This chapter will cover my (our) various activities from age about 37 to 47.
So the major subjects covered will be homemaking, holidays, Mr Baggins' demise, professional progress and anything else that comes to mind.
Since this was a decade of stability with no major life-changes, I shall concentrate on our holidays, at home and abroad.
- Holidays 1980
|Venice 1980 - from our album|
We watched some Holiday Programme on the telly about Venice and thought that it looked a bit different - we booked the exact holiday that had been shown.
I think that the tour operator was Pegasus (now sadly no more) and the hotel was the Luna.
We arrived at Marco Polo airport after flying low over the lagoon and Venice itself.
A water taxi then sped over the waters leaving a great V-shaped wake behind us - it disapeared into a maze of tiny canals then burst forth on the other side of the city, turned right, and there was The Doge's Palace and St Mark's Square in all its glory.
We were deposited at the landing stage of our hotel - very posh, though it had seen better days (It is now the Luna Baglioni and rather expensive).
After getting ourselves settled in, we ventured outside - St Mark's Square was about a hundred yards away and was almost deserted (it was March).
We walked around the Piazza and through the Piazetta, past the Doge's Palace and onto the Fondamenta facing the lagoon and St Georgio Maggiore.
In every one of our photos (which have sadly turned sepia) there are hardly any other tourists to be seen.
We were only there for a few days, but did all the usual tourist things except taking a gondola ride (our budget wouldn't stretch that far).
Although we could only speak a dozen words of Italian, we got around OK (only getting lost about twice an hour) and managed to eat and drink well at small trattorias and the like.
Although it was cold, rainy and partially flooded (and decidedly spooky at night), we fell in love with the place, and were to return to Venice (and the rest of Italy) many times in the future.
I shall see if I can find the original negatives for these pictures and get them processed again.
Our second holiday that year was to Norfolk.
We found a place in one of those "Country Cottages" brochures - it was the upper floor of an old mill near North Walsham, between Norwich and the coast.
There was a big living room with a kitchen area, a bedroom and a bathroom - everything was wooden.
There was a little dining area with a tiny balcony overlooking the garden with the mill-stream running through it.
We spent most of our time touring around Norfolk.
In Norwich, we visited the cathedral and some other old building, and ate there several times (We enjoyed Tatler's, where they played music rather loud but the food was very good - including samphire eaten with melted butter and fingers to match).
We had a more expensive dinner (Lobster) at "The Parson Woodford".
We also visited the Otter Sanctuary and Blickling Hall, a National Trust country house and garden.
|View from Balcony|
- At Work 1980
I was promoted twice in 1980, first, in February, to Senior Systems Programer grade 2 then, in October, to grade 1.
In my seven years at British Aerospace my annual salary had risen five-fold - that's why we could now afford all these foreign holidays.
- Holidays 1981
Our first holiday that year was to Florence - our first return to Italy.
We stayed at a hotel overlooking the Arno, and had a standard tourist itinerary, visiting the Uffizi gallery, the Duomo, Baptistry and all the famous churches and other sights.
It was a good holiday, and we saw lots of fine art and architecture, but we much preferred Venice.
Our second holiday, in June, was to Wengen, in Switzerland's Bernese Oberland.
We went there on the advice of two colleagues, Robert Staddon and Barry Chandler, who both raved about it.
We flew into Basle (I think), and were driven in a coach through Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen at the bottom of the valley.
From there we took the rack-and-pinion railway up the steep slope to Wengen and found our hotel, a typical Alpine building.
We had a reasonable dinner, then went for a short stroll but the weather was cloudy and you couldn't see anything.
When I woke up the following morning and looked out of the window I nearly fell over backwards - there was a crystal blue sky, green pastures sprinkled with cows and those mountains!
I can't remember the names of them all, but the most impressive was the Eiger - dominating the landscape.
|Atop the Schilthorn|
|By a Frozen Lake|
|From the Three Passes|
We did quite a lot of walking that week - mostly along tracks (Wanderwegs) that were clearly signposted, not by distance, but by the time it takes to walk them.
We were often overtaken by little old ladies with boots and sticks - we just wore our ordinary clothing.
One day we walked up our mini-mountain to Kleine Scheidegg and caught the train back.
On another we walked down to the bottom, along the valley (those cow bells are noisy!) and got a cable-car up the next mountain (the Schilthorn) that had a rotating restaurant on top of it.
I'm told it was featured in some James Bond film that I have never seen.
It was a most impressive sight from the dinner table, but I'm not sure what we ate - we don't speak a word of German and the waitress didn't speak any English!
We walked back along a ridge and back down in a funicular railway.
On another day we caught the train that ascends up through the middle of the Jungfrau and comes out at the Eiger Glacier - cold but impressive.
We also had a couple of coach trips - on the one around "The Three Passes" you had to close your eyes on some of the bends and just hope.
Maybe we will go back one day.
We had a third holiday that year - a long weekend in Suffolk.
It's not quite so mountainous as Switzerland, but has its charms.
We stayed at an old coaching inn in Ipswich that could have come right out of Dickens.
On the coast, we visited Dunwich (the village that is now under the sea), Minsmere nature reserve and Aldeburgh.
Inland, we visited Flatford Mill (Constable country) and a country house with a moat that might have been Melford Hall (but I'm not sure).
We had an excellent lunch at The Buttery, at Orford. This is a small, crowded restaurant specialising in very simple but very fresh seafood.
|Suffolk Landscape||On a Suffolk Beach|
- Holidays 1982
In April 1982 we visited France for the first time - a long weekend in Paris.
We arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport and were driven by coach to our hotel - a bit of a dump, with a tiny bedroom, but close to the heart of Paris.
While we were getting ready to go out for dinner, I turned on the telly.
First there was a strange game-show with words and numbers - this was to become Countdown, the longest running daytime gameshow on British telly (we still record it to watch later).
Then, on the news, the Falklands were erupting.
Our French is passable, but we couldn't really make out what was happening - more on that in the next item.
In the next few days we did most of the usual tourist things - visiting the Louvre, the Champs Elysee, Notre Dame, boat trip down the Seine etc.
The one thing we didn't do was go up the Eiffel Tower. You know all these places - I won't describe them.
|Notre Dame de Paris|
The food was a bit mixed. We had a reasonable Salade Nicoise somewhere near the Madeleine, a very respectible Steak au Poivre, in the Rue des Capucines, something truly awful on the South Bank, and a very fine lunch at a restaurant near the Isle de France (though the lamb was a bit pink for Maureen).
At that restaurant, one of the other guests was incredibly pale and didn't move - at one point we thought he was dead!
Our second holiday that year was to Scotland.
Mr Baggins stayed with Maureen's parents, as was usual then.
As I had never driven that far before I greatly overestimated how long it was going to take us, and had booked us in for a night at a hotel in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
We drove up the A1 and it was obvious we were going to get there too early so we made a little detour and had a long walk along a wooded river valley in Wharfedale - very pleasant.
Our room at the Frenchgate Hotel was rather cramped but the evening meal was quite good.
It was on this holiday that Maureen started to keep a detailed diary - so there should be more details from now on - e.g.
|Dinner - Saturday 15 May 1982
Starter - Pear and Walnut Salad in Yogurt Sauce (Maureen), Mackerel (Jeff)
Main Course - Sea Trout in Prawn Sauce (Maureen), Fillet Bourgygnon (Jeff, garlic!!)
Afters - Chocolate Brandy Cake (Maureen), cheese (Jeff)
Bottle of French white wine, coffee in the lounge.
Stop me if this gets too boring.
So, after a hearty breakfast we were on the road again and turned left at Scotch Corner, across the top of the Pennines (fairly spectacular), up the A6 to Carlisle and over the border at Gretna Green, stopping for lunch in Dumfries (fish and chips as everything else was closed).
The scenery was getting decidedly Scottish as we ended up at the Milton Park Hotel in St John's Town of Dalry (no, I had never heard of it either).
We went on a circular tour, through Galloway Forest Park, Gatehouse of Fleet and Castle Douglas before returning in time to get ready for dinner.
We realised that we didn't have a key to our room and discovered that they don't bother with such things!
On the telly in the lounge, the final of the Snooker tournament was in full swing.
Everybody else was for Ray Reardon, but we wanted Alex (Hurricane) Higgins to win.
It was very close, but the hurricane won and was very emotional as he received the trophy.
|Dinner - Sunday 16 May 1982
Orange juice, then Seafood Cocktail (with mussels)
Roast Galloway Beef, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding
Peach Pavlova then coffee in the lounge
The next morning, after a Scottish fry-up, we went for a drive, stopping at Castle Kennedy for a walk around the grounds (Azaleas, Rhododendrons etc) - we just had a cup of tea and a cake for lunch.
In the afternoon we walked a trail through Glentrool Forest and back to the hotel via the wild goat park.
That evening, apart from a threesome having dinner, we were the only guests at the hotel.
We went out for a stroll after dinner and found a small lake which we named Loch Baggins.
|Dinner - Monday 17 May 1982
Minestrone soup with Parmesan cheese, Danish hors' de ouvres (scrambled egg with caviar)
Fresh Salmon (enormous) with Mayonaise, vegetables and salad
Half a bottle of Chablis
Strawberries & cream (Maureen), Brie (Jeff)
Next day, after haggis and oatcakes etc (no need for lunch again), we had a small panic when we realised they didn't take credit cards.
Luckily Maureen had her cheque book, so we were soon on the road again.
We drove up through Glasgow and Helensbrough to Loch Lomond, where we booked into the Lomond Castle Hotel.
We went to Balloch and had a pleasant boat trip around part of the loch, followed by a trip to the Wildlife Park and a circular drive to admire the scenery.
The restaurant overlooked Loch Lomond.
Breakfast next morning was rather hit and miss as a conference party had arrived and they were too busy.
We checked out and drove north along the loch, up Glen Falloch, down Glen Lochy to Lochawe and past the impressive Cruachan hydro-electric power station.
On through the Pass of Brander and then a very narrow road to Kilchrenan, and Ardnaiseig - a hotel whose grounds are open to the public.
We spent some time in the gardens and woodland and then went in for lunch (we were shown into the library).
It was very elegant and really much too posh for us.
We had delicious fish mousse with toast, and some white wine, and then sweets off the trolley - chocolate mousse with rum and raisins (Jeff) and lemon souffle (Maureen).
We had a chat with the young waiter who said he didn't like the work or the people, but it was either that or forestry.
|Dinner - Tuesday 18 May 1982
Smoked Mackerel Salad
Venison à poirve with a selection of vegetables
a bottle of Haut Medoc
Cheesecake (Maureen), Peach Gateaux (Jeff)
large cups of coffee
A very short ride then brought us to Taychreggan Hotel where we were offered a very nice room in the new extension.
We bought a leaflet describing local Forestry Commission walks and drove south along the lake to a car park near Dalavich - setting off on the Avich Falls walk.
It was about an hour's walk up through deciduous woodland near a river, over a bridge and back down forestry tracks and a public road - views of the falls in both directions.
A little further along the road we did the Timber Walk - descending through sitka firs to a forest road running along the loch - with a view of a crannog - then back through larches.
We drove to the bottom of the loch, and then took the main road up the coast, turning off at Kilmelford - an unmarked hairpin bend was a surprise that we only just survived!
All of the road back to the hotel was very hairy, so we took it slowly and got back in time to rush down to dinner - which was the best of the holiday.
We went for a stroll around the grounds and then retired to the bar where Maureen had a Grand Marnier and I had a Drambuie, and we listened to a fascinating conversation between the hotelier and his friends.
|Dinner - Wednesday 19th May
Loch Awe Salmon with hollandaise sauce, new potatoes, green beans and carrots
Raspberry cream crunch
Blue Brie (Maureen), Stilton (Jeff)
bottle of Beaune Blanc
Coffee in the lounge
Breakfast there was very good and we decided to stay for a second night (no problem).
We drove first to Oban (not impressed) and then south, over Telford's "Bridge over the Atlantic" to the Isle of Seil, where we stopped at Easdale.
The weather had been drizzly but now it was sunny and warm and we just sat on a rock and read and looked out over the sea to the Isle of Mull.
Back to the mainland and south to Arduaine for a salad lunch and a look round the gardens.
South to Lochgilphead and then north along Loch Fyne, stopping at Auchindrain - a very interesting open-air museum.
We bought some gifts for our mums at the craft shop and then continued back to the hotel (Inverary was closed!).
A sherry in the bar, then . . .
After another excellent breakfast we hit the road again, heading south under grey skies, stopping for some surprisingly good fast food at a Little Chef, we got to Moffat about 2.30 and booked into the Moffat House Hotel.
We looked around the town, bought some Moffat Toffee, and went into the churchyard.
The man mowing the grass showed us the grave of McAdam (Tarmac roads) and told us a dodgy story about the stautue of a ram.
We got some leaflets from the tourist office and took a trip to The Grey Mare's Tail (a waterfall) then via St Mary's Loch and Tweedsmuir, back to the hotel.
|Dinner - Thursday 20th May
Venison paté (very tasty)
Local Sole with real tartare sauce (Maureen), Chicken Kiev (Jeff)
bottle of Pouilly Fumé
Coconut ice-cream (Maureen), Pineapple in Kirsh (Jeff)
Selection of cheeses
Coffee in the lounge
Watched the progress of the war on the telly in the lounge, went to bed, and drove home in the morning - through an insignificant little town named Lockerbie.
|Dinner - Friday 21st May
Individual cheese soufles
Chicken soup with rice
Veal escalopes (Jeff), Honey-baked ham (Maureen, far too much honey!)
didn't bother with coffee
Got back to work to discover that everyone was on constant standby because of the Falklands and that all holidays were cancelled - luckily they had been unable to contact me to get me back.
The Ministry of Defence were supplying lists of spares etc daily and IMS was running continuously with no interuption allowed for any reason without a member of the board saying OK.
- Demise of Mr Baggins
Saturday morning, the eighth of January 1983, I got up as usual to make a pot of tea.
I could see Mr Baggins stretched out under the swivel chair in the living room.
Nearby was a big hairball that he had sicked up, so I cleared it up and, when I returned he hadn't moved.
I stroked him and he was cold.
I called up to Maureen and she came down very distraught.
Eventually we put him in a shoebox and buried him in the front garden, later planting a miniature rose bush over him.
His fur was still very soft and sleek.
We couldn't stop crying all day - it was a good job it was a Saturday and we didn't have to go to work.
|Mr Frodo Baggins - April 1971 to January 1983 - R.I.P.|
- Holiday #1 1983 - Lake Iseo
For our first holiday we returned to Italy - this time rather off the beaten track.
We travelled with "The Magic of Italy" to a Sale Marasino, a small resort on Lake Iseo.
"The Magic" was a small tour operator specialising in Italy - sadly it has now broadened its horizons to other countries, specialised in villas and only popular resorts, and become "The Magic Group" - not what it was.
We had an early flight from Gatwick Airport so booked into a nearby motel for the night.
Our flight, which only had 28 people on board and was only 10 minutes late, left from the satellite which was connected to the main terminal by an automatic shuttle train.
Breakfast on the flight was a standard English fry-up; weather was good, but there was heavy cloud over the Alps so we couldn't see them.
Bit bumpy on the descent into Treviso, a military airport with a very small civil terminal attached.
There was no waiting around, and we were met by the Magic rep, Jenny Morton.
We were the only people going to Lake Iseo so we had a minibus to ourselves - driving for two and a half hours through flat agricultural land with crops, meadows and vineyards (Soave and Valpolicella).
Earlier rain had cleared up by the time we arrived at our hotel (La Posada), and were met by the proprietor, Waldes Morandi, and shown to our room which had a view up the mountainside.
We went out to look for lunch, but it was a small place and we couldn't find anywhere - we had a chocolate ice-cream to keep us going.
We had a walk along the lake front, and found the church, the boat-stop and a small outdoor market.
There were lots of men fishing, and lots of lizards sunning themselves.
We went back to the hotel and had a drink in the bar before getting ready for dinner.
Apart from Jenny, we were the only guests - we couldn't practice our Italian as Waldes wanted to practice his English (very few foreign tourists here).
The local train line behind the hotel woke us up early, and we had the usual continental breakfast with a cappuccino.
We took the ferry to Montisola (the largest island on any European lake), landing at Carzano and started to walk to the Sanctuary at the top.
The mule-track was steep and rather rough (no walking boots in those days) and we pased workers making hay or tending their vines, and walked through meadows of long grass with purple, blue, pink and white flowers - the cow-bells made it just like Switzerland.
|Dinner - Monday 9th May 1983
Vegetable soup (Jeff), Antipasto (Maureen)
Escallopes of veal with spinach (delicious)
Bottle of house white wine
Cheese (Jeff), Ice-cream (Maureen)
Coffee in the lounge
We walked through two little villages (Novale and Olzano) that could have been medieval.
Most of the locals were friendly but we got the occasional stare.
By about 11 o'clock we were only half way up and it was getting hot and sunny - so we descended by a different route, through Senzano and more fields of flowers and fine views of the lake to Pescheria.
This is a fishing village with net-making as the local industry.
After wandering about for a bit we tried the Albergo Milano for lunch.
There were a couple of locals eating pasta, and we got a table overlooking the lake.
There were no menus, and an old lady came to take our order but didn't say a word.
I managed some sort of sentence and she replied with a short list of pasta dishes.
We had penne in bianco (with butter and cheese); it was a generous portion and quite delicious.
Then a mixture of basic Italian and pointing at what the locals were eating brought us grilled trout and a salad of lettuce and tomatoes.
We had a half litre of white wine that was poured out of a cask.
Watching the locals was an education in itself - they had fresh fruit for dessert which came with a big bowl of water (used for washing off the agrichemicals).
The bill was £20,000 - thats Lire not Sterling!
In the afternoon we walked clockwise around the island, up to Sensole, through Menzino, passed some holiday villas, through Siriano and back to Carzano, then caught the 4.40 ferry back to Sale Marasino and sauntered back through the town to the hotel.
|Lakeside - Montisola|
Next morning it was back over the ferry to Carzano, and we walked along the lake to Pescheria.
|Dinner - Tuesday 10th May 1983
Risotto with Funghi (lovely and creamy)
a large thin Beefsteak with mixed salad
Fresh fruit (grapes and a pear) (and a large bowl of water which we knew what to do with)
Bottle of Valpolicella
Coffee at the table
A little terrier dog had attached himself to us, and was showing us the way, but he transfered his allegiances to an Italian couple as we turned up towards Sensole.
Down to Menzino and up to Rocca, then into Sensole where it was a white kitten that followed us before being rescued by his owner.
Into Pescheria for lunch at the Trattoria Archetti. Maureen started with Lasagne al Forno and I had Pastini in Brodo.
Then we had Corregone (a white fish from the lake) - both grilled and fillets in breadcrumbs - served with tomatoes.
Although this restaurant had a menu, most of the items were off that day (and the toilets were a hole in the ground).
After lunch we walked back to Sensole and took a steep narrow track up through woodlands towards Senzano.
Then the main road was a long climb up to Cure, where we sat on a seat overlooking the lake and were talked to by a couple of young girls (but our Italian wasn't really good enough yet for a proper conversation).
We meandered back to Carzano and caught the same ferry back to Sale Marasino where we looked through the market, and inside a small church behind the hotel.
Next morning was nice and bright.
Jenny picked us up in her car just after 10 and we drove down the lake to Iseo then around to Lake Garda.
She made a detour along the lakeside at Salo and then dropped us off in Gardone.
We walked along the lake-side promenade and investigated the town.
There were lots of places to eat but they all looked the same - we chose one at random that turned out to be full of Germans, so that's what the waitress thought we were (and wouldn't talk Italian).
We started with spaghetti with a nice tomato sauce, then I had roast veal and Maureen had grilled trout.
I finished off with cheese and Maureen had a cream caramel.
We were flummoxed by the bill which was in German.
|Dinner - Wednesday 11th May 1983
Pasta (snail shapes) with a creamy, meaty sauce (delicious)
Saltimboca (veal and ham) with Artichokes
Bottle of Franciacorta (white)
Cheese (Jeff), ice-cream (Maureen)
Afterwards we walked up the road to the Botanic Gardens which kept us amused for an hour or so, then we wandered back to meet up with Jenny.
She was in a lake-front café talking to one of the hoteliers she had come to meet - we had a coffee while waiting for her.
On the drive back we skirted the lake to Sirmione (a peninsula sticking up into the lake).
We had an hour to ourselves here, and we walked past a big medieval castle into the town (a mixture of tourist shops, bars, and luxury hotels) and up towards the Grotto di Catullo (but turned back bacause of an overpowering sulphurous smell).
We sat on the promenade watching a big paddle steamer come in while waiting for Jenny - then it was back to the hotel (through a heavy rain storm at Iseo).
We had missed all the bad weather luckily.
The next morning we got up a bit earlier than usual and caught the ferry to Iseo for the weekly market.
The boat, which went via a couple of stops on the island, was rather crowded with locals.
The market stalls were quite interesting, especially the ones selling food.
We wandered round the town and saw some nice old churches and the castle.
Not much else to do there, so we caught the ferry back to Sensole and walked towards Pescheria.
It started to rain, so we went into the Albergo Forest for lunch, where were allowed to order in Italian and were actually understood.
Maureen started with Ravioli and I had Lasagne. Then we had Corregone fillets in breadcrumbs again, with a nice salad of lettuce, tomatoes and sliced radish.
|Dinner - Thursday 12th May 1983
Zuppa di Parvese (Jeff - clear soup with bread and egg), Antipasto (Maureen - ham and salami, rice salad with smoked sausage and cheese)
Fillet Steak with spinach
Cheese (Jeff), Strawberry and Almond "Cake" (Maureen)
Bottle of Franciacorta (red)
As the weather didn't look too good we made it a long lunch - Strawberies with lemon (Maureen), Cheese yet again (Jeff) - then coffee.
All very good but the toilets were holes in the ground again.
|High on Montisola|
After lunch the weather had brightened up so we walked into Pescheria and caught the bus up to Cure.
From there it was a fairly easy climb up to the Sanctuary at the peak, past a number of roadside shrines.
There were good views from the top, but the church itself was locked up.
We walked down to Cure, then through Masse (very medieval, with the usual netmakers), down a mule track to Siviano and then round to Carzone.
Then back to the hotel on a later than normal ferry.
We missed the ferry to Sulzano, so walked there instead.
It was quite reasonable walking, through meadows and vineyards and, at the highest parts, views over the whole lake.
We climbed up to the same level as the Sanctuary and it was sunny and getting rather hot so, when we came to a road that descended towards Sulzano, we took it.
We had a quick look round the town and then it was time for lunch again (Have you noticed the emphasis on food in these holidays?).
We had gnochetti verdi in mozzarella and tomato sauce (very good) then fillets of sole with chips and salad chosen from a trolley.
Then Maureen had strawberries and I had a mixture of fruit for a change, and we finished up with coffee.
We had had a bottle of water with our usual half litre of house white wine as we were thirsty after our hot walk.
|Dinner - Friday 13th May 1983
Rollate - baked pasta with ham, cheese and spinach
Grilled Trout (Maureen), Veal chop (Jeff) both with chips
Bottle of house white
Cheese and ice-cream as usual
We walked back to the lakeside and while waiting for our boat it came over dark and started to pour with rain.
We went to the bar in the square and had a coffee while waiting for the boat - it was very prompt and we had to hurry on as it was leaving.
It was still raining when we got back to the hotel, where a wedding party was in full swing.
That one finished and then another one started about 7 o'clock.
We went down just before 8 and were shown into a corner of the wedding party room, where Waldes came and told us what we were having - but it was so noisy we couldn't hear him and just waited to see what would turn up.
It seemed to be a selection of the (dozen or so) wedding courses.
First course was an antipasto of ham and salami with rice and vegetable salad with squid, octopus and other seafood.
Then we had a crepe rolled with ham and cheese baked in the oven.
Service was very slow but it didn't matter as there was lots to look at.
Then there was veal with woodland funghi (Waldes said they probably weren't poisonous) and chips.
About half way through the meal the wedding party stopped for a dance, and then resumed eating.
In the next long wait we finished our wine and water, then I had some sort of cake and Maureen had ice-cream.
The bride and groom circulated and had their photo taken with each table - it was VERY NOISY.
It's now Sunday morning and there are four new English tourists who arrived last night and are complaining about everything (especially the NOISE that lasted until three).
It was raining lightly again but we walked down to the church where there was supposed to be a festival that day.
It was busy with the morning mass, so we couldn't really look round.
We walked round the town and had a look at the Villa Martinengo.
Lunch that day was at the Albergo Grillo (meaning cricket).
First thing to arrive was a very generous half litre of vino bianco (you know what that means by now).
To start, we had an antipasto of prosciuto cotto and crude with salami and a rice salad with red kidney beans.
Then there was big homemade ravioli with a tomato and oregano sauce.
The next course turned out to be roast pork with chestnut stuffing and a bowl of pickled vegetables - very tasty, but very filling.
Coffee came with tiny strawberry and apple flans, and when I paid the bill (£33,000) I was offered a small chocolate Easter egg!
There were lots of Italians, including children, in the restaurant and they all walked around between courses.
It was still raining, so we went back to the hotel and packed for our return - another wedding in full swing.
At dinner, the other English tourists had the wedding selection, but we had . . .
Settled our bar bill and gave Claudia the waitress her tip.
|Dinner - Sunday 15th May 1983
Prosciuto and Melon
Grilled trout with a mixed salad
bottle of Soave
Cheese and ice-cream as usual
a Grappa and a Sambuca with our coffee
Last morning, up at 6.30, no proper breakfast and off by taxi with Jenny back to the airport where we had a ham roll and a glass of wine.
The plane was 45 minutes late taking off and was very bumpy through all the clouds.
We got home about 3.30, very tired, in a thunder storm.
- Holiday #2 1983 - Sark
Two cats lived a few houses up at number 1. Suzy was the most adventurous, Tufty (because of his whiskers, don't know his real name) was the most friendly.
Tufty often used to visit us after Mr Baggins had died, and we had a cup of tea with him on the morning of our departure.
We set off about 11 o'clock and drove towards the local airport at Cambridge, stopping for a ploughman's lunch at "The Ancient Shepherds" in Fen Ditton.
Cambridge had only a small airport with a little waiting room and a small refreshment place outside.
We took off on time in a Vickers Viscount turbo-prop - a nice smooth flight to Jersey, where we picked up our luggage and checked in with the second airline.
We had a Pepsi and a danish pastry while waiting.
The flight to Guernsey was in a 16 seat Britten Norman Trislander - wonderful low-level flight with perfect views all around.
The Premier Travel rep met us at Guernsey airport and transfered us to the docks in a mini-bus.
After a 30 minute wait a small boat took us to the small island of Sark.
There are no cars allowed on Sark, but none of the waiting tractors was for us - someone phoned the hotel for us and it seemed that they didn't know which boat we would be on.
We got a lift to the top of Harbour Hill and sat on the grass to wait.
Eventually Mr Peree turned up with his tractor and a sort of metal box on the back.
Maureen sat in the box with the suitcases and I walked until outside of the town then sat behind the driver.
This is illegal, and at La Coupée we bumped into the Seigneur (the feudal chief - though he used to work for British Aerospace).
We arrived at our little hotel, La Sablonnerie, tired and dusty and dinner was just starting.
Our room was very small, and the bathroom and toilet were through the dinning room - not very convenient.
We shared a table with a Scottish couple (Donald and Eva McDonald) who were OK.
|Dinner - Saturday 16th July 1983
Waldorf Salad (Jeff), Asparagus with York Ham (Maureen)
Iced Cucumber Soup
Salmon with Lemon sauce, potatoes, courgettes and broad beans
Fresh Fruit Salad then Cheese
bottle of Chablis
Coffee in the garden (to cool off)
In the morning, after a cooked breakfast, we first looked around the hotel gardens - quite pleasant.
Then we went looking for the Venus Pool, following several paths without success (I found it later).
We walked past some old mine workings, a deep rocky inlet (Port Gorey), and through Duval Farm down to Les Fontaines.
We sat on the side of the cliff for a while and then walked back to the hotel, meeting a man from yesterday's boat trying to photograph puffins.
Lunch was tomato and onion salad, seafood vol-au-vents and fresh fruit salad and coffee in the garden.
We changed for the beach, and walked to La Coupée - a narrow isthmus joining Sark to Little Sark, with sheer descents each side.
We climbed down to the beach on the West side at Grand Grève and found a small piece of sand by some rocks.
The tide was going out, revealing a nice sandy beach. There were pebbles to cross, but there were interesting rock formations and pools to explore.
We spent a lazy afternoon there - reading, dozing and paddling in the sea.
The climb back up wasn't too bad, and we were back in time for dinner.
After breakfast (Haddock for Maureen, fryup for me) we were told that Mr Peree was running a boat trip.
Se we changed from shorts to trousers and walked down to the Old Harbour, where we waited with some other guests and an ancient mariner.
|Dinner - Sunday 17th July 1983
Frogs Legs in Garlic Butter
Mackerel with Gooseberry sauce (Maureen), Greek-style Lamb (Jeff)
Orange segments with green figs, then cheese
bottle of Fleurie (a red Burgundy)
Coffee in the lounge
We were put at the front of the boat - a bit cramped but with good views.
The weather was sunny and the coastline was very rocky, with caves and inlets, small pebbly beaches and the Venus and Adonis pools.
There were lots of birds on the rocks - gulls, terns, oyster-catchers, but the puffins had gone.
We landed at Havre Gosselin and climbed a short way up to eat our packed-lunch (not very good) and, as a sea mist had rolled in, there wasn't much of a view.
It cleared as quickly as it had come, and off we went again, clockwise around the north west of the island and back to the Old Harbour by 3 o'clock.
We climbed up Harbour Hill, had a quick look around, and walked on to Grande Grève where Maureen changed into her bikini and I had a swim.
We stayed there a couple of hours and it was dinner time again.
|Mr Peree's Boat|
Donald went off to find the shirt he had left on the beach, and we went to the bar with his wife for coffee and liqueurs.
Mr Peree was behind the bar, and I gave him a £5 donation to the life-boat, in lieu of payment for the boat trip.
Donald had found his shirt and ordered a bottle of Champagne to celebrate - got to bed before midnight.
|Dinner - Monday 18th July 1983
Artichoke Hearts Mornay
Stilton and Port Soup
Grey Mullet with Mustard sauce (Maureen), Pork Tenderloin with Cider sauce (Jeff)
Sherry trifle (Maureen), Fresh fruit Salad (Jeff) then Brie
bottle of Puilly Fumé
We just had orange juice and a continental breakfast the next morning, then went in search of the Venus Pool and found it easily - though the descent to it was a bit too tricky for Maureen.
Then we walked all the way round to the end of the headland, over the Jupiter Pool, and had a sun-bathe on the rocks.
We continued to Port Gorey and back for a long cool drink before lunch, which was tuna salad, then a plate of cold turkey, beef, ham and salami with salad followed by fresh pineapple (Jeff) and lemon sorbet (Maureen) - then coffee in a shady part of the garden.
Sunbathing on the beach in the afternoon was more crowded than usual due to French people from 10 yachts moored in the bay - most of the young ladies were topless (not Maureen).
Then back to the hotel for a very good dinner.
Then coffee and liquers in the bar with Donald and Eva.
|Dinner - Tuesday 19th July 1983
Coquilles St Jacques
Fresh Raspberries (Maureen), Zabaglione (Jeff)
bottle of Pinot Chardonnay
The next morning, we took a packed lunch (with extra fruit) and walked to the Seigneurie, arriving just after 10.
The gardens were quite pleasant, especially the colourful walled one.
We walked north to Eperquerie Common (colourful heather) and found a sheltered spot on some rocks overlooking Les Autelets and Brechou, and had most of our lunch, with a bottle of ginger beer bought from the bar.
On the road back to The Avenue we met the puffin man again and had a long chat.
Then we walked along the Hogs Back (good views), past some stray cows, and along a wooded path along a stream to Dixcart Bay, where we stayed most of the afternoon.
Back via The Avenue where we saw the Prison and the school where they hold the Court of Pleas.
Coffee and liqueurs with the McDonalds as usual - Donald tried a Calvados (possibly local illegal) and didn't like it.
|Dinner - Wednesday 20th July 1983
Apple and Cheese Salad
Creme Washington (sweetcorn soup)
Veal La Roma
Fresh Fruit Salad (Maureen), Gateau (Jeff)
bottle of Chablis (cold)
The next morning we had an early breakfast and went for a stroll down to the Adonis Pool - clear views of Herm, Jethou and Guernsey.
We walked to the Pilcher Monument passing the puffin man again (it's a small island), then took several attempts to find Port à la Janent.
It was a very steep difficult descent, so we went to Port du Moulin instead, and found a spot at the top of the cliffs for lunch.
Then we tried to find the famous window in the rock, but ended up on the beach instead - rather rocky.
We changed into our swimwear, but it was difficult even to paddle because of the pebbles moving under your feet.
We stayed there most of the afternoon and then investigated the window in the rock on the way back.
Walked back via the Avenue and Maureen had time to wash her hair and dry it in the sun.
Coffee and liqueurs as usual and then was a thunderstorm, so didn't get to sleep very quickly.
|Dinner - Thursday 21st July 1983
Parma Ham with Melon
Camembert and Champaigne Soup (better than it sounds)
Lobster (Maureen), Quails (Jeff)
Strawberries (Maureen), Fresh Fruit Salad (Jeff)
(wine not recorded)
We walked to the Seagull's House, taking a shady short-cut behind the Stocks Hotel.
On reaching the lighthouse we met two other couples from our hotel and plumped for the tour.
The lamp room was very hot, and shades were drawn, both to protect the lens, and to stop the lens from setting fire to neighbouring vegetation.
We walked on to Bel Air and then back via the Dixcart Hotel (swift drink) and a cliff-top path to La Coupee and back to the hotel for lunch.
Maureen had a fruit juice and I started with tuna salad, then we had grilled Sark Mackerel followed by Strawberries (M) and Fresh Fruit Salad (J) and coffee in the garden.
In the afternoon we found another route down to Dixcart Bay and sunbathed and paddled, then returned via the Dixcart Hotel (sundowner) to the hotel and did most of our packing.
Coffee and liqueurs in the bar, and said our goodbyes to the McDonalds and Mr Peree.
|Dinner - Friday 22nd July 1983
Frogs legs (again)
Brandied Figs and Oranges
(wine not recorded)
The final morning we managed an early cup of tea and there was only just enough hot water for a bath.
We had a full breakfast with a German lady who was also catching our boat.
Mrs Williams arrived with the pony and trap (that we should have also had on our arrival) and our luggage followed on the tractor.
It was a lovely morning and we were sorry to leave.
We had to dismount properly at La Coupée and walk across, and were dropped off at the top of Harbour Hill.
We caught the boat back to guernsey, arriving at 9.30, where a taxi was waiting to take us to the airport.
The return trip was fairly uneventful, then we popped into Sainsbury's for some food and it was back to normal.
|Last walk over La Coupee|
- Holiday #3 1983 - Norwich
This was just a weekend break, and Tufty came to see off as before.
We drove there through light traffic and arrived too early to check in to the Maid's Head Hotel so went for a wander.
The Parson Woodruffe had gone down market and was now the Pink Elephant.
We had a light lunch in Skippers - Paella and lemon cheesecake (Maureen), Smoked Venison and cheese (Jeff).
Checked into our hotel and went out in the afternoon for a river trip from Elm Hill - nice weather, entertaining commentary and lots of coots, moorhens and the odd grebe.
We ate in the hotel that night (OK but not brilliant) . . .
We had a decent breakfast and walked to Abraxas, a modern jewelry shop.
Maureen bought an onyx, pearl and gold knecklace that she still wears from time to time.
Then we drove out into the countryside and visited the Norfolk Wildfowl Conservancy Trust at Dilham.
It wasn't bad, but one bird kept pecking at Maureen so we didn't stay too long, and drove off towards the coast.
We bought fish and chips in Happisburgh (say Hazebrough) and ate them down on Eccles beach - vert tasty.
We drove up to Felrigg House (National Trust) - the house was OK but crowded, then we looked round the grounds.
We sheltered from a shower in the dovecote, then couldn't find the woodland walk so returned to Norwich.
We had booked Tatlers for dinner - good job, many people were turned away.
It was just the same as we remembered it - the music that night was Paul Robeson then Flashdance!
|Dinner - Friday 23rd September 1983
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Dressed Crab (Maureen), Beef Chasseur (Jeff)
bottle of Soave
We got up fairly early next morning and checked out after breakfast, driving westwards to Grimes Graves.
This is a fascinating site - a series of stone-age flint mines.
There is a small exhibition, then you put on hard hats and go down a vertical ladder, one at a time, about 30 foot.
At the bottom you can see seven low tunnels leading off in all directions where our ancestors dug out the flint by the flickering light of animal fat candles - you can see the blackened roofs.
These flints were made into tools on-site and exported all over Britain.
Then we drove to Thetford and parked down by the river, having lunch in the Thomas Paine - home made quiche, then Chicken Chasseur (M) and Gammon with apple and sultana sauce (J) (nice fresh vegetables), then fresh Pineaple (M) and Cherry Pie (J) and good coffee.
Then it was home via Kilverstone Wildlife Park, which was hot and crowded and the animals didn't seem to have much room - it has since closed.
|Dinner - Saturday 24th september 1983
Salmon and Fennel Mousse with salad and brown bread
Pedgeon, Duck and Orange Pie with vegetables
Chocolate, Orange and Brandy Mousse (Maureen), Lemon and Cointreau Syllabub (Jeff)
bottle of Fleurie
- Learning Italian
I have previously told you that I had failed my GCE "O" Level French exam at school.
When we went to Venice for the first time we bought a little BBC book called "Get by in Italian" - it was meant as a brief starter for tourists and business men, and in a touristy place like Venice, it was all that we needed.
Back at home, a little later, we noticed that the local college would be running an evening course called "Italian for Pleasure" - we enrolled.
It was an Wednesday evenings at Shephallbury and was run by an Italian lady named Liana (who had learnt her English as a nurse in Glasgow!).
There were about a dozen pupils, mostly OK and some still friends.
We enjoyed the lessons and there was no homework - we went for several years.
We invested in two further BBC publications that came out in the following years - Buongiorno Italia (had a cassette and also TV programs), then L'Italia dal Vivo (cassette only, and much harder).
Liana eventually married and moved away - she was replaced by Alessandra Nichol (an Italian lady married to an Englishman).
Alessandra was very nice, but was a proper language teacher and actually gave us homework.
We resented this at first, but it was the right thing to do and we went from strength to strength, finally passing our GSCE exams with A* grades in 1994.
I was quite proud of some of the stories I wrote for homework and shall try to find them (they are not on the computer).
Although the classes have long finished, we still keep in touch with Alessandra and Les (now deceased) and have seen Liana and her husband a couple of times (though they have retired to warmer climes).
- Holiday #1 1984 - Ravello
An early cup of tea (with Tufty as before) then off to Luton Airport (our closest) for the 7.05 flight to Naples.
It was a reasonable flight, followed by a wait to get through passport control as an Italian passenger had lost her passport.
Hung around for our luggage, then it was a 90 minute coach drive, initially along the clogged up motorway.
The drive through the Latteri hills was more pleasant, with orange and lemon trees, vines and olives.
At Ravello we were set down in the main Piazza, where we had to wait half an hour for two taxis to take thirty people to different hotels and villas - ours turned out to be 5 minutes walk away.
Our hotel was white, Moorish and elegant.
Our room was down three flights of stairs and out onto a terrace overlooking the bay.
The "Garden Room" was quite small and totally white, with a nice little bathroom tiled in grey and red, and a well-stocked fridge.
Outside, on our private terrace, was a white wrought-iron table and two chairs.
After unpacking, we went for a small exploratory walk - back to the Piazza, then along a side street that became a footpath with steps, ending at the Villa Cimbrone.
We retraced our steps and stopped for a cool drink in a bar that sold touristy pottery.
More meandering brought us back to the piazza, where we had an ice-cream (the weather being sunny and warm).
Wandered back to the hotel (full of Americans), sat on the terrace then got ready for dinner at 7.30.
The dining room had dark furniture, large oil paintings, and an ornate painted ceiling.
A frail old English lady sat near us, and was joined by the owner, an elderly Swiss gentleman.
|Outside the Garden Room|
We had a chat to the English lady (Mrs Jordan), and went to bed.
With the lights out and the shutters closed it was totally black - we wondered how we would know when to wake up.
|Dinner - Saturday 2nd June 1984
Fettucine with tomato sauce
Fish Soufle with a mixed salad
Mirafoglie (Maureen), Cheese (Jeff)
bottle of white wine (the owner's own production)
Cappuccinos in the lounge
Opening the shutters revealed brilliant sunshine.
Breakfast was served at little coffee tables in the lounge, where Mrs Jordan recommended the panoramic walk.
We turned right out of the hotel and walked past several locals (who said "Buongiorno"), several lizards (who just scuttled away) and several cats (who ignored us).
The path would have gone all the way to Scala, but we turned off onto the panoramic road, with views down to Minori and Maiori and the headland beyond.
We ended up in the piazza and had a drink sitting at the tables by the Duomo - watching several little girls dressed as brides for their first communion.
There were lots of relatives for these celebrations, and most of the places to eat were fully booked.
We ended up at the Hotel Graal, where we had gnocchi and costeletto di vitello milanese.
The white wine turned up in an unlabelled bottle - the idea is that you drink what you want and are charged accordingly, but we didn't know that and finished the bottle (too much for lunchtime).
So we spent the afternoon lazing on our terrace and snoozing, and met the Magic of Italy rep at 6 o'clock.
We booked a trip to Capri tomorrow, and one to Paestum on Wednesday, talked for a while then changed for dinner.
|On Our Terrace|
We had booked an early breakfast, so were down in the square in time for the local bus to Amalfi (£500).
We met with our guide, Vincenzo, and of we went in the "Faraglione".
We sat on the right under an awning and, although it was sunny, there was a chilly wind.
The coastline was spectacular, and we stopped offshore at Positano to pick up more people who were ferried out in a small boat.
We moved to the sunny side, but it got a bit choppy, and the diesel fumes started to make Maureen feel rather sick.
She remembered the advice of Mr Gill, our dentist, "Close your mouth and breath through your nose, and you can never be sick" - it worked, but we were glad to arrive at Capri.
We stretched our legs while waiting for the bus to take us up to Anacapri, and felt better for it.
Anacapri was very touristy, but we bought some postcards to send home.
We were then taken to see the house of the famous Axel Munthe (no, we have never heard of him either).
Its terrace had wonderful views of the Bay of Naples with the mighty Vesuvius, and while walking round the gardens we saw Tony Hart (used to do very good children's TV programs with all sorts of animations etc).
We then went to Capri town, where we joined a couple of Italian Australian girls for lunch - Macaroni with tomato sauce (J), Vegetable soup (M), Fish in tomato sauce with tinned peas, a half bottle of Lacrima Christi.
Vincenzo walked us through the town to the gardens of Caesar Augustus, stopping to explain things as best he could.
The gardens had a fine view of the Faraghone rocks, the Marina Piccola and Gracie Fields' restaurant.
Walked back, via an ice-cream stop, and got the bus back to Marina Grande in plenty of time to be early on the boat so we could sit in the sun.
The return trip was smoother and warmer, and we got back to Amalfi in plenty of time to get the local bus to Scala and on to Ravello.
|Dinner - Sunday 3rd June 1984
Ravioli stuffed with cheese
Orato (big white fish - Maureen), Roast Veal (Jeff)
Bieta all'agro (cold leafy beet in oil and lemon)
Strawberries and cream
Coffee in the lounge
We had a liesurely breakfast and sat on the terrace for a while, before visiting the Duomo.
|Dinner - Monday 4th June 1984
Frutta di Mare (mussels, cockles and razor-shells etc in a clear soup)
Bistecca in a peppery sauce, potatoes and zucchina "Al Inglese" (ie on the same plate)
house Red wine
Coffee in the lounge
It has a very good pulpit decorated with mosaics - you have to ask the man to pull back the wooden panels hiding the bronzes on the doors.
We then looked around the local market but didn't buy anything, wandered around for a bit, then went to the Rufolo Gardens.
These are not very big, but are colourful and have great views.
We meandered back to the hotel, had a drink in the bar and sat on the terrace for a while before going out again for lunch.
It was such a nice day that we decided to eat outside - the Albergo Toro, in Viale Wagner, had a garden restaurant.
We started with Crespelini (little pancakes stuffed with cheese and ham), then Fritto Misto di Mare (fried Crayfish and Calamari) with a mixed salad, white Caruso wine (not drinking it all) and acqua minerale, with cappuccinos afterwards (£37,000).
|In the Rufolo Gardens|
After another sit on the terrace to let our lunch go down, we walked to the Villa Cimbrone - lovely gardens (both formal and wild) with a different view of the Bay of Salerno and Amalfi.
We had another ice-cream on our way back to the hotel, washed our hair and sat on the terrace again to dry it (mine takes 30 seconds, Maureen's at least 30 minutes).
It had rained overnight and there were big clouds to the south, so we took our umbrellas and anoraks on our trip to Paestum.
We boarded the coach in the piazza (Vincenzo again) and picked up more tourists in Maiori.
Our first stop was Salerno - we walked up to the old city and popped into the Duomo, but it was undergoing massive restoration so we wandered around for a while.
The coach was late returning as it got delayed behind a Communist Union strike march.
We drove down the coast road, the land flattened out and there were lots of market gardens and water buffalo (for the Mozzarella).
|Dinner - Tuesday 5th June 1984
Fusilli with cheese sauce (Maureen), Tomato Soup (Jeff)
Veal burger with cheese on top, potatoes and carrots
Cream Caramel (not as good as Maureen makes)
bottle of Vino Rosatto (Rosé to you)
Coffee with Mrs Jordan in the lounge
On arriving, we went into the museum and had a guided tour - Vincenzo's Italian and French were easier to understand than his English.
We then went to see the temples - very impressive but overgrown and in need of some tender loving care.
We followed the Sacred Way to the site of the Roman Forum and swimming pool, then the Temple of Neptune (actually Hera) - the best and most complete of the temples.
Better to see them without a guide and lots of tourists (see later years).
We ate our packed lunch at some tables then found a bar for a swift drink.
We had a small amount of time to explore the rest of the site on our own, then it was back on the coach and straight back.
It was raining on our return so we went into one of the bars for a cappuccino - it had been raining here all day.
Got up late the next day and, after checking on the bus times to Amalfi, we set off along the Panoramic Path again, getting about half way to Scala but the path was rough and overgrown and we wern't wearing sensible shoes so we eventually turned back.
We got back to the hotel just after midday, changed, and went out for a proper lunch, up the road at the Caruso.
No menu, but we could understand the waiter's Italian suggestions.
Crespolini for starter, then Dentrice (Snapper) in a lemon sauce (better than last night's says Maureen), bottle of the house white wine, lemon and chocolate souffles.
Had a chat with an Englishman who was staying there, then went back to our hotel and took our chairs out into the sunny part of the terrace for most of the afternoon.
Then we went for a stroll, had a lemonade in a bar, and found that the Rufolo Gardens were open (and free on Thursdays) - rather shady and a bit chilly.
|Dinner - Wednesday 6th June 1984
Spaghetti with seafood (Maureen), Pea Soup with Pasta (Jeff)
Dentrice (Maureen), Agnello (Jeff)
Fruit (Maureen), Cheese (Jeff)
We caught the 9.30 local bus down to Amalfi, where Maureen changed some travellers chques at the Banca di Napoli and did some necessary shopping.
We popped into the Duomo, then wandered through the very touristy shops and bought a couple of souvenir guidebooks.
We decided that Amalfi was a dump and caught the bus back to Ravello, where we had a short walk before lunch.
We intended to have a pizza, but the Trattoria Cosino only fired up its oven in the evening - we had tagliatelle with ham, cheese and mushrooms (very tasty) and the unlabelled bottle of vino bianco as before.
I finished off with cheese and Maureen had strawberries with lemon.
|Dinner - Thursday 7th June 1984
Melanzane (Aubergine) al forno with Mozzarella
Sole with white wine sauce (Maureen), Pollo alla Siciliana (Jeff)
Profiteroles with rum and chocolate sauce (Maureen), Cheese (Jeff)
Coffee in the lounge with Mrs Jordan until chucking-out time
After a short stop at our hotel to freshen up we were off again, only pausing in the piazza for a gelato.
We had a quick look at Le Terrazze apartments (also in the Magic brochure) then set off in the Via St Pietro down to Minori.
It was mostly short steps with slopes in between, passing through a sleepy little village with a church and not much else.
In Minori we walked down to the sea front and only had a very short wander before getting the next bus - changing buses at the hairpin bend at the Ravello turning.
Had a cappuccino in one of the bars, then went back to the hotel for a little sit and some packing, before going in for our final dinner (a good one).
Final day - had an early breakfast, saw Mrs Jordan who gave us her address and phone number, paid our bar bill (£129,000!!).
Taxi to the square, coach to Naples airport (long wait), then an excellent flight home with no turbulence.
|Dinner - Friday 8th June 1984
Fettucine with mushrooms, ham, peas and cream
Salsice with chips and mixed salad of green beans, artichoke heart, beetroot, leafy beet, asparagus and spring onion in a mint dressing
Fresh fruit salad with ice-cream
bottle of the house red
Cappuccinos in the lounge prepared by the night-porter
- Holiday #2 1984 - Peak District
Our second holiday that year was a long weekend in the Peak District in Derbyshire.
On the Saturday morning, Maureen had her hair cut, then we drove north up the more interesting A6 rather than the fast M1.
Wrong decision - between Bedford and Northampton our windscreen shattered.
I made a hole in the crazy glass and drove slowly to a petrol station where we phoned for help.
We ate our sandwiches while waiting for the man to turn up and fit a replacement (£105).
The A6 goes through far too many towns, and it wasn't until 5 o'clock that we reached the Hathersage Inn.
The proprietor was a bit odd, but the food was good.
Now Maureen's holiday recording system seems to have broken down at this point.
However, over the next couple of days we visited Chatsworth (big country house with grounds and water features), Blists Hill (recreation of an early industrial town - very good), Ironbridge Gorge (more industrial archaeology), and stayed the night in Shrewsbury.
|Dinner - Saturday 29th September 1984
Paté (Maureen), Fish Paté (Jeff)
Halibut (Maureen), Chestnut Loaf (Jeff)
not recorded (Maureen), Squirrel's Delight (Jeff)
- Holiday #1 1985 - Stresa
We flew from Gatwick to Milan (Malpensa) on an afternoon flight, then were driven by coach to our various hotels (we were at the Regina Palace). It was raining, and would continue to be wet for some days. Unpacked and went down to dinner.
The following morning, we went out for a lakeside stroll then met up with the holiday rep and booked a half-day trip to Lake Orta for Wednesday afternoon.
Now, we had chosen this resort because it had been featured in a BBC learning Italian program called "Buongiorno Italia". On our next little walk we found the little travel agency featured in the programme - the proprietor (Liliana Borroni) was sweeping up outside, but we were afraid to talk to her.
We walked on past the imbarcadero (boat stop) as far as the zoological gardens then back through the town (narrowly avoiding some annoying fellow guests) - we saw the fresh pasta shop featured in the programs but didn't buy any. There were lots of expensive-looking villas (mostly holiday homes from the Swiss or Germans).
We had a simple lunch at a small family restaurant and even managed to order the food in Italian. We walked back to the zoological gardens and, as we passed the imbarcadero, there were a group of Italians dancing, in traditional dress, to a brass band - they then trouped onto a paddle steamer and left for an "International Festival of Mamma".
The zoo was a bit basic, though the llamas and multicoloured goats were nice. We walked back past our hotel and on to the Lido (stopping somewhere for gelati) then back for dinner.
|Dinner - Friday 10th May 1985
Salmon (Maureen), Lamb with rosemary (Jeff)
Strawberries (Maureen), Torta (Jeff)
Half bottle of local white wine, water
Walked into town and had coffee standing up in a bar.
|Dinner - Saturday 11th May 1985
Macaroni with tomato and basil
Fillet of perch
Two different tortas
The rest of last night's white wine and water (waiting for us on the table)
The following morning we went to the imbarcadero and bought two three-day tourist tickets, then caught the 09.30 to Isola Bella. Apart from some tourist shops, the island consists of just the Villa Borromeo and its gardens (both of which we went round). Heavy rain then drove us into the Ristorante Delfino.
We caught the 2.30 boat to Pallanza (still raining hard), walked about a bit and caught the next boat back to Stresa (hot bath).
|Lunch - Sunday 12th May 1985
Lasagne al forne (Maureen), vegetable soup (Jeff)
Pollo arrosto (Maureen), grilled pork chop (Jeff)
Fresh fruit salad
Mezzo litro vino rosso, acqua minerale, cappuccinos
|Dinner - Sunday 12th May 1985
Prosciutto di Parma; Cold salmon and egg with mayonnaise (left over from a wedding reception we think)
Beef Wellington with green beans and croquette potatoes
(wine not recorded)
Still raining heavilly the next day, and the rep took us into Pallanza by car where we had a little wander and a cappucino.
We caught the boat back to Stressa, bought an umbrella (together with some postcards and stamps), and got the next boat to Isola Superiore dei Pescatori for lunch.
We had to change tables when the rain started dripping from the glass roof.
|Lunch - Monday 13th May 1985
Ravioli (J), tagliatelle (M)
Whitebait (or similar small fishes), mixed salad, mezzo litro vino bianco
We got the boat back to Stresa after having to converse with a party of Italian schoolchildren.
The rain had stopped by about 4 o'clock so we strolled into town and bought some wine to take back home.
|Dinner - Monday 13th May 1985
Smoked lake trout (whole fish!)
Supreme of chicken, aubergine, chips;started another bottle of vino bianco
Torta (alcoholic) (M), pineapple (J)
Overcast the next day; we caught the 9 o'clock boat to the Villa Taranto. It was sunny by then but the seats in the open were still too wet to sit on. After stopping at the islands, Baveno and Pallanza, we got there at a quarter to ten.
The gardens were very beautiful, with formal beds, fountains, pools, a mausoleum and so on. We walked about all morning then caught the 12.20 boat to Isola Madre in time for lunch.
|Lunch - Tuesday 14th May 1985
Fried plaice, green salad
Apple and blood orange
The normal mezzo litro vino bianco and water
After lunch, we walked round the botanical gardens (more school parties, noisier than the white peacocks). We had a quick look around the palace then caught the boat to Isola Pescatore where we had a look around and made friends with the local cats.
Back to Stressa for gelati before returning to the hotel.
|Dinner - Tuesday 14th May 1985
Seafood cocktail (M), pilaf (J)
Pork chop pizziola (M), turket fiorentino (J)
Cheese and torat, vino bianco etc
Clear blue skies with no mist the next day. We walked to the Lido and caught the funivia up to Motarone, stopping at the intermediate stop (Stressa Alpino) for a short wander. Lots of nice wild flowers and views of Lake Orta and snow-vapped mountains from the top.
We returned to the bottom, had lunch in a pizzeria (more vino biano) and returned to the hotel to dump our anoraks etc.
The coach picked us up for our afternoon trip and picked up more people from other (mostly inferior) hotels. It then went to the top of the lake and on to Orta. We were led down to the old, picturesque village. It was now hot and sunny, and we went across to the little island of St Giuliano (church with a body in a glass case), walked around a bit then went back to the village and had coppa ice-creams in the square.
The coach took a different route back, stopping at Arona to look at the large statue of St Carlo Borromeo. Then back to Stresa for a preprandial drink at a bar.
|Dinner - Wednesday 15th May 1985
Noodles with a meat sauce (M), ox-tongue with green sauce (J)
Chicken of some sort; bottle of prosecco, water
Cheese; alcoholic ice-cream bomb (M), creme caramel (J)
Dull weather the next day. We walk around and watched the boats for a while, then got our anoraks and got the boat to Baveno.
Had a look round the town and the church, then it started to rain so we headed for lunch.
|Remains of lunch - Baveno|
|Lunch - Thursday 16th May 1985
Tagliatelle with ham and cheese
Grilled salmon steak with chips (M), veal with a picquant sauce (J)
Fruit; wine and water as per
The weather had cleared up during lunch so we sat in the sun for a while and caught the boat back to Stresa, dumped our anoraks and sat on the front with more gelati.
Saw the rep to finalise leaving instructions then went for a walk. Found the railway station, made friends with another cat and walked back past expensive-looking villas.
|Dinner - Thursday 16th May 1985
Spaghetti alle vongole
Beef braised in barolo
Cheese; two different tortas; half bottle of valpolicello, water
Went out for coffee at a bar.
The final day had another clear blue sky. Had breakfast, packed our bags and settled our bill, then walked into town and looked round the market.
We then walked to the lido and took the funivia up to Mottarone again where we found a little chapel dedicated to the "Virgin of the snow", then walked to the peak - ugly, with ski-lifts etc - then on to our final lunch.
|Lunch - Friday 17th May 1985
Penne with a meat sauce
Braised hare with polenta (very tasty)
Cheese (J), strawberries with lemon (M); the usual wine and water
Back down the cable-car, walked back along the front and had a last ice-cream.
The coach picked us up at half past three and dumped us at Malpensa three hours before takeoff!
- Holiday #2 1985 - short break in Oxford etc.
Just after we had our new kitchen installed, we went to Oxford for a shortish break. I drove Maureen's mum and dad to the station for their holiday on the Isle of Wight then, after a sandwich for lunch, we drove to Oxford and booked into the Royal Oxford Hotel.
We had a short stroll to get our bearings then, after changing, went out to dinner.
|Dinner - Saturday 14th September 1985 - La Cantina
Timballo (sort of lasagne with a fishy sauce)
Involtini alla Siciliana (M), nodino di vitello (J)
Fresh fruit salad (M), stuffed pancakes (J, could not finish)
(wine not recorded)
After a full English breakfast we went out to explore the town, finding the Radcliffe Camera and wandering round Brasenose College. We bought a picnic lunch at Parmentier's and went to the Botanic Gardens. On the way back Maureen tripped up on a missing cobblestone and the lunch went flying (recovered). Maureen would have a history of falls in later life.
After returning to the hotel to clean Maureen's grazes and for her to change into jeans we drove to Cogges Farm Museum and ate our lunch in the car. The museum was quite interesting, with demonstrations of butter-making etc. We then went for a walk along the Windrush, had a cup of tea and then met the beekeeper.
We returned to Oxford via Minster Lovell, then bought tickets for a concert of Carmina Burana and other choral works - very good indeed. It finished at 10.30, then we went for a late dinner at the Opium Den Chinese restaurant, not getting back to the hotel until close to midnight (had to ring the night bell).
After a rather late breakfast we walked into town and Maureen bought some Savlon and plasters for her scraped knee, then we looked around the covered market - very exotic.
We drove to Woodstock, parking at Blenheim Palace, and had a bistro-style lunch.
|Lunch - Monday 16th September 1985 - Brotherton's
Blinis (took for ever to come)
Pollock (J), some other fish (M)
No afters or coffee (we would have been there all day!)
We then went back to Blenheim, sometimes walking round the palace by ourselves, sometimes with a guide - all right if you like that sort of thing.
We had a quick dinner of pasta, salad and wine then went to the Oxford Playhouse to see "Spivs" (we enjoyed it at the time, but I can't remember it at all).
On Tuesday morning we checked out of the hotel, went round the Ashmolean Museum (very interesting), then had a light lunch (soup, quiche) at Bever's.
We then drove to Bath, stopping off at the Cotswold Wildlife Park at Burford on the way (not much cop). We booked into Pratt's Hotel in Bath, had a cup of tea and went for a walk, returning to the Hotel for dinner.
|Dinner - Tuesday 17th September 1985 - Pratt's
Stuffed tomatoes (lukewarm)
Chicken supreme stuffed with ham, overcooked veg
Cheese rather than anything from the dull sweet-trolley
We drove to Bristol to visit my mum for the morning. Afterwards we drove to Backwell / Farleigh and had a ploughman's lunch at the George.
In the afternoon we drove to Weston-supr-mare and then back to Bristol to look round the S.S. Great Britain and the newly-opened maritime museum, then returned to Bath and, having been turned away from two restaurants, had a tasy dinner in an Italian cellar restaurant (details not recorded).
The next day was rainy, so we went home via the Westonbirt Arboretum.
- Holiday #1 1986 - A Taste of Tuscany and Umbria
An early alarm clock got us to the station for the 06.46 train to Kings Cross, getting to Gaatwick airport at about 8.30. We flew uneventfully by British Airtours, arriving at Galileo Galilei airport at about 1.30. We had to wait for fellow travellers on a delayed flight from Manchester, so didn't board the coach till 3.15, travelling via Florence to Colle Val d'Elsa. We checked into our hotel (La Vecchia Cartiera); having been warned by the courier that many rail and bus workers were on strike, we discovered that the hotel's restaurant staff were also striking.
We set out at 7.50, through drizzle, for dinner at La Velettia. They seemed reluctant to take us, and only offered us a limited menu. All our table of six plumped for tortellini and then either veal with mushrooms or an arroso misto. It was there that we met Thelma (an elderly teacher who travelled to Italy frequently - we would remain friends for years), who recommended the Vernaccia di San Gimignano to drink (which we shared with her). Maureen and Thelma got their pasta after only a three quarters of an hour wait; eventually I stormed into the kitchen to complain, only to find just one little lady draining a huge pan of steaming pasta - eventually (just two of is at a time) served at 9.30. The veal was OK, and my mixture of rabbit, chicken and pork had been grilled over charcoal and was delicious. After all that we had a coffee with Thelma at a local bar and eventually got to bed.
After an early breakfast we set off for Florence, arriving at 9.30. We were shown where to pick up the return coach and were left to our own devices. We went across the Piazza della Signoria, over the Ponte Vecchio to the Pitti Palace - very interesting, we especially liked the inlaid marble work, and Fra Filippo Lippi's Madonna and Child.
We sat on the steps at the back for a while and then set off for the Academia to see Michaelangelo's David, afterwards having a pizza, salad and a half bottle of vino bianco for lunch (near the duomo). We had a liitle stroll, an ice-cream, and then a drink at a table in the Piazza del Signore (very expensive lemon juices, but thirst-quenching). Back to Santa Croce to gather for the coach, waited for two late-comets and started back, stopping for a ten-minute view at a very crowded Piazza del Michaelangelo.
Back at the hotel we were told we would be eating at the same place as last night. There was much grumbling, but we were shown into a back room and our hotel manager was there to get things organised. The pasta lady explained in Italian that she only had one pair of arms. The food came much quicker and was all very good. At the end of the meal the electricity failed so we went out for a coffee and sambucca with Thelma again. We went for a late-night stroll, finding a very modern and striking branch of the Monte di Paschi Di Siena (world's oldest bank).
The next morning we went out for an early-morning stroll, up the steep hill to Colle Alto - goldfish in the piazza's fountain, and lots of cats - and returned via the old walls for breakfast (served hesitantly by the manager). We set out at 9.30 for Siena, passing through pleasant country. The courier showed us where to meet the coach back and led us up the main drag to the Campo (where the Palio is held). We went for a stroll, noticing the signs of the various contradas on the buildings, ending up at the cathedral - very ornate inside, with nice wooden panels on the seats behind the altar, and a memorable altar by Pisano. We went to a bar and, for lunch, had panini (with tuna), a small slice of panforte and lemon-sodas. In the afternoon we visited the town-hall museum (famous frescos) and had another wander, finding that the pinacoteca was closed, and evenutally made our way to the coach point outside San Domenico (modern, deep-blue stained glass).
We had a rest at the hotel before venturing out for a preprandial drink and then on to the same restaurant for dinner (tortellini, pork stew, fresh fruit) and the same bar for coffee etc.
After breakfast the next day the coach took us to San Gimignano, dropping us off at St John's Gate. Celia, our guide, took us all up through Piazza della Cisterna to the cathedral square; the cathedral has lots of good frescoes. We then walked up to La Rocca (ruins of a castle, great views), had a sit, then down via little back streets and visited the Museo Civico. We stopped and had a drink in the square, then did a little shopping (local wine, panforte, guidebook). We then had a two hour coach ride to our second hotel - The Grand Hotel Excelsior at Chianciano Terme. Dinner was pasta, crostini, roast veal with chips and green beans, torta, fresh fruit.
The next day was the day of the wedding of Prince Andrew but, even though we had a free morning, we didn't bother watching TV but went for a walk with Thelma and Celia, and looked round the market and then a small Etruscan exhibition. We bought freshly made panini in a little shop for lunch. After freshening up at the hotel we left for Montepulciano, having to walk up a steep hill to the little town (ice-creams on the way down). We drove back to the hotel with a short stop at Pienza. Dinner, with Thelma as usual, was pasta, rice salad with ham, fish in mayonaise, chicken breast with cheese, torta, fresh fruit.
Our next day's visit was to Perugia in Umbria. Our route took us past Lake Trasimeno and we nearly knocked down a man painting white lines in the road. You get to the old town up an escalator through La Rocca; we did the sights, had a drink, then Celia showed us the Etruscan well (I went down, but the steps were too slippery for Maureen). We had another walk about and went back to the coach which made it way to Assisi, stopping at the church of Santa Maria del'Angeli (where Saint Francis founded his community) but were chucked out after 5 minutes. Celia again escorted us up the main drag in Assisi and then on the a self-service restaurant for lunch. Then we visited the Basilica of St Francis (frescoes by Giotto) and returned to the lower town and visited the church with frescoes by Cimabue. We wandered back, stopping for a refreshing drink in a little garden with splendid views. We then popped into the basilica again, this time looking at the lower church and the crypt.
The coach stopped at the same place on the way back, and we went to the rose garden (statue of St Francis, real doves). Dinner that evening was crespi (three different fillings), spinach and egg pie, veal chop with zucchini and chips, torta, fresh fruit (coffee at a bar with Thelma).
If it's Friday, it must be Orvieto. On the motorway Celia lectured us about the Etruscans. The coach had to park at the bottom of this great outcrop of tuffa on which the town is built and we were walked up by Celia. We were impressed by the Duomo, notwithstanding scaffolding and protective cladding against vandals. We found Michaelangeli's wood shop (featured on Buongiorno Italia) and bought a couple of little animals (still got them - a gatto nero and a grillo). We then had a good walk round the town, noticing other places featured in the series, had panini for lunch. On the way back to the hotel the coach stopped for us to look at an Etruscan necropolis. Dinner was spaghetti with a tomato sauce, rice salad, veal, torta, cheese (coffee and amaretto in a bar with Thelma as usual).
On our last day we drove up through the Pisan hills and stopped for half an hour to see the Leaning Tower, the Duomo and the Baptistry. Then on to the airport and home.
- Holiday #2 1986 - Lancaster University Summer Programme
This was to be the first of many times that we joined the Lancaster University's Summer Programme - a way of providing income when the students were not being taught. They offered a range of full day or half day academic or activity-based courses, and put you up in the unused student accomodation. This first time, we both enrolled on the full-day course "Nature in the Northwest", adding an extra day of sightseeing on the way up.
On Saturday morning (August 9th) we drove up the A1(M) and then the A5, through Leicester and Derby, arriving in Dovedale about 1.30, booking into the Izaak Walton Hotel at Ashbourne. We went for a little walk through the village of Illam and a small National Trust park, back through Thorpe Cloud and along the banks of the Dove to the hotel where we changed for dinner (not recorded).
On Sunday morning we set out, after breakfast, for the National Garden Festival at Stoke-on-Trent. We wern't very impressed, and left at 2 p.m., heading up the M6 towards Lancaster. We were allocated a double room in the Cark building of Cartmel College, then went to a meeting where the workings of the summer programme were explained to us. At dinner, you sit at a big table for about eight people and a waitress dumps the food in the middle and you help yourself - not bad, considering. We met one of our tutors (Dr Trevor Pierce) and the other five people on our course.
Breakfast the next day was rather chaotic, a party from Taiwan and the dishing-out of packed lunches adding to the confusion. We had a lecture on the influence of habitat (especially limestone) on plants (by Dr Geoffrey Halliday) then set off in a battered minibus bound for Humphrey Head joined, today, by entomologist Peter Flint. We walked along the shore of the estuary, being shown the characteristic plant life. At the end of the headland was an "easy scramble" up to the top - more like climbing a cliff, but there were a number of hand-holds, and everyone managed it. We then walked back along the top, getting back to the minivan for our packed lunch at 1.30. After lunch we set off for for the hamlet of Hutton Roof, where we scrambled up, through bracken to a series of limestone pavements (each accompanied by a lecture).
It started to rain as we headed back just in time for dinner (better tonight); afterwards we went to a concert given by the Medici String Quartet (I forgot to tell you that there is a very mixed programme of activities organised each evening).
The weather was better on the Tuesday morning where we were driven to the coast at Heysham where we were issued with long Wellington boot things that went all the way up your leg. A local character, supposedly named Davy Jones, walked us out to the mussel beds and showed us all manner of sea life. In the afternoon we were taken to Sunderland Point in the Lune estuary where a Dr Malloch showed us all manner of birds wading in the mud (including dunlin, turnstones, redshanks and a whimbrel). We got a flat tyre on the way back and were dumped in the Maritime museum in the Old Custom House in Lancaster while it was changed. This evening's activity was a tour of the historic buildings of Lancaster (I can only remember the prison).
Wednesday morning was rainy. We had a short lecture, then were driven through Kendal to Longsleddale in the south-east of the Lake District. We walked up a reasonable track and ate lunch in the pouring rain. It slowly improved as we continued up to a slate quarry but continued very misty. We returned to Lancaster University, dried off a little, had a lecture on glaciation in the Lake District, and were shown around the Biology department after dinner.
Thursday was lovely and sunny. We had a short lecture about sand dunes then set off, driving through Dalton-in-Furness to a National Trust property near the shore. Saw lots of interesting plants and butterflies, as well as frogs, toads and several natterjack toads. We walked back along the shore; drive back to Lancaster; another concert after dinner.
Friday was cloudy and windy but dry. We were driven to Fleetwood to explore the salt marshes - very interesting, but hazardous; several people losing their wellies or getting muddy bottoms. Afterwards we were driven to an offshoot of the Lancaster canal for a short walk, then it was back to the biology department to be shown the herbarium and have a lecture on pressing wild flowers. This being the last night, there was a sherry reception and a special dinner (drank too much wine).
- More later . . .