The 22nd of September, marked the day of the September Equinox.
The time when the sun shines directly on the equator, when the length of day and night is almost equal.
For me, this always feels exciting.
From my photographic eye, the light is always more beautiful, mist gradually begins to appear adding another dimension to my mountain photographs and the cooler air is more comfortable for walking.
Not one to wish time away, I have fully embraced the summer celebrating with good old friends, people I grew up with.
Hidden behind imposing Renaissance walls, Lucca is one of my favourite places, so it was natural to want to share it with my chums.
We wandered the streets eventually stopping for lunch in a great little restaurant Jules spotted,(had to mention that!!!), called Paris Boheme in Piazza Cittadella, right next to the seated statue of Puccini.
It could not have been better,(alright Ju we know you discovered it!!!), organic food, fresh tasty and beautifully presented.
Our owner/waiter, Luis is a great flamboyant character, who, in my opinion pitched it just right and could not fail to put a smile on our faces!
Not surprisingly, apart from working in the best hotels in major European capitals, Luis attended dance courses at Pineapple Dance Studios in Covent Garden, having studied classical dance in Italy.
Right up my street I started with the Erotic Salad, delicious fruits, seeds and salad leaves followed by Tortelli Lucchesi............I fully recommend!
We were almost lost in time sitting in that wonderful place with the sun on our backs, eating sharing stories...watching the world go by!
A definite must if you ever have the good fortune to find yourself in Lucca....we will definitely return!
I took the girls to my favourite junk shop to hunt for treasure!
Den seemed to enjoy cooking for our party of eight one evening, I promised not to print the photograph of him dressed in one of our pinnies!!!
Pollo alla Cacciatora........buono!
Michelle adorned our lavender beds, helping with my battle with the weeds!
Jules kept her eye on our pup!
Having found a pile of old wooden boxes at the bins some time earlier, and not one to miss a recycling opportunity!...........I asked the girls if they would help me paint them in readiness for drying lavender later in the year!
Sorry girls did you think you had come for a holiday?!!!
We took the train to Monterosso, in the Cinque Terre for a swim.........
Where I found treasure on the beach,........almost lost when Jules nearly threw it all away thinking it was rubbish!
The laughter was infectious!!!
The end of the most wonderful week with my girlfriends.....so easy, so natural, I love them to bits.....come back next year!
Summer seems but a distant memory.........one or two days were spent visiting the spectacular coast, places like Monterosso and Santa Margherita....a chance to lay back, enjoy the sun and have a swim!
even a little window shopping!
Local organic produce!
and the very best gelato!.........
The train weaves around the coastline fleetingly giving a glimpse of the deep blue sea in between tunnels.
Forty minutes later and for just six Euros return....a step from the station and you arrive here at the Cinque Terre in Monterosso....wow!
This lovely lady smiled as I sat on the train looking through the window at the station......
Our summer was one of those long hot summers with very little rain, where we were able to enjoy breakfast al fresco...
BBQ with our neighbour.......
Aperitivo with friends!
Worth mentioning, my Danish friend Susanne, rents her beautiful Tuscan house throughout Spring and Summer.... www.serrapiana.dk have a look if you fancy somewhere chilled and comfortable with spectacular views!
And the unexpected breakfast guest arrived complete with Prosecco, focaccia and home made salami!
Cin cin !
New arrivals were these two darling ducklings in Laura's farmyard!
This character turned up on our doorstep........
Lauren thought he would appreciate a drop of water!
Ruby found the bowl of water more interesting!!!
Luna just wanted to sleep!
The church down the lane celebrated Festa Della Madonna.....
The Madonna was carried down the hill to the next village......
followed by a procession....
More prayers and singing before returning back up the hill to celebrate with a glass of local wine and food prepared by the local ladies.
Friends chatted and embraced one another......
Perhaps even disagreed!
Time for the community to enjoy the company of one another..........
And the band played on!........
Summer also bought us the joy of seeing hundreds of magnificent butterflies and an abundance of wild flowers......
You can almost smell the Lavender!
I love the shape of these tight little buds and tiny white flowers....
Argentinian friend Cynthia came to stay during which time we were lucky enough to notice Jose Carreras was appearing in the tiniest village close by!
The open air concert was in the centre of the village surrounded by beautiful tall buildings.
We arrived in time to soak up the wonderful atmosphere.........so lovely I felt disappointed at not taking my camera. It was bright and sunny and so colourful.
I was drawn to looking up and around at the windows of apartments......a beautiful girl with long dark hair sat looking across the piazza.......a man held his baby up towards him encouraging him to laugh, two women sat holding their heads in their hands, elbows on the windowsill with just enough space to sit side by side, an elderly lady watched from a window behind the stage...... quite funny, once the concert had began and it was dark, her light could be seen going on and off.........she wore her nightie, in the light you could see a large wooden cross on the wall and her bed!
Jose Carreras, one of TheThree Tenors has played in some amazing venues and here we were in this, intimate medieval village looking up at the bedroom window of an elderly lady going to bed!!!
The concert was based on the life of Giuseppe di Stefano so it was some time later before Jose Carreras came on stage.
Of course he sang "Nessun Dorma"....... such a wonderful almost unreal experience!
We had another wonderful experience driving home when we came across a porcupine running along at the side of the road, only the second one I have seen in this area!!!
Lauren came too.........
Our work in the orto bore fruit and delicious vegetables......tiny carrots like none we had ever tasted!!!
Our neighbour bought us figs from his orto...delicious!
Apple Tree on a mound next door......
Inside the beautiful unique house........
Wild strawberries growing along the lane....
We watched Italy play and loose in the European Cup from a big screen in the village!
Not as exciting as when they won the World Cup a few years ago!
Em's old school friend Jay, (she hadn't seen in 13 years), came to stay and watched the game with us.
Followed by our sweetie Georgie......"Friends for Life"!
The girls went to the same little village school, growing up together.
Georgie introduced us to her lovely partner Dave.......expecting their first born in November it wasn't hard to see the love they have for one another!
Thrilled they were with us in August during shooting star time, we positioned ourselves up on the roof garden, lying on cushions we stared up at the night sky........with no light pollution it wasn't long before were rewarded and made our first wish!
The bright canopy of stars inspired our conversation about the Universe!
During their stay Dave asked about the mountains and whether I took our surroundings for granted,........I don't!
Every day brings new light and colour, the mountains are the first view I see when I awake, I am always so thankful.
Lauren made us Mojito's!
And chapati bread to go with the Indian she cooked for us yum yum!
We prepared food and cooked together..
The tiny Fig Tree bought just a couple of years ago has grown enormously......and the flowers bloomed!
Our animals always give us the greatest of pleasure!
Walks through surrounding woodland......
An exquisite Dragonfly flew into the house just long enough to be photographed.....
Here it looks almost alien like!
This beautiful feller also paid us a visit!
With summer at a close we bid farewell and embrace a new season.......
watching the sun go down..........
looking forward to whatever next...........