In which we went up (quite a lot) and a three hour walk turned into a nine hour walk

Yesterday was our second day in Italy and we decided to take a walk up one of the mountains here in Belagio.  We were pretty well organised and had a shed load of water with us, a packed lunch and we’d covered ourselves in sunscreen.  The scenery here is beautiful and we chose a three-hour mapped walk up through the forest to the top of one of the mountains.  The ‘up’ started like this:

IMG_1017And there was plenty more of it – it was a beautiful walk (hard work, especially when you’re a little unfit like I am) but after about an hour we were halfway and reached a great panorama where we stopped to take pictures (and get our breath back), then continued on for another couple of hours.  The Italian path markers are a little scatty and the timings are  not quite as accurate as they might be, and so it took us longer than expected to reach the top but when we finally go there, the view was worth it:

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Our original plan was to take a bus back down into Belagio but the bus stop wasn’t immediately obvious and we were feeling brave so we decided to follow the path signs (“2 hours 10” – this turned out not to be entirely true) but we lost the path, marked by red and white slashes of paint on trees and rocks along the way, so we went on a detour through the forest until we found the path again.  Along the way we stumbled through a farm which was part of the pathway and made friends with some horses.

Once we found the correct path again, we found another beautiful vista at about 900m above sea-level, then worked our way back down through the forest.  The first part was so steep (and close to the sheer drop) that I climbed down almost on my hands and knees.  We descended 600m in about an hour so that gives you an idea of how steep the path through the forest was, but it was brilliant!  It got a little bit hairy when the sun started to set and we were still amongst the trees, but we made it out while the sky was still pink and with aching knees, ankles and hips (we’re not twenty-one any more…) we headed back to the apartment, showered and strolled – quite slowly and gingerly – to the local ristorante for a delicious meal and an Italian beer.  We tried out our Italian (“grazie mille”) and discovered that the owner of the restaurant had lived in Southend for twenty-one years so his English was perfect but he helped us with our Italian pronunciation before we said our buona nottes and strolled (less gingerly this time for the beer had worked some magic) up the hill to our apartment and into bed.

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Day twenty-five of the 30 day photography challenge – strangers

It’s far too easy not to really notice other people as we go about our business every day – I know I’m usually rushing about from one place to the next and always thinking about something as I go (although, oddly, I often seem to notice people’s shoes, no matter how quickly I’m walking…).

When we were at Silverstone in June, we had a brilliant time because there was so much going on but also because everyone there was also having a great time and there was a really friendly atmosphere.  It felt like we really did notice other people more, and there was a lot of friendly banter between us (even the people in the next tent who stumbled home in the early hours one morning and woke us up by shouting at the chap in the tent on the other side to stop snoring).

On the Friday night, we joined our fellow race-goers and campers in the Big Top for a bit of live music and in front of us I spotted a young dad with his little boy, enjoying a bit of guy-time.  I couldn’t help but take this pic because I thought it was adorable.  What do you think?

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Day twenty-four of the 30 day photography challenge – animals

I’m completely smitten by our dog George and think he’s beautiful but I stole myself away from pictures of him for this challenge and chose to share pictures of the gorgeous baby bunny rabbit I met at the petting zoo at the Duck Pond market.  As you can see, it took a few attempts to get him to look at the camera but we got there eventually!  Here he is, sitting on my lap and getting used to being papped:

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Day twenty-three of the 30 day photography challenge – patterns

I like the patterns found in nature and this one in particular appealed to me – it’s blue skies and sunshine, clouds, and aeroplane trails from the Red Arrows!  If you look carefully at the bottom right hand corner you’ll see a couple of flags from the grandstands – one of them a chequered flag and the other a Union flag (we were sitting amongst lots of other McLaren/Jenson Button/Lewis Hamilton fans that day).  If you look even closer, you’ll see that the bright white swirl in the middle of the picture is in actual fact five Red Arrows – but I just love the pattern of the clouds in this picture.  And it reminds me of English summers…

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Day twenty-two of the 30 day photography challenge – inspirational

I find lots of things which are inspiring – other people, songs I hear, pictures I see, articles I read – but right now I’m reading a book which I bought ages ago and have only just got round to reading.  It’s Brian Epstein’s autobiography, “A Cellarful of Noise” which was written in 1964, three years before his untimely and unexpected death.  Any among you who are Beatles fans will probably know quite a bit about him, at the very least that he was their manager.  In the book he comes across as a very genuine and gentle man, aware of his shortcomings (he’s not afraid to say “I was hopeless at school” or “I was a useless soldier and not suited to the RAF at all”) but bent on doing the very best for the band he so admired.

I think that the Beatles’ story itself is inspiring so reading about Epstein and his part in it is particularly interesting.  I don’t know if the book is still in print (I would imagine probably not) but I was lucky enough to get hold of my original copy from a second-hand bookshop – it’s now forty-nine years old (eek) so I’m taking very good care of it!

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Day nineteen of the 30 day photography challenge – something I want

I came across this picture on Pinterest (a bit of a guilty pleasure) and it struck me that this would be a really fun way of selling our fudge.  Ever since I was a little girl and I saw ‘The Lovebug’ I’ve loved old Volkswagen Beetles, and the idea of using one as a market stall really appeals to me.  I think it’s really cute.  What do you think?

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Day sixteen of the 30 day photography challenge – a good habit

I’ve got lots of habits but trying to think of one which is a good one, and more importantly an interesting one, is bit tricky (I suppose that’s why it’s called the photography ‘challenge’).  Taking a picture of me cleaning my teeth or putting everything in the dishwasher once I’ve used it seems very unexciting.  So I’ve decided to share a picture of something which I intend to make a habit – sitting in the new hammock we bought today while we were at the Duck Pond market.  We had a brilliant day (lovely weather, lovely people and we sold out of everything we’d made), and we treated ourselves to this one from the Well Hung company (see what they did there?).  It’s a double hammock which means that Simon and I can lounge in it at the same time, and even George hopped in and had a go…

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The ABC of me

ABCFor a while I’ve thought about sharing a bit of information about myself with you all, because although in the beginning my readers were friends and family who already knew a fair bit about me, none of my new readers do really and this seemed to be the quickest way of sharing.  You can probably guess that this came from America (I’ve changed the spellings) so here it is:

Addictions: fluffy animals, Reese’s Pieces
Bed size: Super-King (and it’s reeeally comfortable)
Chore you hate: cleaning the bin
Dogs or cats: two cats and a dog (Molly, Pickle and George)
Essential start to your day: tea, and a wake up call from Pickle
Favorite colour: lemon yellow
Gold or silver: silver
Height: 5’5 1/2
Instruments you play (or have played): the drums (not since I was 16 though)
Jobs titles you’ve had: estate agent, recruitment consultant, P.A, office manager, front-of-house (theatre), teacher, tutor, stage crew, LX swing (theatre)
Kids: only my fluffy ones (see A)
Live: North West London
Mum’s name: Shirley
Nickname: Don’t really have one – there’s not much you can do with the name Jane!
Overnight hospital stays: spent four hours in the middle of the night in an emergency room in Florida last year
Pet peeve:  people stopping in the middle of the pavement/tube platform/steps in front of you without warning, and incorrect grammar
Quote from a film: “I thought I heard you saying it was a pity… pity I never had any children. But you’re wrong. I have. Thousands of them. Thousands of them… and all boys.”  Goodbye Mr Chips
Right or left handed: right handed
Siblings: Two brothers and a sister
Time you wake up: six in the morning
Underwear: got lots thanks
Vegetables you dislike: do mushrooms count?  probably courgettes actually, and aubergine
What makes you run late: being too busy and not quite prepared enough
X-rays you’ve had done: when I broke my arm age seven (ish)
Yummy food you make: lemon fudge!
Zoo animal: any of the big cats but pretty much all of them

Things which have made me smile this week

At the moment I’m counting the hours until the summer holidays, not because I don’t enjoy my job – I do – but because it means two things: 1) I get to see my husband during the day before he trundles off to work in the evenings and 2) I get to spend more time focusing on the Little Lemon.  Actually, three things – 3) I get to spend time in the garden (trying) to make it look nice and catching some sun and Oh four things – 4) I get to walk George twice a day, go for runs and get fit.  Actually, the more I think about it, there are plenty of things being on summer hols means and I plan to make the most of it.

This weekend was our sixth wedding anniversary and we celebrated it by taking the Little Lemon to the market.   The sixth anniversary is represented by sugar so I suppose selling fudge was quite an appropriate way to spend the day!

In between customers at the Duck Pond market, surrounded by fudge

In between customers at the Duck Pond market, surrounded by fudge

We always take a moment to wander around the market when we’re there to say hello to some of the other stallholders we’ve made friends with, and I always pop into the petting zoo for my fix of fluffiness.  This week I played with a piglet (he squealed a lot) and sat with a tiny bunny on my lap.

Cute!

Cute!

Several of our friends and family popped down to see us which was brilliant and our friends Janine and Steve whom we haven’t seen since Australia three years ago came along too.

On Wednesday last week I went along to the press night of Dirty Dancing which I thoroughly enjoyed – it was nice to be back at the Piccadilly Theatre and to see old friends.

An incredibly pink Piccadilly

An incredibly pink Piccadilly – picture shared from Charlotte Gooch

Last weekend we had some friends and family round for a barbecue in the garden as a sort of early anniversary celebration – Simon did all the cooking and even made us an enormous Eton Mess for dessert (one of the many reasons I love my husband – who doesn’t love a guy who can whip up an Eton Mess at a moment’s notice?)

Simon eating his Mess straight from the bowl (this is not a flattering view of the garden - hoping it will look better in the coming weeks)

Simon eating his Mess straight from the bowl (this is not a flattering view of the garden – hoping it will look better in the coming weeks)

And we discovered that some of our neighbours who had lost their black cat have found him again (phew).  They posted notices up on trees and fences to let us know:

Found him!

Found him!

Here’s to another week filled with things to make us smile!