Hols & New Yr
First Day in France
Moving South
Vienne and Vinsorbes
Dutch Campground
First Days in Italy
Montelcino Antonio
First Days-South Italy
First Days-Giovinazzo
Living in Giovinazzo
Picking Olives
Outings and School
Rosa's show
Hols & New Yr
Back to School
Croatia-Plitvika, Krk, Cres
St. Pierre
Camping on the Med
Eli's Diary
Rosa's Diary


28 Dec - 7 Jan 2005

Smoked Salmon on Irish Brown Soda bread -Suzie, Olives picked by Mike

PreNewYearsNap in our dorm room

Lorella and Luigi's Apartment

Boys in videoland

Buon Anno Lorella centre

Suzie's back at New Years



28th December

Sammy isn't well, luckily we have nothing planned. Mike is off to work again and by mid-morning Sammy has a fever so I have a quiet morning with the guys playing with their new stuff. After Mike gets back he and Sammy have some quiet time and I take the others to Chantele to collect our laundry.  We have a nice walk first and have to backtrack as we don't know which bell to press at her block. When we get there she have waffles prepared but needed to get a plug for her Swiss waffle iron.  She suggests I use her bath and leaves me and Finn, but not before giving me bubble bath, a glass of wine, candles, incense and music.  I have a wonderful time and when she returns Finn goes to help with the waffle making.  When I get out the waffles are ready and delicious.  What an afternoon!  Chantele had dried and folded and ironed the laundry too. I told her I wouldn't be able to give her any more if she did that.  We go back to Mike and Sammy is asleep so we saved his waffle for later.  Mike goes to bed early leaving me to write some e-mails and keep up with my journal. I feel more myself after a little self care than I have in ages and am very grateful to Chantele.


29th December

Sammy is on the mend if a little grumpy but Finn is getting a cold.  I stay in and mind them, but do get my morning dose of sunshine on the balcony.  Later I am feeling a bit claustrophobic and lonesome all the rush of Christmas is over and I am seeing the months ahead stretching quite far, without seeing friends and family. In some ways it would be easy to leave now. Christmas was a sort of chapter end and we have thanked all our friends here and gave people food gifts. Mike feels the same when we chat, but we both don't want to miss out on the benefits of staying: deepening our friendships, the children learning much more Italian, us too, the lovely weather and the frequent new experiences.  We want to stay.  At the same time I realise that the goodbyes after another two months will be harder. Of course the time goes much faster when we are in a routine and I know it will end up seeming too short by the end of February.

I decide the boys are well enough for a little fresh air. It is lovely out so we go down the pier and see fish and jelly fish and Eli manages to catch some.  We have to exercise Cal as Mike is working for Pasquale and it is easier to leave her here.  This isn't a problem as she finds people willing to throw her a stick wherever she goes. We drop in to say hi to Toni on the way back and Mike is home not long after. 

30th December.

Mike goes out very early but we hear the van returning before we are out of bed and discover, after he phones Dominco that there was a mix up caused by Mikele. In any case he doesn't have to work. Dominico suggests we go to Altamura this evening to eat a traditional food at Emilia's aunts.  We take the rest of the day to sort house chores. I go to Chantelle's and we have a nice chat while I have a wash done in her machine. We get ready and go to Altamura.  The small guys are asleep when we get there and take a while to come round but Dominico gets a phone call to say the alarm at the Massera has gone off so he and Mike go to check it out.  This gives the kids time to come too at his mother's by watching Donald Duck in Italian. Finn is particularly happy with a tiny chair he is given to sit on.  When they get back they tell us it was a false alarm and we go to the aunt's apartment. There are lots of people and kids, they have waited for us despite it being 9.30p.m. and are playing Tombola. When the food is brought out, a kind of fried pasta, there isn't enough room for everyone to sit so several people just stand behind others while we eat. Mike and I think its all very Italian looking.  Its past mid-night when we go back to Giovinazzo. We enjoy these evenings but find the lateness strange with kids up too and a bit hard to adjust to at times.

31st December New Years Eve

Poor Mike, once again as he is off for his last day's olive picking at 5.30a.m. The kids and I get to sleep in and for once they actually sleep past Mike leaving until at least 7.30.  We stay in as the weather is wet and I get the place tidied and make brown bread which we run across and bake at Toni's although it is Roberto who is there and I chat to his wife who has dropped in. She visited Ireland some years ago and enjoyed it. Mike gets back he has had an extra long day but is in good form due to the nice end and the fact that he's done.  We decide to try to nap as we are invited to Lorella's this evening.  Everyone goes to sleep. I'm the first up and put together some smoked salmon on brown bread to bring over, and have time for a shower. I go out to Mimo's snacks and get pizza and then attempt to wake everyone for shabbat diner.  We will be eating later but the little guys probably won't like much.  Slowly everyone manage to wake. We all get in our smart clothes and walk over to Lorella's.  We meet up with most of the same crowd from the Mexican night and Sabino's birthday, and as many are English speakers we enjoy the socialising.  My bread and smoked salmon goes down very well and the women want a lesson.  Before long the food comes in a steady stream and is really delicious.  There are two different sorts of lasagna, I particularly like Lorella's with artichoke hearts in it, followed by salads, mozzarella, and later biscuits. It is all wonderful.  When midnight arrives we do the same as at home, and put on the TV for the count down and pop champagne but there is no singing of anything traditional.  The nap did its trick and Sammy and Finn are still lively at 1 o'clock when we are going home.

1st Sat. January 2005

We are all wiped out this morning and I have caught Finn's cold so we do literally nothing all day except doze and watch holiday TV.  We run out of gas and Mike gets a thermos of hot water from Toni who is open again -silly man.  We will have to wait until Mon to be able to cook again. 

2nd Sun. Jan

After an early night last night Mike and Eli are back to waking at 6a.m. and are gone out for a walk when Finn wakes at 6.30a.m.  I get up with him and we watch an authentic Italian version of Pinoccio on the TV until they get back. The weather turns out to be lovely and everyone is feeling fine so we go for a long walk back to the flat rock pools the kids paddled in last month. It a bit cooler with a breeze but lots of people are out and we see two sail boats going out of the harbour to take advantage of the wind. I envy them it looks very inviting.  The kids play on the rock and make boats with all the plastic bottles on the shore.  Mike and I are really affected by the rubbish in South Italy after a stormy night the harbour is full of washed up debris.  We talked to a German man living here, a Lorella's the other night, he said he was appalled when he first came at how people throw down rubbish without thinking.  He said at least there were now recycling bins provided as well as the town bins. 
I buy some fish on the way back without Sammy noticing and am surprised it costs 10euro. We have it barbequed for lunch.  It is nice but we think the cheaper fish was nicer. After I go outside and with Cal and stop in to Toni's, Chantelle is there as is Toni's mother, father, brother and girlfriend. We chat in the sun shine the family have been having aperitifs (as well as ice cream and coffee, Toni also sell alcohol , aperitifs and digestives.  Chantelle tells me that they are off now for a three hour lunch at her mother-in-laws because it is Sunday, so they will miss the rest of the sunshine but they recommend that we go for a walk to a sandy beach.  I'm thrilled with the idea as I have been in town for a while and am feeling a bit building clostrophobic as I am used to more vistas and nature for my walks.  We pass through Barletta on the way which has a nice castle and a sort of top gun boulevard by the sea with palm trees lining it, but when we get to the sandy beach it is hard to see it at first through all the beach cafe and clubs shut up now for the summer and very rickety and ghost townish.  We also see that the top of the beach has a smattering of debris all along it.  Still further down by the water it is fine and it is a huge long beach. The sand is dark and black if you dig down at all, must be volcanic influences.  The kids have a great time writing in it and play and we have a little picnic on a rug while afternoon passersby look at us.  Mike and I walk up and down near the children chating and do some Tai chi by the water. As the sun goes down a distance promitory covered in low mountains turn lovely deep colours and the nearby waves breaking seem purple.  Despite some of the tatiness it has had the desired effect and we drive home very relaxed.  We are joined for pizza, wine and pandoro, champagne and ice-cream by Jane and William the TEFL teachers I met a week back. They are both very nice and we have a great chat. It turns out William grew up in Scotland neat Stirling but his parents are from Co. Wicklow although his mother grew up in county Down and Jane is from Plympton!  (She doesn't know the Plympton Reids though, but it is a small world)

3rd Mon. January

The early morning weather seems pleasant but later when I get up and out after a slow start it is raining.  I surf for fudge recipes at Toni's he wants to have some ready for sale on the 6th of Jan. when Befana the good witch comes to children to put candy in stockings. When I go home later I play on the computer again I learned how to make animations with Rosa in the morning. I continue later too after diner. It is very addictive. I am late to bed as a result.  See link on Mike's side for my results.

4th Tues. January

Mike is getting into the habit of walking in the early morning and already I have lost my good resolve to do tai chi everyday and am no better today. I tidy house while he is gone and when he comes back he wants to go to Toni's to get some internet stuff done. Eli goes later and helps Toni in the shop putting out stuff in dishes for later. After Mike comes back and I go out and Rosa comes with me to get some of the great cheap fruit and veg. in one of the wee shops.  We stop and sit in the sun outside Toni's on the way there and back as it is really warm and lovely.  At 3 o'clock Toni and Chantelle call for me as I spoke to her ealier about going for a  walk. Toni drives us outside Giovinazzo as he want to look for something and Chantelle gets some soil for her plants.  He then stays relaxing and minding the car while we walk on a track between the olives.  We are due to meet up with our friends from ARCI for a tour of the old city in Bari tonight. Chantelle decided to come too so they drop me to Mike while she goes home for a minute. We meet up again and go to look for the ARCI offices we were shown before Christmas. After a little while we phone Franco and get his wife. While she is on the phone with Chantelle getting directions, some of the young lads show up. We think maybe there were out looking for us. We are only one street over. We follow them to Bari and park in the same place as when we were in for Sabino's birthday. We again see the enormous castle which is a help as Sammy fell asleep on the way here and is having difficulty coming to. To stop him crying I point out castle, "made by a giant" I say "after all its so big people couldn't have made it. He's hooked but after this as I listen to translations of Franco tour involving, Turks, Frederick the great, Befana and St Nicole, I have to make up my fictitious translations to keep Sammy happy. We start by seeing a turban clad stone head in one wall and learn that Befana the good witch had put this Turk there after some battle. In Sammy's version the man is the be-turbaned bad guy from the first Harry Potter film. Later we pass through Roman columns from an early church were it was said that the people revolted against the rule that Kings had conjugal rights to the bride on her first night.  For Sammy it was where Samson, the giants friend, with they long hair and great strength, as strong as the hulk, pushed down the column (as one was missing) and the roof had fallen on his enemies friends of the turban guy.  My tour a bit convoluted as a result, but we enjoy the small streets the evening atmosphere of: people out shopping, interesting shops tucked in tiny nooks, kids playing football in cul-de-sacs (one lot all introduce themselves to a bemused Eli and let off some of the never ending supply of fire crackers these kids seem to have), and old men in rooms just sitting and other out for a stroll.  Eventually we reach the basilica of St Nicole. It is immense and very impressive.  Franco tells us that the people of Bari new that every city has reasons for fame and visitors and they wanted something similar.  St Nicole was much revered in the area so they decide to go to Turkey and steal his relics the remains of his bones.  They did so and later after a referendum to oust the previous saint, he became the patron saint of Bari.  Apparently the Turks still want him back.  At this point the kids were getting very tired. Franco said they were going to their club house for something to eat and some few had guitars.  We thought we would head home but turned back tempted.  Of course we forgot we were dealing with south Italians again. The club house was very nice and interesting with lots of crafts on display.  However, we had to rescue the guys by buying pizza and go home before they served the pasta as the kids were beat. We said our, chao's and grazie's and slipped off home.

5th Wed. January

It another lovely day this morning and Mike has a walk with Eli, Rosa, and Finn.  Sammy doesn't want to go so he hangs out with me and when they are back I go have a walk too. It really very warm so I suggest a picnic on the tiny bit of sand at one end of the harbour.  Mike packs it for us and we walk over. Before long the kids are paddling in the quite freezing water and have a great time. Passerby on the pier in winter jackets stare and some smile as the children are having such an obvious good time.  After about an hour and a half we start to loss the sun and I don't want the kids to get cold so we go back and I try to bathe as many as possible in out limited supply of hot water. I get Rosa, Sammy, Finn done and Eli is pleased to be passed over.  They settle down to do some puzzles and I go to make the fudge at Toni's and when I am finished I go shopping with Chantelle who has dropped in.  We check out a new super market Chantelle found. I buy 6 large apples for 79cent which Chantelle tells me are delicious.  We also check out a mille lire shop (pound shop back home) filled with all sorts of nic nacs. Then I think I better get home as I haven't been watching the time when I get there the boys are all asleep. The fresh air on the beach must have affected them.  Mike goes to bake chocolate chip cookies again and to drop off some laundry to Chantelle. It is so great to have this problem sorted.  I catch up on this journal. I can't leave it for more than a few days or I lose track.

6th Thursday January (Befana Day: a good witch who brings candy in stockings)

Sammy has a cold this morning and he is a bit wheezey.  Mike stays in with him when I go over to collect e-mail's at Toni's ice-cream shop. Roberto is there and I try to get connected but can't figure it out. While I am in the back Roberto slips in to whisper that the carberineri (police or at least a hygiene division of some sort are out front.) They stick there heads in just as I am packing up to get out so as to leave Roberto in peace to deal with it.  As far as I can understand they are talking about why he hasn't got a list of ingredients displayed.  Poor Roberto looks a bit like a rabbit stuck in head lights.  When I am back at the appartment I phone Chantelle about laundry and mention what's happening at the shop as Roberto seemed to be anxious to phone him but could get through. She says he is on his way.  Mike feels very concerned for them as Toni has been telling him some of his woes about starting a new business in Italy. I bring Rosa and Finn to the big Piazza as we have heard that our friends in ARCI have something planned. (ARCI has turned out by the way not to be a communist party at all, but a society of art appreciation who's members in Giovinazzo happen to be mainly young and communist.)  We wait in the Piazza for a good while, but it is very pleasant sitting in warm sunshine and watching the piazza fill up with people out for their pre-lunch passagiare.  Young and old just walk the length of the piazza and back again. We see a few people we know and try to chat. One of Rosa's teachers with her children and husband. Her daughter is in Rosa's class and she says they will see Rosa tomorrow.  As we sit a young woman speaks us. She has an Australian accent and tells me she noticed the kids speaking English in the park. Her parents moved to Oz when she was young and she spent 23 years there. Then on a visit she met a man from Giovinazzo and married him and lives here now. She has two little girls and we chat about differences in Italy. Some are getting familiar as the impressions of non-Italians.  That Italians are very protective of children, that they do no sports in public primary schools, that they are very friendly and welcoming but quite insular in South Italy, etc etc.

While we are sitting a commotion starts at the ARCI stand and they point to the other side of the square where we see someone dressed up as Befana walking on stilts and another guy in a sort of clown suit.  We text Eli who come out and we stay and watch their antics for ages gaining two balloon swords before we leave, one to cheer up Sammy. 

We have lunch Sammy is asleep but wakes later feeling a bit better and pleased with his sword.  We have a quiet afternoon.  In the evening I go over to Roberto to check mail again but mainly to find out how it went with the inspection. We manage to communicate in Italian with bits of English and he tells me they have been fined 1000euro.  I ask him what for and discover it was for not having the ingredients of all the ice-cream and pastries displayed.  I ask to the other gelateria have this and he says no. He suspects one of them called in an inspection.

I tell Mike on my return. We are both really sorry for them. 

28 Dec (Tue)

Meet Mikele at the 5 crosses, arriving a bit late because the oil light flickered in Newbie so I had to stop and fill up; it was low but I don't think dangerously so.  Then I drove Cal to the Masseria to leave her for company for Yippie during the day. 

Mikele directed me through Toritto to the far side, where at the edge of the town is a condominium or apartment building, with a field of olive trees at the back (not the ones we are going to work), alongside a fenced in area with lots of what looks like junk.  It all looks a bit dilapidated.  There are several tractors with olive workers and equipment in their trailers leaving from here on this cold early morning.  We get into the trailer and head off past more junk and shanty-like structures, down rough small roads.  It is surprisingly cold, and despite wearing 3 layers of my own plus 2 coats I get chilled as it is a long drive out to Pasquale's fields.  Mikele notices and turns up my collar for me.

Once in the fields, our pace is fast, I think Mikele wants to finish as soon as possible, and it seems like he is almost running between trees.

29 Dec (Wed)

Day 2 in Pasquale's fields.  Early on in the day, Pasquale gives me money towards petrol.

30 Dec (Thu)

I show up slightly early but Mikele never arrives.  Eventually I head over to where Pasquale's tractor is but he isn't there either.  I don't think I can ring Domenico this early (its not yet 7am), and I don't have Pasquale's number, so I head back to Giovinazzo, kind of disappointed but also glad of the rest.

Later I speak with Domenico and he tells me Pasquale is angry at Mikele.  He invites us over to Amelia's sister's place for ****, a traditional food at this time of year.  It is fried pasta.  We first meet and go to his mother's, then he and I go out to briefly to get medicine at the pharmacy, and he is waylaid by several acquaintances, talking a long time.  One of them is a woman who spends every summer in England, and I would have assumed she was English from her accent and fluency if I hadn't been told otherwise.  We stand talking in the dark of the evening lit by shops and streetlights, in front of a busy outdoor fruit and vegetable market, As we're walking back he gets a call about the Masseria - the alarm has gone off.  I drop the medicine in to Suzie and we drive off to the Masseria, meet Pasquale there and check it out.  All is fine but we stay a while in the freezing clear evening, talking (me listening) for a while before heading back. 

As we're heading back, Amelia rings him and he discovers that she didn't know Suzie was at his Mum's place, so we go there and pick them up and bring them to Amelia's sister, where after introductions, large helpings of food is served quickly in a very small room, with all the adults and a few of the kids around the table (the rest of the kids in the hall making lots of noise).  The table is full of food, everyone is talking and laughing and things are being passed back and forth; it feels very Italian and is very warm and friendly. 

31 Dec (Fri)

My real last day picking olives!  Having less than 4 hours' sleep after the late night last night, I am tired but happy that however hard it is, this is my last day.  Also I am hoping that the atmosphere between Pasquale and Mikele isn't bad, but it seems no different than the usual banter and yelling.

The day starts with Pasquale taking his tractor out of his tiny garage.  I notice bunches of small tomatoes hanging along the wall; he gives me a bunch along with about a gallon of his olive oil. 

As we are leaving Pasquale is calling his dog, who is missing.  Eventually we drive off in the tractor, but Pasquale does a circuit in the town first, looking for him down every side street.  He isn't anywhere to be seen so he heads off to the fields. 

Today it is overcast and occasionally drizzly, I think that is why we are using sacks instead of the trailer for the olives.  They are more work and require all 3 of us (one to hold the sack and two to pour the olives in from the nets).

It's a very long day, and despite working right up to 1:30, we still had to skip some trees.  Suzie texts me looking for firewood for tonight's party, so I piece together a sentence asking Pasquale if I can pick some up.  He answers that we can get it back at his house, so I don't collect any and hope I have understood him correctly!

The drive back to Toritto is cold, not like the other days because it is later and still overcast.  As we get into the yard, Pasquale points out the dog who has come back; I'm glad for him because he seemed very concerned this morning. 

He points out a large pile of firewood and tells me to back up to it.  I load up with some and then exchange Alguri with kisses on the cheek with Pasquale and head off.

I go to the Masseria next because I want to leave lots of food for Yippie and give him a little company since he'll probably be alone for a few days.  I play with him a short while, then wish him Alguri and lock him back into the courtyard.

Back in Giovinazzo I drive to the edge of the old city and carry the wood to Lorella and Luigi's place before going home.  Looking at it in their doorway I think it's probably too much; when I took it at Pasquale's, I thought it mightn't be enough!

I get back to the apartment close to 4 pm.  A bit of food and small tidyup, then a rest which turns into a sleep with the kids.  I hear Suzie up and talking to Tony at some stage but stay asleep until she rouses us all for Shabbat pizza dinner - just 2 pies as we are going to be eating again at Lorella's later. 

New Year's Party Frid.

We arrive on time but early by Italian standards; Lorella is still getting dressed when we arrive, but it's no problem, and Luigi makes us feel welcome.  Many of the guests are people we know, most of whom have at least a bit of English.  At midnight we are supposed to eat as many Lentils as we can, each Lentil bringing you money for the new year.  I manage a few forkfuls but still really detest lentils as I always have:  looks to be another lean, then.  We leave after 1 am and the kids are still wide awake:  Rosa asks me what we are doing this evening when we get home!

1 Jan 2004 (Sat)
2 Jan 2004 (Sun)

Out of habit, I woke up early this morning at 6am.  All  quiet and asleep except I turn over to see Eli awake, so ask him quietly if he wants to go for a walk, I think it will do us both good.  We get dressed and go out in the cold dark of morning for a nice long walk through the old city then along to what Suzie and the kids have called "Pirate's Cove".  There's a bit of a breeze and it is chilly but refreshing on the water, and we eventually make out way back to the apartment, both feeling good.  We chat as we walk, and it's good to have some time with Eli on his own.  Eli enjoys it too, and also says the walk cleared his head from a headache he had when he woke up.

Its still early, when we all walk to a place on the shore Suzie's been to before.  The walk there isn't relaxing, with open railings on one side and the road on the other, with each child going at a different pace.  Eventually we get there and then it requires less vigilance, but still we have to keep them out of the water and away from the broken glass on the beach.  They make boats out of discarded plastic bottles and it makes me sad that this is the material that is most plentiful.

Lunch is BBQ fish, chosen because we have no cooker but do have some gas left in the small BBQ. We eat earlier than we realise and are finished by 1pm.

Drive to Margheurita beach (about 40 min north of here) and have a little picnic.  Tony has said it's a nice beach; it is a big sandy beach which looks to be very busy in the summer with all the beachside cafe's, but I'm disappointed to see there's lots of rubbish.  Kids have a great time time playing in the sand and we get some space to chat.  We even do a bit of Tai Chi on the beach together, facing the waves.

Back at the apartment, I make eggs for the kids in the frying pan over the BBQ.  Later William and Jane from the UK come over and we have pizza (Mimo's), pandoro and takeout ice cream from Tony's.  They're teaching English in Molfetta.  It's great to be able to just talk, without worrying that we're speaking English too fast or using advanced vocabulary!


3 Jan 2004 (Mon)

Eli and I got up a bit later this morning, about 6:30, and had a much shorter walk, just to get some fresh air.  He's pleased we've done this twice in a row, and I'm glad to have started out the New Year this way and hope it becomes a habit.  Later we both go out to order gas (we've been out for a couple of days and have had to get tea water from Tony's shop) and do a bit of food shopping, we arrive back just as the gas is being delivered.

After that it was a lazy day.  Eli does some animations on the computer to send to Luke, and then Suzie helps Rosa do one to send to Claire while I take all the boys to the playground, which is very busy, and there are older boys playing with firecrackers just outside the fence. 

We get back at 11:30am to have time for lunch and Suzie going to Tony's to look up a fudge recipe for him on the internet that doesn't use butter.  I make lunch (pasta) and ask Rosa and Eli to clear up and do the dishes, which happens with some difficulty.

I make dinner.  Afterwards, worse difficulty getting help from Eli in clearing up, though in the end Suzie's able to get him to do it.  She and I start on another animation of olive picking, but I get tired early on and Suzie and Eli finish it late at night.  It's now on the Picking Olives page.

Night tour of Bari

Unusual Breastfeeding Madonna

Basicila of St Nicole

Befana day


This site was last updated 03/26/05