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.

PS.
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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

In the Shadows of The Woodstock Myth

Good Times magazine pp 16-17. April-2020.

The author of this article, Peter Eitner, posted it to the Facebook group 1970 Isle of Wight Festival Veterans with a request for translation. I did not study German at school but I can use Google translate. Please let me know of any errors or improved translations.

IN THE SHADOWS OF THE WOODSTOCK MYTH By Peter Eitner

50 years ago the mega festival rose on the Isle of Wight

At the end of August 1970, hordes of music freaks from all over the world made a pilgrimage to a small island in the English Channel. With 650,000 visitors, the 3rd Isle of Wight Pop Festival was the largest event of its kind and yet always remained in the shadow of the Woodstock myth. It was created by the cinema film of the same name, which in the case of the Wight Festival ("Message To Love") was not released until 27 years later and thus practically flopped. In addition, one could get the impression with this opus by director Murray Lerner that it had a kind of civil war raged on site.

Nothing is further off the mark, because despite the unpredictable crowds of masses (they were optimistic about 250,000), the whole thing was much less chaotic than Woodstock: no endless traffic jams, no mud hell, no bad LSD and no supply shortages. Instead, with a grandiose line-up, tolerant police and an infrastructure that was almost luxurious for the time, with 1,200 outhouses, 180 snack bars and 120 drinking water points. The organizers were willing to accept reality and accepted a deficit instead of countering violence with violence: when some anarchos decided at short notice to tear holes in the three miles of corrugated iron fence around the 15-hectare site (which in the film is presented much too dramatically), they were allowed to do as they please and the whole thing was declared a "free festival".

Of course, the problems were also home-grown: The site at East Afton Farm in the southwest of the island was, of all things, at the foot of a huge hill, which was wonderfully suited as a campground and amphitheater with perfect acoustics and a view. This saved them around 50,000. Visitors paid the already ridiculously low entry fee of three pounds (about 25 marks at the time) and watched the musical spectacle from above for free.

In addition, the first two days were still set-up time for the stage. Until then, acts like Supertramp played at the front of the ramp (still completely unknown), Black Widow, the Groundhogs, Kris Kristofferson, the space rockers from Hawkwind, Terry Reid and the later Brazilian world stars Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso free of charge for the arriving visitors. The 5000-watt PA from The Who had been bought for sound reinforcement, which was considered the "loudest" thing that could be found at the time. Pete Townshend and Co. therefore had a double home game when, according to their own assessment, they had the best performance of their story: A mix of the entire TOMMY album and the later highlights of LIVE AT LEEDS.

Before that, however, there had already been enough other spectacles. As if there were: Rory Gallagher with Taste, Chicago, Procol Harum or Family with Roger Chapman, who roared so fiercely that one is said to have heard him on the other side of the island. The shows by Ten Years After and Jethro Tull and what was only the second concert by Emerson, Lake & Palmer were also safe bets. ELP debuted with a fire-breathing stage cannon that singed the hair of the front rows before they were allowed to listen to the premiere of PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION.

Even after the first regular day of the festival (Friday, August 29), the program was way behind schedule. By the time the heavy rockers Cactus (ex-Vanilla Fudge) finished their gig at 3am, most music freaks were fast asleep. The rush did not stop on Saturday. Ferries and double-decker buses brought tens of thousands more to the site. The nearby village of Freshwater was teeming with hippies, and thousands of naked freaks were sunning themselves on the beach at Compton Bay over the hill. Although bobbies patrolled everywhere, the security forces let the hippies and the potheads do their thing because of the peaceful atmosphere, provided they didn't have larger quantities. During the whole day there were hardly any complaints from the islanders, who had previously feared a kind of Hell: Here a couple making love in the bushes, there a littered front yard, and in a few towns the returnable bottles ran out - that was the worst."

And that despite the fact that so many people had gathered on the site that the back rows were almost half a kilometer from the stage. An unmanageable sea of ​​heads that trusted each other: you could leave your belongings alone for hours without anything getting lost. There was only trouble on the stage: Announcer Rikki Farr insulted the anarchos, who had briefly endangered the further course of the festival with their fence action, and Joni Mitchell spontaneously burst into tears as a Charles Manson look-alike, visibly drugged, stopped their performance to bawl some "messages" into the microphone. Apart from that, there was almost beguiling unity during the daily ritual: "Amazing Grace" rang out from the sound system, whereupon the hippie community rose and raised their fingers to the victory sign in the sky stretched Love and Peace.

There were plenty of musical highlights: Woodstock veteran John Sebastian put on a mammoth two-hour performance with only his country guitar, in which his former comrade-in-arms Zal Yanovsky, who unexpectedly turned up, joined in at the end. With that, half the Lovin' Spoonful were reunited after a three-year hiatus, and thousands sang along to the heart of "Blues In The Bottle."

Curious things also happened: Where else was there once avant-garde jazz (by the Miles Davis Septet with Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, among others) immediately after late Victorian ditties to the ukulele (by Tiny Tim)? And where else did an artist who wasn't even on the program (US songwriter David Bromberg) make it onto the festival's official triple album with his only song performed? Which, by the way, is also typical of the underestimated status of Isle of Wight in 1970: It was only released as a hybrid together with an hour of music from the Atlanta Pop Festival in the same summer and, like the 1997 festival film, almost went under.

Speaking of going under: the good Melanie had a difficult time, who had to postpone her performance by a whole day due to a delay before she was allowed to climb onto the stage alone and in a thin little dress at two in the morning, or rather had to, after The Who’s two-and-a-half-hour tornado? The title "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma?" authorized. After all, Wisp Keith Moon, of all people, looked after the freezing Mrs. Safka, a real gentleman. It was only worse for Sly & The Family Stone, who closed "Saturday" on Sunday morning at 8.30 a.m. despite a sizzling show in front of mostly snoring sleeping bags.

Speaking of oversleeping: Unfortunately, the Doors were also among those who didn’t exactly show their spirits: eagerly awaited by many, they turned out to be the full-bearded Jim Morrison in the dim emergency light as a really tired act. Was it because they forgot their own stage lights or because Morrison's impending court hearing? Anyway, on one of their last gigs, the Californians dragged themselves from song to song with the Lizard King, and Morrison was so weary on the mic you'd think he'd dozed off on "The End." Only at the bar in the backstage area that he became a little more alive and swore that he had never exposed himself anywhere on stage. One might even believe him that evening.

Unfortunately, while Free, Pentangle, the Moody Blues and Chicago put down stunning and acclaimed sets, headliner Jimi Hendrix also proved relatively indisposed. Pete Townshend, who met him there, put it like this: "Oh man, Jimi seemed fucking sick and out of himself." In fact, not much was right with his strangely angular and erratic appearance: his black Strat seemed slightly out of tune, the wah-wah pedal soon went all the way across the Jordan, and a live mix only came about because the visitor, David Gilmour, stepped in at the controls.The writer of these lines swears that he - although only five meters from the stage neither "All Along The Watchtower" nor "God Save The Queen" (as a counterpart to Woodstock's "Star Spangled Banner") nor "Sgt. Pepper" or "Foxy Lady". Especially since Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell also stood next to each other that night or Of course, at that moment, there was never a thought of a tragic end barely three weeks later, but one would have liked to have remembered Jimi differently, especially since he played in front of a full house again in contrast to Woodstock.

So it was left for Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and bouncer Richie Havens (who opened Woodstock) to bring down a legendary festival, the last of its kind. No sooner had "Freedom" faded away than many days of sunshine began to rain and a cold wind picked up. but even though the final was well organised, no one was left stranded on the island. If you were broke, you could quickly get one from a self-help office and could buy snacks from the vendor's tray for good money to pay for the ferry. The organizers themselves were different: they were left with a minus of 130,000 pounds. That's another reason why it took 32 years for a rock festival to take place on the Isle of Wight.

History of Classic Isle of Wight Festivals

1968 Godshill

The history of the festival began very modestly: as an idea to raise money for swimming pools on the island. Today it would be called "fund raising". The brothers Kounic and Ray Foulk as well as the DJ and actor Thomas ("Rikki") Farr stamped an open air festival out of the ground, which attracted at least 10,000 visitors on August 31st on a stubble field near Godshill lured Jefferson Airplane, Pretty Things, The Move, Fairport Convention, Tyrannosaurus Rex, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation played fairly simply on two flatbed trailers pulled together. Admission was £1.25, and if you still have the ticket or a copy of the psychedelic festival poster from back then, you can now fetch handsome sums of money on the internet. It is not known whether a swimming pool could be built from the income in 1968.

1969 - Woodside Bay

After the music freaks had behaved well-behaved and civilized, the Isle of Wight Festival was repeated in 1969. The same initiators who now traded professionally under the name "Fiery Creations" left all in all: They wanted nothing less than to persuade Bob Dylan to end his retreat from the public eye, which had been going on since 1966. They succeeded with the help of a self-made film about the beauties of the island and the offer of a 14-day vacation for Dylan and his family, including a farmhouse, car, driver and a passage on the QE2. As an additional mood lift, the organizers recruited Dylan's old buddy George Harrison, who spalled him the whole time (e.g. with tennis matches).

From August 29 to 31, 1969, 200,000 visitors came to the festival itself at Woodside Bay in the north of the island. For comparison: the island had around 90,000 inhabitants at the time. With the exception of Paul McCartney, all the Beatles had women among the VIPs. They saw and heard a line-up that included headliners Dylan The Band, Marsha Hunt, Joc Cocker, the Edgar Broughton Band. The Nice, which included Bonzo Dog Band, Blodwyn Pig, Family, The Who and Fat Mattress. From the small profit (Dylan alone received £35,000) they then tackled the 1970 festival in East Afton.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Eddi Reader at The Queen’s Hall

Edinburgh, Scotland. Saturday 23-April-2022.

I bought the 12 inch single of Perfect way back in 1988 that helped launch Fairground Attraction on their pop career. Little did I think that I would be seeing the lead singer, Eddi Reader, 34 years later not once but twice once with Steve Harley and now this concert.

We were trying to rustle up interest amongst our friends to see Eddi in concert and by the time results were in Glasgow was sold out and so we ended up booking tickets for the Edinburgh gig. It was just Mary and I and our friend Nigel. We booked ourselves a hotel and were ready for the off when Nigel had to cancel due to catching Covid so it was just the two of us.

We were going to go by train but there were weekend engineering works and the bus replacement service was all the way from Carlisle to Edinburgh doubling the journey time. So we decided to drive instead which wasn’t too painful.

We checked into a boutique hotel with a massive room in the vicinity of the venue. 

We went for a supper in 56 North, a gin bar, distillery and kitchen found by Mary surfing for nearby eating places. Given my predilection for this beverage it turned out to be an excellent choice as it had 400 gins to choose from. Food was also delicious and the ambience lively and friendly with a mixture of groups, couples, across a wide range of ages, some eating, some just having a drink.

Then off to the gig where we were able to get a refund on Nigel‘s ticket. His hotel booking was nonrefundable but this at least helped soften the blow.

The support act was Ultan Conlan who we had seen once before at a Mary Coughlan concert outside Dublin. As well as being a fine singer he was an exemplar of the benefits of seeing a live performance giving us some chat and background to the inspiration for the songs. Eddi came on during Ultan's set and sang one song with him.

Eddi did a fine set with her band including, naturally, Perfect. Every successful artist has that one song that everyone expects to hear whether they want to perform it or not. When we saw James Taylor he quipped that the first time he heard "You’ve got a friend" little did he realise that he was going to be singing it every day for the rest of his life! Similarly in an interview with Pam Ayres she remarked that everyone wants to hear the poem “I wish I looked after my teeth “and she tries to make it sound fresh every time. So it is with Eddi and Perfect. It sounded as fresh and beautifully sung as when I bought that single so many years ago.

After the concert we went in search of a nightcap and ended up in the local Cask and Barrel pub where they had some excellent beers on draft.

The next day it seemed only sensible to play the tourist as who knows when we would be in Edinburgh again.  Since we were in Newington practically at the foot of Arthur's Seat, a volcanic stump on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Foolishly we decided to go up to the top for the great views over Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. It was sunny and very windy but luckily we were dressed for East Coast weather.

On the way back to the car we peered into the Innocent Railway, the oldest railway tunnel in Scotland. We lunched at Southpour and then headed home having an an excellent trip.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Brunswick Road 12 - Kitchen Installation Continued

Penrith, Cumbria. April-2022.

The end is nigh! 

The units are now installed in the kitchen and utility / shower room bar four drawer fronts and the door for the dishwasher that are on back order. That means all the kitchen pots, pans, utensils, cleaning materials, etc. can be moved into the cupboards from various locations. 

The knock on effect through the rest of the house has been enormous as items from the pantry, dresser and shed went into their rightful places in the kitchen and utility room. Boxes were brought down from the top bedrooms and the temporary cooking arrangements went out into the shed. The lock-up has been emptied of its remaining contents and given up, saving us the ongoing rental. 

Luckily our friend Nigel was starting to pack up his house so was a very happy recipient of all our empty boxes, bubble wrap and lock-up storage unit.

The dishwasher is plumbed in so no more washing dishes in the bathroom sink! The utility room is now fully functional with shower and washing machine so more trips to the Coach House Laundry with Ikea bags full of washing.

The dining room is now fully operational. Following last month's plastering I painted the two untouched walls so we could move the dresser back in from the hallway. This month, once the plaster was dry, I painted the two remaining walls and the white above the picture rail. The cook book shelves are up and pictures hung.

The ceiling is still to be fitted but as this was more complicated than first thought, and would clash with the kitchen installation, we have delayed this until later in the year.

There were some bits of paint touch up in the kitchen where socket and switches had to be moved and around the edges in the utility room. Basically it is done apart from some painting of new skirting boards and doors - hurrah!

It will be lovely when it is finished!

Friday, April 29, 2022

Knepp Safari 2022

Knepp Wildland Safaris, West Sussex, UK. Wednesday / Thursday 27/28-April-2022.  

This was our third visit to Knepp and it was as good as ever. We booked way back in September 2021 as soon as they released the dates. Mary was keen to do a Nightingale Safari and stay in one of the glamping options, preferably one of the yurts, The Turtle Dove, which has a fantastic position and outlook. Mary pounced as soon as the dates were opened up and this was the only date where a safari and accommodation (unfortunately only one of the bell tents) were available so we snapped them up. This pushed back our original planned date for returning to Italy for the summer.

It was a bit of a road trip; we drove all the way down from Penrith on the Wednesday, stayed two nights, and then drove all the way back up to Penrith on the bank holiday Friday.

Our tent was set in beautiful bluebell woods.

The tent itself was a permanent structure on a raised platform.

The interior had a proper double bed with a heavyweight duvet, sofa and chairs and a wood burning stove.

It was cold when we arrived but was soon lovely and warm thanks to the stove.

Wednesday night we had an excellent meal in the nearby Crown Inn and an early night because the first of two safaris was at dawn the next morning. On the walk to the pub we passed a small herd of red deer.

They were seemingly unperturbed by our presence.


Next morning the alarm went off at 5 o’clock for a 5:15 assemble with our guide. It was basically a gentle ramble round the estate with an introduction to the history of the whole re-wilding project, which we knew having been before and read the book. 

The dawn chorus was in full voice. Our guide kept pointing out nightingale song but we struggled to distinguish it from all the other birdsong.

We saw a variety of habitat, some deer and a longhorn cow with newborn calf.

After the walk I had a Hatha Yoga class in the Yoga Garden - a yurt like structure in the grounds. 

After we got back we discovered that the lid of one of our tea and coffee mugs had fallen out of my pocket. So we retraced our route, found it at the farthest point and continued to repeat most of the morning’s route. On the way round we came across a field with longhorn cattle, several Tamworth sows and a whole bunch of cute piglets all leaping about with youthful enthusiasm.

Got back from this second walk to discover that Mary‘s photos of the piglets had not come out because she had failed to press the button on her camera firmly enough so we went out again after lunch for the third time! This time we came across the same piglets without the cattle and got some excellent photos. We hid behind a clump of brambles but the piglets saw us and came inquisitively trotting over to have a look at us. 

Piglets charge!

Piglets regroup.


That was fine until mum turned and started to amble towards us so we thought it best to beat a retreat.

Signs of pig rootling – they are nature’s rotavators and plough up the ground which is good for margin loving plants and in turn the insect and birds that are specific to those habitats.

Stork reintroduction is the latest success story at Knepp with 37 eggs across nine nests this year. 

On our way back to the tent we passed several herds of fallow deer.

The evenings excursion was the much anticipated Nightingale Safari. They are a rare bird but making a comeback at this estate. They are also one of the few birds that sing at night. Apparently they migrate at night and it is the males in the trees, having selected a territory, that are singing to attract a female down from out of the sky.

Included in the safari was supper cooked by one of the staff. Vegetarian (or possibly even vegan)  it was based on a middle eastern theme: chickpea salad, couscous, spicy vegetable dish, green salad, a glass of wine and pudding. 

We then set off on the Safari armed with torches and spent another couple of hours walking round the estate pausing at various points to listen to the nightingales' long and complex repertoire of song. By the time we got back at midnight we were ready for our bed.

Nightingale song:


All in all it was a magical experience.

Epilogue: Next morning it was breakfast and the long trek home. What with holiday weekend traffic, road works and accidents it took about seven and a half hours. That made us decide to book the train down to Gatwick for our return to Italy the following week.