Despite the lows of having a blazing row and not threatening divorce but promising it (me) we were in that funny position of having to carry on for the sake of the children.
Jake got upset and refused to believe that M had been 'snotty' as I was calling it by then. Jesus, where had that boy been? Plugged into his bloody iPod, that's where. E, who had also been plugged into her iPod but misses nothing agreed he'd been snotty since Dover. Mmmh, split family. I was just hoping for M to do one of his famous lines, 'well that's it then, I'm walking home!' That would have been absolutely hilarious and I think it would have cleared the air (though it would have been too much to resist just driving off and leaving him!)
With M sulking like a four year old who'd dropped his ice cream I took charge and we arrived at Principina La Mere. God only knows what the other families in the car park thought as we all spilled out, red eyed and banging doors and arguing even more. It was quite comic when I look back. M kept telling everyone to stop making a scene and I kept saying I don't give a f. We dumped our stuff on the beach and quick marched into the sea, leaving M sulking with the towels. The water was such bliss we were all soon laughing and splashing and floating and forgetting the nightmare of a morning. Eventually M joined us and all seemed calm. The problem with unfinished or unresolved arguments is that they don't quite go away.
On to the good stuff; Principina La Mere will always be a favourite spot of mine. You drive down a long avenue of pine trees before reaching the beach car parking. True, it is probably the windiest beach on the Italian coast but that didn't seem to spoil things, quite the opposite actually in 31 degree heat.
There were markets stalls along a section of the avenue and cafes and gelaterias. E and I bought leather sandals, mine natural and hers in red. Instantly comfortable they have walked miles round major cities and not rubbed or worn out. Oh and the penguin. Yes the penguin. E is still quite fond of penguins so on our way to the next hotel she made M stop in the middle of madly busy traffic so she could buy him. Normally this would have been out of the question and we'd have had an earful for even suggesting he stopped in the middle of what looked like rush hour just for a blow up penguin but since the big bust up M suddenly started being much nicer.
Jake bought himself some flip flops in the colours of the Italian flag and while he was faffing about trying to find some big enough, I happened to spot a whole shelf of crochet magazines! Jackpot! When they eventually found me in this little corner of the shop I was flicking through my tenth magazine with a big smile on my face. The vast majority had diagrams rather than written instructions so I chose the most interesting five of those and resisted the temptation to buy the whole lot. I now wish I had because they weren't so easy to locate after that. La Stampa's were everywhere but I just didn't fancy asking the newsagent to get a selection out from behind glass so I could browse and choose.
J was chief hotel booker whilst on holiday. We gave him the location, budget, and essential things like, en suite bathroom, wifi etc. He surfed, pondered and eventually came up with accommodation which was absolutely spot on. He was also determined to try and book as many hotels with swimming pools as he could but only managed that in Cecina (where he had a late night and early morning swim on his own). The room he booked in Civitavecchia was an unusual arrangement. It was above a railway station! It was absolutely brand spanking new and after some old crumbly bathrooms we were glad of the modern IKEA decor. It had a fantastic bathroom, bunk beds for the kids, a comfy double for us and the view that Jake is looking at in the picture above.
We arrived at about 8 o clock at night. It was still extremely warm. We had a really nice evening in Civitavecchia because everything was within walking distance. We started off along by the sea, where there were more stalls, cafes etc. There was an entire cafe just devoted to water melon. You could have a drink with your water melon but that was the only thing on the menu apart from water melon. Had we not stuffed our faces with pizza we might have tried it out. Dinner was at a rustic bar/cafe pizzeria. Plain wooden tables outside and in. Homemade pizza made on a stone slab in front of you. A half carafe of white wine, mostly to myself. By now the children were grading their pizzas from one to ten and Civitavecchia scored 10. We had sweet and salted corn on the cob afterwards from a stall by the beach, it was very cheap and very tasty.
Everywhere you go in Italy at night there are men selling complete rubbish. The most popular thing was a lit up missile that was fired with a bit of plastic and an elastic band. Quite effective I must say, they were landing on statues and balconies and lost forever. One little boy of about three was standing alone outside an open air cafe while his parents ate and chatted and drank wine. He flicked it up several times reasonably successfully and then managed to flick the band up in the air and not the missile. We heard a shrill wail of 'papa papa papa' then a whole load of Italian that we could only guess was, 'I've lost my elastic band and now I can't fire my lighting up thing'. Oh his little face was so cute. So the four of us set about trying to find his elastic band and I found it down by the wall. I gave it to M who gave it to the boy who promptly accused M of hiding it all along! The Father told him to say sorry and thank you. Then he said thank you in English to us (we must look English by the way) and the boy was happy once more. Is there anything cuter than 'si papa'? Yeah Dad just isn't the same!
Next stop Rome!