Early morning in Pisa

I’ve been up since 6am, walking the streets of Pisa. The weather was likely to turn today and I also wanted to get some photographs around the leaning tower without people in them. More importantly i needed to justify lugging my tripod with me! The cloud was just starting to blow in when I left the hotel so I figured I had about an hour before the light would dull and the rain would fall.
It was interesting that there was a few straggling site seers around, I can only presume people getting read to leave, taking the last opportunity before they go. Alternatively they could just be mad like me!
Hopefully i’ve got some half decent shots, I’ll post them when I get back.
Last night we took the last tour up the tower – just as the light was fading; that was some experience! I was very proud of Victoria who once more grappled her fear of hights to add the tower to her conquest of the Statue of Liberty!
It’s 8am now – the bells are calling people to worship – I however need a coffee!!

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Just been away on a family holiday in . We stayed at the Sands Beach Resort in for a week.

I must start with the usual disclaimer before I hurl headlong into bitching about the place… 🙂
ie: We had a really good holiday. Victoria and I had some good relaxation in the sun and the kids seemed to really enjoy themselves too.

Now, too the bitching… I’ve purposely avoided the Costa’s etc all my life, for all the reasons that I hated Lanzarote.

The place we stayed at was nice enough. The complex has 6 pools surrounded by apartments. The apartments are nice, clean, and functional, and the fact that they sit on one of the poolsides means you don’t have to fight for pool space and the kids could pretty much come and go as they please. In fact we were able to sit on your terrace in the sun and watch the kids play. There was never a real need to do anything other than stay in the sun round the pool, and on that basis we could have been anywhere in the world… that is anywhere with a warm climate!

The problem comes when you leave the apartment and venture around the good for nothing volcanic rock that is Lanzarote. It seems that someone many many years ago realised that the place was a complete waste of space that could contribute anything at all to the world. Having failed to grow any vegetation on it they decided to build some swimming pools, some white hotels, and egg and chips resteraunts, and the brits would come… and come they did.

The place is all about white socks and Jesus sandles, egg and chips, english breakfasts, fat blokes in too short shorts with burnt bellies, football kits, sports bars and pubs showing eastenders and corrie. There are about 5 style of shops all selling the same thing. The restaurants are unable to offer anything that anyone else isn’t offering which is obviously what the brits want… so they all sell the same starters, pizza’s, burgers, full english, egg and chips etc, the same pasta, and on and on. This doesn’t matter what style of eatery it is either!

Sands Beach Apartments Sands Beach Apartments Sands Beach Apartments
Gloria Lights Sands Beach Apartments

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Taking a Bath

Duke of Wellington Victoria and I went to Bath ( or Barth for you southerners ) at the weekend. It was our, now becoming annual, weekend away for our anniversary and Victoria’s birthday.
We stayed at the Apsley House Hotel just on the outskirts of the city. The hotel was lovely. We stayed in the Duke of Wellington room ( click on picture ) which was comfortable without being too austere. Breakfast was great which is becoming more and more of a problem with Hotels and B&B’s; people just don’t know how to cook a good breakfast nowdays. If you are every staying in Bath then I would highly recommend it.
We dined at the Fish Works on Friday night. It was nice, I can’t say much more than that. I enjoyed it and we had a good meal, but to be honest it was just so so. We did however have with our deserts which were absolutley fab! One was a Pedro Ximenez Gutierrez Colosia which Victoria had with a chocolate pudding thingy and the other was a delightful La Hitaire Jardin d’Hiver which I had with Creme Brulee.
Thermae SpaSaturday we went to the Thermae Spa. It isn’t cheap at £20 each for 2 hours, plus any rental of robes and towels. But it was a great way to idle away a few hours after a heavy night before! The roof top pool was great; lounging around in the sun while relaxing in hot bubbly spring water helped by that
water softener shower head! All I needed was a cold glass of wine and I would have been sorted. The other great thing was the steam rooms and showers, excellent skin detox! 🙂
Ate at Wagamama on Saturday which is always a pleasure. Strange that it is nearly 10 years since I first visited one yet they seem so new. We also ate afternoon tea at the Pump Room on Sunday. As a general rule I liked Bath, however it was just Ok. I wonder if the fact that I live in the New Forest surrounded by so many lovely locations, makes other places not as decidedly fantastic as other people might find them? We had a great weekend that was for sure! 🙂

Here’s some pictures… ( click on all pictures on the page for higher resolution images ).

The Circus Royal Crescent
The Circus Royal Crescent
Royal Crescent

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The Devil went down to Georgia

TentSo, despite the fact that all weather forcasters were forcasting really bad rain with some really bad wind for the weekend, we still went camping.

The first thing that I must point out here is that was not intended to be a camping holiday. It’s not about finding some idyllic place to spend a relaxing time, we do after all live in the New Forest, this is about five families getting together for a social weekend where all the kids can play together in a relatively free and safe area.

So, five families went down to Holmsley on Friday. Holmsley is about 30 minutes away from our house and thus close enough that we can bail out at any stage. The blokes went down first and set up the tents. The weather at this point was dry with a slight wind. We found a suitable location to create base camp, high enough away from the possible and very likely rivers of rain that would be descending into any camp placed at the base of any hill, and sheltered by a small copse. Five tents were pitched around a central multi-gazebo-covered eating and drinking sdtation, with an en-suite gazebo-covered field kitchen.

Friday went pretty much without hitch. The kids loved the freedom they got. We ate plenty, drunk plenty, and retired to dry and relatively comfortable tents.

Saturday. It rained! No really, all day! Yes, I know rain all day was forcast, but hey it’s a bit like the spanish inquisition. Despite that, the rain never put us off. We spent all day generally lounging around the camp, eating, drinking, and making adjustments to parts of the camp that would be affected by the water. We had to cancel the dressing up part of the western BBQ party that we were having as dressing up is pointless when you have to walk around in wellies and a coat at all times.

The kids loved the freedom they got. They got very muddy and very wet and went through all the extra changes of clothing that was brought for them pretty quickly. We ate plenty, drunk plenty, sung along to western themes and country soungs, and then retired to semi-dry, if a little suspect, and relatively comfortable tents.

It rained all night and the wind was pretty angry. I was sure that we were going to lose a tent or two either to the wind or the rain. It was a far cry from the experience of last year. Do you know what is the worst think about lying in a small tent, pitched near large trees, with a tropical monsoon coming down around you; newly forged rivers of rain winding their way around your tent creating makeshift moats around your thin, semi waterproof clad castle, and wondering how long it’s going to be before the hurricane that is whirling around you is going to take you off to oz? It’s having spent all day drinking beer and cider and needing to go for a piss every 30 minuites!

However, we didn’t have to bail and our little campsite pretty much held up. We didn’t get much sleep but we had a lot of fun…


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Holiday – from Naples to Sorrento

Because we decided to rent a car in I had done my homework and printed out Google maps and directions to get me from the airport to the hotel. I also had an old Naples map from when we last visited and bought a new map of Italy that covered the southern parts.

We picked up the keys and were told to take the special hire car shuttle bus that would take us to the car, which we did. Thus we found ourselves in a large car park, somewhere in Naples, with a left hand manual gearbox car, and a handful of directions that were no longer relevant!

We set off looking for the A3 which would take us along the bay of Naples, skirting the west side of Mount , and on to . All we found were signs for the Autostrada and the A30. I knew that we didn’t want the A30 as it would take us around the other side of Vesuvious and down to or North to . With hindsight we should have just got on the Autostrada as the directions would have been better and we would have probably found our way a little quicker. Also had we followed on to Salerno, we would have gone the wrong side of Vesuvious,and travelled a little further, but we would have been closer to our intended target. However, we started driving looking for the correct motorway, the A3.
Continue reading “Holiday – from Naples to Sorrento”

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