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Donkin's World: Tuscany

...OK, there was no water when we arrived, no toilet rolls, soap, washing up liquid or kitchen rolls. It was as if the god of cleanliness had demanded a particularly thorough sacrifice from the previous tenants....

Despite this Richard Donkin and his family enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Tuscany.

Do please visit Richard's well-stocked Web site
http://www.richarddonkin.com/

Details of his book Blood, Sweat and Tears which is acclaimed world-wide can be found here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Sweat-Tears-Evolution-Work/dp/1587990768/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1214554429&sr=1-2

I'm cautious about booking holidays. I always look at the brochure pictures for signs of building work. But everything looked pretty good about the Tuscan property we took for a week, and so it proved.

OK, there was no water when we arrived, no toilet rolls, soap, washing up liquid or kitchen rolls. It was as if the god of cleanliness had demanded a particularly thorough sacrifice from the previous tenants.

So we crossed our legs for a while as Guiseppe, the man who looks after the property, got the water running again. We shared a bar of soap and a single toilet roll for a day until we found a shop for more supplies.

But it was a small price to pay for this wonderful place that had everything you could want of a Tuscan holiday: good sized outdoor pool, indoor pool (the sort you play with cues) marvelous views, shady places to eat and bedrooms everywhere - more than enough for our party of 10.

A well-stocked vegetable garden gave us fresh salads and tomatoes every day with eggs from the chickens - all this and just half an hour from Pisa airport. The roads became progressively narrower until we ended up on a dirt track to the driveway. This ensured privacy but it didn't take long - about five minutes drive - to find a great restaurant in the nearby village.

It's not every day that Gill's mum and dad get the chance to be with all their grandchildren so we were chuffed that all our boys and their two cousins could come. The mix of generations worked well and everybody helped out so that Gill wasn't left with all the jobs.

Usually it takes me a full two weeks to wind down but this time it was pretty instant and we all feel rested. I think it helped to leave the computers at home and mobile telephones switched off. I wouldn't normally spend an hour watching an ant drag the carcass of a much bigger fly laboriously over the patio but you can do that kind of thing when time doesn't matter.

We love Florence, but our day there was disappointing, never again in July - too many crowds. Lucca, on the other hand, was something else, what Florence used to be like before the crowds descended.

The only downside was the flying - I don't like the EasyJet scrum for undesignated seats or the airport hassle that makes flying today the very worst kind of transport. Scotland next with a long drive north - but always worth it when we get there.

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