Earwigs

This morning I moved a little wicker tray from the kitchen countertop and an earwig scuttled out. 

It moved quite fast and when I searched for it in order to persuade it to decamp outside it had disappeared,  goodness knows where.

There followed a frantic cleaning session in case we had an unwanted infestation but found nothing untoward. 

It probably came in with some of the fruit and vegetables brought up from the garden.

I am not keen on the little blighters so shall be keeping an eye out for the next few days. 

The episode prompted me to look up the reason why they are called earwigs as it seems a strange name.  It is apparently derived from an old English term for an ear beetle as its rear wings were supposed to resemble a human ear when folded.  Fancy that.

Hong Kong

I have been watching the news over the past few months with mounting dismay over the happenings in Hong Kong.

Although I don't profess to know Hong Kong intimately, it is a destination we have visited several times and I have always loved its vibrant, exotic, other-world atmosphere, whist feeling perfectly safe everywhere we went.

My father was stationed in Kowloon during his National Service back in the 1950s and we loved his stories about the place, and seeing his photos from that time.

In 1968, he received his first free staff family ticket, for 10 years service working for the then BOAC. He took us all to Australia to visit my uncle and aunt who had emigrated there a few years previously.  In those days the trip involved half a dozen shorter hops and Hong Kong was one of these.  We were only there a few hours so didn't get to see much but, at the age of 11, I was mesmerised.

Many years later I was fortunate enough to visit again a few times, once for a work trip and the rest for holidays.

My understanding of the current unrest is that is has been triggered initially by an extradition bill which would allow certain suspects to be sent to China, and has grown into a general protest about the eroding of the territory's existing legal freedoms.  China is warning that it will not stand by and let the protests continue unchallenged.

Things are looking sticky and tourism has been severely curtailed, for obvious reasons.

I dug out some photos of my last trip there, back in 2012.  I hope that the problems can be resolved for the sake of the Hong Kong residents and, more selfishly, as I would dearly love to be able to visit again.


The above photos were taken from our hotel room window




The following two photos were taken when we visited the Commonwealth War Graves to pay our respects. 









Restless

I didn't blog yesterday - too busy - and today I feel very restless.

Our visitors leave tomorrow morning and I shall be busy cleaning, washing and ironing and getting everything ready for our next guests who arrive on Monday.

There are lots of jobs that need to be done today but I can't seem to find the motivation to do any of them.  Instead I have been browsing travel sites dreaming up more holidays.

My bank balance is getting nervous.


Moddey Dhoo Bike Show

Today (Tuesday) is the bike show on Peel Promenade, a huge display of vintage and modern bikes organised by two clubs-  the Moddey Dhoo Motorcycling Club and the Vintage Motorcycling Club.

We had to go to the library this afternoon and had forgotten about the show. We were lucky to find somewhere to park.

After our library visit we decided to take a walk down to the quay and take a look.

There were some really interesting old bikes, and bikers too.





Our local jazz band was entertaining the crowds on the quayside and when we reached the corner onto the promenade there was a rock band blasting out some more raucous sounds. We quickly retreated over the footbridge to the quieter side of the marina.

Lots of people enjoying the afternoon sun and the pubs were doing a brisk trade.



Misty Morning

After yesterday's warm sunshine we awoke this morning to a dark, misty and murky start to the day.

Another delay to the races while the organisers wait in hope that the fog will lift.

I took these photos with my 'phone so they are not very good but it shows how murky it is out there.  You can hardly make out the castle in the background. 


The lawn and shrubs are covered in spider webs that show up ghostly white with the moisture on them.




Saturday Bank Holiday Weekend

A lovely warm, sunny morning.

We dropped off our guests into Peel to catch the bus to Douglas. They planned to spend the day at the Grandstand amongst the bikes and bikers.

After picking up a few essentials from the shop we had a stroll around the harbour, the castle and the quayside - our favourite walk.

Considering it was a bank holiday weekend and the weather was good the two town beaches were surprisingly deserted.

Home again for lunch and I was very naughty, having a bacon sandwich - my first in over a year. It was delicious.











On The Go

Yesterday was a busy day for me. I seem to have run out of energy somehow and I was struggling by the end of the day.

Our B&B guests arrived quite late on Thursday night,  due to a combination of delayed flight, misunderstanding over car hire booking,  bus schedules and road closures for the racing.  As a result, they didn't go out until midday on Friday so it was a rush for me to get the rooms cleaned, have a quick lunch then get to the gift shop for my afternoon shift. I had spent the morning getting a couple of loads of washing done and did some general cleaning and tidying.

There is always only one volunteer manning the shop at a time so during busy periods it can be quite hard work. Yesterday was a busy day with lots of visitors over for the Bank Holiday weekend.  By the time I had closed the shop and cashed up there was just time to pop into the supermarket to stock up on more essentials for the B&B breakfast and get home to cook dinner.

After dinner I had to prepare the breakfast pack for our guests and deliver it to the annexe ready for the next morning so that they can help themselves. 

Last night was the first time in ages that I slept through until 7 a.m. without waking several times.

I don't know how I would manage if I had to keep working until I reach state pension age.

Donna Leon

I have just finished reading the latest in the Commisario Brunetti series of novels by Donna Leon , Unto Us A Son Is Given.

I must have read nearly all of the books in the series since she started them in the 1990s and have enjoyed them all.  I love her wry take on the day to day trivia of Venetian life and the way that the police and judicial bureacracy works, or doesn't work.

I find her characters engaging, well all bar one that I personally find jarring but that doesn't detract from the overall enjoyment of each novel.

Each novel is a gentle stroll through murder and intrigue in the canals and labyrinths of modern day Venice and touches on the corruption and venality of officialdom, but handled with a deft touch.

Easy reading and with quite enjoyable descriptions of the various meals that the Comissario indulges in along the way.





Big Mac

Hospice Wednesday again and I awoke to a bright sunny morning. Wearing a light linen dress and jacket I set off for my shift. Foolishly I hadn't checked the weather forecast.

Heavy rainfall and gale force winds on the way, putting paid to another evening's qualifying practice sessions for the racing.

Luckily I got home before the weather so didn't need my big mac after all.

The roads will be closed tomorrow and Friday afternoons now to try to catch up with the missed practice sessions.

Fingers crossed for some of that good weather promised for the rest of the UK.


Keeping a Meat Eater Happy

As part of my low cholesterol diet I am trying to eat less meat, however,  this does not always go down too well with P.

On Monday I bought two thick cut tuna steaks on special offer and cooked them for supper hoping it would make an acceptable alternative to a meat dish. 

Marinated in a harissa paste then seared and served with patatas bravas and stir fried veg,  P grudgingly agreed that he liked it.

Phew. Back to sausages for him though tomorrow.






My Happy Place

Sunday afternoon and the sun finally put in a brief appearance. 

I was idly gazing out at the garden whilst P was listening to the cricket on BBC Five Live and was suddenly struck by how happy I felt at that moment.

Earlier I had been fretting over how much I still had left to do before our paying guests arrive for the Festival of Motorcycling races.  

It is amazing what an effect nature can have on one's mood.



Giving a Fig

A few years ago P planted a new fig tree, to replace a young one that had been blown down in a storm.

This year it has borne fruit for the first time. One reasonably large, plump Brown Turkey fig that he picked for me to have with my lunch today (he is not keen on figs himself).

To my delight it turned out to be absolutely perfect in every way.

I am not sure how long I have to wait for the next one.

(this is just a Google photo - I ate my fig before I could take a photo)

Chips Cheese and Gravy

Last night I had a difficult time getting off to sleep, tossing and turning well into the wee hours and beyond. Countless trivial thoughts endlessly scrolled through my brain and I was unable to switch them off.

One of these was the completely random subject of chips, cheese and gravy. I know not why.

Some while ago there was a local campaign to nominate the Manx National Dish.  The two main contenders were Queenies (the locally caught queen scallops) or chips, cheese and gravy,  a popular pub meal.

Now, I have never tried the latter so it may be utterly delicious. However, it is well beyond the acceptable limits of a low-cholesterol diet.  I have often eaten queenies and really enjoyed them but, as they are usually served with butter and bacon they are also now in the culinary naughty corner.

I understand that chips, cheese and gravy was originally devised in Canada by a chef in a Quebec restaurant.  It was called poutine, meaning a mess.

Thankfully the eventual winner of the campaign was the healthier option and Queenies reigned supreme.

As a side note, it seems that nearly a quarter of the island's reception age children are overweight and 1 in 5 adults are obese. Food for thought.



A Wild One

Woke up this morning to a wet and windy day. Strong 35 mph southwesterlies and standing water everywhere.

I went to the Hear2Help hearing aid drop in service at our local GP surgery first thing to be re-tubed and am now sitting in front of a large pot of freshly brewed coffee.

Off to do a volunteering shift at the gift shop after lunch.

A wild one. That's me.



Weary Wednesday

I went along to the Hospice this morning for my usual Wednesday volunteering shift but by lunchtime I was struggling to keep awake.

I am not sure why I feel so weary today, perhaps all the recent travelling has caught up with me.  I left early and am now just about to doze off on the sofa (at 3 p.m.!)

Wake me up for tea......

A Bid For Freedom

We have had a reasonably good crop of peas so far this summer and have been able to pick a decent bowlful most days for our evening meal.

I usually quite enjoy the process of shelling them and popping the little green juicy peas out of their pods. This afternoon's batch, however, seemed unwilling to cooperate.  The pods were quite tough and it was difficult to pop them open.

Several young peas made a bid for freedom and are now lurking somewhere beneath the washing machine.


A Trip Down South

Monday morning and the temperature is around 15 degrees cooler than this time last week in Italy.  At least the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day.

P had to make a trip down to the south of the island today to pick up a new (well, reconditioned second hand) laptop so we decided to make a morning of it.

First stop was Castletown for a coffee and a stroll around.

This is where we parked the car (on the quayside not in the water!)




We crossed the footbridge to the coffee shop next door to the castle, pausing to say hello to the resident swans on the way.



After our short walk we drove on to Port Erin and the computer shop.  It was good to see the young couple making a go of their small business, dealing in second hand, refurbished laptops and other computer equipment at very reasonable prices.  He offered to download the software that P wanted and said it would be ready in an hour, so another walk was on the cards.

We walked along the coastal footpath to Bradda Glen then back down into town on the road, picking out which of the houses along the way we would like to move to when we can no longer manage our garden.


If you look at this bottom photo you can just see at the bottom left the little row of cottages with their gardens right on the beach. 





The Island of Ischia

Capri's next door neighbour is larger and less crowded we were told so we opted to visit on Tuesday, our last day in Campania.

We walked down to the ferry port in time to buy tickets and queue for the 9:30 boat. No upper deck experience this time so we arrived relatively intact, although I somehow managed to acquire around a dozen insect bites on the way.




Our plan was to catch the local bus around to the famous La Mortella Gardens,  created by the wife of composer Sir Wiliam Walton.  We bought tickets and joined the throng of people swarming around the bus terminus. When the first bus arrived it was so crammed full of people their faces were squashed up against the doors. We waited for the next one, and the one after that, all equally full. We gave up and went around to the marina for a cappuccino.

The Tourist Information point was close by so we called in and asked for details of the Castello Aragonese which stands on a rocky promontory at the other end of the bay.  We decided to walk there and have a look around as it sounded quite interesting.

Our walk took about an hour, wandering along the main streets around the bay.  This was the local post office - an unusual bulding....

Eventually we caught sight of the castle but it was still a little further to walk until we came across the causeway out to the rock.


It was very hot by this time and we were glad to discover when buying our entrance tickets that there is a lift to take people up to the centre of the castle and a path to walk back down at the end.  This is the view from the top...
The entrance fee includes a little booklet with a plan of the site and some interesting information about the various areas within the castle.

There was a convent and several churches, a prison, various gardens plus areas for winemaking and millstones for flour. Quite a self sufficient little outpost in its day.

We sat on a shady little terrace and had lunch looking out at the view...





The rest of the afternoon was spent investigating all the interesting little nooks and crannies of the castle.  



One rather gruesome aspect was the nuns' cemetery, down in a cellar.  It seems that deceased nuns were stripped then placed upon these stone "seats". As they decayed, their fluids drained through the hole into jars beneath. The dried skeletons were placed in an ossuary and the jars were then set out on display as a reminder of the fleeting nature of life.  


 Needless to say, this rather unhealthy practice resulted in quite serious illnesses among the remaining nuns.

After a stop for a cafe freddo and a look at the view again, we made our way back down and then the one hour stroll back to the ferry port for the boat "home".