AROUND this time last year, Geoff and I turned our backs on the rain and the floods and took our jaded, soaked-sponge selves off to Sicily for a week. The intention was to wring ourselves out, steam gently under an early-spring sun, and see some of the magnificent sights on the western side of the island.
All three of our hopes were fulfilled, although the longed-for sun was a little more shy and fleeting than we might have hoped. It had been blazing in a most unseasonable way for weeks up to our arrival – and then it went into an occasional moody sulk and failed to show. Just our luck.
This year, this coming week in fact, we are off to the other side of Sicily, which we last visited in 2002. On that occasion it was early summer and, while we explored ancient ruins, amphitheatres, astonishing mosaics and the slopes of an angry Etna, we boiled and melted into a fetching shade of lobster pink.
It’s generally warmer on the eastern side of Sicily so we’ve been harbouring hopes we might experience what the holiday companies call a ‘winter sunshine break’. The signs have been good.
Geoff checks the weather there each day with an app on his tablet and we swoon at the thought of walking around in temperatures of 19 degrees. Since my head still works in Fahrenheit I have to translate that, and it comes to something in the mid–60s, which is most acceptable for the beginning of March.
Not exactly weather for swimming in the sea, should we wish to treat Sicily to that, but certainly comfortable for walking about. It would have done very nicely last year, too, when we were so badly in need of drying out (strictly in a non-alcoholic way).
Several weeks of Geoff’s daily reports on the cloud cover – the presence or absence of same – the hours of sunshine, and the morning, noon and night temperatures of the town we’ll be staying in beside the Ionian Sea, have given us both hours of pre-holiday delight and eager anticipation. Perhaps that is a slight exaggeration, but we have certainly been looking forward with some confidence to balmy days.
Until now. The weather over there has suddenly changed. There is rain every day, temperatures have plummeted and there are storms and strong winds.
What is it about us? Does word get out that we’re on our way? Do we have some strange influence over weather patterns?
I can hear the orders being issued. “Hey, sun, take your hat off and make yourself scarce for a while, will you? And you, clouds, forget about looking cute and puffy, just turn black and angry and fill the sky until I say you can stop, OK? Rain? Come here and make a nuisance of yourself. Wind? Stick around and make as much noise as you like, if you don’t mind. Chill factor? Oh, you are still around. Good. OK, pretend it’s December and go for it, big time.”
So that’s the prospect. That’s the scene that’s being set for our holiday week. Rest assured we will be packing the thermals and the brollies. We’re not daft. Well, not completely.