Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sicilian diary extracts................

The rolling limestone hills are parched. Grass is a wispy, shriveled dried up golden brown, the dominant colour. On every hillside are small tumbled down stone barns, walls cracked, stones fallen, roofs sagging. In places prickly pear cacti dominate the rocky alcoves below the limestone scar outcrops. It is stunning countryside.

We've seen plenty of small residential side roads, gravel tracks, pot holed lanes to nowhere. The satnav has hissy fits and deliberately takes us into un-drivable areas. The poor car rattles, rolls, it's wheels get locked in grooves causing it to track its own way. What I would give for my 4 x 4 at home!

Today I have used five public toilets on our travels and it has cost me 3 in payment to enter the toilets. Middle aged men sit outside them on chairs and get quite agitated if you fail to proffer at least 50 cents on your entry or exit. I'm sensing most are privately owned so maybe they are getting some small income from them? I can't quite decide whether to feel indignation at having to pay to pee or admiration for the entrepreneurial spirit shown.

We sat on a wall under an ancient olive tree, it's canopy providing welcome relief from the searing afternoon sun and ate cheese topped bread rolls and freshly picked oranges in the gentle breeze. Leaves above fluttered and whispered their song to us and cicada serenaded us with their distinctive chirrups from within the Mediterranean scrub. We giggled at our adventures in Piazza Armerina, plotted our next route for the afternoon and slowly relaxed and unwound. And as I glanced at her indoors sunning her legs and peeling her orange with precision, I remembered why I am the luckiest man on the planet

"So much viticulture. It extends across rolling gentle valley slopes, even clinging to vertiginous mountainsides. The vines are trained across wires; each plant lovingly encouraged to stretch its limbs sideways from its main stalk. Where it is done extensively, the rows of vines are covered with thin, almost transparent mesh netting, tied off at the edges in large knots and pulled by cord downwards to stakes in the ground. Such practices give some hillsides a turquoise shimmering appearance from a distance. It was quite disconcerting first seeing a translucent shimmering 'sea' on a hillside! Below these large netted areas which cover several hectares are crumbly light brown, almost white soils, well drained and arranged in neat, measured low furrows. Surprisingly, underneath is quite light and bright allowing the vital sunlight to reach the green leaves thus allowing that most astonishing of processes to occur, photosynthesis". 

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