A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road signA drive down the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento to Positano and beyond reveals breath-taking vistas at each and every turn. Terraced vineyards, fragrant lemon groves cascading down to the shore and pastel-hued villas cling precariously to the unlikeliest of slopes. The coast's outstanding Mediterranean landscape with its unique blend of cultural and natural value have earned it a well-deserved place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 

During the summer months the traffic is horrendous. With buses, cars, scooters and coaches all vying for space along the coastal road. As there are so many hairpin bends to negotiate, it's perhaps fortunate that vehicles don't have chance to build up speed. Somehow it all just seems to work out fine in the end and the drivers are far more patient than I imagined.

Amalfi Coast road, Italy

Positano was one of Italy's best kept secrets before John Steinbeck's visit in 1953. He wrote, 'Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone. More than sixty years later Positano has lost none of its intrigue and charm.

In Positano's near vertical streets, the houses are a photogenic blend of pink, peach and terracotta. Positano is undoubtedly Amalfi's jewel with its chic restaurants, elegant shopping and price tags to match. The beach (Marina Grande) with its grey sand and pebbles has fenced-off areas with chairs and umbrellas for hire, but the crowded public areas are free and the views just as striking.

Top tip: arrive early. The town is picture perfect and that makes Positano a popular tourist haunt. It's narrow streets can make it feel crowded, but if you're brave enough to tackle the near vertical climb from the harbour, restaurants and shops you'll soon lose the crowds.

Positano, Italy, Amalfi Coast

Nestled between the mountains and the sea, Amalfi is famed for its original architecture and scenic beauty. In the 11th century Amalfi once rivalled the ports of Venice and Genoa until an earthquake in 1343 caused most of the city to slide into the sea. 

Amalfi's cathedral (Duomo di Sant' Andrea) is one of the few reminders of the city's illustrious maritime past. Built originally in the 10th century, the cathedral's carved bronze doors were cast in Constantinople around 1000 AD.

Top tip: meander away from Piazza Duomo to find competitively priced cafes and restaurants.

Amalfi, Italy

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

The Week That Was... 10th July 2016

It's been an interesting week. One of those where you think everything's under control, only to realise that life has a tendency to change the best laid plans. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just needed more juggling and time management than I'd imagined. I'm optimistic that the week ahead will be a quieter one as we're off on holiday...  

If I'm not around much during the next week it's because we're on holiday to Sorrento. This will be my first trip to Italy and I'm looking forward to quaffing Prosecco, sampling authentic Italian food and exploring the Amalfi Coast along with Mr A and daughter, Olivia. Hopefully there will be lots to write about when I arrive home.

I'll be reading Moving, the latest release from Jenny Eclair (who also happens to be one of my favourite authors) while I'm away. If I love it as much as I've loved everything else she's written, there may be a review at a later date.

For those of you who don't know already, both daughters received 2:1s in their chosen degree subjects. Obviously, I am one very proud mum and can't wait for their graduation ceremonies during the same week in September.

We enjoyed a Skype call with daughter, Sophia, in Oregon as she was celebrating Independence Day and staying at a friend's house from camp. Modern technology is a wonderful thing isn't it?! She's 5000 miles from home and it was lovely to see her.

The Family pet
The cat has been unimpressed since Olivia arrived home from uni. Three year's worth of belongings abandoned on the floor of her summer residence (the conservatory) did not make the family pet at all happy. Each time she contemplated snoozing the afternoon away, she would turn and look as if to say, 'Seriously, what do you expect me to do with all this? I don't recall giving permission for all this stuff to be left in my favourite sleeping place.' On Monday, we made amends and sifted through Olivia's belongings and ended up  either donating, recycling or binning most of it. We were finally forgiven when the cat could see the floor and stretch out again for her many naps during the day, although naturally, she insisted on wrapping her paws around a chair and sleeping in a small corner of the room.

Falling asleep on the sofa
There has been a lot of this during the past week. Consequently I've missed the end of almost everything I've watched on TV and required updating by Mr A. I'm hopeful that the holiday will offer a much-needed reprieve after several crazy weeks involving long hours and moving the girls back home after their time away at university.

While I'm away...
If there's Wi-Fi I'll be around, tweeting and posting holiday photos and if not, then I'm going to miss you and promise to catch up just as soon as I'm back. I have scheduled some recent and not so recent posts for while I'm away and there's lots to look forward to on the blog, including a giveaway and a couple of book reviews once I'm home.

Wishing you all a fabulous week ahead.

Love and best wishes


Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Sometimes I pretend to be normal...

We were up at 4am and on the road by 5 the weekend before last. The journey to Falmouth is 250 miles from home and from experience, it's best tackled early in the morning. We arrive at our daughter's house by 9:30am, and we're on the beach by ten sipping much-needed coffee, devouring biscuits and slipping in and out of our waterproof jackets as the weather alternates between drizzling rain and blistering sunshine. It rains as we eat our picnic on the beach. We stay there anyway and make the best of it.

'Would it be OK if I invited a friend for dinner tonight?' Olivia asks as we drop her home afterwards.

'Yes, that's fine,' I add.

'I have something I need to ask,'she adds. 'Do you think you could pretend to be normal while we're out?' Her comment is a harsh one. Aren't all families slightly crazy with their in-jokes and unique perspective on the world?

I promise that I will behave, but feel well and truly chastised by my daughter.

It's always a pleasure to meet up with our daughters' friends from university and E is lovely. On Olivia's recommendation, we head to a restaurant in the centre of town that's popular with students and enjoy our evening meal.

Restaurants in Falmouth, Cornwall

As I was up early and it has been a crazy day, a single glass of wine intoxicates more quickly than usual, but I try to pretend that I'm 'normal' (whatever that might be) and remind myself that on a good day I can fake normality rather well. I stick to 'safe' topics such as plans after university, cats, (E has several) and hopes that she and Olivia will remain in touch. It's all gone rather well, but with tiredness comes the possibility of saying something daft. Olivia is looking at me with a look that says, 'See, you can do this when you want to.'

My philosophy is more along the lines of... 'life's too short to be normal, why pretend?'

Jools Holland is playing in town and we meander towards the music after enjoying our meal. The concert is screened off, but we hear perfectly and occasionally catch glimpses of what's going on behind the mesh fence. It's a delightful end to a tiring day.

Falmouth, Cornwall

We stand on the pier behind the shops and restaurants and the clouds are perfect for cloud spotting. I deliberate over whether or not my daughter would approve of this topic, but decide to go with it anyway. I spot a fish and a rabbit and Mr A spots a cloud shaped like a chicken drumstick. I snort with laughter and E finds it all rather amusing. I get the impression that we have wandered too far from the realms of normality as Olivia dishes out a disapproving look. As the concert finishes, Mr A and myself make our excuses and return to the hotel, leaving the students to party.

The following morning we meet up with Olivia and drive to Sennen Cove and Porthcurno for rain-soaked walks along sea-misted beaches. We do this a lot in the UK. If you stay in waiting for the weather to become less inclement, you'd spend most of your life indoors. The day feels more like November than June.

Over a lunch of carrot and coriander soup, while attempting to thaw and dry out a little, Olivia pipes up with, 'Well you've completely fooled E, she thinks you're lovely and wants to come and stay when she's doing her master's.'

'Oh, it would be a pleasure to see her,' I add.

'Would it?' said my daughter. 'I have no idea how the hell you'd pretend to be normal for that long,' she says.

My daughter may have a point.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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Saturday, 2 July 2016

12 Simple Ideas For Making the Most of Summer

Aloha, Summer 2016I'm all for making the most of lazy days and spending time in the great outdoors during the summer months. As both daughters finish university, there are plans to spend as much time as possible with daughter, Olivia, while Sophia leaves to work in the US until September. I am hoping that this summer will be a fabulous one despite missing Sophia a lot.

According to George Gershwin... 'Summertime, and the livin is easy...' epitomises everything that summer should be. A time for kicking back and taking time out to enjoy simple pleasures and exploring the great British countryside.

Here's my essential checklist for summer 2016...

1. Download a playlist that's filled with fabulous summer memories and perfect for warm summer days...

Sunglasses, summer, playlist

2. Go for a really long walk and return home only after a leisurely lunch outside the pub...

Pub lunch, summer, outdoors

3. Make the most of sunny days and warmer weather to attend local sporting events...

Regatta, summer

4. Take an early morning walk and try to spot some wildlife...

Early morning, walks, wildlife

5. Take a trip to the beach and dip your toes in the sea (or maybe wade in a little further if you're feeling brave!).

Beach, paddle, toes

6. Make S'mores on the barbecue...

S'mores, barbecue, marshmallows

How to make...
  • Take 2 biscuits (digestives and cookies both work well) but I prefer Graham Crackers (which aren't easy to find in the UK).
  • Place a square of chocolate onto each of the biscuits (Hershey's is used traditionally, but any chocolate works well).
  • Skewer a marshmallow and hold it carefully over the flames of the barbecue while rotating so that it cooks evenly. This is cooked when golden-brown in colour.
  • Place the marshmallow on top of the chocolate without removing the skewer. 
  • Place the remaining chocolate and biscuit on top of the cooked marshmallow.
  • Press down slightly so that the hot marshmallow melts the chocolate and sticks the s'more together.
  • Remove the skewer and wait a few seconds before eating.  

7. Drink hot chocolate under the stars (and wrap up in a blanket when the temperature start to fall).

Hot chocolate, night sky

8. Make a daisy chain and give it to someone you love...


9. Go strawberry picking and spend the rest of the day enjoying a bowl or two and maybe enjoy a jug of Pimms :o)

Strawberry picking

10. Spend time watching the clouds and make pictures out of the formations...

Cloud watching

11. Make a picnic and head off for a day filled with adventure. Why not make an alternative selection of sandwiches such as Peanut butter, banana and honey?

Picnic, adventure, outdoors

12. Enjoy those great summer book releases and read outside in the sunshine...

Book, summer, reading outside

Here's to making the most of summer and hoping that the great British weather is glorious in 2016.

Are there any more you'd add to the list?

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton

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