Remembering the cold miserable April weather of previous years, we delayed our departure for Italy till May, to be met by blue skies and sunshine, the roadside verges livid with fluttering poppies. Lyra was not coated in red dust either. We dumped our cases, donned our shorts and headed for the bar. A brace of special Peronis, two paper plates of today’s fresh pasta (tubes filled with aubergine and mozzarella in rich tomato sauce “bakked in the ofen”) followed by glossy espressos. “This is the life!” Then came a suitably lazy afternoon and beans on toast with Henderson’s relish for tea, courtesy of the Mustard Bus supplies from last year.
Day two, Friday, and “the party is over”. The weather started much colder and I started with a cold. My throat ached and I had no energy. John said he felt the same. We needed supplies, so opted for the short walk to the little shop with our trolley. The ladies there were welcoming as ever and we came back fully loaded. John seemed fully recovered and announced plans to give the decks a first going over after lunch. I felt drained. We lunched on bread, ham and tomatoes, followed by black coffee, and then I retired below for an Uncle David power nap. (Drink strong black coffee; set your alarm for half an hour and go to sleep before the caffeine kicks in. When the alarm sounds you wake raring to go). Needless to say I set no alarm, but when I woke I did feel much better and set about cleaning the inside, starting from the stern. The low temperatures made my task much easier, as being sealed in below decks as John sloshes water about can be oppressive in the heat. At the end of the day we both felt we had made good progress. Then John wrote his usual to do list of jobs. I could see jobs drifting away into the future like a Star Wars intro, and began to feel tired again.
Saturday and the rain began, heavy downpours interspersed by drizzle. I felt much better, but the long walk into town would have been asking for a soaking, so we nipped back to the local shop at the first weather window and now have enough to tide us over the weekend. Afterwards I again felt really drained and had a lie down, while John soldiered on with his list.
Sunday, declared a day of rest, with no chores. Not that I haven’t been doing plenty of resting anyway. The skies were less threatening, but it was cold and very windy. We wore raincoats on our walk to the bar and opted to sit inside on arrival. Everyone else was doing likewise. The Italian faces around us are beginning to look familiar, though we seldom see anyone from our pontoon in there. Two fresh pasta choices on a Sunday, John had courgette linguini and I had thicker scialatielli in an aubergine and tomato sauce, which John had to help me out with. We toddled back to Lyra full as ducks under towering black skies and sat below listening to the storm come in, roaring wind building a percussion of ropes on masts and groaning fenders to fever pitch. It went on all night. We slept badly and woke up feeling tired. I woke a fully-grown snot monster, constantly sneezing and blowing my nose, in no fit state to show myself in public, let alone walk into town to the supermarket. John sent off e-mails chasing the life raft service company and requesting an engine service and then heroically set about changing the toilet pump. He is becoming a bit morose about the lack of progress and the miserable weather. I don’t expect the sight of me is helping.
Tuesday, and I am much more presentable and feel relatively lively. We went up to the bar for croissants and coffee and bought washing tokens from the office. After picking up the red trolley we took the long walk into town and called at the upholstery shop, Tappezzeria d’Arte, en route to the supermarket. They are the people who made us the new cockpit cover two years ago and we are hoping they will be able to sort out our sorry Bimini at along last. The owner and his wife were stood together as we entered. After a halting start they remembered us and their smiles broke out. Another woman arrived behind us and was treated to a torrent of Italian, about us having a ”barque”, that we had placed an order “doue Anno” ago and here we were happily back, or so we surmised from the gestures. Our proficiency in Italian has not improved at all in the interim, but we had prepped a photograph of the Bimini on John’s phone to show them. With a bit of pointing at the calendar the owner arranged to come over to measure at nine tomorrow morning, so we left the shop much encouraged with all three staff wishing us good day. The supermarket was quite peaceful and we were soon plodding back with a full load, which we plundered for lunch. During the afternoon we washed the cockpit cover and put up the Bimini ready for morning. First John had a phone call from the engine people, who are also going to come at nine tomorrow and then came a call from the life raft servicers, who will send someone to collect tomorrow, which promises to be a rather busy day.
Early this evening there were fireworks in spite of the rain and a glorious rainbow over the derelict steelworks coming to earth in Castellemare.