of the hill and are confronted by this most astonishing place.

It’s hard to see from this picture but the whole of the rock is a maze of caves

Quite quite amazing

It was an interesting trip. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many olive trees in my life (and not a picture was taken..). We met and spoke to some wonderful people including the lady in a restaurant who spoke no English but by the power of my awful Italian and sign language we had a whole conversation about sons and mothers and Nonna Tina who must have been 80 if she was a day but was still cooking in her own restaurant and blew me a kiss as we left. I don’t think I’d necessarily want to go again (there are only so many closed towns and olive trees a body can do) but it was a great insight into a different part of Italy, away from the crowds and the obvious lakes, Romes and Florences which we all flock to. We drank some great wine (and some awful stuff too), ate lots of pasta and caprese and the thinnest loveliest pizzas too and came home physically knackered after all the walking but feeling brain rested. Marvellous.

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So there we were having a little Friday half term morning at Nanny’s house (just the girls – the boy wasn’t allowed to come because of his new found love of spitting…..) and pancakes were deemed to be the order of the day.

We made the batter and heated the pan. The eldest child was standing on a chair next to the cooker watching.

Eldest: Can I make them Nanny?

Me: No the pan is very hot and we don’t want to end up at the hospital for the rest of the morning.

Eldest: Oooooohhhhhh pleeeeeeease

Me: No. I’ll do them. And anyway the first one is always a bit of a disaster while we get the pan to the right heat.

Long pause. Considered look sideways at me

Eldest: Well. Mummy’s are never a disaster….

I managed to fight the urge to push her off the chair.

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So. Last weekend was designated as Great Garden Clearance Weekend. Yes of course I know that it’s January and bloody freezing but TG was not to be put off and so off we went into the cold. And wet.

We managed to fill several of those enormous bags that you get from DIY stores and hold around a metric tonne and then came the task of getting them onto the back of the pick up and to the tip. Hoisting them onto the back of the truck was bad enough as I am not the tallest person in the world and my arms only go up so far but eventually we had got three of the buggers on and roped down and off we set tipwards.

I should at this point mention that the composting section of the tip has a high wall (at least 4 feet high) over which you have to empty your garden waste. There is also the small question of momentum when what is in the bag comes out…

TG: Make sure you hold on to the bottom of the bag when we tip it over the wall.

Me: Well that’s easier said than done with slippy wet gloves on.

TG: Right are you ready. On three. One, two, three

I was at this point practically underneath the bag and hanging on as instructed. As the bag went over the wall the contents got stuck and with one swift movement I was halfway over the wall as well.

TG: I thought I told you to hang on.

Me: (from halfway over the wall and through gritted teeth) I AM HANGING ON. Where are you when needed?!

TG: Well it’s not my fault, you were standing in the wrong place weren’t you.

*divorce pending*

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It’s been rather splendid here on the extremely sunny Isle and we have been making the most of where we are with walks, trips to the pub on balmy evenings and a visit from two out of three of the small people.

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Raspberry picking was the first order of the day and The Eldest Girl having announced that this was to be her future career set to with gusto. The only problem was that the lure of the eating of the raspberry proved far greater than the picking of…

She thought it was hilarious

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The Small Boy was too absorbed in other things to take much notice of these shenanigans

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And so we decided, having exhausted the raspberry supply, to go and have a look at the horses up the lane

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There was a caterpillar found, named Gerry and duly traipsed all the way home

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There was also the following conversation with the EG

EG: Nanny what are those?

Me: Molehills. The moles push up the earth when they’re tunnelling under the ground.

EG (looking thoughtful) : Do they have mole kings and queens do you think?

Me: I’m sure they probably do.

EG: So where do they get their crowns from then?

Me: I can’t believe you don’t know that.

EG (in a “you’re being a smartarse” voice): So where do they get them then.

Me: From the mole crown shop OF COURSE.

EBG (witheringly and with rolled eyes): Oh you ARE silly Nanny.

Indeed.

And so on that note we went home to play in the garden and look at bugs and ask a billion questions. The EG is fascinated by all things creepy crawly and there are any number of poor creatures picked up, examined and rehomed miles from where they began. I’ve been teaching her the names of plants and flowers which she pretty much remembers and she’s got a bug book to identify things which she assures me she has seen all of…

The small boy is more interested in being Batman and generally making merry

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And playing on the swing and asking a billion more questionsSONY DSC

It’s been a great summer so far and the garden has come into its own for running about in (them) and flaking out in (me).

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Today will be a day of hedge cutting and tidying up (knackered back and shoulder permitting) and hopefully the weather will last for a bit longer so that we can all feel that we’ve absorbed some rays and vitamin D and feel better for it.

Madam Rainbow is ambivalent about the heat. On one hand she’s not keen on the very hot days, on the other it is a great excuse for constant snoozing

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She is a lazy baggage!

And so another week looms. Rehearsals, work, gardening and maybe a wee trip to a place that sells wine might be in order (and I don’t mean the supermarket). We also need to sort a break out in the autumn when the holiday let is quiet and we can draw breath. Phew!

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Enjoy Dear Reader. Enjoy!

 

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A little something I wrote that those lovely folks at Cultured Vultures  have published! Yay!!

 

In Praise of the Comfy Knicker.

 

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