I have just shared a photo on Facebook, entitled Rock Bottom; a very curvaceous rock indeed, which brought a smile to my face this morning and confirms my love affair with stones of all sorts. My friend, fellow Sunpenny author, Stephanie Parker McKean commented on the photo immediately, as I knew she would. She makes rock sculptures in her garden and finds choosing and handling the stones therapeutic. So we share a passion for pebbles!

My poor, long-suffering husband puts up with my obsession. He is used to me shouting out as we drive along, “Stop, I saw a sign to an Etruscan tomb over there!” Or poring over a map before a day out and squeaking in excitement, “Look, there is a dolmen just off our route, shall we stop?”

friends, trees and rocks

Me and my sister-in-law on a dolmen in France

Being Italian he has seen so many Roman ruins and Etruscan artefacts that he is quite blasé about them and has no wish at all to stop and explore but … he loves me and, usually, indulges me.

When we bought our beautiful old ruin (the Leopoldina farmhouse in need of restoring) I stood inside the cool, empty shell and absorbed the mellow atmosphere of a house that has been well-loved through the centuries. The walls seem to have absorbed the love and just being there makes me happy.

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My adorable old ruin

This was not so for many a house that we visited before we bought this place. In several old houses I could not wait to get out as they really gave me the creeps. I believe that objects, especially natural ones, which surround us will indeed absorb our emotions and store them in some way for posterity.

Shell bowl

Children’s treasured gifts

I collect pebbles on beaches and have several pots filled with these tiny treasures, most of which were carefully chosen gifts from my sons when they were beach combing. We also have some stunning crystals from around the world. My favourite of these is the huge amethyst cave, which I called Merlin’s Cave and used to weave stories around when my boys were small.

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Merlin’s cave

When you want to complement someone who has your complete trust and is always there for you, you call them your rock. My rock is Guido. He might not share my passion for dolmens but he is always there for me, even when I feel caught between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes.

There is a story in “A Whisper Around the Mediterranean” about our “seagull rock”. This enormous hunk of obsidian has guarded our fireplace ever since Guido wrestled it from a cliff in Lipari, risking his life when a seagull, who had been sitting on the ledge where the rock lay, objected to this human pretending to be a bird. Somehow Guido managed to cling onto the ledge when the gull flew off in a big huff. On winter evenings, when we sit around the fire and make plans for the future, that black rock keeps us company, reflecting the flames in its shiny surface.

Seagull rock