The last holiday that I went on produced a long stream of blog posts; this one, I suspect will result in only one or two, which reflects the different character of places. India is a place of conflicts, confusion and excitement; Elba, on the other hand, is a holiday resort, universal beautiful, relaxed; in short, wonderful for swimming, sitting on the beach and general relaxation, but not so wonderful for writing about on a blog.

I took the train from Rome to Piombino Maritima; as with other times, the Italian trains beat the British equivalent easily. While, in some ways, they are not quite as nice inside, they are plentiful, ontime and cheap; the 15 Euro I paid for a three hour journey would hardly get me past the platform in Britain. Piombino itself, appears to be a scenic chemical factory, while Piombino Martima is a working ferry terminus, which says it all.

Elba itself is much, much prettier; a small island, with a large mountain range in the middle. A lesser nation would have built towns around the edge, but, as this is Italy, there are also improbable towns cemented onto impossible slopes, with hair-pin roads snaking inbetween. At this time of the year, though, the focus is on the beaches; I’d love to attempt the 1000m walk to the highest peak, but in this climate, the water, sun-tan cream, and sun umbrella would just weigh me down too much. I think coming back in April for hills, plants and geology would be excellent, though.

Speaking of the beaches, well, there are many. Many of these are hopelessly over-crowded, but some are a little quieter, without motor boats. The swimming is, on the whole, excellent; I bought some flippers which I’m having great fun with; I can dive deeper and stay down far longer, whizzing along through the shoals of fish.

Marciana Marina, where we are staying, is lovely, with a long promenade, several sheltered harbour beachs, and a pebble beach at the end, open to the sea. There is a jazz festival on in the main square; I get the impression they have pretty regular events there, but we’ve lucked out here. The standard has been very high, covering big band, modern trios and a jazz harpist. I’ve enjoyed it all; the crooner with the big band sang standards with a Italian accent, which was strange, but good.

In the relaxation of a beach holiday, I’ve been thinking daft ideas, which I may write about later. One was language teaching related — it’s got a crazy acronym which is Progressive Inculcation of Language by Listening to Stories (PILLS). The second was a design for inflatible flippers, which would work in the water but would also be good for walking outside. And, finally, an idea for domesticated bats as a method for insect control.

Maybe, I’ll write about them. Or, maybe not.

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