My diary begins on 1 July 2004
[Note from Mike the typist: some words difficult to make out in the original, will be filled in later]
Today I moved into Silver Strand, with my family. There was a rush, a big rush, everybody was packing clothes, toys, torches and sleeping bags. I was very excited and nervous. I made a new friend and his name was Nick.
2 July 04
I played with Nick all day and we had fun coloring. But you always have to say goodbye to the day and so I did.
3 July 04
I finished my coloring with Nick and we had fun racing with his go-kart, wagon and ??? trike then he had to go at about 12:00-12:30. But all was not lost, because I met another friend and he had a unicycle just like me. And we practiced for the rest of the day.
4 July 04
I got up this morning and read some of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Then I practiced some more on my unicycle. Just fell off and landed on my but and believe me it hurt a bit. I'm improving.
The Shelley-Laceys came later on but they had to go.
Nothing much happened today. But he had some fun.
For the rest of the month we had loads of fun. Some days were boring but most were fun or ok. Michael N slept over. Jimmy S was a bit lonely but he would have stayed the night.
I finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
On the last day we had loads of packing to do. I met some friends. They had 7 kids plus their Mum and Dad.
On the day before the last I went on a dummy run for a trip on bikes with Dad. We are not going all the way with him, just a bit and then he is going to go all the way across Ireland. After the dummy run we went to a very nice restaurant in Ashford. It was a Chinese restaurant and Grandma and Granddad said it was an early birthday dinner. I had a spicy dinner but it was not hot apart from a ginger I bit into but the ginger beef was over ??? it was just gorgeous if not better.
After that we moved into Wales or Cymru as they say it. We met the Pineaults there and saw the Slate Mines.
When we came back it was my birthday. We had it at Grandma's house. The next day we camped up at the Sally Gap and the next day after that, I started Dad off with the bike ride. Dad cycled all the way to Connemara and we met Baba and Safta there. We had a great time and on the way back we did a Hawk Walk. Then we stayed in Markus Mary and Grainne's holiday house. And Markus showed one of his maps to me.
Then we stayed Brittas camp and thought that we were going to Redcross. After that we went back to school and on that Friday we moved into a mobile and stayed there for another week. And months went on and nothing much happened that was exciting.
Ferry to France
Then the big day came. We had said all our goodbyes. On Tuesday we said goodbye to Rebecca and Caoimhe and their family. On Wednesday I slept over at Jimmy's. And on Thursday we said goodbye to Sorcha and Grandma and Claire and Granddad. Later on that night we went to Mickey and Anne's but Rosa Sammy and Finn were asleep, so only me, Mum and Dad went. So then I said goodbye to Luke. Even later on that night we went to Anne and Maurice's and I said goodbye to Henry and Leah. Then I was very very tired and went to sleep instantly.
The next day we saw Sorcha and Claire Grandma and Granddad and we said goodbye again. About 1:00 we went to a cafe. We left about 1:30 and we got to the ferry about 4:18 or 4:20. We left off at about 5:20 5:30. I had a good time but Mom was disappointed because she didn't get her baron [sic]. But not too disappointed. We got here all the same, and even though we were rushing it was better to get there quickly because I was beginning in fact I was really feeling sick. So it was pretty late when I went to sleep. It was quarter to 9 when I went to bed and about 9:30 when I went to sleep, writing this. Then on the next day I made an ink mark on the bed and I have to have a bath no I mean a shower. Oh it's my unlucky day, or the beginning of the day. But the rest of the day was good. The shower went all right and I had a very fun time with my new friend. I still can't remember his name.
We got off the ferry and we were driving for 3 and a half days. We had very very very nice foods for all our meals, all of them. Now after the second day, we came to a campsite and we slept over night. I slept in the tent. I went in the ice cold pool (chatter chatter!). Oh I'm just chattering thinking about it. We had soup for dinner. The next day we left that campsite then we went to a farm and the owner had a baby called Antonio. And Antonio will be 1 in 1 week. We slept over with them. We had the most long long LONG so so so so long drive that I don't believe we did it looking back on it. Well then we slept in a little town. In the morning we explored the town and found a bakery van. We bought lovely bread and a pizza thing. ?????????
We went to a city near it was called Matera. There we met Dominico his wife and one of their sons. We drove and collected their other son and with a lot of hassle we drove out of that city to the country where we stayed for 2 nights had some lovely walks. I caught 3 lizards but the first one we put in a dog bowl it ???? ???? Mom's ??? and Mom shook him off her and I couldn't catch him. The second on e was a baby. I caught him by his stomach but I'm too soft hearted to hold him down because he was looking like he was in pain so I left him go. And the third one I caught by the tail and to my shock it broke off and to my bigger shock it was still moving and it continued moving for about 5 minutes. I kept it as proof I caught the lizards.
Living in Giovinazzo (first month)
We looked about the town, after the huge, now when I say huge, I don't mean very big, I mean very very very very HUGE! tidy. Well after that 'huge' tidy, we explored the town; as we walked through the town we saw a medieval section and we entered. It was like a maze, the way the passages were all spilled all over the place they were so scattered around. They had lots of balconies hanging down with washing and the streets were all made out of stone. There was a huge church with a bell that donged every 1/2 an hour. Then we explored the other part of the town. Mom and Rosa went into a supermarket and we the boys and Dad, Dad and us went and found out what shops there was there. There was a phone shop, a bike and motorbike shop and a DVD, CD PS1 and 2 etc. shop.
Now that was the first day, and to catch up I'll speed it up for the rest of the month. Instead of giving you the complete detail of the month, I'll give you some of the important and interesting things.
We have met some people called:
Francesca, our Italian grandmother.
Toni, the ice cream shop keeper
Pierre Luigi, one of my best friends so far,
Dominico, Pierre's Dad and he works in a tax office in Bari,
Nicole, Rosa's new friend.
We have seen some interesting and rare things.
It's not every day that you see octopi and squid, not to mention an olive pressed or a really funny and silly circus with clowns and a Hippopotamus with a gigantic mouth, or a gigantic buca (mouth).
The twin sisters from downstairs whose names are *** and *** took us to the market, and bought us, (the kids) socks and jumpsuits (and some sweets).
There is a playground in the town in a park, and also in the park there's an ice cream shop called PLANET ICE CREAM.
One day it was really hot and we decided to go for a swim. It was so hot we paddled about the place in a beach and we found 3 crabs but one was dead.
One night I and Dad went to an INTERNET CAFE and dad spent most of the time there deleting messages.
Food from Italy
We had some gorgeous bakery food.
You've eaten pizza, right, but you've never eaten anything like pizza from Italy. The same goes for pasta.
What It's Like at the Masseria
At the Masseria we stayed indoors, for the first three or four days. Then when we went outside we had some rather nice walks. We tried the prickly pear that comes from the cactus it was nice but it had lots of seeds in it. The Masseria is an old (about 400 years) stone building from the outside point of view. But inside it's like an ordinary house. It's got a big single room with 3 beds and 2 armchairs. So how we slept was quite cramped, Dad got 1 bed, so did Rosa, and Finn and Mom shared a bed. For Sammy we put the armchairs together to make a bed. Oh and me? I got the floor.
Downstairs it's kind of hard to describe but the room was a semi circle (roughly a semicircle that is). We had to go downstairs to go to the toilet. There's a bunch of old farm tools; one of them was this hammer yokie. It had a wooden head and a long body.
The fields were muddy and all squashy when you walked on them. The mud was very bumpy, like little "bug dunes". The bugs were very strange for people who live (or for people who don't live) in Italy. There were little worms with legs, sort of worm body, lots of caterpillar legs and a hard bone or something on their head. Therefore we called them "pokeys" because they poked us (anyone who held them for more than a minute). There were also ants, ants and anthills (which Finn could not stop himself from breaking). The ants didn't like losing their houses. We found lots of bugs at the big oak tree. There were almond trees, but the almonds were already harvested, and almost all the other trees were olive trees. There was a pigeon house, and not just any one, it was about as old as the house.
There were more buildings. In one there was a dead, I'm not sure what it was, maybe it was a dog. Not so fresh but I took a picture of it. There were little houses called Trulli.
Picking olives was not simple. First they put a mat on the ground around the tree in such a way that it was all the way around the tree. Then they put a shaker on one of the branches and they shake and down come the olives and they pick up the mat and go to the next tree and do the same thing. That's how they pick olives.
School in Italy
The first day at Italian school was very very hard, because (one) I didn't know anybody, (two) I didn't speak their language and (three) I was highly embarassed. By the way the school was called Papa Giovanni. They had this method of going in and saying good day in Italian (buon giorno), then putting their bag on the back of the chair, then going back out of the classroom, hanging up their coats in the corridor and then coming back in the classroom. You have to say buongiorno because if you don't, you get into trouble.
The next day was much better. I sat beside a new friend called Guiseppi. As school went on I had good days and bad days.
On good days I did things like a day we went on an outing to see the Christmas crib. And another day because we were studying the Egyptians, we made Egyptian paper. We took a piece of muslin and layered it down until we had a square about 4 inches on each side. Then we wrapped it up in plastic and set it on the radiator. Towards the end of school, we took the square that was dry and we chose one hieroglyphic (Egyptian writing) and put it on the paper (the Egyptian paper). And on another day we did clay shakers with stones inside. Guiseppi became my good friend and Rocco became a good friend too (Rocco means rock and Guiseppi means Joseph). At break I usually played scacci (chess) with Guiseppi.
On bad days I did things like: well most of the day were boring (the main problem) but there was other problems like understanding people like the teacher during the class and the kids during break, because I didn't understand very well. Communication was hard at times and other times it was very easy.
So I had good days and I had bad days.
A lot of relations came: Rebecca, Caoimhe, Jane, Grandma, Baba and Safta. We all went to Pompeii, the city ruined by Vesuvius. In the amphitheatre, Sammy and Finn were gladiators. Then we went up Vesuvius but we couldn't because it was too covered in snow and we stopped and played in the snow and made a snowman. Imagine that, a snowman on a volcano!
We took a ferry from Bari to Dubrovnik. As we came in towards land we saw lots of little islands. After we landed we drove along the sea until we got to a car park out looking a stoney and shelly beach with a small harbour with sea urchins along the side of it. We had a nice picnic and fun with the urchins. We drove along a peninsula to the ferry that took us to Korcula island. In the town we found a playground, it had a section that looked like a boat. We found a campground that was closed but the friendly owner let us stay there. The camp had goats and hens. We were given goat's cheese, oranges, lemons and eggs. We stayed there for how many days, four I think, but no matter how long we spent there we did have fun. There was a supermarket just over the field and across a road. I went to go shopping there sometimes. I even cycled there when we were at the beach. It was a hot day when we decided to go to a beach. We had fun paddling and playing with the sand and even a picnic. We did a bit of harbour fishing.
After 4 or 5 days, we drove across the island to a ferry right at the end of it. The ferry took us to Split and because it was the daytime we saw lots of other islands on the way there. From Split we drove straight along the coast to a campsite that was owned by a lady called Anna.
After we left Anna's camp, we came to the mountains. Up in the mountains we saw, well we didn't really see it, what happened was we went into a tunnel with none at one end and at the other end, SNOW! We came into a carpark and got out and played in the snow while Mom and Dad got the picnic table a picnic ready. After the picnic we went into Plitvica park. What we saw there was: some really cool waterfalls, lots of snow, and even a bat.
We took a very windy road out of the mountains. We had dinner in a restaurant by the sea. I had a steak and Mom had a shark. I didn't want to go in because my shoes were wet and uncomfortable but I took them off under the table. That night it starts to drizzle and we stay in a campsite. It's not really open so we stayed for free. The next day we drove over a bridge and on to an island. We came to a campsite and parked ourselves on a muddy spot. Unfortunately for us it rained and everything was muddy.
We took a small boat to an island where we went to an easter church. We met a nice man who took us to his house the next day. We took a ferry to Cres and slept on a stoney camp.
The next day we drove to a vulture centre. Our visit there was fun. There was a lamb, a donkey, two tortoises and of course vultures. We learned about vultures but I cannot remember anything I learned about them. We took our fifth (well 6th if you count the little boat to the easter island) ferry to the mainland. Then we drive to Pujla and we came to the amphitheatre and looked around. Our last campsite had a stony beach with crab pools. We went fishing but caught nothing. That night we had a campfire. The next day we drove out of Croatia into...
We drove a little further and came to a closed campsite. We drove about for a minute and came to this place at the side of the road. There was 2 or 3 more campers already there, so we stayed there the night. The next morning we met a German woman and her kids. She showed us her van and we gave her our website (or should I say this website). She offered to take us (even Cal) to the ferry that took us to Venice (well sort of "to Venice", not really). Poor Cal had to wear a muzzle. We walked around a bit. Here were a few boats and CARS!?! We went into a shop and bought a map of Venice from what we gathered we were not in Venice. Now we knew why there were cars. We got on another boat that was a busboat. When we got to the "real Venice" we went to the main piazza. There were pigeons and people selling pigeon seed. We went around the corner and saw some people on a marble lion, getting their picture taken. After we played on them. We walked along the canals watching the gondolas. We came to a smaller piazza where there was outdoor playthings, we had our picnic there. We made our way towards the Grand Canal, passing unusual doorknobs. At the Grand Canal we saw lots of boats: taxi boats, a lot of motor boats, busboats and lots and lots of gondolas. We went back to the main piazza and saw (well heard) an orchestra quartet or quintet. Then we got ice cream. We walked back to the Bus Boat Stop eating our ice cream (I mean we ate the ice cream as we walked not the busboatstop ate our ice creams).
That night we drove to France. We watched a movie while we were driving then (as we were still driving) when Rosa Sammy and Finn fell asleep I got to work on the computer, so I was still awake when we went through the tunnel between Italy and France.
That night we slept in France. In the morning we left on a very windy road that took us back into Italy and then into France again. Then we drove to...
We stayed about a week at St Pierre. At St Pierre there was lots of animals: rabbits, pigs, horses and donkeys, geese, goats and ducks. There even was a baby rabbit. We got to ride the donkeys, we took them on a trek up the mountain but we didn't go up the mountain because we couldn't find the way up, so we went to a castle. When we were at the castle we let the donkeys loose, feeding on the grass, and we had a picnic. Then one of the donkeys ran off and was followed by the others. Dad stayed behind with the biggest donkey and everyone else ran off to catch the others. We ran down and I eventually caught one of the donkeys and started up the hill. I barely started when the biggest came tearing down and luckily for me I had a donkey with me, or he would not have stopped and might have squashed me! I kept him and I tried to get them both to go up, but I couldn't, so I tied them together. After a minute or two, Dad and Sammy came down the hill and we waited until the other people came up with the donkeys.
We stayed in the house for half the time and when a couple of people came into the B&B they got the house and we went camping. A day or so after we were camping up in the field, it snowed and we went down the valley.
At the Mediterranean
We went to a beach with a playground on it. There was an aerial runway, some slides, a big thing with a pole going up, on the top of the pole there was a cross sitting on it, and on each corner of the cross there was rope going down with seats on the bottom. The cross could rotate and tilt. Finn, Sammy, Rosa and I went on it and Dad spun us around. We had a great time on it.
After the time on the beach, we drove to a campsite and we got out our bikes and cycled around and started meeting new people. The next day was very sunny and we went to the swimming pool in the campsite. The swimming pool had 6 waterslides: 2 small kids slides in the shallow end that were linked, 3 in the big end were linked also, and 1 swirly whirly slide also in the big end. I went down one of the 3 linked slides and also the swirly whirly slide. There was a wave pool that Rosa, Mom, Sammy and Finn went in. There was some shops at the campsite, like a supermarket, a bakery, and some other shops. I went to the bakery a lot; they had really nice bread. If you were lucky, you got it when it came straight out of the oven, nice and hot.
We went to 3 sites. The first one I went fishing. I didn't catch anything, but Mom took lots of pictures of me. We went to a Decathlon and bought a popup tent. The second campsite had an internet connection that wasn't really ready. They had a Roman swimming pool that wasn't really finished either and it was very windy. But we used the popup tent there for the first time.
The third campsite was nice and sheltered because each site had a hedge around it. Grandma and Grandad came there and stayed in a mobile. The mobile had two bedrooms: one with a double bed and one with two single beds, where Rosa and I got to stay. The mobile had 2 bathrooms, one with just a toilet in it and one with a sink and a shower in it. We went to 2 or 3 different places with Grandma and Grandad. First we went to Carcasonne Castle and there was a museum of sculptures and other things like rocks they used to throw down on the invaders, and baths and other things. We came to a shop; it had wooden models of things for invading and protecting the castle. When we were finished, we went and met up with Grandma, who had not gone into the castle museum and had gone shopping instead.
The next place we went to was the paper mill. We went on a tour and learned how they made paper. The first paper makers were wasps: they chewed up bark for their hives. The second paper makers were Egyptians; they weaved tiny threads of papyrus together. The Chinese used cotton and Europeans squashed bits of leaves together layered on themselves. The paper mill used trousers cut with a special knife, then rolled and mushed until it was almost liquid. Now it's called pulp, and it's like porridge. Then the pulp was mixed in with lots of water, then they get a frame with a screen on it and they gather up the pulp mixture and they lift it out of the water and let the water drain through. What's left in the screen is the paper that's not dry yet, so they put the paper in between animal skins and leave it to dry. Then they open up the animal skin and take a stick that has a T at the end and they put it in the middle of the paper and they left the paper onto it and then they lift the paper onto a line for more drying. They also made paper out of elephant dung. Rosa and I got a piece of paper and Grandma bought us pencils.
We went to the canals with Granddad to see the locks. A lock has two doors; on one side of one door the water level is higher than the other side. If the boat is going in, the water level in between the doors has to be level with the water that the boat is on. If the boat is going up, he goes in, they close the lock on one side and open flaps (sluices) on the other side and the water comes in until it's level with the higher side. Then the lock keeper opens the lock and the boat goes out. And vice versa for whenever the boat's going down. We went fishing at the canals, but not in the canals; we fished down on a river that was below an aqueduct. We didn't catch anything. We saw some frogs in a pond. Some of them were only a centimeter and a half big, but some of them were 2 or 3 inches!
Grandma and Mom were in Spain.
We went to the Market to get things for Passover. We got nice smelling cinnamon, and dandelions and a few other things. We had Passover with Grandma and Granddad.
Grandma and Granddad left and we moved on and took us until the next day until we came to a new campsite.
Fish and Frogs
This campsite had a swimming pool and a playground and a canal along it. We played in the playground and Rosa swam in the swimming pool. I went fishing twice and the second time I caught a fish, but lost it as we were landing it. I caught another fish and we landed it, and we ate it. Better than any in the stores! Rosa and Sammy caught two frogs in the swimming pool. Rosa put hers into the canal and Sammy brought his to us and we put him in a pot with a rock and some grass and some dirt and left him in the shade. If we scared him, he would bounce and we would catch him. Eventually we put him back in the canal. Dad got an internet connection.
We came to Jean-Marie's place, at the bee farm. As we were coming in, we saw his mother take out an apple pie out of the oven and set it on the cooling rack. It was delicious. We had it after a few minutes. Jean Marie wasn't there but he was expected to come in two more days. Jean Marie's father, Patrick, showed us what bees there are, there's one queen bee, up to 5000-6000 worker bees that are all females, and 100-200 males. At the start of the year they all chase the queen bee and the first 10 that catch her can stay with her, the others get kicked out. The queen bee starts making eggs and the 10 males fertilise her eggs. Whenever the worker bees are old enough to work they go out and collect nectar and pollen for babies. At the end of the year, the last 10 male bees get kicked out too. The beekeeper has this special thing with a fire in it and it blows smoke. The beekeeper blows smoke on the beehive so that the bees won't sting him. They won't sting him because whenever they think their house is on fire, they go and collect honey in the cells. While they are collecting their honey they don't talk among themselves, so they don't say "go sting the beekeeper."
Patrick went into a room that had a hive in it and took the smoker and blew smoke on the hive. He took out the sections and there was a bunch of bees on a patch where there was honey. He scooped off a handful of bees with his fingertips and showed them to us, that they wouldn't sting him. Then he shook them over the hive. Then he found the queen bee and he got tipex and put it on her so for future, people would recognise her. Then we went into another room where they got honeycomb and they cut the tops off the honeycomb cells, then he put the honeycomb in a machine that spun the honeycomb around fast so that honey splattered onto the walls and went down. As we were looking at the machines, Patrick went off and came back with a male bee. He put it on his tongue, because it had no sting. I held him, but I didn't want to put him on my tongue!
At the place we met two boys and they had a pogo stick, two bikes, two scooters and a cart with a rope to pull. We attached the rope to my bike and with a little bit of success pulled the cart. I was really good on the pogo stick. Jean Marie gave me some lessons on the unicycle.
We went to a wwoof farm owned by a couple and their daughter. There was a lot of WWOOFers there. Their names were Thomas, Robin, Astrid, James and at the end, two Australians came. There was some people living there called Sylve and Marie and their baby MaŽli. There were 4 guys in the other house. I became friends with the one called Roman. Roman and I talked about our perspective on life. Roman said that he believed there were lots of invisible drawings around each person, and when two people meet, the drawings connect. Even without talking, they just have to see each other and realise that they're looking at each other. The more the people meet, the more drawings connect. Some people are greedy for sympathy and respect: they threaten people and also whenever someone is angry at them and doesn't hurt them but hits them without hurting them, they act as if they're hurt to get sympathy from someone else. We also talked about technology and nature and the differences. Technology is like a magnet: you become the "slave", as Roman said. But nature and grass, you're so free and you can run about and there's no magnet anywhere. While I was there, Roman made 2 pair of trousers for himself with a sewing machine. While he was making his second pair of trousers, he showed me Fimo, and I made a ghost with a shoe or two, and a dog with big eyes. A different day Sammy found a bow in his room, and Roman and Sammy went into the forest to collect sticks for arrows, while I was in a hammock. Then when Roman and Sammy came back with ten or fifteen arrows, we went and got feathers for them. Roman had a room completely full of stuff like some really cool Fimo characters, lots of different musical instruments, some weren't even instruments, like bits and pieces he found to make music with. He made lamps, art and other things like that.
We had good fun with James too. He was an American WWOOFer. He even made a treasure hunt for us, which had lots of X's and steps and different hiding places. It was fun. He also translated some comic books for us. He had a really good sense of humour and a nice character.
On the last day, MaŽli had her first birthday. We gave her a shirt that Rosa and I decorated with special fabric pens. For MaŽli's party, we made sushi with her dad and Thomas.
There were stilts there that I liked and got good at. Mom even made a movie and took pictures of me on them.
We had a stop for a few days in a campground with a big swirly whirly thingamabob that everyone played on. I met a friend but I forget his name. I know his little brother's name was Ben. Dad and I cycled to the town to get stuff. Dad ended up spending 40 euros in the smaller supermarket. We could have gone into this big supermarket but we didn't see it until after we bought everything. But we had fun cycling there.
Mick and Jenny's
There was about 10 chicks and their mother in a small run, and also another hen due to have eggs. In the field next to the run there was a sheep, geese, chickens and ducks. We went to feed the pigs; we had to walk through a field full of sheep. There was a pig and one piglet.
Mick and Jenny had 3 dogs. One dog was called Floss and she was a collie. The other dog was small and brown and he was long. The third dog was similar to Floss but spent most of the time under the table so we didn't really see her much.
I found a cookbook in their house and I looked at some of the recipes and I found a cookie recipe called "spicy biscuits". It was nice with cinnamon in them. We mixed up the batter and had to put it in the fridge for half an hour. And then we had to bake them and because it was late we didn't get to put icing on them.
We had a BBQ. We cooked lamb chops and burgers. The rest was pork so I don't know what it was.
They had a clever hammock seat and I sat in it half the time.
The kids, including me, played in the hay barn a lot. Finn lost a shoe in it and we had to find it. Mom took lots of pictures of us jumping down the hay bales.
As we came into this campsite, we saw people painting and fixing on swings to the playground. It was a sunny day so we decided to go to the beach. We stayed there until very late. Mom had her birthday there. We went to a market and got her presents. Then the next day it was Sammy's birthday and we went to a circus and Sammy got candy floss. We had a nice birthday dinner with a very special cake for Sammy. The next day we went swimming in a pool with a slide. We couldn't go the day before because someone broke a window and it got into the swimming pool and into the filters. Mom played with me in the water and we swam a lot. It was a very windy day the next day. We celebrated our last Shabbat in France and watched Finding Nemo.
This site was last updated 05/20/05