Day 156 – Rome to Manfredonia

It is now six months since we left home on 5 June, and in those six months we’ve circumnavigated the Gulf of Bothnia and Baltic Sea, experienced six days of continuous daylight, left the EU seven times more often than Theresa May can dream of, been to the bottom of a salt mine, driven to 2400 metres, visited seven different VW service centres in four countries, Ben learnt to ride a bike 1 day before his 3 1/2 birthday, I rode down a mountain on a Brompton towing two toddlers in a trailer, we spent an afternoon in a Polish police station, we spent 134 nights off grid, and went 172 days without electric hookup, my cousin adopted Meg’s puppy Jess who traveled with us for 2 1/2 months, been to 21 different countries and one British overseas territory, paid 60 Euros to sleep in a scabby log cabin with no bed linen and no running water, visited the four compass points of the EU mainland, visited two vets and no doctors, been nearly divorced on at least 156 occasions and I grew a beard.


We were able to set off in good time from Rome, and were crossing Italy one more. The nice thing about zigzagging across Italy is that it really gives me a good sense of the geography of the country. With a central spine of mountains, the eastern or north eastern coastal area is a wide expanse of flat plain, while the western or southwestern coastal area is hilly. As we crossed the spinal mountains I kept seeing signs reminding me that chains or winter tyres are a mandatory requirement on that road between 15 November and 15 April. As we climbed higher I was ashamed at my irresponsibility of not having either. In one of the larger towns I found a VW service centre, but predictably it was closed for lunch – until 3.30pm. Eventually we found an open one near our journey’s end, they didn’t have chains, but we’ve ordered some costing €85, they should arrive tomorrow. I wonder when they will first see use, or will they just sit in the van?

Here at our campsite on the coast almost due south of Manfredonia we have hit the jackpot. We are camped just a few yards from a bueatiful sandy beach, on a campsite with a good sanitary block, costing just 13 Euros a night for the five of us – no extra for the boys. Amazing.

After dinner and just before bed I took the boys and Meg for a moonlit walk on the beach – it was a full moon or nearly full moon, bigger and brighter than I’ve ever seen it before. The boys were delighted to see their moon shadows on the sand.

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