Wednesday 12 April 2023

The last 6 months update- this blog is quite long ! 


When we came back from Sicily the last time, we started to have problems with Milo at school - it was not him!

It was so bad that we decided to withdraw him from school and to look for a new one. Max decided that he would stay on as he only has a year to go. He said he could manage but he had the option to change too.

We looked at a few schools and one stood out amongst the others. It was a truly international school with an international mix of teachers and international thinking and teaching. It was relaxed and flexible.There were no regimented hairstyles, uniforms and demands that boys should look like boys and girls should look like girls, (amongst many other daft rules that had sprung up since August) so we applied for a place. The problem was they only had two intakes and Milo would have to wait until February.  We agreed.

Meanwhile, this meant that we were back to home education but Milo was so relieved to not have to go to the old school that he willingly set about doing anything I set him and he even started to do his own research. He became more relaxed and we noticed how happy he was.


This meant I had a partner in crime to go to IKEA with, in between his work projects, so that we could plan furniture for the house in Sicily. We set ourselves a design (and maths ) project by drawing the house to scale and then looked at what furniture might fit ( if we decided on IKEA). We had a great time doing this and Milo was enthusiastic.

Here is Milo dancing to his music in the middle of IKEA. He does have more happier moments now he has left his old school! 


We were invited to quite a few parties and Andrew and I even got to dance on a podium with a camera spinning around us. We thought we were really cool. The boys were at home that night and we sent them our video. They thought it was hilarious. 

It was our friend, Sid’s birthday.Think we danced for about 3 hours ! What a fantastic party. 

Max played his guitar with a group of others at a Christmas party.

Sid and I squashed in the boot of the car with our dogs after another party.

This was Shawna and Matt’s party.

This was at a new place for dinner 

The night of the dancing podium ! 

This was in January , I think . They went with Sid.

Max plays guitar

Max has played guitar to a few more audiences again. 

One was at a concert at the local school that Andy the guitar teacher supports, another was at a party and at the school concert. 


On my birthday I had dreadful flu/ covid (?) and as I recovered I lost the plot and booked for us all to go to Goa for Christmas. I had always wanted to be on a beach on Christmas Day but we had never got round to being organised enough to do Christmas Day. Milo was concerned that Santa wouldn’t find him! Max moaned that he didn’t want to go but I booked it anyway.

I did yield a bit and didn’t book the early morning flight so that we had less teenage angst- that worked well. 

It was a very good decision to go for Christmas as the weather in Goa was perfect. Usually in Bangalore it is cloudy and dull and this year was the same. We had beautiful weather in Goa.

The resort was full, as you would expect, but fine and we got chatting to the British family in the hut next to us.

The lady said about our British accents and we said we were from Lincolnshire. They lived in Boston ! It is such a small world. They had know Andrew’s former boss well. ( Mr Donovan Fry) I then said that we knew a lady who lived nearby us in India and she came from Boston. The world got even smaller because they knew her and her family too as they had gone to school together ( the daughters) 

Also, at the resort was one of Milo’s friends and his family ( we got on well with them too) and then our friends from Palm meadows came. We all had a great time together.

 Milo and his friend Jack 

It is the only Indian food that I can eat as it is not too spicy

Ready for breakfast on the beach 

Santa found us 

 Tracy, Milo still has the reindeer food bag that you made him .Max does too but I didn’t take a photo

January and February

We were all invited to the Israeli party which was very lively. 

This was Max’s  school concert 

A new maid 

About this time we booked our flights to go to Sicily for the Spring break but we decided that I would go ahead of the boys to get things ready. Up until now I had been cleaning and cooking but as it was getting hotter, I was getting slower. Andrew said if I was going on my own and leaving them all abandoned, there was no way that he was going to do any cleaning or cooking ( he said he doesn’t have the time - really, he doesn’t )

 So, I set about trying to get a new maid.

 OMG ! What a pavalar! I interviewed one lady who said it would take her 6 hours a day to clean an house so “enormous”and she would need an assistant.(?)  When I pointed out that I could clean the house in two hours and the house was a medium size by Palm Meadow’s  standards, she still insisted that it was too much hard work for her. I politely showed her the door.

The next lady arranged a time but didn’t turn up. I sent a message to see if she had understood my English and she replied that she was shopping and that she would come later. Told her not to bother 

Another lady came who seemed very enthusiastic and I said we would give her a trial. She didn’t turn up  at the agreed time as she had to get her children to school, she said she would come when she had dropped them off. Sacked her before she had even started.

Some people have no understanding that if you say a start time then that is the start time ! Not turn up when you feel like it! Otherwise you end up waiting for them to saunter down the road at all hours.

Another one came - she wanted double the price and said it was too hard work as we had a dog ( this meant that she would be earning more than the teachers do in India - I don’t think so!) 

I was running out of patience at the attitude of these ladies. Even when I pointed out that I did the cleaning, and that if I got a move on, it was easy, I don’t think they believed me because they think European ladies get too “tired “ if they have to do any physical work. Even when we explain that we have to do it all by ourselves in Europe, some ladies just smirk as if we are lying!
  Until a lady called Ratna turned up. She was on time, didn’t give me a disgusting look about the size of the house and didn’t complain that it would be too much. She started and is still with us. She gets on with it and does a good job. She loves dogs too so this was a bonus. She smiles and is very happy. She works part time. No problems. Phew, what a relief! Fingers crossed things don’t change.

We have visitors 

We were all very excited because Granny and Rob were coming to visit us for two weeks ( their trip was cancelled last year due to visa troubles) This meant that we would also get a chocolate and cereal supply which was exciting too as we had been deprived of “ proper “ chocolate for so long. 
Milo was pleased because he hadn’t started school so got a few days of extra activities with them before he began.

Both our boys got up at 4 am to go and meet them from the airport, they were so excited. Diane and Rob’s jet lag wasn’t too bad and we were off during the week visiting temples, the factory and the orphanage, going to the cinema with the reclining chairs, eating lunch in posh hotels, shopping and generally having a nice time - apart from when everyone got either a sickness bug or food poisoning (apart from me - so I was the nurse ). This put everyone out of action for a few days. 
By this time Milo had started his new school. He was blissfully happy, even though it takes an hour and a half to get to school on the bus, so he had to have a few days off. 
Shiva temple

Leela Palace for lunch ( posh hotel) 

Chocolate delivery 

A rural farm 

Packed into the car

Breakfast at a road side cafe 


Riding the escalator in the shopping centre (An Indian past time)

Posh cinema 

The food at the factory - NFC - not for Carla ! 

The Conrad Hotel 

The new washing machine that Andrew managed to arrange for the orphanage .Rob and Diane donated lots of sweets and cakes to the people there and they were so pleased.

At the pool side in Palm Meadows

At the factory 

We still don’t know why, but we had to drop lots of seeds into the gold buckets at the Shiva temple 

After two short weeks it was time for them to go home but we had all had a great time.

Milo’ new school versus the old school.

Milo’s new school is on the other side of the city! It is called Stonehill. He has to catch the bus at 6 from near the supermarket, which means getting up at 5:15. Andrew and I take the opportunity to go for a bike ride at that time. Milo arrives at school at 7:30 and lessons start at 7:40. He finishes at 3 on most days but it can take 2 hours to get home! Milo enjoys it so much, he doesn’t mind. We are so pleased that he has changed schools, he is so happy.

At his new school there are practical lessons for science, woodwork, design, art amongst others. PE is an hour long instead of 30 minutes ( apparently, by the time they had started PE in the other school, it was time to stop) The new school does “proper” PE and Milo found it exhausting to start with but we thought that was good. You don’t keep fit unless you get out of breath. The old school only does a few practical lessons, they are all book based with teachers sitting at the front of the class and just talking, not suited to Milo’s way of learning ( nor mine)

The new school has air conditioning instead of noisy fans and fantastic sports facilities. The classes are smaller and the general surroundings, classroom furniture are up to date and in good condition.

Also, there is the attitude that it is up to the students to be responsible. The teachers are approachable for the students and very relaxed. The teachers are sweet at Indus too but something has changed since the return last august and they are not so relaxed.

Indus is very military in its attitude ( the head is an ex -general ) with no answering back or being able to give a reasonable explanation and super strict rules.  One reason we removed Milo was that the school published a 24 page “punishment “ document with rules such as boys can wear smart watches and girls can’t, girls must wear their socks with the two stripes showing and their skirts must be an exact measurable length above their knees. Failure to do this would result in warnings being given, lines being written and litter picking. We know of girls who have had to get changed in front of the headteacher (woman ) to change for a new skirt - skirts that the school has measured them for! But the way, there was no reward document or any positive reinforcement …..

 Milo is allowed his phone with him as long as he doesn’t use it inappropriately or in lessons. Max has to hand his phone in, if he is caught with it, then it gets confiscated for a week.

Students are not allowed to contact parents during the day at Indus. ( we once had a despairing message asking for help from Milo via email - I sent an email to sort it out - he was supposed to write out a whole book at lunchtime as he had been absent - which meant he would have no food - when the teacher found out that he had contacted me, he was in trouble !) 

Max’s school gets the security team to do surprise ‘raids ‘ in the classroom to search the kids’ bags. About 10 burly guards in uniform and heavy boots will burst in and roughly take the kids bags off them and empty them. One young man (18) had his secret stash of contraceptives waved in front of the rest of the class! The school also demands that the kids do surprise random urine tests and this has to be done in front of a teacher in case they are carrying a spare bottle of urine??( this is absolutely disgusting and abusive!) I  told Max that if that happened he was to email me immediately and I would come to school. Although , this rule has been recently altered because so many parents complained. The students can now go into the loo for their sample, but who in their right mind would even consider doing this to self conscious teenagers - to wee in front of a teacher into a bottle ? This is all because a few senior students have taken “drugs” so all the students are subjected to these raids from grade 9 up to grade 12. A lot of the kids just do it because they are so intimidated. They don’t question anything and accept the rules.

For uniform, Milo just wears shorts and a light polo shirt and trainers for formal uniform and a relaxed sports t -shirt and shorts for PE days. Max has to have super formal uniform with stiff collared shirts, tie, long thick trousers, thick uncomfortable socks and heavy formal shoes for 3 days a week. This uniform really is a form of torture in 36 degrees of heat. The uniform is of a poor quality and there is no comfort consideration whereas Milo’s is geared for comfort and the weather. Indus holds on to the formal uniform until they give in and resort to PE kits. Fingers crossed that will happen soon.

Max knows that he has less than a year so he is gritting his teeth and getting on with it. Of course , all his friends are there too so he sees this as positive. He has a close network of friends. When something happens he just rolls his eyes, he such an easy going guy. He likes Indus. 

The schools’ attitude to absence are also different. When the boys were sick, I sent messages to say that they were ill and not going for few days until they could eat properly. Milo’s school said get well soon, Max’s school said get a doctor’s note or he might risk being unable to take his grade 11 exams. 

Ok, fair enough. Grade 11 is the year before the final A level exams.

I managed to ring a doctor and get a sick note. 

Then, at the end of the month I got the rudest message from Max’s school saying that he had had too many days off and his exams were in jeopardy still(he had had 4 days off) I said the school’s policy was to keep sick students at home so how can a student keep up enough attendance to do the exams ? 

“Yes “ says school ,”but you didn’t have permission for any absence.”

( well, I didn’t know that he was going to be throwing up all night or I that would have to ask for permission first ?) .  It’s a catch 22 situation.

So, I replied “why did I bother getting a doctors note if it didn’t apply. You asked me to get a retrospective doctors note.”

No comprehensive reasonable reply came back.

Basically you can’t win, so I said if there’s a next time with someone like that, I’ll send him on the bus with a sick bucket so that he doesn’t lose his attendance. 

Complete daft rules! They didn’t reply ….

But a few days later we got another threatening message. Max is absent and there has been no permission given, no message, if he has any other time off he won’t be able to take his exams blah, blah, blah , threat threat, threat. 

The thing was, Max had waved goodbye to us to go to get on the bus at 7 that morning. I replied with this information asking if they could they check if he was there- Please? 

Another reply, threat threat threat. I was getting quite mad and I was beginning to panic. Instead of focusing on finding my boy, they were busy issuing their usual cruel threats.

 There was no interest in his welfare, what -so -ever.

I tried ringing school, no answer. 

I sent another message saying “ FIND MY SON OR I WILL RING THE POLICE!”

Whoever it was emailing me, obviously got off their fat backside and went to look.

He was there, the bus had been late, he had turned up for registration, the teacher hadn’t marked him there but, apparently, it was his fault. 

Of course, it was, Max is such a rebellious, outrageous student! 

I replied saying thank you for finding him but next time I would appreciate a less alarming message about my son potentially being missing. Maybe start with he’s not here, is there a reason why? , instead of saying he will miss his exams. I said I don’t like receiving such threatening messages when I always send messages about absences. 

This then got worse, the woman I have been communicating with decided to go and speak to Max to say she wasn’t threatening anyone. 

Hang on ! You were communicating with me not him! Get a grip woman! 

So, Max manages to send me an email ( he didn’t get found out for breaking that stupid rule!) to ask me what’s going on. 

Unbelievable!  I had no further communication on this matter.

Rant over ….

Sicily again

I have never been away from my children nor Andrew on my own. I have never been on a plane on my own but I was going for 17 days before them to try to sort out our new house in Sicily. I’m a bit of a cry baby when it comes to anything, puppies with sad eyes, saying goodbye. In fact, I am banned from vet programmes, anything sad on the TV, especially Toy Story 3. I did manage to get into the car and leave them all to go to the airport after getting big hugs and kisses ( including from Andy)

My first flight was to Dubai was quite bumpy( it always is) . I stopped the night in a hotel and was up early (4!) to get the next flight to Catania.

 I queued for about an hour and an half and got to the front desk, only to be told that my ticket wasn’t valid! The man said go and check at the desk for Flydubai and then jump the queue to come back. At the desk they said my ticket was valid and there was no problem so back I went. 

The other guy was just leaving and the queue was super long, I had no chance  if I had to queue again. I managed to catch his eye and get bumped to the front of the queue. I was cutting it fine as it is a long way to walk through Dubai airport. I walked as fast as my little legs would carry me and got to the departure gate as it was boarding. 

The flight to Catania was really smooth and the window seats are so big and wide. We flew over Egypt and it was so clear. When we arrived in Catania, I faced my next problem, I couldn’t reach into the overhead locker to retrieve my bag. I am just too small. Luckily, as I was just about to stand and bounce up and down on the seat to reach it, someone casually got it down for me.

The plane got in early at 11:00 in the morning. It was raining and so cold! Avril met me and took me to her house. We had a lovely lunch of lasagna and chips but then I was overwhelmed with tiredness and the cold and I had to have a sleep. I had  two quilts and a blanket to keep warm.
We had yummy pizza later that night and I was in bed early, not quite sure what time it was and missing all my boys.

The next morning, after having been wide awake since 3, Avril drove me up to our house at 8:30 and I was so excited to see it again. 
Fabio was there to meet us and he had backed the car out of the garage (good - I’ll explain my car driving trauma soon) 
He had put the heating on- good - because it was about 10 degrees and I looked liked I was in the Artic with all my layers on, I was so cold. 
Avril had work to go to so she left and so did Fabio. I unpacked, had a quick clean around, and thought I would go to the next village to get some food.

Now, I have only driven properly twice in the last five years and that was in the Uk and not on a steep hill with a cliff edge to drive over if I lost control. 

I’m only exaggerating a bit because there is a bit of a fence then a drop to the lower terrace so handbrake manoeuvres are super important on our drive.
I got into such a pickle that I couldn’t move the car round enough to miss the fence.I decided to ring Andrew. What he was going to do, I don’t know, but this was the first of many rants that would occur as I tried to sort things out. He patiently told me that I used to drive a BMW X5, which was far bigger, so I had to get on with it. After much muttering and several forward and backward manoeuvres, I managed to get out of the pickle and off I went down the drive without driving over the cliff edge. 
Shopping trip happily accomplished, I came back and as I drove up the drive I couldn’t decide if Fabio had said always reverse into the carport or never reverse into the carport.
Jet lag was taking over my sensible thought processing skills and I had been awake since 3 am.

So, I reversed in. 
I went in the house, had some food, stared at the beautiful view and then I had said to Avril  that I would go back down to her house to stay the night as we were filming for an advert for a coffee brand in the morning. It took me a long time to shut all the shutters. My fingers were freezing.

I learnt the hard way to never, ever reverse the car into our carport! 

I was completely stuck again as I tried to reverse out, with three wheels on the ground and one in the air. I was also having trouble with the stupid, titchy, tiny finger handbrake. 
I rang Andrew to rant again ( in quite a colourful way ) I could hear him sighing and imagine him rolling his eyes.

I managed to move the car after I opened the garage, reversed partly into it and then I managed to turn the car again. I was facing the right way.Off I went to Avril’s, pleased with my efforts and not too traumatised ( this time) 

Avril was at the hairdressers and I let myself in. She needed the fire doing to I went to get some wood from downstairs. Luckily, I had my phone with me.
The next disaster happened as the door shut behind me and I was trapped in her hallway with no keys.(and no coat!)
I rang her in desperation and her friend Salvo, luckily, was nearby. He has a key, he whizzed over and he let himself in, we sorted the fire.
Avril came back and we were just going to get  pizza when she realised that she had lost her phone. We searched but no sign of it. I suggested she rang the hairdresser using my phone, who did happen to have Avril’s phone, but of course, couldn’t ring her because Avril didn’t have the phone! 
Talk about one disaster after another.
Avril went to get the pizza and then realised she had left the garage door open when she was searching for the phone.
We really needed to go to bed and wait for an other day with no disasters or incidences.

I forgot to say I went in the posh lounge at Bangalore when I was waiting .

One moment when I had lost the plot and abandoned the car. 

The villa used for filming

I managed to park the car quite well here and it was on a slope.

 Avril and I with Eugene who was in charge of the filming 

In front of Avril’s fire with some fluffy slippers that I managed to snaffle.

 I think this is the Red Sea 

Shopping for stuff for the house

Down by the sea and port 

Avril’s lemon tree

Managed to get warm enough to take my coat off

This brought tears to my eyes. Milo made it at school .

 Taken my jumper off too ….

Mt.Etna from our back terrace

We went to a luxurious villa at the end of Avril’s road where we had been invited to film for an advert for coffee. We had our makeup done and we looked quite glamorous. 
Basically, Avril was the English aunt and I was the niece and she had invited friends over for afternoon tea. When the butlers can’t find any tea they put in coffee instead, which we try and like quite a lot. 
It was a lot of fun doing this filming and it took all morning but they didn’t give us any real coffee to drink. Anyway, I don’t think acting is quite my thing.

The jet lag was setting in again, so after some nice warm food, I set off back to the house, only to be faced with my next problem.

I couldn’t undo any of the locks on the shutters to get into the house. I tried for about half an hour , then decided to ring Andrew again. I filmed my predicament but he couldn’t help, of course, so I rang Fabio who came to rescue me. The knack of opening the locks was to push the doors forward and then quickly turn the key, easy when you know how!

Once inside and with the heating toasty warm, I fell asleep on the sofa. I had no real internet connection but the man was coming the next day to sort a line out.

Or so I thought !

The next morning, I waited for so long for the internet man but he had got lost and because my signal wasn’t good I couldn’t ring and I didn’t understand how to change my WhatsApp over . When he did turn up, I gave him a coffee as he had been lost for an hour. 
He then casually declared that we couldn’t have the Wi-Fi that we had arranged as it was the wrong type! I have no idea about the internet. I am like Jen from the IT crowd and think it’s a box with a red light on that sits in a corner and works by magic. 
This meant I would have to go to the shop in town and sort out a new type of internet (?). Meanwhile, I played with my phone and found that I did have the internet when I was in the house and I could watch normal TV through the wire in the wall. So it wasn’t so bad.


Flipping people in India! having found the internet on my phone and feeling pleased with this achievement,  I hadn’t remembered to switch it off so that I didn’t receive calls from India at 3 in the morning so I had another night of disturbed sleep. I rang Andrew….usual sighing and imagined eye rolling …

I went to fetch Avril so that we could have a coffee and a croissant on the beachfront and to go for a walk along the beach. It was wonderful.
It was warming up and I managed to take off my coat.

I went shopping to get an ironing board and a few things for the house. I popped into the internet shop and they gave me a white box thingy ….

On the way back, I started to feel jet lagged and tired again.I was still misjudging the car width and managed to clip the wing mirror.( only slightly, no damage)  As I pulled into the carport at home, I misjudged the angle and somehow the sensors didn’t sound and basically, I hit the wall ( gently, mind you) so two mishaps in the space of half an hour. Oops! I was sure that I could sort out any scratches .

I now had to confess to Andrew without alarming him too much. When we lived in Brinkhill, the local lady vicar had a habit of hitting the post outside the vicarage and damaging her headlight. She would take it to the garage nearby and we would all see that she had done it yet again. I think she did it about 7 times. I thought reminding Andrew of her driving skills was a good way of introducing my minor misdemeanours…..

Meanwhile, the boys had been enjoying themselves too much without me. We have apps on our phones for take away deliveries and as I am the main person at home in India, they kept ringing me to say the take away was outside the door ( in India!) so the boys couldn’t hide their eating habits.
They also had been going out to parties and football and all sorts.

The next day, I went to the internet shop full of hope. We ready have Italian SIM cards and contracts so, in theory, we just had to add on to our account. The white box they had given me the day before was installed at the house but didn’t seem to work. I found out that the shop people do not recommend the people in the head office for communication. Someone was supposed to ring me to activate the internet line. No one had rung. So the man in the shop rechecked all the details and I set off again to see if the white box would work. This meant driving 25 minutes each way. I got back, waited for my call ….nothing. 
In the afternoon, I went back to the shop when it opened and this time took Avril with me in case I had misunderstood. To cut a long story short, we had to use her tax code to get the activation as the lady in head office had managed to cancel my request. 
I again trundled back up to the house. 

Yay, the white box had green lights on it ( not red ) and the internet was working all over the house. I now had to learn how to work the TV. My two teenage fixers were not with me so it took a little longer than I expected to get the BBC iPlayer working. 

In the late afternoon I decided that I would drive to Catania ( about 50 minutes away) to go and look at ikea. We had decided to order two sofas and two beds from there. I managed the motorway without hitting anything, although I had trouble reaching the ticket machine and had to open the car door to get a ticket. In Ikea, I arranged for the furniture to arrive after Andrew arrived so I was pleased that I managed to successfully accomplish something else.

The weekend 

I woke up to high winds and the shutters banging. I had to find the biggest lava rocks in the garden so that I could weight the shutters back against the wall. For extra security, I fill some empty water water bottles and wedged them there too. This seemed to do the trick.

Later that day I went to Avril’s to meet her and Leonardo as we were going to Catania to meet their friends for snacks, wine and to practise English - theirs not ours.


Typical, the first time I had managed to sleep all through the night, I overslept, just when I needed to get up early. It was a very special day for Avril. Four years ago, she had applied for Italian citizenship and today was the important swearing in ceremony. 

I actually did things quickly and whizzed down to Giarre to meet with Avril’s friends who were also going to the ceremony.

It was very strange. We went into an office with several desks. A smiley, happy man put on his Italian sash in the Italian flag colours and Avril had to stand in front of the desk in front of him. She repeated what he said and signed some forms. 

Now, this would have been even more special if there hadn’t been other people sitting at another desk sorting out their immigration status ! Dayle ( Avril’s Scottish friend) was really cross and was shooting daggers at the other people to try to get them to pipe down. It didn’t work.

Anyway, We went to have a celebration coffee and croissant afterwards with a promise that we would have a proper party when Andrew and the others turned up next week.


Avril and I found a superstore like  B and  Q and we bought things like recycling bins and soap holders.

But the next day was even more fun as we went to the store next to IKEA which was just like IKEA! We spent 5 hours shopping ……I’m sure the IKEA store in Catania thinks I am moving in. 

The water problem 

Back at the house all was going well, I could park the car without hitting the wall or the fence, I could open the shutters without cutting my fingers and I could wedge open the shutters. The internet was working.

Then, I found that I had no running water. I knew that we had a pump that pumped the water from the water tank at the bottom of the drive to the water tank in the garage and then up to the house.When we had our swimming pool in Brinkhill, we had a similar pump so I knew how it worked. On the pump it said failure. I whacked it once with a soft mallet ( like we used to do,to help the rotating things inside ) but this didn’t work. I primed the start switch and it started. Off I went to get on with the gardening that I was doing, when I heard it go off again.

Mmm.. back inside no water again ! 
I repeated what I did and got it working, the water was back on. 
I had had a delivery of 7000 litres when I arrived so I knew I had enough water.

Over the next few days the same thing happened a few times.
 Then nothing, I couldn’t start it again. I had rung Fabio who said that he would send his dad( he’s a builder - thank goodness ) I knew that the pump had broken from the sound it was ( not) making. Fabio’s dad came and he had to bypass the pump. There were no pumps available that we needed until Monday. The boys were arriving on Sunday!
But his dad managed to arrange the water so that there was water downstairs just none upstairs.  (where the second bathroom is) 

My boys arrive 
There are no direct flights to Catania so we go through Dubai at the moment as this seems to be the quickest route. Andrew and the boys stopped the night in a luxurious apartment that overlooked the Burj Khalifa. They thought they were super special. 
I set off on Sunday to the airport ( which is next to the IKEA store, but I resisted going) 

I was so happy to see them.

By now the telepass for the motorway had arrived and this meant no struggling to reach for a ticket at the booth. The boys were very impressed as our little gadget beeped as we went through the barrier.

We had lunch at Avril’s then I drive them up to the house. They were cold and tired and all asleep in their beds by 7 pm. 

I was back to watching my new favourite Italian programmes on my own .

Max met his friend Rudra who had moved to Dubai.


The bikes 

Milo had said that he would like to go biking as this is difficult in Bangalore. There are lots of biking routes in Sicily. We all thought it was a good idea so we went to Catania to see about buying some bikes. We seemed to be in the shop forever but we bought one each plus a bike carrier for the car.

It took Andrew and Max over an hour to fix the carrier, it was so complicated. Milo and I got bored so we went round the rest of the shopping centre to keep out of the way.

With the bikes on we set off home. It was very exciting ! We were ready for our first cycling trip.

 There are quite a few bike and walking paths along the seafront.

 Our drive way is steep.

Milo enjoying his freedom.

It also meant that the boys were free to go out on their own on the roads which is something they can’t do in India but it is tricky getting up our drive ! 

 There was some snow higher up Mt Etna .

 We bought a small outside sofa to admire the had a glass topped table with it . It lasted a day as the wind pushed it and tipped it over !

 We bought a BBQ

 This is the water fountain in the village , when our water went off we quickly went to get extra water from there.

We bought a table and chairs too.

Luckily, by Monday evening we had hot running water and plenty of it as the pump was all in order.

Andrew’s mum and dad arrive 
The following Sunday Andrew’s mum and dad came and they stopped at Avril’s.We decided to go for a walk to feed the wild foxes on Mt Etna.
 It was absolutely freezing! I managed about 15 minutes trekking when I decided that I would go back to the car on my own. I followed a small tour group back along the path (which was quite hard to distinguish) 
I got in the car and enjoyed the sunshine through the window. I settled down to listen to my podcasts and was much happier in the car looking at the mountain than trudging across it. My motto, NFC ( not for Carla ) applies to cold weather not just spicy food. 

After what seemed a long time, I thought I would go to the local refuge that had a cafe. It was just up the road. I sent a message to Andrew saying that I was going and he replied with “ send your location!” so I did.
I decided I would wait for them as I thought they were close by, but no one turned up. I wasn’t concerned and carried on listening to my podcasts. After what seemed an age, there was a loud banging on the car. Andrew, Derek and the boys were all there out of breath. 
They had got lost and been wandering trying to find the road. They had come out lower down and had had to walk up the steep road to get back to the cars. They had left Avril and Christine behind, stranded by the side of the road. 
I think there may have been a few frosty words but all was sorted and we headed to another refuge to get some delicious pasta. 
The foxes never got their food.!

Avril’s party 

A few days later, we went out to celebrate Avril’s citizenship. A new restaurant had opened next door to her house . It was a lovely meal. 
The following phots are a bit muddled!

This was at Avril’s celebration door to her house in Giarre.

NFC - it’s too cold.

 Another bike ride along a different part of the beach . It’s warmer by the beach than the mountain.

 Think they were lost here.

 Avril’s celebration cake

We spent a bit of time with Derek and Christine and Avril over the next few days. We had aBBQ we went out to restaurants.
Milo loves going on the train so we decided to go to Catania. It was a good idea. The train service is very efficient and quick. We had to get the metro but that was quick too.
We had a couple of hours walking around the city centre, a nice meal in an open restaurant and then we reversed our journey. We were impressed with the train 

Cool dude ignoring his parents 

House improvements 
We bought two new beds and managed to do Max’s room. Milo’s room is first on the list the next time. We put up mirrors and bought new sofas but there’s still some more to do. We invited some of our Sicilian friends to see the house too. Salvo and Carmela came for a coffee ( Salvo made a gorgeous cake ) our friends Antonella and Fabio and their son, Matteo came another night. ( no one took a photo ,) Fabio’s mum lives in the village and their favourite restaurant is just up the road from our house. At the moment it is only open at the weekends. Of course, we had to try . They served the best pizzas. We can’t wait to go back because we can walk there so easily. 

We tried to smarten the kitchen.

Added some outside furniture 

 New sofas and TVstand 

 Salvo, Carmela and Avril.


We added some mirrors downstairs and have put the old sofa there. It means if it is raining we can look at the view from inside. 

Then it was time for us all to leave. Derek and Christine left on Monday ( they had an extra day due to a strike somewhere) and then we needed to leave on Wednesday. We decided to try the flight to Dubai and then wait in the airport until the next flight instead of staying in a hotel.

Never again ! It’s much better to stop the night in Dubai and then go on the later flight the next day ( we spent two days in a daze when we got back) 
The flight managed to get in an hour early at 9pm to Dubai which meant we had 7 hours to wait. I managed to sleep on the sloping chairs. We had paid for our bags to go through transit so at least we didn’t have to check in and out again. 
We got on the air emirates flight to Dubai ant 3:30  and we were pleased when they said it would only take 3 hours instead of 4. Obviously the wind was behind us all the way. 

But, of course, everything was too good to be true.
 Our cases didn’t turn up, so all the time gained was lost sat in the office at Bangalore repeating ourselves monotonously that the bags were not there.

We were straight back into the manic chaos which is India!  

Last walk along the  beach 

I slept with my scarf over my head .

We got the cases the next day and luckily, all the smuggled cheese and wine was ok.

We are back in India and it is the summer so it is super hot and sticky. We are on the last loaf of Italian bread ……

Update ! April 2024

  20 people sharing 2 menus! When we go to a restaurant, we seem to spend a lot of time trying to keep a straight face so that we do not ups...