France · 38 Days · 108 Moments · July 2015

Mark Cumming

Our Italian summer xx


1 September 2015

So we have finally made it into England! 3 hours later than planned but we are here! We have had an amazing 5 weeks in Italy and have had some great food, visited 30 towns/cities/villages, learnt and used a bit of the lingo and generally enjoyed getting into the Italian way of life. We have been very lucky to have the opportunity to spend this much time together as a family before more chaos arrives in October! For those of you that were able to visit us whilst we have been away, thank you so much we have some great memories and for those following our blog we hope you have enjoyed following as much as we have enjoyed writing it. We plan to get it made into a photo book so we can all look back on this amazing adventure together. Until the next time...! (and we are planning another one ;-))
Looks like it is now going to be 9.40 departure...almost 3 hours after our booking! Yet the signs show a 60min delay. But if a joke! Oh well...Finley is still on good form which is amazing considering our drive today! He's found the kids area and is playing around!
So we got to the tunnel and there are DELAYS!!! Doesn't help that I have 15 miles worth of fuel in my tank and haven't even got through passport control yet! Ooooopps! We got bored and are taking silly photos. Finley has been brilliant in the car and has just been watching DVDs or sleeping! Amazing really! Hoping to get on the 8.20pm crossing (booked on 6.50pm). Could be worse...apparently it is because schools and stuff are going back tomorrow(?) so loads of people trying to get on. There were lots of queues and we were put in a holding pen for a bit to be taken off the motorway as when it gets dark the migrants come out! They way they described it was as if they are a swarm of bats that come out in the evening!
On the way home we headed to Epernay which is just outside Reims and is very famous for the Champagne. We went down Champagne road and saw all the champagne houses including Moët, pol roger, Perrier jouet etc. they are very impressive buildings and interesting given that there is 100km of caves/tunnels underneath where we are which is where the champagne is produced and stored etc. we stopped in the town for lunch and then I thought I'd have a glass of champers to see what all the fuss is about!! We then left epernay and took drove the last 2.5 hours to the channel tunnel.
As we left Colmar today we managed to find the famous Statue of Liberty copy that they have in the town. For the history buffs amongst you, you may be aware that France gave the Statue of Liberty to America as a gift back in the day, and it turns out the sculpture lives in the town we stayed so they have a museum and various copies of his work around the town. Quite interesting and good to see!
Started off the day with a lovely coffee and pastries from a nice 'salon de the' in the centre of Colmar! We loved the cakes/pastries in Italy but these are amazeballs!

31 August 2015

As you do when you are in France we found a nice lebonese/Syrian restaurant to visit! We read really good reviews on trip advisor so thought we would give it a try and it was lovely. Had things like hummus, falafal, some meat ball things, chicken and lamb skewers all cooked really nicely and very tasty. Was nice to have something a bit different and particularly as we have (tonight) decided it is going to be our last night. Rather than stopping off again tomorrow, we are going to hit the road for longer and get home tomorrow evening instead. It does mean a long trip but at least I will have the whole of Wednesday to recover before going back to work on Thursday. Also, as we have already been to Reims on this trip already (which is the obvious stopping point for the last leg) we felt like we didn't really need to see it again and it would be nice to get back to our own beds if we can.
This made us laugh! Finley has found Finley! This is one of our drinks at work and is quite popular in France. People at work think I'm very corporate because my son is named after one of our brands...they have been asking what I'm going to call the next one, Coke zero?!
We wondered around Colmar and were really impressed with the place. It is a lovely French town with German influences and there is lots to see all over it. Our hotel is nice and is located in 'petit Venice' which is basically a small waterway that runs through the town and had nice shops, restaurants and cafes/bars lining the sides. We decided to take Finley on his first ever boat ride which he seemed to really enjoy! It was good fun and again nice to do something that we haven't already done on this trip! We then stopped for a drink (I had some Alsace wine!) and then wondered around into the centre which again is lovely. We then decided to find a nice restaurant for dinner but fancied something a bit different...
Not sure what it is but we saw it in the canal...think it's a beaver or an otter! Bit random!
We hit the road and headed north through Switzerland. It is really strange driving across the border as there is very limited passport control! Also we stopped at the first garage in the country and was weird seeing everything in Swiss francs! The country is really pretty and the mountains and lakes look really nice. Would be nice to come back to someday. After a couple of hours we stopped at a services and saw all the Swiss stuff and Finley and I was ringing the cow bells. After a couple of mins the lady came over and told us off and moved the whole trolley of cow bells away from us and muttered something in German! She was really miserable and was our only experience of a Swiss person while we were here! I'm sure there not all like that! We eventually got through Switzerland and then entered France and also into Germany very briefly (again no passports). After 4.5 hours in the car we made it into our destination of Colmar. It is a lovely place and the weather is still 35degrees!
We left the hotel in Burate (above Como) and headed down to the town of Como and stopped for some lunch. We had ravioli pasta and asparagus risotto which was very nice and then had a wander around the town. It is a lovely place and very picturesque. Reminds us of lake Garda but is also different in many ways too. We would really like to go back and there are lots of nice shops, bars and restaurants to visit as well as the lake itself of course where you can do lots of stuff. We saw a couple of airplanes land on the water which was quite cool and then decided to hit the road!
Woke up and it is another beautiful day in lake como. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and has been the first taste of Bacon since we left England! Quite nice to have some! Then we went out on the terrace and debated having a little swim but the water is a bit cold! We facetimed Lesley and then chilled out a bit in the sun and taking in the views some more!

30 August 2015

This evening for dinner we went to a little restaurant in the village. It is quite a famous region for Polenta and we went to a 'polentaria' which is basically polenta restaurant! (Bit weird really!) but actually it was really nice. We had bruschetta and goats cheese and pears to start followed by lamb kebabs and polenta and grilled chicken and polenta for main and then for desert i had carpaccio of pineapple and tam had tiramisu. A lovely meal and was good to try a bit of polenta...Finley particularly seemed to enjoy it!
Once we got to lake como we had a choice of driving up the hillside or getting some kind of cable car thing. We decided on driving although had read a few reviews that it is a bit scary! Surprisingly it wasn't actually that bad, but think we have been well prepared by driving up the hill to my parents place in Italy! When we got to the top we were greeted with amazing views of lake como at our hotel and the terrace is really nice! The hotel is lovely and the village is really cute as well with about 4/5 restaurants, a lighthouse which we went up to and also a few bars and a park. We were really impressed and pleased that we have decided to stay here for the night. The view is probably the best we have ever seen and lovely just to sit out and have a drink. They are also quite well geared up for kids and even on the terrace at our hotel they have a little kids house that fin loved which was good whilst we sat and had a drink !
We didn't sleep much last night at the hotel for various reasons (complained and got some money back!) and we didn't even stay for breakfast! However, we met my parents for a coffee and croissant before we hit the road. They also took Finley to the park briefly to spend a bit of time with him before we left. They are staying for another couple of weeks to make 7 weeks in total (we are very jealous!). Has been lovely seeing them and spending a bit of time in the area that we know and love so much. Afterwards we hit the road and drove the 4 hours to lake como, via Parma and Milan. It was a fairly straightforward drive and not too tiring.

29 August 2015

Whilst we were out at I cedri mum and dad kindly looked after Finley for the afternoon and by the sounds of it they all had lots of fun! He particularly liked sitting on the neighbours tractor and dad said he could of sat on there all night as he as so happy on it! He also liked the little tractor that mum and dad has got him and he was doing other silly things like taking grandads socks off! Funny boy! I picked him up from mum and dads and was lovely to see there place again and wished we could stay longer. It is so relaxing there and the views are amazing and mum was showing me all the new bits they have done which look great, as well as some of their plans. Afterwards we went to the park in bagni and then went for a pizza and a few drinks in the Irish bar in the town. We are staying in the hotel in the middle of bagni but is very hot this evening and Finley is still wide awake! Could be a long night!! The hotel has a lovely pool area and the room is basic but fine (but is hot!)
We went back to our wedding venue and the hotel above where some of our guests stayed il Ciocco (and a couple of weeks ago Robbie Williams was staying at!). It was lovely to see it and definitely brought back great memories for us. It is 51 weeks ago to the day that we were there getting married! Crazy! It was also lovely to see Daniela and her husband (plus daughter and new husband). They had another wedding this evening but we're happy to offer us a coffee and a good chat to catch up. They also gave us a lovely magnum of wine in a nice wooden box as a gift which was a special 'experimental' wine they had just done for there own use plus friends and family. They also invited us back to stay at there's in future for a couple of days free of charge which was lovely of them. Definitely feel like we have made a friend for life there and they treated us like we had always known them.
We got to bagni do lucca and met my parents at a lovely restaurant we have been to many times before in the centre of town (forestieri). It is a lovely place and has recently been taken over by new owners. The food was lovely and we had two courses and wine for 11euros each! Amazing! Afterwards Finley went to my mum and dads place whilst we headed back to our wedding venue to reminisce and of course pick up some wine!! Whilst there we got a couple of photos from Lesley and Martin who had VERY kindly gone round to our house at home to do some jobs including re cladding the top window frame which was rotting quite badly. We are really grateful and are looking forward to taking you out for a meal on our return to say thanks! Also Lesley did some of my ironing as well so i am ready for work next week! Thanks!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
So this morning we left our little house and headed north towards my mum and dads place near bagni di lucca. We are really sad to leave and have had a great time. In the car on the way we were talking about our favourite things that we have done and also the food we have had. Rome was up there as was the Vinsantaia place we went to with Lesley and Martin, but to be honest it is so difficult to choose it has been so good!

28 August 2015

So our last evening in carmignano and we feel very sad and can't believe how quickly the time has gone. However, we decided to enjoy it by going back to one of our favourite places that does amazing 'cocolli' which is basically deep fried dough balls, pasta (with cinghiale or 4 cheese) and steak. Finley was really good and he sat in the high chair watching pepper pig most of the time. His new thing is snorting like a pig when the dvd is on which is really funny and we can't stop laughing when he does it! Particularly when other people are around ! Afterwards when we left we had a really long chat with the owners who gave us a free bottle of wine to take home, told us all about there olive oil and insist on us sending pictures of the baby via email when it's born. Very sweet and really nice end to our time here...we feel like we know them yet they can't speak any English! May be something to do with the fact we have been there every week since being here!
As it our last day, we have confirmed our route home and started booking some hotels along the way. We are going to go a different way back which is through Milan (although doubt we will stop), then staying at a hotel in Lake Como, heading through central Switzerland then onto the French / German border town of Colmar (in Alsace region) then heading to Reims and finally onto Calais for the tunnel...13.5 hours in total over 3 days shouldn't be too bad(!) and makes sure we are enjoying the places rather than just racing to get home and spending too much time on the road at once.
Finley ended up sleeping for just shy of 4 hours!! Shows what a difference it is when a) he is tired and b) when we put him in the cot during the day rather than just having him in the buggy when we are out for the day (where typically he will sleep for 2 hrs tops). Whilst it is lovely to have him running about and playing around on his bike or whatever, it is nice to enjoy the sun outside and some nice quiet time on our last day! We ended up on FaceTime with Nat and Delilah which was good to catch up as we have bombarded her with photos / texts whilst we have been here but not spoken much. She is doing really well and was nice to see Delilah - her hair has grown so much! Love that little pickle! After we had some cheese and crackers and then wondered around the garden looking at the different fruits growing...pears, figs, pomegranate, apples and berries of some kind. We tried a pear but was a little firm still and not as nice as the lovely pears we have been eating whilst here!
Our last full day in our little house....sad times! At least it is another scorcher! This morning we headed out for a coffee and then went to the Capezzana wine place to see if we could book a table for tonight and also see any of the grape harvest as this has now begun (according to there Facebook page!). Unfortunately it is a private party tonight so we can't get in but saw some of the harvest activity starting. Afterwards Finley was knackered and fell asleep in the car (teach you to wake up at 6!). So we headed home and carefully took him from the car to the cot so we could catch some rays in the garden!
Finley woke up at 6.15 this morning (arrrrrrrrggggghhhh!) which I think has been the earliest since we got here, so I took advantage of getting a picture of the view from our bedroom window with the sun starting to come up. Looks lovely, but would have preferred another hour in bed! He climbed out of the cot and came into our room, so he is now laying down in between us watching Sofia the first!

27 August 2015

Just before Finley went to bed he had a shower with Tamie and whilst they were in there, he noticed a baby lizard! Tamie picked it up and he wasn't sure what to make of it...at first laughter and then he was nervous not wanting to touch it or get close! Think he is now s bit scared of the shower as he wanted to get out straight after! Quite funny! Also was nice to get a picture of Baxter this evening...he looks tired from all the walks he's been having since we left! Miss him !
Today we had another relaxing day as we went to the pool. Finley was asleep for the first hour or so, so we managed to relax in the sun and read our books etc. when he woke up he was wondering around the pool being his usual inquisitive self! He made a couple of Italian friends which was quite cute to see! Later this afternoon we came back home and made dinner (pesto pasta!) I had a couple of glasses of red and then we ended up watching a film and then celebrity big brother (shocking!) whilst Finley was in bed. Last full day tomorrow at the house 😢

26 August 2015

After the BBQ we chilled a bit and then decided to make Pesto. For the past week or so it has been a bit of a running joke (well half joke!) that I am going to set up a pesto business when I get back to the UK (called either Hey Pesto or Poshed up Pesto...see I've given it a lot of thought!) Therefore, I thought I would see how serious I was about it by trying to make some with Finley. It turned out well, although probably did a bit too much cheese but was very tasty! Think it might be time to give Sacla a run for their money!
This afternoon we fired up the BBQ whilst Tamie had a little sunbathe and we put on some meat kebabs with peppers, some rolled pork kebabs with cheese (called Messinese) and I marinated some prawns in chilli. Also we stuffed some zucchini flowers with mozzarella and then put them in batter and deep fried them. It was all really nice and a particular surprise was the Messinese which was lovely. I had some of the rose wine which I bought from the nearby winery and is really nice particularly when it is hot like today!
Today we have had a nice lazy day as it is really warm again and it is coming towards the end of our stay. 1 week today and we will be back home :-( after reading everyone on Facebook talking about how bad the weather is, we are dreading going home! However, we have said that we need to see the last week as we have just arrived for a weeks holiday, rather than on count down! We headed to our local park this morning for a walk but stopped on the way for a nice coffee and croissant as usual. It was really warm walking around today but despite this Finley was climbing on the playground and playing a bit of football! Afterwards we went to the supermarket to get some bits for a BBQ!

25 August 2015

Just a few pics Tamie took when we got back home this evening. With the rain we have had recently the flowers have come out and the figs are ripening. The sprinkler is timed to come on in the evenings and Finley liked trying to get in the way of it to get wet! Crazy child!
After lunch we headed nearby to a hotel that mum and dad have visited a couple of times and are returning next week for a few days. You could tell they had been there before as mum greeted the owner as if she was an old friend...kisses and asking after the family! It is a really lovely place and has great views all over Florence and has several very pretty little terraces where you can have drinks and dinner out whilst enjoying the views. The gardens are also lovely and Finley enjoyed wondering around and sniffing some of the plants and picking some of the berries! We enjoyed a drink on the terrace and chatted for a while before heading back home and saying our goodbyes to mum and dad (until the weekend!). A lovely day and nice to visit somewhere we haven't yet been on our trip so far.
Just found another random photo from the farm yesterday...two unlikely friends!
We headed back up to the main part of the farm where dad had booked a table for lunch. It was a lovely terrace that looked over all the land that the property has and had a really nice meal which included our new favourite dish 'Cocolli' which is the deep fried dough balls, carpaccio of courgette with some dressing & fruit, beef skewers with vegetables, duck ragu pasta and pancetta pork belly. It was really nice and a lovely place to visit. Mum and dad are planning to stay nearby next week and i think they are planning to return and I wish we could visit again too!
Today we woke up to a bit of rain again, but luckily it soon stopped and it started to clear. Mum and dad mentioned there is a farm in Fiesole (just above Florence) so we dropped them a text and soon arranged to meet them there. It is a lovely location and is where several films have been filmed (tea with Mussolini, room with a view) and has lovely views. The farm has different animals like donkeys, geese, ostriches, cows, horses etc. Finley seemed to like the ostriches and donkeys the most! It also had a small pond which was really nice and quite tranquil. It was a nice morning and also good to catch up with the parents. We then headed back up to the main part of the farm for some lunch...

24 August 2015

...Continued from last post: 7. They make a good drop of wine! have had some great wine since we have been here and really good value too! 8. Old men sleep in public. Everywhere. On benches, in parks, in cities. I think the Italian women must do there head in, so unlike the Brits who would go to the pub, the Italians just go out, find the nearest seat and have a snooze in peace! 9. They have no idea what a queue is! They will jump in front of you at the first opportunity even if you have been waiting for ages! We have been learning to do the same back!! 10. Old people love cycling and jogging. We have seen hundreds (no joke) of Lycra clad oldies attempting to climb the steep hills of Carmignano. Very impressive (or stupid?!) So some things we knew already, but some are new and have been amusing to watch a lot of the time !
As we are entering our last week we have been reflecting on our time here and have pulled together our list of the top 10 things we have learnt (or had confirmed!) about the Italians since we have got here...in no particular order... 1. They are crazy drivers and are oblivious to other motorists! 2. They love cake and coffee and seem to always eat it...any time of the day! 3. Italian get inked up! Every other lady over here seems to have tattoos...all over as well! 4. They adore children. Young and old, they always stop to chat to Finley, giving bits of food in the supermarket to him or blowing kisses to him in the park! 5. They don't make a bad meal! Every single meal out we have had has at least been good. Not sent one meal back, been disappointed, felt overcharged or wouldn't go back to somewhere. Wouldn't happen in UK! 6. They are immune to mozzies! We have all been eaten alive here and we have been staring at people's legs, but they never have any!! What's there secret?!.....
Today was Lesley and Martins last day so we planned to go to Viareggio and head to the beach. Unfortunately when we woke up the weather was bad; raining and a storm...therefore that meant a change of plans ! I went out to get some supplies and we had a nice breakfast and then decided to head out to Lucca for a wonder around and some lunch. When we got there it rained quite heavily for a while and then passed and we even saw a bit of sunshine this afternoon! Fin loved chasing the birds around the ampitheatre then after we found somewhere to have a nice lunch of tomato bruschetta, Parma ham and mozzarella, spaghetti vongole (with clams) and spaghetti ragu. It was lovely and definitely filled us up! This evening we took Lesley and Martin back to the airport and have really enjoyed having them here. We have had lots of nice meals, quite a lot of drinks(!)...loads of mozzie bites and a good laugh!

23 August 2015

Realised that I left my work mobile phone in Siena today which is annoying!!! Meant to dial in to an important call tomorrow which is the only reason I noticed! Oops! Luckily they have got the phone and it was found under the microwave (had a kitchenette type thing). They suggested that perhaps a child had pushed it under there!!! I suspect they are spot on ! Grrrr!!!
Tonight we went to the lovely restaurant vinsantaia de Capezzana. This is where they make some really good wine and get really good chefs that come over from all over the world and run the kitchen for short periods of time. The current one is from a top Italian restaurant in London so we were interested to see how it would be. It is always very busy so we made sure that we booked and you can see why as the view is also very impressive. The food was equally good and we started with meat and cheese platters which had honey and apricots alongside and then I had octopus with chick peas, tam had rabbit with cucumber and Lesley and Martin has roast pork with peaches. We all agreed that it was the best meal that we have had and it was very nice of Lesley and Martin to take us out for it. We finished with cheesecake and ice cream and Martin had a grappa to end the night on! Finley slept through the whole thing bless him!
Another day another trip to the pool to soak up some sun and chill out. We have about a week left before we make the trip home, so trying to make sure we relax as much as possible. We stopped for a coffee and cake first in Seano which was very nice and then got to the pool about 11. Finley had just fallen asleep so had a couple of hours to get some sun and do a bit of reading. The weather was a bit mixed today with occasionally it being really sunny and then becoming a bit overcast. However the temperature was lovely at about 29 so made for a nice day. When Finley woke up we did lots of walking round the pool and again searching for beasties...! He also is getting better at blowing bubbles which grandad taught him to do! He looks so funny trying to do it! Bless him! This afternoon I managed to book a really nice restaurant that we have been wanting to go to which is at the Capezzana place that dad and I went to for wine tasting a few weeks ago. Looking forward to it!

22 August 2015

Today we went into Florence again as it was somewhere that Lesley and Martin wanted to see. We went to the food market and this time the lower level was open so we were able to wonder around and see all the different food stalls. We wondered around Florence for a while and had a drink at the duomo then found a nice place for lunch and had a big fat burger which was lovely, with zucchini pesto mayonnaise which was a little different. The guy working there took a liking for Finley so that kept him entertained! Afterwards we came back and went for a drink at the little bar in Carmignano and Finley was loving the table football machine!
This evening we headed out for dinner in Carmignano to a restaurant that we have visited once before with Dave and Louise. We had a lovely meal and all had steak (served different ways) including with porcini mushrooms, Gorgonzola or mine with melted pecorino cheese and pistachio nuts. We washed it down with some of the local barca reale vino which was also very nice. Before we left Finley was bug hunting again and found a large lizard, I caught a butterfly for him and then saw other little beasties which kept him amused!

21 August 2015

This evening we decided to go to the local pizzeria where Dave and I got the takeaway from last week. We haven't eaten inside there before so is nice to try somewhere new. It is in seano and has an outside terrace which we sat on and we had a lovely meal. Finley also ate loads which was good and enjoyed a bit of pizza and pesto pasta. Afterwards we headed to our local gelateria for a nice ice cream!
Today we woke up and had breakfast then headed to the pool. We had lots of fun and Finley was back on good form, splashing around and playing by the pool. It was nice and chilled and the pool was quite quiet which was good and different to other times we have been here. We had lunch (burgers and hot dogs!) and a couple of beers then headed to the supermarket to pick up a few bits. Was a lovely day and Finley has definitely loved having nanny and grandad here to splash with the water!

20 August 2015

A few more photos from last night! Had 3 types of grappa after dinner...a lighter one for 'women' a stronger one and then a 'manly' one apparently...according to the guy and was homemade! Obviously I directed the manly one towards Martin and he downed a glass in one (and then had a couple more!). Luckily no sore head this morning though!
Today we picked up Lesley and Martin from Pisa and came to ours. The weather has been lovely so we decided to stay home and chill in the sun which was nice. Finley has been pretty hard work today and for some reason has not been in the mood to do much! We took him to the arcades which he enjoyed but even after that he hadn't been great. We ended up having a lovely meal in Carmignano but fin was awake most of it and think we need to fix his routine ! Anyway we enjoyed some grappa to end the meal and celebrate the first day!

19 August 2015

Tamie just made me laugh coming in the room and saying she saw a big lizard outside the bathroom. She showed the picture and it was quite impressive size...then she showed me the next photo which actually shows that it was tiny and she had zoomed in! Lol
After watching shrek Finley had dinner and then was licking lemons (this is his new thing!) and then giggling at the sharpness of them! Then this evening we went for a drive into Carmignano and stopped to have a drink at the little bar. Unfortunately our 'local' has closed now until the end of the month which is a shame as it was quite nice and was right in the centre of town and had a good range of drinks (incl Becks blue for tam!). There are two other bars but are very basic and not sure they even do beer on tap! We then went for an ice cream and a walk around the village. Finley was enjoying walking around and then stopping, looking and then going at each of the roadsides. He is doing really well with his speech recently and was repeating all of the words as we crossed! Another nice sunset this evening and we hope that this time it brings nice weather for Lesley and Martin who arrive in the morning! They just dropped off Baxter to Linda's who looks very happy in the garden!
So officially 30 weeks today! 10 weeks left, count down is on! Starting to feel a bit uncomfortable now. Can't believe how quick it's going! Finley still very interested in bump giving it kisses or blowing raspberries on it in the mornings which is nice and makes me laugh! Still been feeling relatively ok considering the amount of walking we have been doing, although not being able to take anything for the mozzy bites is really annoying! Movements are becoming massive now and can see baby rolling around in my belly!
We got home and had a cosy afternoon with Finley watching a bit of shrek whilst feeding daddy his raisins and Tamie did some drawing of the scenery! We also spotted a large cricket on the window and got a good photo up close. The storms still raged on, but doesn't really matter as we didn't really plan to do much today (although would be nice to be sat outside in the paddling pool!!)
The weather perked up a bit this afternoon and was actually very warm again! Therefore we decided to go out for a big lunch seeing as Finley was fast asleep and there was a nice restaurant that someone recommended to Dave and I in a bar at the weekend. It was a really nice setting and had a terrace which looked out over the artimino and the Medici villa. We ordered lots of nice stuff including Parmesan and herb gnocchi, duck ragu, rotisserie chicken wrapped in Parma ham and herbs, stuffed zucchini with polenta chips and then semifreddo (espresso coffee ice cream) and 9 different pecorino cheeses from Tuscany with pear. It was washed down with an Artimino barca reale wine which was nice and made about 200ft from where we were sat! It was surprising though as I asked for a soft drink and they said they only serve wine and water! No coke or anything! Strange. It was a nice meal though and as we were leaving thunder and lightening started! Back home it was then!!
After a nice evening and lovely sky we have woken up to rain this morning (whatever happened to red sky at night, shepherds delight?!). Pretty unusual for August but after today the forecast looks good for the weekend when we have Lesley and Martin over!

18 August 2015

After a lovely meal (approved by the chef!) washed down with a nice glass of local red wine, we took Finley upstairs to try and get him to bed a bit earlier than he has been going. At the same time we managed to capture this lovely sunset from our bedroom. This view never gets old and we will really miss it when we leave.
Trying to pick the best 10 pictures of Finley on this holiday is so hard ! So many nice ones, but here is some (at least from the last few weeks). Might have to be top 20 instead!
Tonight we are cooking a homemade Ragu using pork and beef mince. We have not done a huge amount of cooking since we got here as the food has been so good in the local restaurants, but plan to do a bit more in the next week starting with this. It already smells good! Finley has been helping mummy to make it and has had us in stitches walking around the place in Tamies flip flops, giggling whilst eating crisps and generally being silly! A nice family evening at home having fun, listening to music and relaxing! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
After a busy week, today we took it easy and aimed to not really do too much. The weather is cooler but still 29 degrees but a bit cloudy. This morning we went to the supermarket to get some bits and this afternoon we headed to 'parco delle cascine di tavola' which is a park about 15 mins away and has good reviews on trip advisor. The place is massive and a really nice walk. We did about 5 miles around it and at the end it had a kids play park for Finley to amuse himself in. It's a lovely place for a stroll and we saw a few animals along the way which Finley was fascinated by including a big green insect, some birds that look a bit like a grouse and butterfly's! A lovely afternoon and exactly what was needed (although the legs are a bit tired now!)

17 August 2015

This morning we left for Pisa (stopping off for a coffee and a cake on the way!) to take David and Louise back to the airport as they leave today. After we said our goodbyes, we carried on to Viareggio which is about 20mins on from the airport. It is a nice seaside town and even better than we had expected. There are lots of things to do for kids including a little train that goes round the town, parks and also horse back rides for kids! there are quite a few private beach clubs on the sea front and you pay to use them, so we decided to do this and got our own little beach hut and then sat around the pool for a bit before sitting at the beach as well and walking in the sea. It was quieter than I expected and we had no problems getting loungers in a decent place. Finley had lots of fun making sand castles and swimming and enjoyed pasta for lunch (again!) and some watermelon and then a little bit of ice cream at a bar on the promenade on the way back. Great fun but we are all tired now!

16 August 2015

This evening we had our 'last supper' and after a bit of thought we decided to visit Artimino which is a lovely village with a Medici villa. It is the same place we went for lunch with mum and dad last week, but this time we ended up at a different restaurant which was previously closed. The restaurant itself was really nice and had a lovely interior as well as garden with views over the villa. The food was nice, but not the best we have had since arriving but was good to try somewhere different and even though not the best we still really enjoyed it. We are all tired when we come back so have one drink and then hit the sack ready for the airport run tomorrow morning. We have really enjoyed having David and Louise here this weekend and have had a lot of fun with them.
After lunch we went for a wonder and decided to rent a 4 seater bike for an hour and drive around Lucca. It was very funny with us being stupid high fiving people, trying to avoid other bikes and driving right through the centre instead of just going round the walls much to the annoyance of the Lucca crowds! Afterwards we stopped for a well deserved beer with mum and dad as well and then got a nice ice cream on the way back. Another lovely day and the weather even managed to brighten up!
This morning we had a lazy start and just sat around playing with Fin and chatting. The weather was meant to be a bit mixed today so weren't sure what to do, but in the end decided on Lucca. We headed there about midday and parked up and found a nice food market place which is apparently relatively new and not somewhere I have seen before. They had some tasters outside which were lovely and they enticed us in! We had a lovely meal which included antipasti sharing platter, vegetable tartlet and some really nice fresh pasta that we all enjoyed...washed down with a glass of vermintino! Afterwards we met mum and dad and headed into the centre of Lucca for a wander!

15 August 2015

So it's almost 1am and we have had a long day in Florence today wondering around and looking at lots of things including the different squares, ice cream and chocolate shops as well as in the markets, boboli gardens and churches. It was really interesting to see and we're pleased we visited although tired from walking close to 10 miles! We went to the food market and had some food late afternoon which was good and then headed back to Prato park which has arcades and games for Finley to enjoy. As usual he loved it and particularly the car games, not letting us press the accelerator or brakes! Afterwards we went to supermarket and then went out for dinner at a local restaurant which was nice. When we got home we ended with a few games of 'cards against humanity' which Tamie won and we realised how messed up her sense of humour really is! Was good fun though and will be playing again with more alcohol involved post babies!

14 August 2015

Today was another nice and relaxing day starting with a trip out for a coffee and a cake at the local cafe, then we headed to the swimming pool. Finley was loving the pool and the water shoots! After each time he wanted to go up again and again! Also there is a lifeguard at the pool who always wears real tight speedos and is ridiculously brown from where he sits outside everyday watching the pool, so obviously we had to get a picture with him. As we put our arm around him for the photo we could feel the coats of oil that he drenched himself in! Disgusting! Afterwards we went to get an ice cream and Louise had a crepe filled with ice cream which was really nice as well. Tonight we are going to go out for a drink and then get a takeaway pizza to bring back home.

13 August 2015

Today David and Louise arrived from London and I picked them up from Pisa airport. It was great to see them and they really liked our Italian country house. Tamie had laid on lunch whilst i went to get them which included homemade focaccia, pecorino cheese and honey and chicken salad. Finley was asleep when we arrived and then he woke up around 3pm...he constantly wants to go in the car now and gets annoyed when he is not allowed to! We enjoyed a few hours sun bathing and then Dave and Louise kindly took us out for dinner at one of the places we had been to already and had really enjoyed. We ate loads and drunk a fair bit and then came home and chatted for a while. Off to bed now!

12 August 2015

On our way back we stopped in the lovely town of Montepulciano. It is a place we have visited many times through a wine glass, but wanted to have a look round at the real place! it is a lovely place and had lots of different shops and restaurants where you could try wine and food for free and was nice wondering around in the sunshine. There was also a nice little park with a fountain and Finley loved pointing at all the goldfish! We found a nice place for lunch and had some lovely fresh homemade pasta and Fin had his first taste of Ginghiale (wild boar!). He seemed to really enjoy it and it is nice for him to tick off another food he has tried. Anyway, we are on the road again now heading back home and looking forward to relaxing in the garden before our friends David and Louise arrive tomorrow.
After we had breakfast at the hotel we headed off in search of the Vespa museum in Rome which was in another part of the city. As we were driving it was pretty limited where we could go so decided against the museum and instead took in a few more of the sights...different castles and palaces. After this we left Rome and hit the road for the 3 hour drive back to our house in Carmignano. We have really enjoyed Rome and already talking about coming back for a weekend to visit this outdoor museum!

11 August 2015

We are staying about 10 mins walk from Vatican City, so we headed out for dinner and as we were both pretty hungry we just wanted to find something relatively close by and filling! We ended up in a restaurant which was close to the Vatican gates and was quite a touristy place. It was nice and did the job but because we have been spoilt by the amount of good meals that we have had so far, it wasn't one of our favourites. I had beef carpaccio to start and tam had caprese salad, then followed by fettuccine with lamb Ragu and tam had Milanese chicken and chips. Afterwards we went for a wonder round the impressive Vatican City and were surprised by the amount of security (police and army) that we guarding the entrance and perimeter. Obviously it is a possible target given the importance to global religion and you could definitely feel that. It was a nice end to the night and we headed back to the hotel and fell asleep! Not surprising given we have walked 15 miles in the last 2 days!
After the rain disappeared we continued to walk to the Trevi fountain and en route we decided to take a tour on horse back! It was great fun and at first Finley wasn't sure but after a while was waving at people and saying 'bye' as we trotted on past them! It was a great experience and we saw lots of things such as Silvio Berlusconis home, the Italian presidents main office, several palaces and lots of interesting churches. We got to the Trevi fountain that Tamie was really looking forward to seeing and it is being restored! Therefore we weren't able to see most of it! Nevermind, an excuse to come back one day! We headed back to the hotel and started to get ready to put for dinner!
So we woke up this morning and the sun was shining so decided to head to the pool for a quick dip and have a final play around with the cars at the hotel! We then went back to the hotel to get our bags and Finley being his usual inquisitive self climbed on the bed and then rolled off and fell with a big bump...there were lots of tears and we were obviously worried, but he has seemed ok, but we are expecting a bruise to come up soon. We headed onto Rome which is a couple of hours away and made it to the hotel. It is a really nice place in quite a central location. We then drove to the colosseum and had a wander around...it is very impressive! After this we headed for the Trevi fountain but en route the heavens opened and it started hammering it down with rain...we are now currently taking refuge in a bar and got a spag Bol which Finley has pretty much demolished! Hope to make it to the fountain soon when it dries!

10 August 2015

After dinner we went to 'la divina bellezza' which is an impressive light show beamed into the side of the cathedral. It is very atmospheric and amazing to see the history of Siena come to life in such an amazing way. It is only 30 mins but done really well and would definitely recommend. It is on every night until September and we were surprised to find that it was actually very quiet...only around 100 people there. This made it even better as we could sit where we wanted and it was all very relaxed. Afterwards we walked to the car and headed back to the hotel quite tired but pleased we had salvaged the day! Heading to Rome in the morning!!
After getting our tickets, we aim to find a nice restaurant near to the place we are watching the show. We stumble across a lovely restaurant which is rated very highly on trip advisor and have a REALLY good meal (not yet had a bad one!). We have a variety of things including Zucchini creme and bacon, eggplant with some fresh cheese, suckling pig with raspberry and sweet and sour meatballs...followed by carpaccio of pineapple and lemon sorbet...all washed down with a nice glass of Chianti Classico! A really good meal and helps to make up for today!
After a bit of a miserable day with the weather, some problems getting a cot at the hotel for Fin and trying to find places open for lunch (it is Monday!) we were determined to have a nice evening in Siena. We were lucky that the rain stopped and so we head into the city and have a wonder round. It is a lovely place with lots of quite impressive buildings and streets. They were getting ready for the 'Palio' taking place this weekend which is a very famous horse race that takes place in the central square. Apparently it is crazy and with thousands of people going wild! You can see the stands being build and the sand down on the floor getting ready for it and it is definitely impressive. Would be great to see it but imagine it is a nightmare because of the number of people. We have a look round various places and get tickets for a light show this evening which we wanted to go to. It is beamed onto the side of the famous cathedral and talks through the history of Siena...should be good!
So we have reached the hotel and it is nice with lovely views, but again the weather so bad that it is hard to even get out the car without being completely soaked. Luckily I manage to run to reception and check in and then we go for a drive to get some food whilst hoping the rain eases. Eventually it does and we head back to the hotel and get into the room. Finley and I went for a wonder round and it is a nice location and they have some old Italian cars you can look at and we went down to the pool and were surprised to see some people already in it (it was ze germans of course!). we played around on Finley's scuttlebug and Finley is amused for a bit...he also likes running about but his jeans are too big and fell down! Obviously I had to catch this moment on camera!! It starts raining again so we went back to the apartment to watch Frozen. Planning on heading into Siena this evening as long as the weather holds out a bit!
Today we woke up to rain and thunderstorms and it looks like it will continue like that for the rest of the day 😡. It is nice because it is cooler but the rain is really coming down and as we are heading to Siena today, it is not ideal. Mum and dad have also left for Florence and are spending a couple of days there. We set off and the rain stops for a little bit as we go through the lovely Chianti region. We stop off in one of the Chianti towns (Panzano) for a coffee before heading into our hotel which is about 10km outside Siena. During the drive there is really heavy rain and it means that we can't really stop off in any of the places we had hoped to as we can barely see out the window for the rain and the wind has really picked up. Hope it doesn't stay like this for too long...could ruin our trip to Siena!

9 August 2015

This evening mum and dad kindly offered to look after Fin whilst we went out for our early wedding anniversary dinner together. We went back to where we had the wine tour yesterday but unfortunately was fully booked. I knew of somewhere else that was meant to be really nice and it definitely delivered ! Really lovely food and steak that was up there with the top 5 we have ever had. It is Bistecca Fiorentina which is a massive 1kg T-bone steak and is a favourite in Tuscany. It comes quite rare but after I had taken mine the waiter was happy to put it back on the grill for Tamie to cook properly given her pregnancy. It was a lovely evening in the garden of a large villa which was a great setting and would love to go back. Mum and dad said that fin managed to get out of his cot TWICE! and actually get out of the room he was in. Luckily they were able to get to him in time to put him back and eventually get him off to bed! Great night and lovely to be able to visit such a nice restaurant.
When Finley woke up he was full of beans and so we decided to wash the car (as you do on holiday!). He seemed to enjoy using the hose pipe but mostly got himself wet! Afterwards we realised that it is actually more dirty than when we started as it has all dried and left horrible marks...oops. Oh well it was fun to do and Finley seemed to enjoy it! Afterwards, Finley played around nana and grandad for some time which he seemed to love as usual!
We woke up this morning a little tired as Finley didn't sleep too well, think the combination of moving into our room, the heat and the late night (we got in around midnight) probably threw out his routine a little! However we had a nice breakfast then headed out to the bar for a coffee and cake and a play in the park for Fin. Afterwards we went shopping to our local mall which is nice and cool and has quite a lot of stuff there. It has lots of shops like H&M as well as cinemas, bowling alleys, gyms and restaurants, soft play, supermarkets etc. we planned to take Finley to soft play and stock up on essentials (such as more beer!) but within about 10 mins he was sparko and slept for over 4 hours...I'm sure we will pay for that later!!. When we got home we made homemade pizzas and chilled out for a bit chatting and being stupid!

8 August 2015

Finally tonight we went to a local 'festa' in our town which was basically called 'wine and the stars'. It is to celebrate a certain time in the year where they see a lot of shooting stars and somehow have linked this to drinking! Gotta love the Italians! We didn't know what to expect and when we got into our town of Carmignano we were surprised to see a lot of people queuing for a bus to go up to the little chapel on the hill. The bus was probably the hottest, sweatiest little bus I have ever been on (bar Tunisia near the Sahara desert, but that's another story!) and unsurprisingly fin hated it and cried most of the way there and back! Once we got there it was a nice little set up with lots of stands where you could try different wines and foods from the local restaurants. Also they had gelati and live music which was actually really good and the amount of people that visited was amazing ! Probably over 1000! was really nice and a good end to the evening !
After our detour we went to Artimini and had a lovely lunch in a place that mum and dad had been to before. I had risotto and tam had pasta with truffle. Dad had pasta with cinghiale and chocolate(an unusual combo) and mum had pasta & courgette flowers, was lovely and even fin managed to eat about half of ours! Afterwards dad and I went to a wine tasting and tour round a local winery. Not sure what we expected but was really good to learn about the wines and also how they are made and a bit of history about the family and the villa (which is on Medici family hunting ground). It was really good and we both enjoyed it and the wine was great too...ended up buying a few bottles to take back (well think I might open ours before that!). The group on the tour with us seemed nice and was a mix of kiwis, USA, us and Dutch but luckily the tour was in English by a New Yorker! Was a great experience and really nice particularly because it is so close to where we are staying (about 3 miles).
So met mum and dad this morning at 9am in our local bar. Was really nice to see them both and they looked very relaxed after the week and a half they have already spent in Tuscany themselves at there place. We grabbed a coffee and a cornetti and then headed to the park next door which Finley loved as usual but couldn't make up his mind which thing to go on and kept changing! We then took mum and dad back to ours to show them our place and had a relaxing morning at home. They really liked where we are staying and it was nice for them to see what we have been talking about when we described it to them! We decided to go to lunch and nowhere seemed open in our village so headed to Artimino which we have already been once. I missed the turning so ended up driving for about an hour to Empoli and back! Oops. Oh well at least we had air con in the car! It's been great having mum and dad here and Finley seems to love having them around too!

7 August 2015

43.5 degrees!!! Crazy hot...and I just bought ice from the supermarket so was a mad dash home to make sure it didn't just turn to water...Luckily managed to salvage most of it! Hoping it cools down a bit next week!
This afternoon we went back nearer to ours to a supermarket/mall complex about 10 mins away. We had been once before but it was closed (Sunday I think) but is a large store so thought we would stock up before my parents arrive tomorrow for the weekend. Before we did some shopping we headed opposite where they had a 'Wild Wild West' themed restaurant and we had chicken wings, nachos and burgers! Not traditionally Italian but fancied a bit of a change and also pigging out a little! We didn't realise but in the same complex is bowling alleys, arcades and soft play! So we spent a while here playing on the games and then Finley went into the soft play. We managed to win a lot of tickets at the arcades and exchanged for a ball (which Finley lost within about 10mins!). We are really pleased that there is a soft play nearby for Fin and will definitely go back. It's open until 11pm as well which could be handy if we need to tire him out !!
This morning we headed to Pistoia Wonderpark which is about 25 mins away and meant to be a really good soft play place for kids. It is indoor and air conditioned so would be perfect on a day like today...however when we got there it was closed! Therefore we decided to head into the centre of Pistoia for a wonder round. We parked up and headed into the city and were surprised by how nice it was. We went round the duomo which is much smaller but very similar looking to the one in Florence and had a look round the historic square which was really nice. There are quite a few interesting shops and bars and it is was really quiet which was good as it was so hot...we couldn't be facing lots of crowds today! We stopped off at a bar for a drink and then wondered round a bit more before heading back in our direction to find some lunch.

6 August 2015

This afternoon we have just chilled and enjoyed the sun in the garden. When we returned from Vinci Finley was already asleep so he went up to bed and we went to catch some rays in the garden whilst catching up on our books and me having a couple of light refreshments! A couple of hours later the little man woke up and came to play in the paddling pool and stayed in it for about 2 hours splashing around and giggling to himself...was very cute to watch. He is also paying lots of attention to the bump and we think he felt a kick earlier as he looked a bit startled when he was laying on it! Must be weird for him (it's weird enough for me to feel it!). Afterwards we came in and Tamie made some lovely pasta and Finley did some painting! Perhaps he took inspiration from seeing the Leonardo da Vinci works earlier! Day finished with lovely sunset and listening to a bit of Michael Buble! We also heard lovely news today that Natalie is expecting baby girl number 2! We are so excited !
Today I'm 28 weeks pregnant and so far feeling ok and managing with the heat. Feeling more and more kicks and it is nice to see Finley having more interest in 'the bump' everyday.
This morning we took a trip to 'Vinci' the home of the great Leonardo. It is a pretty small town located about 20km away from us so about half an hour drive and we wondered around and had a look at the museum and the audio guide gave a bit more information about the man and his works. They also had another temporary exhibition where they had recreated all of his famous paintings and gave more information and background about them in the church, which we actually found more interesting than the museum itself!
Lovely morning today, Sun is already shining and warm outside and we are staying in for breakfast. As usual Finley is being very funny and playful which is keeping us entertained. He also seems to be getting into the Italian cartoons! Probably has more idea on what's going on than we do! He is also continually entertained by the dominoes that Lesley gave us (originally tamies when she was younger)...he will do well in Italy as that's what all the old men play! Soon we are going to head out and goto Vinci which is the birthplace of the Leonardo da Vinci, not sure there is much there but will go for a mooch about !

5 August 2015

It's still 32 degrees at 10 o clock at night but just been out for dinner in carmignano. We started with a drink in the local bar but despite it being Finley's bed time there was no signs of him going to sleep and he wanted to wonder around and touch things like usual. We tried a pepper pig dvd but whilst it kept him amused for a bit, we knew it wouldn't be enough to satisfy him for the whole Dinner! Eventually we got him settled and he fell asleep and we went to Barca reale restaurant and had a lovely meal...starting with caprese (mozzarella, tomato) then rabbit ragu pasta and then ended up with beef stew which was really tender and melted in the mouth. deffo go back! Was quite busy by the time we left and as I had a few glasses of vino Tamie drove home and did a great job of managing the right side of the road. Chilling at home now with a glass of vino and a zero alcohol radler for Tamie (boo!!) listening to the crickets!
It has reached 38 degrees today so is absolutely baking, but we decided to head out for a coffee and cake at our usual place then headed to pistoia zoo. The zoo is about 30 mins and quite easy to get to, however by the time we got there Finley had fallen asleep! Once inside we wondered around a few of the animal enclosures and then got to the petting zoo part...at this moment fin woke up and literally had a goat in his face as it had come up to the buggy! Fin a little startled, would go one of two ways...a big grin or tears...luckily for us it was the smile and he enjoyed feeding the animals and then wondering around looking at the lions, tigers, monkeys, giraffes and elephants etc. We had a really good day despite sweating on the way round! We stopped for cold drinks, pasta and cous cous for Fin at the little snack bar and came back for a nice afternoon in the paddling pool. Planning to go out for dinner tonight in Carmignano and trying one of the restaurants recommended to us

4 August 2015

Tonight we have had our first BBQ! We went out to the local supermarket and loaded up on all the essentials. Made homemade burgers, chicken thighs in Italian mixed herbs, octopus carpaccio with capers and Prawn kebabs with a nice salad and chips! Finley mostly wanted to play with the food rather than eat it and all night was in a very mischievous mood but very funny with it...dancing and wanting to play constantly. He seems to be coping with the heat quite well and considering we haven't let him have his bottle since Thursday has been pretty good...although as always, a handful! At the moment we are just chilling listening to a bit of paulo nutini outside and chatting! A nice end to a hot day!!
So the temperature is picking up...it reached 37 today so we decided to hit the local pool to cool off. It's about 5km away and is quite high up so has lovely views. It has a baby pool which was ideal for Finley as it came up to his shoulders and he could walk around ok in the water. He has been in a bit of a mood today because his teeth are hurting him, but after a while he got in and seemed happy splashing about. Thought it was a bit strange though that someone went in there with a naked new born...there's probably a 50:50 chance that the baby could of got the squirts and it would have been about a metre away from me...luckily I vacated before this could happen. On the way home we hit the gelateria (ice cream shop) and all enjoyed a big fat ice cream!

3 August 2015

So today we had a more relaxing day, had a stroll round the sculpture park which is a few mins away and even though it was 10am it was already 30 degrees! On the drive home we went to artimino which is a lovely little village with a very famous villa which is now a hotel. It is really picturesque and definitely somewhere we will go back to and also try the restaurant. After that we went to our little town of Carmignano which is about 5 mins drive from our place. It is small but has a nice square with a bar and several restaurants. Unfortunately as it was Monday and lunch, most of them were closed! However we did find one with a little garden and fed our faces! We started with these fried doughball type things with prosciutto and then had a pasta course (which was amazing) and then finally steak tagliata, marks with porcini mushrooms and mine was with rocket and Parmesan. Very nice! We will be back! Afterwards we headed back to our house to relax in the paddling pool!

2 August 2015

Went to my first Italian football match this evening which was good fun. It was a Champions cup friendly tournemount between Fiorentina and Barcelona. Both of whom have just come back from playing in the U.S.A as a pre-season competition. Unfortunately Messi and Neymar were still missing from Barcelona squad but some great players still on show in Luis Suarez, iniesta, Alba, Pedro and Gerard Pique. It was good game and surprisingly Fiorentina just edged it 2-1, although at times Barcelona did look good. The atmosphere was good and the Italians lit flares and often singing whilst doing some strange dance up and down! There was no trouble at all and found the crowd really friendly. Before the game it took me 30 mins to get into Florence but about 45mins to find somewhere to park as there was no space at all, so I left 5 mins early to hit the road and it was fine. Great night, Forza Viola!
Forgot to post before...gotta love a butterfly selfie!!
Just been out for the morning to our local pasticceria which is bakery/bar/cafe type place. Was recommended to us by Grazia and it is really nice with lots of fresh cakes and stuff. Next door is a really nice ice cream shop (gelateria) which we will try soon. Also nearby is a little park which is ideal for fin and he had lots of fun. Afterwards we went and did another shop and loaded up on more wine, beers and radlers. These are low alcohol and no alcohol lemon beers and are really refreshing and good for tam as well because of not drinking. Came home and fin went straight to bed and I made lunch...well I say made lunch, I tried doing poached eggs and smoked salmon but murdered it! Can't seem to get it right here but have no problems at home. I got frustrated half way through and aborted mine...had focaccia with fresh pesto and smoked salmon...was very nice and just chilling outside listening to music with one of these radlers. Good times. Off to the footy later...
Last night ended in some quite dramatic thunder and lightening over the Florence / Prato area which was really loud and quite atmospheric. It also rained a fair bit which was funny as we read a Facebook update from someone in the UK saying they were sat out in the garden!!!! No such luck for us last night in doing the same thing! Last night I also went round to the owners to settle up the bill before they left for the mountains and Grazia invited me to sit down and she took me through lots of places to go and see and was telling me about her life as a young lady studying language in Pisa, then travelling alone across Europe she said "I was wearing light dresses like Bridget Bardot" I thought she may have been cracking onto me!! To be fair think she would have been quite nice 30 years ago! Woke up on Sunday morning with the light coming through the side of the blind and lifted it up to see this lovely view. It is really lovely seeing this and amazing how far we can see.

1 August 2015

So after a afternoon of exploring the area shopping, settling in to our new home for the next four weeks!we have been enjoying the views watching the sunset over Florence while tucking into nice Italian antipasti for dinner. While sitting eating we spotted a wild bore (cinghiale!) venture into our garden before mark acting like an excitable child running outside for it to run off before getting a picture😋 we have also seen two fox Cubs and bats flying overhead. Now it's dark the views are even more stunning with a view of Florence lit up. Fin wasn't so sure about his new bedroom so we had a few tears, hopefully he's out for the night now ready for some more adventures tomorrow 😍
Short walk outside our place is lots of vines with the grapes growing as it is a famous wine area...Finley already trying to tuck in!!
Arrived this afternoon at our lovely little converted barn in carmignano and starting to get settled. Met the owners Grazia and Gianfranco who seem really nice and speak good English. They gave us a nice bottle of local wine to welcome us to there house. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately so they don't see Fin run riot!) the owners are heading to the mountains on vacation tomorrow so we won't see much of them. There is a friend of there's that is next door who we met too and also seems nice in case we need anything or to get some local tips. Headed to the supermarket straight away and loaded up on all the essentials...wine, prosecco and beers! Plus of course lots of nice fruit and veg which always looks so much nicer over here! Overall, we are really happy with the place and it is just what we were looking for to get a more traditional experience of Italy.

31 July 2015

Great evening last night in monterosso, we took fin to a little park to run around in for a bit and burn off the last bit of energy he had before he fell asleep! Then we wondered around the many small but lively streets in the town and settled for the restaurant we visited a few years ago on the seafront. We always remember (and talk about) the tasty seafood we once had here so there was a risk it might ruin that memory if it wasn't very good this time! Luckily it was great again and enjoyed some amazing homemade pesto bruschetta to start and then grilled seabass and veal cutlets. Was really lovely and can't wait to go back again in the future! (Perhaps when tan has a few less restrictions because of pregnancy!). This morning is our last day in cinque Terre before heading to our main location near Florence which is around 2 hours drive from here.
Drove from Chamonix to monterosso Al mare in cinque Terre which took a little longer than we hoped (about 4 hours) due to some queues going into Mont Blanc tunnel. However got here in good time to check into the hotel which is the oldest building in the town apparently, which we were informed by the very nice man who showed us to the room! Lovely place and not far from where Pesto comes from so lots of little shops making homemade pesto which we will try later! Had fun at the beach this afternoon which was Finley's first time in the sea. Took him a while to get used to it...a few tears(!) but soon was making sandcastles and playing around! Everyone very friendly and Finley has had a lot of people saying ciao to him which we will try and teach him to say by the end of the holiday. Weather is hot and have seen the forecast for next week at 37 degrees which will be hard going!!

30 July 2015

Nice evening last night which involved listening to a folk band outside with a bunch of happy clapper groupies, rushing around trying to find somewhere that sells nappies for fin and finally a nice traditional cheese fondue dinner! This morning we woke up to amazing views of Mont Blanc which is much clearer today (swipe right to scroll through and see pics). Going for brekkie soon and then we will hit the road again for about 4hr drive to Cinque Terre, our last destination before we hit Tuscany.
Nice afternoon in the sun walking round Chamonix, playing in the park/pool and feeding our faces! Heading out again shortly for a drink and then for some traditional mountain food!
Holiday has officially begun! Arrived at chamonix for lunch and is lovely weather and surrounded by the amazing Mont Blanc mountain. Just enjoying an Aperol spritz in the sun and an iced tea for tam! We have come back to a lovely hotel we stayed at a few years ago and it is as nice as when we stayed before. We are soon going out for a walk round chamonix and to find something to eat. We are hank Marvin!! Fun is in good spirits and wondering around near the pool! Xx
Night one was always going to be a cheap, basic motorway stop over on the way down before we get to some of the nicer places on our journey and it definitely delivered ! Bang average, but at least clean! No plans to stick around and enjoy the breakfast...will find somewhere else!

29 July 2015

Cheeky little beer and food stop in Reims (no Champagne!) outside the cathedral. Horse steak is on the menu, but we are avoiding ! Still a couple of hours from our first hotel, but still in good spirits!
Good news, we had a baby scan this morning before we left and everything is looking good. Nice piece of mind before hitting the road! We have just about got to euro tunnel ok despite crazy delays on roads and having to do some detours on A roads, due to the migrant issues happening at the moment. Only one hour delay which isn't too bad...now just in queue and gonna catch up on some work emails (I am meant to be working from home today...oops!). Just the 5 hour drive when we get through the tunnel zzz zzzz zzzz!!!

26 July 2015

In less than 3 days time we are packing up and leaving the UK for 5 weeks to experience the Tuscan way of life. As Finley (and bump!) are still very young, we wanted to write a travel blog so they can look back on the our trip and read about all the things we got up to whilst we were there. In addition, whilst we have some friends and family visiting whilst we are there, we would love all our friends and family to be with us! Therefore we welcome you to read our travel diary and keep up to date with what we have been doing! (Just don't judge Mark on the amount of wine he will drink!). Miss you all and see you in September! Mark, Tamie, Finley & Bump! Xxxx