Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore

MONDAY 23-09-19

The rain started on and off from about 03:30, but got going properly about 07:00. Even so it wasn't too bad, it just meant we got to spend the morning indoors having had a lie in.

When the weather cleared we went for a walk along the lakeside to the next community Luino which is just down the road. My word what a difference, it was so much nicer with really nice shops and buildings. Maybe that's where those with a lot more money go for a holiday. As we wandered around the sun was out and it was getting warmer and warmer.

What a huge difference it makes when the sun shines. I was dragging The Chef around trying to find a hardware shop in the hope they sold a gizmo which would allow me to 'rod' the waste water pipes in the bathroom. I knew what I was looking for, but failed to find the right sort of shop to look around. It really is very frustrating, I carry numerous spares and repair bits and pieces, but had failed to foresee a blockage in the pipework. I've got all sorts of bits back home to tackle the problem, but that's no good to me here.I must go in to the park and fall on my sword. I did pour nearly a litre of ammonia down the plugholes yesterday but to no avail, which now makes me think that the blockage is probably grit and very small stones which finish up on the floor of the bathroom and despite best efforts, having made a wooden 'duckboard' to stand on, these bits can get in to the two drains of the shower tray. So the problem has been added to my list of jobs to sort upon our return. In the meantime I think we'll have to try and park with the back end down to facilitate drainage to the waste tank at the rear until we get home.

On the way back from Luino we popped in to the Carrefour supermarket as we passed for some bits plus 12 litres of bottled water which I lugged all the way back 'home'.

This afternoon was spent in our cheap lightweight folding chairs which we are carrying with us on this trip as well as the larger, more comfortable reclining chairs, on the piece of grass across from our campervan 'Sosta', facing the lake, The Chef engrossed in puzzle pages removed from newspapers back home before we left, and me reading a book I have started 'This is Going to Hurt' by Adam Kay. I tranee doctor who seems to think he's the only one who's ever had to work long unsociable hours.

Our fine dining experience this evening was a Take-Away pizza made to order and baked in a wood pizza oven in front of us, supplemented by some frozen chips from the supermarket cooked in a frying pan with a domed steel lid with a handle on which I made up to give us an alternative when we couldn't use the oven. Good value, and even better value when you think that we should be paying fifteen euros a night here but the ticket machine is broken, so nobody is paying. All we've had to fork out for is electricity to charge the batteries, supposedly three euros for twelve hours but is still going strong after 28 hours.

So all in all we'll have had a very good value two day stay here, and we move on tomorrow.

Now the cunning plan............. we're looking to move further up the lake to a larger Sosta, or Camperstop holding about twenty-one vehicles. If there is space and it's nice we'll pull up for a day or so before moving on to ........... wait for it........wait for it.......... Luxembourg. For no other reason that we've not been there before, it's sort of on our way home and I believe they sell very cheap fuel. And if we can't get on the Camperstop there we'll give up and make our way towards Calais.

If only life was always this simple.......

The Camperstop

The Camperstop

SUNDAY 22-09-19

As anticipated the noise from the toll road last night was pretty bad for some of the time and unfortunately The Chef didn't sleep too well. That's the drawback with dossing like that, it's usually alright, but it can occasionally be rather noisy. Last night was one of those unlucky occasions. It was complicated by the fact that there seems to be a law, certainly in France and Italy, that HGV's must be off the road on Sundays. This means come Saturday evening Truckstops and any other suitable parking areas are full of HGV's parked up for their enforced day off, this forced us to park in a car parking area, but away from the busy shop area, but close to the toll road.

We did intend to have a shower this morning but we seem to have a bit of a blockage in the waste pipe, it's either the hand basin in the bathroom or one or both of the drains in the shower tray. Rather than risk a flood of some kind we gave it a miss. Usually when we have a freebie like last night we'll top up with fuel as a thank you, but when the Chef returned from the Truckstop shop she informed me that there were no pump prices displayed anywhere, and the price she saw on one of the pumps was one seventy something, so we didn't spend our money with them. I wasn't going to risk taking on about half a tank of fuel and then getting stung at the till. So that was that, one nights accommodation for the price of a baguette from the shop.

Not long after slipping on to the motorway it came to an end, replaced by twisting roads as we headed for Lake Maggiore. The road eventually became very narrow, very twisting and up and down a bit. Needless to say, having checked the road atlas later the satnav had taken us across country rather than the far better route along the edge of the lake.

Aware that there were only five parking spaces at the Camperstop (GPS: N45.99630˚ E8.72421˚), we had our fingers crossed that there would be a space for us. I had identified only three possibilities for our parking along this route, and only two of them next to the lake, after that we would be on the motorway heading in to Switzerland. Our luck was in and there was just one space available, out of six as it turned out. We were soon backed in and up on our levelling blocks in the hope that they may aid the flow of waste water towards the tank at the back of the vehicle. Once settled we had lunch and then did a bit of housework.

I had cursed because yesterday when filling up back at Parma, one of us had picked up diesel oil on our shoes and now it was dotted on the carpet and door mats. I've tried putting neat carpet shampoo on it but without much success. I'll have to give it a mega session with the carpet shampooing machine when we get home. Luckily it was not the pieces of fitted carpet which comes with the vehicle. We used to protect it with plastic used to protect hall carpets, but we grew fed up with walking around on plastic all the time - not in the least bit homely. So I came up with the idea of buying a strip of carpet runner and using that, anticipating that the mats would take the brunt of any dirt, and all I would need to do was keep it hoovered and after each trip, shampooed. I hadn't however bargained on diesel oil trodden in to it. A solution will be fund, but not until we are home.

Next we went for a nice walk around the village here at Germignaga, then along a bit of the beach coming across a large group of folk who were having a large get together. Given that there were rowing boats outside we guessed they were a rowing club who were enjoying a Sunday meal together. We then walked in the opposite direction and discovered a really nice, medium sized Carrefour supermarket, which is a French chain. We popped in for a good look around and where I purchased a bottle of cheap ammonia cleaning solution. On our return I set to work on the bathroom drains, but without much success. I'm pretty sure the problem lies with the right shower drain, but all three are connected so we'll have to wait and see.

The weather forecast here for tomorrow is now for a wet morning and a cloudy afternoon, and cool. In fact it's been cool all day today, but is quite welcomed after the heat of the past week or so.

I think our latest plan now is for us to stay here tomorrow and then move on Tuesday, where we go will depend on the weather and what we decide. Having dodged Milan we ideally need to find somewhere to visit for about three days, as I would like to be home next weekend, factoring in a three day journey from here which is ample.

Tonight The Chef is to create Chicken Curry. I never cease to be amazed at what this woman can do with a bag, tin or jar of something, and why not I say, she's on holiday as well. To prepare my palet for this fine dining experience I am currently supping the last of two bottles of Italian Chianti wine which I bought at the supermarket near the railway station in Siena. I'm not sure, but I think maybe 'Chianti' is Italian for 'Brake Fluid'.

This evening I expect we'll put the hot air central heating on and sit and watch a DVD or two.

And Germignaga? - I think George & Amal Clooney made the right choice in not living here.

Our place of rest for tonight - right next to the toll road

Our place of rest for tonight - right next to the toll road

SATURDAY 21-09-19

You know how occasionally you'll do a botty-burp, and maybe you get more than you bargained for? Well today was such a day.

We were in  no particular hurry this morning as we only had to get ourselves to Parma, about 100 miles north, so we had a bit of a lie in and then set about getting the vehicle ready for the road. Luckily as we left our Sosta, or Camperstop on the outskirts of Bologna we were let out of the security gate personally by the owner, and so I took the opportunity to ask him where we could buy diesel fuel. And for two people who didn't have much of a clue about what each other was saying we think we established that we turned right, went down to the roundabout and then took the third exit, and blast me if he wasn't right. So we took the opportunity to fill up with fuel at about €1.45 a litre before setting off towards Parma where there is a great Camperstop which we used last year. The cunning plan was to park there for a couple of days or so, firstly to get a bus to the station tomorrow and then a train to Milan for a day trip, and then to sit out the incoming wet spell.

It wasn't a bad run to Parma, given Italians and their driving, but on exiting the toll road we hit a traffic jam, it lasted all the way through the toll booths and beyond. The thing was though, that among all of that traffic were loads of motorhomes, and we joked that we hoped they weren't all going the same way as us. As it turned out maybe many of them were.

When we arrived at the Camperstop on the edge of Parma it was ram jam solid, not a space anywhere. Annoyingly though there were about five large Pikey caravans in there, parked each parked across several parking spaces, which aren't permitted to use such facilities. So I guess some local churches are going to find their roofs leak when it starts to rain in a few days. As I walked past them I swear I saw one of the new Ford Traveller 4x4 pickup trucks parked up. These vehicles have been designed with Pikey's in mind as they have off-road capability for hare coursing, a large steel roll bar on the back for strapping ATM's to, and a crew cab large enough to hold an 18 year old wife and the kids.

There was no way we were going to get in there and so decided to park in the large car parking area outside, which we did before going over to the very handy Lidl supermarket for some bits. Unfortunately when we got back, we and other motorhomers had a leaflet stuck under our wipers informing us that we could not park there. So after lunch and deliberations that was that - sod Milan, we'll start making our way home via Lake Maggiore, the one just west of Lake Como where Mr & Mrs George Clooney live. We didn't want to go there for fear of bumping in to them and receiving a kind invitation to stay, only to find their driveway wasn't big enough to take the motorhome thus causing them some embarrassment.

So with the weather forecast in mind we had a cunning plan to stop at a Truckstop on the toll road overnight and then wake up in good time in the morning and make our way along the lake to a Camperstop. I have one highlighted, but there are just three along the route so we have a one in three chance of finding a parking spot beside the lake to hole up during the wet period before we find ourselves on a Swiss motorway heading towards Germany.

We're now parked up for the night at a Camperstop not too far from Lake Maggiore, and after today it got me thinking about 'chance', and the part it plays in our lives.

For example what if the James Bond books had been written by Ranjip Singh rather than Ian Fleming? The films would probably then have been made in Bollywood. Imagine the opening scene, with our hero sat at the Casino gaming table in a dinner suit and turban, and about to light the cigarette hanging in his mouth, “The names Krishna -  Harry Krishna”. It just wouldn’t be the same would it? Besides which they’d probably have made them all as musicals. And what's the chance that Vincent Van Gogh was lucky enough to have had 20/20 vision, because having cut one of his ears off he could never have worn a pair of spectacles could he?

Anyhow enough of that. I've been taking a look at the UK news online and it seems there is to be yet another Brexit legal challenge in the High Court. Sir Ramik Tyles QC is to represent the Fat Ugly Woman's Confederation (FUWC). Their claim it seems, is that rich attractive women like Gina Miller who have no problems getting a man, are taking legal action which could result in free movement of labour remaining in place, without any thought for the plight of the FUWC who rely on illegal immigrants to enter the country looking for a wife with whom to start a family, thus ensuring a British passport for them, and a life of bliss at the taxpayer's expense. The FUWC know it's not an ideal situation, but it's the best chance they have of getting laid. I shall watch the progress of that case with interest.

As for tomorrow, who knows, we could end up anywhere, but as long as I'm with my darling Chef, I'll be happy.

Piazza Maggiore

Basilica of San Domenico

Basilica of San Domenico

FRIDAY 20-09-19

We left Camping Village il Poggetto this morning having prepared the vehicle for the road including dumping our black waste down a flush toilet in the gents because the signed campsite dump for such niceties was locked for some reason.

Firstly we had to endure the awful road back to the Toll Road (Autostrade) before we could really get going. Although we were paying fees for being on the road it was, in all honesty a Brit-standard 'A' road but with dual carriageways. I said to The Chef that a road this busy, with this speed limit, should not have such sharp bends in it. There were loads and loads of HGV's for us to get past, and The Chef remarked that this was probably the main north-to-south motorway in Italy, so that's why it was busy, and she was probably right, but that didn't help me any.

So we arrived here at Area Sosta Camper (Sosta's being the equivalent of French Aires) on the outskirts of Bologna (GPS: N44.524742˚ E11.332350˚) in time for lunch. There was no signage anywhere and so we just parked up. Although there were others hooked-up to electricity we didn't bother.

After lunch and a refresher on Google Maps we made our way to the bus stop down the road. We really were blagging this one as we hadn't made any preparation.

It wasn't long before a number 30 bus came along and we were onboard heading for the city centre of Bologna for the princely sum of two euros each for a single ticket purchased from a machine on the bus. After about 30  minutes we arrived, with the bus dropping us off on via Rizzoli, facing the two famous leaning towers - Torre degli Asinelli and Torre Garisenda. Begun by Bologna's important families in the 12th century, these structures were presumably status symbols, a bit like an electric garage door, Jacuzzi or boob job for the wife. Of over 100 built, few such towers now survive which is probably just as well because Torre Garisenda was shortened as a safety measure within only a few years of its construction, and still leans some 3m (10ft) from the vertical.

We had no idea where the Tourist Information Centre was so that we could get a map, and so just wandered around the porticoed street. This must be a charming and cool place to visit and shop in at the height of summer when it is possible to walk around under cover, out of the heat of the sun, and of course, remaining dry if it rains.

Eventually we came across Basilica of San Domenico, a church with an impressive interior. We were in there a while looking round followed by a nice sit down in the cool. Then we were up and off to........well somewhere, eventually stumbling across Piazza Maggiore, a square with the Tourist Information Centre on one side and San Petronio, a church which ranks among the greatest of Italy's brick-built medieval buildings. Personally I thought it was ghastly and had the charm of a furniture repository, I must apologise for not including a picture of it due to the fact that I only took one, and it was blurred.

By then we'd had enough and made our way back. On arrival 'home' we made enquiries about the Sosta and came across a caravan accessory shop next door who were very happy to take twenty euros off us for 24 hours parking including electricity. That electricity can only be about 3amps because it eventually trips out the electric kettle which we bought especially for its low power consumption. Never mind, it suits our needs for today and tonight.

Given that the weather forecast for Milan is not one, but two days of rain, Monday and Tuesday, and that we were to stay at a campsite on the edge of the city for thirty-five euros a night plus bus fares, The Chef and I have decided to make our way to the camperstop we know in Parma (home of the ham) tomorrow and try and catch a train in to Milan on Sunday.

This evening we have enjoyed a beef salad with some lovely crusty bread bought from the campsite this morning before we left. This evening we are listening to planes take off and fly towards us from G Marconi Airport, and I hope none of them suffers an engine failure on take-off otherwise they'll crash here and be joining us for coffee.