Well I don’t know about where you are but it’s blooming cold here. As we drove east (along the north coast) towards and beyond Palermo (more on that story in a second) we saw the extent of the cold weather. Snow on the hilltops. The spiky hills that plummet from well over a thousand metres straight into the Med with only a second thought for a thin coastal plain were sprinkled with a topping of snow, like icing sugar on a Victoria sponge. Except, slightly further inland with slightly higher mountains, the snow wasn’t a sprinkling. It was a thick covering, more Christmas cake icing than sponge cake dusting. We had, in an instance, gone from late summer to winter missing out autumn: fly-half to outside centre, what a pass.
We had sleet on the windscreen and when we ventured outside it was either a quick venture or we were togged up with hats, gloves ‘n all. Doris, bless her, has not improved. She’s better than she was ten days ago, bit intermittently and without warming coughs a bit at about 1500 revs. Ford garage next with full blown diagnostics me thinks. The problem is having a conversation with the mechanic with all the many symptoms, explanations and possible solutions being lost in translation. I’m not fond of garages (like a woman, when you find a good one do your best to keep them) and when you don’t speak the language, you can’t reason. And when you can’t reason you lose all control. That normally means unnecessary expense, certainly in my experience. Anyhow she still potters along as though it was her calling in life, starts first time, pulls relentlessly up hills and still returns around 32mpg, so there’s nothing stopping us doing what we want to do.We were aiming for Monreal. Big cathedral on top of a hill just north of Palermo. We’d decided not to go into Palermo. The glossy D&K didn’t give it much of a write up and to do big cities we really need to find somewhere to park and then head in. This requires effort and with poor weather forecast we couldn’t summon up the energy. In the end we didn’t do Monreal either. Cutting a long story short we’d had a bad experience at Lidl in Palermo (height barrier which I didn’t go though, but sort of began to try – this led to a small discord in the normally harmonious Ladley relationship as we navigated our way out). And then the Sosta in Monreal wasn’t where we thought it was and what we found wasn’t somewhere we thought we would like to stay. And (another thing) the sleet was still falling……so we cut our losses, got back on the motorway and headed east again. And that’s the thing about motorhoming: don’t like somewhere? Struggling with the neighbours’ teenage children? Weather not quite what you expected? Move on. Fabulous.
We ended up at Cefalu, about half way along the north coast. What a lovely town, even in the near Arctic conditions. We parked up in the harbour on the far side of another huge rock that dominated the town, put on our warmest clothes and walked bent forward into the wind to this wonderful medieval town. It centres itself round a quite fabulous large Norman cathedral which is stuck on the bottom of the big rock. The bit of land left between it and the sea is filled with narrow streets and tall, ancientbuildings as you would have expected London to be built out of prior to the Great Fire. The closeness of the sea, the sheer rock face and the (apparently ‘best in northern Sicily’) small curving sandy beach make this a peach. It would be fantastic in the summer, but we caught it just right: late in the day with fading light, a stiff cold breeze, stormy seas and all the Christmas lights still twinkling. It gave us that winter feel that we had missed up until now. The decorations, shops and cafes were all v tasteful, obviously set out for the discerning tourist (and there were a couple of coachfulls kicking around). We had coffee sat outside in the cold and supped away. Christmas had come late to us Ladleys, but better than not at all.
Back at Doris the wind was still galeing. We looked round the harbour and chose to park under the huge quay wall where the wind was less likely to blow up Doris’ skirt. After about ten minutes an Italian man all gesticulations and machine gun chatter ran up to us and made it clear we couldn’t park there. He pointed to the top of the wall, threw his arms in a rainbow motion and in among a zillion words I heard ‘mare’. Ok, so if we park here the sea’s going to join us from over that huge wall…? He was right (and what a kind soul). I’m sat up in bed this morning writing this and the sea is launching itself up and over the wall like Steve Smith in his hay day and not only dousing the quayside but drenching the boats not so safely moored in the lee of the wall. We are out of harm’s way a hundred metres from waterworld…
….but what a night. No TV (too windy for the dish), no internet (sorry Jones’ for not making the FaceTime connection), so we spoke to each other instead. We really ought to do that more often. Supper was sausage hotpot and a v good Italian radio station played old US hits we both knew and liked. Our night was interrupted by strong gusting winds, but it takes more than a gale to push a 3.5 tonne Doris over. Sleet, hail, thunder and intermittent rain reinforced why camping in bad weather attracts a different feel-good factor. However that does leave us with today. The forecast says it’s going to jump ten degrees tomorrow. Today will be much the same as yesterday. Dunno. I will try and post this but we may not move. We may dig in for the long haul (until tomorrow that is). We’ll see. Oh, I’ve just checked outside. It’s snowing.
Have a great party tonight. We’ll be thinking of you.