Well, rather than tell you about the golden sunshine, stunning vista and the beach day we had today, I thought I’d start off with getting here!
120 kilos of luggage and a Ryan Air flight and we set off for our life in Toscana. How to get 120 kilos on Ryan Air? Those car seat bags are genius – stuffed full of clothes, towels and anything last minute and you could barely see the car seat in it! Mind you, I did need to bring ‘Uncle Alex’ to the airport to help me load it onto the oversized luggage belt, and anyhow, being the right side of 30, Alex probably didn’t have anything better to do at 5 am on a Monday morning…
I was probably as happy as I am to see the sun in England as I was when the Stansted overhead announced we could ‘check in hand baggage for free if with hold luggage’ – brilliant – two lots of ten kilo ‘hand baggage’ I didn’t need to haul through the airport once aforementioned brother left me at security. This more than made up for the superb start to the day as La Principessa vomited all over me in the taxi literally as we were about to step out of it. La Principessa had a change of clothes. I didn’t. Delightful. But H. and P. doused me in perfume samples as we dragged our way through Duty Free.
Three work colleagues sitting across the aisle gave me faintly anxious but encouraging smiles throughout the flight. P. was mesmerized with what was going on outside his window – he ‘thought that above the clouds was space, but actually – it’s where the sun lives!’ Ah ha – it’s where the sun lives in the UK, but in Toscana, it’ll be a different story.
I befriended those three companions as we made our way through passport control. At that point, they already thought I was teetering on the edge of madness– little did they realize that in addition to the two children, one baby in sling, one hand luggage bag, one small backpack, one change bag, two children’s back packs and one bag stuffed with coats and jumpers, I also had three 20 kilo suitcases, the 30 odd-kilo oversized car seat bag, two more hand baggage bags and a buggy coming in on the baggage conveyor. Ah – the intrinsic good of human nature – the two men went for my trolleys, loaded them up and wheeled the whole lot through to the other side, where we all collapsed on Tom and I hugged and kissed my nameless companions in tearful delight. I’d forgotten that I smelt of baby sick diffused with a mélange of free perfume samples.
And all I lost en route (yes, Celia, I know that should be in Italian, give me a chance!), was a baby romper suit and a vest. Given that I could easily have mislaid a child, I think that’s pretty good going.
So, benvenuto in Toscana alla famiglia … (or something like that) our house of dreams awaits us.
And what a welcome it was: just look at this view.
Finally, three exhausted, but finally clean children were in their beds and Tom and I sat and breathed outside and toasted, quite a few times, with a fair amount of wine, this: the start of a dream which began with a throw away comment over 18 months ago. We pushed on that door which had opened a crack and at each inch it opened, the plan seemed a little more possible, albeit really quite crazy. Of course, it’s still all unreal, just a sunny holiday in a bigger house than we would ordinarily rent, with slightly more toys and clothes. I have come to the conclusion that reality will bite when something goes wrong or slight awry which I know will happen sooner or later. I am rose tinted right now, but in only three short days we have come to understand a little of Italy’s idiosyncrasies and we are sure to find them troubling by degrees as we go. Until then, I am going to drink up this peace, the sound of cuckoo in the morning, the birds of prey wheeling in the skies over head, the sky in its magnificent variance, the fruit trees and smell of jasmine and the panoramic vista rolling out before us.
P.S. For anyone worried about our feline friends, you’ll be pleased to know that Zephyr is settling in well:
He has had his first face off with a gatto Italiano. I’m not sure what confused him more: that fact that he was defending a territory about which he is not yet confident of ownership or that il gatto seemed quite happy to share the space and make friends. To the extent that il gatto was waiting outside the kitchen door for him on Thursday morning… watch this space!