239 – Tuesday 15th December 2015: Maddy’s Quick Culinary Experience and Etna
Tim arrived armed with 40 litres of Diesel and workmen’ gloves. A bargain at EUR1 / litre. The source: a local fisherman fills his boat at the naval docks in Augusta and brings back jerry cans to sell to the village. What it is to know people – the right people!
We collected Maddy Munchkin at lunchtime and drove up to Etna. We know the way pretty well now as we visited with the Aged Ps and Kerstin, but no visit to Sicily is complete without Etna.
Honest … it has stopped erupting!
And honest it won’t erupt… this crater goes back to 1988!
Maddy is the master Christmas decorations designer … I’m just the cellotape supplier.
Supper was in the campsite restaurant and Maddy had pizza and a lemon granita (sorbet) … tick and tick off her Sicilian culinary check list.
240 – Wednesday 16th December: Birthday and Acireale
Maddy had arrived on about 8 hours sleep over the last three nights, so we just had to let her sleep in … which meant we had to too :). Breakfast and gift opening on a deck, in the sun overlooking the cliffs … just lovely. I’d bought some supermarket cornetto for Maddy … Nutella filled croissant …. very popular here and delicious, but nothing like as good as the fresh ones.
James and I even gave the badminton rackets (bought in Slovenia and as yet unused) an airing … whilst Maddy slept … again!
Lunch in Chardonnay and then we walked to Acireale, via a detour to the local town Santa Maria La Scala. La Scala means steps or stairs …. it was quite a steep walk up to Acireale and a certain young person had leg ache! Coffee in town and I got to try a boob cake … I’d seen them before …. Saint Agatha had her breast removed by pincers, but the cake was yummy … filled with ricotta cheese.
For more info: http://www.goodfoodstories.com/minni-di-virgini/
We wandered around the town, poked our noses into a couple of Churches … Maddy left in a hurry when I pointed out the glass coffin with the embalmed priest! Unusually, the Duomo has a long meridian line running through the nave. After a drink and lots of nibbles, we walked back to the campsite for another drink, as restaurants don’t generally open till 8.00. We then went down to Santa Maria to a trattoria recommended by the campsite. An interesting experience … we were the only diners. An elderly lady of about 80 served and cooked. The menu was antipasto, spaghetti with clams or fish off the chiller counter. Given how many nibbles we’d eaten earlier we opted for the best caponata yet (J and I)), spaghetti with tomato sauce i.e. no clams for the non seafood lovers, but I had a lovely pan cooked fish … don’t know what. Some of the family arrived and were eating fresh baked donuts, so we were given some too. So Maddy’s culinary experience now included a pasta dish.
Drink in town and both on their phones!
Our pitch … a sheer drop the other side of the railings.
241 – Thursday 17th December: Back to Brucoli
Services sorted and a drive back to the airport to see my Munchkin off. She was only with us for two nights and it was absolutely bloody wonderful having her here. By Catania airport is a massive shopping centre. We bought our Christmas presents to each other … tennis rackets. We occasionally see courts that we could use and we both used to really enjoy a game. Then into the massive Auchan … our biggest Euro shopping bill yet …. EUR279, but that included booze and most food to see us through to Christmas. I also bought sunglasses and a shopping trolley with some birthday money (thank you Bron, Gill and Al). I had wanted one for a trolley while, as when I use markets, the veggies seem to weigh a ton and it is a very looong walk always back to Chardonnay.
We have returned for three nights to the free parking in Broccoli.
Today is the anniversary of my best and oldest friend, Nicky, death. Jimmy was off school and had a Mummy Fun day with Ian, Tracy and the Mums. Much love xxx
242 – Friday 18th December 2015: BBQing in Brucoli
We must be relaxing …. a slow start. A wander around the town. An ice cream and a coffee …. and that was it for the day. Tim and Karen shared a BBQ with us early evening. Tim had combed the beach for wood and built an incinerator fire. He tells people that when they get cold, he just burns a few boats!
TKMax (Tim, Karen and Max the cat, who gets his own chair!
Nicky had given me sachets of fire magic, which turn the fire blue.
Tim’s Christmas tree
243 – Saturday 19th December 2015: Basking in Brucoli
Today followed a very similar pattern: slow start, walk into town, ice creams. James was, however, moved to run. Sitting on the beach, and watching the sky change colour with the sun set. We had a game of backgammon on a lovely inlaid wooden board that Tim and Karen gave us. James had beginners luck and won! Kerstin had beginner’s luck and beat me at Cribb! Am I loosing my knack?
I managed to pay for annual motorhome insurance and paid some other bills. Amazing how different policies for motorhomes vary; amount of time you can travel, time in Europe, mileage and price …. you have to spend a good long time getting quotes … my excuse for a pretty lazy day.
News flash: We have been mobbed. Yesterday morning our pitch comprised Tim and Karen and Andrea and his two dogs. The motorhome parking at the end of the town had a German small VW and an Italian van. This afternoon and evening, they have been moving in – in convoys. The far parking had 12 vans at last count. A convoy of 4 drove past our pitch to one further around the bay. But our lovely little community now has 3 other vans – all Italian. One parked broadside along us, only a foot away. We don’t like him as he barked at James when our engine was running so James could do the hoovering … this can wait till tomorrow, but he irony of it is, that he had his generator running earlier! He also came to ask if we could move so he could get in to obtain a sea view …. we didn’t really understand, but told him that tomorrow we will be leaving. Getano, one of the local chaps, told us it is like this every weekend, but the summer is even worse. Given that Brucoli is not even in guidebooks, how do they all know about it? Anyway, we will be off tomorrow.
244 – Sunday 20th December 2015: Onto Punta Bracetto
We are winding down for Christmas … so all we did today was fill up with diesel and GPL and drive to our new home for the next week. We’d booked into a site where there is nest of Brits so we have some company over Christmas. This site is amazing. Each pitch has its own private washroom which means you can leave your wash gear in it. Electricity is included in the rate of all of EUR 12 (5 nights plus). The bay is super sandy. It is very quiet. Rave enough!
Consolation for you people under the grey damp skies of Britain, it absolutely poured today as we left Catania. However, when we arrived in Bracetto, they had only had a light shower. A German lady said since October it had rained only 3 times. Apparently it is a little microclimate here and the weather takes it’s lead from Tunisia … should be in for some lovely weather.
We popped into say hello to Dan who had responded to my Wild Camping forum post about ‘anyone in Sicily’, hence our presence here. He kindly invited us over for supper tomorrow.
245 – Monday 21st December 2015: Cleaning or Putzen
We have cleaned Chardonnay on our travels since April, of course we have! But not a spring clean. Not a proper one since we left 8 months ago. After a run along the coast (J did a fast and long one 🙂 ), we hoovered and lifted the carpet … they got a clean and the van got a spring clean. There is a small tennis court and our mutual Christmas gifts of rackets got their first outing. We used to play quite regularly, but have not played for about 6 years … it felt really good, but I struggled to hit softly and accurately to get a rally going. I blamed it on muscle memory!
Over to Dan’s for supper. His van is sited overlooking the bay …. we watched the sun go down and create amber and pink glows … reckon he has the best pitch, but he is here for a few months and is a regular. Not only was his ‘signature’ dish of shephard’s pie truly tasty, he brought out cheese followed by a tub of Roses. Anyone that knows me, knows my weakness for cheese … it goes into a separate stomach. We wobbled home, full of booze and good food. Blame the booze, cheese and chocolate combination, but they had a detrimental effect on my sinuses … although I didn’t hear the snores … funny that!
246 – Tuesday 22nd December 2015: Cycle to Santa Croce
Another run and my new Pilates mat got its first airing …. can tell it is some months since i did these exercises … ouch! The nearest main town is only about 5 miles so we cycled past the polytunnels (tomatoes, carnations and aubergine mostly). Found the medical centre who can do a blood test (routine) for James but not until the 28th – so we will have to stay here until then …. dammit! Not! A wander around the town and couple of glasses of vino and an arancini for lunch. For those not familiar with anranci, they sound gross but are actually very delicious. A ball of rice will a meat ragu centre, covered in orange crumb and deep fat fried … honest, they are yummy. Could become addicted.
We BBQ’d for supper, which is something we don’t like to do when wild camping. Dessert was Pocket Coffee. Created in Italy, but available in the UK from Amazon. Dark chocolate with an espresso liquid coffee inside … Dan had introduced us to them and I’d bought some today. Not sure how long the box will last as they are truly addictive (perhaps I have an addictive personality?!). And I tried the orange fortified wine which I had bought yesterday from the fruit and veg van that came on site. Nothing special, but very quaffable …. have I been rambling? And will my sinuses play up again tonight … ask James tomorrow!
247 – Wednesday 23rd December 2015: Pottering
We took the new shopping trolley for a little walk to the local small supermarket and came back with 2 x 6 packs of water. The water on the site tastes foul so we have resorted to bottled. Had a coffee and a yummy potato and cheese pastry from the cafe opposite. The small supermarket is so small it did not have anything I needed, so we had another bike ride into Santa Croce to buy some a few final bits of food.
We took supper over to Dan’s and I certainly drank too much. James told me that my mannerisms became very animated!
248 – Thursday 24th December 2015: Cycle to Marina di Ragusa and Campsite Party
We cycled to Marina di Ragusa, only about 9km and pretty flat. Beautifully sunny and we sat and watched a few families on the beach and a group of men wading in for a swim .. James thought they must be English as not other nationality would be that mad! We couldn’t find anywhere in the town where we could sit out for lunch and watch the bikes, so we started back. On the outskirts of the town there was a small cafe bar. We ordered: a burger and chips for J and an arancini for me. The chips arrived, so I helped him out with these …. yummy and can’t remember when we last had chips! J’s burger arrived so we came to the conclusion my arancini had been forgotten, so I helped out with that too. Whoops … the arancini arrived …. piping hot and I cycled back with a stitch in my side from over eating!
Cycle sock and J wobbling over
The sea was an amazing blue
The campsite put on a little get together: a drink and a table laden with sweet cakes and pies. As J walked into the room, he just saw a room of old people! A German gent was playing and electronic keyboard and a couple were determined to skip around the room to it! We extracated ourselves, but not before having a good chat with our Swedish neighbours.
249 – Friday 25th December 2015: Christmas Day
I ran and did some Pilates ….J did a mile to test his calf muscle injury. We had a knock about on the small tennis court using our joint Christmas racket gifts. Late lunch was a roll of turkey cooked in wine and stock in the slow cooker so it did not dry out. I even made mushroom and sausage balls, emptying out the meat from proper sausages.
Great FaceTimes with Maddy as she opened her stocking and with the rest of my family who were having a Baker Christmas … they know how to do it really well. We even had a conversation about possible being at home to join them next year!
250 – Saturday 26th December 2015: Boxing Day and Drinks
Another run for K – 6 in a row!!! A game of tennis … just one set and J won 6-3 … I never win! Managed to format a hard drive so I could ‘acquire’ some of Dan’s films … including the Peter Wimsey series 🙂
Our Swedish neighbours joined us for drinks and cheese …. it all went really well until I started pouring Sambuca for Yvonne and myself … apparently I passed out when I went to bed and James had to sit on me in order to be able to actually get into bed … I don’t remember any of it, so he must be making it up.
View over the sand dunes at the end of my run