220 – Thursday 26th November 2015: Brad in the Doghouse – and Chaos in Calascibetta !
We rose late-ish – me (J) first somehow – having sidestepped the idea of running as K was still conversing with the duvet….. I started to prepare my breakfast which requires great skill – using a scissors to cut open the cereal packet without having to eat it off the floor! Success reigned – but then K announced that she was going to run – on the running track just behind where we had parked ! Completely flummoxed, I felt obliged to join in and temporarily abandon my cereal… cereal success having reigned earlier, the skies now rained – and the joint assault on Olympic track records was shelved – Ussain Bolt can rest easy for now !
Having been spoiled in recent times with sunshine and good temperatures, we decided that we do not fancy rain and UK-ish temperatures – how times change indeed… Decision made to motor down the A-something-or-other – to an Outlet Shopping Centre to while away a few hours. K managed to avoid buying a Gucci handbag for Euro 2,000 even though it had been reduced from Euro 4,000 ! That would have been our budget for 2016 down the toilet ! But, she is brave when the chips are down… Lunch at the Centre was coffee, a caneloni bun for K and Tiramisu for moi – you just cannot beat this healthy living – who needs Soya ?
Brad was then programmed to guide us to an overnight parking site in a town called Calascibetta – we gave him the correct coordinates, and off we sailed. Now, we have been into some mountain towns without too much trouble but perhaps we might have seen the danger signals earlier… For the benefit of our reader, Chardonnay our van is 28’ long, 9’ wide and weighs in at just under 4 tonnes – with frontwheel drive…
We found ourselves in a one-way series of streets which seemed to get narrower – twice we were completely blocked and had to bang on doors to get people to move their cars to let us inch past… One very nice lady driver asked me “What are you doing here ?” (in that large van). I blamed our SatNav, lamely… she said “you shouldn’t come here in that van – especially in the rain” – prophetic words, as it happened… No escape, we proceeded vey slowly, with a long line of cars building behind us. As we approached a lefthand turning narrow hairpin bend – with a steep uphill climb, we both said something like “Goodness gracious me – this could be a problem”. It was. K turned at the appropriate angle and prepared to accelerate gently around the bend. There was no way we could go around in one turn and stopped to get a better angle – on restarting the manoeuvre, the front wheels would only spin on the wet surface time after time ! By now, we were completely at an angle – blocking the entire street and the long line of vehicles behind – with no obvious solution. Many drivers came up to look, shook their heads and sympathised in Italian. Nobody appeared to question our sanity in just being there with our monster truck – stuck in a town where the biggest car is a Fiat Panda ! K phoned our emergency vehicle rescue service in UK who gave her another number for overseas rescues. At that time, we gave little thought to the difficulty any rescue vehicle would have in even reaching us without having to demolish some very nice houses ! We tried using the floor mat to give some grip to the wheels – to no avail. While K was on the phone and with the guidance of two other drivers, I tried a different turn – away from the obviously correct direction – to our huge relief, the van moved to the right without sliding ! It now became an issue of just trying to angle our vehicle sufficiently to free the logjam we had created – after many turns, it worked and the traffic cleared. Again with huge help from many drivers, we got the van straight again and climbed the slope around the bend. One lady had waited in her small Fiat and told K she would guide us through the other bends down into the town – what an incredibly kind gesture ! One after the other, we slowly wound our way down – sometimes having to take multiple turns to get around corners. On one such turn, I caught the end of a light van and slightly damaged our back bumper….
Once into the downtown area and wider streets, K thanked our Good Samaritan profusely. Serious note to selves – Chardonnay will visit no more mountain towns – we will visit by bus, bicycle or good old Shanks Mare ! Mega relief in our van. Brad had actually tried to take us into some parking area in the town – he does not know our size…. Decision made to purchase a “caravan” SatNav system – Brad may need to take a sabbatical – or be relegated to the substitutes bench.
We found a parking area some miles further on away from Calascibetta – it was closed, unfortunately. A perfectly acceptable lay-by near to hand became our oasis for the evening…
221 – Friday 27th November 2015: Mosaics but no more mountains!
The team slept – K dreamed of hairpin bends in mountain towns – I dreamed Ireland beat New Zealand 57-0 in the rugby World Cup Final – and I scored three tries ! Liar ! It was only 27-0 ! Brad dreamed of finding another job – being a tour guide in Calascibetta….his CV is somewhat lacking though but his reference from us will sway the Town Council…
Next to our overnight pitch there was an old-fashioned long water trough where the contents were constantly being replenished. The trough contained two goldfish ! I did not have too much wine last night, honestly – I was too busy showcasing my rugby skills… It became obvious also that our lay-by was a local meeting place – for folk going to work and stopping to talk about all manner of gossip – including some mention of two looney strangers trying to drag an odd vehicle through the streets of Calascibellissimo as it’s now called – by us ! We stayed close to the duvet which did not seem too difficult in the circumstances…
For some time, we had noticed that one of our rear tyres was soft-ish and it needed air – up to 5 Bar – which in old money is probably 5,000 PSI ! K suggested that my almost endless supply of verbal hot air might be sufficient for the task ! My wife is all heart…. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get my lips properly around the tyre valve – even without my false teeth ! Nothing for it but to find a ‘pneumatici riparazioni’ somewhere. The somewhere was Piazza Armorina just off the SSP something-or-other road…
Freshly pumped up – and with my hot air intact – Latin “fartus intacticus majorem”, the Roman Villa Casale was our destination for the afternoon. It is an immensely impressive villa that contains the best collection of Roman mosaics possibly in the world – no exaggeration – K’s photos will show why. Shame they charge for parking and the entrance fee.
Mountain towns behind, the van was pointed towards the south coast – and a Marina for the night. Now we are here – it is a ghost town (summer villas all closed up) – not a soul in sight – and the wind howling outside – wonderful high seas with lots of white horses. Will we run tomorrow in 25 mph gusts ?
K … the mosaics were truly something else. The detail on the images was stunning … check out the anatomical details too! The ladies in bikinis are, in fact, sports women!
Thanks both – I am still having spasms and visual images of chain saws being taken to Chardonnay! We are definitely now avoiding hill towns!
I always knew sat nava were dodgy ….eeek, I was scared just reading this, you must have been sh…..ng yourselves …..
Absolutely stunning mosaics….
Blowing a gale in Bristol and counting down to end of term in TEN days *gasp*
Much love to all
Yes, saw that the West was in for some very strong winds. Fairly windy here too, but at least we have mostly blue skies and out of the wind is warm … up to 18C :).
I know, can’t believe that the end of term is so soon. Maddy breaks up on 11th. She is coming out to Sicily for my birthday, but only 2 nights as she cannot take time off work at House of Fraser, so no weekends off, and there are limited flights to Sicily in the winter. But, she’s coming and I can’t wait to squidge her.
Well that will be the best present for you!!! Give your lovely girl and hug from me and I shall raise a glass to you!!
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Wow! Those Mosaics are something else! Beautiful! Thank God you’re both ok, the Chardonnay Home is fixable! Great blog! Talk soon! Love you both. Xxxxxxxxx
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