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.





198-200: The Hidden Napoli…

198 – Wednesday 4th October 2015:  Bank Foxtrotuncle, Duomo and Underground

Train into Napoli and as cash funds were low, the first stop was an ATM.  With all the warnings of pick pockets, K sensibly held her bag in front of her….. and waited for the cash …. and waited for the cash …. said to J ‘This is taking a long time’ and ….. the machine asked for the next customer.  No cash!  The bag had obscured the very low exit for the money.  Once we had negotiated the airlock door with guard to the bank, we attempted to explain what I had done.  Some language difficulties until K offered French or German …. it then became and excellent conversation in French – understood by both sides!  Oops … come back tomorrow when the bank has done its reconciliation.  A telephone to the bank back home and they said to see if the Naples bank could sort it first too.  Bugger as we meant to move south tomorrow.  Ho Hum.

Naples is the home of the pizza, so we had to have one …. The Margeritta is named after a queen.  So huge that we shared one… really fresh ingredients.

The Duomo is nothing special: rather sombre and the interior is very C18 looking, however it did have a lot of relics.  Do I have a fascination with ancient body parts?


The Saint’s bits!

More bits of goodness knows who

Wall to wall cupboards … More bits of goodness knows who

We then wandered through the iconic narrow tall streets with all the washing, street traders and traffic:  moving and parked.  It is buzzing.  Real life.  J loved it too, as it reminded him of his time living in Amman, Jordan.


Courtyards behind large gates - now flats and offices

Courtyards behind large gates – now flats and offices

Grocery delivery being winched up

Grocery delivery being winched up


Lots of deep fried fast food vendors.  The chap did a nice pose for me 🙂

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J had ordered this whilst I was in the UK thinking it was a fishcake… nope …. deep fried macaroni cheese with a bit o’ ham. Had to buy one to see what he was talking about … actually yummy

At San Lorenzo Church we paid to go underground to see a Roman market.  After Pompei and Herculaneum, it was a bit of a poor offering.  However, it does server as a reminder that it doesn’t matter where you dig around here, you will first find Roman remains and then a bit deeper – Greek.

This is the San Lorenzo underground market street, with butcher, baker, candlestick maker and .... a tax office!

This is the San Lorenzo underground market street, with butcher, baker, candlestick maker and …. a tax office!

Napoli (J here without toilet jokes this time…) has a street called “Christmas Alley” – you folk from Brizzle will know all about the Christmas Steps – not quite the same though – but a tenuous ‘James’ sort of link…  This street as the photos show – is a child’s playground – everything from miniature Santas to grottos to realistic apartment blocks made to scale from timber (nothing to do with Christmas !) – we later saw a large model (to scale) apartment building made from – what’s Italy famous for ? Answers on a thin base please – PASTA !!!  It’s called colloquially – an ‘apastrament’ building !  You lot will believe anything…  The principal Napolitean superstitious instrument is – a gherkin (red chilli)…  You need to have one handy at all times – mainly to protect you from the traffic. One can do lots of things with a gherkin – nose picking, ear wax picking, flossing….  I need to get back on script or else a gorgeous ex-teacher will give me a detention – yippee… !


This Christmas grotto was not made from pasta, or pizza dough (though we did see one that was).  Mostly resin.  Lots of of footballer and nativity figurines and … Kate, Wills and baby!

Fat dogs ... sleep on ... shelves!

Fat dogs … sleep on … shelves!

The narrow back streets of Napoli really energised us – all life is there – we will definitely be back.

199 – Thursday 5th October 2015:  Above and Over Ground in Napoli

Quick visit to the charming gentlemen in the bank … yes, Madame was right.  K quickly quipped that she is always right …  the money will be credited to the bank account by Monday.

On Thursday, we decided to join a free guided walking tour – we have enjoyed these tours in many major cities – a tip at the end is always welcomed.   Our guide was Rafaella, highly articulate and witty – a true Napolitean gentleman. We were joined by a young couple from Bulgaria who had flown into Napoli the previous night for a short visit – really nice people – their English was perfect. Rafaella reminded us that Napoli was variously ruled by the Greeks, Romans, French, Spanish and Austro Hungarians… Small wonder they area  truly diverse people. From the start point at the Castello Nuova to the amazing Spanish Quarter, we appreciated again the cosmopolitan nature of this marvellous city. As K has noted, this took me back 30 years to downtown Amman – Stephen, Simon, Sarah and Sinead will well remember – actually, from our April 2015 journey, downtown Amman has not changed – thankfully. Whole families out on the streets, talking, singing – is there anything more important than families ? No.

Toledo metro station in the Spanish quarter.

Mosaics at the Toledo metro station in the Spanish quarter.

Lunch in the Spanish quarter.  Expresso was complimentary and J loved his pasta dish

Lunch in the Spanish quarter. Expresso was complimentary and J loved his pasta dish

Meeting point for the tour - Castello Nuevo - typical of Napoli ... wonderful architecture .... but so much covered with scaffolding and surrounded by cars.

Meeting point for the tour – Castello Nuevo – typical of Napoli … wonderful architecture …. but so much covered with scaffolding and surrounded by cars.

Castel nuevo main gate ... a fresco showing the Spanish court

Castel nuevo main gate … a fresco showing the Spanish court

After Unification a gallery very similar to the Vittorio Emmanuelle gallery we saw recently in Milan was built to attempt to reconcile the disputing factions in the South.  nothing like the buzz or crowds of Milan

After Unification a gallery very similar to the Vittorio Emmanuelle gallery we saw recently in Milan was built to attempt to reconcile the disputing factions in the South. nothing like the buzz or crowds of Milan.  And note the covered scaffolding on the right … endemic!

Cock and Bull!  J with his star sign.

Cock and Bull! J with his star sign.

A main and large square ... great architecture but again deserted bar a few military vehicles.

A main and large square … great architecture but again deserted bar a few military vehicles.

Ex voto shrine, washing and grafitti ... this is Naples.

Ex voto shrine, washing and grafitti … this IS Naples.

Street scene ... moped, blokes chewing the fat and a craftsman.

Street scene … washing, moped, blokes chewing the fat and a craftsman.

Abandoned car.  Despite our tour guide saying that there are few accidents given the crazy driving and parking we saw a number of scrapped and dented cars.  Great place to learn to drive!?

Abandoned car. Despite our tour guide saying that there are few accidents given the crazy driving and parking, we saw a number of scrapped and dented cars. Great place to learn to drive!?

Looking up through the washing to St Elmo castle.

Looking up through the washing to St Elmo castle.

Tripe.  All kinds of tripe.

Tripe. All kinds of tripe.

St Jesu church, originally a private palace.  Odd inscriptions on each stone have recently been found to contain a tune.

St Jesu church, originally a private palace. Odd inscriptions on each stone have recently been found to contain a tune.

Entrance to one of the gated courtyards.  Dragons either side had large mouths for the snuffing out the light beacons ... caught another chap just hanging around!

Entrance to one of the gated courtyards. Dragons either side had large mouths for the snuffing out the light beacons … with another chap just hanging around!

Football mad.

Football mad.

On a recommendation from Rafaella, we took the Funiculari railway to the top of the town and Castello St Elmo – staggering views over greater Napoli – K’s photos do it justice.


Steps back down to the Metro (parts of the Metro are still being built – Euro 1 per single journey – great value indeed) – stopped at an expensive Carrefour – and caught the Circumvesuvia train back to our beautiful soft cuddly van – can a 28 foot 4 tonne van be cuddly ? Yes – even after 14,000 miles in 6+ months ! In 10 days, we have become quite familiar with the Napolitean transport system.

200 – Friday 6th October 2015:

A beautiful sunlit day greeted us and spurred on by this light from the skies, we ran. (Actually, K spurred me out from under a perfectly warm duvet to get my arse into gear – she is a kind lady – I won’t mention the words ‘boot camp’ – otherwise my rear end might be conferred with the Order of the Boot – actually, I might prefer the Order of the Garter… ?

I ran 4 km at an acceptable pace. K ran 5.25 km – her longest run ever – at a good speed. This is the lady who started ‘norking/running’ 3 months ago – she now encourages me to run – I thought I was the ‘runner’ – changed times – well done my lady.

A jobs morning as check out was not till 2.00 … K’s grey hairs covered over…. J was so expert he now has this job for life!  Hand washing, hoovering and both showered. K

We set SatNav Brad for Paestum, a Greek city dating from 700 BC – before the Romans. Seriously BC.  We expected a scenic seaside route south – sadly, we got prostitute avenue. We mentioned this before – 25 at least ladies at the roadside over 20 kilometres – sad – but no judgement.

We had identified a ‘parking’ area for the night but upon arrival, decided it was a bit lonely. Our second choice was a large parking area – part tarmac part grass – near the Greek ruins. We stretched our legs for an hour – and repaired to a local cafe for a glass of Vino Bianco.  The staff arranged us in leather armchairs in front of a real log fire – it could have been a ‘Rothbury’ fire – K’s home. Refreshed, we returned to our van.

I was playing with my camera – trying to set it on monochrome only and having succeeded, I decided to photograph some night star scenes. I set foot outside and saw a car entering the field. An alarm bell triggered and we went into a well practiced protocol. Anytime we use a ‘parking’ site, we park facing the exit, remove the Krooklock from the steering and leave the van ready in case of a swift drive out. The car I had spotted was doing circles around the field and we activated our evac plan. K drove and I stayed in the rear. We drove to the original choice – an olive grove in a farm – with another van parked nearby – the site looked better on a second viewing. At no time were we in any danger, but all motorhomes have these sensible evac plans. This was only the second time in 6+ months that we used it.

Tomorrow – to to the Greek ruins, following a Greek run – time to dive under my/our duvet and hide….

190-194: Two Stories

190 – Tuesday 27th October 2015: Driving Day

J up very early for a call of nature and then nature called to him. He captured some super shots of the sunrise.

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K pilates’d and left her Pilates mat drying at the camperstop …. Grrr!  Very happy on this site, which was more like a campsite due to the facilities and the views.  Only EUR30 for 2 nights and the lift to and from the town.

Drove for a good stint to the campsite in Pompei.  Traffic around Naples / Pompei is like Jordan, where we were at the start of April.  Mad.  Cars and bikes all leaping out without indicating, but beeping their horns as if this gives them a God given priority over other road users.  Decision made:  Whilst in the area, we will walk and use public transport!  We are on Spartacus Campsite and it is virtually opposite the Pompei ruins, 400m from a Carrefour (more expensive than other super markets we have used, but not unexpected due to the touristy area) and 400m in the other direction from the Circumvesuvia Train station which runs between Naples and Sorrento.  Ideal.

191 – Wednesday 28th October 2015:  Parting of Ways and Mega Munchkin Hugs

An early start.  Train and then airport bus for K’s flight home to see her Munchkin and Aged P’s.

K’ Story:  Easy flight and train to North Camp where I was met by Munchkin.  Maddy passed her test two weeks ago and she picked me up in Beryl (minty Fiat 500).  As I alighted from the train, there she was with her keys in her hand …. all grown up!

Having tried on a multitude of clothes eBay parcels which had arrived, Munchkin and I went shopping.  I am the one in dire need of clothes, as I have now lost 7 stone folks! … yes, I am delighted),  but Maddy still managed to come out with PJs, a jumper and wooly socks … how do they do it?

Maddy and I walked around the corner for an indifferent supper… food, not the company!  Fine weather.

J’s Tale:  J returned to Chardonnay, having mis-navigated without K’s sense of direction and did some chores (you really don’t need to know about chemical toilets in detail).  Had a walk in the afternoon.  It was raining.

192 – Thursday 29th October 2015:  Artefacts 

K’ Story: K ran along the Basingstoke canal in the early morning sun …


And then battled through the traffic to collect Martha and Tabitha.  Can you guess our destination … a belated birthday excursion for Munchkin.



Yep, the Harry Potter Studio Tour.  I was not sure I would enjoy it, but it was truly brilliant.  So Interesting.  It is the studios where the 7 films were made.  The artefacts (sets, props and costumes) are so detailed with masses of work involved.  There is excellent information on how the films outside the actors is crafted … there are some VERY clever people involved.  And yes, we tried Butterbeer.  Just a shame that the traffic in the S of England is so shite.  Nice to drive my car though.   After 6 months of driving on the right, Maddy only had to check me once and going around roundabouts felt contrary to turn to the left.

J’s Tale: J visited the Archilogical museum in Naples.  It is the top visitor attraction for Naples, but some of was a bit lost as he had not yet visited Pompei, which is whence many of the artefacts came from.  Also expensive at EUR13 and no concessions.  It was still raining!

193 – Friday 30th October 2015:  Chores, shopping and a birthday

K’s Story:  Finally raining here too, so no run.  Maddy had a motorway lesson recently but this was her first motorway drive … M3 to Southampton.  A good hour each way and she did really well, other than a few ‘trust issues’ with gear 5…. yes you can get it out of 5, honest.  Oh, and a little bit of stress from the driver whilst we were still on my parent’s drive as I’d done the wrong thing and said … nothing!

Southampton – my last Apple 121 … really worthwhile and more shopping.  Even a couple of Christmas presents!  Lunch was an interesting experience:  is wanting to be waiter served too much to ask?  After several walk outs due to long waits, we ended up in Gregs bakery:  M demolished a sausage roll and managed to drip donut jam into a shopping bag and I had yummy Heinz tomato soup …. sooo good.

In the evening we celebrated Grump’s birthday … really good to see Clare, Chris, Niecey, Louis and even Zozo!  Most excellent nosh and Macedonia wine, which the Aged P’s brought back from a recent trip in their suitcase.

After the meal, I caught a train to Gatwick and slept at a Travel Lodge as my flight on Saturday was very early.

I loved being with Maddy and my family, but it was all very busy.  Tried to pack too many jobs into a short space of time. Ho hum!

J’s Tale: Time to catch up …. chores.  Cleaned Chardonnay and treated himself to a local pizza.  Still raining!

194 – Saturday 31st October 2015

7.05 flight back to Naples.  J met me in the centre and we came back to Chardonnay to dispose of my heavy bag … I’d managed to bring back nearly all of my eBay purchases.  A mega nanny nap and slept too long so I felt rotten on awaking.  We wandered into Pompei  town proper … nothing to remark about it as nothing remarkable.  Fantastic trip seeing Maddy and family, but good to be back home.

A fast food outlet dedicated to ... the toasted sandwich!

A fast food outlet dedicated to … the toasted sandwich!