Now, travelling "home" to Norfolk from Stansted airport means passing Cambridge and that's handy because Umbi's brother Filippo is at university there. We arrived just a few minutes before he sailed in by bike, fresh from a lecture.
When Fil had left for Cambridge last October we'd been concerned about how the "loss" of his brother would affect Umbi; but we shouldn't have worried. Interestingly it was Filippo who felt the wrench most deeply. Umbi by contrast, despite adoring his older brother, flourished in the space that his absence created, and over the Autumn term while Fil was away, I witnessed him fast-forwarding from the "kid brother" into the sixteen year old young man he'd been needing to become, but had been impeded from doing so by the deep-rooted and long-standing Big Brother/Little Brother dynamic which existed between them.
Fil took us on a tour of his college ....
.... and his room.
Then he scoffed a pork shank I just happened to have in my bag .....
... and we said "Goodbye", knowing we'd be together again in Italy very soon for the holidays.
Filippo is studying Arabic (among other things) and he went off to Jordan alone during Easter. He had the most wonderful uplifting experiences during his trip and was greeted with a warm "old world" welcome from the Jordanians everywhere he went. He was bowled over by their disinterested generosity and was touched by their genuine pleasure on discovering he could speak their language.
These are just a few selfies he took there while visiting Petra
Getting there at six in the morning meant he had it all to himself
Yep, I'd have my amazed face on too with a backdrop like that
Lastly, this bedouin boy's esthetic sense was offended by the way Fil had arranged his kuffiyah, and he begged to be allowed to "make beautiful"!
Anyway, back to Umberto and his passion for steam locomotives
We made an early start and were among the first enthusiasts on the platform at Holt Station, ready for the North Norfolk Railway Spring Steam Gala.
(actually the Guard told me they don't say "all aboard" in England - but I can't remember what they do say. Sorry!)
The line which is generally closed to main-line train traffic runs from Holt, through Weybourne to Sheringham
We got off at Weybourne Station to toast ourselves before the fire in the cosy waiting room
.... and I nipped into the Ladies, where some entertaining, informative and functional vintage adverts were displayed
Then we were off again - to the seaside town of Sheringham
Everyone working on the railway from ticket collectors to guards, engineers to carpenters; the staff manning the tea rooms and shop; and cleaners, signalmen, firemen and engine-drivers are all volunteers.
There were big black engines ...
Steam which enveloped us in seconds ....
.... and a whistle too piercing for two ears to bear!
There was a small green engine.
Umbi told me it was "Emily"! (fans of Thomas the Tank Engine will confirm he's right)
And here's another Thomas character. Toby's coach, "Henrietta"!
Travelling outside on this carriage was the highlight of the day for Umberto....
.... and I was charmed and fascinated by it too! It wasn't large, (in the picture below I'm in First Class and I'm photographing Umberto through the wooden divider as he stands in Third Class), so depending on which end you occupied you either travelled First or Third class. First Class was comfortable but rather staid with its two padded benches running along the sides; whereas Third Class had standing room only ... AND A BAR!!! Now, that would have been my kind of party
It was a day of Spring daffodils and Spring showers
A family day
(yes I really was there, and so was Grandma too)
There was biting cold and sleet; but there was also sunshine
For Umberto it was
"The Perfect Day"
This blog is pro-autism.