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What We Did All Winter

Current Location: The Sassi, Matera, Basilicata, Italy
Current Position: 40 40.04 N 016 36.62 E Click to view map.

Today it snowed!

Yes, when we arrived it was T-shirt weather. Then the clouds darkened and the rain arrived. But still we had a great visit to Alberobello, just south of Bari. There are two sections – the tourist part, and the quiet residential part. See if you can guess which photos are which.






This morning we drove from Bari to Matera and wandered around the ‘Sassi’ – which are dwellings carved and built into the hills in a manner that reminded us very much of Capodocia in Turkey. As we did so it would rapidly alternate between sunshine with blue skies, clouds, rain, and at times, snow, though it didn’t settle!




Look at the carvings on the door - skulls and crossed bones. Never seen that on a church before!

Look at the carvings on the door – skulls and crossed bones. Never seen that on a church before!

And the church has more skeletons adorning it. The clue? It is the Church of Pergatory.

And the church has more skeletons adorning it. The clue? It is the Church of Pergatory.

Tomorrow we head for the Laghi di Monticchio. The weather is supposed to improve a bit tomorrow, and then much more the day after, so we hope to get some good hiking around the lake.

But, you ask, what have we been doing the past 6 months? Ok, here is a quick summary:

Leaving Life Part 2 alone on the hard, we rented a car and drove the Amalfi coast to Rome, stopping at some lovely B&B’s along the way – and of course, Pompei. We will put up some photos in due course.

Winter in Canada

From Rome we flew to England and then onwards to Edmonton.

Now, any of you who know that a) we like to ski and b) Edmonton is freezing cold but has no mountains, will be asking what on Earth are we doing in Edmonton?

Alas, Allisen and family moved there from Kelowna a year ago. Ceu sold the house in Kelowna, So, given that we are now homeless AND she wants to visit the grandchildren, we ended up in Edmonton. Well, what else could we do?

Having arrived, the first thing to do was, of course, to get sick. We spent a full month doing that – colds, flu etc. This, we believe, is the direct result of having temperatures of minus 20 deg outside, and plus 25 deg inside. Fortunately we had managed to rent an apartment literally 10 feet away from Allisen’s, so there was lots of visiting with the grandkids.


First on the agenda was Hallowe’en



Captain America to the rescue

Captain America to the rescue


And some tobogganing (pre-thumb) :


And Jonah’s 3rd birthday:





When we finally recovered, so we joined a local hiking group and did a couple over very nice walks along the river in downtown Edmonton, and in nearby Devon. We specially bought some mini-crampons to put on our boots so as to survive the icy terrain.



We also went to the Edmonton Rodeo with Virgilio (Ceu’s brother) and Lourdes (who took the photo).


And visited Virgilio’s farm, where Noel got a bit more practice with his Bobcat driving.


Since there are still no mountains in Edmonton we decided we might as well occupy our time looking for an investment property. So we found a nice Duplex consisting of two large apartments, one upstairs and one down that we liked the look of. So we put in an offer with a closing date of Jan 9th. No, don’t worry, we have no intention of living there, this is just for rentals.


But first it was time for Christmas – and visits from Josh and Ben from England. We had a great time and spent Christmas itself over at Virgilio’s ‘cabin’ (aka 3-bedroom house) by Calling lake 2 hours north of Edmonton. We tramped across the frozen lake, and cut ourselves a Christmas tree from the woods.




But then I got too tired, so Tiago had to take over


We were all rewarded with some marshmallows


We even went tobogganing down an icy hill in Edmonton – where Ceu promptly crashed into some idiot at the bottom who wouldn’t move. The result was a broken thumb – ‘skier’s thumb’ – which would be fine if she had actually got some skiing in.

The boys then left, the Duplex was bought, and so it was time to move out of the apartment and into the Duplex to do some renos. We upgraded countertops, converted a bath to a bath and shower, repaired tiles, replaced sinks, varnished hardwood floors, and generally turned it into a delightful home. All this with Ceu wearing a cast on her right hand.





Then we rented it out to two nice families, both of home moved in on Feb 1st., thus kicking us out of our accommodation again.

So we hit the road in our rental car and headed via Kelowna to Vancouver to visit with Jessica. There we helped her to move  into a lovely new apartment in White Rock. We also fit in the Chinese New Year and some fantastic Chinese and Japanese meals. But still no skiing.





Once we had found Jessica a new home, we went back to Kelowna to spend a week with Uncle John and Aunt Lou.


Naturally we also caught up with other family members, attended a funeral (Mrs Byland, mother of uncle John Byland) and had a good drinking session in Vernon with ski patrol buddies.

And the skiing? Well, we tried. But conditions on the hill were so bad that we didn’t even venture up. This is because it was a very weird winter for weather – first a big freeze and snow dump, but then several weeks of really warm weather, wrecking all the snow. In fact, while we were doing the Edmonton renos we even had temperatures up to PLUS 8 deg! Which even allowed me to repair some concrete in the driveway.

But no skiing.

Finally we returned to Edmonton and stayed a week with Lourdes while Virgilio was away in Portugal.

We ended our stay in Edmonton by getting married on Friday August 13th. Yes, after talking about it for about 4 years we finally did it! Just Allisen and nephew Jessie as witnesses. Followed by a delicious meal out at a Japanese Tapas bar.

The Happy Couple. But we are always happy!

The Happy Couple. But we are always happy!

Back in England and Wales

Then mid March we departed for England once again.

This time we rented a canal boat in North Wales and had a great holiday with Mum and Dad. The Welsh weather even gave us sunshine for the whole week. If you even get the chance, this is a holiday not to be missed.



We even had perfect conditions to view the partial eclipse of the sun. Yep, that is the sun, not the moon. Well, actually, it is both – the sun obscured by the moon.





Just six inches of cast iron between us and a 120 foot drop into the river Dee below.


Back in Stubbington (South Coast of England, near Portsmouth) we then did an ISAF Sea Survival and Safety course. This included splashing around in a swimming pool trying to get into a liferaft fully clothed while the shore party were throwing buckets of water at us. Great fun and quite instructive!

Since Mum’s 86th birthday was coming up, we decided to buy her and old 9.5mm movie projector. And then we watched movies made by her father in 1938-1942 – including Mum’s birth and her first 4 years of life.

My mum, Heidi, aged 2, with her grandmother Emma

My mum, Heidi, aged 2, with her grandmother Emma, extracted from the 9.5mm movie.

My sister Mitzi, Ceu  and Dad celebrating Mum's 86th birthday.

My sister Mitzi, Ceu and Dad celebrating Mum’s 86th birthday.

We also saw some footage of the very same canal boat holiday that I had done 40 years ago!  The road traffic was less, but the canal and the boats looked just the same!

And now we are back in Italy. So now you know what we did – and why we had NO SKIING!

Bah humbug 🙁 .

One Response to “What We Did All Winter”

  • Honeydew #1:

    Oh, bah humbug is right! Hahaha!

    Thanks for the nice visit, despite your moans and groans of being in Edmonton for a few months, it is always Nice to have you guys ‘home’ 😉

    Love you both! Safe sails.

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