I started to write the below while we were in Italy in November. Tomorrow we make our way back to the UK (without the van, but this is a story for another time), and it seems just as relevant now….
Are we at the close of this chapter of our adventure? Is a new chapter about to begin? We have been living in the van for six months. Traveling from country to country. We’ve been to Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France, and Italy.
We are in Italy now. We crossed the border from France to Italy over Mont Cenis (which I will need to write of as it is an incredibly beautiful place). As with many other crossings, we noted how different it felt all the sudden; the landscape, the houses and buildings, the road condition!, and just a general feeling of being somewhere else now. This time the new feeling was more welcoming. People seemed to be happier, they loved Mabel, and we felt more comfortable in our surroundings.
We met friends in Avigliana early on, and this certainly made Italy feel more friendly. We spent a lovely long weekend reminiscing and talking of current and future plans. With dear friends, you can pick up at any point and just carry on as if you only saw each other last week. We wandered the winding cobbled streets of this little Italian town, drank coffee/ gin/beer, paddled on a lake in the warmth of the sun, ate pizza, and just had a good time.
From there we travelled rather quickly to see another friend, having realised that we missed the feeling of having friends around for some time. A wonderful man I met in my days working in a photo lab in Brighton, he has always welcomed us to see him in his homeland of Italy. He provided us with a place to stay each visit we made to Italy, and that helped grow my love of this country. Living near Bologna, he was well placed for us to visit there, Modena, and after a week of staying with him and his family’s company, we heading to Venice.
Venice is a place I have always wanted to go. I am more than aware that it is a bit like a grown up Disney world… but there is no other place like it. You are shown a picture… and you would know it was Venice.
We stayed in a very conveniently located campsite which allowed us to get a water taxi to Venice for the day. I was a bit worried about taking a toddler, but it actually turned out to be a really great place to go with a toddler ( as long as she avoided falling into the canals… which she did). And it did not disappoint. We went on a weekday and out of season so I imagine that helped, but the sun was shining down, it was pleasantly warm, and we also explored a lot of the quiet backstreets, which in my option are the places to go wandering.
After this we headed to Tuscany. We had learnt that we had friends in a tiny village buying a house and amazingly, in a village of less than 60 people, Craig also had a client who lived there half the year as well. So we went to this previously undiscovered-to-us region, and began to see what it had to offer.
The next chapter is being considered carefully now. We could go back to the U.K. after France. We would rent house, I’d get low paid job in admin (I’m sure I’d meet people there who would make each day enjoyable, but it wouldn’t be my dream job), Craig would begin hairdressing again, most likely full time with long hours, and Mabel would go into child care. We’d see eachother briefly in the morning, in the evenings, and at weekends. It would be what a “normal” life looks like for most people and that would be okay.
But what if we had the opportunity to make life looks little different? To shape it so we had more time together, not have some financial worry hanging over us… should we leap? We very nearly put too much on ourselves again. We had to step back. Consider. What was it that was actually important at this time in our lives? How can we work towards that now? I’m not sure how it’ll develop, or exactly what form it will take, but we will take a path, and maybe this will lead to another, and the adventure will continue…