Thursday, 30 October 2014

Pausing in Puglia

There never seems enough time. Hello friends, David and I are now in Puglia, on Italy's heel, in a delightful spot just outside Bari. We have brought our boat, Stroemhella, here for the winter (September 2014 until April 2015) and are tied up on a spacious pontoon, in between a Beneteau from Poole (owned by Simon and Michaela) and a Jeanneau from Roma, owned by now-retired Italian admiral, Angelo. Wonderful neighbours. I'm not sure how long we shall have their company (and there are also temporary visits from French, Germans and Luxembougeois!) but I think we shall turn out to be the only live-aboards here during the post-Christmas months.
Right now every day has been packed with events! We brought the boat down in September and then spent our two weeks in England (see previous blog). After celebrating Daniel's 40th birthday in The Hague, we flew direct to Bari, to be greeted by warm air and sweet sunlight. On the whole it has been warm here, but there have also been some pretty chilly mornings and evenings. And quite a lot of rain (of a drenching nature!)
Last week we went to Canosa in Puglia (fleeing the forecast storms on the Adriatic coast) and had an exciting time become archaeologists. We visited underground burial tombs and splendid sites where Christian churches had been built upon former Roman temples, in their turn constrcuted upon pagan temples. Some of the objects that had been dug up were stunning: unforgettable urns, topped by Nike-like figures, and some beautiful Corinthian capitals with the head of a woman, perhaps the goddess Juno; I have never seen anything like this before. See pix on my Facebook page.
Not only are we revelling in such ancient delights (did I mention the beautiful mosaics in the underground section beneath the cathedral in Bari?) but I should not fail to mention the food...
Just round the corner from our marina, is a branch of the wondrous Italian firm Eataly. It is a vast emporium, boasting two floors the lenght of several ballrooms, where row upon row of fresh foodstuffs are on display (to buy, of course) including what I calculate are over fifty varieties of golden pasta... (Today I must go and buy some farfalle, the butterfly-shaped pasta, for our young visitor Sally-Anne who is coming for supper tomorrow. With her parents from the boat next door, Cecilia from Poole.)
Apart from the delights of Eataly, there is a nearby Penny Market for those days when we feel a little impecunious, and of course the ubiquitous pizzeria (we had a delicious pizza in Bari near the cathedral, made in a forno a legno, a wood-fired oven). To die for, as they say... And not expensive. The pizza crust here in Bari is very thin, like in Rome; in Naples it is much thicker, a different concept!
Next week I go to Napoli and join a fellow translator, like me English educated but longtime resident of Amsterdam, for a couple of days drooling round the museums there.
It seems to me,  life is becoming become more and more full of things to do as I grow older. Not what I had expected!
David and I have also joined the next-door Sports Centre and for this needed a certificate of good health, so we popped into a nearby medical health centre and had all sorts of exciting things performed on us, like blood pressure and heart condition checked. Apparently all was well, and we now have our papers to take part in non-competitive sports. There seems to be a very good keep-fit and stretch class twice a week and I have also paid for 24 swims between now and mid-June!
We take two months out (at least, I do) between 19 November when I train slowly north to Torino (for the Film Festival) and about mid February when I return to the boat after a month in Amsterdam followed by almost a month in Brunei with Judy and family.
Am planning a visit to Eleni in Greece towards the end of Febraury.

Does all this tripping around keep me fit? Certainly. I must confess, I do get tired and need a day to recover after a long trip. And I often sleep 10 hours. Very pleasant sleeping here on the boat, usually rocking gently and very quiet.
I do not think about another way of life, since this is how it is right now, and it is good. There are, of course, not-so-delightful aspects, but I guess it exercises my ingenuity trying to solve problems, such as how to wash clothes (no facilities in the marina here). On the other hand, excellent shower facilities, roomy and plentiful hot water. Roundabouts and swings?

What else? My Italian lessons: via Daniela at the Sports Centre next door, was introduced to her boyfriend, Andrea, a law graduate, who has turned out to be a superb teacher for me, full of cultural knowledge and a good grammatical understanding; so we have great lessons, sometimes using an I-pad with pictures which I then discuss in Italian. All very entertaing and leerzaam!

Bright days: we walk fast along the seafront (part of the keep-fit programme!) sometimes enjoying a gelato (artiginale of course) that is, real icecream; and we watch the light changing on the sea, the clouds moving and rearranging thier shapes, the sunset over the water, the lights emerging on the distant ferries. Then it grows quiet. I am very happy here,

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