Monday 9 October 2023

 Delayed blog update/ marooned in Sicily


I have had dengue for a month, here in India, so I have not been able to update from the summer blog but here it is.


The builders


I was not feeling well at all and I thought I had Dengue fever. This is not October when I do have dengue fever, this in June. I felt really cold, I thought it was the weather, but obviously I had a temperature.  Andrew had the same symptoms so it was obviously an Indian bug that had taken a while to come out as I travelled over to Sicily. I took a covid test but it was negative although I didn’t actually have any cold symptoms but I had flu symptoms. So, it was a case of just get on with it. Luckily, I could sit in the shade during the day and stare into space or watch the men working, which was quite entertaining, especially when the mini digger turned up. They were swinging big scoop fulls of cement from the driveway over the railing and onto the terrace. They had covered the terrace with sheets to protect the tiles, but the splashing of the cement was dreadful. It was on the carport roof, up the wall, on the railings, over the driveway, it looked like they had pebble dashed everything. The men were all kind, helpful and very patient with my Italian.

They enjoyed all the coffee that I made and the biscuits I offered them. They were nice guys. At the end of the day, bang on 5, they would pack up their things and leave, but not clean everything. Things were obviously going to get worse before they got better and I was sitting in the middle of a building site.


Andrew’s birthday


The boys took Andrew out for a meal and face -timed me to show me what a good time they were having. It was still another 3 and a half weeks until they were coming to Sicily. I lost the plot, I hate being without them all, and demanded that Andrew booked me a flight so I could go back to my boys! I was surrounded by cement, on a building site and not feeling well. Added to that I had missed a wedding that I could have gone to in the UK and now I had to stay at the house all the time to supervise the builders even when I was feeling well. My boys told me to toughen up. I was so pleased that I had plenty of red wine!



Milo comes to Sicily on his own


 The next day, as I read our emails, I could see that Milo was booked on a flight to come to me in Sicily, but he was coming on his own. I was elated but worried at the same time as he had never flown on his own, after all, I had never flown on my own until this year!

Max had some partying to do as school ended but Milo wanted to come to the house and chill. 

Andrew booked flights to take Milo to Dubai, the in-service flight supervision for minors only works with flights that are closely timed and Milo would have to wait overnight to get the flight for Catania.


Andrew and Milo got to Dubai on the Saturday and had a fantastic time going up the Burj Khalifa and they both went on the slide that has a glass bottom. Milo was fine, I think Andrew had wobbly legs!


The next day, Andrew checked Milo onto the flight to Catania and himself onto the flight back to Bangalore.

Milo went bravely to get on his flight. We are so proud of him. I know lots of kids fly on their own, but this was a big deal for us.

Andrew had lost the plot too and as he had 6 hours to wait until his flight, he had managed to get an upgrade to business class using some of his Emirates sky miles.


Meanwhile, I was awake early and watching Milo’s plane coming towards Sicily. I had my fingers crossed that Etna would not erupt and force his plane to go the other side of the island! 

I set off early because it was Sunday, beach day for Sicilians, and I knew it would be busy.

I was so excited.

I went on the motorway and all was well until I got to the exit, it was chock a block slow traffic. 

As I inched towards the car park, I could see Milo’s plane landing, I parked the car ( well, abandoned it really) and ran into the terminal.


The airport was full of older British and European people on their holidays, all wandering, slowly, not knowing where to go.

 After a while, my boy emerged out of the door, clutching his passport carefully, smiling broadly. He got such a big hug.

He was starving hungry, as always, and as we got in the car, he was given his snack box that I had brought with me. He munched all the way to Avril’s house where she was waiting with the yummy pasta and chips that we love so much. He managed to eat all of that too.


Meanwhile, Andrew was on his way back to Max in Bangalore. He was posting photos of his posh window seat and lunch….


Shopping, walking and eating, Milo and Max are ill.


As I was feeling better, Milo and I spent quite a bit of time shopping. We discovered a new shopping centre near the airport. It had a MacDonalds, no spice, YAY!


 Milo was very happy as he likes Italian fashion and enjoyed buying clothes. He also had his wallet with all his money again.

 We got to spend some time in Ikea as we had promised him new furniture for his bedroom. We had done Max’s room last time. Milo had a vision of what he wanted, although we needed to wait until Andrew and Max came as there was no room to unload anything with the pool construction going on. But he knew what he wanted to buy.

On other days, we went to walk on the beach, had lots of croissants, pizzas and seem to spend a lot of time in the supermarket buying food that we can’t buy in India. 

We both sat and watched the workmen when we had to be at the house. We complained about the fact that when the workmen were there, we had to leave the car on the road at the bottom and carry the shopping up, it was hard work. We watched them dropping the cement on the beautiful black tarmac driveway and not clearing it up.

In the garden, we had some apricot trees and they were full of fruit so we picked as many as we could and gave away as many as we could. We pulled up weeds and plotted what we could plant. 

We had a great time.


Then, after a week, Milo woke up with a high temperature and he couldn’t get out of bed. He had the exact same symptoms that Andrew and I had had. I rang Andrew and Max was ill in bed too. It was so strange it had been two weeks now since we had started with the same symptoms and now both boys were ill.

Milo spent the next week in bed, feeling miserable. Luckily, I had bought him a new TV for his room and he had his computer with him, so he had some entertainment. He had the same pains in his legs and body and couldn’t get up and down the stairs from his room. Fortunately, we have a bathroom downstairs as well as upstairs.  

Max was ill in bed in Bangalore so I would whattsapp him to check on him when Andrew went to work. They both took about a week to get better.

 He wasn't well.

 Milo tried the beach but I had to take him home

 we did manage a quick walk along the beach 

 our apricot tree




One day, before Milo had arrived, a man had stopped to see what was going on at our house. He was a jovial retired man called Alfio. He had invited me round to his house for a coffee and to pick some cherries from his trees. He said come for 8. Milo was feeling better but preferred to stay at home so I set off to Alfio’s house which was in the village below us. We can see his house from one of the terraces. 

I met his wife and we had a coffee in the kitchen where I could see our house set amongst the trees and it looked really pretty.

His wife said she was going shopping and wanted to go before it got too busy and hot, so she wouldn’t be picking the cherries.

So, giddy with all the coffee that I had been given, we then went to pick the cherries, just Alfio and I.

When I had set off earlier from home, I had thought that it would be a quick visit and hadn’t put any sun screen on. Luckily, I don’t burn easily, I am very careful about sitting in the sun. Picking the cherries meant I was in the open sun for FOUR HOURS! By the time I came back, I had completely changed colour and had short and strap marks!

My feet were black from the soil, it’s volcanic so really dark, and I was dusty.

Added to this, Milo thought I had been kidnapped as I was gone for over 5 and a half hours!

But the cherries were so sweet and I enjoyed my adventure with Alfio. I had never been cherry picking  before. There were lots of different varieties of cherries in his orchard and we picked two huge bucket fulls. Alfio doesn’t speak any English so the whole of our conversation was in Italian. I am improving with my Italian but I still have an awful long way to go.




Amazon deliveries in Italy is not the same as Amazon deliveries in India. In India, they leave (throw)your package on your porch but in Italy they have to hand it to you personally. This is a good idea if the delivery van can actually manage to find your house which, unfortunately, not one delivery van could manage to do without direct intervention. Even sending a google pin was not helpful. On a few occasions I video- called the van driver and talked them to our house from the bottom of the village. They would put their phones on the dashboard so I could see where they were driving. Other delivery drivers gave up before even giving it a try. Milo and I even had to go to another village to meet a courier by a monument and this time he had to talk me to the spot with my phone on the dash board. We felt like spies on a clandestine meeting.

Using Amazon needs far more planning in Italy and we will be prepared for next time. 

 We had to go to Piedimonte Etneo to collect one package.

Andrew and Max, Derek and Christine arrive.

Max and Andrew had a quick visit to Dubai. We always stop over the night when we fly to Sicily as it seems to be the cheapest and most efficient way. They took the opportunity to go to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi and they managed to drive there much quicker than the journeys that we make in Bangalore.


Both of them love The Grand Prix and had the chance of changing a wheel in a timed activity. They were pleased that they got the best time out of all the people there. That is because they spend a lot of time watching and analysing the Grand Prix when it is on TV. Andrew also went on the world’s fastest rollercoaster. I told him next time he does that to make sure I know all the bank and insurance codes beforehand! He looked like he had been to a renaissance wig hairdresser when he got off, his hair was so puffed up and fancy.


As they were enjoying themselves in Dubai, Milo and I were food shopping for them. The next day, Milo and I were going in our car to fetch Max and Andrew from the airport. Avril was going in her car to fetch Christine and Derek. The two planes were arriving within an hour of each other but I couldn’t get them all in our car so we needed two cars.  

We set off in convoy, Wacky Races style, and got there in plenty of time this time.

As it happened, Max and Andrew’s plane came in an hour early. It had a fast back wind and we set off back to our house as they were tired. 

Derek and Christine arrived later and went back to Avril’s house. 

 Andy didn't want them to leave him ...

 After his ride on the fastest fairground ride . 

 Tracking them on the plane app.

La Pietra Nera


Within sight of our house, there is a restaurant but it is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. I had been the day before to ask it they could make a pasta dish for lunch.

We have their pizzas all the time which are truly the best in the area, but had not tried the pasta.

The pasta was delicious and worth it. There is no point in trying to recreate pasta dishes like that. 

After their long journey and two day stay awake stint, it meant that Andrew and Max were fed, watered and could have a nap if they wanted.

Luckily, they managed to stay awake until Avril, Derek and Christine arrived for afternoon tea and British chocolate biscuits. 

The Pool and complicated water planning.


We had had a few hitches with the swimming pool and it wasn’t quite ready when the boys arrived as we were still filling it with water. We could paddle in it at that point.

Sorting the water was beginning to be a nightmare. We don’t have mains water but rely on tankered water that goes straight into the large tank ( 8000 litres) at the gate by the road and the bottom of our hill. From there, we have a pump that pushes the water up the steep drive to the house where the water goes into a blue tank ( 1000 litres) in the garage. We then have another pump that pumps the water into the house. 

We had put the hose into the pool and in 40 minutes could pull all of the 1000 litres from the blue tank into the pool. Then, came the problem, it took 1 and a half hours to fill the blue tank up again. We needed 25,000 litres to fill the whole pool. 

It’s complicated but I understand it.

I am rubbish at maths but realised that this needed planning carefully so we didn’t run out of water filling the pool and for us to have enough water in the house. It also meant that I had to constantly whatsApp Beppe, the water guy, so he knew when to get the next tanker of water. We needed 5 tankers of water in total, in theory, but we also had to factor in 4 people in the house which was the unknown factor at that point, after all Milo can drain all of the water with one shower as he is gone for a long time. Beppe wanted updated photos of the water levels so he knew when to fill the tanker and set off. If he comes too soon then there is the potential for too much water in his tank and it is to be used up each time. This meant constant trips back and forwards, up and down the drive, hence my increased level of fitness. It was no good sending the boys as they didn’t quite understand the water system and how it worked.

 My frequent meetings with Beppe means that I know all about his family and what they do at the weekends!



The helicopter ride and a water disaster!


Before the others had arrived, Avril and I had seen a helicopter flying over our house quite a few times. Avril investigated and there was a new service where you could book seats on the helicopter and fly over the volcano and then to Taormina. The heli- pad was close by in Fondachello. She managed to book 5 seats, that was the total allowed, for the boys, Derek and Christine. It was a surprise and their flight was booked for 9:00 am Monday morning.

Andrew had to be told as he was driving the car!

 Avril and I were going to wave them off and then we had an appointment at the mayor’s office with our friend, Leonardo, to see about  if we could get piped water to the house.

Off they went in the helicopter, all very excited. They flew over Mt. Etna and then along the cast to Taormina and back again.

Avril and I met the mayor, he was very nice with Leonardo but, unfortunately, we had no luck with sourcing piped water, there are no nearby underground pipes.

As we are going back to the house, the helicopter squad rang to say that as they landed, Mt Etna had hiccupped a big black cloud….

 The little grey cloud after the helicopter had landed.


We all met back at the house to find that someone ( no names mentioned –  ANDREW!) had left the hosepipe on in the swimming and drained all the water from the tank and now the pool was overflowing. There was water everywhere!  Gushing in the carport, on the patio, the blue tank was groaning and I was horrified. All my careful water planning gone in three hours!


Of course, Andrew tried to blame me BUT I never turned the hosepipe on so why would I turn it off!  He tried using his puppy eyes and pretending that it wasn’t him, but never mind, I needed to limit the damage so I rang Beppe to sweet talk him for more water. He couldn’t come until the next day as he had already got bookings for the water but he would see if he could sort something.

We had a brainwave though.

 This meant me getting into the swimming pool, using the vacuum pipe and putting some spare water from the pool into the well. This was easier said than done because Andrew couldn’t initially manage to lift the manhole cover to the well but, after another planning meeting and brainwave, he managed it as he made a makeshift jack to lift it.


We salvaged some water so at least we could have showers and flush the loos until more water came to fill the water tank.

Lesson learned, always make sure the hose pipe is NOT in the swimming pool to check that it is switched off.


Sun lounger and beached whale incident


Now, after a few days of water filling, we could swim in the pool so we bought some sun loungers. 

They weren’t a good buy.

In the first week, I was drinking a cup of tea and decided to shift my weight further along the lounger. This was a bad move as the whole thing collapsed to the side, throwing me onto my right elbow and arm. For some reason, I managed to keep my left arm in the air and I didn’t spill a drop of tea. Andrew jumped up and grabbed the cup of tea as I rolled like a beach whale to disentangle myself out of the sun lounger. My right forearm had a dent in it and my elbow was really painful. After an ice pack and painkillers, I just rested my arm not thinking that I had done any damage.

The following week, because I couldn’t move my arm very well or lean on it, I kept warning everyone to be wary of the evil loungers.

 Then, as Andrew was eating his cereal one morning, he moved back on the lounger and it collapsed again. Cereal went all him but he didn’t bump any part of himself. He just ate the cereal off his t- shirt as I grabbed his bowl. 

 Evil sun loungers ...


44 degrees of heat

Derek and Christine left at the right time. The Sirocco wind from Africa picked up and the heat became unbelievable. It went beyond 44 degrees in the car which started to struggle with its air conditioning. Even being up the mountain didn’t bring any relief, we have fans in the house but no air conditioning, we now realised that we needed it. 

It was so hot that one night we ended up at 4 in the morning on the sun loungers (yep – the dodgy ones ) and we slept outside.

We were so pleased that the pool was up and running because at least we could cool off. But this intense heat caused a major problem in Sicily- fires.

Wild Fires


Wild fires were popping up all over the place as the vegetation was so dry.

 One night, while on a trip to the bathroom, I noticed, through the window, a glow in the distance.

We could see that close to Alfio’s house, huge flames, as tall as the trees, were spreading quickly along a ridge of thick forest. I got Andrew up and we watched through the windows.

We stayed up watching to make sure that the wind didn’t change direction and come our way.

We could see the forestry departments trucks and fire engines down below.

After a while everything seem to calm down so we went to bed.

The next day, we were relaxing outside, when we spotted another wild fire but this time it was much closer. We took it in turns to watch the fire and decided that we needed an escape plan. We realised that if the power went off then we wouldn’t be able to open the electric gate. Andrew went down and wedged the gate open with a plank of wood.

We continued to watch the fire but then cinders starting to fall on us. 

With saying it too loudly, Andrew said to me,“ go and get the passports” 

We said to the boys that we ought to go and have a look and we could get an ice cream on the way. We realised that if the wind changed direction the fire would be coming our way.

The boys got in the car but, as usual had their heads down looking at their phones. They didn’t see Andrew put his work lap top in the car. 

Off we went, downhill towards the direction of the fire. 

We saw where the previous night’s fire had scorched the trees and scrubland. No houses had been in that fire. But as we went into the village there were about 3 fires burning and being fanned by the strong wind. It was quit unnerving.

Again the local fire brigade, and forestry commission were there and, in addition, they were using a Canadair, a plane that scoops up water from the sea and sprays its load over the fire.


The fires had spread quite a long way, two derelict houses had been burnt but no houses where people lived.


We carried on to Milo (the town). There we were shocked to see another 3 fires all in motion, along the road side and even one opposite the town square. As we looked out over the view we could see so many plumes of smoke from the various fires. After our ice cream, we decided to go back to Vena with our fingers crossed that the house as still there.

Luckily, the fire had died down and all was well. 

 Milo’s birthday


Milo turned 14 while we were there and he had a happy day by going to the forest climbing where you can zip line and go on wobbly climbing things. Andrew went on too. In the evening we went to a restaurant that overlooked the sea. He was promised a new guitar for when he got back to Bangalore. 



Avril goes in the helicopter

After their exciting trip in the helicopter, the others  had decided that Avril needed to go in the helicopter. She has climbed Mt. Etna so many times that to see it from above would be the ultimate treat. So we printed a voucher for her and gave it to her wrapped in a rose. Derek and Christine had gone back to the UK  but we said we would go and wave her off and wait for her. 
She picked a day and we met her in the car park again and set off for the helicopter place. The last time they had gone up, the pilot had talked about his favourite beer and that he had to wait until he was not flying too drink one. Avril decided that she would take him and beer and wear her stolen lifejacket from an airline that she had managed to snaffle a while ago.
The pilot thought it was hilarious and they have built up a steady friendship ever since. In fact, he regularly flies over our house on purpose so we can wave to him or Avril can wave if she is there. He flies so close that we can see his arm waving out of the window. And when the wild fire was raging he sent Avril a message asking if we were ok. He's a lovely man.

The airport fire


The wildfires were making the situation feel like Armageddon. There had been a fire, a coincidence, at one of the main airports, Catania. We were flying from there in 5 days’ time.

Or so we thought!

Initially, they closed the airport for 2 days and all seemed well.

There seemed to be a lack of any explanation or reassurance that the airport would open.

Then, our flight was cancelled and we had to rebook for the next one which would be two days later. We then had to rebook our hotel in Dubai and out onward flight to Bangalore.

But they kept cancelling the flights and usually only late at night, the night before we were due to fly.

This happened so many times over the next week that we actually lost count of how many times we had to rebook as flight after flight was cancelled.

One time, Fly Dubai sent a text message to say that the flight from Catania was cancelled, again, but we were booked on the next flight from Palermo, a journey of about five hours and then you have to check in. The flight was at four in the afternoon. We were told at 11:30 in the morning. So, unless we could teleport there was no way of getting there in such a short time.

Added to this, there were limited buses and transport options. The airlines were only providing buses for about 60 people for a fight of 240 people! Taxis were charging £300 for fares and even then you couldn’t get one as they were all booked.

It was utter chaos !

Luckily, we have the house and the car but there were so many people with cancelled flights and then they had no accommodation. People were sleeping in the airports and it was still incredibly hot.

Some people had their flights rebooked, drove the five hours to Palermo or another airport, only for their flight to be redirected to another airport in Sicily, then they would miss the flight, so they were chasing the planes and not getting anywhere. 

Flights would set off from Europe but not know where they were going to land. People were waiting until the last moment to see which airport to go to. Some people were purely guessing. That caused problems for people who were setting off to fetch relatives in their cars as they didn’t know where to go.

Then it got worse, Sicily declared that they were struggling with all the redirected flights and there was a backlog so they would only do flights with the Schengen area. Anyone flying out of the Schengen area now had to find another way ( so to get to the UK, Dubai, Israel) There were no flights, European flights were the priority.

We had had an extra 10 days but Andrew needed to go back to work( 9 days ago) and Max was due at school, they start in the beginning of August in his school, Milo was the following week.

But the worst thing was that I was now in the country illegally! I had been there longer than 90 days. So if found out, I could be deported ( well, I don’t know how as there were no planes…)


We researched which airports on mainland Italy flew to Dubai, or straight to Bangalore.

Fly Dubai had daily flights from Naples.


Aha! We could get the train, stop the night in Naples, fly to Dubai, stop the night and then fly to Bangalore. Simple!


So, with two ipads open and phones at the ready, we started to coordinate our escape. 

Added to all of the chaos, as I had travelled on my own, Milo had travelled on his own and Max and Andrew together, this meant we had several booking codes. Therefore, every time we tried to book a flight we had to try and book quickly to book the seats altogether or even to get on the same flight. After the previous 10 days of rebooking the flights and hotels we were getting good at doing this.



The journey back to Bangalore

As usual everything went mad as we misjudged the timing of how long we needed to get to the train station to get on the train. We were all too casual, we had a last swim, tidied up but then realised we hadn’t left enough time and  had to rush, closing the doors, sorting the rubbish etc.

We realised that we didn’t have time to go to Avril’s house to leave the car. We decided that we would leave the car at the train station and Avril would have to fetch it when we had left or get someone to fetch it for her

As Andrew drove like he was in a grand prix round all the bends, all 3 of us were frantically calling Avril to say the plan had changed. 

She didn’t answer her phone! 

We decided that we would drive down her road. We wound down the window and yelled that we didn’t have time. She had opened the garage for us to pull in and now, with our drive- by instructions, we could see her shutting the garage in panic as we disappeared around the corner. 


We got to the train station and jumped out of the car. As fast as we could, we got our reduced amount of luggage, and dashed into the train station.

Luckily, Avril managed to pull up quickly and came across to help.


With our tickets ready, we negotiated the first platform , then the lift , the second platform and plonked our luggage down. We let out a collective sigh of relief as we had 5 minutes to go before the train arrived, it was such a close shave!


But, of course, things weren’t that simple. The PA system declared that the rain was late. Well ,at least we were there and hadn’t missed it.

The train arrived and we said goodbye to Avril and off we went.


The posh train 

We had paid for first class tickets all the way to Naples. We didn’t know what quite to expect but it was wonderful.

We had four seats with a table in between us. The carriage was airconditioned, it was smooth and comfortable.

The views through the window were spectacular as we went right along the coast. The windows both side of the carriage were so large that we had really good views.

 The view from the hotel in Naples


The first hour of the journey is in Sicily. Then the train gets to the port of Messina. While you are sitting on the train, they load it on to a special ferry. You can get off the train and go up on deck for the crossing over the Straights of Messina, about 30 minutes in total. The boys were so excited as they had never been on a ferry before.

As the ferry gets near to the mainland of Italy, they call you to get back on the train.

The train is unloaded and off it goes towards Naples.

The whole journey is about 6 hours but it is wonderful and I would recommend it. The journey to Naples was stunning as, again, we went along the coast and the water was so blue and sparkly.

The only down side is that there are only limited snacks available. Luckily, we had packed a Cole picnic, including red wine, so we were happy.

At Naples, we got a taxi to the hotel we were staying at ( it was ok but not our usual type of place) 

We managed to find a pizza restaurant so we were sorted.



Naples to Dubai


Naples airport was absolutely chaotic! The check in hall was full of people, tightly packed and it was so hot. But we had a surprise for the boys. We had all got upgrades to business class so we joined their quicker queue. The boys were lost for words as we diverted from our usual economy queue, we had a quiet 5 minutes while they digested this information.


 Milo face says it all !

We boarded the plane and we were sat in seats that were very comfortable. For the first time ever I managed to sleep on a plane. I was super annoyed with Andrew when I realised I had missed one of the snacks that are given as I was asleep. I don’t usually eat either so I have to say the food was good too.


We had a quicker flight than predicted and after about 5 hours we were in Dubai. As we were business class (only 10 seats ) then we had a private bus to take us to the terminal. Very posh.


We stopped in a beautiful hotel and had a bit of time in the morning before we were due to leave for the airport..


Off we went to the airport and surprised the boys again with a business class flight. We had another 5 minutes of stunned silence while they absorbed the information.

 Air emirates have a separate check in area for business class which is very quick and we were soon in the lounge and the boys were eating lots of snacks.


Getting onto the plane was swift and we were back in the air again eating posh food and stretched out asleep in the comfortable reclining seats.


We were soon back in Bangalore. Our boy, Andy was so pleased to see us and, of course, we were even more pleased to see him.


Local news


We have the Times of India delivered every day and some days the articles are quite eye opening.

In the centre of Bangalore there are a few green spaces. 

One, called Lalbagh Botanical Garden, has had a bunch of rebels occupying the gardens. The guards have been taking photos of the deviants. Their crime – reading in the park sitting on picnic blankets! 


Really! These poor people had met up, discussed a book and then separated out and read quietly. No, they are not allowed to do this.


In another park, Cubbon Park , the guards have been taking photos of people, couples, getting too close together, eating, playing games or taking photos or videos. The guards roam around with a loud speaker, and whistles to tell people off.   


In other reports, there were worries about the PhD exams where candidates were allowed to use their phones in the exams or sit the exams without their identities being checked. For another set of exams they had reduced the percentile to zero ( this is for medical school to become a doctor !) They consider lowering the “pass” mark as widening the pool of eligible candidates although someone has raised the very important and obvious point that this may lower the quality of doctors in India. Before the cut- off point was 30% . The spokesperson on the article says that the candidates still have to pass all the medical exams after the entrance exam but there was no mention if the percentile was zero again.

 So, there is hope for my boys to become doctors ….


There have been a few cases of black magic and sorcery, a teacher encouraging primary pupils to hit another child at the front of the class because he got his times tables wrong, and he was of a different religion, people harassing and trying to ride an injured leopard when it emerged from the forest to seek help, 20 universities were declared as fakes and not empowered to confer any degree, so many harassment and assaults on children and women that it is a blur, a boy spoke to a girl in his class and he was abducted and “thrashed” and the brand new airport that is so shiny and new it couldn’t cope with the heavy rain and it leaked.





As I had Dengue fever and was not up to walking or even being able to sit up for long, Andrew took the boys and one of Milo’s friends to see the comedian Trevor Noah. Poor Milo, who had a bit of a cough and cold, had travelled on the bus for 2 and ½ hours, ran in the house, got changed and then all of them spent the next 2 hours trying to get to the venue.

They arrived to a hall that really was not geared up for a comedian. The chairs were all on one level and they couldn’t see the stage. There was no air conditioning so there were huge fans making a lot of noise. All in all not a good place to sit and listen to someone talk.


Trevor Noah came on and decided that as people could not hear, then he was going to stop the show and give everyone their money back.


Andrew and the crew had another 2 hours to travel back. Poor Milo had spent nearly 7 hours travelling that day.

The next day, he went to school but rang up because he had a bad headache and wanted to come home. He was asleep all afternoon, his cold was worse too though.

Trevor Noah then played in Delhi and the clip we saw was hilarious. Although, not all of the people in Bangalore think it is funny, a lot of them are quite offended at what he had to say but to us it was spot on!


Meanwhile, reports from that evening said that there was the biggest traffic jam ever in Bangalore and the traffic had come to a standstill. Some people even ordered takes aways to be brought to their car. Someone we met the other day had sent 6 hours stuck in the jam so 4 hours wasn’t too bad ! But even so, it is getting more and more difficult to decide on going out as the journeys are becoming too much. The following week or so later we went to a friend’s birthday party, that was another 3 hours in total travelling. It is getting worse ….



Max’s birthday 


Max turned 17 in August and he’s a bit annoyed  that he can’t learn to drive like he could the UK, the driving age here is 18. He had lunch with us and then went out partying with his friends in the evening. He had a great time.





 Max is the International Representative and he goes to a conference

Like in the UK, schools appoint positions of responsibility in the final year of school. Max had to speak to the students to say why he should be the representative and to a council of teachers. He was awarded his position in an announcement in front of the school and he was so chuffed with himself. We were pleased that he has been recognised for his calm and mild mannerisms.


On September 5th, there was a big ceremony for all the students who are awarded positions of responsibility and parents are invited to go along and award the badges themselves. This meant being called up on to the stage to pin on the badges, a job given to Andrew as I concentrated on not tripping up the steps or falling down them on the way back. It was a lovely ceremony and we were so proud of our young man.

He also was lucky enough to attend a conference that promotes public speaking. He spent a weekend in a hotel with another 1000 enthusiastic young people. 

 at the conference


Dengue Fever


I have felt worse with Dengue Fever than I did with Covid. It has taken me a month to recover so far but once I get rid of the joint pains and the sudden tiredness, I will be back to swimming and plotting. Dengue is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes and it can be really serious. Andrew and the boys have not had it but the boys have had bad throat infections and colds and so have had various days off school trying to recover. Andrew has escaped that too so far. I found out I had dengue just as Andrew’s plane touched down in Hyderabad. The lack of water that is happening in Bangalore meant that an experimental borewell machine was placed directly outside the bedroom window just as I was trying to rest…. 




Avril has been so helpful in Sicily and we are very grateful. She has spent many hours gardening and supervising workmen in the house as we get quotes for things like air conditioning. We have had the kitchen decorated and the spare bedroom painted too. The swimming pool people who had been good, have now relaxed a bit too much and just have to tweak a few jobs to get their final payment. It is up to them but I am sure the main guy is rolling his eyes every time I send a message. 


 Andrew went to various shows in Mumbai and Hyderabad.

 Milo is in a band at school where he plays the guitar.

 We were in a small lift one evening!













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...