When things go right

I hate going on holiday. I hate the process of going away, I hate the not knowing where stuff is, losing a whole day to get home again, that sort of thing. Add to that the things that can go wrong and, for a natural pessimist, quite quickly the cons can outnumber the pros.

Take my recent writing week in Italy. What could be better? A week’s writing tuition by Sue Moorcroft, a well-known, successful author in my preferred genre, in a country villa in Umbria, the company of friends.

Well let’s start with flying from Stansted at 7 am. Being from the north this meant an overnight stay in a Premier Inn. Nothing wrong with Premier Inn – we chose them over several others. But at 3 am the fire alarm went off and this was a week after the Grenfell tower disaster. And wasn’t Premier Inn the chain that was upfront about the fact that some of their hotels were less than fireproof on the outside? I was out of bed faster than a midday lover at the sound of tires spitting gravel on the driveway. Bang went that night’s sleep, though to be fair to the hotel staff they were quick to reassure us we were not going to roast in our sleep.

At least not there.

Hot sun, blue skies, tinder dry forest as far as the eye can see

The problem was, lovely though our destination was, it was in forest – an endless forest. There had been no rain for four months. A hot wind fanned the valley. Scores of people had recently succumbed to Portugese wildfires in identical circumstances…

Did the owner have to tell us about the local arsenist?

That first night I lay awake listening for the roar of the approaching firestorm, the first faint whiff of wood smoke. I had my plan all worked out: I’d be first in the pool. The water would give some protection from super-heated air. Alternatively, we could barracade ourselves into the small room under the house with wet mattresses against the doors to keep the smoke out and the oxygen in.

Not that I’m a complete catastrophiser, but even boy scouts advise one to be prepared. Somebody has to be and everybody else seemed to be enjoying themselves far too much to have a survival action plan.

Fortunately, on day 2, it rained.

And … relax.

Unfortunately, that was when my husband developed a cold. The subsequent nights were sleepless as a result of coughing and snoring.

But this is a positive thinking blog. Let’s look past the cons to the pros, because there were some. Let us linger not on the stupifying weariness or the constant threat of death by inferno. Let us push those to one side and remember instead:

  • the motley collection of daft dogs – always entertaining
  • long hot days with Sue Moorcroft (who won’t be doing it next year)
  • pleasant company
  • delicious mediterranean food (and wine)
  • a cool pool
  • on the way home, being wedged between two delightful young Italian men because my husband and I are far too tight to pay to choose our own seats on Ryan Air so I always get allocated an E seat (non aisle, non-window) and my husband was four rows aft…

Always there is a silver lining. You just have to look for it.




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