Saturday, 30 April 2011

Ahhh.....La Bella Italia

I have just had the most wonderful week on the Italian Riviera.  It was a joy to travel there with my son, daughter-in-law and two and a half year old grandson.  We stayed in Camogli, a picturesque fishing village north of the Cinque Terre and as yet undiscovered by hordes of international tourists. It is, however, well known to Italian holiday makers who appear to be keeping it a best kept secret.  Oh dear!!!...I've just blown it, haven't I?  The family run Hotel Augusta was a great place to stay.  It is child friendly and conveniently located just above the fishing harbour. 
Fishing boat harbour, Camogli
It was the perfect place to while away a week.  Somehow the hotel had made an error with our booking and there was no room for me on the first night.  A frantic ring around by the proprietor resulted in me being privately accommodated with an elderly woman living in an apartment block with spectacular views across the bay.  As often happens when you are traveling, things that go wrong turn out to be great adventures and this was no exception.  Anna Maria was an elegant well to do woman but lonely. She told me her husband had died 22 years ago.  Her apartment was beautiful with marble floors, crystal chandeliers and intricately painted ceilings.  I have a tiny bit of Italian, having studied it at University, but could not keep up with Anna Maria.  She talked to me flat out and at length but I could catch only a few words here and there so spent my time nodding and smiling.  I think she just wanted someone to talk to and didn't mind that I couldn't answer. She showered me with Easter eggs and embraces and cheek kisses....lovely lady.  I told her I would leave early next morning to have breakfast with my family but when I got ready to leave she was merrily snoring in her room.  The apartment had about 10 locks on the door and some of the keys were like gigantic old jailers keys so I just had to wait until she got up.  It didn't matter, looking out across the bay at the fishing boats and brightly painted houses tumbling down to the sea was no hardship.

The sublime view from Anna Maria's apartment

One thing that has really surprised me on this trip has been the limited access to computer time.  I have joined the local library in Richmond, London, and hope to update this blog a bit more regularly from now on.  There is more to tell!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

"Oh to be in England now that spring is here"

I am and it is!  England does spring so well.  The streets are avenues of lime green leafed trees and gardens are bursting with tulips, bluebells, grape hyacinths and the last of the daffodils.  Wisteria creeps up brick facades and everyone looks happy and summery. Yesterday it was hot sunny and 25 degrees.  I think today will be the same. It is wonderful to be with my son, his wife  and Edward, my two and a half year old grandson.  He is, of course, gorgeous and becoming a real little chatter box.  They live in  East Twickenham, a beautiful part of London,  directly opposite Marble Hill Park, which surrounds a stately home.  The park runs down to the Thames pathway so there are a number of pretty, shady, walking paths close by and ample safe play areas for Edward.  In Marble Hill Park there is an area, about half an acre in size which is surrounded by a low picket fence.  This is solely for preschool children and their parents.  No dogs are allowed and there is no play equipment there.  It is a pleasure to walk past and see mothers chatting and picnicing while their children run around and play together in complete safety.

All the talk in London is of the royal wedding, a week or so away.  There is a buzz of excitement....every shop you go into the staff are talking about it, and I hear it in snatched conversations on street corners.  There are street parties planned and shops crammed to bursting with memorabilia.  It seems that the royal family are still hugely popular here....and good for tourism!  I went into Trafalgar Square yesterday and couldn't move for the crowds.  Apparently the royal wedding has increased tourism numbers enormously.

  I had planned to go to the National Gallery but was put off by the crush so went around the corner to the National Portrait Gallery.  It was very quiet and I enjoyed a leisurely saunter among images of people from hundreds of years of history.  Next I wandered down to the embankment and watched the hordes strolling, cruising the river and ascending in the London Eye before I beat a hasty retreat to the relative peace, quiet and tranquillity of East Twickenham.
Marble Hill House, Twickenham

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

I'm packing my bags!

My bedroom is currently the scene of utter chaos.  I have clothes, shoes, gifts and assorted travel paraphernalia strewn about waiting to be packed.  This is the part of travel I hate...the getting ready a few days before hand.  I am excited, though.  On Saturday I leave for London to spend a month with my son, daughter-in-law and two year old grandson in London.  It is a year since I have seen them, in the flesh that is.  Thanks to the wonders of Skype I see them most weeks and am sure my grandson will recognise me at the airport, at least I hope he will. I am flying direct to London with a short transit stop in Hong Kong, mainly because I don't want to waste time getting there.   I'm pretty excited about this flight, which is unusual for me, as I see long flights as a necessary evil, merely a means to get to where I want to go, but this time I am flying on Air New Zealand's new Boeing 777-300.  Recently I was fortunate enough to have a tour of this plane and it was the most beautiful aircraft I had ever been on, with its plush white leather upholstery, larger TV screens and a touch pad for ordering snacks and drinks.  It should be fun!