One of the first things we did when we moved to the South of France was invest in Solar Panels to heat the water for our house and apartment. With sunshine in plentiful supply it was a no-brainer. There were also financial incentives for switching to greener sources of energy which made the idea even more attractive. And we’ve certainly reaped the rewards, even with 9 guests staying we solely rely on the solar panels to provide the hot water.
I’ve frequently wondered why more properties don’t use solar energy and I am a strong believer that EVERY new build should come with solar panels as standard. Why wouldn’t that be the norm? The installation costs would be significantly lower, the benefits to the home owner would be immense and best of all the world would benefit.
All well and good in these sunny climes I hear you say but what about places where there’s more cloud than sun?
Well a recent chat with a friend who lives in the uk has enlightened me further on the benefits of solar energy. He installed 4 panels on his home in the uk and has not only not paid for electricity since then he’s even selling unused power back to the grid and making a small profit each year.
So I repeat my belief. ALL new homes, wherever they are in the world, should be built to include solar panels. There’s absolutely no reason not to and every reason why it’s beneficial across the board.
My husband suggested a few months ago that we take a road trip to Switzerland and Italy. As is often the way we did little prep until a couple of weeks before we set off. The original idea was to go via Grenoble to Lake Lugano, taking in Como then heading home. The reality was that our criteria for locating places to stay ruled out Grenoble as we struggled to find accommodation there that included both car parking and breakfast (why so difficult?). So Grenoble will wait another day for us.
Our first night was in the French Alps close to Gap (no one had written ‘mind the’ in front of the town name) and it was beautiful, such a lovely area with stunning scenery.
The next day we headed to Italy and based ourselves at a rather lovely hotel close to the Swiss border. From this base we were able to easily get to Lugano and Como as well as exploring the local area.
Our final destination in Italy was a couple of nights in Genoa staying in a rather unusual B&B (our private bathroom was through the breakfast room and reception; a tad interesting for my night-time trips to the loo) but which did fit the car parking and breakfast criteria.
So what were my biggest learning points from this lovely getaway?
Drivers who stick to the speed limit but who expect you to let them out of side roads without a thank you wave or acknowledgement (rude).
Car park attendants who let you out of the car park without paying because you’re too stupid to locate the pay station before you try to drive out.
Appalling driving. Italian drivers drive as fast as humanly possible and a hairs breadth from your rear bumper.
Few speed limits identified on any roads, so it’s a guessing game what the limit is.
Road surfaces almost as bad as in the UK.
Cars parked on pavements so there is not even room for a fag paper to slip through in safety.
Pedestrians who wait until the little green man shows before crossing the road even though there are no cars for miles around.
The rudest café owner I’ve ever met who pretended not to understand a basic order of coffee and chocolate spoken in good Italian by me then insulting me to a fellow customer (I walked out, gesticulating wildly, telling him to forget it and giving him a classic Wendy withering look).
The majority of other Italians we dealt with were absolutely wonderful, helpful and very friendly.
Incredible ancient buildings left to deteriorate but still looking beautiful (please protect your heritage Italy).
Beggars everywhere in Genoa including a rather large (overweight) man with a sign saying hungry next to his begging bowl whilst he sat reading a book.
Canolli is delicious but different in every single patisserie. (Thank you Montalbano for introducing this delight to me).
Every other person on the street has a gorgeous dog with them.
Pizza is as cheap as chips and sometimes cheaper and about three times the size of pizza everywhere else.
The most churches per square mile as well as every church being huge and overly ornate.
But overall what I learned was everywhere we go there’s lots of new things to see and learn. Travel definitely does broaden the mind.