Thursday, June 30, 2022

Mura Di Lucca parkrun #116

Lucca, Tuscany, Italy. Saturday 25-June-2022.

We have finally crossed the line between opportunistic parkrun tourist to intentional tourist. Until now we have only done other parkruns when we have been away on a trip and there is a parkrun within reasonable distance (plus some close to home). That has changed. We planned this weekend away specifically to do the unique Mura di Lucca parkrun.

We plan to spend half the year in our second home in Cisternino, southern Italy. Well not entirely true, this year we plan to escape the August heat by returning to the UK for four weeks.

With fewer commitments to take us back to the UK we can now do some internal tourism, visiting other parts of Italy. First on the list was Lucca. Not only do we get to do a new parkrun but we know friends of friends who have an apartment there hence an opportunity to meet up and socialise with them. There are Ryanair flights from Brindisi to Pisa from where it is an hour’s train ride to Lucca. As luck would have it our friend had just dropped somebody off at the airport and was able to hang around and give us a lift back to Lucca.

We had booked an Airbnb that was only six minutes walk from the start of the parkrun which is the closest we have been to the start of a parkrun (apart from Mole Valley where we stayed in the hotel in the vineyard).

Unsurprisingly there were a fair number of tourists some of whom we chatted to before and after. Mary had a chat with the run director and volunteered for the role of "Camminatore di Coda" (tail walker). He offered her the vest with "Tail Walker" on it but she insisted on the Italian version.

After a bilingual briefing off we went. 

The walls are only 4.5 km round so the course starts clockwise with a short out and back around the first bastion and then does a single anti-clockwise circuit of the walls. It is a very scenic parkrun with beautiful views of the city and countryside with lots of shade from the trees lining the path.

Risultati di Mura di Lucca parkrun per l'evento n.116. Il tuo tempo è stato 00:29:15.

Congratulazioni per aver completato il tuo 133° parkrun e il tuo 1° a Mura di Lucca parkrun oggi. Hai finito in 32° posizione su un totale di 53 parkrunner. Sei stato 22° Maschio e 2° nella categoria VM65-69. Dai un'occhiata all'insieme dei risultati della settimana sul nostro sito web. Complimenti per la tua prima corsa a Mura di Lucca parkrun. Abbiamo impostato questa come PB.

Not my best time this year, not my worst. Always happy to come in under 30 minutes. For me it was unique location number 34 so I still have a way to go to reach my Cowell (100 unique locations).

Mary got ample opportunity to practice her conversational Italian with the walkers at the back.   

There were 27 first timers out of a field of 53 so tourists account for half the parkrunners with the Wimbledon Windmilers and Porthcawl Runners represented. Afterwards there doesn’t appear to be a standard café so we all dispersed to various locations for coffee and/or breakfast.

The rest of the weekend was spent walking miles and miles in and out of the narrow streets of the old town, eating and drinking, doing cultural stuff and, as an added bonus, a concert on the Saturday night: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets [gig report].

Monday afternoon we again got a lift back to Pisa airport and were back home to Puglia before midnight for a final nightcap and bed.

Milan Nord is on the list as my nephew and godson lives there as does his mother and grandmother. Just not sure when yet. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets at Lucca Summer Festival

Lucca, Tuscany, Italy. Saturday 25-June-2022.

With no prior knowledge and a massive amount of serendipity we managed to be in Lucca on the right weekend. 

We had gone to visit to Lucca for the weekend as a bit of internal Italian tourism and to do the Mura di Lucca parkrun. We were wandering around town on Friday afternoon when we saw posters for the Lucca Summer Festival including this concert on the Saturday night, the first of the series. 

Nick Mason formed the band in 2018 to play all the early years Pink Floyd material. This was an opportunity absolutely too good to miss. A quick trot to the box office where we bought the best available tickets, amazingly it was not sold out.

Pink Floyd were essential component of my playlist in the late 60s and early 70s, basically the college years. I bought the album Saucerful of Secrets when it first came out. At college me and my mates were into prog rock and such like. We took it in turns to buy the albums and we would go round to each other’s rooms to listen to the albums that we didn’t have and visa versa.

My copy of Saucerful of Secrets had a slight scratch on side two because my mate Pete accidentally dropped the vinyl while taking it off the deck and, trying to catch it with his foot, kicked it across the room. Fortunately the damage was slight as he was wearing rubber soled plimsolls and there was carpet in the room. Not that I hold a grudge but I still remember it clearly.

This is what I looked like then. Nothing says prog rock like long hair, a cheesecloth shirt and denim jacket.

The show included a full-on psychedelic light show. 

The concert lasted for 2 and 1/2 hours with one 20 minute interval. 

We got to hear a pretty full set list of that early material played by very talented musicians: former Blockheads guitarist Lee Harris, bassist and Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt (session player with so many famous names), vocalist and guitarist Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, and Orb keyboardist Dom Beken [wikipedia].

Update: added Astronomy Domine clip [1:30]

Pink Floyd were never on my bucket list because the band as I knew it no longer existed so to get to see the original drummer together with an impressive array of musicians play that early catalogue live was a real nostalgic treat. 

So now I have seen them and I did buy the T-shirt.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

North Wales Coast Path - Spring 2022

Pen-Y-Bryn, Conwy, Wales. Friday/Friday 01/08-April-2022.

This was intended as a week's walking holiday on the north Wales coastal path but it turned into more of a patchwork quilt of entertainments. Sadly two of our friends tested positive for Covid just before and had to drop out.

Friday 1st: drove down from Penrith to Pen-Y-Bryn for a takeaway fish and chip supper and general chat with our friends.

Saturday 2nd: Up early to do parkrun, of course. The parkrun was very short drive down to the Conwy estuary. A straightforward out and back along the estuary path, starting and finishing at the RSPB sanctuary.

Then it was back to the cottage for breakfast part two and a drive all the way down to Weybridge in Surrey for our friend Ceri‘s belated (by two years) 70th birthday party. We had very sensibly booked a room in the Inn where the function was to be held. We ate, we drank, we chatted a lot and danced a little.

Sunday 3rd: we then drove all the way back up to Pen-y-bryn in time for tea and a late Sunday dinner.

Monday 4th: the first proper walk: around Great Orme head. We set off from the cottage, walked round several less than interesting housing estates until we hit the coast path. It was quite a breezy day.

On the way out we saw the famous Conwy goats that had invaded Llandudno during lockdown.

Moving time: 4:52:57, distance: 22.17. The longest walk we have done for years (literally).

Tuesday 5th: Bodnant Gardens. Our friend Kate was not able to partake of long walks nor, after yesterday's epic walk, were we. Instead we opted for some gentle garden wandering.

The extensive grounds had all manner of plants including some interesting looking water's edge plants.

The Pin Mill which was moved brick by brick from Woodchester in Gloucestershire.

More delightful meanderings through the Italianate Grade I listed gardens.

Our cottage was well equipped and at the top of a very narrow, winding and unlit lane so we decided to eat in most nights. The exception was Tuesday evening when we had an enjoyable meal at LAVA hot stone kitchen in Conwy.

Wednesday 6th: another long walk along Colwyn Bay. First we went to see the seals off Little Orme head.

En route we passed the picturesque church of St Trillo, the smallest church in Wales with room for a congregation of six.

The interior of St Trillo's church.

The Llandudno pier funfair provided a splash of colour on an otherwise grey walk.

Moving time: 3:31:15, distance 16.34. Not as bad as Monday. Thanks to local knowledge we learned there was a number 12 bus that runs along the coast so we could just keep walking until we'd had enough and catch the bus back.

Thursday 7th: In the morning we had a look round Penrhyn Castle and in the afternoon it was a visit to Conwy. A walk round the city walls, with a view of the castle, and down through the town to the harbour.

Some interesting buildings in the town.

Friday 8th: the long drive back to Penrith after breakfast.

A nice mix of activities and a good opportunity to catch up with our friends some of whom we had not seen since our holiday to Hadrian's Wall just before the first lockdown.