301 – 308 : A Flying Trip Home, Scultures & Tunnels

301 –  Monday 15th February 2016:  Troia to Naples

We had a wander around Troia after a run …. a long hill down and an even longer hill back up.  A fairly ordinary small town, but THE most amazing rose window on the Duomo.  We popped into the TIC to say thank you to Troia for the excellent free motorhome parking and were rewarded by massive grins and then they pressed a leaflet about Troia on us.  As we thought, nothing here really other than the Rose window.


Troia Cathedral – Elegant with green marble touches.


The fantastical Rose Window.


Mind altering drugs surely?


Dragons on the original bronze doors.

I have been desperate to cook lamb … we‘ve not had any since we left over 301 days ago!  We found the butcher and asked … no lamb.  In fact not much of anything really … yes two cuts of pork and beef, whole chickens and one type of sausage.  We bought sausages and I put them in the slow cooker to cook as we drove to Napoli.  We were to meet up with Frances and Edward, who we met several times in Sicily – they are heading back home faster than us and we knew they would overtake us at some point.

The scenery was pretty coming across rolling hills and patchwork emerald fields … the guide book describes the hill down from Troia as a crinoline. 

One on the motorway, we should a been spat out about 100m from the entrance to the Spartacus Campsite … however a minor navigational error / interpretation and we ended up coming through some miles of normal streets.  When we were in Naples at the end of October, we had thought that the driving was atrocious and really dangerous.  But that was before the best part of three months in Sicily … the driving left us completely unshaken.  Although some of the deep potholes shook up all our cupboards!

At the campsite we were recognised by Rosa on reception and we installed ourselves in the same pitch.  The Italian sausage casserole finished off and the aubergine parmigiana completed and F and E joined us for supper.  it MUST have been a good night … nearly 5 bottles of wine, half a bottle of Marsala and three quarters a bottle of Sambucca!  I know I passed out rather than went to sleep.


302 – Tuesday 16th February 2016:  A few chores

We stayed on the campsite other than to walk to the train station to buy tickets and check the times and then onto the super market to buy a large number of Milka chocolate bars for Munchkin … special request.  Two loads of laundry and J suffered his most unpopular job …. dying my hair.  It must have sparked something as we spotted a French couple of ladies hair dying later on.  I would have offered J’s expert services, but …


303 Wednesday 17th February 2016:  K Home to Munchkin

Is it a work day?  Feels like it.  Alarm set for 6.00 a.m.!  Train into Naples and AliBus to the airport.  We are old hands at it and knew the route.  

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I was slightly concerned on arrival at Gatwick to see the snow plough all ready.

 Maddy picked me up from the train station … not the one I intended getting off at though!  I was chatting to a chap with a brace of Springer Spaniels (I used to have my own brace of liver and white Springers) …. and only realised my mistake when M rang me and asked where the xxxx was I?  A bit of food shopping for supper and for some items I can’t seem to buy in Italy, such as cuppasoup, mixed herbs, coriander leaf, cream of coconut and Bert’s Bees lip salve.

We installed ourselves at my Aged P’s house … they are in South Africa, but trusted it to us!  I had my emailed and printed instructions …. Mutt was not leaving anything to chance!  Alarm, water on, heating controls.  As the house had been empty for a few weeks, it was perishing.  M and I snuggled on the sofa, wrapped in a duvet and watched a film.  After supper, M went off to a ‘gathering’ and I did some chores and had a luxurious bath …. Mutt, I forgot to tell you I found your Radox!  Our house in Bristol has a shoe box for a bath so I always showered there, and other than a couple of baths last August in a hotel in Tuscany, I reckon this was the first bath in about 4 years!  Bloody marvellous, with a bottle of red and Handel’s Water Music playing.

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Just before I went to bed I collected everything together I would need for tomorrow and found a hand written note from Dad.  He had laid the fireplace all ready for us to light … this would have warmed the house up in no time!  If only!!!


304 – Thursday 18th February 2016:  Jobs and Sculptures

I collected a parcel from Yodel in Farnborough and popped in to see Michelle, an old school friend – she was in Geneva, but Craig was at home and gave me a coffee … they also have a beautiful brace of Springers :).  B&Q for fuses as we blew a couple trying to get our electric heater working using a two to three pin convertor.  Rang Maddy and she met me at the Aged P’s house … having just arisen!  After lunch we dropped one of my grandmother’s ring’s off to be repaired … it will be part of Maddy’s 18th birthday gift.  

We then went to tripAdvisor’s top Farnham attraction… the Sculpture Park.  About 1000 sculptures crammed in along a walk around two small lakes.  I was given a catalogue, so had I been interested, I could have purchased any.  They ranged from the bad … a stack of plastic breadbaskets, to some really creative pieces.  Maddy is doing photography A Level and saw the potential here for her project.

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Maddy rutting with some stags!

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Yes, this really is a statue of someone peeing …. I brought home a Shewee …. will trial it and let you know … should save crouching!

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Maddy’s new best friend.

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A nano rest on one of the exhibits!

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A large piece, one of my favourites, but M thought the heads looked like black heads!

Coffee with the Bakers and their two Spaniels, Cockers this time.  Louis’ espresso is nearly at Italian standards and Zozo, you still have half an inch to go till you’re as tall as I!  A curry delivered … I’d not had a pukka curry for over 2 years … absolutely fantastic!  And another bath (with Radox)!


305 – Friday 19th February 2016:  Napoli and more Scultpures

An early pick up at 5.00 a.m.  Maddy drove home in her dressing gown and slippers … wonder if she was going to return to bed?!?  J met me in the centre of Naples with another rucksack so he could take some of the weight from mine … what a lovely thinking man!  We lunched on Pizza … really good and then went to the Archaeological Museum which contains most of the statues, mosaics and frescos removed from Pompeii and Herculaneum.  The Farnese Collection is here, which includes some stunning works.  Unfortunately about 6 of the galleries were closed and there seemed to be a lot of empty rooms.  Given how much ‘stuff’ they must have stashed, this is a bit sad. 

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J had read reviews that commented on the dust on the sculptures and it was really noticeable on the dark stone, which it made look grey 😦

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Possibly the most stunning part of the collection … the Farnese Bull.  

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A series of rooms were devoted to the Hellenistic Period … essentially Roman pornography.  Lots of very graphic and fanciful images.  This statue was very fine workmanship, not the content! 

306 – Saturday 20th February 2016:  Tunnelling!

Up and at ‘em.  We’d booked a tour with Napolisotterranea of the Greek cisterns which had been used to supply Napoli houses right up till the 1800s and then used as air raid shelters during WW2.  The tour was in English and being the only English speakers, we had the guide to ourselves.  It is not for the unfit of claustrophobic … 40 metres down (but you do exit only 16 metres up :)) and you have to wiggle sideways, and sometimes crouched down, between the cisterns along the water feeder tunnels.  


The stairs were built around the well… this was 40 metres down 


WWII graffitti on the Greek plaster work to make the cisterns water tight.


A bit of a tight squeeze … the guide admitted he does have to tell some tourists that the visit is not for them and one German chap did get stuck! Something to do with his ‘arse’.


The toilets were always near the entrances as people tended to need to relieve them selves – relief at making it to the air raid shelter.  Yes, we asked what happened to the human waste … crack in the tufa and it being absorbent meant it made its way out to sea.


A well earned glass (or two) after those tunnels!

After lunch did another set of water tunnels, but no tight passages.  The Galleria Bourbonica also includes the 430 metre straight tunnel that was built in 1853 for Ferdinand II of Bourbon, who concerned about the outbreak of rebellion, asked for an escape route from his palace to the nearby barracks.  After the war, the tunnels were used as a dump for impounded motorbikes and cars … still there, rusting away.  Two similar but different visits.  



Frances and Edward were still on the same campsite but leaving tomorrow, so they come over for supper and just a little wine!


307 – Sunday 21st February 2016:  Sunday a Day of Rest (and Chores)

A late start.  A run.  Waving off Frances and Edward.  Washing, shopping and other jobs.  A down day – we need one occasionally.


308 – Monday 22nd February 2016 – The best of Naples Sculptures

Run – long for J.  I did a short run and a new Pilates class (downloaded on campsite wifi), but decided that as the instructor lifted her legs and torso back over her head with superb control that perhaps this one is a tad advanced for me!

The main aim was to visit the Capella Sansevero (also known as Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà).  Its origin dates to 1590 when John Francesco di Sangro after recovering from a serious illness, had a private chapel built in what were then the gardens of the nearby Sansevero family residence. The building was converted into a family burial chapel in 1613. It includesMasonic symbols in its construction and until 1888 a passageway connected the Sansevero palace with the chapel. Photography was not allowed, so these pix are from the internet.  We were so awed by some of the sculptures we went round twice.

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The Veiled Christ in the middle with the Virtues around the chapel.   

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This was disillusion … could not quite see it but the sculpture was stunning.

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Modesty, I do understand … the veiling was the inspiration for the Veiled Christ below.  We both thought this was possibly one of the best statues we’ve ever seen.

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And this is “Sweetness of the Marital Yoke” Quotation ….’The marble group portrays a fulsome-bellied woman holding a feathered yoke representing sweet obedience, and in her right hand she holds up two flaming hearts (deep mutual love). At her feet a winged putto plays with a pelican, emblem of charity. In mediaeval iconography, in fact, the pelican which pierces its own breast to nurse its young represents the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.’  Not sure J or I would describe the Joys of Marriage in such a way!

Slightly macabre – in the basement are a male and female skeletons with what looks like all the arteries and veins.  Originally it was believed that the creator injected a metal forming substance into the circulatory system, but now it is believed that he created it from beeswax, iron wire and silk.

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And thus concludes our second extended stay in Naples.  We have really fallen for the city.  We love the noise, the business and the chaos.  It is earthy and very real.





195-197: Romans, Coast and a Volcano

195 – Sunday 1st November 2015:  Pompei

A postscript – about our infrequent motorway trips (saving the toll fees).  I (J here) noticed young ladies sitting on the hard shoulders dressed in black with short skirts – some even brought their own chairs!  K explained that these ladies belong to the oldest profession in the world…  Not for us to judge – but as long as they are healthy and don’t pay a huge part of their income to pimps – who is going to throw the first stone at them?

Pompei…  Now after spending 9 years in Jordan, I have a natural ‘brand’ loyalty to Jerash – having been there dozens of times – the 4 S’s will well remember….   Pompei is vast!  It is hugely impressive and a true wonder of the ancient world. Unfortunately, the individual set numbers are not synchronised with the site maps. But on the last Sunday of the month it was free entry!  We enjoyed it and learned a lot – definitely well worth a visit though !  The photos speak for themselves…


Today’s Tour Guide, equipped with map, audio guide, splitter and 2 x headphones … saved EUR5 for second audio guide 🙂


In the baths: It seems to take many Hercules to holdup the roof!


Vesuvius in the background.


In the brothel, the working girls had stone single (!) beds, must be something to do with permitted positions?!? They were paid the equivalent of two medium glasses of wine and all of it went to the pimp.

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House of the Mysteries, by far the best preserved wall paintings in Pompei


In the brothel, images depicting sexual positions … suggestions for clients?

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196 – Monday 2nd November 2015: Train, Bus and Boat along the Amalfi Coast

My navigational skills are legendary – the Ordinance Survey Office might give me a junior job in the Latrine Department! Toilet jokes anyone? Thomas O’Reilly as a young tot (yes, he was a tot once!) – announced to his family and a posh dinner party (Amelia only did posh dinners – she even invited me!) – “Ma – I’m going to do me wees !!!”   Sorry, Thomas!

OK – we got off at the wrong train station en route to Sorrento – I blame a certain young lady close to my heart…  The bruises will heal, the doctors told me – amazing what a well aimed handbag can do to your ears! Thanks, K!  (K here:  I was otherwise engaged and texting or I would have clocked it was not Sorrento proper! And no handbag – it was a ruck sack!)   Nothing daunted, we caught the next train to the real Sorrento.


Oops, alighted at the wrong Sorrento!


From Sorrento to Positano there was standing room only on the bus, So we sat … on the mid exit steps. Consequently we had a limited view of the coast line.

A bus ride to Positano.  Walked downhill in the general direction of Positano Road – or was it the Vico Road?  I just received my P45 from the Ordnance Survey Office – now I can join Fianna Fail!  Positano came into view – and guess what? – a coffee stop!  What an amazing view to die for…  We phoned my big sister – and described the view…


We got off the bus above Positano and walked down. Glorious views. Glorious sun. Glorious happy.


Perhaps when we can no longer walk or cycle, we could tow one of these. 14 year old boys are allowed to drive them here. Few do – not cool.


A superb view down to Positano from our coffee break stop. Amelia – we spoke to you from here as we basked in the heat of the sun.


Just the best!


The buildings literally cling to the rocky coastline

Finally made it to the town – lunch on the beach (K kindly didn’t publish the photo of me showing my rather large belly!


Yep, he got his toes wet. Said it was warm.

Tired from his paddling, having a rest after lunch.

Tired from his paddling, having a rest after lunch.

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Having an ice-cream and watching these two boys play with nothing but bits of wood and stones


Father and son fishing


Met a lovely young Canadian couple for a chat.  Spontaneous decision – boat to Amalfi – no buses – and the Frigate Hogwash set sail – on an azure ocean. Did youze know – the Irish Navy is unique – all the sailors get to home for their tea every night !  Barked, sorry disembarked (a sort of discrete doggie bark!)   Glass of vino rosso – it’s a real posh place – we thought about buying a corner of someone’s back garden – but we will stay with Chardonnay….  1.5 hours bus trip back to Sorrent – dark now and 30 minute train to Pompei Scavi – our home  station….  Zzzzzzs…


Typical view of the Amalfi Coast from a boat

Pugwash ahoy. We were trying to remember the name of the program with master Bates and Seaman Stain and it has just come to me. My Master and Commander - at sea!

Pugwash ahoy. We were trying to remember the name of the program with Master Bates and Seaman Stains and it has just come to me. My Master and Commander – at sea!

Nanook of the North

Nanook of the North.  Thank you Maddy for the cast off gillet … I am now wearing my daughter’s hand me downs!

Arriving at Amalfi

Arriving at Amalfi

197 – Tuesday 3rd November 2015: Vesuvius and Herculaneum

We ran 4 kms at dawn – well, dawn-ish – K pushing me not just out of bed – but all the way along our sprint! Now sprinting is a relative term – we sprint in a respectable Olympic-esque conversational speed…

Which of you has climbed up to an almost live volcano?  Boiling lava at 300 degrees Centigrade – or is that Lemonade ?  Well, we perambulated around a volcano that last boiled a kettle in 1944 – we did see some steam… Indiana Jones – eat your hat!  It’s impressive and must be seen – but 1.5 hours is quite enough.

Great view of Naples -huge - although misty.

Great view of Naples -huge – although misty.


At the top.


Expensive way to see a big rocky hole (EUR20 each for bus and entry to the park), but you can just see some steam / smoke on the right.


Herculaneum – smaller than it’s big sister Pompei by a factor of 50?  Compact, petite – spectacularly well preserved – having lain under 16 metres of mud for 1700 years – try putting your average semi under 50 feet of mud – and then dig it out by hand after a couple of Millennium!  It is amazing – we both agree we preferred it to Pompei – absolutely no disrespect to Pompei at all…

K comment:  The eruption was 79AD and many of the buildings were built 1or 2 BC …. just amazing to walk around towns over 2000 years ago.  So many artefacts were removed when excavation begun in 1748.  Many are in museums all over the world, especially Naples … shame… as it would be quite something to see some of what they found where they found it.


So many buildings have the upper stories and bright wall paintings


The streets really feel lived in


One of the female rooms in the baths. Wonderful mosaics intact.


Detailing survived. A cornice at the top of a door.


Covered by glass, this is a wooden ironing press in a laundry shop.


Herculaneum was by the sea, 400 metres of volcanic action moved the coast line. in 1982, lots of bodies were excavated from what was the beach and placed in arches that were the boat wharves. People had tried to escape the eruption by entering the sea.


Incredible mosaics, with a shell border.


It was customary to buy lunch from a fast food outlet … eat there or takeaway! There were lots of the eateries and food and drink were served from these huge terracotta pots.

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Afternoon saw us nicely fatigued – I napped and the gorgeous K kindly agreed to do the supermarket shopping in our local Carrefoure – a sort of superKat!

Napoli is on the horizon for tomorrow – we may see dawn again – what’s with this early bird routine? How many worms can we have for breakfast, dammit Janet!  Hands up those who have surreptitiously attended the Rocky Horror Show ?   I went dressed as an elderly Ordnance Survey Trolly Dolly – you can see lots of excitement from inside a tea trolly!