So this holiday was a dose of sunshine just because we could. We had a lovely room with its own terrace and a straight view across the Bay of Naples to Vesuvius. Sorrento is actually the town in the distance, our hotel being in Sant’Agata in the hills behind. The food in the hotel was lovely and there was lots of it but we treated ourselves to a couple of meals out in the village. One night it seemed like the whole village was out watching Napoli playing in the Champions League. It’s a shame they didn’t score, we were looking forward to some Italian excitement. We did a lot of walking, climbed a lot of steps, ate ice cream and had an eventful trip to Naples on the train. It was lovely.
I got home from Italy on Tuesday, just had time to wash my smalls, and then I was due back in Italy on Friday, this time to Sorrento for a very different kind of holiday. This second one was a lovely unexpected surprise with no choice of date because this time I was not going on my own. Worth never wanted me to live the rest of my life alone, he most certainly wouldn’t have done so if I’d left first. I still have moments, more so lately as there is a guilt thing lurking about, and sometimes it all hurtles back and there you are crying again, just for a minute or two, with no earthly reason why. But it soon passes and my “That was then, this is now” philosophy seems to get me through. I’m able to be very quick at judging what’s right for me these days and what’s wrong has to go, with great haste.
So my Special One is very right and of course, he has a Mini, but as he doesn’t live close we have days together then days apart, which is what we’ve been doing during the summer. I’ve known him vaguely for years and quite how it all happened is a mystery to both of us. I was only trying to be helpful after his wife died simply because I knew how bad people are after you lose your other half. He was not on Worth’s list of unacceptable companions for me ( oh yes, Worth had one, at least in his head. Failure to comply would have resulted in him haunting me 😳). It doesn’t seem right to drag him into this long saga but it’s my story too, so it’s enough that you know I have someone special by my side again.
Our early flight was delayed by the Ryanair luggage loaders not loading, (a mechanical fault) so we were an hour late leaving. It flashed through my mind that it was 9/11 ( 11th September to the rest of the world 😀) but that’s not a thing to dwell on while you’re on a plane. Leaving Marco Polo airport I got an enticing ( but shockingly grainy) view of Venice from the plane, but as it turns out this trip ended up being a recce for another trip, including Venice, that will happen next year. But that’s another story.
Our last day started with a visit to Bassano Del Grappa and it’s Grappa museum with tastings. Situated at the foot of the Alps, it is a stunning little town with wonderful views. We did a little Palladio villa hunting on the way, just for a quick look as a lot are privately owned, and ended up at Villa Sandi in Valdobbiadene for a tour and a tasting of Prosecco
So now it’s September and I’m off on another adventure. My summer has by no means been dull and I have not been idle, but I chose to keep it close. More of that in Part Two. This holiday was booked in February and is a short tour of Secret Italy – Padua, Mantua and Vicenza. An early start for flying at 7am but it is a beautiful morning and I will still have a lot of day left once I arrive. It’s strange to be flying to Venice and not going there, but as Worth once said, you should always go to Venice with someone you love. For me at least, Paris has the reputation but Venice has the heart and soul.
Our last full day today and again I opted out of going to the school and instead sat outside in the shade. It’s been an interesting time, not a holiday in any sense that I understand, much hotter and more hardcore than I had anticipated, but I think the heat is unusual for them too at this time of year. Together Beastie and I travelled a lot but only ever in civilised Europe. He had been to “exotic” locations in the past and said he wasn’t interested in going back. Now I understand that point of view. I too have no desire to go to some artificially nice resort where the locals live in slums but you never go there and see them. I like exploring my destinations but found little here that I wished to find out more about. There are certainly beautiful things to see but the amount of awfulness that surrounds them spoils it for me. The inequality of it is beyond my power to change, so I will stay away. It would be nice to think my being there and spending money would somehow help these poor souls but in this greedy world, I know it won’t. Yes, it opened my mind but once is enough, and I shall follow Beastie’s advice and stick closer to home and civilisation.
The other thing is that I am aware I am a very “stand alone” item. I cannot be one of the herd and when I find myself in the company of overpowering companions I walk away and leave them. This does not make me a popular person! But as time passes and some get to know me better they find out I am… well apparently cute and sweet, only because I don’t bitch up others and tell tales. It seems I am an oddity among women/ people by shying away from any kind of group, not making friends easily and happy with my own company, and some find that hard to deal with. That much is true, that’s just me.
I can’t wait to get home, to snow, the hills and my cats and to all that is lovely in my life. In the bigger scheme of things I am amongst life’s very lucky few, whatever comes my way. Actually we all are. In a world with 7.5 billion people we are at the very top and that is easy to forget.
We are now installed in our much more pleasant surroundings but this morning the second half of our work began and it was a whole lot worse than I had imagined. 6.45 start to leave at 7.15, 40 minute hot polluted tuk tuk ride in rush hour, over bumpy, potholed unmade roads to the English school, cheerfully named Happiness House. The idea was to help in the class as an English speaker, then a return ride at 4. All this at 32C in not much more than an open hut.The reality was knackering and the teaching regime left no room for conversation or reading, as it was rote and chant, and very little else. Their spelling was perfect but I’m not sure they understood what they were spelling. All children in Cambodia have free access to school but they have to buy uniform and books, so many don’t go as they are needed on the farm. English is not taught until the age of 12, so the volunteer English schools are their best hope of doing something other than planting rice. We had nearly three hours with nothing to do over lunchtime so we were taken on a tour of the village and found another wedding. The chaps in lime green we’re not the band; they were the groom and his groomsmen. But after two full days of reciting the days of the week to three different classes, a thing I had not thought possible, I could stand it no more and Wednesday I stayed behind and tried to regain my addled wits. We did get out to a dancing show on Tuesday. What I called the “childcatchers tuk-tuk,” was in fact a laundry tuk-tuk, but it has a very worrying look about it.
Today was pretty much all about Angkor Wat and we had a 4am start to get there. So it was as a long day made longer by the pleasure of a boat ride to watch the sun set. Everywhere you go there is chaos, noise and dust, and the feeling was that if you fell in the river we were sailing on, it was probably best just to drown quickly. With the obvious pollution and the possibility of any sort of waterborne disease you could think of, drowning was perhaps the best choice. And yes those little kids are bobbing about in oversized washing bowls in the open water, running the gauntlet of all the other boats out there, playing something like water chicken, duck I suppose.
Saturday. We had an early start to get into Cambodia today. It was a bit of a performance to be honest as we had to get out of one bus with our luggage, get our visa at immigration, get our passports checked, then get back in another bus. This all took not a lot less than an hour. Eventually we were in our way again and later that afternoon we arrived at our hotel which was quite lovely. It’s an odd thing but for a country so lacking in so much they have a fine appreciation of good alloys. These on the border were spectacular but I didn’t fancy making a show of myself to find out who made them, not on the border post.
The elephants were due at 10 but there was also a wedding in the village, so some of our group were already drunk before we took the elephants out. There was a great quantity of rice whiskey, some kind of Thai saki I suppose and it was flipping strong. I felt much more relaxed walking with the elephants but it was a lot cooler so they weren’t so keen on getting in the river, and neither were we. Quick lunch then back in the bus for a drive back to Surin and the joys of hot water, flushing toilets and mattresses. Four days without these delights had seemed a long long time.