At the very beginning of the month we drove, with friends, across country through the Crete Siense kissing the lower slopes of Mt. Amiata, towards the western coast. By-passing Gossetto and traveling north to Piombino where we caught a ferry to Elba, leaving the car on the mainland. We were fortunate that the searing heat of the last several months had receded and by the time we reached the isle it was a breezy 29c. Our hotel was within ‘walking distance’ of the port allegedly, maybe for an Olympian but for us it was a slog up a very steep hill. The rooms were a welcome sight as we cooled off and refreshed ourselves. The walk back down later wasn’t nearly as traumatic and we took a short trip on a land train to get our bearing and walked through the old town to Napoleon’s mother’s house. Eating is very easy as every street has café’s, bars, and restaurants to cover every taste and pocket. We dinned at a fabulous Chinese, having had pizza for lunch, and took a taxi back to the hotel. That night there was a deluge, full sound effects and lightening, so we had been very lucky. The following day we took a local bus inland to Napoleon’s palace, eagles and large N’s all over. The Island seems to be very hilly and rocky with a few sandy beaches, well attended by teeming hordes of visitors, to the south-east. We caught a ferry back and started up the Aurilia motorway to Pisa when we got caught in a huge traffic jam. After 40 mins we edged out to go on the old road to Lucca.

Foiled again an accident in town was routing all traffic around the walls and it took over an hour where upon our car over heated. 2 hours late and having taken a slight detour when the signs for Monticattine Terme vanished we had to stop at a bar to ask directions. Boy scouts, divining rods and shear luck wouldn’t have found it but fortunately our friends have an iphone and the bar man got it to direct us to the door! The parking was another long walk but we did also locate the Greek Thermal baths and treatment centre, the funicular railway to the tiny town on top of an extremely sheer cliff, on the way. Having arrived so late we changed and went into town, just a short walk, and ate at the ‘Green Corsair” serving typical dishes of the area. It’s a much larger town than we had anticipated so we did the tourist stuff the following day. The thermal palace took almost all the morning and we took a trip up to the small “Alto” town perched at the top of the cliff, so tiny we’d toured it in 30mins, and loved the theater building with café on the ground floor. Unfortunately we had to make the decision not to tour Poppi on the way home as we needed to get back to Mach1 and clean the pool before dark.

We arrived home to plastic blowing all over the garden, bins over and broken glass. The pool was full of leaves and debris, home had also had a storm and we’d bypassed them both. Mach1 was very pleased to see us and kept close for the next couple of days as we undid the mayhem and got the pool closed.

The computer backed up our anti-virus and suddenly we were unable to access the Internet. It took all one day to work out what had happened and get rid of the program and install a different one, clean and reset the system.

UK Visit Just 2 days after waving off our friends we were at Pisa airport. Easy jet was 1.45 hours late leaving so we all sat and twiddled thumbs and played eye-spy. They opened the doors and let people use the loos and said anyone who wants to see the cockpit come up. I almost got crushed as Mike leapt over me to go and chat. While there a message, via till roll, arrived to say they had found a slot 30 mins earlier, Mike got back with the news which raised a cheer. Bus connection to car rental was 50 mins ( 10 mins late) and chaos at rental place, although they couldn't have been more helpful and considerate even getting us large cups of coffee before we wilted completely. The delays meant we hit the M23 at 4.15 and sat in traffic achieving a max 15 MPH, the same for the M25 where upon it started raining. What ought to have been a 40 min connection to M4 took 2 hours! It rained and jammed the length of the M4 until the other side of Swansea, due to road loading of vehicles, 3 accidents, animals lose on the road, the closure of M5 North being diverted due to an accident and road works. We stopped for 30mins to eat and ease numb areas on base and after yet another diversion at the end of the motorway up a small mountain through a tiny Welsh village ( for fun it seems) we got to our destination 5 hours late at 11.45pm.

Mike got so cold we had to wrap him in fur blankets, borrowed jumpers and have the electric blanket on., even parents cat ( who is normally aloof) took pity and came to bed to help warm him up. It was the grey damp as much as the temperature on top of the long 15 hour journey taking its toll.

We did get to visit most family and friends (40 mins each then gone on to next!), most seemed to have colds or coughs, missing out the few, old haunts and by-ways but didn't get to do as much as we hoped as we booked in to Wootton Bassett on the way back to be half way before the slow slog back to Gatwick on Sunday. We were advised by those more traveled to exit M4 at jtn10 head around Bracknell ( was forested when we lived there in the early 60's) and on to the M25 at jnt3 of M3, which proved a boon. BUT they closed the Blaen Maes tunnels so had a 1 hour crawl through Newport Gwent, got held up on the 7 bridge for another hour or so due to a dreadful accident at the end of it causing 5 mile tail backs and arrived 2mins after 9pm ( after 5hrs instead of 2.30) at the hotel who's dining room closed at 9pm. They did take one look of our ravaged features, changed rooms so we were in the main building instead of around the new block somewhere and got Chris in the bar to make the biggest toasties ever seen. So large we shared the English breakfast the next morning and made a sandwich for the journey on too.

Gatwick is bigger than we recall ( 30 years ago) it took 35 mins to get through security, bags searched ( demerara sugar looked too dense on x-ray so what was it?) bracelet set off alarms, take off shoes & get x-rayed but rather the palava than the alternative. By the time we'd got water and a sarnie, our flight gate was displayed at the opposite end of the terminal. Hiked there at a slow limp ( got blisters and the machine ate the rubber stop off one shoe), sat for 15 mins and then we were loaded and stopped as we were delayed yet again. Seems a habit with easy jet but at least they were flying, we're thankful we hadn't gone with Ryanair at this point who were canceling flights all over..

Pisa easy but we'd brought the rain with us so a damp 3 hour drive. Mach1 delighted we were home and hasn't left our sides since. Started with a sore throat and now have the drips and sneezes which lasted just 4 days. Over all. We’relad we did it for many reasons, mainly to see Pa who isn't at all well despite what he portrays, Mike's Mum isn't 100% but well cared for and resolved some issues while visiting, seeing friends & neighbours, but also to confirm it wasn't home any more. Yes its lovely, green, pretty but its not home it was like visiting Stratford or Elba no connection, just visiting. Some people are just not natural tourists and it sees we're homebodies except for a day out here and there. We're very glad to be back home here.

Arrived to an email to say Ann in hospital, neighbours looking after the dog and feeding the cat, seems she went to change a light bulb on Saturday and fell. She's damaged her elbow which need an operation and broken her other arm. Plastered from finger to armpit one side and at the elbow on the other so can’t eat, wash or use the phones and has got a helper who comes in 3x a day for the next month at least so can't use phones. The signing of her property was on the last working day of the month so the geometra came to get her. Annie took her to the dentist where she was in mid treatment, we collected various items from her old house and took over feeding the cat when the neighbours went on to their lake Como apartment.

We had a very quiet meal together for our anniversary, exhausted by the hectic few weeks before.

On the positive Ing-Marie and Keith have moved into Beaminster and have almost unpacked. They've made good contacts locally, very friendly area, and feel very much at home despite living 31 years in the other place which couldn't be more different to the one they've just bought. They then went off to Spain to do the walking tour that had been booked a year before. Its been all go this month.

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