Tuesday, 11 November 2008
There was a guy sitting there looking very grumpy and depressed, so I tempted him into conversation and it turned out that he was a landscape gardener of sorts, a designer of water features. Apparently he was in the Pennines looking for ideas and inspiration.
His name was Dougie Knight and he told me that he was responsible for designing the artificial waterfall and water displays at the Chelsea Flower Show each year. In fact, the Show was coming round again soon and he gave me his card, and wrote down the date that the Show would be televised.
He said that he would meet The Queen again there and that each year they had a little chat together. This was all true, by the way, as I did remember to watch it on T.V.
On the following morning, as I was having breakfast at the little cafe in the ancient Market Square, which is reputed to be the highest market place in Britain, I was sharing a table with an elderly couple. By way of conversation, I told them about my meeting with Dougie Knight. When I came to the bit about The Queen, I noticed the old lady giving her husband many digs and kicks and urging him to "go on, tell him!"
Eventually, the old bloke spoke up. He knew The Queen very well, he said, having been a member of a platoon of soldiers whose sole duty during the early part of WW2 was to guard the "Royal Children". Naturally, they spent many hours in each other's company and The Queen addressed them all by their first names. He still got a Christmas card off her each year!
What a co-incidence, could you believe it?
When I got home, I was telling my family and couldn't help bursting out with "how is it I don't know The Queen? Every bugger else does!"
With characteristic lack of sympathy, my eldest son replied;
"Get yourself back to Alston, somebody might introduce you."
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Two man teams participated and, since the starting time was at some ungodly hour in the morning, my mate and I turned up the night before and camped near the starting line. Some enterprising bloke had set up a makeshift bar in a nearby barn, where flat beer was being sold at inflated prices.
My mate Billy advised that we should have "a couple of pints before turning in to help us sleep". After more than a couple, I dossed down around midnight but Billy stayed on "for a nightcap" which lasted until after two in the morning.
Needless to say, he was in a terrible state the next day, hoying up behind every bush, and we slipped further and further behind in the race. It was all down to somebody splashing milk on to his breakfast, he explained (apparently he is allergic to milk) and nothing whatsoever to do with the eight pints and four whiskies he had consumed the night before.
Anyway, by the time we arrived at the first day's finish line, all the decent flat tent pitches were gone in the valley of the overnight camp site and we had to camp on a slope halfway up the hillside. During the night it hammered down with rain and, in the delirium of my exhausted slumbers, I was vaguely aware of howls and cries of distress from the valley below, but I didn't get up to investigate.
On the following morning, I saw how lucky we had been to have arrived so late.
The latrine trenches had overflowed and washed down into the valley among the tents. It was like a flow of yellow lava and many people had been virtually submerged as they slept!
Rock on, Billy, have as many pints as you like.
Sunday, 26 October 2008
I have to say in my own defence that all of my previous visits have been in the calm of midweek afternoons and early evenings, when I had a very favourable impression of the place.
But Saturday night was hell.
The place was packed with people drinking foreign lagers and there were very few real-ale drinkers at all in the place.
Two old guys, laden with sound equipment, were endlessly tuning-up and proving they could count over the microphone (they had the nerve to describe themselves as an "accoustic" band, by the way), every now and again giving forth a riffle of music ("this is what you're going to get, folks, can you possibly wait for it?").
When these ageing would-be pop stars finally got going (after a full HOUR of tuning-up), the amazing thing was that their sound balance was all to hell. They might as well have just walked in off the street, plugged themselves in and started without any preamble.
Anyway, they drove us out of the place
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Consequently, I learned many of the fashionable expressions of London youth. Apparently one "canes" beers in order to become "lashed". Well, I won't spoil his thunder by discussing the beers we downed, except to say that the birch grew red hot with the severity of the caning and I myself became more lashed than Spartacus and his mates ever were!
Oh yes, and next time I visit the Big Lamp, I will definitely order the mince and dumplings.
Friday, 24 October 2008
At 4.0% strength, this golden coloured ale is just about admissable as a "session" beer, which is just as well, since I couldn't stop drinking the stuff. Normally, I don't like to get "tanked up" in the afternoon as it makes me sleepy and ruins my evening, but the Oracle was really tempting.
I can see that I will have to consult it again (and again) in the future!
Apologies to my readers for the long delay in continuing this blog, but I have been very busy completing my latest booklet "Irish Myths and Legends" (see left-hand column).
Saturday, 11 October 2008
In the 1960s, before foreign holidays became the norm, they used to decend in hordes on Whitley Bay every summer and take over the town. All the pubs were full and the promenades were heaving with drunken humanity. Special re-inforcements had to be shipped in by Newcastle City Police, six-foot "flathats" who stood no nonsense. The local lads, if they had any sense, migrated to other towns for their nights out and the girls.....well, they donned their best frocks and lived dangerously!
Yesterday I went over the river to see how things are nowadays in the once-popular resort. It was very sad. The pubs were virtually deserted, despite the fact that it was a Friday night. The old haunts like the Spanish City fairground (see pic) were closed and "under redevelopment". No more rough romances will be sparked off by a ride on the Waltzer, tough dudes sitting unconcerned without holding on as it whirled round madly.
The dance halls and cinemas, like the one pictured here, where local lasses trapped the holidaymakers (and their holiday pay) are crumbling ruins.
Oh Sunny Spain, you've got a lot to answer for!!
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
Unfortunately, a devil of a lot more came in cars to watch the "fun" and all the streets were gridlocked with irresponsibly parked vehicles. People double parked, churned up the grass verges and blocked driveways in their desperation to see "Our Tommy" come staggering in after a magnificent time of two hours forty.
I live close to the finish of the Run, so we have to lock our car in the garage for that day and just give up any hopes of getting the damn thing out.
It was a lovely bright day so I took a walk along to the finish to watch the first few thousand come in. I passed a bar where a crowd of full-bellied fellows were (apparently) staging a lager-drinking contest in honour of the run. They were beside themselves with excitement, chanting and gesticulating like a football crowd, bellies jiggling in time with the words of their rhapsodies.
Runners who had finished began to pass. The lager drinkers mocked them, fingers stabbing the air as they chanted their insults. The runners were dying for a pint but there was "no room at the inn". Wearily, they trudged on by.
When I got back home, the cars were clearing the avenue, bumper to bumper with horns tooting. In the gutter lay a full nappy and many other souvenirs of the Run,
Oh well.....it's only once a year.
Friday, 3 October 2008
This is the area in which Catherine Cookson was born and featured so extensively in her books. I believe that The Alkali was mentioned in her book "The Hanging Man", though I can't confirm that as I've never read any of her works.
After the old houses were knocked down, the area took on a new lease of life as the "Bede Trading Estate" and The Alkali was able to thrive as a factory workers' lunchtime haunt. Nowadays, such are the modern safety regulations that few people have jobs which enable them to take a pint at lunchtime, so it looks like The Alkali has finally come to the end of the road. It's all boarded up and probably awaiting the bulldozers.
Another piece of our local history gone west!
Thursday, 2 October 2008
Saturday, 27 September 2008
Rupert's Ruin is a product of the Springhead Brewery of Newark. I tried a pint recently at my local 'Spoon, The Wouldhave, South Shields, who do great service to the real-ale drinking community by regularly rotating guest ales. The cellarman really knows his business too, and the beer is usually very well-kept, so a fair assessment can be made of it.
It's a beer with a lovely dark colour, full-bodied with an excellent head and fine "legs" as you work your way down the glass (no, I'm not talking about the barmaid).
The brewery advertises it as "full of complex flavours" and CAMRA seem to agree, but I found that the taste is completely overpowered by the bitterness. Of course, I know that "some like it bitter", but this beer is not for me, it's so bitter that I could hardly taste a thing. Bur maybe it's me, maybe it just didn't suit my palate on that particular day.
The name, by the way, celebrates the downfall of the dashing Prince Rupert of the Rhine, who fell out of favour with his uncle, King Charles I, at Newark during the Civil War.
Friday, 26 September 2008
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Friday, 19 September 2008
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Monday, 15 September 2008
I used always to go to a bar known locally as The Zoo, because of the rather exotic characters who frequented the place, but they don't show live sport there anymore. I'm told that it is because Sky T.V have astronomically raised their charges to levels way beyond the possible profit potential of small bars. It's a pity, because there was a great atmosphere at The Zoo, packed as it was with a standing-room-only crowd on match days. It was almost like standing on the terraces in the old days before seating was imposed on football grounds.
Still, at least The Zoo are honest and have removed all the posters which used to plaster the windows, advertising forthcoming games, unlike some other bars. I went into the bar pictured here, attracted by the huge banner displayed outside, and had already ordered my pint before I was told:
"No, we don't show the matches here anymore".
It was bloody annoying, as, no real ale being available, I was stuck with a pint of John Smiths.
Friday, 12 September 2008
I remember once a comedian on stage cracking the joke:
"I dunno, if the Jarmans (Germans) ever do invade, I'm coming here 'cos they'll never find me!"
Much laughter and muted applause.
"And, if they do, the doorman won't let them in."
Roars of laughter and thunderous applause.
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Your email address email@example.com does NOT work with my hotmail and my response to your request has been returned by the "postmaster" as not delivered.
Sorry, but you'll have to try to use another email address.
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Monday, 8 September 2008
Thursday, 4 September 2008
"Next time" I kept thinking, whilst sunning myself and wallowing in the dark brown nectar. Some blokes near me were wallowing in sorrow for Newcastle United, and seemed to be discussing the murder of some people called Wise and Ashley. They drove the sun behind the clouds, so I went inside.
Yesterday I decided to try to follow a circular walk set out in a leaflet I had picked up at the bus station. The walk would take me past the Big Lamp Brewery, so I could have a very appealing little "refreshment stop" (haw-haw) on the way.
Being confused by having taken the wrong bus to the start point, however, I arrived in the little town of Newburn with no idea where to begin. The leaflet seemed to make no sense, so I decided to fasten on one of the landmarks along the way and start from there. Of course the most congenial landmark was the Big Lamp Brewery, so I hailed down a local and received instructions on how to get there.The Big Lamp is a marvellous place (see pic). It is the oldest micro-brewery in the North-East and was founded in 1982, more or less as a hobby. By developing the buildings of a derelict pumping-station on the North bank of the Tyne, the present brewery was gradually formed. Built up from virtually nothing, the brewery is a true testament to business enterprise, an example to everyone of what can be achieved.
What I particularly like about this brewery is that, unlike most enterprises which expand and grow complacent as their customer base increases, the quality of its products has actually improved over the years. In the mid 1980s I used to frequent one of their early outlets, The Old Fox in Felling and, quite frankly, I was not very impressed with their "home brew", as people called it. Now, as a result of hard work and experience, I would say that they are the premier microbrewery in the North East and their beers can stand comparison with anyone's, nationally.
Anyway, I've written enough for today, so I'll tell you more about the beer tomorrow.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Once, when I was on a bike run deep in the heart of pitmatic Durham, I dared to wheel my bike into the Foyer of a Workingmen's Club, bearding the lion in his den as it were, and asked the doorman if he would sign me in for a drink.
"It'll cost you 50p, son" he gruffly replied, nodding towards the charity box.
"What about my bike?" says I. The surrounding estate was bandit country and I didn't dare leave the bike outside.
"Just put it up against the radiator over there, lad".
I complied and went to the toilet before going to the bar. As I emerged from the toilet, I was just in time to hear the authoritive voice of a passing Committee Man.
"Whose is this f...ing bike, get it out of here!"
This drew a rapid and belligerent reply from my benefactor, the doorman:
"You leave that bike alone, you nosy count (well, it was another word actually, which decency prevents me from writing).
"Bikes is not allowed!"
"I told the lad he could put it there, you piss off"
Embarrassed, I said:
"It's O.K, I'll shift it"
"No you won't! You go and get your pint, son (I was over 50 at the time, by the way), take no notice of this nosy b.....d."
"Bikes is against the rules!" roared the Committee Man, who had now been joined by another.
I went to the bar and peacefully enjoyed my pint, while the battle raged in the Foyer. Everyone who entered the bar had a big grin on his face. I had lit a touchpaper and the place was alive with the excitement of it all.
When I left, my bike was still there against the radiator.
As always, the doorman had won.
Sunday, 31 August 2008
Friday, 29 August 2008
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Friday, 22 August 2008
I must have felt in the mood for light beers that day, because I also particularly enjoyed the Westoe IPA, a very light summery ale which went down dangerously smoothly. I thought it ironical that IPAs, or India Pale Ales, were brewed especially for the troops and exported to India in the days of the Raj, conventional heavy beers being considered dangerous to their health in the hot climate.
My Grandad was out there at the time (1890-99) serving with the Highland Light Infantry (he's the tallest bloke at the back in the pic) and I'll bet he sank many a pint of this golden nectar.
Some things never change.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Of course it didn't work and just caused a lot of trouble for all concerned.
I remember one occasion when I was a very junior officer, that the Captain came to the bridge when I was on watch. He was cowardly sort of bloke who was always sloping the shoulders and dumping tough jobs on other people, so I wasn't surprised when he said;
"There's too much noise from the crew's bar. Go down and tell the buggers to close it right now".
Imagine that, telling a crowd of hairy-assed sailors to stop drinking!
Anyway, I went down and found riotous proceedings taking place. An old sailor called H.P Mason was staggering between the tables singing tunelessly at the top of his voice. He was clutching an empty beer can stuck on the end of a broomstick for a mike. Others were regarding him sourly and hurling abuse.
Meekly I suggested to the Bosun that the Captain wanted him to close the bar. He told me to f... off, but he said it very politely.
I had just returned to the bridge and told the Captain that they were "closing soon" when a tremendous uproar broke out, with cries and howls and sounds of splintering furniture. I scuttled back down and found a huge free-for-all taking place. H.P was somewhere at the bottom of the pile and the Bosun was sitting calmly watching the melee.
"What's going on" I asked.
The Bosun sighed.
"It's H.P's fault. As usual, he was hogging the mike".
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
In the ancient market town of Hexham, for instance, the local 'Spoon is housed in an old cinema, The Forum. Many of the old cinema's features have been retained, such as the split-level floor leading down from the former foyer, and I imagine it is quite a nostalgic trip for some of the older folks who visit the pub.
Anyway, I notice that it is often packed in the afternoon with senior citizens. No doubt they are enjoying a sort of "race memory" ritual of the matinee!
In the bar, there was a big party of deaf people (sorry if this term is no longer "politically correct" - I am constantly being bollicked by my sons on this subject) and it was very interesting to watch them signing. I've never seen such a quiet argument and what amused me most was that everyone seemed to be "talking" at once. Mind you, I think that everyone was "listening" too!
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Sunday, 17 August 2008
To my amazement, the place was fairly full of normal-looking people. Not only that, but there were very few beards or pregnant-looking men in sight. This couldn't be a CAMRA Festival, thought I, I've landed in the wrong place.
Beam me up, Scotty, toot de sweet, and the tooter the sweeter!
But the line of beefy guys behind the row of hand-pumps at the bar reassured me, so I bought my tickets, hired my glass and joined the fray.
I was soon in deep conversation with a pleasant couple who had motored up from the monkey-free zone of Hartlepool, about forty miles away, especially for the Festival (what some people will do for beer!).
They were Mike and Dorothy (see pic) and he told me he was a fiddler.
I said that he didn't look much like a Councillor, but he explained that he meant a violinist, a violin teacher at that. Fascinating stuff. He was one of those guys who disbelieves everything you say, but he laughed at my jokes, so I forgave him. Suddenly a guy who looked like Rasputin came in and we all felt finally convinced that this WAS a beer festival after all (doubts had lingered, tormenting our minds).
Meanwhile the beer was having its effect and a feeling of benign well-being set in. First I tried Orkney Red MacGregor, a bitter, fruity, hoppy ale. Nice enough, but not quite to my taste. Next came Thornbridge Jaipur, an IPA and, as such, light and pleasantly sweetish with a bitter aftertaste. It rather "grew" on me. Then I tried the Houghton Brewery's new version of that old favourite Double Maxim, which the now defunct Vaux Brewery used to produce. It was a pleasant enough drink with a distinctive taste, but did NOT compare with old "Double-Max" that I knew and loved. It certainly did not have as much body and was nowhere near as creamy as its predecessor.
After that I had an excellent glass of Nethergate Old Growler, a full-bodied porter, dark and powerful with a sort of coffee aftertaste. Finally, and best of all, was Ironbridge Brewery's Shropshire Gold. Now there's a session beer for you, cool, sharp and light. I had found my ideal and I got no further........
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
I sampled three, Butcombe Gold, a lovely blonde hoppy beer I had had before and liked, Cornish Mutiny and Hancock's HB. All were clear as a bell, cool and very well kept, but I think that the Hancock's HB took first prize on the day. I cannot say the same for my photography, as I seem to have suffered from the shakes when I pictured the blackboard. All I can say is that I took the photo after I had drunk the beer!
The atmosphere of the pub, with all the "olde worlde" nicknacks and photos, was great and there was good, relaxed conversation to be had for the asking.
This is the favourite watering hole of the locally-famous "Erasmus Bottle", raconteur and storyteller extraordinaire so, as a bonus to drinkers, a very entertaining free show is sometimes to be had.
An old bar dog lay across the doorway panting (it was a hot day), eyeing me enviously as I sank my beer.
It was a dog's life for him, but for me the world seemed a great place to be in.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
When I was in Italy in June, I visited the beautiful University town of Urbino.
During term-time, the population of this ancient walled city triples as thousands of stylish young people throng its streets, bars and cafes.
Just walking through the crowded, narrow medieval streets at about 6 p.m, the time of the passeggiata, is an experience never to be forgotten. At this time, everyone is out, dressed at their best, like peacocks displaying their attractions. And in the case of some of these young people, the attractions are considerable!
In the main square, however, before the Palazzo Ducale, there was a hideous advertising blight.
A new beer was being launched and a massive nest from which a newly-hatched bottle of ale was emerging had been plonked down, ruining the lovely view.
"Che bruto!" said many who passed by, but it was effective, I had to admit. After all, you couldn't help but notice the damn thing!
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Monday, 4 August 2008
What I do remember is that, glancing round the bar, I saw many of my contemporaries, blokes who had been real tough guys when I was at school, the sort who used to take your marbles off you. They were all knacked, hollow-chested, coughing, and walking with sticks. I felt that I could wrap them all up single-handedly (the beer was talking to me). Fortunately, I didn't try, otherwise I suspect that I would be writing this from hospital.
By the way, the headline is from an old Mad magazine and the article began:
"How the devil it got its arm tied behind its back I don't know......etc, etc, etc".
Thursday, 31 July 2008
Monday, 28 July 2008
There are many legends concerning its origin, one being that the local squire was so good to his tenants, keeping their rents low etc, that they decided to erect a monument to him. When they were halfway through the construction, the squire asked them what they were up to and they told him. His response was to say that, if they could afford to waste money on such a folly, they could afford to pay him more, so he put all their rents up! Needless to say, the Monument was never completed.
Anyway, the National Trust have spoiled it all by putting up a plaque declaring that , in reality, the Monument commemorates a Grand Master of the Freemasons called Thomas, Earl of Zetland. Blooming spoilsports!!
It was a lovely day, with an almost cloudless sky, and the Monument was surrounded by a most colourful display of wild flowers. The weather this year has been wonderful for the vegetation here in the North of England, if not for the people.
It’s quite a toil to get to the top of the hill so I was really ready for a pint when I finally came back down. Nearby is a fantastic development, which has been landscaped over acres of former pit land, and there is a pub, The Country Park to serve it.
In I went at the double, almost treading on my tongue (I must have looked like a Spaniel) and was most gratified to find that they had that fine brew, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, on tap. The pint they served me was a bit cloudy, but as tasteful as ever, and I was very impressed with the friendliness of the bar staff. What impressed me more was the segregation of the pub, a spacious room being set aside for drinkers, with no meals or children allowed in. Marion and I sat in a lovely window seat and enjoyed a couple of drinks in perfect peace. This is how it should be in a pub.
All landlords please note!
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
I remember some years ago when I was in Allendale Town at the King’s Head, a Marston’s pub which serves a reliably fine pint, that I overheard a tale about a certain member of the Royal family who had just days before visited the place. This HRH, who is very interested in farming and country affairs, had been looking around the estate of Lord Allendale and had called at the King’s Head to have a crack on with the local farmers before leaving the area.
A beefy, grizzled old farmer in a check shirt was telling the tale:
“Aye, the lad was talking to Big Alisdair and he was really enjoying the conversation, but this poncy fella kept coming in and saying things like ‘really, sir, we must be leaving’”.
Growls and grumbles all round.
“Well, ye knaa, the lad’s really knowledgeable an’ all, he knaa’s what he’s talking about”.
Nods and general mutters of agreement.
“But this poncy bloke kept spoiling things and finally he gets hold of the lad and kind of hustles him out the bar.”
Shocked exclamations and roars of “Nivva in the world!”
“Wye, Big Alisdair followed them out and, after the lad had driven off, he gets aholt of this poncy bloke by the scruff of the neck and puts him up against the wall. ‘Ye leave that lad alone in future, he’s a friend of mine’ he says, an’ ye know what?”
“The poncy bloke pulls his jacket apart and he’s got a gun on.”
Sensation all round and cries of disbelief.
“Wye, what did Alisdair do?”
“Nowt, man, he’s not frightened of no guns, he was in the Northumberland Fusiliers.”
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Before I had even left Dinnington, however, I was beset with temptation when I had to pass The Bay Horse and the village CIU club, both of which looked to be fine establishments. Never mind, there will always be another day!
The day was really bright and sunny by now, a lovely afternoon for walking, and I much enjoyed the rural scenery on either side of the road. This is barley country, the heavy clay soils of the north favouring that cereal, rather than wheat. Much of the barley used by our brewers is grown here and I rejoiced to see it thriving so well.
I passed a place called Bellasis Bridge, which crosses the River Blyth. Hereabouts there are many "Private" and "Keep out" signs, a peculiarly English obsession. In Italy, farmers and countryfolk are always pleased to see walkers and rarely let you pass without exchanging a few friendly words. In Scotland too you are legally free to walk anywhere, providing you do no damage....but NOT in England.
When I finally arrived in Stannington, I was growing footsore and was glad to call it a day. There, immediately before my rejoicing eyes, was The Ridley Arms, a huge country inn which, like so many such establishments, is more of a restaurant than a pub nowadays. Nevertheless, they didn't try to push any food on me and I was able to buy an excellent pint of Black Sheep Bitter at a reasonable price.
As I said, the place is huge, with many nooks and crannies, interesting artifacts and pictures of local scenes among the decor. There was a very calm and up-market atmosphere and I imagine that it is an ideal place to bring visitors whom you wish to impress for a business meeting or lunch. Having said that, the menu didn't interest me, as I prefer plainer fare. For gourmets, however, I'm sure the place would have a definite appeal.
I sipped my Black Sheep, had another, and enjoyed the rest before catching a bus homewards.
Thursday, 17 July 2008
They had no real ale, but I haven't exactly signed the pledge in that respect, so I settled for a pint of McEwan's Best Scotch. This dark, fruity beer, with its fine head, reminded me of my youth. Of course, in those days, all beers were real ale, delivered in wooden barrels and served through hand pumps. Despite the fact that the beer was slightly cooler than it ought to be and slightly less full-bodied than the beer I remembered, the taste was the same and brought back a flood of memories.
Memories of "spit and sawdust" old dives where no food was to be had apart from crisps and the odd pickled egg crowded into my mind as I sat and drank in good company. This was a real pub with real people in it and I certainly felt more at home there than I had in The White Swan.
A general conversation was being held in which anyone could participate. Someone asked if I was walking far and I told them my plans to push on to the next big village, Stannington.
"It's a canny walk to Stannington, mind you," I was informed, "but there's a pub there, The Ridley Arms."
The familiar temptation came over me to abandon the rest of my expedition and just knock back a few pints in The Mason Arms.
But I resisted and pressed on when I had finished my pint.
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Monday, 7 July 2008
Friday, 4 July 2008
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Thursday, 26 June 2008
As a consequence, some of the hill-villages are like old folks homes, with fitter neighbours looking after those less fortunate than themselves.
Sometimes, when I have passed through a village such as this one, Aiola, all sweaty and weary from a long hike, the old folk have appeared at their doors, clucking their tongues at the state of me and offering ice-cold drinks.
On Sundays, the winding roads up to the hills are often packed with cars as families make the weekly trek to see to their old parents and grandparents in the villages. It's an Italian way of life