Friday, 19 October 2018

It's just NOT cricket......

We are shattered, it has to be said.

Those kind of "breaks" where you end up driving, walking, planning, researching places so much more than your usual 9-5 or 24/7 etc, that you feel that you need a further break once home...

I can't believe that Ive not managed a post since last Saturday. Simply put, dear reader, we had an amazing time.....

Last week we discovered that wild boar and deer work hand in hand to forage in the 2,700 hectares of forest that we had apparently rented along with the "cottage". We actually said hello to the deer and nearly ran over several red squirrels, but not one sniff of a wild boar. (Maybe that is a good thing).

A beautiful home, super owners who helped us so much when the wifi broke down. Thank you, Sara, I know you are reading...!

The itinerary was well executed. I'll not bore (boar!) you with the minutiae, but last Sunday was a hot day on the coast at Livorno and coast road southwards. Girls drove most of way there and way back. The issue of my being in shorts since April still abates. The locals are still maintaining that this is the most amazing weather they've ever known, adding that their parents, grandparents and other family members who have passed away many years past, have also ever or even never known.

I have to say, it is glorious here. Monday, we ventured to Lucca. We have been there before, in Aug 2013, but it was just too hot. In October?, wow! My shorts were still welcomed, both by fellow tourists and admiring locals. Lots of photos taken for Art by Three for their next commission, or "stored work" for exhibition.
It was in this town, full of English and Americans, that my wife disturbs my distant thoughts by declaring " hey, in here they've got a marble cricket ball!". This excites me greatly, can such a glorified object that I have been great friends with for most of my life actually be "marbelled" into a form that would be on sale in an Italisn town?
No. Sadly no. I was led into the entrance of Dante's Inferno... I came face to face with a marble replica of, not a cricket ball, but a baseball.
After a sound verbal thrashing of my wife's lack of knowledge, lack of culture, lack of history, gamesmanship ((Australians excluded), the list went on and on; all potential customers had left the shop due to the shame and embarrassment imparted to the "summer game"...

Tuesday was a trip to firstly, San Miniato, an amazing hill-top promontory from the Medici clan period. We met a lovely group of American (one Canadian) ladies who are on a walking trip of, basically, Italy... One of the ladies has a daughter who is giving birth to quads ( I think that means four babies and not square things), so we had a great chat involving encouragement, support, laughter. Followed by anguish, pain and tears once we got onto the teenage years... (Sorry dear daughters, you know what I mean..)!!

Journey same day then went north to Art by Three's chosen locations of Prato and Pistoia. Art by Three requested a "bathroom stop" in Prato, which meant that I had to dutifully man up and go to a bar and order a beer so they could use the facilities. A sacrifice is not a sacrifice is a sacrifice. However, with the wonderful main square almost empty as the locals have disappeared after  their lunch and settling down for an hour's snooze, I have to say I felt really at peace with the world.

Three flushes later and we were off again..

Florence Wednesday. I have nothing to report here, as there were still so many visitors. A lovely warm day and we enjoyed lunch, (Girls legged it off to Hard Rock Cafe..) but I had to run back to car 1.5 miles each way to move it so we could stay for evening. An amazing city I agree, but too many people for a smallish centre).

Pisa Thursday.  More photos for girls artwork, really.
Volterra Friday. Spent a lot of time trying to decide on best present to take home. The weather again, hot....

Saturday, a new venue. We moved south to Grosseto for this week. We're near the coast but still it is very warm. The shorts have now travelled around 3,000km and I think they should enter into some fund-raising effort.. Met up again with some new friends and invites abound for dinner etc this week.
Sunday (yesterday), we almost rested. I tried to find the same place that I visited in Grosseto in 2002 for a meeting with the Italian Cricket Federation as to how to move forward the coaching of cricket to Italians. But to no joy. A) the Indian restaurant that we met in seems to have disappeared. B) The coaching of cricket to Italians has also gone into the doggy-bag of unfancied onion bahgees...

That “curry night out” consisted of one English (me); one Australian (semi-professional); the three Italians (one who had played international cricket against England A team, so one level above myself...aaaaggghhh), 3 Sri Lankans (one had played a test match game), and 4 Bangladeshis.. it was a hilarious evening and everyone agreed that the food was not a true Indian experience.... similar to Tolworth Broadway, near Surbiton.

An uplift today though! A very early start took us to a ferry across to the island of Elba, home to Napoleon for 9 months in exile in 1814 after he messed up at the Battle of Leipzig. A really superb visit, what an amazing island. Paddles in the sea, pizza and pasta for lunch, drive along the coast and it is still VERY warm..... I packed my jeans just in case, they are still in the case!!

Sorry for the lengthy journal this week. There's a lot going on!!

Stay cool everyone..

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