Sunday, 16 October 2011

Settling in... maybe....

We've been here a couple of weeks and  seem to have run our way rapidly through the check-list of everything that is Naples.

Minor repairs (guest bathroom tap aka faucet), major repairs (the water heater aka immersion heater) - no cost, courtesy of a contract we have with a repair company ,  meals out at every one of our usual eateries from crabs' legs at Grand Buffet to Chicken Marsala at Carrabas and everything in between.  We have done the concert in the park, been to the beach ; as for shopping, we've done that and more.  We have staggered under the weight of our usual huge food shopping to restart the empty cupboards and giant fridge/freezer and visited all of our regular large and small stores all over town, which was swiftly followed by returning stuff to all our large and small stores all over town.  This even included a bread machine (!).  We have just been to see Jane Eyre at the library.. so, now can I come home?

We hit the beach yesterday afternoon around 3pm for an hour and a half.  It was 83 degrees F and Ken tells me the Gulf is at the same temperature right now, so he was in his element  literally immersed in it.  Meanwhile I sweltered and fidgeted and counted the minutes.  Ungrateful wretch I hear you cry and you are right.  I also hear many 'Poor Ken's' - right again.

For the first couple of years when we moved to this apartment, we had a resident frog who lived on our outside lamp;  presumably munching the moths etc. which were attracted to the light.  He used to leave little mounds of frog concrete which had to be hacked off in our first grand cleaning session on arrival.  Believe me nature takes over rapidly in our six months absence in the summer in this climate.

Last year the frog decamped and we had the prettiest of green lizards who only stayed a couple of days until he caught on to the idea that the humans had retuned.  Here he is again to welcome us this year but, again, he has moved on to pastures new. Don't you just love his backward toes.
 This was another of  Mother Nature's little gems outside the bedroom window.  I thought it was a wasps nest but the chap who came to get rid of it said it was yellow-jacket bees. He also said it was a good size but had removed a larger one earlier in the week - the honey was still in his truck!  Luckily the association pays for this little task - $350!!!!  As of today we seem to have got rid of the nest but not the bees.  The nest, incidentally, is a fantastic structure made out of paper which the bees make from slivers of wood and their digestive system.  I did ask if they could be left alone but was answered by both people as if I was a complete lunatic.  I have since discovered that they nest in your eaves and loft and eat the wood and plaster, so maybe not a good idea to keep them.  As for relocating I doubt there is a bee relocating service in Naples.  Everything would be sterilised if it were possible.

This is a picture of our first (Jazz Band) concert at Cambier Park.  It was a hit and miss sort of day weather wise; the rain held off for a long time but eventually we did have a shower.  Most of the audience ran for the hills but dammit man, we're British.  High eighties and a brief shower sitting under a tree - not really a major challenge.  We stuck it out to the end.  For this we are promised a party at the leader's house at the end of the season - Oh Yes, you can see me there can't you?  You were needed, Sue, the umbrella ladies were also a bit sparse.  They said they were going for the Guinness Book of records for the least number of umbrella ladies on stage.  The most is something like 2,000 - bit too far to go for that title.

So, as I say, we are here and we dig in deeper each day.  I am not as down with it as I was last year and am I just  trying really hard not to wallow in misery and remain as positive as I can.  I'm actually pretty useless at that as I am a glass-half-empty person by nature.  Cynicism was invented for me.  

The beach was hot and itchy, the meals out are American and I crave some simple clean cooking and vegetables.  Everything seems structured on fat, sugar, salt and... oh yes.... don't forget the cheese!  I can't buy lots of food things I would buy at home and so I feel adrift when I'm planning meals.  The sunshine is wonderful and the scenery lovely but it barely changes - oh for a bit of drama!  I have nothing to wear as most of my clothes here were (UK size) 18 and 20 and I am now 14/16.  TV is even more appalling than ours....  see what I mean about being a misery. 

The major positive (weather aside) is that it is all still so very civilised over here and people are charming and kind and service in restaurants and shops is a delight.  The apartment is nice, the community is nice and I always love the generous size of all things American.  I hate the cooker though.  I thought I'd just throw that in just in case you thought I'd been body-snatched by Pollyanna.  It is like cooking over an open fire.  The elements at the top and the bottom are totally exposed so it is inclined to burn the bottom of things before the top is done.  It is huge, but because I am hugging the centre of the beast for everything I can never get more than two things in without compromising on something.  No wonder they grill and BBQ everything.  Hey ho!  Farewell from paradise for now.

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