Posts Tagged ‘rain’

Things Trumpkin says

About a week ago, I attempted another challenge from my book called Going Greener by Simon Gear. He asked me to have a cup of tea in the garden. It was about appreciating nature and also getting know the garden all year round. When I woke up on the day I intended to do it, it had rained and looked freezing. So I stayed in bed instead.

This morning, I thought, let’s go for it again, get a jumper on and let’s do this! The last few days have been scorchio so I felt confident it would be nice for my challenge.

And then I woke up this morning and came downstairs and…..

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Yeh, I’m regretting putting that towel out on the line now.

And so, the back up plan comes into play. It’s similar to another post I wrote last week, about my favourite quotes from Narnia but today I’m specifically focussing on one character from the fourth book, Prince Caspian, a red dwarf called Trumpkin. You’ll see why I’ve chosen him to quote.

“Horns and halibuts!” exclaimed Trumpkin.

“Bulbs and bolsters!” he thought.

“Whistles and whirligigs!” said Trumpkin.

“Thimbles and thunderstorms!” he cried.

“Lobsters and lollipops!” he muttered.

“Giants and junipers!” Trumpkin shouted.

“Tubs and tortoiseshells!” said Trumpkin.

“Cobbles and kettledrums!” he shouted.

“Wraiths and wreckage!” exclaimed Trumpkin.

“Weights and water-bottles!” came Trumpkin’s angry voice.

Brilliant, aren’t they? We really should speak like this again.

So if you get annoyed at any point today, feel free to use any one of these phrases to exclaim, to show your annoyance. It also works for situations in which you are shocked or excited.

A cup of tea in the garden

Take your morning coffee out into the garden (Simon Gear, Going Greener)

I’ve been sitting on this one for a little while now, feeling like this was the next direction to go in with my Living Usefully project but not quite getting round to it.

As I drink tea, not coffee, I have adjusted it slightly but last night I decided that today was the day when I would take my tea into the garden. The weather has been nice all weekend and there have been some recent additions to the garden which I thought would make standing out there a lovely thing to do.

We recently got a cherry tree, a plum tree, a strawberry plant, tomato plants, a tall fuschia plant and a load of pansies and lobelia so there is a lot to look at in the garden right now. I was looking forward to my tea-in-the-garden plan.

Then I woke up, fifteen minutes ago. The birds were singing, the air felt warm and I pulled back the covers.

Then I looked out of the window. It was pouring with rain and everything looked soaked.

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So I pulled the covers over me again, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Sorry, everyone. I’m sorry. I tried, sort of. I’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe.

My Crocs and I

At first, when my manager at work said she was going to get us all Crocs to wear, I groaned in horror. Crocs! How ugly! I’d never be able to walk out from behind the counter for fear people would see them and judge me.

As if it weren’t bad enough that we were being given Crocs to wear, by the time it got around to ordering mine, there were only yellow and purple left to choose from! To save getting confused, we were each to pick a different colour, so we’d be able to tell which pair were ours. The more ordinary colours had been picked already, the brown, blue, black and grey, which, unless you looked closely, could kind of look like an ordinary pair of shoes. So I had a dull purple or a bright yellow as my options. I picked the purple, it was quite dark and not that noticeable. We ordered them online and then when they arrived, they were obviously an eye-catching bright purple. Obviously. The type of colour which immediately draws your eye.

I was extremely self conscious about wearing them at first. I’d point them out, jokingly, as though I was desperate for people to know that I was aware how idiotic they looked, but they were just my work shoes! Honest! I didn’t buy them out of choice! They’re just my work shoes! Don’t judge me!

Occasionally, I’d put a purple t-shirt on, absent-mindedly and then get to work, change into my Crocs and realise that it looked like I’d organised my outfit that way, to match my Crocs.

Then I started getting casual about them, wearing them home after work, or to the shops. Sometimes I’d go and see a friend straight from work and I’d still have the Crocs on. By the time I realised, I’d just shrug and keep going, hoping that the friendship was strong enough to withstand the extreme ugliness and the general impression they gave, that my feet were ginormous flippers.

Before I knew it, they’d sneaked a place in my line up of shoes and demanded to be considered as the shoe I might choose when I got ready in the morning. Even on days I wasn’t working. There they were, the hugest purplest ugliest things I’d ever come across, with big holes in them, which made rain a nightmare, and with a considerable layer of dirt around the toe area that I was too lazy to clean.

And yet.

And yet they are MY Crocs. They are my big ugly purple Crocs.

And I love them.

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In honour of Downstairs Duvet

O, Downstairs Duvet, you warm up my life,
As the winter approaches, you save me from strife.

I sit on the sofa, clutching my book,
But even my eyes are frozen, so I can hardly look.

My little old house has no central heating,
I turn on the fire but the joy is so fleeting.

Shivering, shuddering, a thought strikes my mind,
A duvet for downstairs, that would be so fine!

And now I am no longer sad as I read,
I think about what a nice life I do lead.

A book in one hand and a cup of tea too,
O Downstairs Duvet, I love you.

You cover me, cuddle me, keep me from cold,
I’d ask you to marry me, if I were bold.

And now when I hear the rain falling down,
I grab Downstairs Duvet and wrap it around.

And so I look forward to the cold winter evenings,
When Downstairs Duvet will make an appearance.

O Downstairs Duvet, you light up my life,
As the winter approaches, you save me from strife.

Rain 2

It’s Wednesday again and time for my guest blogger to take over. Enjoy.

 

Last week’s subject got me thinking. As well as the weather aspect of rain it crops up in a lot of songs. I thought I’d look at just a few.

Remember the Travis song, Why Does It Always Rain On Me? (1999). Apparently, at the exact moment when they played the song, at Glastonbury in 1999, the weather duly obliged. There’s that other classic by B.J. Thomas, Raindrops keep falling on my head (1970). Rain is a mood-altering phenomenon: it can give us a down when we’re being soaked but give us a lift when we see those dark clouds disappearing and best of all when we see it stopping. Remember the Lighthouse Family and the lines from their song Lifted: “I wouldn’t say I’m mad about the rain, But we’ll get through it anyway.” One thing’s for sure as BJT sang, we’ll never stop the rain by complaining; so don’t – move on, it will stop (eventually)!

Garbage (the group) had a song called I’m only happy when it rains, in 1995, which seems to be a similar sentiment to Gene Kelly, (remember last week’s post).
Remember the opening bars of The Doors’ song, Riders on the Storm? Must be one of the most atmospheric sounds of rain & thunder on record. Only managed to reach No.22 in Britain even with two re-issues. (However, here’s a good one – If you watch this vid of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lS-af9Q-zvQ on Youtube, at about 2m 46s, you will see Jim Morrison lighting a cigarette not far from the petrol pump in a garage where he’s stopped to get fuel. Those were the days, eh? Risk of explosion – who me? Where?)

I don’t know much about the weather in the USA apart from the stuff that makes the news over here. In 1972, when Rapid City (South Dakota) lost 238 inhabitants due to flooding lasting 2 days, Albert Hammond was singing about people saying, It never rains in Southern California but then says “Girl don’t they warn ya – it pours, man it pours”. Any readers from California tell me which is right?

As an aside, did you know that hurricanes don’t actually get named. Yes, I know, you can think of plenty but did you realise how they originate. A tropical storm is named when it reaches a sustained speed of 39mph; if that storm then reaches a sustained speed of 74mph it becomes a hurricane and keeps the name it was given as a storm. Also did you know that the names for Tropical Storms follow a prescribed pattern: the first storm of any year gets a name beginning with “A”, the second a name beginning with “B” and so on. (So in 2012 they went like this: Alberto, then Beryl, Chris, Debby etc). Q, U, X, Y and Z are not used.

Furthermore, if the year is an even number, men’s names are used for the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th etc storms; if the year is odd women’s names are used for the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th etc storms. The names are pre-determined so I can tell you that, if there are 21 storms in 2012 that reach hurricane force, no.21 will be called Hurricane William. I can also tell you that the second storm (poss hurricane) in 2016 will be called Bonnie and the 11th will be Karl. (The full table, which goes to 2017, can be found at http://geology.com/hurricanes/hurricane-names.shtml).

Ok, so back to the rain. Are you a bit like the Carpenters – you know, Rainy days and Mondays always get you down? If you’ve never listened to The Cascades’ song Rhythm of the Rain, watch (listen actually, as it’s it’s only a still pic) this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=l1PJ9mF2H2Q. (A brief count of the different uploads of just this one Cascades song by various sources comes to about 3.5 million views).

Of course you’re probably wondering about the wettest place on Earth: where & how much, obviously?

Here’s the wettest place in Britain: Dalness in Scotland
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Looks beautiful doesn’t it? It gets 130 ins (3.3 metres) of rain per year. That means an average of nearly 11 ins per month.

In second place is Seathwaite in the Lake District which is the wettest place in England and here it is.
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Seathwaite (in Borrowdale) gets 124 ins of rain per year.

Both of these pale into insignificance when we look at the wettest places in the world. The top two are in India and get 467 ins (11871mm) & 463 ins (11777mm) – that’s more than 1 in (25.4mm) per day! For the UK 124 ins & 130 ins are enough to be going on with. Definitely worth keeping an umbrella with you I’d say.

What a good job this lady took her umbrella with her!! Just think what might have happened if she’d forgotten it.
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And this chap too. I’d like to see him do a Gene Kelly (see last week’s post):

So please, if you think it might rain don’t forget that umbrella!

A novel written in 1830 by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) called Paul Clifford begins with these very famous lines:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

The novelist’s name has been immortalised in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The English Dept of San Jose University (California, you remember where Albert Hammond sang that it never rained) sponsor it and entrants have to compose the opening sentence to “the worst of all possible novels”.

This list has done the rounds a bit so you may have come across some of them before but here are the 10 entries starting at no.10 and working up to the winner (of 2010 possibly):

10. “As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber, he would never hear the end of it.”

9. “Just beyond the Narrows, the river widens.”

 

8. “With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description.”

 

7. “Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: ‘Andre creep.  Andre creep.  Andre creep.'”

 

6. “Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex-change surgeon to become the woman he loved.”

 

5. “Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eeking out a living at a local pet store.”

 

4. “Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do.”

 

3. “Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor.”

 

2. “Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’; a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death– in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies.”

 

And the winner is. . .

 

1. “The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog’s deception, screaming madly, ‘You lied!'”

I like no.9 for its simplicity (and of course no.1) but see what you think.
I couldn’t finish without quoting Walter Sichel (1855-1933):

“The rain, it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella:
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just’s umbrella.”

(He is of course putting his own comedic spin on the last part of the verse from the Gospel of Matthew Ch 5 verse 45 which has the words: “For He (God) makes His (God’s) sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (I’ve added words in brackets for explanation purposes).

And that’s it for our second look at rain.

Hope I’ve whet your appetite (see what I did there?) for some further research.

Rain

It’s my regular guest blogger with something very topical right now in England… Rain! Enjoy.

 

Let me start with the answer to last week’s (27.9.12) puzzle question. No-one was brave enough to give it a go so here it is. You remember the tank for the boats to go in weighed 252 tons and I asked what it would weigh if two boats weighing 24 tons each were put into it. So that means what does 252 + 24 + 24 equal. Well the answer is 252. Why?

Simply because when you put the 48 tons of the two boats in, an amount of water overflows the tank and that amount of water if you caught it and weighed it would be 48 tons. (So 252+24+24 really does =252!).

Ok now on to this week’s subject: RAIN

I suppose after the bad summer the UK has had and just last week the almost 3 continuous days of rain it was inevitable my thoughts would turn in its direction. Why did it happen? Was there something special going on in the weather sphere?

I think we can all probably remember a time when there seemed to be (and possibly was) rain for days on end. The world has had incredible blips in the rain making cycle which are totally off the scale of normal weather. You may remember, in 2004, the village of Boscastle in Cornwall being badly damaged by flooding caused by just 8 hours of rain.

Rain affects all sorts of things, some for good some for bad. It gets our food crops growing and waters the natural landscape & woodlands. It can stop sporting events, cause rivers to overflow and make you and me wet in varying degrees. Sometimes it seems that every time we go out it is raining. In the paper last week big reductions of UK-produced honey were reported. The reason: wet weather from April to August meant honey bees had far less time to get out and about to do their job of pollinating. (Scotland’s ‘crop’ of honey was down by two-thirds because of the rain; a Derbyshire farmer said he was down 90%!).
Let’s start, as they say, at the beginning. How does rain start? What happens to make it?

Well, first off, it’s back to schooldays geography: heat acts on water on the Earth’s surface, as water droplets increase in heat they become less dense and therefore rise up into the atmosphere where they form clouds. All clouds are simply water droplets hanging up in the sky. They won’t fall down until other things take place. I’m sure you’ve quite happily looked up at those pretty, fluffy, rounded white ones and thought you were ok as they wouldn’t rain on you. I’m also sure you’ve looked up at increasingly darker ones and thought, “It looks like rain”. We do that don’t we? The fluffy rounded white ones are called cumulus and they pass through 3 stages before they get to the state when rain is likely: they start with cumulus humilis which grow into cumulus mediocris and then to the rain-bearing cumulus congestus. One stage further and congestus will grow into Cumulonimbus and this is the baddie as far as the weather goes. It’s the fatal motorway pile up of the weather world. It brings the extremes: hail, snow, lightning, hurricanes and, sadly, sometimes death. I wonder if you imagine what clouds would look like if you were up there alongside them. We tend to look up and think a bit two-dimensionally: we can see their length and we can see their width or so we think. How many of us think of their height (depth)? Think of when you’re on a plane flight: you look out of the window and when coming in to land you see the plane go into the cloud layer and then come out underneath. It’s hard to imagine that depth from the ground looking up because we can’t really see it. Well, the Cumulonimbus is big, massive in fact in physical size, starting at a height above ground of about 6,000 ft (1828 metres) and going up to about 45,000 (13,716 m). That means it can easily be taller than Mount Everest (29,029 ft, 8840 m).
Now let’s stop there for a mo’. How and more importantly where will the ‘heating’ process begin that results in these cloud formations? Think about it. Obvious really isn’t it? It has to be in the areas where the Earth’s temperature is at its greatest. That means the equatorial & tropical regions around the middle of the Earth. Gavin Pretor-Pinney gives an easy to understand example in his book The Cloudspotter’s Guide:

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He uses the lava lamp. You’ve probably all seen one and some will have owned one; my family had one when I was growing up and it was amazing how long you could look at it just waiting to see what the next shape it formed would look like. The ‘lava’ is in the bottom of the glass container when the lamp is switched on. It then heats up causing parts of the lava to become less dense and therefore to rise up in the liquid. Finally when it gets far enough away from the heat at the bottom it becomes more dense, increases in weight and falls back down to begin the whole process again.

That’s why rain doesn’t start in the polar regions; it starts in the middle degrees of latitude around 00 (+/- 23.5 degrees of the tropics) and then works its way either north or south when the cooling process begins. This is the crucial point in the life cycle of rain – its birth as it were. At some point the water droplets then become too heavy to remain up in the air as clouds and will begin to fall as rain. All the preceding states could be considered as foetal or ‘ante-natal’; it is growing from random rising water droplets into clouds and waiting for the ‘something’ to happen which will release the droplets from the cloud to fall on us down here.

In the Boscastle example earlier the ‘something’ was warm air picking up moisture from the Atlantic. It travelled to the Cornish Coast where steep cliffs forced the air upwards. As we said above, the droplets would then cool sticking together forming clouds and further cooling resulted in them falling back to Earth as rain, but because of the massive volume of moisture they were carrying it was very heavy rain. Many records were broken in the Boscastle disaster just because of the amount of rain that fell in such a short time. One fact that intrigues me is that in that one afternoon 7 inches (almost 178mm) of rain fell and yet 10 rain gauges all fairly close by recorded under 3mm! How bizarre is that? It’s like Boscastle had its very own village rain cloud with all the taps turned on – if ever you wanted a definition of a local phenomenon that has to be it. It is believed that it was an occurrence of what is known as The Brown Willy Effect. Now before you go thinking X-rated thoughts let me explain: it is a meteorological term meaning heavy showers developing over high ground but then moving quite a way from their place of origin. Brown Willy comes directly from the Cornish Bronn Wennili which means “hill of the swallows”. It is the highest point on Bodmin Moor (420 m). So now you know.
And here it is.

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(Thanks to Stephen Dawson for photo – re-used under Creative Commons licence)

The disastrous flood that occurred in 1953 along the East Coast of England affected Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent & parts of the Thames Estuary, killed 307 people, damaged 24,000 homes and caused 30,000 people to be evacuated. It was not caused by primarily by rain but by a storm surge of water and a high Spring Tide. (We’d probably call it a tsunami today.) What is interesting is that one of the villages affected by it was called Salthouse. Given recent posts about salt I couldn’t resist checking the place out on line to see what its origins might be. Sure enough there’s a history there of salt making going back to Saxon times and beyond from remains discovered in the area. Maybe that’s one to investigate next time I’m down that way. It’s on the ‘things to do next year’ list.
People write music about the rain, sing about the rain, paint pictures or take photos with rain in, write about the rain and even eulogise in poetry about it. We’ll look at some of those next week but for now I want to direct you to one of the most famous and most shown film clips.

Who can forget the words of that classic song about the pleasure of rain, “I’m singing in the rain”? Gene Kelly was “laughing at clouds, so dark up above” but I doubt we do; he also “walked down the lane with a happy refrain”. Do you? Now I’ve watched this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WttNlbaECDY) and I’ve made a few notes. This guy is such a bad example to kids. Here are a few things which troubled me:

1. He puts his brolly down after just 43 secs. Therefore he gets very wet. Why would you do that?
2. At 1m 21s he actually takes his hat off for a full 7 secs so his head gets soaking wet. It’s off again briefly at 1m 52s. Would you want your child copying this sort of behaviour?
3. At 2m 27s he does the “kick-the-point-of-the-brolly-with-your-foot” trick so it spins-round in the air and he catches it by the handle. He then does it spinning from his own hand and catching it again a bit later. All this time it is not covering him and so he continues to get even wetter.
4. At 3m 1s he stands under the gutter downspout and drops his brolly down so he can get his head soaked again.
5. From about 3m 10s he jumps in the puddles splashing all over the place and seems to think this is just jolly good fun.
6. Only at 3m 40s when a policeman arrives does he seem to think his behaviour is incredibly childish and he acts sort of embarrassed and towards the end bumps into a passer-by and actually gives his umbrella away!

Now come on, hands up any of you who are parents out there – would you want your child to behave this way? No, I’m sorry Mr Kelly this is just not good enough!

I couldn’t finish without telling you about a super video on the subject of rain. Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPodpYu_Ruo&feature=related. How long is it? I kid you not – the timer shows 8 hrs 1 min 13 secs!!! There are a few picture changes and a few thunderclaps but it really is just the sound of rain falling. Check it out (for a minute or so) if you don’t believe me. I’m sorry but I’ve only managed to listen to the first 7 hrs 59 mins then I had to go out so I can’t tell you how it finishes!

Pizza, gnocchi and the ice cream lift

Day two of the surprise trip to Rome went as follows.

We started out with coffee and a croissant near the apartment before heading to the Colossuem.

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We just about missed the huge crowds being led by tour guides and got a relatively uninterrupted visit. There has been lots of reconstruction and cleaning work inside and Danda said it is very different from when he was last here, years ago. Like I said yesterday, everything in Rome in so big. The Colossuem is the ultimate in massiveness. As there were about 80 exits and entrances, post-games, the place could be emptied in ten minutes, despite being able to hold 65,000 people.

The games were all free. Citizens would be given a ticket to get in, which indicated where they were allowed to sit, depending on their position in society. The plebians and women would sit right at the top, being rowdy and uncouth and the dignitaries would sit in the best seats at the front.

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At the bottom of that picture, you can see where they have reconstructed a section of wooden flooring of the arena where the gladiators fought. A few times, we saw groups out on this wooden flooring so I decided I wanted to go on it. When we eventually found the gate we needed, it was shut. So I don’t know how you get on the arena floor bit.

Interesting fact – in the first 100 days after the Colossuem was opened, 5000 animals were killed in a long opening celebration. 5000! It’s a wonder there are any animals left in Europe!

Next we went to the Emmanuel Vittorio II building, known as the “wedding cake”. Recently, it had a glass lift built onto the outside which takes you up onto the roof. For some reason, I kept getting mixed up and calling it the “ice cream cake” building and the lift, I called the “ice cream lift”. So anyway, we went up the ice cream lift and views over Rome were amazing. As the Romans don’t seem to build very high, you have pretty much uninterrupted views to all the main monuments.

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Although it was built a little over a hundred years ago, it is in keeping with the general grandeur and style of the ancient Roman statues and buildings. So it is still amazing to look at.

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Next, we headed to a cafe for a top up on our coffee levels. We were like alcoholics, panicking as we sobered up. Parallel to the Via del Corso, we found a lovely little back street cafe, where I ordered an iced coffee and channelled my inner Italian.  

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What came was a kind of cold coffee-chocolate-cappuccino thing. It was good. But I don’t really know what it was.

Next, we made a beeline for the Spanish Steps and passed the Trevi Fountain, quite without meaning to. A quick squeeze through the crowds and a pic then we continued on our way.

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We stopped for lunch at the Spanish Steps and found a lovely little bistro, next door to the Ristorante alla Rampa, which is what we had been heading for, on the strength of a recommendation. It was full, though, so we settled for eating next door and it was a fantastic choice. We had our first pizza of our Roman Holiday and it was really good.

Next, we strolled along the Via Condotti, admiring the fancy shops and expensive items…

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… And not buying anything!

We realised, by this point, that our legs were feeling the pressure so walked back to the apartment to get ready for dinner, which we ate right in front of the Pantheon.

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Thankfully, we were under canopies because it rained pretty heavily, all of a sudden, for about forty minutes, hence the tourist-less view of the Pantheon on this photo.

I had asparagus and egg for starter and gnocchi with ragu for my main. It was soft and springy and tasty and exactly how gnocchi should be.

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We took a taxi back to the Colossuem and walked from there. It was the first time we had travelled in Rome using anything other than our feet.

We headed to the ice cream shop near our apartment where we had been the previous two nights and I dithered around taking forever to make a decision. I got a tiramisu and some caramel-peanut ice cream. Mmmmm. The tiramisu I saved and had the next day for breakfast (when in Rome…?).

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