Tag Archives: “swimming pool”

Ojai Valley Inn, an oasis within an oasis…

Mrs P is quite adamant, and Ms P is in full support: A holiday needs some luxury, or else it’s not a real holiday. And luxury means spa treatments, shopping and cocktails (although we try to hold Ms P back from the latter, as she’s only 14…)

And there’s no better place for all these indulgences than a real American country club retreat. So we went to one. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, in California. Rather nice, too.



The eagle eyed may spot a sign to the ‘Fragrance Courtyard’, an oasis within an oasis, where ladies can create perfumes, bottle them and bring them home, for a small fee.







Whilst the girls were being girls, the boys stuck to being boys. So leaving the ladies to their olfactory creativity, Grandad, Peck Jnr and I smacked a few balls round a fantastic golf course (I won – and that may be the only time I’m able to write that so I’m taking the honours whilst I can). All topped off with exquisite meals in exquisite restaurants.


45 ft putt, and GD gets it in!

45 ft putt, and GD sunk it!


Whilst others slept into the morning I rose early to make the most of the delightful swimming pool. Swim a mile in the morning means there’s no harm in indulging in a mojito or 6 in the evening.






Refreshment by the pool was frozen grapes, cold and sweet. Heaven in the high nineties.




It was difficult, almost painful, to tear ourselves away from this Eden. The golf, the perfume, the restaurants, the pool, the mojitos, the frozen grapes – they are all calling us to return and one day we shall. Like the ex-Governor of C, I’ll be back….




The view from my window…

Dawn view

Dawn view

There’s nothing like a good view to revitalise the spirits, and this was our Croatian view for the 2 week summer vac. Slow down, breathe deeply, relax, leave the city behind…

Breakfast lunch and dinner

Breakfast lunch and dinner

Given that I am a Brit living in Britain, eating outside is not the norm. So this is just bliss. Just add bread, cheese, tomato salad, and a glass of wine.

A spot for lazing

A spot for lazing

And when it gets too hot, cool off.

And when it gets too hot, cool off.

An olive tree means hot weather. It’s become a symbol of holiday destinations and holiday mood.

This one's a youngster

This one’s a youngster

If we tire of the pool we just head down to the beach for a dip there (and ice cream, maybe a beer…) Watch the boats come in.

This much colour must scare the fish off...!

This much colour must scare the fish off…!

The day ends, as it must, with a sunset. But on holiday they always seem so glorious!

Sunset in Cavtat

Sunset in Cavtat


Lastly the moonrise, and a whole new seascape view opens up before us. Not bad for a view from our window…

Final view before sleep

Final view before sleep

Lazing in the summer sun

Once we managed to get away from the UK drizzle in August, we found, at last, the sun. And the colour changed from grey to blue, green and white – the summer colours.

And the breeze blew…

These are the best sorts of lazy days. Late breakfast, roll out to the pool, flop down with a book, a dip when it gets too hot, glass of cold crisp wine with lunch (at 3pm-ish) and then back to the pool for more lazing…


imitating Tom Daley…

blue and bluer

The pool is guarded by putti who are bleached white in the Spanish sun. Rather cute.

On guard.

Watching from one end of the pool.

And from the other. I wonder what they’ve seen over the years…

Here’s the view from the bedroom as the sun comes up.

the promise of another sunny day

the view round the headland

Good to remember the beautiful sunny delights of the Costa Brava where the sun warmed us up and prepped us for the cold misty Autumn that’s about to arrive…

Soaking up the view

Lazy Summer Sun Days

Ah, the summer is over. But what a summer! Those lazy hot long days relaxing by the pool on holiday. All fading into the past, but never to be forgotten. Here are some images to drift over when the mizzle closes in.

a pool in heaven

Italy is a good place to spend the summer. So we did. Mostly by the pool. Just gazing.

enjoy the view

This is the best pool that I’ve ever swam in. The view really did go on for ever, a true infinity pool. Exquisite detailing. Very Italian – what am I saying! It was Roman! I was just missing my toga!

Italian pool

turquoise, blue, gold, silver

Man Friday

The boy,.... couldn't get him out

the diving rock

don't you just want to go in...

This is what counts for exercise around Lake Trasimeno, Umbria…   Well, the summer sun days will have to last us till next year. Long live holidays!

hectic days before, hectic days after, but not today...

If there is a paradise on earth….. Tuscany!

I’ve blogged on Italy before – Venice in the flood, which frankly was a bit cold and damp. But here’s a different side to Italy. Tuscany in the warm summer!

From a pictures point of view I don’t think there is a more photogenic area than the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. It’s absolutely gorgeous. This is a little chapel, plonked in the middle of a field – stubbly corn when I was there – which just reeks of classical/Romano Italian nostalgia. It’s visible from the main road, but only across the valley (see the pic lower down), and is actually quite hard to get close to. So after much searching and driving down dead ends, I was chuffed to bits finally to get close to the Capella di Vitaleta:

Capella di Vitaleta - quintessential Val d'Orica, Tuscany

Capella di Vitaleta

Rain storm approaching

Now I try to be an early bird when I get my chance to indulge in photography, but that’s invariably during the summer months which means VERY early if I’m going to catch the light. Which is tough, and which is why I don’t have that many dawn photos in the portfolio. But here’s a misty view over the Val d’Orcia which shows I can get my lazy self out of bed occasionally.

Morning mist

rolling fields in the late afternoon

Here’s the classic view of a Tuscan villa. Do you recognise it. It’s in so many films. Check out Gladiator for instance. There it is as the backdrop for the hero’s Italian home – the one Russell Crowe never gets to because he’s too busy fighting wars in Germania and then in Rome – but this is what he dreams of. And I can understand why!

Il Belvedere. Now that's what I call a country villa

But we weren’t staying in Il Belvedere, we were actually in a more modest farm house, called Montecucco, which sat overlooking a valley. Basic, simple and utterly delightful. Far from the madding crowd doesn’t quite capture it, it was completely lost in the wilderness. So much so that we had a 3 mile dirt track road to it where we regularly bumped into porcupine, deer and other creatures (we reckon we saw a pine marten…?!?!). One night we had bats inside the house. You know how bats rely on their hearing… Well, a bit of shrieking from the girls and the bats beat a hasty retreat…

Our home for the summer, Montecucco

View from Montecucco

But dig this view – we could see for miles across the valley up to the medieval castle on the far hill, and not a car or motorbike to disturb the peace. In fact the only thing that did was a huge thunderstorm which travelled right down the valley. We were at eye level with it, marvelling as it cracked and struck and flashed its way past. So awesome, the kids were struck dumb for half an hour….

Montechiello road

The road to Montechiello – a dream of a road for a sportscar – well, maybe next time.

But before we left we did the obligatory trip to Pisa. And in spite of the over-commercialism, the tower and the cathedral were absolutely delightful. Impressive in spite of the hype. I highly recommend.

No guesses for where this is...

Not a bad vase for the garden...

So ciao! from Toscana. Put it on your list of places to go. Great wine, food, lovely scenery. It’s simply a delight!