No not Robert Browning I promise you. Here are the thoughts of one of my house guests as to her impression of Puglia as a first timer. But just to explain the title these are thoughts on Puglia ( home to me okay so far?) from the UK ( abroad to me you see !). So home thoughts from abroad. Yes Geraldine worries too !!
I am always conscious that these posts shouldn’t be too lengthy. So here is the first installment of a two part piece . It is a very well crafted so I will now jump out of the way and just let you enjoy it.
“As one of the houseguests and friends who have recently spent a wonderful week with the author of this blog in Puglia, I am keen to get some impressions down before they start to dull. As any reader will have gathered, Puglia creates many pictures, not all of them rose coloured. I had been forewarned that this corner of Italy is ‘an acquired taste’ and that furthermore many of the less appealing aspects would test my prejudices: for example litter – a personal bugbear, my love of birds, preferably live and tweeting (the teeniest specimens in Puglia are blasted out of the sky for a rare and much prized delicacy, as elsewhere on the ‘continent’), and a somewhat less than caring attitude to man’s best friend. Leaving my own pampered pooch to struggle at home with his ‘separation anxiety’ we took off on a foggy Oxfordshire morning into the unknown. The weather having been described as ‘iffy’, by our host we were treated on that first afternoon to the most spectacular electric storm we have ever experienced. Four or five simultaneous forked bolts of lightning violently rent the sky for what seemed like several hours, then the sun would teasingly peek out with no compensatory rainbow. One horrendous clap of thunder directly over the house was exactly how I imagine a bomb would sound.
Suitably electrified, we set off on our ‘road trip’ down to the heel the day after, and were able really to see the lie of the land, and observe the Italians at play. When we stopped to take in a spectacular view down the coastline from a rocky promontory where much of the scrub had been carbonised by an earlier brush fire, within seconds four Italian cars had screeched to a halt alongside us. ‘Aaaaah’ explained Mike, our driver, guide (and psychologist) ‘they love to mass’. More evidence of this was found in Gallipoli where we had a swim in the rolling surf (sunshine having won through). The beach was ranked in serried lines of gay blue striped sunbeds and on each one a deep mahogany bronzed body lolled, cavorted, or gossiped with wildly animated hand gestures and an almost operatic level of noise, as, incongruously Adele pumped out of the speakers singing one of her gorgeous ‘slit your wrists time’ anthems. Not only do they love to mass I observed, but they take the body beautiful very seriously, and the stay- out- of- the- sun brigade would hold no sway here. I loved it, brash and loud though it was, because it was so… well, so Italian. La Dolce Vita, Gina Lollobrigida, the Italian riviera ! Other, more ‘private’ beaches were revealed later, and the tans were burnished with a good frisky welsh type wind. Lovely.”
Let me also unveil the writer rather than just calling her the house guest.
Jackie Lomax is a one time BA long haul stewardess, English teacher and traveller. A former copywriter in London and freelance, she has two children in their twenties, and as well as writing occasional book and other reviews, she has written for magazines and worked more recently in Oxford with young people as a trained counsellor. She and her husband Peter live in a thatched and half timbered chocolate box near Oxford and have a beach house in North Wales.
Wow, writing this blog as quite exhausted me. My own 74 words have quite taken it out of me . Time for the pub I think .
Actually before I head off I mentioned yesterday that two Puglian girls ( at my age 31 year olds are girls to me) were battling it out in the U.S. Open. You can read the report about the match here the article is headed once upon a dream, so cue Billy Fury
actually how did they come up with that header . Makes me feel quite normal about mine now .