Tuesday 23 December 2014

The Best Laid Plans

I actually thought it was a wind-up when I received 
the texts from easyJet as we walked through
the front door of our daughter's home in Solihull.
Hubby had flown into Stansted the evening before,
to join me for the last 3 nights of my month long stay in the UK,
and we were due to fly home together on
Friday 12th December.

Unfortunately, it wasn't - there it was in black & white
(or rather, black, yellow & blue) - I'd got to try and
transfer us both onto another flight.
Our daughter got out her laptop & I used my
easyJet mobile app so that hubby and I could co-ordinate
the transfer, but just as I was checking availability,
a call came in & because I made the mistake of rejecting it,
rather than letting it ring, I was locked out of the app
for 15 minutes; result: hubby managed to get on a Saturday
morning flight, I couldn't get on a flight until Sunday lunchtime.

So the one thing I'd been trying to avoid - saying goodbye to
hubby at the airport as he flew back to Naples without me -
was going to happen after all.
And it was one of the hardest goodbyes I've ever had to make.

Monday 13 October 2014

Cantina Belvedere

Vista Panoramica

Hubby surprised me yesterday by asking if I'd like to go out 
for Sunday lunch. Not one to need asking twice, I knew exactly
where I wanted to dine - Cantina Belvedere, in Castellabate;
we've lived here for 4 years & not gotten round
to eating there yet.
Perched just below the castle, the
views from each of the terraces are stunning
(although yesterday was hazy, so the Amalfi coast
was nothing more than a ghostly silhouette).

We were greeted by our lovely friend Sara
when we arrived - she used to work at 
Bar L'Ancora down in Santa Maria, 
but back in the summer she'd changed jobs.
She beamed her bright smile & led us down
the steps to the main dining terrace, chatting
& finding it hard to believe we'd never
set foot in the place before now.

Bar Terrace
Shown to our table & left to peruse the Menu 
& not inconsiderable Wine List, I didn't know whether
to choose what to eat & drink or click away at the view....
choosing won!

As usual, we chose an Antipasto to share - 
Leucosia is a platter of fresh seafood,
including a Carpaccio of Tuna,
Marinated Anchovies & Octopus,
Gratinated Prawns & Baby Octopus 
on a bed of Lentils

Antipasto 'Leucosia'

I really wanted to try the Lobster & Pumpkin Ravioli,
but it wasn't available, so I decided to go with
the Sea Urchin Eggs & Clams, served with Black Pasta -
the dish did not disappoint

Riccio e Vongole

Hubby opted for Scialatielli Limone,
which came with Mussels & Clams

Scialatielli Limone

Dopo Pranzo

Washed down with an excellent San Matteo Fiano
from Alfonso Rotolo
(read about it here: http://www.alfonsorotolo.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9&Itemid=123),
we agreed that it was one of the best meals we'd had in a while

A Rutino produced San Matteo Fiano

And there HAD to be dolce - Torta al Cioccolato.
Looking a bit messy in this pic; I'm afraid we dived straight in!

Saturday 11 October 2014

Paestum Balloon Festival

Paestum Balloon Festival ends tomorrow, 
having run since 4th October. 
We went along this afternoon to watch
 the balloon launch, and these
are my favourite photos......

Of course, I took well over a hundred shots,
so I may post some more later

Wednesday 20 August 2014

The 'Darth Vader' Bees

This morning, as I was standing on the terrace 
at 6.45, taking photos of the sunrise on my
Smartphone, two 'Darth Vader' bees whizzed past
at what seemed like breakneck speed.
They headed for the Lantana in the corner
of the front garden, so I hurried after them,
hoping to get at least a couple of usable shots
before they flew away.

I managed about half a dozen, then decided that 
it was time to get 'the big boy' out - my beloved 
EOS600D - and try some macro shots.

Breakfast time
The reason we've nicknamed them 'Darth Vader bees'
is because they are VERY black and VERY shiny and have a 
rather loud buzz as they fly around the garden;
although, on closer inspection, their wings are 
iridescent blue.....

Stained glass wings
Their proper name is the Carpenter Bee, and there are
500 species of them apparently.
Here's hoping they don't all turn up at once!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Hello 4 am, My Old Friend

Good morning 4 am, it's been a while since
we last met up for a cuppa.
Although I was a little reluctant to
say 'Hi' at first, you won me round
with that first sip of hot black tea.
And then, of course, you
pointed out that the Moon was at its zenith
above Leila's Mountain....

And the lights of Castellabate & San Marco 
(as well as all the 'extra lights' down in the valley,
now that the holidaymakers have arrived in droves)
look so pretty against the still black skies

Maybe we should renew our acquaintance some more.....
but could we leave it a couple of days, please? 

Monday 11 August 2014

Supermoon Rising

We were just about to head into town
to, hopefully, catch a great shot
of the Supermoon hanging above 
Catellabate's castle, when I realised
that the fading sunset was worth 
capturing on my phone to post on Instagram....

Then as I turned to walk towards the driveway, 
I spotted the Moon, slowly rising above the mountain, so out
came the camera

 I zoomed in to capture that golden glow

And suddenly it didn't matter that I wasn't able to
capture the moment I hoped for above Castellabate - 
once again, the best photos were those taken 
'on the doorstep'

Saturday 9 August 2014

Rock In Roma: Storming Bastille

So this is what we were in Rome for...
I can't believe it's 2 weeks ago already,
I'm still buzzing.
Accidentally buying those 2 tickets was
one of the most awesome things I've ever done
(hubby's the one who usually arranges 'awesome').

We've decamped from the Star Metropole in central Rome
& re-located to the Locanda delle Corse, just across
the road from the concert venue, Ippodromo Capannelle.

We've had dinner at the bar next door (and discovered that
the food came from the hotel's kitchen) - polpette, washed down
with a more than palatable vino bianco, and have 'claimed our spot'
in front of the stage, laying our picnic blanket out before
hubby decides he just HAS to have some fries
as he's still hungry.

The support act is George Ezra, and he's
a very talented musician, with a 
voice that belies his young years; in fact, 
when I first heard him after hubby Googled him
I was amazed to discover he was white.

At the end of his set, a few latecomers turned up -
OK, so the tickets did say it started at 21:45, but that
was the time Bastille were due on stage - they don't know 
what a great opener they missed.

Quick set change, a few flashing lights, complete
blackout for a few moments & then.....

The whole crowd erupted as they opened with
'Bad Blood' - there may only have been around
a thousand of us there, but boy, did we make some noise!

Dan has what I consider to be one of the most
amazingly haunting voices I've ever heard
and I threw myself into singing along & 
pogoing with the best of them - 57 on the
outside, going on 19 on the inside!

And when they performed 'Pompeii' 
as their encore, I was just totally blown away...

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Roaming Roma: Sightseeing I

For me, the trip to Rome wasn't just about
seeing the historical sites, or even the famous sights
like the Spanish Steps (which aren't actually the
Spanish Steps in Italian, but 
'Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti), it was also about
looking for other photo opportunities &
capturing sights that the 'Average Tourist'
might not spot.

So here are a few of my 'sightseeing' shots
from our long weekend......

It started with this one, which perfectly 
fitted the theme of #fmsphotoaday on Instagram to
find a creative pic involving water, I couldn't have staged
it better if I'd tried....

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink

And on Saturday morning I just couldn't resist capturing these
2 nuns walking behind La Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore....

You know we're not meant to feed the pigeons

Before a brief second when there was no traffic,
affording me this shot

Lined up for a quick getaway?

Then as we headed to Il Colosseo, I spotted
this guy working on the renovations of some HUGE gates

Not sure I'll finish this today
And when we turned a corner to discover ourselves 
in Piazza San Pietro in Vincoli, 
I spotted a vacationing 'baby priest'
trying to find his bearings on a map

How close are we to the Vatican? 

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Roaming Roma: Siteseeing - Day 2

Friday 25th July

We've had breakfast, we're armed with the map again
& so we head off to do some 'siteseeing' (yes, I know
I've misspelt it again - there is a reason for doing so,
which will be obvious in my next blog post).

First stop today was a recommendation by our friend Maria,
and not far from the hotel, La Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

Not 'the' Sistine Chapel
The Basilica became the final resting place of 
Saint Pius V, who was originally entombed in
the Vatican in 1572, but his remains were moved to this
Sistine Chapel in 1698.

Final resting place for Saint Pius V
Next port of call was the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, 
purely because I have a passion for religious buildings & art.
The ceiling here didn't disappoint either...

The Miracle of the Chains, by Giovanni Batista Parodi
And then we headed for the 'must see' site -
Il Colosseo, and it appeared that every other
tourist in Rome had headed there too.
But we weren't planning on joining the queue
to go inside, so we stood on the hill overlooking 
it for a while, clicking away with our cameras.
And I almost managed to make the crowds disappear.....

What happened to the hordes at Il Colosseo?

Arco di Costantino

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Roaming Roma: Siteseeing - Day 1

Yes, the misspelling in this post's title is intentional,
and you'll see why later.

First ever trip to Rome.....what to see?
We wanted to see the famous sites, but
we didn't want to 'do' them.........as in we didn't 
want to queue for hours to wander round with the hordes. 
When in Rome, do things your own way........
so we did!

We'd arranged to meet up with Maria at 7 pm on 
the first evening, so we had a few hours to kill beforehand.
Unpacked & having had a cup of tea (being English we do,
of course, take our own teabags with us when we go away),
we set off 'a piedi', armed with a map from the front desk.....
first port of call, Piazza Barberini & Fontana del Tritone;
not as famous as the Trevi Fountain, but at least it
wasn't mostly hidden by scaffold AND it had water in it......

Bernini's Fontana del Tritone
On the way to Piazza Barberini, we found ourselves in
Piazza San Bernardo, which is home to
Fontana dell'Acqua Felice, the 
terminus of the Acqua Felice aqueduct restored by Pope Sixtus V.
Again, nowhere near as impressive as the Trevi Fountain,
but an important part of Rome's medieval history.

Fontana dell'Acqua Felice
Walking back to the hotel, we passed the Teatro dell'Opera - this 
fast became our 'landmark' for knowing we were heading
the right way back. One of the stage doors was open, so I 
cheekily popped inside, camera in hand &
grabbed a few shots

before heading round to the front of the building for this pic...

Then our evening meet up with Maria gave us our 
first glimpse of the dome of St Peters, as we stood on
Ponte Mazzini at sunset

First sighting of  La Basilica di San Pietro

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Roaming Roma: Seeing The Pope.....Sort Of

Sunset in Rome
It was our first evening in Rome & we'd set off 'a piedi' to meet 
Maria, the eldest sister of our friend Attilio. Needless to say,
we got lost, ended up getting a taxi, only to discover
that if we'd carried on walking for another 10 minutes
beyond Piazza Spagna, we could have saved ourselves
10 Euros.

Meeting up with Maria was like having our own 
private guided tour of the city - she was so full of enthusiasm
for Rome, the sights, the shops & life in general.
She walked us down to the Tiber (she called it 
'Roma's Thames') and that's when we got our first
glimpse of the dome of La Basilica di San Pietro, 
just as the sun had disappeared from view.
And I thought that was probably as close as we were
going to get to the Vatican.....but I was wrong.

Not only did I get to stand in Piazza San Pietro yesterday morning,
taking a 'selfie' with hubby, just to prove we'd been there....

Never thought we'd get here!

I also got a shot of the Pope!

Papa Francesco - he's awesome!

OK, so it's artwork on the wall at the Metro's Stazione Spagna,
but it's just so cool, isn't it?