Pompeii!

Coming to you tonight from a wild and woolly Pompeii!!! I can’t believe I’m saying that! As a young girl, the Pompeii exhibition came to town and it’s the first memory I have of being truly mesmerized. My teacher was an archeology guru of sorts and dragged us all along. This rich experience lies at the deep core of my love and compassion for tribes, humans, tragedies, and rich love stories. The imagine of a young Pompeiian couple cast in plaster, cuddling together forever, is as crisp in my mind’s eye as the day it captured my imagination all those years ago.

Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii… two words that I rarely hear or think about, but when they do, my heart skips a beat. It’s on the bucket list, …and not planned for this trip.

We planned to take a “short cut”; the twenty-one hour ferry from Livorno to Sicily this evening and last week booked ourselves, along with Molly, Hitch, and the Sphinx (of course) for tonight’s evening departure.

Right after a fabulous weekend in northern Tuscany with my very special cousin Kathryn, where we all ate waaaay too much food, and talked waaay too much. There was also much to be done around the farm, but the weather turned for the worse in a big way, so a cozy fire, a crazy kitty, and the odd G&T or red wine, and there went the weekend. We were determined not to let the weather dampen our spirits but news from home of desperately ill babies cast its long-distance shadow.

Super important meetings and speaking engagements were cancelled, Miss Four’s birthday party was cancelled, and poor Mama Bear spent the whole weekend in bed in such a big single-bed-ward with her precious and fragile Miss Two. It’s the third time in as many weeks this bubba’s been in hospital, from broken foot to serious gastro, but this time it’s a whole new ball game. I won’t go into details but it’s been terrifying … and while they still aren’t out the woods (or hospital) yet, things look like they are beginning to turn around. It’s things like this that tear at our hearts and remind us we can’t be away from them for too long.

Thanks to the amazing (free) Australian medical system for their incredible care of our babies! I know they aren’t perfect but they’re streaks ahead of any other medical system we’ve experienced over the years and believe me, we’ve tested them.

As the weekend came to a close and the weather changed from bad to worse, the ferry was cancelled and we set out this Monday morning to drive down the length of Italy instead of sail. It was by far my preference, as I’m not keen on the ferry idea at all, but wind which slows the traffic down to a standstill on the freeway is not my idea of fun either. Hours and hours of fallen trees, torrential rain, a few roofs blown off, and many of the cars pulled over to wait out the worst of it. Too many cars, in fact, which meant the slipways were over-full and cars stuck out into the road, hazard lights not really doing much.

By four in the afternoon it became so dark and dangerous we pulled into a service station and prepared ourselves to sleep the night if necessary. Then I noticed the Mercedes parked next to us with a shattered terra-cotta roof tile sprinkled across its bonnet and roof, with the windscreen smashed.

The police arrived, the service station was closed down, the rain subsided somewhat, and we decided we’d best venture back onto the roads again and find a proper camp site for the night.

Twenty minutes later we found a decent Agri Camper site on our app and wound our way through skinny streets (you know how much we love those!!), rain, puddles, wind, and even drove UNDER a fallen tree! It had landed across the road with its top on a very high, now broken wall.

So here we are, right in the middle of Pompeii. The weather forecast for tomorrow is clear and sunny skies, so we think we might just stop a moment and visit the only museum of the whole trip.

But I’m not holding my breath!

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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Mountain Bike Ride!

Many of you will know how much he loves mountain bike riding and here in the Italian Alps there are mountains and trails all around us. It would be crazy for him to leave here tomorrow without a truly decent ride down one of these slopes, wouldn’t it?

So we drove to the top, high above the line where things don’t like growing and the air is thin…

Past beautiful mountain lakes….

And teeny towns that clung to the sides of cliffs…

Up we climbed in tight switch backs that had our ears popping…

It’s very hard to capture how steep it was, but this photo shows the road we’ve come to the bend on from the left as well as the road ahead to the right….

We climbed through the tall forests with their leaves changing colour for winter…

Above the trees where far in the distance the bare peaks already have their first dustings of snow…

We were supposed to mark on the map where our current home is so he could ride straight down for a few hours while I drove Molly back to camp… but he was a little bit frazzled and excited… so off he went (he’s in this photo somewhere along those winding paths)…

I waved him off taking the obligatory video, then Molly and I started the trek home again … just as the fuel light came on. The steep climb had chowed up so much diesel that there wasn’t much left and clearly driving down again wasn’t dissimilar. She had to be an automatic as with Frank I can’t push a clutch any more. So I watched the last of the fuel meter drop before my eyes.

I quickly realized we weren’t going to get far and an automatic car doesn’t roll so well on empty, so while there was still something left of the red I moved her into neutral and we coasted ever so slowly down most of the bends and eventually, as flattened out into the valley we rolled into the only petrol station around … with three litres (less than a gallon) left in the tank!

I wasn’t super in the mood for running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere without a word of Italian and unable to walk anywhere, and nor was I much in the mood for getting lost. But I’ve got a pretty good sense of direction and Molly and I followed our noses and I kept an eye out for the right mountains as seen from camp and we eventually made it home absolutely shattered!

Thankfully it was all worth it as he had an AMAZING ride, with barely any uphills as he dropped nearly six thousand feet of elevation as he rode about thirty five kilometers back to camp!

(His Strava is in meters…)

One very happy (and therefore somewhat less grumpy) husband this afternoon 😊😊😊

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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@JPeaSmith