Clive’s back

8 to 11 November 2018

As anyone who has ever visited us on Pintail knows that you cannot travel empty handed. We will inevitably ask you to bring out various boat parts and other essentials from home. The latter will mostly involve as many Yorkshire Teabags as can physically fit in your luggage.

So as we were in need of a new diaphragm for the bilge pump and we had just run out of tea we were very grateful to see Pintail’s favourite shipmate, Clive, when he made his second visit to us this year!

The other certainty is that you will get roped into boat jobs that require more than two pairs of hands! On our list of winter jobs was taking down the sails. These always look a lot bigger on the deck and are also very heavy. We needed to take them down this year to measure them ready for having new sails made over the winter, ready for next season. An extra pair of hands and some lateral thinking as to how to fold the sails was gratefully received. Not pictured are Clive’s efforts in winching Stefan up the mast to check the wiring to the AIS for which I was especially grateful as this is usually my job.

We were able to show Clive around the few sights of Licata we had discovered in our first week here. It’s still warm enough for shorts on the beach and Clive needed to work on his tan!

From the beach its a strenuous, almost vertical climb up to the top of the town where the castle sits above the astonishing and bizarrely named Cimitero Cappoccini with its enormous mausoleums. We paid a very short visit and found all the graves covered in flowers from Day of the Dead on 2 November before descending into the town for a coffee in the square in front of the Duomo.

Taking further advantage of Clive and his hire car, on Sunday we ventured further into southern Sicily. The landscape is full of polytunnels growing peppers and courgettes. The many abandoned buildings reminded us of our first road trip into Sicily’s interior last July. The chaos of Sicily’s roads was still in evidence and made the otherwise straightforward 40 minute drive somewhat stressful.

On an escarpment below the modern town of Agrigento looking across to the sea we drove beneath the Valley of the Temples, a Greek settlement dating from the 6th century BC.

We’ve seen a lot of temples on these adventures but if Paestum on Italy’s toe blew us away last year with its nearly complete temples, these ones come a very close second. Starting at the western end where only four pillars of the Temple of Castor and Pollux remain.

Less remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus next door. Just a wall perfect for shadow pictures and a gigantic Telmon which originally supported the temple roof.

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The next temple, the Temple of Hercules, had eight of its columns still standing despite being the oldest in the city.

Just to mix it up a bit in between the Temple of Hercules and the Temple of Concord were some early Christian graves. Clive checked for bones.

It was an uphill hike between the temples, new ones revealing themselves amongst the trees and leaving the best until last.

The Temple of Concord was the most complete, one of the best preserved in the world. Unlike the almost complete temples at Paestum we couldn’t walk inside but even from behind the fence it had quite an atmosphere in its colonnades. The bronze sculpture of an Icarus crashed to earth just added to it.

The last temple, the Temple of Hera was less complete but had enough columns standing to imagine its vast size. It also had the best position at the top of the site.

And then the walk back to the car meant walking passed each of the temples again with fantastic views along the valley.

Thanks for a brilliant day trip, Clive, and for coming to visit again. If Pintail gave loyalty points you would be owed a free visit by now…

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