Thursday 28 September 2023

The journey

Now that the house is dorrised and everything unpacked though not necessarily into the right location, I thought I’d tell you a little about our journey from Yorkshire to Lazio.

We left at 4.30 on Saturday morning and had a fast smooth journey to Dover.  We were fortunate to be allowed onto an earlier ferry, the port was surprisingly busy.  We boarded and queued for coffee and pastries, of mediocre quality.  There was an inaudible announcement and we didn’t depart as expected.  After about 15 minutes delay we noticed armed French police walking round, about half a dozen of them with automatic weapons their fingers on the triggers.  This went on for a while before we finally set sail, I hoped they had stayed on board in case there was an incident. When we disembarked three of the police we’re waiting as we drove off the ferry, goodness knows what they were looking for or maybe it was just an exercise but it didn’t make for a relaxing crossing.

However we were still earlier arriving in Calais than we’d expected and not under such pressure to get to our first over night in the champagne region.  We stopped in one of the nice picnic areas for a snack and arrived at the little town where we had a booking around 6.  And we were of course staying in an old folks home, I kid you not.  MrFF had found accommodation in a complex of apartments for the independent elderly that also lets some of them for visitors or holiday makers.  It was amazing. I’ll show you below but we got a very spacious one bedroom apartment with a well equipped kitchen, balcony, there was also a small pool, sauna, outside space with great landscaping and nice furniture, secure parking, a restaurant and a bar (that closed at 8 pm), even bathrobes and slippers which we didn’t use both to save the environment but also because we paid only about £75.   The staff and the residents we met were all friendly and helpful, the old folks as we called them forgetting that we may be older, we’re elegant and sprightly, we really enjoyed our stay.

We slept well and set off on our second days travel, this time to the nice hotel in Aosta where we have already stayed twice this year.  We passed into Italy at the top of the San Bernard pass and coasted down to our hotel. We had a different room, this time with both a mountain view and a balcony, we slept with the curtains open admiring the lights across the valley.

The third day of our journey is always the worst, I dread it.  We join the autostrada almost immediately and stay on it all day.  Traffic is always heavy and often manic, we got held up around Genoa queueing in tunnels which I hate and stopping at busy and expensive services though fortunately we still had some picnic food that kept us going.  When we came to the exit and pay station our ticket collected at the start of the day wouldn’t work, we and the cars behind us all had to reverse from the booth so that we could find help.  We paid almost 73 euros for our day on the autostrada, collected a few essentials and arrived at our house around 7 pm.  Grigio was here waiting on the terrace, delighted to see us as we were to see her.  

The house was as ever full of dust and dead insects, I ignored all that and cooked us some quick pasta after a brief tour of the garden, which wasn’t as bad as I expected given it hadn’t been watered during one of the hottest summers for years.

It takes a few days to recover from such a long drive, we both seem to suffer from a type of motion sickness where we feel we are still moving when we are not. It takes a few days to get the house and garden back in order, to remember where things are and to feel at home.  The weather has been lovely and we’ve made time to sit and rest.  We have Grigio and are waiting for Enrico, we have hope as it took him a week to appear last time which is a bit rude when we have made such an effort to get back to him.

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Monday 25 September 2023

Now almost there

We are in Italy, tonight we should be at our house, phew.  Photo is at the top of the San Bernard pass, MrFF cannot seem to stop driving over it.

Thursday 21 September 2023

Neither here nor there

I didn’t realise I hadn’t blogged for a couple of weeks, no excuse.  We’ve had a few visitors at the penthouse but otherwise our Yorkshire life has continued as usual.  However that is due to change, we plan to leave for Italy at the weekend, ferry and overnights are booked, it’s definite.

So I am at the in between stage, half packed, mentally planning what I need to take whilst trying to continue normal life and feeling restless.  We’ve moved house a lot, at least half a dozen times, I mean actually given up one house for another not just decamping between two homes in different countries.  Every time I have tried to keep life as normal as possible as long as possible, not wanting to dismantle our home too early and to enjoy every final minute.  This strategy isn’t the best, it means a lot of final frantic packing but does avoid every room being filled with boxes for weeks, a half empty home with everything but the essentials gone. Of course last time we moved from Scotland back to Yorkshire the removal van had left long before MrFF started packing his office so I didn’t feel too bad about my own procrastination.

I suppose in my heart I would happily stay here.  I know we are going back to Italy to deal with another water leak, a battle with the Comune about a planning violation that took place in the 1980s and which they have been aware of for more than 40 years, all the usual stress.   The weather is still pleasant there but summer is over and dark nights are coming.  However there are two cats we miss terribly, Grigio and Enrico are fine, we’ve had updates and photos from Giovanni who they have visited regularly.  I really look forward to seeing them but leaving them again for winter will be as awful as ever.

I need to pull myself together, I could move balcony furniture and plants to safer sheltered places, but it all looks so lovely, maybe just one more day of this.

Friday 8 September 2023

To be expected

We might have known that during the best week of weather this year our management company would decide to erect scaffold next to our balcony to allow the roofers to repair a leaking chimney stack we reported two years ago.  

So sitting out is limited, the lads are nice enough, friendly and chatty, but I am sure they have no desire to gaze on a 74 year old in shorts and vest and I have no wish for them to do so.  Besides there is dust and debris falling on the balcony, I’d be slathered in factor 50 and very gritty.

No worries, we have in the afternoons decamped to our communal lake garden which is calm and leafy, even if the benches and chairs are rather hard.  There is pleasant background sound from the running water and sometimes ducks.  It’s hot, mid 20s, but never that ferocious energy sapping what we get in Italy, it’s perfect.

A couple of times MrFF has walked down to the lido, less than £3 for the afternoon with all the facilities including a cafe.  The water is 21 degrees, he manages that and we both manage this temporary disruption.

Saturday 2 September 2023

Separate Saturdays

Regularly on Saturday MrFF takes off for one of his group walks, sometimes starting in Ilkley which is convenient, sometimes from a location that he can access by public transport, both our bus and train station are less then 10 minutes walk away. Today the walk started at Gargrave on the very edge of the Yorkshire Dales which required him to drive.

The alarm went off at 6.40, he brought me a cup of tea, breakfasted alone and left at 7.40.  A lesser woman might have gone back to sleep but I was up, into my walking gear and completed 6 miles with 2 good climbs before coming home for a shower and breakfast. A bit of dorissing including washing the kitchen floor and I moved onto the sunny balcony.  

It was lovely out there with all my happy things and 21 degrees. I came inside to watch the final kilometres of the Vuelta a EspaƱa, and then sat out again till 6.30.  After my morning exercise I’ve had a lovely relaxing day.

MrFF walked 23miles, he took this photo of some hardy folk in Janets Foss.  Now he is in the shower, he’ll be sleep soon after dinner which means I won’t have to listening him moaning when I want to watch a double episode of Casualty.  Saturdays work well for both of us.