As myself and Harley bid a sad “Arriverderci” to Roy on Saturday morning, thoughts turned to how we would occupy ourselves for the duration. The campsite was fairly quiet, with lots of free pitches when we arrived – my, how they quickly filled-up over the weekend! Of course, Easter was approaching and, as far as we could tell, most schools had started their holidays. German and Austrian motorhomes and caravans arrived in their droves from Saturday morning onwards until, by mid week, the site was pretty much full! Originally, we’d thought to leave the day after Roy arrived back but, as the week progressed, his increasing stress levels (he’ll tell you about this himself later!) made us have a rethink and we decided to stay until today, Tues 11th. Unfortunately, our rather nice pitch with a lake view had already been pre-booked from Sun, 9th but the site kindly accommodated us with an alternative, albeit shady and non lake view but, heyho, at least we could stay and chill for a few more days.
Harley and I had a very pleasant, relaxing week. The weather was perfect, mostly, apart from a thunderstorm and heavy rain on Tuesday night which led to me getting a soaking when I tried to dislodge the rainwater weighing down our awning on Wednesday morning! I swear Harley sniggered as I came back inside, dripping water everywhere! Anyhow, we occupied ourselves by doing a whole heap of domestic tasks (well, I did!!! He lazed in the sunshine!!) -catching up on laundry, cleaning out and rearranging lockers, scrubbing floors etc -for a few hours each morning and then walking in the afternoons and having pre-dinner drinkies at the local bar with Sean, Carmel and their gorgeous black lab, Millie – they hail from Sligo and were pretty much the first Irish folk we’d met since we left home way back in October! Harley fell instantly in love with Millie and fell into a huge sulk when we left this morning!
To be honest, the time flew by (as it does, when you reach a certain age!) and, before we knew it, Roy was back! Mission pretty much accomplished on his part though, it has to be said, he was exhausted! A couple of hours siesta and he was ready for a beer! We had dinner at the campsite bar/restaurant that evening – a huge pizza for Roy and “grilled cockerel” for me. I expected a plain grilled chicken breast or half a chicken but certainly not the whole young fowl that was sitting on my plate when it came out of the kitchen! It was deliciously moist, seasoned with a selection of very tasty herbs and excellent value for money! The whole bill, including a bottle of local wine, two Espressos and the cover charge/tip came to €34.50. Considering Italy is not the cheapest place we’ve ever been to and that we were in a restaurant overlooking Lake Garda, we felt we got good value!
On Sunday morning, we decamped to our new pitch and treated ourselves to an Ulster Fry as Roy’s trip home meant we could replenish our smoked back bacon supplies! In fact, he brought so much stuff back with him that he needed to check-in a bag on the way back and even that was slightly over the 15kg weight limit! We now have a supply of bacon to last a couple of months, enough Colemans mustard to last a lifetime, Twinings Earl Grey teabags, dark chocolate with ginger (haven’t seen it anywhere on mainland Europe!), dark chocolate ginger biscuits (I like ginger!!!), a huge fruitcake kindly made and donated to the cause by Roy’s Mum, Maud, Jacob’s Fig Rolls – the list goes on! Just as well I’d rearranged lockers during the week so we now had room to store it all!
Sunday afternoon, we walked up the lake to Lazise – a pretty, walled-town with a nicely developed waterfront – lots of bars, restaurants and, naturally, ice cream parlours. It being a Sunday, the town was pretty busy, but not so much that we couldn’t meander around and still find a bench on which to sit and savour our Italian ice creams.
Sean, Carmel and Millie had been good company for myself and Harley in Roy’s absence, so we invited them around for pre-dinner drinks and nibbles on Sunday evening. Olives, crisps, dips etc were order of the day and by the time they left, neither Roy nor I could face eating the steaks we’d intended sticking on the BBQ that night! No matter, they’ll keep until Monday, or so we thought. As it turned out, we still have them in the fridge as we ran into Sean on our walk yesterday and were promptly invited to join them for a Thai curry at their place that evening! Thanks, Guys!
Our walk to Peschiera Del Garda yesterday revealed that it was market day and we managed to find a large bunch of asparagus for €2! We were over the moon as it’s ranked as pretty much our favourite vegetable and, back home, we always managed to find it in the “3 for £4” section at Tesco. Up until now, on the rare occasion we’ve seen it in any veg counter at all, it has required a second mortgage to buy it! Roy did actually manage to purchase a 250g pack of it in Tesco for the princely sum of £1.99 and brought it back with him but this bunch now was even better value! Hopefully, the worst effects of the winter storms have now dissipated and the price of veg is on the way back down (she said, with optimistic tones!)
We meandered for a while amongst the narrow streets of the town but, since we didn’t really fancy a big lunch, we opted to seek out the hot counter at the market’s butchers stall and treated ourselves to a picnic lunch of a spit-roasted chicken drumstick each and a rack of spare ribs between us – quite the meatiest, tenderest, tastiest ribs either of us have ever eaten!
As we sat down at Sean and Carmel’s table last night, we heard the rumblings of distant thunder, which got closer and closer so, tables and chairs were moved further under the awning and we enjoyed both their company and a rather delicious Thai Green Curry and several glasses of vino rosso whilst the storm raged overhead and the rain fell around us. Thankfully, it was short-lived and we made it back to Sebo later that night without getting soaked! When we arose this morning and hit the road for Trieste, the air was slightly cooler and less humid than it had been for the last few days. We’ve decided to give Venice a miss for now-it being Holy Week and all that, it’ll be crammed and we can always go another time so we’re hitting the Autostrada in order to put miles under wheels without any stress today. We’ve found a free overnight parking spot up in the hills above Trieste so that will be our sleepy spot for tonight – after eleven nights on a campsite, it’ll be good to do a bit of Wild Camping before we get into Croatia since, apparently, it’s illegal there and carries a €350 penalty for lawbreakers!
On the other side of the coin…..or, in this case, The Channel….. Roy can now relate how his week went…….
Aaaahhh Bisto! Peace and relative tranquillity has returned upon my arrival back at Team Sebo. A full week was had back in good old Norn Irn- what a weird experience to be transplanted back into the old country. Trouble free flight and a tour of County Antrim on the Airporter bus and I arrived in Belfast city centre. The airport is only about 20 miles from the city but doesn’t go directly, well confusing for me and other travellers who feared that we were heading on a transfer to City of Derry Airport!
Once in Belfast it was sad to see that some things never change. The “fleg” protesters were in full swing outside the City Hall, with an opposing group being kept at bay by 30 plus police officers. There is more to life guys, travel a bit and see for yourselves! A quick scally round and I boarded the first Translink bus to Dundonald. Da Mammy didn’t know about my return, so contemplation of the surprise was glorious. Upon arrival I Facetimed Karen and made my grand entrance. I opened the back door and Herself was at the cooker, she glanced up, stared momentarily, fought off the urge to coup, promptly shared a few expletives with me and then set about convincing me that I needed something to eat. Class moment!!
So, having the whole week, I reckoned I could get the house sale sorted and make it good for the new owners. I would then have loads of time to catch up with several friends and enjoy my brief sortie back to my homeland. Aye yo ho!! Having been locked out of my own home, I finally gained entry and realised that my task was larger than first thought. Six months of neglect meant that there was a serious amount of work to be done. I didn’t know whether to cut the grass or bale it and you could grow spuds in various areas of the house. The utility room wasn’t bad, probably because that’s were the vacuum cleaner was kept along with various other cleaning products.
The week was spent cleaning, scrubbing, packing and getting on first name terms with the guy working at the amenity centre. Scott finally got his act together and emptied his room, resulting in a bin bag shortage in Ballygowan and surrounding areas. Newtownards was my other home as I camped out with my solicitor to work through several difficulties re the house sale that didn’t really exist. Having a professional deal with conveyancing works better than someone with a legal qualification entrusted with the job by a large law firm that promises the world and delivers slowly and patronisingly.
When Friday arrived, the house was shining like a new pin, grass was lowered to an acceptable level, Da Mammy’s car taken for major surgery after alternator problems, prescriptions filled for her, after fruitless visits to the doctors surgery and the house sale agreed in principle. General success was achieved on all fronts apart from actually enjoying my return home as I thought I might!
Tesco and various retailers share price has risen on the back of my purchases; curry kits, Wagon Wheels, Fig Rolls, chocolate ginger biscuits, latest motorhome mag, to name but a few and finally dark chocolate with ginger to take back to the “Wee Bride”. This substance had eluded us so I could now return like a Stone Age man with hunted prey on board. The savings contributed to partially negating the cost of the flight and return checked-in bag! 15.2Kg the Ryanair staff never batted an eyelid and I didn’t have to layer up to reduce the bag weight. Was great to see family though and my last time to see the Arbuthnots for quite some time. Good luck in Oz, guys, make the most of it.
Scott didn’t enjoy the 4.10am airport run but thanks for doing it! And so, I was returning somewhat burnt out to the loving bosom of the aforementioned “Wee Bride” and Harley Farley. €13 got me into Brescia and over 100Km of a train journey, but the 10 minute taxi to the campsite cost me €12! Hate that!! From only about a quarter full when I left, the site was now thronged! Talk about chalk and cheese!!! Karen tailed- off as I arrived at the van, Sean and Carmel announced that Karen was in the bar and hadn’t been seen all day. I’d have believed that had she not been at the gate upon my return.
Now, I feel like a sailor that has been away for a long trip. Sebo has a new regime! It’s tidy, things have been moved! My bounty was met with cries of “I don’t know where we are going to put this lot!” Harley has gone native, the locals think Karen pulled last night and I haven’t left yet. Their greater concern is that they think she could do better for herself!! One neighbour is finally convinced that Karen doesn’t do all the driving and his wife is well relieved. Finally now I have to rebel against the New Order and reimpose myself on Team Sebo……… if Karen says that it’s ok to do so…………………