BFIW – Thursday

the four of us before the affects of red wine

the four of us before the effects of red wine

Easyjet is not a bad way to fly. Certainly it’s nowhere near as chaotic as it used to be. And at eighty-seven feet tall there’s even enough room for my legs in a standard seat. The early doors start didn’t seem to be a worry accept there was an accident on the M25/M23 junction which put us in a bit of a spin. But getting onto and off of the plane was a breeze. Well done Gatport Airwick. We flew into Nice, picked up our Suzuki hire car from some pretty girl behind a desk (can’t remember the name of the company) and spent imagethree and a half hours driving through relatively uninspiring country from Nice to Oria, where our hotel, the Laurito, found itself. We’ve done this part of Italy before; the hills are all white rock and pine green trees, barren but peppered with settlement, much of it run down. To the east the hills hand over to a plain which mixes industry with almost medieval farmland. The vineyards lack the order of Germany or the rustic-chic of France. Everything is covered in a film of dust and everywhere is littered with, well, litter. It’s a forgotten place, seemingly untouched by EU subsidies.

The weather was warm, but not stifling, and the hotel above basic, but not luxurious. A converted monastery (the continuing story of my life..), it was something out of a Clint Eastward film set. Although the pool, which (like the hotel) we had to ourselves, was v special. At the end of a long journey, however, it was an oasis in the desert of travel. We quickly settled in and had an hour by the pool.

the hotel...

the hotel…

the pool

the pool

The away team that we know include (obviously) the parents of the bride, Richard and Caroline’s daughter and her boyfriend (hopefully arrived here last night after we went to bed) and other Army friends’ (Phill and Denise) daughter, Emily, and her boyfriend Richard who travelled with us on the same flight. We know Emily v well and it was great to catch up with her news and meet her boyfriend.

We left the hotel to forage for a few things in the local town, before reconvening to go out to supper slightly later. Of course, on your feet and unannounced is where you see the true country. The town of Oria is quintessentially southern Italian. Built on a small hill with the cathedral on top shouting power and issuing damnations to us surfs below, the town beneath

Oria

Oria

is a warren of small cobbled streets, interlocking houses, arches, unsuspecting splashes of floral colour, a glimpsing sun and long dark shadows. It was lovely. The people we bumped into were smiling and kind and the restaurant we found later in the centre of town served cheap, good, local food even if the translated menu included the words horse and donkey. Wine was served in a water jug, and a water served in bottles. Perfect.

the cathedral - looking down on us all

the cathedral – looking down on us all

Almost untouched by alcohol I drove us home, although like a v badly directed version of the Italian Job, getting out through the maze of tiny streets included going up one way streets, only to have to reverse back down them, more U-turns than a post war British government and eventually a v kind young woman who stopped her car in frustration and said ‘follow me (you idiot)’. I bet the ensuing traffic jam I caused has yet to clear.

we had supper her somewhere

we had supper here somewhere

Em' and an idiot

Em’ and an idiot

Not sure what’s on the agenda today. Breakfast is served soon….I might pop down to the pool quickly for a swim. Luxury.

Fascinator 1 – BFIW 0

For those of you expecting another slab of ‘stuff we did’, an abridged version today as we gather ourselves together for an assault on the Big Fat Italian Wedding.

Good news. C has a hat, well sort of. It’s right and proper that ladies wear hats to weddings. It’s tradition, it’s polite and it’s always a struggle. The outfits create angst (“but I wore that to so and so’s party last year, I can’t be wearing it again so soon”), but for C the change of disposition from School to Army friends means that what she is wearing hasn’t been seen by the attendees of the BFIW. However, the hat is a different thing. She just hasn’t got one that will scrunch down to a small enough space to allow for Easyjet travel. And we haven’t been able to find one; certainly not one that is either affordable or inflatable. Until now…

We got up to our last morning at the Caravan Club site in Abbeywood and decided that as we were heading down to Dover to meet with Richard and Caroline (long time Army friends – they met through us; we’re good at that) before we got the flight to Naples, we should pop in to see my brother who lives just off the A2 and who wasn’t at work yesterday. Over coffee (Georgina’s enjoying a week’s leave before disappearing to Leaconsfield and Grace was off school not well) the topic of conversation stumbled across the hat dilemma and both Georgina and Grace fetched ‘fascinators of distinction’. So I take back yesterday’s comment about fascinators are not necessarily for the more mature woman as a neat black one, handed from niece to aunt, seems to be working wonders. I’m sure that’s not the end of the hat saga, but it’s further forward than we were yesterday. And that’s a good thing.

C, Georgina, Grace and fascinator

C, Georgina, Grace and fascinator

We left Kevin’s, stopped for lunch at some motorway service station and arrived at Richard and Caroline’s mid-afternoon. We had booked the hotel (four nights near Brindisi) and flights (Eastjet too and from Nice) what seemed years ago, but only now did we realise that to catch the flight we needed to be up at three in the morning. And, with us on a budget, we have restricted ourselves to one suitcase for wedding clothes and a cabin luggage for the rest. For Richard and I, ex-infanteers and old hands at living with not much, this would be fine. For the girls, not quite so… But C, after some chumfing, managed to squeeze a bath tub into a basin and we are now all travelling ‘lite’.

view from R & C's window last night...

view from R & C’s window last night…

It’s going to be a great break, notwithstanding early starts and the accompanying poor temper that will inevitably take a cup of strong coffee to dissipate. We’ve no idea what the wedding will be like, although Richard and I did discuss the possibility of waking up in the same bed as a horse’s head if we flirt with the bridesmaids. I think it will be v catholic and v long with lots of incense. Whatever it is, I’ll let you know. We have Friday and Sunday to explore and recover, so that will add something as well.

our new method of comms whilst abroad - Jen and Skype

our new method of comms whilst abroad – Jen and Skype

We are, as always, v lucky. And I do hope that comes across in these ramblings.

Posting this now (hopefully) under pressure at Gatwick at oh-goodness-thirty hours.