Wednesday, April 24, 2024

TranSalentina del Sole 2024

Otranto / Gallipoli, Puglia, Italy. Thursday 25-April-2024

The TranSalentina del Sole is a walk across the Salento peninsula from Otranto on the Adriatic coast to Gallipoli on the Ionian coast. It is 50 km walk passing through 12 communes, done in a single day. The day being, in this case, National Liberation Day, a public holiday in Italy.

We only heard of it because our friend and fellow parkrunner, Nadia, mentioned a couple of weeks earlier that she was going to do it. Having had to cancel a tough walk planned for May, Mary decided we would do this instead. I sent off the application forms and what followed was 10 days of ever longer walks to build up our fitness and stamina.

It was a well organised event partly thanks to our friends helping with the logistics. There were regular water stops, cars to carry baggage, and people if required, and even an ambulance to track the group of about 40 walkers.

We decided to make a mini break of it and drove down to stay with our friends in Castro the night before and go out for a pizza, stay a couple of days and travel to parkrun on Saturday from there.

On the day itself, we had a horribly early start to drive an hour to Otranto for a 7 o’clock assembly and a 7:50 start to the walk.

Also available as [Googlemap], [kmz], [gpx] or [Komoot].

Some introductory words were spoken by Fernando, the main organiser and a man with an impressive walrus moustache. Photo credits are due to him for some of these pictures.

The four parkrunners: me, Mary, Nadia and Julia. Given as this was another of Mary's “bright” ideas my choice of t-shirt was a no-brainer.

Leaving Otranto. The first stretch was very gentle, running alongside an irrigation channel, hence all the reeds.

We shortly reached Uggiano la Chiesa and the Byzantine crypt of Saint Angelo.

Giurdignano. We came across a field full of goats. Well, I guess Ricotta di Capra has got come from somewhere.

Water stop 01: 1:08:50 6.19 km.

Team photo at the water stop. The man in the green t-shirt is Riccardo Rella, a pioneer of Trekking in Salento, who started this walk many years ago.

Minervino di Lecce. This was a guided walk with no maps or way-marks so we obviously had to keep together as a group. We didn’t get too strung out and the water stops every 5 to 8 km provided an opportunity for regrouping.

Giuggianello. We passed through a lot of flat countryside with various stone structures dotted about, presumably mostly agricultural stores.

Giuggianello. As it is spring, we were seeing a lot of these yellow flowers that also adorn the Salento parkrun course.

Sanarica. The first of two pillars that we passed that day. Function unknown. As archaeologists are prone to saying, “for ritual purposes “

Water stop 2: 2:55:11 15.5 km.

Muro Leccese water stop. Here you can see our support team in the red hats. Saverio on the left, also Run Director at Salento parkrun, Nadia having a sit down, Mary surveying the scene, and on the right Estienne, sometime parkwalker, parkrunner and volunteer, and today part of the backup crew.

Muro Leccese. La chiesa di Santa Marina - dating back to the 9th-11th centuries with a sixteenth-century bell tower. The interior houses a cycle of frescoes dating back to 1087 which depict the life and works of Saint Nicholas.

Muro Leccese. Given the infrequent train services on southern train routes we were surprised to be held up at the level crossing  

We passed several heritage trail plaques in the ground.

Water stop 3: 3:40:56 19.56 km.


Leaving Scorrano, a sign that we were heading in the right direction  

We were accompanied by a lovely dog called Tiffany, named after the film Breakfast at …, who came with us the whole way, running backwards and forwards so probably doing at least half as much again as we did!

Supersano. The last stretch of the pre-lunch section heading for a longer break at the 30km mark.

Supersano. Lots of poppies among the cabbages.

Lunch: 5:35:55 29.56 km.

Supersano. A 45 minute break. We ate the ham and cheese rolls we’d made that morning and were grateful for a chance to sit down, take our boots off, let our feet steam gently and put on fresh socks.

Supersano. Straight after lunch we had the only real uphill but only a short section to the high point of the route at 201 mt above sea level.

Casarano. A scary looking tree but reckon the birds won't be fazed by it.

Our first view of the sea!

Parabita, Piazza Umberto Primo.

Waterstop 4: 7:16:32 37.90 km.

Parabita, a slightly longer water stop. One of the party, Julia, had done this walk many times before and so knew where to go to get an ice cream!

Alezio. Getting closer to the end as the sun starts to settle towards the horizon.

Water stop 5: 8:18:39 43.37 km.

Outskirts of Gallipoli. The peloton on a narrow path across a field.

After 50 km and nearly 12 hours, we arrived at the Ionian sea just as the sun set. A feature of this event is carrying a portion of water from the Adriatic Sea and with great ceremony, pouring it into the Ionian Sea.

A second parkrun team photo and we are still smiling!

Team photo of the entire crew who made it the full distance, including Tiffany, the dog, and our two paramedics, who services I am glad to say were not called upon.

The End: Walking time 9:35:19. Total time 11:45:57. 50.44 km..

Elevation profile. Nothing too horrendous, mostly easy going.

I joked that it was an Ultra since it is longer than a marathon. Not sure I'd do this particular event again but would happily go out with the same group.

Friday, April 05, 2024

Brunswick Road 14 - Living Room

Penrith, Cumbria. February-2024. Money Pit II, Season 2, Episode 2 - Living Room.

It has been a month of frenetic DIY that had to be crammed in between Money Pit II, Season 2, Episode 1 - Yard Work, and flying off to Italy. We had decided to have the plaster in our living room stripped and replaced for several reasons:

  • In winter the room was freezing as the front wall gets most of the weather and the central heating was insufficient. The advice was to put in 50 mm insulating plasterboard and replace the radiator with a new, more efficient one.
  • We were hoping there might be a lovely stone chimney breast and fireplace hidden behind the plaster, as there was in Benson Row.
  • The plaster on the corridor wall had blown. You could tell by tapping it that the skim plaster was coming away from the backing plaster.

We were able to organise it such that we were away from home when most of the destruction took place. The dust sadly will take longer to clear.

Alas, the chimney breast was a hodgepodge of old bricks and stones with no lovely lintel. So our builder put in a new concrete lintel and covered the wall up with 20 mm insulating plasterboard.

When the plaster was removed the wall against the entrance hall turned out to be a stud wall with a cavity between the two sides of lath and plaster. In the bottom left corner, in the freezing lobby, there wasn't even lath and plaster just a piece of hardboard. As part of the reinstatement, the void was packed with insulation and then covered with 20 mm insulating plasterboard.

I had wanted to recycle the original Victorian skirting boards with their elaborate profile. We found a local, proper old-school sawmill that could re-create this for us as we needed a short section to make up a shortfall. When I came to bash out all the old nails, it did so much damage to the original timber that we decided to abandon that idea and go with all new skirting board.

As soon as the plaster work was complete and dry, I had to emulsion the ceiling (one coat), and all the walls (two coats). As we were putting in a new picture rail I had to be very careful to paint down to the laser guided line that marked where it would go, brilliant white above, white mist below. I also had to prime the picture rail with a couple of coats and prime and paint the section of skirting board that would go behind the new radiator so they were ready for the carpenter to install them. The plumber came the same day as the carpenter and replaced all three downstairs radiators so the house was a bit busy.

After the skirting boards and picture rail were in place, I had to finish off the woodwork painting: top coat on the picture rail, primer times two and topcoat on the skirting boards. It was vital to get those done before the carpet was fitted!

As the fireplace was disappointing, we went for an original Victorian fireplace insert from a large selection at Cumbria Architectural Salvage. 

None of the fireplace / stonemasons in town could quote and supply a hearthstone in time so we cheated. We bought a piece of wood from B&Q, cut it to shape, and painted it matt black. Since we won’t be using the fireplace as a real fire (the chimney is capped off and would need lining) a wooden hearth is not a problem. It does mean that the carpet fitters could do their thing working up to the “hearthstone”. We could replace it at some point but we suspect it’ll be there for at least 10 years!

We had chosen a higher tog underlay and carpet which the carpet fitters installed in under an hour! After they left, we could reinstate the room as it should be. New curtains and sofa to follow...

Looking all very wonderful. We now have insulated walls and floor and a new radiator that is no longer under the window sill so we expect to be very toasty in there from now on.