On Monday we split up, the boys to go walking up in the crater a nearby volcano and the girls to go to the spa.
We girls had a lovely day. The gardens were beautiful and the pools relatively quiet. Much quieter than when we had been before and therefore even more pleasant. We started at the top and this time went under the dripping waterfall to the hidden cavern. The weather was not as warm as one our visit last year, so the trips between pools were a bit chillier and I wished I had remembered a robe. There was a particularly fetching orange Jedi at one pool. The lower external temperature made the colder pools easier to tackle, though I still chickened out when it came to the ice water one. I also decided I could manage without climbing up the chasm to smell the breath of god. Gradually we made our way down the hill to the Hammam. At one point a gentle rain fell, but we put our towels under the sun loungers and swam in the warm water pool. Rather than stop for lunch we had a snack of fresh juice and crisps camped on the sunloungers and then carried on until it became overcast and breezy, at which point we dressed and the girls treated me to a late lunch overlooking the sea. Our taxi driver out had been so good, as well as giving us a discount voucher for the , spa, that we called him to collect us for the return journey. He was on a fare, but sent his friend, another careful driver, to take us back at the same rate.
The boys had also enjoyed their day, though the woods had kept them from the sensation that they were walking in a crater. Nevertheless the climb back out had been made surreal by the sound of another walker somewhere in the trees playing music from Lord of the Rings on a flute.
Some bad news came back from the e-mail booking system on Capri. The whole marina is closed for Rolex Cup regatta. This put a hole in our plans for the week and meant we could not stop in Capri on our way to Amalfi. Friday has been forecast for wind, so we did not want to be travelling then and one night would not be enough to see much given the length of the journey there and back. Sadly we had to give up on Amalfi this time. We opted to go to Procida for one night instead, as that is closer and smaller, and to try to book Sorrento for the three nights and take the ferry to Capri from there. It all depended on getting into Sorrento and John was worried that it would be full as Capri was out of the picture. He asked me to phone them. Channelling my best Mrs. Durrells voice I spoke to the boss there and he said yes. John promptly mocked me for my posh accent and I was not amused and made him phone Procida. They booked us in straight away, though the price has doubled since last year. Nonetheless it was a huge relief to sort out the holiday.
Lara cooked us a very delicious vegetable stew, topped with sliced potatoes like grandma used to make.
Tuesday is a day the garden at La Mortella is open, but sadly they do not take dogs, so John and I took Scamp for a walk round town, while Lara took the others off on a guided tour. Scamp was a bit sloughed at first, so we sat under the umbrellas outside Hotel Calise and had a coffee and he sat under the table good as gold. There then came a barrage of fireworks echoing round the valley with reports like canon fire interspersed with firing squad rattles. Scamp was frightened looked up at me trembling, so I took him on my knee till it ended. It went on for so long that he stopped shaking before it was over. I think it helped that no-one took the slightest bit of notice of it, so quite what was happening we do not know. We then walked up to the red hotel and saw for ourselves the sad number of houses and businesses that are still derelict after the earthquake. Back on the beach we threw Scamp his stick to give him a run. He gamely raced along fetching it for a while before deciding to go and stand in the sea. He stood looking us in the eye, then lay flat down in the water and then stood again as if to say ‘I’m already wet now, throw it in here!’ John obliged him throwing the stick first one way then the other. John tired first, sending his aim off and Scamp had to swim for the stick, while we both held our breath wondering which of us would be first to get wet should he get into difficulty. He paddled back to shore and after a few more throws we put him on the lead and went to the little beach restaurant for lunch. We were just finishing when the kids arrived back, very impressed with the garden and joined us for a drink and some chips.
Inspired by the tea garden at La Mortella, Lara and Katie revived an old Sunsail tradition of tea and cakes at three, treating us to some delicious pastries and making a variety of different teas.
That evening we ate out at a pizza restaurant Johnsey and John had called at for lunch the day before. Johnsey had checked and they were happy for Scamp to come too. In fact they were generally very accommodating. In a private section a Russian flotilla were holding some sort of quiz night and on a large table behind us the shopkeepers of Casamicciola held an even livelier committee meeting. We stuck to Italian classics, but at some point must go back and try their burgers; they are named for characters from Lord of the Rings and look suitably epic.