What an excellent day! No rain and almost all sun. I was actually able to put a couple of loads of washing on the line. Along with my runners, which suffered greatly during yesterday’s deluge. There was even a light but not menacing breeze. Not that it was particularly warm. In fact the temperature has taken a sudden downward turn.
The gym was delightfully empty – I do like having the place to myself because it means I can try out new machines without anyone there to laugh at me – and I pedalled and lifted and pushed my way through an hour of sweat.
I was going to just go home afterwards but I had a message from Mirinda saying she’d be home tonight (she wasn’t scheduled to come home until tomorrow night) so I had to go shopping for food. Generally, Wednesday dinner for me is bacon and eggs but Mirinda needs something a little more substantial.
Back at home I did the aforementioned washing then, after lunch, took the girls to the park where a chap commented that he didn’t know I had two dogs. When I said that I did he then commented on the fact that “I only see the brown one in the window.” I corrected his choice of colour for Emma then said that she barks enough for both of them. He agreed. Besides, I added, Freya is usually asleep.
I saw and spoke to Katie today. She didn’t have Daisy, just Harley. When I asked where Daisy was she told me that Harley’s owners wanted to reduce her walking time to 45 minutes while Daisy gets an hour. I told her I thought that was a real shame because they thoroughly enjoyed walking and playing together. She agreed.
Harley proved the point by playing with Freya and chasing Emma chasing the ball.
Apparently Harley’s owners are about to have a baby so Katie might be surplus to requirements soon. I hope that doesn’t mean I’ll not see her anymore. I rather enjoy our little chats and I would really miss Daisy and Harley.
And, apart from housework, that was just about my day.
Today was the dreaded weigh in. Normally it’s only been a week between scales but because of the bug I had and then going to Naples, I’ve not mounted them for two weeks. Given the Naples Carbolicious Extravaganza, I wasn’t expecting great things. Imagine my delight and joy therefore when the electronic numbers declared that I’d managed to lose 1.1 kilos. Weird.
Not so weird was the prospect of a wet day. The weather report claimed there would be rain at about 10am then sunshine until the early afternoon when there would be torrential downpours and the chance of thunder and lightning. Apart from the thunder and lightning, they were pretty much 100% correct.
As I was walking to Waitrose I ran into Vivienne and Luna rushing to reach home before the rain fell. It was close to 10am so I wished her luck as I headed down Long Garden Walk. As I shopped I looked out the big plate glass windows and it was raining pretty heavily. I figured that Vivienne and Luna were probably about halfway home.
Then, as I left Waitrose, during a lull in the rain, I thought I might have struck it lucky. Halfway through the park, the rain poured down on me, drenching me and making my shoes squelch. The puppies appeared to laugh when I walked in the door.
By the way, I managed to get a photo of the vacant property this morning, the one I suggested yesterday might become a bookshop. I’m thinking not given the To Let sign but who knows?
Another building in Castle Street has obscured windows as well. At first I thought that Bill’s was closed which would be odd because it always appears to be busy regardless of the time or day. As I walked by I realised it’s actually being refurbed.
In fact, a very jolly woman handed me a ‘scratchie’ card as I walked by, letting me know that they would reopen on Sunday and the ‘scratchie’ would reveal a gift for me. Naturally I completely forgot about it until quite late. When I scratched it, it revealed my ‘present’ which was a free dessert. Shame.
Anyway, eventually I managed to dry myself out (apart from my shoes) and settled down to do some housework as the sky turned blue and the sun beamed down like a cheeky child that knows there’s a frog in the teapot.
After lunch I decided to risk the weather and take the girls to the park. The day was looking glorious and there were no threatening clouds or hints of rain anywhere.
Then, after about an hour, almost out of nowhere, I noticed a definite blackening of the clouds coming from the Castle. I decided the girls had had enough and headed for home. I walked in the door, closed it behind me and walked into the extension. And then it fell.
Great torrents of water. It was Niagara-like both in intensity and noise.
Today saw me return to the gym. It’s been a few weeks (what with being on my deathbed with some pathetic bug then in Bristol then in Naples) so I wasn’t anticipating anything special. Mind you, I was very surprised that it all went okay and I didn’t have an overwhelming feeling that to stop working out would be putting my best foot forward.
Of course, tomorrow I might ache but today, at least, I felt that old familiar surge of post-exercise pleasure as I walked into Farnham for a Nero latte.
I was sat at the big table when a Schumanian lady asked if I minded if she sat opposite me. Of course not, I said and she did. She then spent about ten minutes trying to re-arrange an appointment with someone about something. That was not the most exhilarating conversation so I didn’t listen. (It may have been her hairdresser though, because she kept touching her hair.)
Then, a chap with one of those silly little wispy beards, a key chain clamped to his nose and side plates in his ear lobes sat down and shook her hand giving her his name. It wasn’t long before I realised he was there for a job interview. I felt a bit sorry for him given they were in the middle of a busy coffee shop rather than some secluded corner. So, of course, I listened in.
Her first question to him was: Why a bookshop? So, obviously the job was selling books and, given the only bookshop in Farnham is Waterstone’s, I assume a new one must be opening. Mind you that does assume the job is actually in Farnham. Coincidentally, there’s a vacant shop opposite Nero at the moment.
His answer was that he loved books. If he won the lottery, he said, he’d build a library in his house. (Given the Tories over the last decade he could probably pick one up quite cheap at the moment, I thought.) He had a Kindle, he said, but never used it because of how much he loved books. At this point I wanted to ask him how much weight he likes carrying around with him. And what he has against convenience. But, of course, I didn’t. I continued to pretend to write my blog post.
When she asked him what he thought the job entailed he said that it would be about making sure the stock was always ‘out front’ and available because there’s nothing worse than empty shelves. She paused ever so slightly then said “What about the customers?“
This had him backtracking and swearing that he considered the customer before anything else. He worked at the Marlborough Head for about five years (back when it existed) and he knew how important good customer service is. (When I told Mirinda about this she reckons he thought the job was just in the stock room.)
Anyway, eventually I left them to it and went shopping. Then I walked home.
The gardeners were with us today but no Gardener Dave (I don’t knew where he was). Instead we had Matt and…someone else. Apparently Matt has been to ours before but a long time ago. Anyway, normally if Dave isn’t coming, Mirinda cancels the gardeners but this time she didn’t know so Phil (the boss) sneaked another couple of guys in. And, to be fair, they did a splendid job.
The rest of the day involved washing and cooking and cleaning up. Mirinda, of course, was working. The weather continues to be on and off, wet and dry.
I had a message from Denise today. It came with a couple of photographs and the caption “My new baby!“
I had forgotten, what with all the stuff I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks, but today was the Farnham Food Festival. A glorious day of closed off streets – Castle from the almshouses and the Borough from Downing to South Streets. The stalls were all great but it’s the road closures I like best.
(It occurs to me, whenever they close the roads to cars, that one way of solving the traffic problems in Farnham would be to make the footpaths a lot wider and the roads a lot narrower. The problem is that the roads are all nice and comfy and easy for vehicles while the paths are generally narrow and pockmarked with all manner of dangers. Not that anyone is likely to listen to me because, at heart, everyone only cares about themselves.)
Moving right along…
I went to Starbucks for the first time in about three weeks and it was invaded by two family groups with a combined child total of seven – all different ages, all louder than completely necessary, all thumping their feet against the wood under the benches. It was decidedly unpleasant and quite difficult to concentrate on my blog. I packed up earlier than I normally would and went to Waitrose.
It was then a trip through the food stalls.
The weather was a bit misty damp but it hadn’t seemed to put off the punters as the crowds started growing. The weather has been shit for the last week. I think it’s because the first three weeks of September saw the driest on record. This is nature’s revenge.
I was tempted to buy lots of things (apart from some German sausages, there were at least four gin stalls) but just stopped off at the pork scratchings stall and bought Mirinda nine of her favourite flavours as a surprise. She was very pleased.
Then, as I sat in the extension with a coffee, finishing my blog post, and Mirinda started Skyping with Fi, the heavens opened and everything in the world turned to water. I was sitting at the dining table but my mind was with the stalls in Castle Street and the poor crowds. Then, suddenly, as if some invisible power had felt my anguish, the rain stopped and the sun came out, blinding me. (I was forced to put on Mirinda’s blue hat!)
And that was pretty much the day – on off rain and sun and windy interludes. According to the weather people it’s either the beginning, the end or the middle of Hurricane Lorenzo which is currently somewhere in the Atlantic making the water swirly.
To celebrate my return I made roast lamb. It was seriously yum.
Today was a Weasel Globe Outing. We were seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was slightly concerned it would be a bit dreary after the extraordinary Emma Rice version of a few years ago. My fears were unnecessary. It was brilliant.
Something that did surprise me was the fact that the director seemed to have free reign to do whatever he wanted which was one of the reasons given for the Globe getting rid of Ms Rice. I can only think there was some other reason for her shortened AD contract.
Not that the Sean Holmes version of The Dream wasn’t extraordinarily inventive and magical and everything The Dream should be. He played with gender fluidity, racial norms and language to an incredible extent.
Castwise, there were so many fantastic performers it’s difficult to pick one out but, for me at least, Bottom (played by Jocelyn Jee Esien) was just superb. She stole the show with her shenanigans. I kept anticipating her next entrance. Her work as the ass was just sublime.
Something I think didn’t work was the fact that the cast read Titania’s dialogue because she had lost her voice (that’s in real life not as some strange interpretation of gender politics though it worked very well with Hippolita having a piece of ‘Fragile’ tape across her mouth). It made it difficult to follow who was actually speaking and to whom. In saying that, Victoria Elliott was an excellent looking and moving Titania and I felt for her given her lack of voice.
I wasn’t that keen on Peter Bourke as Theseus/Oberon. I thought a younger, bolder, louder actor would have been better. It’s not so much a reflection on his abilities but the rest of the cast was so incredibly vibrant and full of life that he just appeared a bit irrelevant.
One stroke of absolute genius was the casting of Starveling from a member of the groundlings. Our Starveling was performed by a chap called Marius who had the time of his life and was very funny without trying. His delivery of his one line was well done indeed and received the loudest and longest cheer I think I’ve ever heard at the Globe.
I was a bit concerned with the idea that Puck would be played by almost the whole cast but I think it worked really well. It also gave the cast a chance to play around with mixed identities as well. It also says that we’re all Puck, that we’re mischievous and cheeky and everything Puckish. It makes us complicit in the antics. And I quite liked that.
I guess the true measure of any comedy is the amount of laughter it generates and this production generated pretty much non-stop laughter. There were so many wonderful touches of humour that the tears were rolling down cheeks everywhere. One case in point was when Hippolita entered carrying a shotgun and dragging a full sized deer behind her following their hunt in the forest. A beautiful bit of visual comedy.
I can’t really leave this review without mentioning the brilliant use of a plastic pipe for the all important chink. Very clever if somewhat rude.
Meanwhile, as usual for a Weasel Globe Outing, we were ten: John, John and Jon, Lorna (Darren was at a gig so missed the fun), Jolly, Maya (probably misspelled), Bev, Anthea and Lindy…and me, of course. We met at the Anchor and moaned about the lack of pub abilities, as usual, then retired to our box for a wonderful picnic of various yumblies.
After the play we headed for the George where beer was consumed and stories exchanged.
It was an excellent day filled with perfect company, entertainment, refreshment and joy.
It was a very early start for everyone today because of the taxi. The original plan had been to leave later but we were at the mercy of powers greater than ours to affect.
So we were up before the sun and sitting on bollards on the corner from 07:00. To give him his due, our driver arrived at the promised time of 07:10 rather than the normal Neapolitan interpretation of appointments.
Mind you, as we sat at the airport for two hours, being late would have been pretty good.
Still, eventually our gate was called and we wandered down to join the general melee of oversized bags and too much luggage. With regards to this, I was very happy to see people being pulled aside and told to pack things better. It is particularly galling after I spent so long making sure my bag was perfect for hand luggage only to see people trying to board with free standing wardrobes.
It wasn’t long before we were all happily ensconced in our seats, a little longer before the engines started and another bit longer for us to actually take off. I settled back and watched a few more episodes of the strange German series called Dark which I’m currently enjoying, for want of a better word.
A bit longer later, we landed at Gatwick and taxied to our stand. The usual crowd of arseholes started getting out of their seats to get ahead of everyone else but, unexpectedly, they were told, in no uncertain terms, to sit down again.
We were then informed that we were waiting for the police to board the plane.
During the flight, I was happily listening to Sweet Charity when Lorna whacked me on her way back from the toilet so I naturally assumed that the police had come to arrest her for assault. I was wrong. There would be no justice for an aggrieved Gazweasel today.
It wasn’t long before two police officers entered and asked a woman two seats in front of me to go with them. The rest of her tribe went as well. The children were clearly upset.
Now, I have no idea what they did. They were all a bit physically boisterous but I didn’t hear anything untoward. To be fair I did have headphones on.
Anthea reckons one of them threatened to knee someone in the groin but I only have her word for that. And rather graphic demonstration.
My personal opinion is that they were a family of international jewel thieves, heavily disguised as a family of obnoxious tourists. Or perhaps they just bad mouthed the stewards. I guess we’ll never know.
Whatever it was, I know we left the airport a lot sooner than they did. We were all on the pavement outside the North Terminal with hugs and kisses and cries of a domani (we’re at the Globe tomorrow) before we parted ways.
Very soon, I was on a train heading for home.
The rain outside Woking obliterated the usual industrial wasteland which gradually turned into Surrey trees and sunshine so that by the time I left the train at Farnham, the day was glorious. (Not as glorious as Naples but still…)
At home it was big welcomes all round as I was generally and pleasantly attacked by wife and puppies.
I didn’t really feel like cooking so we headed for the Holly Bush for dinner and the usual debrief. The food was, of course, delicious and the conversation lively. It was a lovely five days in Italy but, when it all comes down to it, it’s lovelier being home.
As we were leaving the pub a couple of young women walked in and stood next to me (I was paying). One had a few coins scattered on her hand. She desperately asked the barman what she could get to drink for £2.84 (or similar). He told her but I interrupted and offered to buy her (and her friend) a drink. Naturally, I then had to justify myself in case they thought I was a big old sleaze bag. In the end they accepted my offer and I’d like to think their day, which they told me had been pretty rubbish, was brightened a bit.
This morning I woke to thunder, lightning and rain. The thunder and lightning moved away quickly but the rain made it impossible to ignore the fact I needed to use the toilet so I got up.
When I returned to the bedroom, coffee in hand, the rain was still pouring down. I sighed and poked my head out as the sun started to rise in the distance. I was very surprised to notice it wasn’t actually raining even though I could hear it.
Then I noticed that next to the three turbo jets attached to the wall, the ones that keep going off every three minutes through the night, there was an outlet pipe. From this was pouring forth the torrent that I was hearing. The rain really had stopped.
It was not long after this realisation that the power went off in our entire block. Not our building, mind. No, the entire block. This caused all manner of screeching burglar alarms to spring into action. It also killed the modem for a goodly while.
There then ensued the continuing battle with the taxi hired to take us to the airport tomorrow. John booked it through easyjet because…well the word ‘easy’ implies something. The implication is actually not the fact. The name is clearly ironic. It should be called suckedInLoserCabs.
The thing is the booking facility wants you to input the flight number and then books a time it thinks works for you. Unfortunately this is three hours before flight time. This means up too early and arriving at the airport much sooner than needed.
And the problem seems to be that no matter what you do you cannot change the pick up time. I mean it’s not like you’re paying or anything.
The drama around the taxi has been ongoing and will probably continue for some years to come. Still, rather than let it interfere with our day we headed out for a wander.
We headed up Toledo as far as Dante’s Piazza then headed into the labyrinth that constitutes both book and Christmas alleys.
The crowds grew, disregarding the fact that the general space was already full. All of us were very careful to keep hands firmly attached to our valuable bits.
In fact, Darren reckoned he clocked a suspicious looking woman eyeing up John’s back pocket. John just thought his luck had changed.
But we managed to emerge unscathed and intact and headed up the long penitential stairs of John’s favourite monastery, St Gregorio Armeno.
It would have been very peaceful at the monastery had the kids not been busy with their lunchtime Noisy Lessons. (For the unknowing, Noisy Lessons are what prepares the little Neapolitans for life in the back streets of Naples when they are hanging around after school or work.)
Speaking of hanging around streets in Naples, I do wonder how businesses in Naples expect to do any actual business when nearly every doorway is filled with a bored looking male. No matter how appealing the window display is, the doorway does not invite purchase.
And why are there so many shoe shops? It’s like every second shop is selling runners. And undergarments. There’s a lot of undergarment shops.
Anyway, we walked around the monastery, not going into the chapel because of the nuns who were in quiet conversation with their boss, and emerged back where we started.
We thought we’d lost Darren and Anthea for a moment but they turned up eventually and we all went down to the church underneath.
I can’t speak for anyone else (though Darren may have been in accord with me) but I was more than ready for a beer. It was well passed beer o’clock and the constant scooter action had parched my throat something chronic.
While we did stop eventually, it was at an Irish pub and I think we drank Stella. Darren almost shrieked “BUT IT’S AN IRISH PUB!” But, like me, I think his thirst got the better of him and we sat and drank and discussed Chenobyl.
We then gradually made our way back, looking in windows, not buying a t-shirt because the neck was too small. (This was a real pity because it read ‘Anti Social Social Club’ and I really wanted it.)
Back at the flat, Lorna, Darren and Anthea went shopping for various leather goods while John and I sat on our balcony and watched a real human drama unfold.
It involved a woman who had fallen over or collapsed in the street who wound up having an ambulance, a police car, another police car, a second ambulance and two army chaps trying to put her together again.
It was extremely entertaining and kept us occupied for at least 45 minutes. According to Darren, who spotted us hanging over the balcony, we looked like Statler & Waldorf from the Muppets.
After much laughing and getting over the leather (apparently Anthea was much affected by the smell of the shop and the musky allure of the salesman), they all settled down and I went out searching for a t-shirt with a big enough neck hole. I did find one but not until after I’d popped in to see the Caravaggio in the Gallerie d’Italia.
It was one of his final works and is so incredibly powerful. I love it.
Back at the flat, we settled down to salami, olives and Viking beer, as you do, before getting ready to once more encounter the deliciousness that is the best restaurant in Napoli.
Mind you, before dinner we wandered down to the harbour to see the last of Vesuvius in the dying light of the day. Or the last of the day over Vesuvius.
Another amazing dinner later we headed off for a coffee before the slow, sad walk back to the flat where we polished off a bottle of wine and talked books for a few hours before all heading for bed.
It’s an early start tomorrow because of the stupid taxi.
This video will only be understood by weasels and therefore need not be watched by some else.
Following the usual slow waking of the sleeping ones we set off for Montesanto Station for our day trip to Baia to visit the amazing Roman version of Butlins.
Given we’d taken the very circuitous route yesterday meant we didn’t need to take it again. It took about 20 minutes as opposed to the four hours of yesterday.
It was then a long old train trip out to the bay made pleasant by a clean train and few customers. We all had seats and there was no unwarranted cuddling of smelly, thieving strangers.
It was another hot day but with promises of thunder, lightning and torrential rain which was reduced to a light drizzle for ten minutes when it finally happened. Given that the Roman Butlins is high on a hill, it was actually quite cool in the breeze.
What can I say about the Roman ruins at Baia? The others have been before but I was a Baia virgin before today. It is, quite simply, extraordinary.
It was basically a place for the wealthy to escape Rome for a bit in order to relax beside the Med and contemplate life. With slaves of all kinds to tender to their every need (and some they didn’t know they needed) life at Baia was pure bliss.
They didn’t even suffer at the hands of Vesuvius. It is too far and, today anyway, shrouded in mist.
The baths at Baia were famous throughout the empire with rooms of all temperatures and tastes. As long as you didn’t mind cats. There are a lot of cats at Baia.
The cats in Baia are divided into gangs. There’s the White Gang, for instance, that controls the area around the old train station. Or the Mottley Crew that control the long, sloping steps down to the marina.
For future reference, the boss cat of the Roman ruins is not a foe. If she stops at the flight of very big steps leading back up to the main entrance this means the lower entrance is closed and you’re giving yourself a long walk back by ignoring her. Like we did.
The lower entrance gives easy access to beer. We had to take the steps up then down. Still, there was beer at the end so it was kinda worth it.
But, back to the Baia ruins. The enormous complex was started in the 1st century BC and building was still going on in the 4th century AD as it continued to grow and be improved.
Obviously it was only for the wealthy and/or important people of Roman society though the local fishermen must have supplied the food.
The amazing thing, once again, was the incredible lack of other tourists. Here’s another example of Roman genius that you can walk around and touch and be lost in but no one really knows about it.
John says that the big sites pay for these forgotten ones because they’re all nationalised and share the pot. I guess the people running places like Baia prefer the easy life of no visitors.
Not that I’m complaining, though, if they were more then there’d be more bars. Not that we had a problem finding one today though it had run out of Peroni so we were forced to drink a 7.7% Danish beer.
All feeling ready to collapse, we made the long trek back to the train for the long, sleepy ride back to Naples. A very successful excursion it was.
Last year, John and his daughter, the highly decorated Sarah went to a restaurant. John recommended it so we went tonight. What a brilliant place! Really the best restaurant so far this visit and possibly ever visited, in Naples, ever.
It is called Osteria il Gobetto and is a family run place. The food is extraordinary, delicious and served with great panache. It was so good we booked for tomorrow night as well.
We did feel a bit sorry for the American couple who came in after us and were a bit confused by everything. He wanted a pizza but, I think, they felt committed even after they discovered there were no pizzas.
I really wanted to tell them to go with the patter and enjoy the food but I didn’t. They perused the menu and chose for themselves while we had our starters chosen for us.
The whole experience was amazing. For this I also felt sorry for the American couple: that they were alone in Naples and not capable of enjoying such a great treat.
Having walked back to the flat we settled into the balcony for coffee and a little bit of sweet alcohol to settle our not overfilled tummies.
It was a brilliant day, thoroughly enjoyed and experienced (for me at least). Last day tomorrow. Let’s make it last.
That’s nothing quite like the soothing sound of a Naples morning. The street cleaning, the cafe deliveries, the early seagulls. You wake feeling alive and ready to start the day.
Well, some of us do.
Naturally, John and I headed downstairs first thing to buy some sugary treats for the still recumbent Weasels. While they slept on, we managed to have a couple of espressos which we both agreed were exceptionally good.
It was a long wait (during which we watched the sun light up the view from the balcony) but eventually we left for our daytrip to the Oplontis excavation. This entailed getting the Metro (Toleda Station outside our door) to Garibaldi then the Circumvesuvia line.
Firstly, it’s advisable to go early because the trains get packed. It’s also a good idea to be prepared for your incredibly full train to break down after two stops.
Actually, before we reached the very full train, there was almost a bloodbath at Garibaldi ticket office when Anthea and her backpack had a sort of an altercation with a small Italian man who wanted to get inside said backpack while she was wearing it.
On the train were a bunch of antipodean tourists, two of whom had no idea what they wanted to see. They had no idea what Pompei or Herculaneum were so John convinced them that Herculaneum was better. It was no coincidence that Herculaneum was a few stops before ours. The effect was a much more comfortable journey.
So, finally we left the train and trudged down the hill to the Villa Poppaea. She was Nero’s wife and had an opera named after her that I saw a few years ago. Apart from those interesting things, her house was exquisite.
It was clearly an amazing place. Built on a tall cliff overlooking the sea that used to lap at its edges, the villa was started sometime in the first century BC. Having been cited in volcanic discharge and the being did our, it has also become a world heritage site which is a bit of a bonus.
Possibly the most amazing thing about the villa is the general lack of tourists. I have no idea why people don’t visit the place but I’m very glad they don’t. We affectively had the place to ourselves.
The wall paintings are beautiful with lots of animals and floral motifs. Best of all, there’s very few barriers. We could walk right up to the walls and take as many photos as we wanted…which is how I managed to get a close up of Lorna’s bow tie wearing pheasant.
This was in a room which also included some circus animals performing tricks. There was a trampolining deer while another one was walking a tight rope.
Room after room after room of the most extraordinary paintings, preserved by Vesuvius so long ago and dug up by eager archaeologists some of whom were still there.
Naturally, being Weasels, we managed to work out what everything was and what it was called and how it was created. Nothing gets by the eagle eyes of Weasels…well except for things like ‘pilaris’ a word that escaped us for a while before Mr Google came to our rescue.
As well as an extraordinary array of painted rooms displaying the skills of some long forgotten interior designer, the villa featured gardens, a massive impluvium and an Olympic sized swimming pool.
We spent a goodly amount of time wandering the various rooms and dissecting the ways of wealthy Romans, stopping to refresh on occasion.
It was eventually time to go especially since beer o’clock had been and gone without replenishment for many hours. The search for an adequate, non tourist bar ensued.
We walked down decidedly unattractive streets before finding the amazingly cheap Bar Royal complete with awning and very busy road, where the beer was very cold and much appreciated. This was a vast improvement over the otherwise beer less wastelands in the opposite direction.
Having quenched our combined thirst, we then headed back to the station for the trip back.
It was so quiet on the train back to Gariboldi that John somehow managed to kill an old woman sitting next to him, who had her husband in her suitcase. Lorna, thankfully took this highly suspicious photograph.
And the day could have been spoiled by an arsehole on the Metro home who thought it right and proper to steal Darren’s wallet but, after cancelling cards and being angry for a bit, we all decided not to let some low life scum spoil our good time. Hopefully karma will dictate that the thief will never know true happiness and die in a gutter with a donkey pissing on him.
As Lorna said, it’s sad when a city lives up to it’s reputation.
And you’d think that would be enough but you’d be wrong. Given we were in Naples and given that Weasels are very much creatures of habit, we had to go to Manfredos for dinner.
This would have been fine but for the fact that we had to walk to Line 2 of the Metro and while John knew where it was he hadn’t actually walked there for 25 years and he became a bit confused with the difference between a bank and a hospital.
Still, we managed to see an awful lot of scooters driven by lunatics, not always with lights, small cars driven by one handed men with cigarettes in their mouths and phones on thier ears and thousands of death wish pedestrians, on the way.
We eventually found the train though not without a bit more annoyance when it turned out the Metro wasn’t where the trains were but a few blocks further up the street.
Finally we made it to Manfredos and had pizza, caprese salad and a couple of decanters of red wine. Except John who had lots of seafood.
Actually it was all a bit much and we were thankful for the long walk back to settle distended tummies.
Finally, after a long, long and eventful day, we sat on the balcony for an espresso and a small glass of amaro each.
There’s something almost inevitable about sitting on a plane, having been told you’d be delayed, at the end of a runway, far, far away, knowing you could have gained an extra hours sleep.
You sit in your less than comfortable seat, legs scrunched up like birds nest noodles, and contemplate your choice of travel.
It’s particularly annoying when you wake up at 4am and have to change terminals then go through security before getting a coffee. It’s even more irksome when your bags get sidelined for inspection because, it seems, sugar shows up as a liquid.
Actually, a woman behind me was told her bag had a lot of liquid in it by a surprisingly friendly security guy sporting a rather thin, plain mohawk. He asked her to open her bag. He was right about the liquid.
She must have been a sales rep for liquid make up. And she’d put all her samples in little plastic bags without realising you’re only allowed one plastic bag and it has to be outside your luggage. I don’t know what happened to her bags of liquid because I was headed for Starbucks.
A double espresso later and I was almost human. Then, like magic, I was joined by Darren, John and Lorna. Anthea I could see, queued up at Starbucks along with 50,000 other desperate caffeine addicts.
We compared notes then headed for gate 101, a fact not lost on John and a precursor for our long wait before takeoff.
It gave me a chance to consider my morning so far. I spotted a few odd things. A couple walking to their departure gate carrying old style bags without wheels and the youngish guy sitting in front of me who used the airplane toilet four times during our two hour flight. Both seemed equally unusual.
I watched an episode and a half of a rather haunting German series called Dark but my eyes gave up through the second one so I switched to Leon Russell and closed them. The flight remained uneventful.
Having landed late, John was given a glimpse of the advantage of standing near me at customs. He suddenly became my carer as a kind chap indicated I should hobble along to a quick clerk. Anthea and Darren suddenly claimed they were with me as well but the man was unmoved. Apparently I don’t need four carers.
We could probably have done without the two hour wait for the Alibus but otherwise, arriving in Naples was the usual fill of traffic, noise and life. And the smell of freshly ground coffee.
Possibly the best bit of waiting for the bus was the couple in front of us. She was searching through her handbag for something. Disappointed she looked at her other half and asked him what he’d done with the hair grips.
The man gave her look that indicated he had no idea what a hair grip was. She told him, her anger rising, that back at the hotel she had told him to put them in her handbag.
The man decided his best course of action was to remain silent and vaguely unsure about the whole thing. This proved correct (made me think they’d been married a long time) and she soon gave up on him.
My main thought was for the poor hair clips in the hotel.
The bus did eventually arrive and about a thousand of the waiting tourists clambered aboard along with a very rude woman who barged in and managed to jump the queue, much to the annoyance of the driver, his mate and the rest of the queue.
The crawl through the Naples traffic was inexorable but about perfect. As Darren said there’s something romantic about it. Whether that’s the fumes, the beeping, the loud Italian conversations, the crumbling buildings or everything hodge podged together, who can say. But it works. For me and Darren, anyway.
The walk to our accommodation was long and arduous with added heat, but eventually we arrived and headed up to the 6th floor to a modern, spacious flat. The view was splendid. As was the beer we finally found a little while later.
After a short rest which was strictly a little more than a short rest should really be, we headed out for dinner.
Discounting the hordes of tourist trap terrazzo, John finally decided on Oh Vesuvius and we all had excellent pizza and a rather less than eloquent wine. (Red wine fresh from the fridge with a slight fizz takes some getting used to.)
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