MONDAY 14-5-18

We were up in good time for a nice hot shower before making the vehicle ready for the road, which didn't take too long as I'd done most of it last night. Then it was up to the dump station to get rid of the black and grey waters and take on some fresh. I was to do that whilst The Chef knocked on the owners door and paid him.

That was the first problem of the day - he wasn't at home, and more importantly he had Rosina's passport as security, so we couldn't put the money we owed in an envelope and leave it. We were worried that he'd be away for hours, and we had a ferry to catch. He had displayed an emergency mobile phone number as a contact and we were about to try that when he appeared. We paid him for five nights at €15.00 a night including electricity, which was very reasonable.

Next we were off to a Co-op supermarket, about three miles out of town to stock right up before we arrived in Greece. I get the locations of these supermarkets off Google Maps. Off we went along bumpy rural roads, only to discover upon our arrival, that it was indeed a Co-op, but not a Co-op supermarket, but a growers co-operative for olive oil processing.

I was getting a bit concerned about the time and we decided to make for Brindisi Port whilst looking out for a supermarket along the way. True to form of course, we didn't come across any, and before we knew it we were in the port complex, so no shopping today.

Getting the tickets was pretty straightforward. I had written the details on a piece of paper in Italian, thanks to Google Translate. Then it was back to the vehicle to kill about an hour before we made our way to the ferry loading area. For lunch we settled for a piece of cold pizza each from the cafeteria area at the port terminal. Needless to say, it was not in the plan. We were supposed to have had something more substantial and make up a pack-up to take onboard, but of course we hadn't been shopping.

We were squeezed on to an HGV deck of what turned out NOT to be a Roll-On-Roll-Off ferry, so the lorries were having to do 'U' turns on the deck before they could park up.

The interior of the ferry was very much like the Dover to Calais ships, but at least on them you're only on there for an hour and a half, we were stuck on our for a whole eight hours. We spent most of the time between reading and snoozing just to pass the time. Needless to say it was a long and boring crossing. We decided to have a toasted sandwich and a drink from the cafeteria onboard. So it was two warm, dry bread ham and cheese sandwiches at €4 each and a €3 can of Coke for me.

Thankfully we arrived here safely in Igoumenitsa, in the top left hand corner of Greece. Needless to say the roads look familiar, but we're parked on a Camperstop which just happens to be in the car back at the back of a supermarket.

Tomorrow we shall discover what it is they sell in Greek supermarkets.

Peace at last

SUNDAY 13-5-18

We were awoken at 06:45 by what sounded like a couple of large very loud barking dogs down on the beach for quite some time, and by the time we'd dropped off again it was time for the grizzly kids to wake up at 07:45.

Like the Royal Navy's Submarine Service during the Cold War, as covered in the book I'm reading 'The Silent Deep', we had infiltrated the enemies territory and were gaining intelligence. For us it was how Italian families spend a weekend by the sea. The German motorhomers knew better and all left late Friday. I think we are the only 'foreigners' here now, surrounded by Italians.

We seem to have been objects of interest during our stay here, especially when we're seen around the local town carrying our shopping, and here at the campsite today when they notice the vehicles GB registration  plate.

During our month here in Italy we've found the Italians to be generally friendly and helpful, and thankfully many of them have an understanding of some English, but then we have been visiting many tourists hotspots. I don't think we'd have much chance of being understood around here. It's very rural with probably only agriculture and the Mafia as sources of income. The irritating thing is they're so damned loud. But I think I'm getting the hang of their language - you just add an 'O' to the end of everything. I bet the salad vegetable started off as a 'Tomat' until the Italians got their hands on it, and now it's the 'Tomato'.

This is now the end of our visit to Italy, God-willing we'll be on a ferry to Greece tomorrow. I won't be sorry to leave, but it's been interesting. It was nice to some of the tourists attractions for myself. Frankly you can keep Rome, too crowded by far. I quite liked Florence, and was surprised at how walkable it was. The most concerning thing was who they issued guns to in the city. There were numerous uniformed individuals standing around in pairs who I can only liken to the St Johns Ambulance Brigade back home. Public spirited individuals, who have a uniform, but because the members come in all shapes and sizes, they never look smart, never quite look as if you'd want to put your life in their hands given the choice. Now imagine that same motley band walking towards you with their pouch of dressings on one side of their belts and on the other - a GUN. Do you feel safe now?

The Chef liked Siena, and I'm sorry we didn't stay there the following day which would have enabled us to go back in to town for another look around.

My favourite location was Pisa. I think it was because we arrived there so early and were able to enjoy the main tourist hot spots before all the tourist coaches arrived. What I will always remember is the amazing acoustics in the Baptistry, when one of the ticket checkers at the door stood in the centre of the floor and chanted - just wonderful. Yet again though, just before leaving town the following morning we popped back down to the local supermarket where we saw the young supermarket security man carrying a pistol. Scary, but I guess they have a zero tolerance policy as far as shop lifting goes.

The toll roads have been a refreshing surprise as the charges for using them have been quite reasonable, and I for one wouldn't have journeyed through Italy without using them given the disgraceful condition of many of the normal roads. I have no idea how long a set of tyres or shock absorbers last over here.

The cops are a joke. They see what they want to see and enforce nothing. They drive around the cities one handed whilst making mobile phone calls with the other, so it's unlikely they'll be pulling anybody over for using a mobile phone any time soon.

My morning look at the BBC News website bought a smile to my face. The Sunday Express had as its headline 'Elderly Will Be Cared For By Robots'.  Couple that with an article that caught my eye before we came away:

Daily Mail April 7th:

High Tech sex robots could be owned by hundreds of people in the UK within a year an expert has predicted.

Dr Kate Devlin thinks they may be bought by couples as well. ‘These robots will be bought by people who have a fettish but also by people who have a relationship but their partner is not willing or able to have sex with them’.

Now put those two together and life in an old folks home in the future just might be worth a look.

This afternoon was spent sat watching some of the Neanderthals making fire on one of the provided barbecue points, which unfortunately was right across from us. They used what looked like wood and twigs scavenged from the beach, which smoked pretty badly and was most unpleasant when the wind changed and blew our way.

We remain stuck between two motorhomes of the same family. Still at least we can say we met Italian riff-raff before we left the country.

Tonight we are to enjoy a nice piece of steak which we bought out with us, together with roasted potatoes, vegetables and garlic (can't waste them!) plus some salad.

Fortunately we had a dramatic turn of events between 19:00 and 20:00 in that the Italians followed the normal course of events in that they turn up somewhere Friday evening, let their bloody kids make a nuisance of themselves and then go home Sunday evening.

This means that our knuckle-dragging Pikey neighbours have gone home along with everybody else, and suddenly we have peace.

Tomorrow we're off to Greece. If Italy is the 'boot' of Europe with its sole and heel shape, then Greece is what the boot trod in and is trying to wipe off on the grass verge.

Our intelligence gathering mission here in Italy is complete.

Down periscope.

Some have been smart enough to park in the shade

SATURDAY 12-5-18

We woke in good time to greet another lovely warm sunny day. We've just another couple of days relaxing like this before we head off for Greece. I say relax, but our first job was to walk in to the local town around the bay to try and buy some fresh vegetables, and we wanted to set out before it started to get to hot.

As the tide was in, blocking our passage along the beach we walked along the road which was a longer route, but at least we wouldn't get our feet wet. I made sure I took my sunglasses and hat, as I had been advised during a recent eye test, with two pairs of polarised driving glasses thrown in, that I had very early signs of a cataract in one eye, so I've calculated that the price of a pair of sunglasses is cheaper than a white stick and dog food.

 It took two attempts at two different stores to get even the most basic of items. I thought I'd touched lucky and found some large spring onions, but upon our return we trimmed the excess foliage off to discover that I'd selected three fresh garlic bulbs. Never mind, the plan was to have a stir-fry this evening and we could use some up in that. After all it would only be Italians we would be breathing over, if anybody.

It's now much busier on the campsite today with Italian families turning up with their noisy kids, never mind we'll soon be on the move again.

Checking the BBC News website, I see that, back home, the country continues to go to the dogs. Firstly Royal Bank of Scotland has announced large-scale branch closures and job losses in England and Wales. This is one of the banks which was saved from collapse by British taxpayers, sure as hell not Scottish. Since the taxpayer remains the largest shareholder in this and other rescued banks, why isn't there a seat on the Board of Directors to ensure that the interests of the taxpayer come first, and that includes the award of bonuses earned for continued failure.

Secondly, St Wilfreds Primary School in Blyth, Northumberland has banned pencil cases to stop poorer children being stigmatised. So presumably children can now take their pencils to school in a carrier bag, just so long it's a Primark or Oxfam bag and not Harrods or Waitrose.

Zer Sviss av left und now ve haff Italiano's. Caught between two motorhomes of the same family. They've got a very young kid, so hopefully they won't be staying up late outside talking rubbish and making a noise. If they do they can listen to our telly and DVD player in return.

As I type The Chef is creating a stir fry which will include some interesting ingredients, like chopped garlic bulbs instead of spring onions, dried noodles, a tin of bean shoots, and some chopped small cucumber because the greengrocer gave us four instead of the two we asked for, and we've got to use them up somehow. The joys of motorhoming.

Finally can somebody please explain to me how AUSTRALIA qualifies to enter the Eurovision Song Contest?

The start of our walk around the bay

FRIDAY 11-5-18

We had a lovely peaceful night's sleep again last night, whilst enjoying nice fresh clean bedding and the summer-weight duvet. We'd postponed changing it because we've had some unstable weather of late, and were fearful it would turn cold again.

Yesterday I half filled the fresh water tank to be used for showers, washing up and loo flushing. I don't put too much in unless we're 'on the road' because that way I can empty the tank sooner and put fresh water in.

This morning The Chef said that she thought the water tasted a bit salty when she cleaned her teeth, as I was next in the bathroom I checked it and - yes, it was salty water. I had foolishly made an assumption about which campsite tap supplied the drinking water, and I got it wrong. So this morning's first job was to drain what little was left in the fresh water tank, followed by the ten litres in the boiler. Once drained it had to all be flushed through before I could think of refilling.

Once  I had established the location of the fresh water tap, which happened to be up near the entrance, about 150 yards away, I began shuttling ten-litre watering-can's full back to the motorhome. The owner, having watched carry the first six, then decided to tell me in Italian that there was a fresh water tap against the boundary wall, just a stone's throw from the back of the vehicle. So lesson learned there - always check the water before filling the tank.

So today it was my turn to be on the naughty stool.

We had a nice lazy morning. We'd decided yesterday to take a nice long walk around the bay to Torre Canne where we thought we might be able to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables, but hey, this is Italy, and having walked all the way there the few shops that were in the village, including the greengrocers were closed. I assumed they'd all gone for a nice lie down.

Next door vee haff der elderly Sviss people wiff der caravan. Der car haff der surfboards on der roof. Maybe zay is der Hoff unt der Pammy from za Baywatch. Yezturday zay shower in der public wiff der sea water unt vosh der privates when facing za vorl. Zen zay go in maybe for za bonking.

I think things could get quite busy here this weekend. Lots of bars and restaurants around the bay look as if they are about to reopen for a new summer season. We'll just have to hope it doesn't get too noisy, which is a lot to hope for with the Italians.

The Chef is creating this evenings culinary delight as I type. Such anticipation.

Our complex viewed from the beach. The building on the left is the bar and restaurant - when it opens.

Chores day with washing undergoing a final dry and airing in the sunshine

THURSDAY 10-5-18

This morning The Chef got herself a new title - Memsaab Dhobi Whalla.

Today was to be a chores day here at Lido Fiume Piccolo (find us on Google Maps N40.828178 E17.476962). Although it's a lovely, basic, quiet site it doesn't offer any hot water at all, and we needed to wash the bedding and swap the duvets.

Lying in bed she clearly had a moment of inspiration, and suggested that, as we were putting the gas boiler on to have a shower, why don't we wash the bedding whilst having a shower? We could put Bio washing liquid on to the items before placing them on the floor of the shower and trample on them while we showered. She would take the duvet cover in  with her, and I would take the sheet and pillowcases. Inspired I call it, and that's what happened. Once washed it was all taken over to the laundry sinks for plenty of rinsing in the cold water.

We rigged up a washing line in the car parking spaces shaded with netting. Taking advantage of the weather we washed the towels and other small items as well (though not under the shower). Add to that the other small jobs we got done, it had been a very productive morning.

Sucking the air out of the plastic bag containing the, now aired, winter duvet before putting it away took some doing. Despite the best efforts of the portable vacuum cleaner it was still bulkier than the summer duvet, and getting the storage box lid closed was a bit of a challenge.

It has been lovely to just relax and soak up some sunshine and continue reading my book. As I think I've said before I'm not much of a book reader, though I'll read newspapers and magazine articles all day long. My girls quite liked reading when they were young. In those days it was books like 'Topsy and Tim go to the Circus' these days I suppose, it's more likely to be 'Charlene and Connor attend the Transsexual Reassignment Clinic'.

This afternoon we went for a short walk along the beach. Tomorrow we plan to walk much further as fortunately the BBC Weather computer guestimate has changed, and it's now supposed to be a few days of sunshine ahead.

On our return from our little walk we set up the gas barbecue and enjoyed barbecued Italian stringy chicken drumsticks, and a bag of what was yesterday, a bag of frozen chips, which on further examination today turned out to be suitable for frying  rather than bake in the oven, but with a coating of rapeseed oil and bunged in the oven on very hot turned out to be something like a chip as we know it. Not The Chef's finest culinary moment. Any further transgressions and she'll be on the naughty stool.

WEDNESDAY 9-5-18

We had a lovely peaceful night park on Alberobello's Camperstop in the town. I think we both found yesterday quite tiring one way or another.

This morning we were up in good time and out, armed with the cameras and Rosina's iPad, with which she intended to take pictures of her own. We were here to see the 'trulli', circular buildings with conical roofs and domed within. Trulli are built from local limestone stacked without using mortar. The walls and openings are generally whitewashed, while the stone roof tiles often have religious, pagan or magical symbols painted on them.

The origins of the trulli are obscure, though the name is traditionally applied to ancient round tombs found in the Roman countryside. Alberobello is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the trulli capital. There are trulli homes, restaurants, shops and even a trulli cathedral in town.

We were glad we'd made the early start as it wasn't long before the coach loads of tourists started arriving, each obediently following somebody with a little flag.

On the way back we popped in to a couple of small supermarkets to pick up a few bits and pieces before we set off for a campsite near Torre Canne which is on a beach, about halfway between Bari and Brindisi, the two ferry ports on the Adriatic coast.

Just before setting out I noticed that we could do with topping up the fuel tank. Unfortunately since the Brexit Referendum and the subsequent slide in the exchange rate between the Euro and Sterling, fuel prices on this side of the Channel are about the same as home, which hurts a bit. Not so long ago we regularly paid less than one pound a litre.

As a larger supermarket was located opposite the petrol station we nipped over and bought more items while we had the chance. Traditionally Italians buy their food items from small shops. Large supermarkets, especially those on the edge of towns, are fairly new here, and as we've travelled further south, the size and frequency of the supermarkets has reduced. So we grab what we can, when we can.

Our journey was only about eighteen miles to this campsite. It was recommended by the couple we bumped in to again yesterday.

We arrived here safely and are pleased with this basic site. It has what we are looking for - peace and quiet and a private beach at the bottom. Ideal for relaxing for a few days before we head off for the port at Brindisi to catch our ferry over to Greece.

Tomorrow is due to be sunny in the morning and wet again in the afternoon, and so we'll make good use of the morning to get the bedding washed and the duvet changed to a summer-weight. The following days will, subject to the weather, be spent relaxing, combined with some walks along the beach.

Trulli houses

TUESDAY 8-5-18

The day had come, it couldn't be dodged. We were up at 07:00 for scrub and grub before making the vehicle ready for us to leave not-at-all-sunny-Sorrento.

I wanted to get away as close as possible to 09:00, in the hope that everybody had arrived at work and the tourists had yet to arrive. Oh well, I tried. It was a solid traffic jam through Sorrento, in fact we've never seen it any different, it's always been a very slow moving traffic jam. We needed to drive around the Bay of Naples, before getting on to the toll road that would take us to the Bari area on the Adriatic Sea. Using the toll road was certainly the longer way round, but the alternative was to cut across country and risk the state of the roads, which once off the toll roads, can be dreadful, and that's a lot of potential damage to suspension and tyres. I'd rather give my money to the toll company than to my local garage for repairs.

It probably took us nearly one and a half hours to drive from Sorrento, to the north of Naples where we picked up the toll road, which gives some indication of how bad the traffic was. I did my bit to give way on tight bends and narrow roads to the waves of coaches that were coming towards me, which helped us all. Scooter riders continued to approach me on my side of the road going for a head-on until the last second, presumably just to show off that they carried an organ donor card.

Never mind it was the last time we would have to endure such a road.

We were heading for Alberobello, down on the heal of the boot of Italy. This area of Puglia is known for its olive groves, vineyards and Trulli houses, and it is those we were going to see.

The landscape on the way was quite delightful. Having suffered so much with crowds and heavy traffic along the Italian Mediterranean coast it was lovely to get that sense of space. We could see for miles and miles in some places. Unfortunately the road from the toll road to Alberobello was absolutely terrible. We could hear the crockery and cutlery shaking like mad and I was only doing 10mph.

On our arrival we set up shop and then went for a walk around town, it all looks very nice, but very touristy, but that's to be expected.

We had to make our way back 'home' pretty swiftly because there was a thunderstorm moving in, and we just made it in time before it poured down.

Whilst I sat at the table typing away, there was a tap on the cab window - it was the chap who helped us sort our gas out back in Florence. What are the chances of that happening. After a good chat with the couple they set off though it's possible we may meet up with them at a campsite on the coast in a couple of days or so.

I have managed to book a ferry to Greece next Monday, using a UK booking agency, which was a much easier way of doing things. The only problem now is that I can't print off my booking confirmation. Never mind, we'll sort it.

Tomorrow we plan to get up early and go for a look round town before the tourist busses arrive.