Sunday was a cracker in Wellington – warm and sunny and everything you could want from a summers day. And with an end to the day that was deserving of a round of applause.
(As taken from our verandah.)
It’s been a while since the last Toscanakiwi post. Maybe that can be blamed on the end of winter – that period of the year where the worst of the bad weather is over but still the sun won’t shine and the days are more rain and wind than anything else. Good news – spring has finally arrived and from last Sunday daylight saving commenced. Suddenly the days are longer, the temperature warmer and every plant in the garden is growing as fast as it can.
Last weekend we travelled to Nelson on the northern tip of the South Island for a family birthday. If there was any doubt about the arrival of spring, the afternoon spent sitting on the deck looking out over the Waimea Inlet to Tasman Bay and beyond was proof enough. It was a fantastic weekend – thank you to our wonderful hosts and, once again, happy birthday to wee James.
The nearest major town to our village of Aspley Guise is Milton Keynes. A product of 1960′s town planning, Milton Keynes takes a fair bit of stick for its roundabouts and concrete cows. “What’s the difference between yoghurt and Milton Keynes? The yoghurt has culture” or so the joke goes.
The town has facilities to meet all the needs of it’s citizens, all easily accessible and convenient – shopping, leisure, transport, it’s all there. Everything is so well planned and dispersed, and people’s needs so well catered for that, even standing in the dead centre of the city, it feels a little like an industrial estate – faceless building, wide roads, lots of cars, lots of trees and a distinct lack of people. It feels, well, a little soulless.
But then, when you least expect it, Milton Keynes surprises you.
I was in the city this afternoon running some errands and, as the sun set behind the Church of Christ the Cornerstone located in the centre of the city, beauty appeared.
The locals in Positano have always said that the weather in November would be fine but in December it would rain. And on cue, yesterday it rained for the first time in just under a month. And as with most things in Positano when it rains, it rains properly. With no real storm water drains the water soon turned the streets and steps into mini streams.
On the plus side the temperature was still in the mid teens and the complete absence of wind meant umbrellas were ideal protection. Sadly we’d left ours at the villa so it was a soggy paddle around the village to do our weekly shopping.
But by mid afternoon the skies had started to clear and Positano provided a new variation on it’s usual sunset, just as a way to make up for the rain.
When you drive along the Amalfi Peninsular towards Termini you come to a crossroads. Up the hill to the right is Termini. Down the hill to the left is Marina del Cantone. If you head down the hill you wind through some lovely countryside, through the quaint village of Nerano, until eventually ending up on the water in Marina del Cantone.
Like Positano, this was a traditional fishing village but now makes it’s living largely through tourism. Bars and restaurants line the beach and behind these are hotels and apartments for rent.
We stumbled on Marina del Cantone almost by accident. We had an hour or so to fill while we waited for the sun to go down over Capri so took the road down the hill. In the middle of summer the beach would be packed but in November it is only the locals (and us) who keep the bars and restaurants open. It was a delightful place to sit and watch. Watch the local lads drag small boats up the beach for the night. Watch the visitors from Naples enjoy a late lunch and a walk along the beach – in their designer boots and jackets. And watch the local kids playing on the pier as I suspect they have for generations.
We didn’t quite know what to expect from Marina del Cantone but an hour wasn’t enough time to explore so we’ll be back.
The sun went down and the lights of Positano gradually came on over the next half hour. This is an HD move so for best effect use the “share” button and download a better quality version.
Last night I drove about 2 kms from the villa to a point overlooking the bay to capture some sunset photos – yes, again. I wasn’t the only one with this idea as the spot was packed with cars and fellow photographers. We were collectively treated to a stunning end of the day.
I had taken my tripod so I could capture photos of Positano as twilight fell. Gradually, as the light dropped, the other snappers left and I was left alone to contemplate whatever it is you contemplate at these moments.
What struck me was the sheer stillness of the evening – something you don’t often experience in Wellington.
At six o’clock the church bells at Praiano rang out about 4 kms further along the coast with the bells of St Maria Assunta in Positano joining in soon after. Despite the distance you could hear them clearly and as they finished their impromptu stereo concerto and the silence returned I could make out the voices of fisherman in small boats working nets at the bottom of the cliff about 300 metres below.
Then a gaggle of scooters whipped past on the road and the moment was gone.
In mid summer there are no sunsets in Positano. I don’t mean the sun doesn’t go down, I mean it happens behind the hills that ring the village. But in autumn the sun has moved far enough south for the sunset to just touch the tip of the Amalfi Peninsular before it heads downunder.
That has meant for the last few days we have had the most beautiful sunsets to accompany our afternoon drinks on the terrazzo. And you know they are special when the locals stop to take photos as well.
You can always tell when the girls feel at home. They start barking at everyone walking past and go nuts when anyone visits. Based on this, as of last Wednesday Villa Greta became “our place”. For the next few weeks anyway.
Italy came off daylight saving on Sunday and the days got an hour shorter. It was already getting dark at 7pm, so suddenly the days got dramatically shorter.
The change meant that Positano beach and village lose the sun around 3:30pm. The upside? Cafes further up the hill which were too hot to sit at for any length of time in the middle of summer are now ideal for relaxing and watching the sun go down over a drink or two.
Spending Autumn in Tuscany was not something we were particularly looking forward to. After the heat of summer the thought of going from the mandatory shorts and sandals to Autumn’s jeans, shoes and socks filled us with loathing.
But Autumn has been a pleasant surprise. The weather is settled and the days are warm. It’s an ideal temperature for getting out and seeing things. Mornings are crisp and sometimes misty but the day warms up enought for an al fresco lunch and a gelato in the afternoon which can be eaten before it melts – something simply not possible in the height of summer.
The countryside has taken on a yellow and orange hue as the trees prepare for winter and the days have got noticeably shorter. All this has meant is a new and exciting series of sunsets to capture on film.
The last week has been unseasonably hot.
Temperatures have hovered in the late 30 degrees during the day which is great for pool life but not good for cottage life or for the dogs.
Relief comes in the evening when it becomes bearable to sit outside and enjoy the sunset.
Another of those no reason posts really – other than this was the sunset last night from the verandah of our cottage.