My goodness it is sweltering, I think the top temperature was in Vienna at a very toastie 38°C! Luckily I wasn’t cycling but enjoy the sights of the city and cooling off in The Alte Donau (or Old Danube to you and me). The Danube doesn’t run through the centre of Vienna, only a canal created many moons ago, so there is no historic front. This doesn’t stop the Viennese enjoying the river however and they flock there to take a dip in the calm waters, a great atmosphere about the shores.

But I jump waaaay ahead of myself. So yes I have been through Austria but I now sit in Slovakia, although my tent is across the bridge in Hungary. Confused? Ha, the town of Komárno or Komárom on the Hungarian side was split into two towns after WWII and I just popped across the bridge to see what the other side had to offer. Anyway I digress, again! I blame travelling alone. I mean don’t get me wrong I talk to folks all the time but sometimes your mind goes a bit well, er wonky?

So yes talking to folks, I mentioned previously Aitor whom I cycled with for a few days. We have since parted was as I wanted to press on and try to get to Vienna to see Christian before he darted off across the globe- a great WWOOFer pal from Italy. Aitor and I also had different ideas of what a days cycle might consist of, don’t get me wrong it was fun to have a companion but I do like to be able to decide on where I might spend the night or move on without having to think about it. Certainly nothing personal.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to cycle all the way until this point, there was a 100km stretch between Straubing and Passau which was not possible by bike, due to severe damage to the cycle paths. I hope you will allow me this little relief by train. When we arrived in Passau it was looking just beautiful in the sunshine but the devastation from the flooding was all around, not least of all at our campsite. My heart went out to the owner who told me she had spent a week leaving the house via the first floor windows, into a boat! The entire ground floor of the house had been destroyed and the campsite wasn’t even really open, they were using their private lawn as it was on higher ground.

Since Passau there has certainly been less water about, no fish hiding in holes as you push your bicycle through what is now a fast moving stream but once was simply tarmac. Yes honestly, I fell down a hole and out popped a fish, about the size of my hand! There was one little hole, well more a mild crater. There was the aftermath but no more wet feet. I think actually this was more depressing to see, items from homes piled up out on the street- everything from washing machines to little girls push chairs and now sodden sofas. The speed at which people are attempting to return to normality is astonishing, as was the immediate clearing of cycle routes and roads. At this point I feared how the Hungarian clean up effort might compare but so far it seems the flooding was nowhere near as severe.

A particularly beautiful stretch of river is the route between Passau and Vienna, I believe one of the most cycled touring routes in Europe. The Danube Bend at Schlögen harbours so much wildlife on it’s banks, and also I got to go on a mini bicycle only ferry! Melk should also be mentioned with its incredible and enormous Benedictine Abbey and four tiered gardens. Not so impressive was the campsite I had intended to stay on, it was putrid after being under water for nearly 2 weeks. I decided to find a room for the night, the thought of a bed gave me butterflies, but it was not to be. It was the midsummer festival and the town was fully booked, all but a €120 room for the night and so my butterflies soon vanished. Instead I wild camped with a couple from New Zealand, the had hired bicycles for a week to see what touring was all about and stuck without as place to stay too we teamed up. Our hunt for a ‘wild’ spot was a little pathetic, we decided to simply pitch up beside the river when it got dark. We received no complaints, only a visit from a snake. I tremble only recalling the encounter, I am not a fan of snakes. It was from this day that the temperature soared, not knowing that it was going to be in the mid 30’s I set out as normal but felt terrible by the time I reached my campsite for the night. I find it can be hard to judge when pedalling a long in a self created breeze but sure realised when I stopped. I topped up with water several times and was even given a pass to the nearby lake to cool off when I got to Tulln. I wasted no time and jumped right on in, the water was 24°C! Such a divine feeling. I even treated myself to a half litre of beer, in hindsight perhaps not the best combination but it tasted good.

So from here to Vienna, which I loved! I didn’t really know what to expect, as is the case with many of the places I have/am headed to. I have done little research. Vienna is somewhere I felt at home. I don’t really know why, perhaps the incredible cycle lane network, the amazing architecture and stunning Volksgarten roses. I wasn’t intimidated but the huge capital, its busy streets and noisy traffic, everything about it should be crazily intimidating for a cyclist trying to navigate such a gigantuous place, but all was calm.

I of course indulged in some Wiener Schnitzel and crisp and cool white wine from the vineyards in the surrounding areas, which I had cycled through just the day before. I have already mentioned my time by the river and also did some super exciting chores, had a serious bout of hay fever related sneezing and received the new maps and tent for the next stage of my journey. Yes that tent I was so excited about, well it had a faulty fly sheet and Vango posted a new one out to me. Vienna I will be back!

Within a day I cycled from one capital to another, Vienna to Bratislava! (Which yes is in Slovakia NOT Slovenia for those of you who saw that genuine mistake, but not through lack of knowing, on Facebook. Ahem let us brush over that). It isn’t as far as it may sound, just about 60km so quite a relaxed day in the scheme of things. In Bratislava I had heard incredibly bad things about the campsite and so decided to stay in a hostel for the night. The bed was very much appreciated, as was the night away from mosquito exposure, but the git that stole my cheese and tomatoes from the communal fridge had me raging. I did however have a very nice afternoon in the city. To avoid the crazy heat I am now getting up around 5.30am so that I can reach my destination before the climax of the sun. It’s actually working out surprisingly well, a lazy afternoon with a bit of sight seeing and an early night. Lovely. So yes Bratislava, again I was surprised. I couldn’t believe how little there was of the old city, I took a free waking tour and met a couple of lovely girls and we had a traditional Slovak dinner together. Cheesey dumplings and bacon, washed down with a beer or two. Delicious! Bratislava is a very pretty city and incredibly busy when the sun goes down, and not just with Brits going out there to get pissed (although there are A LOT of them). So from Slovakia’s capital my Hungarian adventures began, not having spent even 24 hours in the country I crossed another border. Partly why I came over again tonight, I didn’t want it to feel unloved.

So a day and a half in Hungary and it has been rather lovely. Lovely people, views and cycling with a strong wind pushing me a long. Not such a fan of the mosquitoes, they have been bad for a good week or so but last night was something else. Yes I was camping beside the wetlands but really if it is necessary for a man to drive around the town for nearly 2 hours pumping what I can only imagine is some sort of insecticide out the back of a van, then you shouldn’t allow people to put up a tent. There are going to be itchy people in the morning. I am covered in bites, clothing doesn’t even stop the buggers. Inside my tent I am sure there was over 200 trapped between the inner and outer so that the whole place hummed as I tried to sleep. Fun fun! The campsite itself was just beautiful but I won’t be recommending it for more than a photo stop. Watching the starling murmuration at sunset was pretty awesome, but I think my staying out miiiight have had something to do with the number of bites.

After totally putting this night of camping down I must mention the hospitality of an elderly Hungarian couple. They were the sort of Mamma and Pappa of the site. I arrived and they were very welcoming (they’re only staying here btw, they’re not the owners or anything) and even insisted I move a picnic bench to beside my tent so I had a seat. Once my tent was pitched and I was about to consider what to do for lunch I heard the man shouting ‘Hallo, hallo, come, come!’ And the old man was beckoning me over. He didn’t speak a word of English and surprise surprise my Hungarian ain’t that brilliant. I was ushered into their caravan and presented with a bowl of food, a pale yellow colour with a boiled sausage and a hunk of bread. OK he knew more English than none, next came ‘eat, eat!’ I was totally astounded that strangers would invite me in to make sure I had a square meal. From what I could gather it was traditional Hungarian grub and in a market today hunted for the yellow veg. I can confirm they are called ‘bab magyar’ and it was a yellow baby bean soup. Very good! Bless they’re hearts. I did then have to ask their help, I managed to break the shower on he campsite and the office was closed…I say break, I was simply unable to turn it off. Nor could anybody else and somebody had to be called to fix it, I didn’t do anything other than turn the taps, I promise! I seemed to take a good hour to resolve and for less than £5.50 for a night I think I may have been an expensive guest. I apologised profusely and I promise to be less eager to shower with full power in future. Eek!

So really that brings me to the present moment. A good cycle today, a little cooler I temperature and some interesting terrain in the way of unpaved roads and severe potholes. Bring it on Hungary, but please be kind to my front spokes.

Next capital is Budapest, see you Monday!

Total distance so far: 1195km

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Things are going pretty darn well I must say, after 5 days riding (today being my 6th) I have come 412km. The weather has been fabulous, aside from a downpour lasting all of last night but now it is trying to rain but isn’t. Always a good thing. I am sitting in the town centre of Ingolstadt, pilfering the free city wifi.

I have just been accosted by an elderly German woman who has told me off for being without a man, she did however go on to say that it was very admirable and that I was super! Awwww. She is a fine example of the many people I have spoken to ready en route, I have also found a sort of cycling route buddy. Aitor is also cycling a long the Danube, we started on the same day and kept passing on another as we rose, we eventually camped at the same campsite and even rode out an afternoon together. Who knows how long our little trip will last as a double act, we set off independently and see one another as it occurs- good company for a beer yesterday too.

So of course as ever Germany is looking beautiful and the buildings are just as Bavarian as I remember. A particular highlight was a visit to the sorcery of the River Blau, a stunning bubbling spring. This little detour did mean a 101km day but dinner tastes better than ever that night!

Floodwater, as I am are many of you have seen on the news has been rather devastating and Passau is looking in a rather sorry state. I have had a few instances of very wet feet and some interesting rides through rather deep puddles, they resemble ponds and one even contained frogs- I kid you not. All in all, so far, I am managing to avoid any serious diversions.

So enough of my gibbering on, here are the snaps…

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Route map, Donaueschingen to Istanbul!

Route map, Donaueschingen to Istanbul!

Today I shall set out once again from the port of Harwich to The Netherlands and off on my bicycle. I shall take a ferry from Hoek Van Holland all the way to the Black Forest in the south of Germany, a total of 30 hours travelling! It might be taking a bit of time but for under £100 (including a sleeper carriage) I am not complaining.

The plan as it stands is to follow The Danube River from source to mouth, the river flows through Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia and Romania, I will then continue down through Bulgaria to Turkey and on to Istanbul. Of course I shall take each day as it comes and see how I am going at every stage, there is no rush and I shall stop if a place seems like a lovely spot or I shall power on through. I could be in Istanbul in 6-8 weeks it could be 3 months, who knows?! The summer weather (yes haha you say with the headline ‘Central Europe drowned’ as I type this) could play a factor in my pace and although I enjoy the sun I certainly don’t want to experience any freak heat whilst cycling. Steady as she goes.

So here it goes, I shall try to report as frequently as possible en route and well see you after 3000km or so!

My third and final farm for this wonderful trip to Italy was in the region of Umbria, on the outskirts in the tiny village of Collemincio. My good friend Katy came to join me and we had a fantastic couple of weeks on the farm Flavio-Völker. Our hosts were just as lovely as you could hope for, totally accommodating (sometimes a little to much so and we got a sense of guilt from not doing enough work!) The household consisted of Flavio, Monika, Cerio, Leone and Swiss Bea plus dogs Speedy, Cheris and Penny- cows, cats, chickens and sheep. A stunning location in the middle of nowhere, I honestly don’t think I have spent so long in such a quiet place.

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The view from the bathroom window!

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Spot the farm, waaay up on the hill

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A sunny hike

 

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One colourful ‘ape’

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The farm

Our tasks ranged from some serious weeding of lavender and various vegetable patches to sheep milking (and I can report it was far more success than with the goats!) We so made large hard cheeses, quite the challenge to press it by hand and avoid cracking which can allow mould into the heart of the cheese. Sifted wheat, painted a pig sty & made lots of interesting bready foods from German inspiration.

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Making damf noodle

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Making ricotta

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Cheese from the farm and home made buns

 

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Espresso and sweet dough, sort of lime a doughnut

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Successful sheep milking

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Sifting the wheat

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Katy milking the pecora

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Painting the piggy sty

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That there cheese on the right was made by Katy and I. So proud!

 

It really was a lovely two weeks, we were given so much time to explore Umbria with days in Assisi and Perugia, an afternoon in Gubbio and an adventure to Tuscany for a day on a Florence market stall. All I can hope is that we were of some use to our hosts, we had a fantastic time and learnt so much and left inspired to make things for scratch and with fewer ingredients or just to go for it. The house is always full of people, be it family or friends with a raucous game of UNO or playing the accordion and there will be cake- there is always cake.

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Enjoying lunch in Perugia

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Rooftops of Perugia

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Perugia fountain

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Setting up the market in Florence

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The view of the Duomo from our stall!

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Aperativo spot in Assisi

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Luncheon in Assisi

I would say that this farm isn’t for the faint hearted but Flavio and Monika were just delightful and so helpful and interesting, even after my one millionth question about their farm. Their drive the be self sufficient is very admirable and I look forward to the day when I can put some of the things they taught us into practice, yes I am still dreaming of my own land. One day.

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The opening of the felt laboratory

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In the wheat fields

Well May 11th saw my third trip to the wonderful home of Suzie and Phelan Black in Mondaino. Of course I had a fantastic time and learnt heaps about vegetable gardens and making beautiful foods, pasta making was particularly enjoyed. To be welcomed into such a loving home feels an honour and it is a pleasure to work their land beside them.

The wonderful apartment

The wonderful apartment

My visit, very fortunately, coincided with the extremely late arrival of Spring to Italy and we had some fantastically sunny weather, all rest periods were spent on a sun loungers soaking it up and snoozing beneath the rays! We spent a lot of time weeding and removing long grass in the orto and particularly around the artichokes, I also re-planted some young plants that had decided to awkwardly plonk themselves amongst the garlics. So artichokes have long point roots and need a good couple of inches to allow them to flourish, getting one out without snapping the route was rather difficult but I have been updated since my departure and it seems they are coming on strong, wahoo! Unfortunately I didn’t sample any artichokes at the farm as they didn’t ripen until my day of departure, guess I shall just have to grow my own.

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Great culinary delights came in the form of tasting nettles or ortica for the first time, it is best to just pick the tips (jus below the first pair of leaves) and to treat them like spinach. We had them as a fantastic sauce for pasta, liquidised with some milk and ricotta. Delicious. I also learnt that nettles can be a great fertiliser for fruit trees but you need a lot, my nettle stings I’m sure are worth lemons and oranges looking and tasting great- probably wasn’t too wise to wear cropped trousers. You simply put your nettles into a big container, about 5 wheelbarrow loads worth, add water and wait. After a month you will have a great compost, this is also a very quick compost as often food waste can take 18 months+.

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Ducklings!

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Bonding with the ducks

 

Learning how to make fresh pasta has to be the highlight of my stay, I have wanted to learn for ages and was lucky enough to be taught by the kitchen queen Suzie. She advises that duck eggs are best and hard wheat flour with a good handful of salt, and that is all. The ratio we used was 1 egg to every 100g of flour, simple. Put it in a mixer with a dough hook and allow to beat until it forms a semi hard dough, if to too sticky simply add a little plain flour. The trick is to get it thin but we had a kitchen aid pasta tool so that was pretty simple, let it dry to almost stiff then cut to shape. We made tagliatelle,yum!

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I also did a bit of seeding, lettuce, beetroot and a couple of varieties of beans. Although I desperately wish to own a vegetable garden I have done so little that this was great to be simply sent out to do it all myself, I hope they come up OK! My worst performance of the 2 weeks had to be the my attempt to milk a goat, this did not go well. Not wanting to risk the frisky goat stepping in the milk bucket Suzie continued and I did the cheese making. I learnt how to make hard cheese, which Suzie herself was just beginning to produce and experiment with and also cottage cheese which we used in a quiche. Not as complicated as you might think, there is just a lot of waiting involved and so you need patience & a thermometer.

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Other than working on the farm I was taught how to make a mosaic, which wasn’t the prettiest of things but now I know that simplicity is key for my next attempt. I was also invited to the theatre by a friend of the family and enjoyed a lovely evening in Pesaro watching an orchestra at the Rossini Theatre, a beautifully decorated building.

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Theatre Rossini

 

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Theatre Rossini

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Mirko and I

The orchestra

The orchestra

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A morning in Rimini

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Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

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Mosaic in progress

I hope to return to the Black’s farm again, to WWOOF but also to perhaps enjoy a holiday in one of their beautiful properties that they rent out- take a look here and why not go out yourself?!

Chelle!

Chelle!

For some reason I felt as if I had heard a lot about Sardinia, however I haven’t heard of many people actually going there. Said to have tropical-esk white beaches combined with a backdrop of mountains and archaeology I was quickly sold on the idea of going. I booked ferry tickets before I left they UK, not particularly reasonable in price I will admit but it was a 10 hour journey! Of course I realised this before I left for the island but with an overnight trip it wasn’t so bad. As I still haven’t taken my driven test (very much on the to do list) I took public transport around the island, of which I had been warned for it unreliability. I would like to dispute that it was incredibly reliable and covered a good amount of the island was very reasonably priced, the problem was more the frequency aaaand perhaps the size of Sardinia which I may have underestimated a tad when I planned my trip. It is HUGE. My advice to anyone thinking of going to Sardinia is hire a car or take a bicycle and give yourself a month to see it all, this would be an awesome (and hilly) trip.

So arriving in Golfo Aranci by ferry I had intended to take a bus but there was no longer a bus running according to the local bar owner so myself and the only other foot passenger on the ferry (just in case you’re wondering the ferry was enormous not a little diddly thing so this was  bit of a surprise) shared a taxi to Olbia where I was to catch a train. The journey took a total of 20 minutes and we were severely ripped off €40 between us!! Unfortunately the other man had sorted the taxi cost and he had told me €4 it will cost us €4 I thought amazing! Turns out he just didn’t know the word for 40…..I made my train, after being instructed to run across the tracks by the Station Guard who was standing right next to a sign reading ‘Do not cross the railway lines’, safety first and all that. (For my return journey I discovered a train which runs for €2.75 from Olbia to Golfo Aranci, why has the barman not told me of this!?!?)

On the ferry

On the ferry

My train took me to Sassari where I was to catch a bus to Algerho which is on the other side of the island. Again easier said than done as I had no idea where the bus station was in relation to the train station and there was nobody able to help me in the railway station even with my little Italian of know how to ask and understand directions. I got to the bus station literally as the bus was pulling in, having run via the tourist information centre in the middle of the city, but I then had to manage to buy a ticket from the booth before the bus drove away without me. I got to Alghero, hot sweaty and very much in need of a shower!

Don’t worry this sill stop being a diary of my poorly organised travel experiences on public transport and get to the good stuff. Alghero was a lovely town on the coast, if a little up market for my liking. I spent an afternoon and evening waking about the town and enjoyed the worst pizza I think I have every eaten- being too tight to buy dinner in any of the expensive restaurants! But the best and the cheapest large glass of red wine for an aperitivo by the sea in the evening sun, accompoanied by complimentary peanuts, all for €2!

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The weather wasn’t particularly brilliant for my time on the west coast but I took a day trip down to the old town of Bosa, visiting the castle perched on the top of a hill and surrounded by herds of cattle with bells around their necks. A lovely tinkling sound to the air. Bosa’s houses of the old town are all painted in bright colours and with the tiny cobbled streets it is a picturesque and very un-Italian seeming town. Unfortunately the weather only got worse and so I sheltered for beer and lunch in a little bar, what else would one do on a wet day?

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After Alghero I had made no plans for the rest of my time on Sardinia but really wanted to visit the Gulf of Orosei, you guessed it back on the east coast of the island. I couldn’t find any hostels online and all the B&B’s I spoke to wanted me to pay for two guests although I was travelling solo, rather an expensive night then! Luckily I got chatting away to the receptionist/barman of my hostel in Alghero and he went ahead and booked a B&B of a friend of his in Cala Gonone at a bargain price, the owner even said he would pick me up from the bus stop! The journey across the island was stunning, Oliena looked particularly lovely for mountain walks and I hope to return (with car) to explore more. Cala Gonone was again a very touristy town but in April it was deserted and I felt as if I practically had it to myself and the weather took an about turn and reached a whopping 29 degrees, horrah! Time to see these gorgeous beaches then.

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I spent a day walking from Cala Gonone to Cala Luna, a beach only reachable by foot or boat! The walk takes you a long the rugged coast on a narrow path surrounded by trees and plants with views out to the bright blue sea, lizards were about in abundance! The walk took around 2.5 hours and with the heat I was certainly happy to reach the sea, however as I did the cloud came over, boo! Amusingly this ‘secluded’ beach was overrun with school children on a day trip when I arrived, not quite the peaceful retreat I had hoped for as they stormed over with cameras ans ipads in hand to photograph the stone arches I was sitting beneath. I decided to continue on down the coast a little and came upon a group climbing the cliffs and hanging in hammocks in the returning sunshine but found a spot just for me to tuck into my Sardinia salami. I braved a dip, my word was it cold. On coig back to land I had to put on ALL my clothes and hop about to get warm again! To return I took a boat back to Cala Gonone and the view back to the coast was very pretty indeed, even if the town itself is somewhat of a modern own, a bit of an eyesore.

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You can just make out Cala Luna in the distance

You can just make out Cala Luna in the distance

Cala Luna

Cala Luna

Did I mention there were pigs roaming around?

Did I mention there were pigs roaming around?

Enjoying the caves

Enjoying the caves

Post swim, all wrapped up

Post swim, all wrapped up

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From the boat

My final day on the coast took me on a hike out to the Blue Marino cave, which turned out to be closed on arrival so a day on Cala Fuili beach it was, braving the water again and enjoying a consistently sunny day before my 36 hours of travelling to get to Emelia Romagna. I also treated myself to a spot of dinner, some rather unpleasant traditional Sardinia desert but a very tasty main course of fresh prawns and artichoke in an unusual pasta dish with a pizza dough top, cooked in a terracotta pot in the oven the past was steamed in its little enclosed pot!

Blue Marino

Blue Marino

On Cala Fuili beach

On Cala Fuili beach

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The arrival of my dish caused somewhat of a stir in the restaurant, one woman even shouted across to me ‘What have you ordered? What is that!’

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Delicious prawns and pasta

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Not so yummy sweet cheese in pastry, served with honey….

I think really the pictures say it all, there is so much to see on Sardinia and I have not even brushed the surface with my 6 days there. I would love to return to see the archaeology particularly Su Nuraxi di Barumini and Tharros, so I had better get on with learning to drive!

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Not a bad spot to wait for the bus!

By Christmas 2012 I had reached  a point in Edinburgh where I felt enough was enough, I was working full time as the manager in a restaurant and really my life was going nowhere. Although enjoying the perks of a reasonable wage, topped up with tips (don’t tell the tax man), dinners and wine with great friends and a bit or riding on the side, this wasn’t how I had envisaged spending the rest of my days. Throughout 2012 I saved for travelling, knowing that I had to get out on a longer tour to countries that I hadn’t yet visited, The Danube was calling to my bicycle and I. I set the date of February 28th as my last day at the restaurant (knowing a little more money saved up would do no harm) and my head lived in the dreamland of cycle touring in the European sunshine. However, the weather at the end of February in Germany is far from brilliant and so I made the decision that I needed to ‘kill some time’. Now what else would I want to do other than return to Italy and live out the cold in a warmer clime.

WWOOFing was an obvious choice for awaiting higher temperatures and toward a date when the path to the Danube Delta would look a little brighter. I don’t wish to refer to this as ‘killing time’, each day spent away as certainly far from that, I learnt so much on each farm- moving ever closer to my dream of keeping chicken and a glorious vegetable patch! 7 weeks well spent.

I am writing this post having returned from Italy, somehow I managed to not blog once whilst away. Although I now carry with me a newfangled iphone 5 I didn’t even touch on my wordpress app, I think the fact that I could be constantly connected at every wifi opportunity meant I didn’t feel the need to touch base with an official blog post. On return I am disappointed in myself for my laziness and was flattered to receive several emails and messages asking when I would be writing, to you devout reader I am truly sorry! Better late than never…

I spent two days in Rome on my arrival, soaked up the sun and visited the sights I had not previously seen. A particular favourite being ‘The Aventine Keyhole’. A little out the way but I would highly recommend a visit, in  Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta there is a large metal door set in a long flat wall, simply take a peek through the keyhole. A stunning view.

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Through the keyhole, a teaser

Through the keyhole, a teaser

So down to business, WWOOFing! My first farm was in Castagneto Carducci in Tuscany, the home of Bridget Matthews. Bridget moved to Italy over 25 years ago from Scotland to start a life on a farm, she has fantastic stories of her early years and the first WWOOFers living in tipis and enjoying life to the full. Now a well established home she has chickens, an olive grove and a vegetable garden which need care and attention all year round. I was working alongside Joe, a rather loud and boisterous Texas-born guy in his mid twenties, we didn’t always see eye to eye. Talk of guns, women’s rights and seasonal cultivation were amongst our disagreements but boy could he cook! (Actually this did lead to further disagreement on the purge of far too much food from the vegetable patch, I think he thought he was feeding the 50,000 not 4).

My main tasks included making marmalade, feeding the chickens, pruning the olive trees and helping with building work. I also had my first experience of using the strimmer, that is harder than it looks and so heavy! Alas there are no pictures of me in a visor & ear defenders splattered with damp grass, teamed with the bobbling tracksuit bottoms it was a good look. We also went to a nearby farm owned by Edie to assist with odd jobs there, Edie kept an immaculate place- to the point of ridiculousness! I helped fertilise olive and fruit trees, the grape vines and with the citrus’ too. They use a few permaculture methods too, such as crushed lupin seeds as nitrogen fixers and are starting to establish a Forest Garden. For more on what a Forest Garden is check out the genius of Martin Crawford in this video. I also spent Easter at Bridget’s farm and enjoyed a delicious meal with some of her friends, Joe and a new recruit to WWOOFing Yotam.

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Oranges for delicious marmalade

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Cutting the shred

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All jarred and ready for toast!

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In the olive grove

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Beautiful and delicious hummus

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Sunny Easter Sunday

Walking the dogs at sunset on East Sunday

Walking the dogs at sunset on East Sunday

Finishing the post on a bicycle and food related photo, from a shop selling only chilli products in Castagneto.

Finishing the post on a bicycle and food related photo, from a shop selling only chilli products in Castagneto.

After 2 weeks on the farm I moved on, but not to another farm but to a mini holiday! I decided to go to Sardinia, being so close to the port of Livorno it seemed like the perfect opportunity. See my next post for more on the stunningly beautiful island.