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!

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!