Dave the motorhome remains comfortably ensconced in the bargain €6 a night Eden Parking sosta at Giardini Naxos, Sicily. Not a single hairpin bend, first gear slope, Dave-width road, un-signed low bridge, lunatic moped nor car-reversing-from-a-side-street-without-caring-a-hoot-for-oncoming-traffic has had to be tackled. We’ve chilled out in the warming sun.
Last night we had a great time with our fellow Brit travellers. Suitably lubricated with vino, beer, limoncino and other assorted drinks (me and Helen faring the worse for this encounter with the evil drink), we ate and were merry, sharing stories of hilarious incidents and the beautiful places we’ve all visited. Our Italian neighbours cooked outside, a wok-type device sitting on top of a large gas bottle, frying up salt cod and cheesy sausage, which they popped around with a tasty sample. We wondered what to give them in return, settling on some Chocolate Fingers; I handed them over to a look of bewilderment; maybe they have them here too?
More beer, more vino, and off we popped to sing carols around the campsite, our four white pom-pommed santa hats bobbing about beneth people’s motorhome windows as we crooned. Some opened the door to shake hands and wish us boun natale, others drawing the curtains and leaning back into the dark, not unlike home! A few sparklers saw off the end of the evening, or at least the end of my memory of it, and we hit the sack at 2am.
Today, with a thick head, we’ve celebrated xmas in the sunshine. Skype sessions of varying success enabled us to catch up with our families from afar. Helen used Facetime to chat with her family, which looked a far more reliable and better quality connection than the ones we managed to get. Having said hello to all those in fair England, a bell rang and a shout went up around the site: time for food!
Inside a marquee at one end of the site, huddled in amongst an old wardrobe and various bits of cloth-covered furniture, the whole campsite had gathered on long tables. Queue a spectacle of international grub-munching as our host Rene stalked around between us all, flipping from language to language, joking and generally having fun. The food came in preposterous portions, anitpasti of olives, cubed cheese and cured meats, a primo of lasagne, a black-olived seasoned chicken secondo, huge piles of panatone and an alcoholic sweet cheese pink thingyness for pudding. In an assortment of wine bottles lay the same wine, each ‘corked’ with a wrapping of tin foil. A final fling with the booze came through a serving of champagne. To my discredit, I was so hung over (various methods of mime were used to convey this to our fellow diners) I hardly touched the lot, but it was a fine and fun way to share our Christmas day.
A walk to the beach, an expanse of pebbles split by black bubbly lava flows into the sea, aided my recovery and ensured a sleepy Charlie of an unwanted walk. Since then we’ve taken it easy, me drifting off to sleep to the sound of our noisy, lively neighbours going about their lives with the usual Italian passion (they insisted I sample their natural limincello before allowing me back into Dave). Waking an hour or so ago to Helen calling round to invite us over, I’ve serviced a desire for tinned salad, Ju’s scoffed one of her long-desired mince pies with mascarpone, and Charlie’s wide-eyed begged from us. Time to head off over to our friend’s van now, maybe I’m able to see off a teeny weeny beer?
To everyone reading this, friends, family, acquaintance and all of you guys who share a fellow love of travel, we wish you a merry Christmas. Our travels are a wonder to us, but come at the price of friendship sometimes. We miss our family and our friends, but are comforted by the fact everyone is doing well, and by having fellow Brits to chat and laugh with (thanks for the match-making Glen – much appreciated!).