All adventures must come to an end…

You maybe wondering why I didn’t end my Italian travelling blog series with “Our own little Roman Holiday – part five”, well the end of our holiday was a nightmare, and when I look back at our holiday I really, really want to remember all the amazing, good bits with excitement and glee. And our last day in Rome, the getting home part was utter chaos and leaves an awful taste in my mouth, so I don’t really want it linking to my beautiful holiday memories. But I also didn’t want to not include it, as its important to finish our story, even the bad parts. I apologise for the lack of photos – we didn’t take more joy from hanging around an airport. To break up my story of woe, please find some random photos of my beautiful family. 😀

We got all our bags packed the night before, and so all we had to do was say good bye to our apartment, the restaurant and the colosseum as we walked to the metro to return the train station. Where we would get on our transfer to the airport. All of this went smoothly, it was once we arrived at the airport it all started to go terribly wrong.

On all our documentation it advised to arrive 3 hours early, so we arrived slightly before this as we wanted to make sure we got here on time, and I wasn’t sure about the bus transfer or journey time. We couldn’t check our luggage until it was three hours before flight check in, so we waited.

monkey monkeying around
monkey monkeying around at the local country park

As we waited for this time, a sudden notice in Italian flashed on a nearby screen, and then a time appeared next to our flight. Our flight should have been at 2pm so we should have been able to check our bags at 11:30am. The sign appeared was ritardato 20:30ore, I thought that surely can’t mean that, and sent Mr BC to check it out.

Apparently it was true, we had been at the airport since 10:30 and we were now being told that the flight was delayed for 6 hours from our original take off, and 9 hours from now. What were we supposed to do with two young children in an airport for 9 hours, not the least with a very scared adult who was awfully frightened of flying. I didn’t think I could hang around an airport for that long, there was a chance, I wouldn’t ever get on the plane.

I decided we were driving across country to get home instead, and know this seems extreme and I know in my head it was ridiculous, but a fear is irrational, no one can control it or often explain it, and I definitely have a fear of flying. Getting to Rome, I had a mild panic attack and cried the whole way there, so its really hard to hear when people say “oh, you’ll be fine”, or “you’re safer in a plane than car!”. I often want to say to these people, “oh well, there we go, now you’ve said that, I’m over it! If only I knew it was that easy!” Yes, I know these facts, in fact I could probably give you more facts abut safe flying than anyone, I tell myself them all the time, but I cannot rationalise when I about to board a flight, or hang around an airport with my fear building all around. Which is why, it makes it even harder to hear it from my own husband, I know he was upset by the flight delay too, but as he is not scared of pretty much anything, he isn’t always the most empathic or compassionate of people and as it was a frantic and hectic time, I really needed reassurance and a little understanding. So there we were, delayed flight, arguing, upset, angry and tired. But we thought, as our flight should have been at 2pm, at least we can check in and go to the departure lounge and be a bit more comfy. You’d think so right? You would think the airline and airport would have thought the poor people who are going to have to hang around for at least 9 hours can come through to use the shops, restaurants and slightly more comfortable seating? You, like us, would of course be wrong. As they had officially told us the plane was not taking off until 20:30, we couldn’t check in until 4:30pm.

Poppet looking fab as always
Poppet looking fab as always – what filter??!!

So we had to wait for 5 hours in the baggage check part of the smallest airport in Rome, it was uncomfortable, boring for the kids and I was still in agony. Also, we didn’t actually know any of this information, we got all this later. For now, all we had been told was we couldn’t check in, had no idea why the flight was delayed and we had no communication from anyone.

We decided to stay, although as I was still unhappy and scared, for a while we stayed in frosty silence. Mr BC is a great man and a wonderful husband though and apologised and all was well with the world, except we were still stuck in Rome Ciampino and our flight was still delayed, possibly cancelled for all we knew. The children were incredible though, I bought us a pack of cards and some colouring books. This entertained them for as long as it could. We had a tiny bit of ,well not excitement but something as we all had to move as some luggage had been left unattended, fortunately it was nothing and we resigned ourselves to the floor again.

Finally, after we had been at the airport for 5 and a half hours, we were allowed to check in, go through security and go to the departure lounge. We spent some money in duty free, we were given a free bottle of water and sandwich, which was the least they could give us at this point. And then we just had more waiting to do, the only difference was the floor we sat on. As it was so busy, with a few more flights delayed, there was no seating available, so we were still uncomfortable but we made the best of it and enjoyed some Italian sweets and biscuits.

Poppets Unicorn Marshmallow
Poppets Unicorn Marshmallow – just woke up from a snooze. The only photo from the airport.

Mamma BC seemed to attract the bugs in Italy and had been a bitten a few times, we had bought a insect bite one and cream but the spots were getting redder. I had to take her to airport first aid, and it turns out, some had gotten infected, but the paramedics and doctors were amazing and got her treated and on the way back to, well the floor we were still sitting on.

Finally after hours and hours of sitting on an airport floor, we made our way into the gate, where you guessed it, we had to wait some more. We still weren’t 100% sure the flight would even be taking off tonight, we had no idea why it was even delayed and there was rumours flying everywhere. Finally, we got news that our flight wherever it was, was not going to happen but they had found another plane from somewhere who would return us home this evening. We had to be bussed out to this plane, which the children loved. My fear was building but I had done some research before the holiday into relaxation techniques so I was willing to give that a go, if I could get on the plane.

Finally, we could see the plane, 12 hours and 10 minutes at the airport and we eventually took off. The flight itself was fine, nothing major happened, I even managed to keep my panic slightly at bay. I had my music on my headphones on full blast, I was writing my name, son and daughters name, music lyrics with my left hand the entire flight. I still didn’t relish when anyone moved or turbulence or the fact I was even on a plane but we made it home in once piece, and now we just had to find our luggage, get to our car, which had probably gone over into another day, which I would get charged for, and finally make the long drive home. I think this was the worst part of the day, our original flight should have gotten us to England at a reasonable time, so we could drive home. I could have a bath and go to bed ready for work the next day. The reality was we didn’t leave the airport until gone 1:30pm, so our 4 hour drive home took us to early hours of the morning, and even though I wasn’t driving, I couldn’t go to sleep as it wasn’t fair on MR BC, he was just as tired.

However, we finally made it home and fell into bed. Those first few days at home, I found it hard to remember the beauty of Italy and all our exciting adventures because all I thought about was our nightmare flight home,  but now thankfully, I am over the disastrous last day, I probably won’t eve fly again, but now all I try to remember is the fun, exciting and memorable moments we had.

As for our flight, if by any small (I mean minute, almost none existent) chance I ever fly again, it will not be with Ryanair. The flight out was awful but nothing compared to our flight back. The lack of communication, organisation, poor understanding of customers and just general awful customer service will ensure we will never fly with them again.

 

We enjoyed our holiday so much, it spilled into our six week holiday activities. We made our own cacti terrariums with mini statues of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and St Peters Basilica. I also received my postcard I sent to myself from The Vatican! Ticked that off my list of things I want to do.

Anyway, I would hate to end our Italian adventure on a sore note, so instead I am going to share with you, one more final word on our first proper kaleidoscope adventure. If I could write a love letter to a country, I think Italy would be up there at the top. Everything from food to the art/architecture and the glorious landscapes, it is a truly beautiful country, and I cannot wait to return. Hopefully, on a tour of the wonderful country in our new camper van!!! Keep reading to find our more!

*Book Review* And then there were none

And then there were none. 

By Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie never fails to impress me, she really might be the Queen of Crime Writing. I chose this book for my online book club. I have read a couple of other Christies, that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The hardest but most satisfying and rewarding part of a book club, is sharing a book or an author with a group of people and not knowing if they are going to enjoy it as much as you. Thankfully, we are two books in and everyone has, I hope, enjoyed them. As this is a review for my book club, my review is going to be slightly different, I don’t usually go into synopsis much, or have to add spoilers but for this one, I am adding a *SPOILER ALERT*. If you have never read it and want to in the future, please stop reading now and come back when you’ve read it!

Back to And then there were none, I think the novel starts of as quite a slow burner, I think it had to do this to get you drawn in, and understanding the characters. I don’t believe this knowledge of the characters, helps with guessing the mystery or following every twist and turn, but I think thats the huge draw of this book. The psychology of this book, the characters, their history and individual storylines, all mix and twist together, and at every point, I as a reader, thought “ooh maybe thats a clue,” or “I have an idea who is behind it all”, only to be proven wrong or the clue to be a red herring or such.

I would say I am not a novice when it comes to crime/mystery/thrillers, I know my way around a whodunnit, and even though I came awfully close to guessing the end, it had me and I was shocked and amazed by the ending.

The premise for the mystery has probably been written about a few more times since Christie first wrote it, a group fo strangers on an island, something was bound to happen. But I believe this maybe the original premise in this story, and even with the slow start, kept me intrigued from start to finish.

A group of strangers, all with interesting and wicked pasts, are invited to holiday at an unknown millionaires private residence. Here they will each face their past, look upon their wicked deeds of the past and face judge, jury and executioner for the crimes they each got away. Someone knows about their past, has decided they won’t be getting away with their crimes and has come to seek justice. The story moves along in pace with a creepy and chilling poem about ten little “soldiers” (in the newer printings. I have an older copy that still refers to little “niggers” in the poem- which makes the whole story slightly more chilling, as it really gives the book an older viewpoint, so when reading it, you realise the visitors have no way fo escape, there is no wifi or proper phones. The poem is horrible and completely rascist and sensitive – but the way the killer uses it to pysche put the victims is cunning and clever) whom all meet a terrible fate and soon, the visitors start to face similar fates.

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine,

One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late,

One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon,

One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up some sticks,

One chopped himself in half and then there were six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive,

A bumblebee stung one of them and then there were five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law,

One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea,

A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo,

A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun,

One got all frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone,

He went and hanged himself, and then there were none.

And with all these characters putting each other under scrutiny, so does the reader. Yet no one on the Island feels like they fit the bill for this mysterious owner or seeker of Justice. There are plenty who tick a few boxes, but at each twist and turn, it gets harder and harder to see who the killer might be. Even when the final character meets their surprising end, we are still left wondering what the hell happened.

I won’t completely spoil this for you, but it was an interesting and amazing read, I finished within two days (I know, I’m not sure what happened) and passed it onto Mamma Butterfly, whom also finished it in 1 day and we then spent the next week discussing, disecting and generally enjoying the conversations it presented. My sister also borrowed it and thoroughly enjoyed it too.

I had a couple of friends in my book group whom also enjoyed it, I believe one struggled with the start but once she got into it, enjoyed it. Check out my book group on facebook –  Butterfly Child Book Group – where hopefully I can get a few more opinions on the book to share.

I already loved Agatha Christie Novels, and this book has just taken it one step further. It was an incredible read, I can’t say I liked or disliked characters as I don’t think it was about that. It was more about how some stories we believe and some characters we make opinions about or connect too, and yet if you have an unreliable narrator or even if you just don’t get the full story, it soon goes to show you can’t always trust our instincts, the stories people tell or even base opinions of peoples careers or temperament. As this can all be an act or hide a truly terrifying or horrible person. But thankfully, (not shown in this book), we know in real life, there is plenty of people the other way, who can be frosty or unsociable but are the kindest, most generous people we know. This story would be an amazing study of personality if it were based on real life. Christie makes this novel unique, exciting and brings the shock factor, as I would never have guessed the ending in a million years. With every twist and turn, and ending of a character, we can question everything about what we know about each character, I found myself skipping back to see if I missed something. I started out with normal theories (perhaps it was the man that brought them in on the boat and he returned to do the deeds) and soon ended up down the rabbit hole, into Narnia, around the houses and back again with some much more confusing theories. (Perhaps there was a hidden tunnel that lead from the mainland. Maybe it was all a dream of someone travelling to the island – I know I lost my way with this one. Or my closest idea, to do with fake dying, swapping bodies and coming back to life, but I couldn’t decide who, and then with everyone dead at the end, I thought well its obviously not that, and came back full circle, to what the hell happened on the Island. And I, like so many others, just had to read the epilogue and be shocked and amazed along with everyone else.

Four out of five stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ ★

This book loses a star due to the slow start. It wasn’t a problem for me as I’m a character focussed reader, but for people who want to dive straight into excitement, its bit of a slow burner. Also, if you’re accustomed to murder mysteries, you may be able to guess the ending, which would take some of the fun out of it. As I say, I was so close to guessing but I got turned off that idea about 3 pages from the end, so it still kept me guessing. This is part of the fun, so for people who aren’t fans of twists and turns or who may guess the ending, this book might not be a five for you. For me, its a five, I think it lays the foundations for so many other crime writing that followed Christies wonderfully work.

I have read two out of the three books in this collection – and thoroughly enjoyed both! Why not give them a go? I’m off to buy Murder on the Orient Express as I write.

THE WORLD’S FAVOURITE: And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd [Boxed Set edition]

***THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, WHICH MEANS I RECEIVE A SMALL COMPENSATION IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE USING THE LINKS ABOVE***

Our own little Roman Holiday – part four

So, I could pretend that I haven’t posted the rest of our holiday because I was building anticipation… but truthfully, I have been in a bit of pain and trying to recover, carry on with daily tasks which normally would not take all my energy but currently does, as well as work, kids returning to school and a thousand other things, a mum has to do on a daily basis.

But I hope it will be worth the wait, as we move into part four of our Italian adventure:

Day 6 – Sunday

After our wonderful trip to Pisa and our relaxation day in Lake Brachianno, we decided to carry on with our taking it easy tour by having a nice stroll around Rome to see some of the sights. We had a nice stroll around seeing more of the sights and I let the kids take photos of whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted. I followed behind and took a photo of whatever they did, as I wasn’t 100% sure of there photo abilities and I thought it would be nice to see what they thought was interesting in Rome. It was beautiful, fun, exciting, tiring and hot, very, very hot!!! But incredible!

Roman Forum
Stroll through Rome
Fascinating trees.jpg
Fascinating trees

We started at the Roman Forum as that was right outside our apartment, and just headed off into Rome. The kids loved the trees, and I must say I find them fascinating too!

Angels Everywhere

I think this is my favourite photo the kids picked! They loved seeing angels in all the art and architecture! Happily to say, I am raising some cultured children, and I love it.

Our first proper stop, is one of my favourite places in Rome, its also a favourite for thousands, so I knew it would be busy, but I also knew the kids would love it. I wish we could have made it back at night time. Next time we go, Rome by night, will definitely be on our agenda. Anyway, drifted off course there, back to our next stop…it is the largest Baroque Fountain in the world, it features the Titan God of the Sea, if you throw three coins into it: this will ensure your return, a new romance and marriage apparently, (on a side note – the coins have funded a supermarket to help Romans in need.) And it is visited by roughly 1200 people every hour. A crazy amount of people, but it is beautiful and totally worth it.

Of course, as you have probably guess, it is the Trevi Fountain. A glorious, beautiful piece of art and architecture, a true feast for the eyes. The fountain which is located at the junction of three roads, (the most accepted explanation for the word Trevi – from Trivium – or the crossing of there streets) is a display of an ancient aqueduct termination.    The main central statue is Oceanus – Titan God of the Sea -not Neptune as many believe. I love my Ancient myths and stories. I love reading about Gods, Titans, Emperors, so coming to Rome was always going to relight this passion, and seeing the Trevi Fountain and telling the children as much about it as I can remember has only made this passion grow.

It was so crowded here, that we decided to move on quite quickly. Next we headed onto somewhere, that Mamma Butterfly had set a challenge for the kids and they were eager to follow through with it.

The Challenge: How many steps are there at the Spanish Steps? As Mamma BC and I waited at the bottom, Mr BC and the kids took on the challenge!

Challenge Accepted!

View from the top as captured by Mr BC and his Go Pro.

Poppet running ahead but couldn’t remember how many steps. Monkey had a number but as Mr BC later told us, he kept getting ahead of himself or skipping steps! 😂 So probably wasn’t the most exact amount of steps.

On a ridiculously hot day, this is one of the best things about Rome. Aqua Potable – fresh and cold drinking water. The kids loved it and even Mr BC got a little wet to cool himself down. Refilling our water bottles before heading off to our next stop! We actually spent a good amount of time here, it was still busy but as Mr BC and the kids wandered off up the steps, me and Mamma Butterfly got to people watch.

We stopped, for what turned out to be the most expensive lunch we have ever had, ever! It wasn’t even that nice, we have had some amazing food in Italy, todays lunch, not so much. But it filled us, and helped us move onto our next stop.

Our next stop, is also one for the architecture lover, its also appeared in a few films like the Trevi Fountain, so its probably quite familiar. I remember the first time I visited Rome with Mamma Butterfly (before my butterfly children were even thought off), we wandered around for ages, trying to find this site, and as we gave up looking, we wandered down  street and I used my small bit of Italian to ask where we would find it, the kind gentleman turned me around and there it was, in all its glory, if we had just taken a couple more steps down this road, we would have found it on our own, but still the gentleman was very lovely helping us.

This building was a former Roman Temple, now a church, no one knows quite the date of completion for the newer building Hadrian completed as it still has the inscription kept from the original building by Agrippa, which unfortunately burnt down. I think it is quite a peculiar but wonderful building. Forgive me, my description as I am not sure of the exact wording, but it has 8 columns at its front followed by more columns as you enter. And from pictures, I always think it looks like a smaller building, but it is not. It is impressive in its size, and as you enter and see all the little alcoves and the huge portion for prayers and services in the centre, you can tell why it is so big. Of course, the ceiling is impressive, a big circular domed ceiling with an oculus in the centre… It is of course, The Pantheon.

I think I was probably the most excited by this stop, the kids took some pictures, and they like the Oculus, but I think they were getting hot and sweaty and couldn’t see the beauty as much as I could.

We wandered for a little longer and soon came back to a very similar view. I don’t think I will ever be bored of seeing some of these buildings. They are truly beautiful to behold, and if you are not sure on whether to add Rome to your list of places to visit, I will happily chat to you all day about truly breathtaking it is, in fact, I would say that about all of Italy. I have fallen in love with Italy all over again, and I don’t think I will ever tire of it! I cannot wait to return (by car probably!) 🙂

We found ourselves back at almost where we started. We took a quick side step to a toy shop to take home with us, but then walked along this beautiful road, taking in the view of the colosseum again.

After our disaster of meal from previous nights, and our not very successful lunch, we returned to our old favourite stomping ground for dinner. And we were not disappointed, I cannot thank the waiting staff at Iari the Vino more. The food was amazing and tasty, the staff are friendly, polite and most important to me, so great with the kids. They didn’t mind that  the kids were a bit excited, they helped them with their Italian and encouraged them to try new words and foods. As we had already visited a few times, most of the staff recognised us and we got the warmest welcome ever. I would highly recommend if you are looking for food around the Ancient side of Rome near the Forum or Colosseum.

Poppet is going through a Mermaid moment (still going through it) and so wanted to have makeup, hair and nails like a mermaid. I was always worried about having a girl as Im not always the girliest but I love it now, I love spending time, doing her hair and makeup and picking cute clothes. Don’t get me wrong she will climb trees and wants to be a firefighter when she grows up, but I have a proper girly girl on my hands and I love it. (** Please don’t worry, the nails are stuck on with sticky flaps not glue).

All week, I have been trying to pretend to be a food blogger, but I always get too excited to eat the food to take a picture beforehand. On this day, I was patient and calm (with desert, lol) but Monkey wasn’t and put his finger in my shot! 😆

Final Day – Day 8 – Monday

For our final full day in Italy, we planned a trip to the Vatican. I will admit, this stop was the day that caused me most worries. I loved the Vatican when I came previously, even without an audioguide/guide, just wandering around the museums, and the Sistine Chapel was incredible. I was a little worried that the kids would get bored and want to leave. My fears were unfounded, as the children loved everything from the moment we stepped of the bus and walked into The Vatican City. They loved hearing about the City within the City, the immense St Peters Basilica was a wonderful sight, and Monkey loved it and wanted to get a little statue of it like he had the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Pisa tower.

I had planned our trip knowing all the rules we had to follow, I instructed the children are behaving their best and to be respectful, I was really worried it wouldn’t be that child friendly in the museums. We even made sure we were dressed appropriately, as its important to me that I show the children to respect other cultures. So off we headed into the Vatican Museums. I had arranged for a child audio guide for each child but didn’t know what to expect. I was blown away with how child friendly it was. Even though, we did a shorter child friendlier route this time, I think I enjoyed it more this time than previously as I loved seeing the children engage with the art, culture, history and heritage. I was so excited to wander around the children, I didn’t get nearly as many photos as I would have liked.

The guards were all incredibly friendly, they smiled to the kids putting them at ease, they answered questions (the children aimed at us, but we didn’t always know the answer), and they made the day wonderful. The audio guide was incredible, I have no words to describe how exciting it made the museums, each room we explored had its own linked guide that came alive from a piece of art of sculpture and told a story to the children, and then they had to find pieces of art/sculptures to move onto the next room.

We got off to rocky start as the children got so excited in the first room. We didn’t know what to expect from the audio guides, so I hadn’t warned the children to be calm or anything. An angel from one of the Frescos “came alive” and told them a story and sent them on a quest to find the next piece of art in another room. Monkey went strolling off and got very excited when he found the piece of art, he wasn’t naughty or rude, he just squealed a little in excitement. Another visitor, a young women without children, got a little huffy and snapped at him. I was going to tell him to calm down a little not tell him off though as he was so excited by the place, but her attitude was a little upsetting as all the staff seemed happy to let the children explore and enjoy their guided tour. Happily, I didn’t have to say much as a kind guard told him quite loudly, “well done for finding the right piece”, and asked did he know what the Angel had asked him about the painting. I did still remind Monkey to be a bit calmer as everyone wanted to enjoy their visit, but I was so happy he was excited and enjoying himself.

Both are my children are quite arty, and so loved finding the art work and sculptures, and luckily the tour skipped us past some of the more brutal paintings, so really there was no need to worry as they both enjoyed it. Even with having quite arty, cultured children, I still believe the day was such a huge success because The Vatican Museums have made it such a child friendly and entertaining place to visit. I would gladly go back again, and I have raved to all my friend show have children, who may have had reservations about visiting. I would recommend it, maybe not for really small children, as it is a lot of walking and you have to have a certain level of understanding to follow the audio guide (they are aimed at 6+ and Poppet isn’t quite 6 yet, but she got along just fine.) and map they hand out, with picture clues to help find the artwork.

We have been reading Percy Jackson series together, so the kids were excited to come  across some statues the characters are based on.

I could write forever about how good a day we had, we spent much longer than I thought we would and when we finally got to the Sistine Chapel, the children were just as surprised as I was when I first saw it. They couldn’t quite understand how someone could paint on the ceilings, especially in such detail, to be honest, I can’t quite understand it either. Even so, they could still the beauty of it and were amazingly well behaved, even more so than some adults in there.

A final photo of our day – lunch at The Vatican – finally got a photo of food!

Lunch at the Vatican
Delicious Lunch at the Vatican

Overall, today was a huge success and was an amazing end to our holiday. Unfortunately, all the walking and excitement got to me, and I ended up in bed as soon as we got back to the apartment and everyone went for our final meal at Iaris without me. It took Mr BC a while to get across I wouldn’t be joining them this evening, and the waiters didn’t want to serve until I had arrived. It was a true testament to how amazing the restaurant was. They did bring me some takeaway home, so I was very happy!

And so, even with me being in pain, today was a wonderful end to an amazing holiday. I didn’t want to leave and I cannot wait to explore more of Italy in the future. I have fallen more in love with it ever before. Poppet said she might move to Italy when she is older, and as much as I would hate to be so far from her, I think as long as I can visit, I’d be ok with this! Once again, I am trying to learn to speak Italian, and this time I am trying harder and even now I am still going strong.