Friday, 27 July 2012

Pompeii, Herculaneum and Oplontis

Neapolitan drivers are terrifying! Your vehicle will have to combat manic mopeds, crazy cars and belligerent busdrivers.

We had splendid, marbled and airconditioned accommodation

with excellent service; our hostel was located right on the edge of the old town and strolling distance to Marina Grande.

Evening meals were set against a background of volcanic Vesuvius.

Italy were in the final of the World Cup while we were there. We bought flags and supported Italy as we watched the match in the bar/lounge of the hostel. (Well it seems we are never going to see England in the final).
The Sorrento peninsula, especially  Sorrento itself, is pretty with some delightful oases.We wandered the narrow winding streets of Sorrento finding all sorts of restaurants (Isn't bougainvillea a riot of vivid purple and cerise pink)


churches (this tiled floor was on a church in Anacapri)

and cafes

Steep, stark, carbonate cliffs edged a calm, azure Tyrrhenian Sea as

we travelled by boat ('Helloo') down to crowded Amalfi-

OK so we were not impressed by Amalfi or Positano- Come on! We are Northumbrians borne of the land of far horizons- we are used to space, not shoulder to shoulder rubbing.

Now the scavi (excavations) and the reason we made this journey! 
Used to archaeological digs, we found Pompeii interesting eg the houses and their fittings- did you know there were more than 26 brothels? The odeon and arena were bathed in searing sunshine.However it was sterile of finds because they are all now in the Museum of Naples.the best pizza we had in Italy was at the cafe in Pompeii. All the streets - and there were a lot- had steppy stones as ancient Pompeiian streets were washed every night.We all forgot to take our cameras to Pompeii so unfortunately I have no pictures of the world's most preserved city.

Ercolano (Herculaneum) was smaller but the first view revealed how deep the ruins were in mud and sand- how ever did anyone find them that deep below modern ground level?

There were magnificent mosaics on both floor and walls here; we were amazed to be allowed to walk on 2,000year old , tiny, tesserae unprotected from twentieth century feet.


Oh, the villa of Poppaea in Oplontis, which probably belonged to Nero's second wife, was a hidden gem. Mosaics and painting on the walls were as though they had been made yesterday; tiny birds, flowers, musical instruments......breathtakingly beautiful. But I did not have the camera that day so we must wait for D3 to forward some photos to me!
We cruised out to the island of Capri and climbed through tiny, flower draped alleyways to Anacapri- wealth was evident! We wore our Capri pants in Capri!

I must be honest with you-Sorrento is lovely but I do not recommend a trip to the actual city of Naples- so much muck you have never seen; Also maybe it is better not to go in the height of summer unless you can cope with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius. We found ways of cooling ourselves down......

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Northumberland coast

Sunday saw  a group of us drifting along with the driftwood on Druridge Bay. Waves washed the shore as we threw marooned jelly fish back into the shallows. Shells blinked at us from ripples in the sand. Our grainy messages hailed passing helicopters. Fish and chips hailed from Amble!

Les femmes strode out from Monkseaton to Tynemouth Metro station the following day; excited, shrill voiced school children in their last week of term, were carrying out a sponsored walk along the promenade. We watched a lifeguard drill being carried out; it reminded me of a holiday which included a trip to Perranporth to watch lifesaving- did I tell you the thrilling tale of the diamond ring?

A longer walk , from Gosforth to town and return, left my hips telling the tale- that I haven't walked 8 miles in a while! I blame the sheets of rain we have experienced for approximately 8? weeks now.
Yet Sunday was St Swithun's Day- at Druridge we had a dry day so we should get 40 rainfree days.

I was amazed at how much dog excrement there was on the dunes (My last visit to Seaton Sluice saw even more revolting debris)- why is it that owners think if they take their dog to the beach or countryside they do not have to clear up after their pets? Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!


What would the day hold I asked..... A silly question! Rain again!

The hedgehog food den was an aggravating, irritating disappointment; the cat which has left claw marks on the car bonnet and wanders through our garden to sit below/on our fence to get at feathered visitors to our birdstation, came visiting.... the cat food in the specially created den (constructed as advised by an expert) was emptied - not by a hedgehog but by a neighbour's white cat- the white fur adorned the entrance of the upside-down compost bin entrance. Before you ask- we have paid a fortune for cat scarers- most white cats are deaf so do not hear the high pitched noise emitted; so the two scarers we have, which are recommended by the RSPB at £51 each, are useless.

The garden borders are thick with orange and lemon peel....

We had that type of potted plants which cats hate...

so now what?

The hedgehog babies need food from the sow and she needs food from us so any ideas?

Saturday, 14 July 2012


I have decided I am somewhat a creature of habit- not rigid-I'd hate to be that- I accomodate change with no problem- but I do prefer to operate within a framework that I can move out of. Maybe it is because my life is so busy and has been/is frequently altered that I like a night in front of the telly occasionally or a 'dinner dinner' . I always sit us down at the table to meals so a picnic tea in front of the telly is rare but a treat.

Grey skies like sad shrouds smother us again; there is a fine line of glowing cream lighting up the horizon; what does the day hold?
Has Henrietta eaten anything in our anti cat food den?

I am not sleeping well as H1 is in one bedroom and I am in another as our ensuite is drifting plaster all over our room which does not seem to do much for the lungs. See? There is the upset to my routine- I don't like getting into a chilly bed; my human hot water bottle is temporarily elsewhere and whilst I can read more with the light on , I like a warm cuddle or hottie to stick my cold feet on!

I have finished Marian Keyes' Under the duvet' and Jodi Piccoult's 'The Pact' and have now moved on to  'The Lady of Hay' by Barbara Erskine.

Phonecalls , phonecalls..... gotta go

Friday, 13 July 2012

Hedgehog Rescue

Henrietta is a hedgehog- my hedgehog!

We usually have hedgehogs wandering through our garden in summer months- in the winter they used to hibernate in our compost heap - till Jim next door pulled a dastardly and subversive trick- and put a hodgepod right next to our fence to provide for spikey wildlife in winter and wean my hedgehog from my slugs to his; actually I didn't mind as Jim and I talked plants, wildlife, birds etc over the garden fence (as you do)  and he sometimes brought me excess produce like courgettes, sweet peas and rhubarb.

Yesterday D2 stepped out of the back door (into that rare commodity - sunshine) to see a hedgehog statue gazing at the hodgepod- but the statue moved and J realised it was for real. We watched Henrietta pull up worms from the sodden earth for about an hour. Today she was curled up on the lawn which set alarm bells ringing- was she poorly? Phonecalls to national, then local, hedgehog experts established that nocturnal Mrs H was displaying unusual, diurnal behaviour so she was put in a newspaper lined refuge (our plastic container for glass from our recycling bin!) with a warm, wrapped hot water bottle, cat food and transported for an expert check up in Longframlington. Dilemna- she is a healthy weight for a sow and may have or be having babies-maybe for the first time- who knows? It may account for her behaviour. So we have upended a recycling box with a 5" door hole cut in, Whiskas and water inside and brick on top; now to hope Henrietta and friends are enticed in.....please note neighbourhood cats-you are not allowed.

More news as it comes in.....

PS If I get a mo I will give you details of our holiday