Category Archives: Travel

Monopoli colours

It would be difficult to imagine a more colourful scene. Vibrant yellow canopies set against a cloudless blue sky shaded market stalls laden with the jewel hues of citrus, olives, exotic green cauliflowers, a dizzying choice of amber honey and a rainbow of garden plants. The basil, mozzarella and tomato stripes of a gigantic Italian flag hung from a pale stone balcony high above Monopoli’s old port. Tanned families in their Sunday best lined the harbour walls, shuffling to allow passage of marching drummers, clad jester-fashion with one white leg and one black leg apiece, just like their accomplices bringing up the rear with green and white flags flying from poles that could double as ships’ masts. Once arrived at the slipway, the quintet showed off their remarkable upper-body muscle-power in a display of flag-waving-meets-gymnastics-meets-caber-tossing and it was a relief that nobody had an eye out or a broken limb.

But my main focus wasn’t on land-based activities. At the end of a week of sea-themed music-making with Run By Singers, it was all about to kick off on the water. Each Sunday in October, this Puglian town celebrates with a festival known as Gozzovigliando, and today was the day for the palio, a regatta between the little blue fishing boats, the gozzi. For a bunch of holiday chums who’d spent many an hour indulging in life’s gastronomic pleasures, and even singing about exactly that in Gastoldi’s Il piacere, it seemed a happy coincidence that Gozzovigliando, although clearly stemming from the name of the vessel, translated as ‘guzzling’. Fair enough.Continue Reading

Velodrama in the village

It’s not unusual to see cyclists trundling past on Sunday mornings. Generally they’re heading for Kinver Edge, though, on chunky mountain bikes.  Today is something else entirely: some 15,000 lycra-clad bodies speeding through on streamlined road racers with the slimmest of precision wheels.  It’s the first ever Vélo Birmingham, and following a shift in theContinue ReadingContinue Reading

On board in Menorca

With the dawn of a brighter, calmer morning comes the promise of plenty of activity in the bay. Colourful activity. Activity that takes you places. Soon the beach fills up and swimmers clad in various hues dive and splash in the gentle rollers, within the limits of yellow buoys marked out for that purpose. Don’tContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Taking Menorca by storm

Someone turned the volume up on the storm and I wondered if I’d ever get to sleep. You couldn’t check progress visually as by early evening we’d already made good our defences, bringing vulnerable terrace furniture indoors and fastening all the shutters. It sounded as though peeking through the front door wouldn’t be worth theContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Touch and go in Menorca

Of all our senses, how often do we consider ‘touch’? This morning gave me plenty of opportunities to be aware of texture and the sense of feeling. The day dawned bright and clear, with the sea below our apartment terrace like a mirror, so a pre-breakfast dip beckoned. The undisturbed sand was soft and coolContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Respect the sea

The weather forecast gets it wrong and we awake to cloud and strong wind. Yesterday’s pancake sea is replaced by galloping white horses, adding to the general rumpus. After a spell of refreshing rain the sky offers some Mediterranean blue once more and we take the chance to walk down to the shore – thisContinue ReadingContinue Reading

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