Friday, 21 August 2009

AUG 20th

Aug 20th. It was Matty's birthday yesterday. 'Happy Birthday to my son, Matty. May all your travels bring you joy'.

I left Rome but I didn't want to. I had found a new - not only Diana but her sister and brother-in-law and their children and they all came to see me off which made it almost impossible to leave.

There is only one place to go - and that is here in Manciano, where the family I come and stay with gave me such a warm welcome and a room and kitchen at the top of the house. You would not believe the view! When I've finished writing this blog I'll take a picture and you'll see what I mean.

On the way here I stopped at a house on Lake Bolsena where the lady who runs the Biggar Little Festival lives with her husband and it was a joy to hear a Scottish accent again - music for my ears which I have not heard since I left Edinburgh on Aug 4th. They have a friend who has also undergone a 'whipples' procedure and they nervously asked if I might be hungry. They looked on in astonishment as I cleaned up a plateful of meat and cheese and a strong mug of coffee. This is something their friend cannot do. Well, I can! And every day I whisper a thankyou to the surgeon in Cambridge. My cousin, Arnold, a retired surgeon in Edinburgh, was similarly surprised when I polished off a plate of steak and chips and a bottle of wine in his house a month after the operation. I think he had not expected me to survive the surgery never mind eat him out of house and home. I am afraid there may be complaints from my readers who are expecting gruelling accounts of a lonely traveller on a dangerous journey. Well here is more fuel for the fire.

I ate last night in a fine restaurant. Pici's - that's the local pasta with porcini - followed by roast pork with crakcling and salad, washed down with half a litre of the local vino. I did have a moment of sobriety and declined the offer of a grappa with my coffee. Then I sat outside Bar Centrale where there was a band playing and children, some of them tiny tots dancing. And it's nearly midnight. When the music stops the wee ones just keep on dancing, whirling and birling to some music in their heads which only they can hear. And the little art gallery opposite the bar is still open and I am in a mood to buy a small painting for my invisible friend. I slept last night in a comfortable bed and went shopping today for jewels! Well no ... Not jewels - but I'm going to stay here for a week and I need to stock up the kitchen. Manuela in the fruit and veg shop gave me a huge hug and couldn't believe how much weight I had lost - I looked so well! I told her the whole story. Never did a bag of fruit and veg come so emotionally charged. And when I went to see Monica in the grocer next door I couldn't go through it again and she must have wondered what kind of diet it was that allowed me to buy so much mortadella and salami. The butcher didn't recognize me at all - and I left it at that! We'll meet again tomorrow. Back at the house and I've just eaten it all and drunk several large espressos. And now I'll take that photo for you.

Perhaps I'll do a blog every other day. I don't want you thinking I am having such a good time every day. Is that OK? You can get in touch if you like - you will find me at


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