Part 12

So much water has passed under the bridge since my last post in May – water: that’s the Med, underneath the plane as I flew to Valencia; the Med again, this time under the ferry from Barcelona returning to Italy; also in the wonderful Lake Bracciano, just north of Rome, having disembarked from the ferry; the Med again at Marina di Pisa where we spent a few less than memorable days before and after Rosanna and Christo returned to quarantine in the UK; the stream that runs alongside our current campsite making its way into the Lago di Garda; and indeed that magnificent lake itself, where we are now.

Yep, that’s lotsa water under the bridge, and many stories too. I’ll make it quick (ish – you know me!).

May – my pre-birthday! Unknown to us at the time, it was the day before I left Italy to return to Moraira, Spain, for my Covid vaccinations!
Rosanna and Claire are always telling me I need to pay more attention to lighting, background etc when taking photos! This was my Birthday late lunch/dinner, cooked as ever by our Paella Queen, Claire, aided and abetted by Rosanna, who was responsible for the balloons etc! A lovely Birthday, though missing Christo, of course.

I don’t remember the exact timing now, but I think this was the Saturday, having received news just the day before that I was required for my vaccination on the following Thursday, in Denia! Good notice, except that the weekend was included in the number of days I had to: have a negative (hopefully) PCR test (which had to be written in English or Spanish as well as in Italian), somewhere in Rome; book a flight; and ask if somebody could collect me from Valencia airport.

It seemed that all was lost when, having booked a flight, the test result would not be available until a few hours after the flight had taken off. A series of calls to the Spanish Consulate, the airport and Ryanair couldn’t resolve the problem. However, the PCR test centre could! They were very kind in pulling out all the stops giving me my result on the Monday three hours before my flight. Campsite reception were great, calling me an urgent taxi – and, sweating away, I arrived in time for the flight! Phew – stress or what!

Mary and John at The Food Bar, Moraira, my treat as they had so kindly collected me from Valencia and given me a bed for a couple of nights too!

A call from Rome airport must have given our great friend, John, rather a shock. Typically, he said he’d be happy to collect me from the airport – what time was I arriving!

I had a super time with Mary and John, chatting about all of our travelling and I even had the chance to see them playing bowls. Thanks guys – see you again, sometime!

I’d been invited many times to stay with more great friends, Ros and Mick, who picked me up in Moraira after Mary had dropped me off a couple of days later.

Once this had chilled down we really enjoyed it at their stunning finca, where I would be based until Claire and Rosanna came in Campy (by ferry from Roma to Barça), gambling on the hope that during the time they were in Spain, waiting for me to have my second jab, Claire would be called for hers!

My actual birthday arrived and we went to a fabulous beach bar/resto on the coast (can’t quite remember its name!), with other friends also. A great lunch in wonderful weather.

Everybody who knows Ros and Mick will know that they are the most genial and generous of hosts so it’s no surprise that I had an absolute whale of a time with them, lunching out and in, with and without other friends, dining and chilling. I even had an absorbing chat with Juan (I think) the guy and his team who have been pruning their vines for years, discovering that he is in fact a renowned vine growing consultant and biologist who consults/has consulted on many of the wine making projects of which I’ve written, working with many of the winemakers whom I know!

One evening, another great friend had been invited to dinner, Jody – and her ace dog Rico, seen here on Mick’s perfectly trimmed lawn!

Rico, in let’s play mode!

I was in the chair, cooking wise, so had to leave the table a few times – I checked the wine levels each time before leaving, of course, Jody is a keen wine girl and knows her stuff. She’d brought some fine wines, I’d provided a couple too – I wasn’t going to miss out on those, you have to watch that Mick bloke!

When I returned once there must have been a discussion in my absence – Jody offered to host Campy with the three of us on her land outside her also beautiful finca, between Javea and Benitachell! I was overcome by her generosity, as I’d been firstly with Mary and John, then Ros and Mick – we are so lucky to have such amazing friends. Thank you!

We stayed for a few weeks, I had my second jab, Claire had her two. We went out and about (twas lovely to be back in Spain for a while) and we had some great BBQs and a Paella, of course – all with brilliant wines. Two below were sent by my friends at Celler Alimara, the one on the left an ‘Orange’ wine (skin contact white wine).

Two friends of Jody’s came to stay as well – all wine and food lovers so we had a ball. Including visiting two local wineries – the home of M de Alejandria, below for example, as well as the now world-famous Pepe Mendoza Casa Agricola, in Llíber/Jalón.

The most delicious dessert wine, M de Alejandria – and friends!

You’ll notice the lovely Rosanna here too, all growed up! Well, Rosanna had been studying for her GCSEs online in the UK, having left Lady Elizabeth School at the end of Year 10. All was working out well (as I write we await her results – they’ll be great, I’m sure), but the only drawback was that she wouldn’t be having a Prom Night like all her old pals at school. However, Jody and friends made sure that she wouldn’t miss out!

Rosanna’s Prom Night – courtesy of Jody and Pals!

There was bunting, balloons, music, bowties and fizz! Really kind of them all – they’d all had a Prom Night (not that many years ago!) and knew what Rosanna would be missing!

Also, we were delighted that Rosanna was able to see her great friend, Tim (seen with us on the final photo) a number of times during our time there.

The night before we left Spain to resume our travels (and to meet up eventually with Christo, later in Tuscany), we went out to dinner with Ros and Mick. Another great night, with great friends!

The last supper, for a while!

So, that was Part 12 – not full of lots of photos of our travels abroad, rather just a catch-up bringing us back to Italy, where our great adventure continues.

Part 13 (and it certainly wasn’t unlucky!) comes soon – watch this space!

NB As always – all comments etc are most welcome. Please send to colinharkness53@gmail.com