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


Feb 2005 - Bonfires, Baba & Safta, Matera (Sassi), Alberobello, Carnival, Car engine dies, Cousins, Pompeii, Positrano, Vesuvius

Drawings for Sammy's school

Kids doing animation

Sassi in Matera

Bonfire beans (3 meg movie)



Luka R.I.P.

The dead piston

Carnival float (4.6 meg movie)

First glimpse of Vesuvius


Sammy and his volcano



Sun 30th Jan Mike's folks arrive.

Morning spend getting up slowly and then doing a extra special tidy on flat for Baba and Safta's arrival.  Mike goes for them and the kids are very good waiting indoors as the weather has gotten wet and cold.  He arrives fairly late after droping some stuff to their room. The kids are delighted and of course gifts arrive for all. Sammy recieves a very impressive dragon! We are all thrilled with lots of new reading material books, papers and magasines.  The guys settle in to listen to a few read by Safta.  R&V manage to stay awake very well and have some soup and local fair, mozerella, olive oil, olives, tomatoes and so on before going to there room in the old town.

Mon 31st Jan

R&V have their breakfast in Toni's while we get Eli and Rosa out to school.  Lorella invites us for a cuppa so we wonder over there and enjoy R&V reaction to their apartment. She has costumes to lend the kids. Sammy is thrilled with a spiderman suit! We have a nice chat and tea before walking to collect the kids.  We have a light lunch and play together and chat until its time to meet up with Toni and Chantelle who are showing us the way to a friends restaurant for diner.  It is just outside Giovinazzo and is very large but has gas patio heaters everywhere. We are the only ones there at first and so we huddle up to several and feel quite cozy as it is windy and freezing outside. The kids are pleased as there is a telly on in the corner and later after they have had their pizza Sammy is over the moon when Spiderman the movie comes on.  He sits there in his spiderman suit glued.  We have a succession of dishes brought by the host fish, cheese, spicy breads and then our pasta dishes followed by more fish or steak and last ice-cream for the kids. It is great and R&V really enjoy it all.  We carry tired kids out to the van and all are asleep before piazza porto.

Tues 1st February

Rosa and Eli are too tired for school so we give them the day off. We all have a quiet morning after our late night just playing chatting and walking to get the kids.  Vivian and I have a look around the shops with Rosa and find some nice baby shops for Vivian to return to. Then we go to get ready for the Carneval party in Bari Dominico and Emilia have invited the kids to. Sammy is happy as spiderman, I make wings for Rosa which she wears with her outfit from the christmas show and Finn has a Donald duck outfit, but Eli changes his mind about the Robin hood one Lorella gave him.  I decide to bring him over to Chantelles as she has told me that she has got her make up from when she was a make up artist down from home.  Eli wants to be a wounded knight.  Chantelle gives him an excellent scar on his head and a black eye as well as a pail face and beard.  Content we run home and get going.  With one wrong turn around a huge stadium we make it to Dominico in time and I stay in the parish hall with loud music and screaming dressed up kids playing roudy games. Our have a great time once they are ready to join in.  They provide pizza and foccacia as well as tonns of dolci (sweet stuff). Sammy is in his element bringing me and Finn plate fulls.  It gets even wilder and I am feeling very fried by the time Mike and the other return from the drive round Bari they have been having. We then have several meltdowns from overwraught children while we find parts of costums and leave piles of streamers they accumulated.  Sammy is almost unconsolable at one point as he is so wound up from all the noise and sugar.  Mike and I exchange looks and think of the school Halloween party at home we are always trying to get the kids to give a miss to.  We go back to Dominico and Emilias apartment where I try to persuade her to not give the kids further sugar but gulp down several cups of tea that I was gasping for.  We don't manage to get away until late but the kids are asleep before home and don't need diner.

Wed 2nd Feb

The big kids are enjoying the new routine of running over to Toni's to see if Baba and Safta are there before school for a chat and a chance of a sweet breakfast.  It has been hit or miss and the little guys are the ones who get it today.  Lots of yummy chocolate!! We get organised early today and pack a picnic for the journey to Matera. We head there immediately after we collect Eli and Rosa. The weather is sunny but cold and changeable.  We eat on our drive and make it there in good time. I've arranged for Judith (the English woman I met at the high school when I was giving my lecture to students goin to Ireland) to meet us for a tour of the Sassi. She and her husband and boy live in a restored house there.  We arranged to meet at three and park right on time. I phone to finialize a meeting place and the phone is acting strange I keep trying and we check other numbers but I cannot get through to hers.  I decide to leave everyone in the van and go to the Sassi to see if I can use Italy style finding methods.  I stop four men outside a shop and give them all the information I know I am trying to find an English woman who I recently met, she is called Judith and her husband is a Greek although they have lived in Italy for twenty years.  They live in the Sassi in a fairly recently restored house.  They have two teenage boys. They confer and one of the men knows  who I mean. Another volunteers to drive with us to show the way.  We return to the others and we're off. It turns out the Sassi is a lot bigger than Mike and I realised from our earlier looks.  It is huge and runs alot a massive gorge.  I think that if I had realised this I might have been more daunted expecting to find someone who knows Judith. When we get to the part where she is supposed to live the man and I get out and go up and down a sort of slope with houses on it looking for the house. It takes us a while and one ring results in the lady telling us she doesn't know of Judith but another door yields a woman and a boy who comes out to show us the house.  It is nearly four o'clock and Judith is very surprised to hear my voice at her door. I gather the gang and we go in to her house for a few minutes to warm up before our tour.  Judith is bemused by the phone problem as it seemed fine but still doesn't ring.  She lives in a place like a mini castle with a huge wooden door, stairs up to a wide stone terrace with views over the Sassi, inside there are vaulted stone rooms and staircases down trapped doors with floors that look like there were made by turning tiles on their sides and making patterns with them.  The house is also warm and filled with all mod cons including a beatiful kitchen.  We make a move as Judith has to pick up her sons at 5 pm and we want to see things in daylight.  We walk down one edge of the ravine. It is covered in dwellings and we can see older cave used in neolithic times on the other side.  We are all disappointed to discover that the rock churches with their frescos are all shut since 4p.m.  We are over it very quickly as we stand by the edge of the ravine feeling a bit of vertigo, we see a cloud coming up the valley obliterating the sun.  We think it is rain but soon realise it is snow.  It is really beatiful as the flakes sworl about rising out of the ravine below enveloping us.  The children erupt in excitement and we all stand transported for a while by the whole scene.  Judith spots that a little museum is still open.  We go in for shelter and to see what houses were like at the turn of the century and up until 1956 when the one we are visiting was forcably evacuated by a government concerned about living conditions.  The dwellings were made by taking material from a cave and using it to build up the front of the cave to double its size.  The occupants were peasants who farmed land a few miles away but who prefered to come back to the safety of villages at night. There most treasured posession was a mule for transporting everything including themselves.  The little house was very simple and this one housed 11 people. Our guild shows us were they all slept, even the mule was indoors carefully looked after.  It was said that these people valued the ,mule over a child as you could alway get another child.  There are various chests and dressers, a matromonial bed, two chairs at the table for father and eldest son, mother stood, and a kitchen with an economy stove, one that was enclosed in tile with small openings as a way of conserving fuel.  There is no water on the top of the ravine where the Sassi was built so the house has a cistern carved our below it with a little well down into it inside the house. They had lots of ingenious ways of colllecting rain water and running it into the cistern.  We part with Judith who has to collect her sons and the kids play snow balls on the way back to the car.  We negociate our way out of Matera eventually and make good time despite snow showers back to Giovinazzo.  I text William, Jane, and Alice Rose who join us after the kids are in bed for a pizza and pasta diner.  We have a fun evening with them recounting and swaping travel and cultural experiences. 

Thur 3rd Feb

We let Eli off school today as he isn't feeling too well but we go for a walk to the fish market and park as the weather has warmed up a bit.  Vivian, and I go shopping and have fun buying presents before meeting the others again. We go home for lunch I make an arrangement with Toni for his mother to teach us how to make focaccia.  I go to her house with Chantelle and Vivian and Rosa and we have a great time watching Maria bake.  She has huge strong hands and it is easy to underestimate the degree of kneading necessary for the recipe. While the dough rises Vivian makes brownies for Toni's shop and Rosa is in her element.  Its a very pleasant afternoon for the girls.  We go home and I settle the wee guys and get everyone to bed as Chantelle has offered to babysit to let us out with R&V. We go the creperie in the old town and have a really nice relaxed and for once light meal together. 

Frid 4th Feb

After the big guys both make it to school this morning we get ready to go to the market. We are a little late but have time to get gloves and more baby gifts as well as fruit and mushrooms for lunch. R&V enjoy the atmosphere and vendors and we see the speed at which stall holders dismantle and clear the place.  We have a quiet afternoon and as I am starting a cold and because the logistics of bringing the kids to Bari are daunting I decide to stay home when the others go to meet up with Sabino for his tour.  They have a great time and I text with Lorella who is also sick in bed.

Sat 5th Feb

I am feeling okay this morning after my early night and we give the kids a morning off as we want to go to Alberobello.  We don't get away to early but the drive is straight forward and in the latter stages very pretty with quite different hills from the ones we know near Altamura and Matera.  The roll up and down more and have less olives and look more mixed and green at present.  There also seem to be more houses near the outskirts of towns with gardens rather than the appartments we have seen everywhere else. We pass through a long fertile valley and feel we are back in Tuscany. The kids start spotting Trulli in fields on the way and have fun looking for the next and the next.  Soon we reach Alberobello, seeing sign saying "Trulli capitol" and pull in next to several tour buses in a car park.  We see lots of Trulli on the hills near us in the town but have a picnic before setting off to explore.  We read the explanation of Trulli in Italian using our collective knowledge and get a reasonable sense of it. Apparently Trulli round stone buildings with pointed roofs were build in the countryside by peasants and were favoured by the local landowners because they had to pay taxes on the number of tenents homes on their land.  When the tax collectors were due they simply pulled down the trulli and they were relatively easy to build up again. We later learn from a shop keeper that it too four men two months to build one.  The same shop keeper makes little Trulli to sell and has a model to demonstrate how they were constructed with two layers of stone with a insulating layer of small stones in the middle.  The roof is a clever piece of engineering with progressively overlapping slabs .  There are different tops on the Trulli as well as white symbols painted on the roofs that signify either, primative, magical or christain meanings.  The kids are really taken with the town,  as someone said it is a bit like Hobbiton from 'Lord of the Ring's but without the grass.  The scale of the buildings are very 'Hobbit' or child friendly.  Alberobello was apparently an illegally constructed town and it eventually received recognition in the 1700's.  We enjoy exploring the little streets but Mike and I are challenged to keep little hands off or simply to move on from all the tourist shops up each street.  We head home and pass through Putinano where carneval is tomorrow and were we hope to go. We have diner at home and an early night

Sun 6th Feb

We get ready for an outing once again but Rosa isn't feeling the best. When Richard arrives he too has decided to take it easy so stays with Rosa, and this leaves rooms for us to bring Chantelle.  We set off just as sleet starts falling, but press on.  We make good time and start seeing snow close to Putelano. It is very pretty. We are guided to parking and have only a short walk into the town.  It is a great atmosphere although we are taken aback by people not letting the kids through to small gaps at the barriers. Eventually we get a spot and wait a while. Carneval begins with a lively band followed by load of brilliant enormous floats with dancers and confettii. The kids have fun until the crowd and cold get a bit much for Eli. He uses my fold out chair back from the front and Chantelle gets him a tea, he is much improved for the remainder an Mike says the fun at the back with people running up and down with streamers and confettii is good craic.  We head home just before the end but see several eleborately custumed groups dance by first.  We are fortified by bread and nutella on the way home.  When we get to Bari we decide to pull off the highway to get some shopping at the Ipercoop. Just as we pull into the carpark newbie suddenly make a huge noise. At first I think the exhaust has fallen off, I pull in and Mike looks out but it hasn't, it seems to be the engine as now we can't move so I quickly switch off the engine and we push herbie into a parking spot.  I think the engine is a gonner but feel lucky that it didn't happen on the highway.  We go inside for some hot chocolate (which is as thick as chocolate pudding by the way) and chips (which Finn accidently dips in his hot chocolate instead of the ketchup and soon he and Sammy dip and eat the lot this way).  Chantelle phones Toni who comes to the rescue with his brother and we go home. Mike gets on the phone to arrange a tow truck and the rest of us hang out for a while. Later I take the boys to Chantelles for baths. She has invited us to diner and everyone else joins us there. Mike gets a lift from Toni's uncle to follow the tow truck to a garage in Giovinazzo and when he gets to Chantelle's I take a welcome bath. We carry sleeping kids all the way home.

Mon 7th Feb

I wake with a mind abuzz with sorting and coordinating so that we can still go to Napoli.  Jane (my sister) has been in Rome for the weekend with her husband and friends and had been texting organizing us to meet up.  She decided to fly mum and her girls out too.  So now we are very motivated to get there to see everyone.  After alot of tooing and frowing and discussions with Richard, Toni and lorella. Richards and Vivian take a bus to Napoli with a plan to meet us in Pompeii and Lorella takes Mike to the airport to collect a hire car.  I pack up the last bits and we visit the garage were Newbie was towed and arrange to talk on frid about what to do with him and then we are off.  The run in the modern car is very easy and the landscape very pretty with green hill and autumnal looking trees followed by snowy towns on the moutainsides.  We make it in three hours. We think we have a problem when we discover there are three stations in Pompeii but mobile/cell phones solve it. Jane has gone onto Sorentto and found us a hotel, so Richard and Vivian decide to squeeze in to our car rather than wait for one of us to come back for them.  It is a daft squeeze but since the roads are busy and slow moving it is just as well as they would have had a long wait. Our reunion with the girls followed by Mum and Jane is rawcus and the kids can't calm down at all. Once we've settled and sorted all the room arrangements, made a bit complicated by the hotels strict rules and me being aware of our emergency funds depleting, we satisfy everyone and head out to look for a place for diner. We walk a good bit of the town but find a nice place and enjoy a tasty diner. We are all shattered and welcome our return to the hotel for sleep.

Tue 8th Feb

We attempt a reasonably early start after breakfast.  My kids are very thrilled with the self service all you can eat breakfast buffet, especially the cereal as we have been limiting that to Saturdays in Giovinazzo due to cost.  We tear them away and make the discovey that Jane's hire car has additional seats that can be folded out which makes for a much more comfortable run to Pompeii.  I get to have some catch up with mum on the way.  We find good parking in a nice campsite near the excavation entrance. The weather is sunny nad reasonable mild.  I try not to think about how nice it would have been for camping in Newbie aftera all we are enjoying the luxury of a hotel, especially the long hot shower I was able to have this morning.  Pompeii is amazing.  So much of the city remains intact and is in many places so familar, either because Roman artiture and decoration have be used over and over in modern art, architecture and film, or because lots of Pompeii is built or added to in red brick making it very modern in places.  The street have shop fronts, even former fast food snack bars, but the villas and ampitheatre, and oval collisum type arena are pure history.  We only see a few of the chilling plaster casts of victums of the Vesuvious eruption but they are enough to give an impression of what happened here that none of us put more than a few words on.  There aren't any that would describe it aptly enough. The kids have a great day being outside with our small boys especially is much more relaxing for Mike and I too so the weather is a real bonus.  We leave in the early afternoon as Richard and Vivian are keen to see a place called Positrano on the Almafi coast further along than Sorento in daylight.  Jane lets me navigate to try to find a scenic mountain route but I don't see the turn my map says should be there so we end up going the coastal route.  This turns out to be scenic but scarey its a high cliff road with bends and twists like those from car chase scenes in films.  Dusk decends as we enter Positano but we do get to see its dramatic setting at the bottom of a mountain that drops steeply to the sea.  We park and head down little streets towards the only resurant in town that is open on the beach. As we go we pass kids in carnival costums on their way up and when we get to the party on the beach the teenagers have taken over and loud dance music is blaring while lads dressed as angels and girls danced as devils bob and chase each other about with spray cans of foam. We go into the resturant called the three sisters, were the music is only slightly less but the food is great and eventually the disco ends and we get to chat until our waiter tells us our car park is closing. He gives us postcards and a poster of the  Tri Sorelli depicting the orginal sister three generously sized women who started the place.  We have tire kids but the run home is actually easier in the dark as we are on the cliff side of the road and it is dark, or maybe it is just that I consumed enough wine etc..

Wed 9th Feb

We all get up to say goodbye to Richard and Vivian tough for everyone as usual but they get good send off with a chorus of bye byes, and ciao ciaos from all the children. We have a bit of a rest, pack, eat more breakfast and have a hectic checking out. We have a quick walk to look down over the harbour over a steep view point before heading to Vesuvious.  We have a few navigational errors and diversions through run down alleys before finding our way up the volcano.  The route passes some very decaying, deschevaled hotels and resturants all shut for the winter and winds further and further up.  There are some hikers, Germans, and a tour bus and one or two cars but the view of Napoli reminds how close we are to the vast urban sprawl and also of scenes from movies of the area surrounding L.A.  We start crossing the snow line and before long discover a park ranger parked just below a digger clearing the road.  He tells us we are still 3km from the summit but can go no further today.  We decide we will have to content with playing in the snow on a volcano.  The kids have fast fun building a snow man and throwing snow balls before freezing and we go back down deciding to try Ercolcano rubano as a place to stop. This is another site like Pompeii, smaller with houses in different states of repair slightly better preserved in places.  We have a picnic and look around. I have fun joining in the kids games a sort or spy witch mixture using artitectural features as clues as we all look at them.  The afternoon is soon over and its time to say out goodbyes.  I tell Jane and that they have all really topped us up from missing them, of course like for Baba and Safta it is never enough, but we are thrilled to have had the time.  We part and we make great time back to Giovinazzo, strange to feel like we have come home when we get there.

Thur 10th Feb

Eli & Rosa are back to school and I am back to tidying  up and getting shoping.  Mike is off to Lorella's and the internet and then to return car. Dominico wants   him back to work.  I go to the park in sunshine until Mike is home and meet him in the big piazza.  I spend the afternoon with the kids doing a sort of all their art they have done. I guess I am thinking of moving on and want to start some organizing.

Frid 11th Feb

am mike in and out lorellas for internet messages re car, and to talk to mechanic sister to come in pm who speaks english , get Eli and  Rosa and made trulli with guys while mike in and out with finn,  mike made zooks on puter then got pizza for shabbat, felt really great all together and calm again after our fun but busy last few wees and after newbie stress. toni's for ice-cream and nice to see chantel was there could have a bit of relaxed crack!

Sat 12th Feb

Mike school run - up sorting stuff Dom to come at 8.30-9 but rings to say later comes around 11.30,  tiding til then clearing out stuff we can't bring feels good, guys watch tv, mike collects laundry william and jane both sick, Dom says lovely spring weather isn't to last north pole weather on way bypassing north Italy, I shop with boys bread round the corner stuff in doc. Lava beach until time to get Eli and Rosa picnic in park home to make soup.  We do home schooling and then pop out to try to get credit on the phone and drop some soup to William and Jane who are both sick.  They are'nt in but I think they may have had to teach so we leave the soup and some citrus fruits on their door and drop by Toni's to say hi.  He gets the big guys to help him with his sign writing while I try to get phone credit. The first shop I try has electronic slot machines that Finn and Sammy make such a fuss over trying to climb up to see, that I go to another shop and then realise my own phone no. is no longer in my phone so I can't get credit anyway. We go home for soup which Eli and I eat but Rosa isn't too keen on but get a nice text from William and Jane saying how much they appreciated it on their return.  I get everyone off to be and try to catch up on Journalling Richard and Vivians trip as I did none when they were here bar a few notes to jog my memory. 

Sun 13th  Feb

Strange to not have Mike here but I take a slow morning just letting the kids hang out and play.  When I go onto the balcony for some sun later it is really warm and I actually get to hot sitting there with my tea.  I get the guys outside and we sit in the piazza and watch all the kids that have come to hang out again in the warmth after mass and before lunch. I have a chat with Mimo and Francesca and then take the kids to the little beach where they have a great time and insist on paddling and don't seem to get too cold. We go home for a late lunch and everyone has a bath except Eli.  I trimmed Finn's hair last night so I do Sammy's today. Then we go for an ice cream in the still warm afternoon at Toni's and say hi to Chantelle and Toni's mum who are enjoying the sun too. I take the kids to the big piazza to run off the sugar and they find big balloons to play with.  Finally after a text from Mike with my no. I get credit and we go inside. I do more homeschooling before diner and Finn starts falling  asleep on the table after diner. Sammy says "awhh he's so cute" and Finn opens his eyes just long enough to say "I not cute" before falling back asleep. 

Mon 14th Feb

Mike still at farm so me on early morning wake up, but kids were great. Eli was motivated by a promise to use the computer if he got ready first.  Everyone else did well too.  After droping the kids I popped in to say hi to Sammy's teacher Giovana and Lorella called by too. Sammy had time for a short play with his school mates but wasn't a bit interested in staying.  Then I went to Lorellas to check email, she was away to school.  We had lunch followed by packages left by Baba and safta for Valentine's Day, which I'm spending without my man, but the kids were thrilled.  Eli apparently recieved a present of a pencil, pen and rubber delivered wrapped up by a bunch of female admirers.  Later got the guys and had a quiet afternoon painting their trulli and just hanging out playing. They stayed helpful throughout the day and Rosa read the bed-time stories to the wee guys while Eli and I looked at house designs on the computer. We have been having a spate of fantasing about the perfect home and drawing out all our ideas.

Tues 15th Feb

Had a bad wake up call this am with Sammy weting the bed beside me at 5.30ish. I forgot to get him to go before bed.  Not a good start to the morning. Eli and Rosa were great though having the computer as motivator certainly gets Eli moving in the morning. After droping them to school I go to Toni's to meet Maria Grazie for breakfast which is nice. She is applying for jobs and is off to an interview in for work as an activities leader with an Italian company in Egypt.  Sounds fun. She got to practice some English with us and play with the wee guys who she loves.  We part and I collect our laundry to bring to Chantelle's,  washing is enlarged by this mornings accident. Getting it done is always a major part of my life.  We have a cuppa and an attempt at a chat but the boys are grumpy from lack of sleep but hyper from sugar breakfast so we go to the park.  The weather is bright but cooler today but it is still pleasant at the playground.  I go for the guys and have a normal routine afternoon with them.  We expect Mike in the early evening and jump when the door goes twice.  The first time it is Frank with bread and biscotti and the second is Chantelle with washing.  Mike texts to say he hasn't been collected yet so the guys have to go to bed. I wait up for him with Sammy who had a nap and we have a nice reunion.

Wed 16th Feb

As Mike is here I get a lie in reading our new magasines and later go out alone and get a nice chat and lunch with William and Jane I put off coming back until it is time to get the kids to Lorellas for a prearranged bread making lesson with Carla.  They want to learn how to make brown bread. The kids all dissapear into Lorella's house as usual to make use of tv, toys and playstation and I have fun demonstrating brown soda bread and scones.  Mike come over and he and Lorrela spend ages trying to sort something on the computer without success.  We don't get away until after Luigi is home for his diner about 9pm. and Sammy and Finn are both asleep. 

Thursday 17th Feb

Mike and I hang out after the big guys are sorted for school and try to have a conversation about what should happen next with the van and how to acomplish it.  He goes off later in search of rope and things with the small boys and I drop in on Shannon and have a nice time playing with the baby and chatting. Her appartment looks over the main Piazza and the view is great as I am checking it out Mike and the kids come back from school and play by the big fountain and it is very funny to spy on the incognito.  Shannon and Nicol have invited me to lunch so I don't wave. The give me a lovely fish tomato potato dish and a glass of wine. It is lovely to have another adult chat and really fills me up after my few days alone.  I go back at 3ish as Mike goes to Chantelles to help with a computer problem she and Toni have been having. It turns out to need alot of work and as I'm feeling a bit of a cold tickling I spend a quiet afternoon with the kids and get them to bed early and follow soon after.

Friday 18th Feb

I am feeling okay when I wake but the weather is really bad outside, lots of rain, so I stay in bed with the boys while Mike takes the big umbrella and get the guys to school.  We spend the whole day indoors and after the big guys come home Mike goes to back to Chantelles to try to finish sorthing computer problems and Eli goes too. The others play really well so I stay lazy reading a novel for a bit longer. After a shower I perk up enough to do chores and Mike brings back pizza for shabbat. After the kids are asleep I head out for a drink to the London pub with Chantelle and manage to get a glass of pretty decent dry cider.  We have a nice evening chatting at the bar and watching the barman put together deserts for the rest of the clientele who are of course eating as well as drinking. 

Saturday 19th Feb

Despite my late night I am up early probably encouraged by the lovely sunshine that is back.  The sun hits the balcony earlier and for longer each day and when the weather is nice it is really Spring like.  I go out for a walk with Sammy and we drop into Chantelle for our washing and get it back to hang out early. Mike goes to William after droping Eli and Rosa to school and they tow Newbie round to our Piazza to let Mike get at the engine and see if he can confirm the diagnosis before we order a new one.  I take the boys to Lorella's for a while and then get the guys.  Mike is still under the car when we get back.  We have lunch. I go to the park with the kids so Mike can get on with getting the engine out.  While we are at the playground I hear English being spoken with broad New York tones.  I get talking to the woman before we leave and discover she is from Brooklyn but married an Italian man and has lived in Giovinazzo for 35 years.  He husband has and ice cream booth called Toni's. (This could get confusing.) She is called Abby and when I enquire as to whether she is or Italy orgin I discover that she is Jewish.  She has to go but will be helping out in the booth later and tell me to drop by.  We go towards home and meet Lorella's child minder with Maria Carla and she and Rosa take turns on her bike round the big piazza.  I get home and do some baking for tonight, Flapjacks, and drop over to Shannon to borrow her Bohran in case that is the kind of music on offer later.  The kids are all really tired and are asleep before Chantelle arrives.  We head out and find Carla's place in the old city very easily.  It is completely different than Lorellas but equally stuning. We enter up a long stone stairs lit tonight by candles and came into to good sizes rooms which were joined by doorways. They are the sitting room and kitchen come dining room.  We have a great night. I meet Ellen who Mike had met on the night out with Sabino. She is an Irish woman who has been living here for 15years from Dublin so we have a nice chat and Carla providesd the most amazing spread of food including brown soda bread which she made after our lesson and it turned out better than mine had. Ellen is thrilled with it and has it with smoked salmon.  Late in the evening Lorella arrives she had been supervising a teenybob disco at her house. She couldn't get over the kids dansing ablities.  She is in time for the music here but I have to run home and settle Sammy back to sleep but am able to go back as its so close. The men are singing to the accompanyment of a friend on key board. They sing Napolitan love song that are familiar to everyone and it is gas to watch them especially their facial expressions it is almost like charachtures for us.  It winds up quicker than an Irish session would and we are home by 1.30.

Sunday 20th Feb

Despite our late night Mike is up early and under the car.  He takes the engine apart and finds the problem a valve broke off and smashed into the cylinder head, but I'll leave him to tell the details.  It was good fun watching and several of our male neighbours hung out and gave their comments. We had a snack and Mike put it all away again and we went for a nice long walk with all except Eli and then came home for lunch.  We didn't do much else as we were pretty tired and I had an early night.  Mike went to finish Chantelles computer stuff and send a post to our VW friends for consultation about what is next.  I'm for a new engine but it might be possible to replace heads and cylinders.

Mon 21st Feb

I determined to walk often and get fit before we get to France for woofing as I am hoping to be more active in the work there.  Rosa and I went out for a walk together and brought  laundry to William and Jane we went in for a cosy chat and tea.  The rest of the day was routine stuff playing with guys inside and usual house chores.

Tues 22nd Feb

Routine morning Rosa went back to school for a new project her class is doing on book writing.  I went to Lorella's for a cuppa while she was there.  I brought  Rosa to meet Shannon and her baby in the evening. My social rounds remind me of when I gave up work when pregnant with Rosa and was free to have cuppa's and little else.  It is very different from my busy life at home, running kids around to their activities and doing all my work and volunteer stuff being involved in loads. I like it but its very lazy making. I can always get more done the busier I am.

Wed 23 rd Feb

I'm really enjoying getting out for a walk and the weather is reasonable this morning. I drop in to Lorella's and Mike comes later with the boys Lorella and I head off to Molfetta on a secret mission for the morning.  We get back in time to get the big guys and collect Mike and the wee guys and go to picnic in the harbour as it's so nice and sunny although the breeze isn't welcome.  Mike has found out that there are no engines in stock in Europe the guy in Milan is going to check the U.K. so we are in limbo not knowing how long it is all going to take. In the later afternoon when shops are open again I go out with Eli and Finn.  I haven't done much shopping in the smaller shops for a while and it is nice to drop into the mozzarella guy and a new discovery a wine shop that sells wine from taps into plastic bottles for a euro a litre! After we have diner and get kids to be we go out to the pub in shifts with William, Jane and Alice Rose.  Mike goes first and I get the last shift. Its fun to be out and we walk Alice Rose home as I want to prolong the evening.

Thurs 24th Feb

In the morning its back to Molfetta to complete our covert operation but is reveled to all in the afternoon. Lorella and I have gotten taboos.  Well it is my mid-life crisis year so I have to do a few more mad things. It went well but was pretty painful.  You'll have to wait til you see me for a verdict. The guys and Mike all like it anyway.  We are home for lunch and  an ordinary pm. (The guys play, do art, work on the computer - well we all try to get time on it, ot do home school work or diaries.) I am bit worried about Cal.  She is off form and I am wondering about some rotten fish she ate in the harbour last week which she vomited that evening. She had been fine since but has now vomited again on two more evenings.

Frid 25th Feb

Mike and the wee guys and I walk out to the Market. We hadn't been for a while and get some bargain spiderman jeans for the guys and lots and lots of fruit and vegetables.  I struggle to find a place in some of the queues we have notices that our normally friendly Italians have a tendency towards aggressive queue jumping. Mike goes to Lorella's.  I drop in on way to get kids so that we can check each others tattoos.  Mike and I go to leave and are dismayed to realize we each thought the other had the keys to the apartment. We borrow a ladder hoping to get in via the balcony but when we get back surprisingly the big outer door has been accidently left open and we are able to get in our inner door. Since I hadn't thought I had the key I hadn't closed the deadbolt and it is banged open rather too easily.  We make a mental note to lock it properally every time and check the outer door but it is a stroke of luck for ourselves. Cal isn't improving and we think she has stopped going to the loo and may have a blockage.  Mike takes her to the vet in the p.m. while Eli and I go Maria's (Toni's mum) with Chantelle to keep her company while she makes muffins for the shop.  We pick up pizza for Shabbat on the way home and go out later for ice cream.  The vet gave Cal and enema but told Mike if there is no result to phone another vet for an Xray.  Nothing has moved so I ask Lorella about a lift and she tries to call the other vet. It isn't the right number so I have to go back to the pet shop where Mike got the first vets number, lucky the guy there speaks English and was very helpful (hsi daughters in Rosa's class) because he has to phone the first vet to get the right number for the second vet who turns out to be finishing for the night. We make an appointment for the morning. I go back to tell Lorella and have a cuppa. I drop in to tell Toni, (everyone is worried about Cal) I meet Chantelle who wants to drop in on Shannon which we do briefly. By the time I get home the guys are nearly done with their Shabbat movie. I text William and Jane about a lift as Lorella can't go in the morning, now they are worrying about her.

Sat 26th Feb

We let the kids have a Saturday off school and I go off early to the vet its about ten mile away near Bari. William and Jane  sit in the waiting room and watch puppies and other dogs big and small go in for a wash and blow dry in a room across the hall.  I go in for the Xray with the nice young vet. (He's a U2 fan) and discover that she doesn't appear to have a blockage but it isn't conclusive and as she has pain he want's her to have an ultra sound but it turns out the person is sick.  He says she is relatively well so we have time to try treatment so he gives her an antibiotic and me a lesson in administrating the rest of it by injections over the weekend as he doesn't want her to vomit it,  The weather has rotten with wind and rain so we all stay in. Mike has a nap and later I manage to book in for some computer time, it is getting harder since Sammy now wants his slot along with the others. Even Finn says I want my desk top!   Chantelle drops over for a chat and we have early night after she goes.

Sun 27th Feb

Lazy Sunday am, We are list making time again for our departure once engine arrives. Cal seems to be improving in form and her appetite is better but still no movement.  We get organized eventually for a big tidy up as the weather is nice again, cool but sunny. We go out to the busy piazza and I wash all the olive soil off the camper cushions. Mike works at finishing de-rusting and touching up camper and roof rack. Newbie looks better when he is finished, pity he has no engine.  I go for a walk with Rosa when I am done hoping to warm up in land as the breeze is cold.  We bump into William and Jane who are waiting for Alice Rose. We all go to the playground and it is much warmer there.  The girls all play!  William and I chat about his book which is at agents and he printed for us to read.  Its great and I really hope he finds someone to publish it.   We head home and I play play dough with the little guys. Chantelle drop in again around diner and afterwards I get on the Computer, but not for long as Chantelle calls from Shannon's.  She has discovered it is her birthday and she is alone until Nicole gets in later.  I bring her an Irish CD and Chantelle has brought apple pie and candles and we have a mini birthday party.

Mon 28th Feb

I take Cal for a walk hoping for a result but neinte.  I text the vet who makes an appointment with the ultrasound person for tonight. I go for a longer walk with Chantelle until it starts to rain.  I stay home with the boys while Mike go to do internet stuff at Lorella's.  I'm able to have my first shower after the Tattoo and I do tai chi afterwards.  Exercise is so hard to keep up regularly with kids but it really makes a difference. Mike brings kids home for lunch, and we spend another afternoon at home. Mike and I start looking at route options and our Croatia book. We are excited and nervous about leaving Italy and heading off again.  I go out to a o travel agent to try to find out about ferries they try but are not much help but I get a list of campsites and the phone number of the local ferry office. I get home for a quick diner and Lorella takes Cal and I to the vet. After an expensive ultra sound Cal gets all clear. We just have to wait longer.  In total we have spent 135 euro but what can you do?

5 Feb (Fri)

This evening Suzie minded the kids and I took my parents to Bari to meet Sabino for a tour of the old city.  In his house, he presented my parents with some rachetti, wine and olive oil, and introduced us to 2 friends who are from the old city to come on our tour (Sabino is from new Bari).  They had no English so Sabino did some translation.  These two women are very religious so we visited several of the 100 (!) churches in the old city; from the San Sabino Cathedral down to a church that was little more than a small room.  There were services going on in all of them, but only about half had a priest running the service; in the others, the congregants were reading responsively from the pews.

Later we left the old city and they led us for a while until we found a religious articles shop:  my dad had mentioned that he wanted to get something for a religious person back home.  When he went to pay, Sabino tried to pay for him, asking Dad to please allow him to be a perfect host!  Dad was able to convince him to let him pay "this time". 

Then we met up with Angelo, Sabino's lawyer friend, a man with much energy and enthusiasm.  We were given a royal welcome in his office, were introduced to all the other lawyers, and seated Dad in Angelo's chair behind his desk while Angelo and the rest of us sat out front.  Drinks were ordered out from a bar and brought in; legal discussions ensued, with Sabino doing his best to translate.  Dad asked about computers as search tools; Angelo said the younger lawyers used them but he preferred to use book indices.  He opened up a case file and showed Dad the handwritten notes he uses, saying that was "my internet".  He showed Dad a registry of lawyers in Bari (quite a thick book) and gave it to him, along with a sheet of their letterhead, as a present (later when we were leaving, I suggested Dad just take a photocopy of Angelo's page, which he did). 

Leaving we thanked Angelo; he responded "no, thank you for the honour of visiting my office".

Back at the old city, Sabino's two friends left, saying they wanted to give Mom and Dad some holy oil if they were back in Bari before they left.  Clara then picked us up and we drove to their tennis club, where we were the only dinner guests.  I sat across from Ellen from Dublin, who's lived here 15 years.  She gave me some recommendations of good places to visit, such as: Capo diMonte museum in Napoli where a Caravaggio exhibition is on; Forcatella in Salvaletra, where seafood is served outdoors on rustic stone tables; Castellane grotte caves.  Vito, her husband, was opposite my parents; what I heard of their conversation was about food or fishing.  He spoke about native Bari people's absolute love of fish, especially for Sunday dinner.  If you are too poor to buy fish, you get a rock from the sea with seaweed attached, and cook it with your spaghetti:  the name for this dish translates as "the fish escaped."

The food:  antipasti of delicious fish, pizza, quiche, mozzerella, mushrooms, others.  Two pasta courses: spaghetti and rachetti.  There was olive oil with peppericino which they warned me about; after I ate some on my pasta and wasn't affected Vito ordered tiny dried chili peppers which he shredded over my food; those were hot. 

not sure of dates...

I slept over at the Masseria on my own and did some work:  painted a BIG gate (took most of a day!), built a treehouse around an almond tree and cleaned floors. 

I got back and began taking apart our camper engine to figure out what killed it.

The first day I successfully removed the engine, learning a few things in the process.  One of the more trivial things was that the heater cables, which need to be disconnected in order to remove the engine, were already disconnected.  In fact, they were snapped, which is why our heater controls didn't seem to do much no matter what position we put them in.

I found what I think must be poor Luca, quite dead, on the engine.  In fact he was lying on top of piston number 3, the one which self-destructed when a piece of one of the valves broke off.

23 Feb

Well the bad news is that the engine I have been trying to order is out of stock in Italy and Holland (where the manufacturer is).  So Enrico is trying to get one from the UK .  The earliest we would see it is about the 5th of March.

24 Feb

On the way to school this morning I was accosted by our neighbor who has his family coming here.  When are we leaving?  I don't know, I am waiting for a new engine.  When are your family coming?  The 5th of March.  PANIC!

25 Feb

Well I had to talk to Domenico to sort things about where we would go if he's already rented the house.  I mentioned our neighbor and he said it was the 5th of MAY they were coming.  So much for my Italian comprehension!  Panic over anyway.

We had a scare with Cal this week; she was pretty listless and it looked like she might have had something blocking her bowels.  Had to go to a local vet, then one out of town for an xray and again for an ultrasound.  In the end, it seemed to have been a gut infection; we (Suzie) had to administer the antibiotic injections ourselves, including buying syringes (which are freely available here!).  Cal is back to normal now, but we are watching her carefully when she's outside now -- we think it was all caused by her eating some rotten fish down at the harbour.


This site was last updated 04/13/05