I have always loved diaries.
I find it fascinating to recall all those little moments in life, the tiny insignificant ones that bring a smile to the corner of your mouth. It’s funny really, as it has been a fascination since I was young – the many different covers they can come in, bright colours, leather bound or even this one which has no cover at all. It must be a family thing as my niece loves notebooks and diaries also, and we once shared a secret grin as we realised that Isla is the same.
And so, many months after treatment we find ourselves on holiday. The first time in almost four years. We have chosen the Italian lakes and it is truly truly breathtaking. The need for some sunshine therapy is a real one. Just to lay back, closing your eyes and inhaling the fresh mountain air is a therapy that you cannot pay a price for.
I chose some books at the airport (even though I could have downloaded some on the kindle) but I much prefer the old fashioned paper version for reading material. This is possibly why I love Italy so much, the old mixed with the new is a juxtaposition that you can almost feel.
The children are beyond excited. Noah has made new friends wherever we go – starting with our flight a kind little boy named Noman (renamed Norman) who shared his fidget spinners & sweets right to the many other children who are more than happy to join in the dive bombing at the poolside edge. Noah loves to swim and dive for objects thrown right down to the bottom of the pool for him. In fact he loves the pool so much he never wants to leave when it is time for day trips or lunch. His second love is the newly discovered football pitch which allows even more friends to be made & bedtime curfews to be broken. Isla is growing in confidence in the pool too, learning to jump in and even being brave enough to join a game of water volleyball with the younger ones without her brother. It seems everywhere we go she is being called ‘Bella’ by the waitresses and passers by – blonde hair and green eyes make her look very Italian or so it seems.
Every now and then I catch a glimpse of the views across the lake from the poolside or the balcony and it takes my breath away. The lake (Garda) is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The huge clambering mountains provide the perfect backdrop for the sparkling clear blue waters. In the harbour the boats bob along at the side of the shore and the restaurants spill across the setting, awaiting their guests. One evening we sat after dinner with giant ice creams on the harbour wall, legs dangling, just taking in the peacefulness of the sunset and the lapping of the water.
Sometimes you have to pinch yourself to check if it is all real.
And there has been day trips. Much to the annoyance of the children who want to stay by the poolside and swim all day and everyday. Tempting as it is, you just cannot be in such an amazing country without exploring its nooks and crannies. We have driven along the periphery of the water as far as we could go to a small town laden with little shops displaying canvases of local artwork. We have stolen glances at the beautiful houses over hanging the sides of the water and set back amongst the trees as if they are hiding from you – no doubt belonging to a very rich (& lucky) person. We have sought out the nearby tourist attractions in cities such as Verona. Juliette’s balcony has been a highlight (perhaps one for the bucket list) and has fuelled many conversations about Shakespear, love stories and Noah’s favourite ‘biting of the thumb’ by way of insulting your enemies.
There has been ice cream – oh so much ice cream from the little gelato shops only too happy to provide a cool distraction from the stifling heat. Strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, cherry, pistachio, Nutella and many many more than you could ever eat although the children are giving it their best shot.
And when the clouds go dark and the Mediterranean storms arrive everyone takes cover to watch the most spectacular lighting displays. The thunder rolls through the mountains and the clouds are so dark it seems like the end of the world, if only for a while. And just as quick as it arrives, it goes again leaving behind it the calmness of the lake and some very scared children.
Each day Noah asks what we have planned and then proceeds in letting us know that it he had planned a day by the pool. Each day Isla makes up a little dance and tries her best to read bits of my books and score yet more ice lollies by asking one or the other of us.
Each day we forget more and more which day it is, or that there is ever a place other than this.
Of an evening we explore the local restaurants and the food is beyond perfect. Fresh meats and cheeses, olives, seafood and salads. Pizza, pasta and wine – lots of wine. Noah has a new love for mussels and Isla loves the deep red tomatoes, much to my relief. The children have rediscovered a love for colouring in, while we chat idly about how we would love to buy a small house here for our retirement one day, perhaps for our grandchildren to run around in.
It seems like we have been here forever and it has only been a matter of days. This holiday was a much needed break for us all. The sunshine has healed old wounds and caused our shoulders to slowly relax. There has been squabbling over swim floats & who sits where in the hire car – but there has been smiles, plenty of smiles and laughter too.
Oh and did I mention? There has been lots and lots of ice cream.
Artwork credit – Yolanda Sanchez Midsummer Magic