I began writing this blog apologising that it was non-writery, because it was a quick account of my trip to Italy, but then I remembered everything I do is writerly. Every fun (and not so fun) interaction I have with my teenage children, every time I have some disastrous domestic incident, and every new life experience – it’s all potentially going to pop up in a book or short story somewhere along the line, so I’m now going to tell you what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks and don’t want any of you thinking I’ve been off enjoying myself. It’s been work every single waking moment…
I have four children. We don’t go abroad. In fact two of the children have never even left the country – and by that I mean not even been out of England, never mind Great Britain. So when an opportunity came up for my husband and I to stay in a very dear friend’s trullo in Italy (https://trullo-tranquillo.com/) it was a bit of a no-brainer. Especially when my phenomenal in laws offered to have my four gangly teenage boys for the week.
I thought about it for a nanosecond… and then I booked the flights.
So on 13th June we flew to Brindisi airport in the south of Italy and spent an amazing week in Puglia (the heel of the boot) – often referred to as the Undiscovered Italy to stay in this little beauty:
The whole area has a rugged charm, and is famous for its olives, wine, fish and, of course, the trulli houses. So all of my favourite things in a hot climate with some of my best friends in the whole world.
Puglia sits between the Adriatic and Ionian seas, which gave us a choice of coastline when we fancied a beach day. We visited several beaches, some sandy and some rocky – but all of them beautiful. My husband launched himself from a cliff, not to escape me apparently, but purely for thrills. (Video proof available.) I wore a bikini. (Video proof unavailable.) We visited the quaint Alberobello, a town full of these hobbit-like houses that the region is so famous for, and spent a day at the picturesque Lecce. I marvelled at the deep rich red soil and the acres and acres of olive trees that stretched as far as the eye could see. The locals were friendly and so generous, considering our limited language skills. It was truly an amazing experience.
Despite travelling around the region during our stay, what struck me was how content I was at the trullo. In fact, I have it in mind as a future writing retreat where I could stock up on the essentials and quite happily lose a week typing away in the shade of the afternoon sun.
I ate too much and drank the perfect amount. And I didn’t want to come home.
But here’s the thing. Book four, currently on hold while I edit book three, has a small but significant Italian thread. Something that was in place before this holiday opportunity came up, so guess who can justify the trip as research now? #smugwriter
I returned from holiday to find my New Writers’ Scheme report had landed and eagerly devoured the wisdom of my lovely reader (thank you to the furthest star in the whole of the universe and back again – whoever you are). She was so generous with her feedback, and I had the real sense that not only was success within my grasp but that she wants me to to succeed. Currently up to my earlobes in edits (headphones on, Coldplay at high volume, wine to hand – you know the drill…) I am doing my very best not to let her down.
As real life plods along in its own indomitable way, and the school year nears its end, I am looking forward to spending the summer with my wonderful boys (their holiday will be in a tent, cooking baked beans on a gas stove, and it will probably rain – a lot *evil laugh*). I am also keeping busy with my new business venture – selling a small collection of rare unused Edwardian marquetry panels. The craftsmanship still blows me away every time I look at them. Our first outing in Colchester at the start of July was incredibly successful and I’m looking forward to future events. (Oh, I feel a vintage themed plotline coming on…)
And the swirly pink icing with glittery sprinkles on top of my wonderful cake of life – THE RNA CONFERENCE – is only a heartbeat away. Doubtless a blog post will follow. But remember, folks, it’s work, work, work all the way.
(Postscript to my children. Mummy does love you really. Sorry she keeps going away without you, but, well, she just does. It’s a sanity thing.)