Off to Sorrento

The hottest day yet and there was not a breath of air. John and I headed off early into town for supplies with our trusty trolley. Lara had located a supermarket up past the restaurant in the Cathedral cloister. John bumped the empty trolley up the steps remarking tat he hoped we found another way down. In the event he need not have worried, as we did not find the supermarket. It was an interesting walk up the little buttressed alleyways, but the only turn off was signed to the cemetery and looked suitably eerie. I think someone had just swept the street and raised the dust into a gloomy mist. Our exploring brought us back to the main street, not at all far up considering the distance we had walked. We carried on up and found a small food store, so small it had a sliding access door. The space was crammed floor to ceiling with packaged goods, facing the door ranged a large deli counter, behind which a very pleasant couple stood. We passed across what we wanted and pointed at various good looking pieces of cheese, which one cut and weighed and the other rang up on the till.. Half way through our order a man and his small son came in for a bottle of coke, John and I both shuffled sideways to let them in. I helped slide the door of the fridge behind us, so the lad could reach his coke and one of the shopkeepers took their money and asked if they wanted anything else, while the other carried on serving us. The two left and we shuffled back to center stage. The cost of our complete order containing all sorts of choice goods amounted to two-thirds the price of our previous shop chez the grumpy madam. Moreover this couple was very pleasant throughout and wished us a good day when we left. We trundled our trolley down the main street and stopped for breakfast at a café overlooking the odd fountain in honour of the man who introduced the compass to western navigation. We took Lara a croissant back to the boat, but decided that since the marineras here take the boats back out we would leave her to sleep and just set off.

John went off to settle up with Julio, who, cheerful as ever, told us to start the engine when we were ready and they would come and take us out. John and I debated whether or not to stow the passerelle. John was in favour of leaving it so they could climb on board, I reasoned they would not want us to be messing about with it, when they were ready to go and a man who could climb on board from a moving dingy would manage to jump across from the pontoon. If not they had plenty of their own wooden gangplanks, which they lent to people on hand. With that we stowed the passerelle and started the engine. Lyra has rather a quiet engine, so they were a while hearing it. Julio and the tall man stood at the back of the boat and the tall man hopped across with no hesitation. Julio hesitated, his partner suggested we may wish to reverse a bit for him, at which point Julio jumped and hopped up on deck smiling broadly, ‘They are only legs” he said. The tall man covered the deck, moving from bow to stern like a rash, untying ropes as he went before easily stepping back onto the pontoon. Julio nosed us out, “Slowly, slowly”, between the bows of our neighbours and the rocks near shore. As we came round the pontoon end the tall man set out in the orange rib. Julio shook both our hands, wished us a good journey and hoped to see us again before hopping down into the rib. They both waved us off before sweeping back to base.

With no wind we motored back along the Amalfi coastline, avoiding lobsterpots. Lara emerged around midday, surprised at the progress we had made. We watched Capri separate from the headland, but this time we were heading for neighbouring Sorrento. It is not easy to spot the marina entrance as the town spreads along the towering cliffs for some way above it, but we were guided in by the ferry traffic. The first ferry we saw was heading towards us on a collision course. John followed the rules of the road and turned to starboard. The ferry looked to be determined to take us out, turning towards us each time we adjusted our course. Finally John made a strong turn to port and the ferry swept by us on the starboard side. In Greece we had been warned that ferried often were loathe to change from their set course regardless of protocol, it appears this holds for Italy too. We were concerned at another ferry coming up astern, but he simply overtook us and then turned to point the way into the port. Then he backed off and a third boat came speeding out. Where was this one heading now? Naples! He passed behind us, the wake sending the nose dipping and diving.

Cautiously we entered the harbour, nosing our way round the huge ferry, now stern to against the quay. John radioed in and we were answered right away, but then nothing happened. There was not much room for maneuver, ranks of small craft tied to buoys on the port side, a wooden pier ahead and a small pontoon coming off the quay to starboard. As we hung in the water two young men jumped in a rib and headed out from the pier only to turn and disappear amongst the small boats. Another ferry arrived and hooted at us to pull further forward, so it could swing in to dock. The sandy bottom was looking uncomfortably close. The rib came back and crossed in front of us heading for the pontoon. Neither of the men on board so much as looked at us. We are used to this treatment from busy waiters, but it is unnerving when you are just drifting about unsure where to go in a forty-foot boat. Finally one of them called across to ask our depth, John told him and decided to follow them. We came round the end of the moored boats and one man had climbed out to stand on the pontoon, while his partner was feeding the lazy line hand over hand from inside the rib. Once he had cleared the spot John reversed in and the man on the dock took our lines as the one in the rib tied on the lazy line at the front, so they were most helpful really, just a bit quiet. It was not that their English was not up to the task either. Once we were in the one from the rib climbed out and did the paperwork there on the pontoon. He asked John where we had come from and on hearing it was Amalfi asked if we had stayed with Julio. “Yes” said John,” legend is he?” “We all know him,” our new host muttered darkly.

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Today we took a boat trip for a change. The ferry to Positano set off from the stone pier and boarding was such a crush that I ended up on the top deck on my own, while John and Lara found seats in the shade below. As we arrived in Positano there was a scrum to take photos. It is very beautiful. In many ways it is very like Amalfi, but there is more of a seaside than a town feel to it. Along the sea fronts various artists man their stations, ostensibly painting the view of the town, but it clearly does not matter much where they are to churn out their choice of scene. One old chap had some very lively pencil drawings that he was steadily ruining with paint. We stopped off for a coffee in The Pergola restaurant, shaded by the vines growing over said pergola. Lara had a late breakfast crepe and John and I shared a strawberry flan, most wicked.

Joining the hoards we climbed up into the town, stopping off to look in some of the lovely clothes shops, but not to buy at those prices. We wandered into the cathedral, where a first communion service was being held and listened to the lovely singing. On up through the enclosing mediaeval passages, we visited an interesting exhibition of modern sculpture hosted by Liquid Art in a garden, though on coming back down the hill I fear we had inadvertently gate crashed a private show as now an attractive young woman was guarding the doorway. Having exhausted the shops and the sights we had lunch overlooking the harbour in a goldilocks dining room with table decorations of pink and white balloons on three long tables, all very Hello Kitty. Fortunately we had mostly finished before the First Communion celebrants arrived, a huge extended family alternately hugging and bickering through a late lunch.

After lunch we sat in the shade looking out at the activity going on in the harbour. It was a little early for our ferry, but a small mob was congregating at the stop, so we decided to join it. This was just as well, for the ferry arrived not soon after, filled up and left ten minutes early, fortunately with us on board. After that we relaxed on Lyra and John cooked a home made beans on toast with the vacuum packed beans from the old witches shop, these turned out not to be such a convenience food after all, stubbornly staying rock hard after much cooking. They smelled great. We had cheese and biscuits instead and ladled them into a Tupperware try again another day.

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At Leisure in Amalfi

The weather is becoming hotter by the day. Lara chose to relax on the boat rather than explore the town further in the heat of the day. John and I wandered up the main street and did some food shopping. We found a shop with an excellent selection of everything we could need. The proprietress was an old witch too miserable to even give us the time of day, muttering into her phone as she served us and charging us well over the odds. I would rather go without than go back there. It is unlikely we would need to, as there were lots of other enticing shops, with far pleasanter staff. On our way back we stopped for a coffee and then joined Lara to chill on board and watch the marineras shuffle boats around with admirable skill. After lunch we set out to explore the far side of the bay and to check the times of the sea taxi to Positano. A set of large umbrellas ranging up the side of the cliff road proved tempting and we sat with the cognisante sipping Aperol Spritze, tart but refreshing and rather civilized for us, looking down on the beach far below and in the distance Lyra.

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We are booked into the Marina Coppola to the pontoon of the siblings Coppola, who have been serving with love for many years. John looked them up on the Cruising Association network and the consensus was that they were most helpful, met yachts in a dinghy and came on board to steer them in. John was not keen on this idea. I was ecstatic about the prospect. Of more concern to me was one CA report said they had found themselves on a pontoon not attached to the shore.

Our last night in Capri proved rather rough. The wind blew up in the small hours and howled through the assembled riggings. We tossed about a fair bit with the ropes creaking and the fenders squealing. At one point John got up to check on everything, but all was well. It was still impossible to nod off to sleep. Lara also woke and battened down her hatches in case of rain, but no rain came. She did manage to fall straight back to sleep and showed no sign of coming round, when her wakeful parents decided to give up on sleep and head off into the harbour to buy some fresh bread. The choppy sea was not deterring the tripper boats in the way the dull weather had and all was mayhem in the port. We bought our supplies and settled down for our last cappuccino looking out over it all. We watched our skipper take out a man and his daughter, fearlessly zipping out behind the large ferry as it turned. There was not much wind, but more was forecast for later in the afternoon, so John thought we would be safer setting off and motoring. The boats on either side of us had also made a prompt start, so it was easy to set out from the quay, though negotiating the main harbour was interesting as ever. John decided we should just lift the fenders on board, rather than take them in, given it was a short trip under engine on a choppy sea.

We were soon beyond the hubbub around the port entrance. We were making for the first headland past Sorrento and could look back on the outline of the Faraglioni and the south west corner of Capri, beautifully etched by the morning light. Our course took us past the rocks where the Sirens reputedly sang to Odysseus. The Sirens themselves were silent, but the wind gusted up to a worrying thirty knots as we passed the headland. John and I exchanged worried looks and hoped this was just the effect of the headland. Lara lay down on deck and went back to sleep. The wind died back as we crossed the bay. I poked Lara to have a look at Positano as we motored by, but otherwise she slept through much of the spectacular coastline. The wind piped up at each headland we passed and it was a relief to arrive.

Amalfi sits amid soaring limestone cliffs, its houses decked like playing cards in a half finished game of patience. The harbour looked small and rocky. John called the mobile number we had been given and Lara and I spooled out the fenders. He was answered right away and a few moments later an orange rib came speeding out of the harbour mouth. There was only one occupant, so I feared we would be steering in after all, with him piloting us from the rib. As he came close he waved cheerfully at us and announced we would only need one line on the front left hand side, the rest they would do. Then he was round the stern, stood and tied himself on and sprang up onto our deck. He proceeded to take command, praising Lyra’s handling as he steered us onto the inside of his pontoon in a textbook landing despite the gusts of wind. On the pontoon a tall, thin man of superhuman strength was ready to spring onboard and tie up the lines. He fastened the lazy lines amidships and used our bow line to attach the nose to the next boat along. The two men did not exchange a word throughout. As we wrestled to lower the passerelle our host set off round the other side in his rib, had a few mouthfuls of sandwich and then returned with two plastic cups of chilled rose for John and myself, Lara having made herself scarce below.

I need not have worried, not only was the pontoon attached to the shore the gangway was most elegant, with planters and archways with carriage lights and green baize to walk on. Off we set for the customary beer. The first bar had a veranda projected out over the sea and we sat on the end, which was more exciting than we had expected when the wind came up so strongly it moved empty chairs. We hung onto our beers and took the glasses back when we had finished; glad Lyra was safely tied up in the dock.

In the cool of the early evening we ventured further up into the town. There are narrow winding streets lined with shops and restaurants and punctuated by a series of unusual fountains full of goldfish. A number of folk were taking the waters of these fountains and even filling plastic bottles from them. None of us fancied a try. We were lucky to find a table at a lovely restaurant tucked into the steps of the large cathedral, which dominates the square. We all had the homemade spaghetti with lemon pesto and it was excellent.

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Day 2 on Capri

Today did indeed dawn overcast and miserable, casting a quiet peace on proceedings in the harbour, which was quite pleasant really. A couple on the next boat had recommended visiting the villa of Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor and writer. The villa is in Anacapri, which is where we planned to visit today, so we thought we would catch a taxi to the villa, explore the town and take the chairlift, which now runs to the highest point of the island. We had a coffee in the quiet harbour first and then headed to the taxi rank. The taxis a bigger than they were when I was eleven, with fold down seats that turn them into mini buses. The road is no wider and there are the same hairpin bends to negotiate, though there are now sturdy metal railings of head height, built on top of the low wall. These both prevent cars from plunging over the edge and help block the dizzying views down. It is nearly summer and the traffic does swish past at times, but there is a rhythm to the way frequent road users pause before the bends (for which a vehicle must take up the entire road) or at wider sections so buses and lorries can pass. Half way up is a roundabout at which the left turn was so sharp our driver went all the way round to reach it. I think this was the site of the crossroads with the lonely shopkeeper of yesteryear, when I believe we had to crisscross it so many times to avoid having to make the sharp corners. This time our driver, a Kojack figure minus the lollipop, dropped us at the taxi rank at Anacapri and gave us directions to the villa.

It was a fair way along a cobbled pedestrian street lined with shops, where we became embroiled in a large mob of people we hoped were not heading to the villa. Actually Lara and I became embroiled, John managed to take the lead just ahead of the tour guide, strolling along unconscious of the fact that we were not the people behind him. Lara and I struggled through the mob catching the occasional glimpses of John’s red T-shirt, a very fortunate choice of colour on his part. We just managed to hit the front as he reached the villa entrance and turned to look for us. Luckily we were the only people to head into the villa.

I had never heard of Axel Munthe, but he practiced medicine in his native Sweden, in the trenches of the Great War and at various places around the Bay of Naples, occasionally writing books including most famously one about the building of this very place from the ruins of a Roman villa. A sort of for runner for A Year in Provence, though in Munthe’s case he was stretching the boundaries of his Hippocratic oath by setting up home there with the Swedish Princess he had supposedly been paid to treat. The house had a number of square white rooms full of solid old Swedish furniture, some of which was decoratively painted. Amongst this were incorporated various Roman artifacts dug up during the building work, a few fresh flowers and a rug and it would have been very Homes and Gardens. From the house we followed an arched corridor with views out to the sea far below, which morphed into a pergola, which had views from the balustraded cliff on one side and opened to the terraced gardens on the other. The terrace ended with a small patio from which the harbour could be looked down upon, guarded by a stone sphinx. There was a private chapel, in which Munthe had kept his library and then steps up into the garden, which managing to be both secretive whilst giving glimpses of the vast panorama of the bay below. It was also full of the fragrance of roses and jasmine. Back at the house Lara suggested we have lunch in the café’s roof terrace. Cautious of our previous days’ experience we went up to take a look. This place really did have a roof top terrace, running out over the archways below, with truly breathtaking views across the whole Bay of Naples. We sat happily at a shaded corner table and had bruschetta; in my case a posh mushrooms on toast, for Lara a medley of tomatoes and cheese and John kept faith with the Swedish ownership and had smoked salmon.

After lunch we headed back along the now quiet street and took the chairlift up to the summit of Mount Solar. I loved the chairlift, floating up over vegetable and looking out across the sea. Once we were reunited at the top it was clear John and Lara had not found the experience quite so exhilarating and they were glad to be back on terrafirma. We wandered around the top, peering over the various viewing platforms, looking down on the now familiar Faraglioni and the azure trails of the little boats below. This is not the same highest point in all of Capri, immortalised in our family photograph. I guess the chairlift now goes higher than was possible then. We sat in deckchairs at the top and had a go in a swing seat. More Selfie training and then it was time to go back down. Lara found this easier as she reasoned that if she fell she would at least be able to see where she was going. We then had a look round the shops and Lara had an impressive ice cream in a brioche from a gelaterie before we returned to the taxi rank. We were planning to take the bus down, but the buses are small and the queue a long one, so we shared a taxi with a couple of girls who had a ferry to catch.

That evening we dined out yet again in a restaurant along the quay, which is pleasantly quiet once the tripper boats have finished for the day.

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Day 1 on Capri

Lara was keen to visit the Blue Grotto and John resigned to going along too. We planned to save this for the second day and set out early, but when John checked the forecast for tomorrow there was talk of cloud and rain. Today the sun was blazing so we changed tack and set out for the smaller trip boats. We were waylaid by a young man with a facility for speech. He showed us his boat and announced he was local and an excellent sailor, he could give us a tour of the island ending in the Blue Grotto, which cost extra and he personally thought was overrated. He would go this way round so we could see the Faraglioni rocks in the beautiful light. There were other excellent sailors who would be able to give us the same tour, but they did not speak such good English as he did and so would not be able to tell us about the island so well. John asked how much and the price was less than John’s online research had suggested for a private tour. As the harbour was already busy I could imagine reaching the Blue Grotto and John not wanting to hang around waiting to go in. I explained we had set out early to see the Blue Grotto. We could go that way round the island if the Senora wanted.

So off we set and he was good as his word. He did not talk all the time, but he pointed things out as we went round and filled us in on bits of history. At the Grotto he called out to the boatmen and persuaded one to pull over and take us in with hardly any waiting around in the melee of small rowboats. Our man was an old hand who seemed to cut the lines without anyone questioning him. We all had to lay in the boat as our he hauled us through the low archway on a chain. Inside the electric blue looking back at the entrance was uncanny. It was also bedlam with boats churning past each other in the gloom and various boatmen, including our own bursting into snatches of song. I thought about my Mum and took some video in the hope that it will give a flavour of the experience. Then we were back out into the sunlight, back into our tour boat and off to the Green Grotto, and archway formed of green rock. This way round we ended with the Faraglioni and the famous view of them and we went through the arch in the center. All in all it was an excellent start to our day.

We took the funicular railway up into Capri town and visited the tourist information, the girl there circled a garden and a monastery as places of interest. First we had a wander round the little streets. There were lots of designer shops, expensively empty, a luscious pastry shop and gelateries piled high with coloured creamy clouds. Down one alley we were caught by a restaurant proprietor and lured into his pizzaria on the promise of a roof terrace. This turned out to overlook air conditioning ducts of the next rooftop, but it was quiet and the food smelled good, so we decided to eat there. Every so often he would arrive with another party, John said the streets acted like a lobster pot for him. The food was good, but Lara thought the mineral water suspect, chateaux Trotter. We ordered the next one with gas and our host looked at us as if we were trying to cheat him. On leaving we walked down a very pretty road built by Krupps to the garden. It was rather open and full of bedding plants and tourists, but did overlook the rocks. We joined the line to take photographs in front of them, Lara instructing us in the ways of Selfies. Back along the Krupps way and we parted from the crowds and found the monastery with had much wilder gardens and even better views and was deserted. It was amazing to find such a peaceful place with just us, and the odd lizard. Revitalized by the quiet, we retraced our steps into the center. There was a huge queue for the funicular so we walked back down using a footpath, which took us past lovely gardens of the painted houses. The only part of what we had seen today that was familiar to me had been the rocks.

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Capri, the pearl of the Bay of Naples, with its’ grottos and rock formations; home to emperors, movie stars, artists and our Gracie. When colour TV was in its infancy we used to watch a trade test transmission on BBC 2 celebrating the beauty of the island. On our most amazing Emms family holiday ever we cruised the Mediterranean, embarking at the port of Naples. There was an organized trip to Vesuvius and a Cameo workshop, but with Capri so close Mum was determined to venture out there under our own steam. An oily man in the harbour office was not encouraging; the seas were too rough, the ferries were not running, he had a taxi and could take us to Sorrento and maybe we could get a boat from there. This was November by the way. Undeterred my Mum set out into the port with the rest of us in tow. She ran into a tall policeman holding what looked like table tennis bats, who shouted above the blaring car horns of the nearby traffic that we should not be there, but Mum held her ground until he showed us where to go for a ferry to Capri. It was a small boat with a lower enclosed floor and an upper deck, open to the elements with ranked seats either side of a central cabin from which the Captain steered. We elected to stay out in the open, Mum and I sat to one side watching the cabin and its aerials toss this way and that. Dad and David sat in the center just behind the cabin, theoretically more sheltered and less turbulent. They were both pretty seasick. I felt fine out in the air, though I would not have fancied being enclosed below. I think Mum felt sick but sheer will power kept her from showing it.

Eventually Capri became more than a blue smudge on the swinging horizon and as we approached the small harbour our television window on the world came to life. I had never seen anywhere so pretty with its’ little square houses climbing the lower reaches of the hills like paintbox blocks of pastel colour. On our arrival the only life was a group of taxi drivers chatting on the cobbled dock. We instinctively avoided them, but one little man in a coat and beret stepped forward and tentatively asked if we were from Sheffield. Amazed Dad said yes and the little man turned triumphantly to nod at his friends. It turned out he had been a prisoner of war in Lodge Moor and had happy memories of his time there. He could show us the whole island in just one hour, the Grotto Blue (from above it was not open in such big seas), the Faraglioni Rocks, Gracie Field’s house and many other movie stars homes besides. How could we resist?

He ushered Mum, Dave and myself into the back of his car, Dad sat beside him in the front and we set off at speed up the twisting road, rounding hairpin bends with precipitous drops. Dad asked him what it was like in the summer and our driver made swishing movements with both hands (still driving) and said “oh…I afraidi”. We barely halted at a crossroads, where our driver shouted something at a man standing outside a large shop, who then waved and headed back inside. Up and up we climbed and drove through some pretty streets, which our driver announced was Annacapri, then back down and through the crossroads, the man came out of his shop and shouted and our driver leaned out of his window and shouted back, holding up his finger. He turned back to us and said he had been telling his friend we only had one hour. This time we drove along the coast until he pulled up at the side of the road and fetched us out to look down to a patch of disturbed water fanning out from the cliffs down below. “The Blue Grotto, closed today – too rough,” he announced. Nowadays we would take a photo, but then it did not look worth the film. Back into the car, back across the crossroads and its morose shopkeeper. Once more we climbed and he pulled in to a parking place and gestured us to come out. This time there was a proper railed viewpoint yielding a breathtaking view of cliffs plunging into the azure waters below. ‘This highest point in all of Capri” he announced and, when Dad took his camera out, insisted on taking a photograph of the us in front of it. There we stand the four of us, Mum and I in white fur fabric coats, captured for posterity against the railings, entirely blocking the view behind.

We all climbed back into the taxi. It would not start. There followed several grinding attempts and a fierce barrage of Italian from our driver met with silence from the engine. “Momento” he announce climbing out, at which point he flagged down a small blue bus that came round the corner and disappeared off in it. Silence. Mum announced we might as well eat the picnic we had brought and we all wandered across the road to stand at the highest point in all of Capri with our doorstep cheese sandwiches and wooly red apples. I was still chewing on my first bite of apple when a small cavalcade pulled up alongside our dead taxi. There was another blue bus, from which our driver emerged waving to us, a small orange truck with a tow hook and another yellow taxi. Our driver apologized for having to leave us to finish our tour with his friend, a much younger man with a moustache, who nodded throughout this speech though we were to realize his command of English was limited to place names “Yes, No”and “Gracie Fields there”. Our driver had explained everything to this friend, we should pay the friend as agreed and they would settle with each other later. Fielding sandwiches we were bundled into the second taxi and set off at light speed, down through the crossroads, where the shopkeeper sprang to life again only to be left in our dust. We climbed to another viewpoint, this time overlooking the villas of the rich and famous, including Our Gracie and the beautiful Faragalioni rocks. This time Dad managed to take a picture of the view. This was the end of our tour. as we thundered through the crossroads for the final time the shop keeper ran into the road arms out imploringly, the new man took both hands from the wheel to point at his watch and shout back in Italian. We arrived back at the harbour in good time to see our ferry approaching slowly, paid our driver and shook hands with all the other assembled taxi men.

At this point David noticed a small shop with a sign for Coca-Cola and announced he was thirsty. Dad took him off while Mum and I headed along the wooden jetty to wait for them by the ferry stop. The ferry arrived, tied up and lowered the gang- plank, but there was no sign of Dad or Dave. They were still in the shop waiting to pay while the only other tourist we encountered that day, a large American, was ordering an elaborate take away sandwich. Mum and I watched as people came off the ferry and a few others stepped on board, still no sign from the shop, which suddenly looked a very long way away. The Captain gestured for us to board. Mum and I stepped forward and stood resolutely on the gang-plank. The Captain looked puzzled and again asked us to board. “Don’t move Cathy” whispered Mum. The crew assembled, urging us to either come on or get off. They looked a swarthy lot, suddenly like pirates from a Disney movie. “ La Momma come..” groaned the Captain waving to us. At the time I did not know that the Med has little in the way of tide and worried his urgency was because his boat was about to be scraped on the bottom. “Don’t move Cathy”, repeated Mum gripping my hand whilst eyeballing the Captain and pointing at the shop and saying “Little Boy”. Suddenly Dad and Dave emerged clutching a paper bag and legging it for the boat. We all shouted encouragement to them and when they finally arrived, happiness abounded, the ropes were cast and we set off back. The cruise holiday was not going to start with us missing the boat.

Fast forward over forty years and I am again approaching Capri on a swaying deck. This time I have great faith in both Captain and fellow crew. We have sailed here for three hours, over a smooth sea in the sunshine. Capri is still very pretty, though the houses spread higher and further. The harbour is both huge compared to my last visit and tiny in terms of the number of craft it now has to accommodate. There are boats everywhere. Huge ferries, capable of carrying trucks disgorging hoards of people, tripper boats setting off with smaller throngs plucked from queues on the shore, small motor boats vying to capture the odd group and ahead of us another yacht. We have to wait in the far corner of the marina with motor launches buzzing about us, while the marineras deal with the other yacht first. It is a charter boat and its skipper is tentative about cutting across the smaller craft. John holds his ground and shows them no quarter. He knows they can maneuver out of our way and has several tones of boat to back his stance. The marineras are out in force, the head one holding the lazy line and directing proceedings, while shouting at the crews on the motor boats to Cha, Cha, Cha out of the way. We come in with no problems and the marinera moves across to bring in the next yacht, a German boat whose skipper clearly does not fancy joining the melee at the end and is reversing happily into a spot further up the quay. The main man lets out an ear-shattering whistle and waves abruptly; he is having none of this picking your own spot nonsense. Before too long we have German neighbours and can relax knowing we are in and settled. Tomorrow we will set out to explore the island and see if I can fit my memories into it.

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