DSC_4054.jpg Apologies to all for the two month break in this blog. I realise that I should never promise to write a major “next installment” as I did back on the 9th May when time was already tight. Guilt then creeps in which prevents any posting. That aside I have been writing a major article along several proposals all of which take thinking time. Add to that a major project or two and time has been a scarce commodity. I am now, finally on holiday and although I still have that paper to finish off I hope to get back into the swing of things by reinstating the tradition (well I’ve done it for several years so its a tradition) of a daily holiday blog. That should set up a new entrainment pattern and I promise some serious material when I get back home on the 10th August. Lots of new material stored up and I will work on it over the next couple of weeks. So if you don’t want the holiday blog, turn off your RSS feed until the 10th.

This is the first with the whole family for a few years and even then participation is staged. Huw and I flew out today and will be joined by daughter and friend Wednesday then by wife for the final week. My early ideas around the US were rejected by wife for being too far to travel and by “children” due to the age limitation of 25 for alcohol; having made 18+ they don’t want to take a step backwards. The Italian Lakes have the attraction of being close to Venice (the main temptation for wife), Verona for the opera festival (myself) along with sunbathing on Lake Garda (daughter) and shall we say a very relaxed attitude to some of the best alcohol and food in the world. Huw is less demanding than the female members of the party, other than requiring daily internet access to girl friend. Having secured agreement I finally tracked down a apartment in Peschera del Garcia, spent more than I wanted to on flights (no one could make up their mind when they would be available so it was too late to use the air miles ) and bought the opera tickets. I had the best of intentions of clearing the decks of work before I left, but inevitably there are hang overs so feel free to pester! I have a couple of hours every morning given the sleeping habits of the rest of the party.

Today was the first day which involved Huw and I getting up at 0400 to make a 0810 flight from Gatwick. We made it with time for a snatched coffee in the BA lounge before an uneventful flight to Verona (some of the best views of the Alps on that route). We had a few hours to kill before the apartment was available and I needed to get back into a drive like an Italian mode, in so we took a side trip to Mantua. In general Italian drivers follow flocking behaviour. The classic fly to the centre of flock, match speed, avoid collision is exactly matched although flock is substituted by a complex goal involving where I want to go and the shortest route. The area around Verona is far less scary than Naples, but it still takes some getting used to. Interesting they are assertive but not aggressive, hesitation is not a good strategy. My main problem to be honest is the electronic handbrake. I hate these things and its going to take a lot of practice before I risk an Alpine Pass or the Dolomites.

Mantua is one of my all time favorite places in Italy; good memories wonderful architecture and two of the best museums in the area. The ( approach over the lakes to a compact town dominated by the Ducal Palace (pictured above) of the Gonzaga family is a delight. That’s before we get to the church with the shark in the roof (that will be reported in the final week) and the restaurant where a very much younger edition of my son managed some projectile vomiting during a stranger’s wedding reception. It was a fleeting visit with time for a few photos and the first pizza of the holiday before heading for the apartment and sleep. We also discovered that the internet connection is slow, expensive and wireless access to confined to the reception area so don’t expect corrections to the text of these blogs and there will be no hotlinks to the key places.

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