Confused?? You may well be.
We never did quite do that marathon drive through France and Spain.
After a week of agonising, the pile of wet weather clothes and jumpers sitting alongside the flimsy summer wear, indecision and, ultimately, cowardice. We booked flights and decided France would forgive us this one time. Italian sunshine was beckoning. We talk the In-Laws into changing their plans too. It was quite simply the best decision we’ve made in a long time.
The new plan begins inauspiciously. We spend night before weighing and reweighing our bags to avoid getting shafted by the jobsworths at the Ryanair desk. We shift bits from one case to another until we have EXACTLY the right weight in each bag. I admit that I do feel itchy with the disorder of it all.
We have to get up at 3am to get our taxi. The Baby is awake from midnight anyway so I’m pretty grouchy *understatement*. We arrive at the check-in desks to be met by an unholy queue full of similarly tired and grouchy travellers. The kids cavort, thrilled to be up ‘in the middle of the night’.
Nervously, we shunt our bags onto the scales. The check-in man can smell blood. 14.9kgs. “YES!”. I pump the air. Loser.
Apart from feeling like some sort of underclass as we shuffle onto the plane – I irritably snipe, as they refuse to let us on first with our kids, that I will only fly with BA (preferably business class) in the future – the flight goes well.
We arrive into the mid-morning heat of Rome, collect the hire car and make for the chaotic deathtrap that is the Grande Raccordo Anulare – Rome’s ringroad. Let me assure you, these drivers literally do not give a hoot. There are absolutely no rules. If you’ve ever driven around the peripherique in Paris – times it by ten. He handles it like a pro. I swoon a bit.
A couple of hours later, we are in the beautiful medieval hilltop town of Sarteano, sitting in the campsite restaurant noshing on delicious pasta and salads. The Peronis are flowing and things are looking up. I eat pici (a really thick, noodley spaghetti) with a gorgeous rich duck ragu. Amazing.
How to explain a fortnight of awesomeness?? I’m not sure I can. We make friends with our neighbours. They have a feisty little four-year old daughter who is a marvellous match for the Big One. We spend our days thinking about our next meal. Culinary high points include a really simple ragu made by my mother-in-law. We loved it. The Baby adored it. She ate it for about three days.
It was my in -laws 38th wedding anniversary whilst we were there. We buy some ravioli from the fresh pasta shop, dress it with olive oil and Parmesan. Served with a lovely tomato salad and plenty of prosecco. Afterwards we dip cantucci biscuits in amaretto, and sit tipsy in the broiling heat working up the energy to waddle to the pool.
On Father’s day, we lunch at the most amazing spot. A 15th Century convent with the most stunning views imaginable. The kids scamper about the walled garden playing hide and seek while we devour the wonderful food. I have bruschetta followed by homemade polpettini. One of those magical moments that I simply don’t have the vocabulary to convey to you.
The in-laws depart that afternoon. We spend our remaining week cruising around in the breathtaking Tuscan scenery. We visit many a hilltop town. Eat too many gelatis. Drink far too many Aperol Spritzes. We successfully stalk an old Aussie friend, who is over getting married nearby. He clearly had no intention of getting in touch. Possibly preferring instead to enjoy his peaceful, magical time as a newlywed on an extended honeymoon. He underestimated us. We are a tenacious pair. We back him into a corner with an endless list of options. A cornered rabbit, he has no choice but to relent. He comes to visit us, bringing along his lovely new wife and their two gorgeous boys.
We spend a brilliant, boozy couple of days together. The kids get on famously. The Big One is revered as some Demi-God, and he leads the rest of them in a Pied-Piper fashion around the campsite, hunting for lizards and lobbing sticks
at Germans in the stream.
A magical time. Although sadly not for my waist, which has pretty much vanished. It would seem that ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith and her ilk may have a point. Drink loads of beer, eat loads of carbs and sit about
sweating a lot, and you do indeed become a big fat whale. Expect lots of bran, brown rice and salad recipes peeps *kills self*.
Ciao for now 🙂