Changeover days are always busy days for us. On one such day, Paul came bounding down the outside staircase in his usual carefree manner, only to lose his footing off the very last step, landing awkwardly on the side of his foot – A truly “Oh Dear, Oh Bother” moment. !!! The discomfort was intense and forced Paul to sit on the ground in an effort to recover his composure. It was immediately apparent that he had made a “really good job” of this. Eventually he managed to hop over to the caravan to try and rest for a while, hoping that the pain would subside.
Meanwhile I began to run around like a mad thing in order to get the upstairs apartment ready for our next visitor, Diana, an old pen-friend and fellow Shapcott family researcher from Australia, who we expected to arrive around lunchtime. She was travelling down from Rome by train, and we were to meet her at the station on her arrival.
Feeling slightly better, Paul tried his best to help me but was finding it very hard to put any weight on his ankle. By lunchtime we finally managed to get everything ship shape for our guest’s arrival, and decided to nip down to Itri to buy some provisions for lunch.
However somehow in the chaos we realised that one of our mobile phones had been left downstairs in the old cisterna, and when we went down to retrieve it we discovered, to our dismay, there was a messages and a missed calls from Diana, indicating that she was due to arrive at 11.09 at Itri Station. In great haste we sped off to the station, which is situated a couple of kilometres out of Itri itself. A series of further messages arrived, saying that she had arrived at the station, and that she was still waiting at the station. We immediately tried to phone her only to find that her phone was switched off. Almost immediately one of our phones ran out of battery. On arriving at the station, it soon became clear that there was no sign of Diana, and we were left deliberating as to what we should do next.
Then, mercifully, we received a phone call from a friend in Itri, saying that there was an unfortunate foreign lady with a suitcase, waiting in the square in Itri, desperately hoping to find us. It seems that after waiting at the station for a couple of hours, feeling totally abandoned, poor Diana, who doesn’t speak any Italian, had managed to accost an obliging elderly local to hitch a lift into the centre of Itri. We headed back into Itri and there in the square was a destitute Diana, patiently waiting for us . The look of relief on her face was immediately evident. I don’t think Diana will forget the experience readily !!! Sorry Diana !!!
After profuse apologies on our part, we bundled into the car and returned to Tre Cancelle, where over a soothing cup of tea Diana recounted her misadventure. We then drove down to Sant’Agostino beach for a spot of lunch in an establishment overlooking the sea. Although we had only corresponded with Diana via the internet, we soon felt like true old friends, finding that we have so many things in common.
Meanwhile, having got Diana comfortably installed at “Tre Cancelle”, we thought it best to seek some medical advice from our local friendly pharmacist, who in turn strongly recommended that we went to the A & E in Formia’s hospital for an X-ray. Thankfully, despite a 3 hour wait, the X-ray showed that nothing was broken, however the doctor recommended a return visit the following morning to an orthopaedic clinic to allow the experts to asses any muscle or tendon damage. So early next morning Paul drove back to the hospital, and to his surprise soon found the damaged ankle held immovable by a plaster cast from knee to toe. This of course meant that Paul could not drive.
Paul on Mum’s old zimmer frame !!!
Up until this point I had not felt confident enough to drive much in Italy, however with Paul incapacitated, through necessity this was to be my baptism of fire !!! That evening we had arranged to meet up with friends in Gaeta for a pizza, so we decided to leave early and take Diana for a quick tour of the old town. To my dismay we found that the traffic was busier than I had expected, with cars and scooters weaving frantically around each other and double parked at the side of the road. However all went pretty well, I managed to park and we enjoyed supper. There was, however, one hairy moment when we were pulled over by the Carabinieri in Itri to be informed that one of our headlights was not working. Thankfully they soon waved us on and I managed to get us all back home safely, where I soon treated myself to a stiff drink.
All photos by me © Louise Shapcott