Aside

It’s going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day …

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Hello

I know, even I’m impressed I’m back here on this blog so soon.  I actually am quite chuffed. And here I sit on a lovely bright, bright sunshiny Friday afternoon in my garden ..  PI report emailed, chauffeur hat off, family sorted … and no more deadlines.

Happy face on.

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I do think deadlines should be really called stresslines .. gotta be here, gotta do that.

Once something has a ‘gotta be/do’ in it, I feel my voice get a tone and I do get a bit stressed, to the point I should quite frankly prescribe myself a yoga session/ chamomile tea/chocolate/any half a dozen Taylor hug/pinot noir/massage. All together.

Seriously, I’m not that bad but I do need to work on that, and as you know I’m not a resolution type of human so it’s an ongoing project. I’ll be busy.

All about projects, I was outside snapping pretty photos to post here, and as I was done outside feeling all proud I wandered past the biggest project of my life. And I was taken aback.

Is it a stressline ? It is if my undies and socks are at the bottom of it. Gotta ‘be/do” ing this project. Double whammy. See my issue.

It’s not exactly my proudest project and to be fair, I’m often disappointed that I procrastinate so badly about getting going on with this one. But for the love of God how does it get so big this project ? Every single day. Not judging right ?

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Not so well hidden in the corner of our lounge is this horrendous tsunami of dry but yet to be folded laundry issue. Nearly every day and definitely on a Sunday.

And what I don’t understand is that not one of us ever appears to be running around naked so why does this issue not ever get to zero ? Ever.

Unless ….. someone knocks at the door, and then we grab-hoist-run like mad down the hallway with the whole mess to the spare room.

Inevitably undies, one sock and a t-shirt that none of us own is dropped en route to the spare bedroom. Mortifying.

Especially if those undies are mine. Not too bothered if they’re not. I find that quite amusing.

Anyway, its getting chilly out in the garden now and clearly I have a project to get on with.

So here’s my disclaimer, best not to mention this project if you happen to call by. I’d love you to call by. Just don’t mention this project.  Unless you can cope with the tone.

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Winky face on  😉

 

Aside

Brand New Year 2016

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Hello & Happy New Year to you !

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I could go on and on about why I’ve taken soooooo long to update my blog, but I’d be telling a few tiny fibs since I have no logical reason .. lazy ?  Quite possibly to be fair.

There’s a cleansing sort of feeling about the first day of a brand new year.

I’m not making any rash resolutions because I recognise that I’m an all or nothing type of human, which means I give the new resolution 100% for a bit, then 0% thereafter. It annoys me every year. So this brand new year I’m keeping all of my old habits.

Well probably I should adjust a few old habits, I think I have the gumption to do that at least. Fingers, toes, limbs crossed.

While sun burn has been the hot topic here these last few days, today has been all about wind and rain. I don’t really mind but New Year campers clearly do. The gardens look quite brilliant and I like its a cosy read a book in the bath sort of day. I did that and it was bliss.

I made Strawberry and Vanilla Jam earlier, quite happy since the setting stage came easy this time, never a given with Strawberry’s. Its a gamble whether I end up with jam or syrup. Taste is the same, texture not so much.

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I talked Paige (18) into getting out of her cosy read a book in the bath experience to go to the movies with me. She didn’t mind I don’t think. Too much.

I’ve been wanting to see Suffragette, all about Women struggling to get voting rights. I’m not all about that topic so much as I am about that war era. That’s my secret passion, that era.

We grappled to our seats in the dark, annoyed everyone around us all before Paige swapped seats to put her feet on the chair in front, spilt her sushi then declared the movie was boring. I did nod off a bit, the middle section took too long. Her spilt sushi smelled really bad in the theatre.

Was fun though. Pagie is off to Uni soon so I’m making the most of her company. Feet up and smelly sushi not mentioned.

Talking about sunburn, we’ve done a few trips to the beach these last few summery days. It’s been quite lovely, sand not so much but the fish and chips, bikini holding in the waves and people watching has been brilliant.

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I’ve just finished a brilliant book while on our beach days, I wont bore you with my synopsis but its a warm your heart kinda read.

I wasn’t so happy about the sand that fell out of the book once I opened it in bed, back from the beach. At least I wasn’t floating in my tent camping today though. Glass half full and all that.

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All about mindsets, I feel miserable once a great book is finished. It’s an odd mindset that. Reading non stop to the finish, to finish up annoyed the finish happened.

On the upside, Abbey (15) clearly ran out of shopping time and gave me a book voucher for Xmas. Lucky me.

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I do hope you had a wonderful New Year, and if you are the type to commit to resolutions, you have my upmost respect indeed 🙂

Chat soon

xx

Aside

My Favourite’s Lately

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Hello

Thought I would share what I’ve been liking lately in my world. Have been rather busy, not quite sure why but anyway I have.

It’s a big ole wintery day today, I’m hankered down inside and have just eaten homemade Kumera and Watercress soup, without the watercress since I have none and therefore don’t know what I’ve possibly missed out on. Was yum !

Since its winter I tend to like to knit, it’s a fustrating Nana-craft since I only get the knitting bug in winter so I’m a bit of a s-l-o-w coach. Nevertheless, I’ve made a beanie to watch the kids sports on the sidelines. I think they might be embarrassed of me wearing it to be fair, but I’ll test that out and report back.

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I’ve just submitted an assignment in my long-term-hope-I-survive-goal of doing a Diploma in Psychology. This paper was on the Psychology of Stress and ironically I’ve been so stressed writing about stress !! What I discovered in this paper was essays are mean, coping with stress is complicated and studying about stress is, well, stressful.

We had a fab family holiday in Thailand last month, all Half a Dozen Taylor’s. One highlight was the markets in which we purchased about 50 t-shirts, 25 pairs of boardies, screeds of makeup and bags and thankfully no tummy bugs from dodgy food. My biggest fear was one week in Thailand with each of us spending 2 days in bed ill, and no sight-seeing except the inside of our hotel, or just the bathroom even. We went through a lot of hand sanitiser, but I felt better that way. Neurotic possibly.

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I’ve made a few soy candles lately with my candle crew. It makes for a rather decadent day to spend with some lovelies, pouring and measuring while chin wagging away. Lunch is always a given and many world’s dramas are solved in those few hours. Such fun.

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I  found a brilliant book called Eat & Make by Paul Lowe at one of my favourite Ponsonby stores. It’s full of charming wee recipes and crafts. I rushed out and brought a do-nut tray and have sort of successfully made the do-nuts in the book. Presentation wasn’t great but apparently flavour was ok. Will try that recipe again soon. Since I rushed out and brought the do-nut tray.

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I’m also reading the bestest novel right now called The Undertaking by Audrey Magee. It’s all about a German solider marrying a girl from Berlin he’s never met, there’s a bit of love story with a decent dose of Nazi Germany history in there and it’s quite the addictive read. I happen to love this theme. Would recommend this tale if you do too.

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Nearly time to venture out in the storm and collect children. They’ll be grumpy because apparently the rain makes their woollen school uniform jumpers smell like cat pee. I too would be annoyed with that actually. And their carefully straightened hair will be wrecked while Olivia’s fringe springs will be out. She hates her springs. I adore them !

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Chat soon

T x

Peaches and Mops

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Hello

It’s 8.08pm on a Wednesday Auckland evening. The Cicada’s are still screeching, Fair Go are testing H2O options on TV1 (true !), hubby is watering the orchard (first time ever, is he getting old ?), kids are faffing about the house and I’m catching up on my blog. At last.

Although I’m mocking the dear hubby about his orchard visitations, I need to fess up to the fact that it was probably me that invoked his interest. We are very excited to have produced Golden Queen peaches in our amateur, never-spent-time-in wee orchard. Small ones but true they’re there.

Before children days we lived in a house in Ellerslie that had a good old ancient Golden Queen peach tree. Amongst all the partying and irresponsibility we managed to keep the tree alive and ate, and ate, the peaches. Was probably the only good food we ate to be fair. Hence the respect for the peach.

We’ve raved to the kids about our own Taylor tree, they’re moderately interested. They’ve sampled one or two and reckon they’re a little hard still. Fussy I say, they need the same respect for the peach.

Abbey keeps calling them Apricots, and Olivia wonders if they are edible with the speckled skin bits. Hmpf. Again, no respect.

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Here’s the evidence though, and I agree they may look a little Apricot-ish, but for goodness sake, they’re there and we’re kinda proud. Hubby and I, kids not so.

We have produced some pear things too. No one is really brave enough to sample one at this point, but that’s not to say they won’t be sneaked into a no-respect-for-the-peach childs’ lunchbox tomorrow. Hope they are edible.

While we are still chatting about fruit, we discovered a new market in Albany last weekend. And we purchased a large amount of yummy fresh fruit and vege. And a mop. No peaches.

The mop was for sale for $25.00 and seemed handy dandy. It had a whizzy bucket that with the correct amount of pressure promised to spin the mop-head at a million miles an hour ready for a super duper cleaning session.

The on site demo had hubby hooked. I offered $20.00 initially. She said no, we paid $25.00.

We got the choice of blue or purple. I choose purple.

Once home there was a power struggle of who would get the first go at using the handy-dandy purple mop. I lost but oddly there’s been no further struggle of who’s turn it is. Was a short lived fuss, now it’s my turn every time. Should’ve insisted we pay $20.00.

Just quietly, I do kinda like the mop. It works well.

I’m off now. Not to mop or to eat peaches. But my buddy Danielle is staying, in the same time zone as me for once, and already I’ve spent a whole (yes a WHOLE) night awake with her.

I’m about to prove that for once I’ll be in bed before the screeching Cicadas.

She constantly nabs me up and about way too late at night when she’s in her time zone. I’m about to prove her wrong 🙂

Nite xx

Aside

Greece – Hungary – Austria – Germany – France

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Hello

I’ve decided it’s about time to continue with my August holiday blog, I know, August was 4 months ago but that’s ok, I don’t mind remembering and it’s a good excuse to fantasise about being on holiday still.

After flying away from Italy it was sad to be leaving, but so exciting to be heading to Athens, Greece. A short visit in Greece. Not even a stopover really but 2 hours is a legitimate amount of time to say I’ve been there, surely.

With just enough time to take a photo and do a swift u turn from arrivals to departures I was heading to Budapest, Hungary.

Without a tour guide it was a little tricky to navigate without speaking Hungarian, and I’m still confused about the currency with its zillions of zeros, but I quickly managed very nicely to order Beef Goulash and with the aid of the handy dandy hop-on-hop-off bus I was acclimatised in no time.

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I had a huge Falcon bird perch on my arm (HUGE!), discovered that Buda is hilly and Pest is flat and indeed Budapest is the city of eternal youth. I felt rather youthful while I was there. That could be because I was on holiday though. Maybe.

Next packed to the bursting brim with bags and bodies we set off on our road trip across Europe with Daniel and Marica.

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We drove to Slovakia and had the yummiest salad and beetroot smoothie in the capital Bratislavia. Would never have found the quaint wee cafe/tuck shop if it wasn’t for the urgent need to stretch my legs hence a wander through the village.

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Next on the road trip was Austria. A must do in Vienna is to eat Sacher Tort (a famous Viennese culinary specialty ) as well as Apfelstrudel ( a traditional Viennese Apple Strudel ). You must try both. Cricky they were delish. I’d be addicted to both in a milli-second so I’m pleased they aren’t in every cake cabinet in NZ.

Eating the strudel and tort wasn’t a grand idea considering we had to pack our bodies back into our car. We were squished before Vienna. Hindsights a great thing.

Stopping in Salzberg for coffee we then sped along at a great rate of knots to Germany.

I loved Germany. I’ve always wanted to visit although I’ve no idea why really. Could be my bizarre interest in the Hitler era and perhaps the fact we have the same birthday. Unfortunate I know.

Hitlers 50th Birthday present was The Eagles Nest in Berchtesgaden. It’s a must do hair-raising 1800 metre bus trip up to a ledge on the Kehlstein mountain. The last 124 metres is accessed by a very fancy lift via a tunnel which cost many of the workers their lives during construction. Awful.

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Oddly the fancy lift broke down just as we were about to get in, and I learnt kaput meant broken down in German from the brisk woman in the queue. She was not impressed. I was happy it went kaput before we got back into it. Bit of a long walk down, but that’s ok considering.

I slipped and slopped about in beer and drank from a vessel almost the same size as me at a beer hall in Munich .. such fun, very noisy and the waitress was dare I say it, plain scary .. in facial expressions and tone ! I minded my p’s and q’s when she came near.

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On my to do list was a visit to a concentration camp. I just think it’s good manners if nothing else to be in that part of the world and pay some respect to the thousands of people who were mass murdered.

It was in Drakau that I visited the first concentration camp ever built and sadly the camp where human experiments were predominantly undertaken. It was humbling and frightening and I cried. I felt sad for a long time afterwards.

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Carrying on the road trip I was soon enough in France ! Oooo how I was looking forward to France. As soon as I stepped foot on French soil I felt all posh and European. This was exaggerated by a wonderful stop in a winery in the Champagne region. As you do. I don’t even like Champagne, but I was going to sip away like a fancy french lass like the best of them.

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I purchased a gorgeous french leather bag from an antique store, and treasured it the rest of the way around Europe. It was by far my most prized purchase.

Paris was wonderful, and I loved every minute pretending I lived there. The sights and shopping are delish and its very easy to day dream about what it would be like to take up permanent residence. Or a whole summer holiday. Not forgetting that croissants and coffee are a delish breakfast option. Especially in Paris.

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I stayed in a quaint wee room with french vintage wallpaper, an old wash basin and a comfy old single bed .. my antique handbag looked right at home in that itsy bitsy room.

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Love that wallpaper !

Soon enough, after playing in Paris for a while, it was time to pack up and squeeze into the car again. This task became difficult due to the fantastic shopping opportunities Paris offered !

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So towards the UK I fled via the Euro tunnel … so exciting !

Bonjour

T x

Aside

Naples-Pompeii-Rome

Buon Giorno

 

It's quite the super duper perfect morning peeking out of a port hole watching Naples come closer and closer on the cusp of sunrise … Wish I had some 3/4 white pants and a blue stripey tshirt to merge into the sailing fraternity. And a big hat.

 

On land again, off for a respectful wander around the Commonwealth Cemetery in Cassino, Frascati, ovelooked by the monetary of Montecassino. Very humbling indeed, especially since so many New Zealand soldiers rest here. I met an 87 year old who has friends resting at the cemetery … Oooo bless.

 

 

Off to ancient Pompeii now. Very exciting I think to meander up and down the city that was all up and running until Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79AD and buried the whole city entirely. Such wonderful cobbled streets, villas and other architecture detailing evidence of people's lives, golly gosh, its amazing to see and experience !

 

 

Prostitution was legal in the day of Pompeii and archeologists have dug up the very rooms where the activity was undertaken, along with some very very detailed drawings. Menus of services I think. Not just decorations, I'd say.

 

Well, since all roads lead to Rome, that's where I'm heading to now.

 

 

I'm sad to be leaving the land of Italy. I'm impressed with the carbohydrate addiction the Italians have, I've purchased Italian leather, I've sampled yummy olive oil and mozzerella and Chianti, I've swam in the Mediterranean, I have seen many many brilliant sights and I've walked/sailed/driven/finiculared/swam a huge portion of Italy on this journey. I even had my photo taken with the mafia I think.

 

 
 

I'd love to come back.

 

Chat soon in Hungary, Ciao 😉

T x

 

Aside

Sicily

Buon Giorno

 

Sicily is the biggest Island in the Mediterranean and while I was there I discovered there's a tradition in that Sicilians don't worry about the future or their problems – Fortitini “don't worry, don't think about it, it will work out ok in the end” . Easy peasy when you live in such a wonderful place.

 

Mind you, your problems might be worth a bit of attention when they involve the Mafia I'm thinking. You see, I was told although you won't spot a tough looking dude in a black suit while you're nipping in and out of the lovely streets, the Mafia still exist quite well and good. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Enough said.

 

 

It seemed quite appropriate to visit Savoca which is the home to The Godfather, and pose with a gun outside Vitelli's bar. I did hover outside of the home where a lady who had a part in the movie lives. She was, however, out of town. According to her son.

 

I sampled some mighty fine traditional Lemoncillo while in Sicily and managed to obtain the recipe straight from the locals repertoire. I'll share it with you …

 


Lemoncillo

800 g Sugar

8 Lemons

2 lt Water

1 lt 98% Alcohol

Peel the lemons and add the alcohol, put into an airtight container for eight days. Give it a shake every day. Boil the sugar in the water then add the alcohol mixture, removing the lemon peels. Store in the freezer and share !

Mmmm- mmmm

 

It's quite a treat to walk around the crater of an active volcano and Mt Etna seems to automatically gain respect since of course an eruption is always on the cards. There's a constant puff of stream emitting from the top and since this is Mt Etnas pressure valve, I kept a close watch on it. So do the Sicilians.

 

 

Leaving Taormina and tripping across the island to Sicilys capital city Palermo is a nice Sunday drive indeed and arriving at one of the biggest open air food markets is an eye opener worthy of the effort. There's not a food grade rating in sight and without sounding a bit disrespectful, I really wanted to toss out my shoes afterwards. The plumbing is direct onto the ground.

 

 

There are tables and tables of lovely fresh colouful fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat … and seafood. And flies. Impossible to shoo them away I appreciate since its an open air market, they are trotting all over the produce. Good immunity boosting I suppose.

 

Right after trapsing through the food market I psyched myself into a visit to the Capuchin Caacombs ! I wondered whether this was a good choice after a food experience. I decided fairly swiftly it wasn't.

 

Here right under the road is the only cemetery in the world which provides the perfect underground environment for preserving the mummies, from 1599 to 1881, predominately.

 

On display at head height and within easy touching distance are rows and rows of preserved bodies hung vertical in their original caps, hats, coats and other 18th century finery. No glass or covers, right there in real life/death ?

 

There are 45 monks bodies in residence with ropes folded to represent penance, poverty and chastity. And … the original dessication system involved leaving the bodies for 6 – 7 months in the draining room, with dare I say it, no air.

 

Quite the experience, quite un nerving and I felt a bit like I had 'dust' in my throat.

 

After playing in Sicily for a wee while it was time to hop on board the overnight ferry to Naples.

 

 

Chat soon

 

T x

 

Aside

Sorento-Capri

Buon Giorno

 

I've taken so many photos that my wee iPad mini is bursting at the seams and point blank refuses to allow even one more upload. Hmpf. So annoying when I'm trying to keep your company while on this adventure. I did think about putting a pic from home up to see if you might notice. That would be mean of me. But rather witty. I won't I promise.

 

Anyway with the weirdness of ICloud which I don't understand at all, I've found some more photos. So here I am again.

 

If you have any issues with height then hold on to your hat driving into Sorento, the hills/cliffs are ginormous. The road is on the very edge and the corners turn back on themselves, no room for error ! Especially on our bus. But the views are outstanding and Sorrento is a special little resort well worth the mad drive.

 

 

A drive from Sorrento along the Amalfi Coast is a pretty village called Positano which appears to be an optical illusion since its built on the side of sheer cliffs, I kid you not. The views are just so beautiful. The are many many quaint little stores teetering on the cliff edges, mixed amongst cafes and gelato stores. Perfect.

 

 

A quick hop-skip-and a boat ride from Sorrento delivers you to Capri. Oooo how divine is this island right where the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Medirerranean Sea meet. I took a jump off the boat and had a swim way out there, felt very Mediterranean indeed.

 

The ride on the funicular feels like a total vertical climb but a quick smart taster of Capris legendary lemon granata sorts out the vertigo lickedy split, and the main town area is so wonderful, it feels like a right old privilege to be perched right up there. Wonderful !

 

 

A crazy fast trip back down to sea level in an open air taxi is an invigorating experience, again at a near complete vertical situation. Quite the mad journey. Such a perfect place to be is the Isle of Capri. Even with a wet bum after a frolic in the magical Mediterranean. Bliss.

 

On my way to Sicily now.

Chat soon

T x

 

 

Aside

Florence

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Buon Giorno

 

I've just had the pleasure of spending 2 days in Florence and I think it's a fabulous city.

 

Such wonderful purchasing opportunities right amongst the museums, cathedrals and statues. There's a perfect balance of retail therapy and history education within walking distance. Brilliant town planning.

 

The genius Michelangelo was only 26 when he carved David and he's most definitely portrayed him at a peak of physical beauty ! Quite outstanding when you see him up close. Very.

 

I thought his hands and feet were too big but who am I to criticise a such a geniuses handiwork. Turns out they are and I'm not the first to notice. It's still under discussion whether it was deliberate or not.

 

Still, a mighty fine display of a rather handsome chap who was created out of a huge lump of marble in only 18 months. His job is to be a symbol of courage and I think he fills those boots very well indeed.

 

It's compulsory while in Tuscany to partake in an excursion to the stunning hilltop town of San Gimignano. You wander up then down, then up higher and down further all through the village which is just so pretty. It's a wonderful place to have coffee and wish you could stay forever.

 

Actually I could take up permanent residence in most places in Italy, especially since I can successfully order appropriate food and beverages here now, and ask directions.

 

 

Next on the when in Rome Tuscany must do list is to take a visit to the Abby Monastery.

 

Its a strange experience to be a guest inside a working monastery, where four monks still reside.

 

Some of the rules have been altered over time, but historically the monks stay in their cells 23 hours a day, never having contact with 'normal' people. Their food and any other essentials were passed through a wee door to them and if food collected wasn't taken in three days, there was a peaking hole into the cell to see if perhaps the monk had died. I know, unbelievable.

 

 

 

The monastery chapel displays beautiful carvings and art work, including seats with a statue of an angel head on each seat. But if you are not too spooked to look under the seats, each one has a statue of the devils head under there. True. I looked and I was really really spooked.

 

An angel, the devils underneath !

 

We ate our dinner in the monks old pharmacy building across the road, eating food typical of what the monks are served. They sure eat well and although I'm not entirely sure what was in some of the dishes, it was yum. I find its best not to ask if there's any doubt.

 

On my way to Sorrento now.

 

Chat soon

T x

 

Aside

Lake Maggiore-Verona-Venice

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Buon giorno

As if Portofino wasn't enough to make me oooo and arhh, just past the rice fields and through the tunnels pops up the Italian Lake District. Lake Maggiore is where I had the pleasure of gelato streaming down my arm Such a gorgeous place to be covered in ice cream.

Arriving at the city of Verona, which was built in 1200BC by the way, it seemed more upbeat and bustling than I thought it would be considering its the setting of Romeo and Juliets tale. Verona is older than Rome even. Unbelievable !
There's a bronze statue of Juliet below her balcony and the story goes that if you touch a certain part of her anatomy you shall be granted true love. There were plenty of people queueing up in the 39 degrees heat to touch her. Wonder if they were all looking for true love, honestly 🙂
The concept of a city that has no cars, bikes are forbidden and masks an icon that once allowed for all manner of discretion AND is built on islands surrounded by water canals, is a little callenging to figure out. Venice is crazy.
Actually, the government closed the two hospitals for the mentally challenged in Venice, so apparently now all of Italy is crazy !
The Venicans can't really use the first level of their houses for much other than wine cellars because of the risk of flooding and all of the complications that occur when water seeps or slops inside. Perfectly legitimate excuse to have a vast wine cellar I say.
Venice is literally built on natural islands seperated by natural water and there are many many complications and strategies to keep the water on the outside. Near impossible.
 
 
Clearly the mode of transport in Venice is by boat or gondola, it'll set you back €24000 to buy a gondola which will last you 20 years. Without the lovely Italian man to operate it. Not to be confused with a gondola that's attached to a high cable by the way.
The history behind the iconic masks is wearing one allowed you to do all that is usually forbidden, with discretion. Such fun.
If the mask had a long upper lip it also altered your voice. I bet a fair few conniptions resulted from that little tradition. I hear girls forced into nunnery were popular customers of the mask. As were the priests.
 
 
Such a wonderful place to visit. Venice is beautiful and romantic, and to live there involves all sorts of ingenious strategies to be able to live surrounded by canals not grass, boats not cars and second floor living. Apparently a jogger in Venice could only be a tourist since Venicans are super fit aready from trapsing up and down
I saw Elton Johns home and it sure looks like he's coping mighty fine in Venice. I didn't go visit him, far too busy I am.
 
 
The Island of Burona is a quick trip from Venice. By boat of course. It's a quirky wee lace making little island where they seem to never paint their houses the same as their neighbours. So pretty.
 
On my way to Florence now, such a super duper holiday I'm having. I'm tickled pink 🙂
Chat soon
T x