That's E and J with the yellow lilo that Jake insisted on buying. I must confess we all had to fight to have a go on it. There were no worries about drifting out to sea. None of the places we swam seemed to be tidal. We spent the best part of three days on beaches and the water lapped up to the same line all day long.
I'm not sure if the Italian men all line up at the waters edge to a. Watch all the women in bikinis (this is the vast majority, in fact I don't think I saw any one piece swimming costumes at all) or b. Get a more even tan or c. Watch their kids in the water. The more I watched the more I eliminated c, and decided it was a combination of a and b. Either way it was quite amusing, especially if they were particularly muscly and stood with their hands on their hips.
We learnt about another aspect of Italian culture whilst on the evening road trip between Lerici and Cecina. The Italian Road Accident. Fairly common occurrences we were told. Traffic was slowed down by a police man waving a big red lollipop (air traffic control style) and once we had all come to a stop, lo and behold all the men started getting out of their cars. Being British we assumed they knew they were in for a long wait and would stand around chatting to each other whilst traffic was stationary. No, not at all, they got their phones out and their cigarettes and they trooped down in droves to see what was going on, who was hurt, how bad the cars were smashed up...really! Not only that but the women all smiled and laughed to each other whilst remaining in the cars. When it was partly cleared we wove in and out of men and parked cars and the poor guy on the stretcher had no privacy whatsoever.
By this time, and following the road rage incident, the vertical sunbathing and the road accident the kids had firmly decided, 'we love Italians!' Jake was in gelato heaven. M was thoroughly embracing the arm waving when drivers did something daft. E was loving the hot weather and I was making mental notes of which resort we might choose for the duration of the next holiday.
Unfortunately the following day was not a good day. M had crashed out in Cecina, into a sleep that was bordering on comatose. Meanwhile I managed to slice a finger knuckle into ribbons by shoving my hand into a wash bag with a razor in it. Man, it bled such a lot. I grabbed the nearest cloth item which happened to be a white towel and tried to wake M for some help. I shoved and shouted and he didn't even stir. I managed to rinse it, squeeze it and then got E to wrap a large plaster round it tightly. It bled all night and I used up all the large plasters we had. By morning M was of course oblivious, and instead of a bit of sympathy decided to be the husband from hell.
You know those moods where someone is short, snappy, sarcastic, monosyllabic, unhelpful... I could go on. Well that was our entire morning, right up til lunchtime. At lunchtime (and with my finger still dripping blood through the plasters) I finally ran out of patience and asked wtf was up. Irritatingly he thought he was being absolutely fine. This made my anger increase fourfold. I decided to get a few things off my chest (he had been challenging since Dover). He decided to deny everything. Divorce was mentioned. Definitely the lowest point in our entire marriage. What made it worse was driving in the wrong direction and realising too late that Grossetto was not only a town but also a region. So when the thermal spa we wanted to go to was in Grossetto, it was the region and not the town. We got to Grossetto only to realise we were an hour away from the thermal spas and our aim, all holiday was only to only spend a limited time travelling each day. Note here that one of my requests before we left England was that in the event of problems, wrong turns, bad decisions, crisis, whatever, we would calmly discuss our available options. Huh. I counted twelve naughty f words in one sentence to which I replied calmly, 'well option one is to do the extra hour drive and get to the thermal spas and option two is to drive ten minutes to the nearest beach and jump in the sea.' I won't even tell you what his response to that was. It's unprintable.
We did the latter. It was 31.5 degrees and no-one wanted to drive any further, especially not with two adults in the front seat both with murderous thoughts!