16:10 sunday 13 august – eurostar , milano to napoli
a month to fill in …
my intention had been to return to britain for just a week , principally to gather with warren langley , craig and henry to discuss the next steps for trampoline and to start organising the sse learning web project with james smith . james had phoned me in milan a few days earlier to let me know that the school’s bid for core funding to cover its development for the next three years had been successful so we could start putting some of our plans into action . this is enormously exciting for me but it also brings new responsibilities . circus must evolve into a more formal structure than has been necessary hitherto .
when my work in london was done i decided not to return to milano immediately , but to head down to mum and dad’s house in gloucestershire and bite the bullet of scanning my slides from last year in the islands . ten days later i had 1050 of them digitised , cropped , resized and catalogued . this represents about half of the slides i took . the experience was a kind of purgatory , both for me and for mum who had to put up with my steadily declining temper . i really hope i never have to do anything like this again .
but the satisfaction of having the archive here on my powerbook is considerable . the process has also given me a clear sense of the raw material i have to work with , should i attempt any kind of publication or exhibition . it was , of course , a strongly nostalgic experience retracing my footsteps through the period , moment by moment . as i reached the final week i felt again the heaviness of each frame , remembering my sense that i was looking at things for the last time , paying my final tributes to places and objects i loved . my heart was in my throat once again .
during those ten days my relationship with sandhurst , my parents’ village , changed somehow . i explored the bank of the river severn on my bike , discovered favourite places to which i returned day after day . likewise the local hill with its views to the malverns on one side and the cotswolds on the other . experiences i overlooked when i lived there as a child . we take so much for granted . it has taken me this long to appreciate the beauty of the area and particularly of the garden mum and dad have created over the last dozen years . for a few days this became my office and i could not have wished for a more idyllic environment in which to pursue my unwelcome labours .
finally it was done and i was free to return to italy . i flew from stansted to brescia with ryan air . bizarrely the ticket cost even less than my previous charter horror but the service ran like clockwork and after an hour’s train journey i was back in fofo’s appartment on via solferino . to my delight my arrival coincided with a brief visit on business by my friend christian , so we had time for a fleeting coffee before he returned to london .
and in milano i have remained , buried in my work for the sse and the scillonia digital workshop . my only escape has been a day with a friend on the shores of lago di como … until today .
fofo and his family have been holidaying on the tiny island of stromboli , just north of sicilia , since my return to milano . finally , a few days ago , my resistance to his urging that i should join them collapsed . for one thing milano has almost completely shut down . over the last week swathes of shops have put up sheets in their windows and announced their closure until september . now that my favourite grocer , fruiterer , fishmonger and bakery have joined the stampede , life is scarcely worth living . on another note , this is a good opportunity to spend a week of retreat preparing the development plan and specifications for the sse learning web . and , of course , i am only too happy to be travelling to a small island once again .
so here i am , just leaving firenze , almost halfway through the six and a half journey to napoli . i had no difficulty deciding to travel by train rather than flying . this is a wonderful introduction to the changing landscapes and architectures of italy . what a trip !
from napoli i will board a ship for the six hour voyage to stromboli , where i shall arrive at five tomorrow morning just as it is getting light . what a way to arrive !
typically i am relying to a daft extent on fortune . i have no accommodation booked on stromboli and this is the peek week of the year , so i am likely to find myself sleeping beneath a tree . also i have no booking for the ferry . and i will have a mere thirty minutes between this train’s scheduled arrival and the ferry’s departure . not really a comfortable margin . who knows how it will all work out .
my absorption in various projects has resulted in a greater backlog of personal correspondence than i have ever accumulated before . it weighs heavy on me . when i return to milano i shall dedicate an hour each day to its reduction . if anyone were to draw the conclusion that their missives were unvalued they would be sorely mistaken . i regret my carelessness .
oh , there’s another batch of photos at
http://www.charlesarmstrong.net/snapshots/2000-07-01 . another experimental interface , i’m afraid … this time you only have to * point * at the thumbnails to download the large image ! i’ve already thought of some improvements for the next cluster … when i get round to it .