** Pre post note – This post was written almost a month ago on a wonderful warm night in Rome. My Macbook died on the holiday and although the post was written, the photos could not be uploaded once the hard drive died.
It is very special for me to re read this now and share with you all here. I am in the throes of writing about our incredible Relish Mama food tour also (which took place post this family holiday)…stay tuned.
I write this to you from Rome on what is my last day in this beautiful city. I am in an Air B & B that takes my breath away. I feel more than lucky to be here just one year on from my last visit. Oh how I love you Roma!
So……. (or “Allora” as would be the appropriate phrase to insert here right now in Italy) ….we have enjoyed a pretty spectacular three week family holiday in Europe (predominantly Italy). It was so much more than I could have ever hoped for. I am pleased to report we are all still on speaking terms and there was really only one moment that one unnamed teenager really lost it.
Like…really lost it!! Remarkable really. One event. Praise the lords !!
It was a very teary farewell this morning as we said our goodbyes. They have set off on the long journey home to Australia. I leave Rome and return to Liguria soon, in readiness for our fabulous 2016 food tour. Last years tour of the same region was so unbelievably super dooper. Really….so, so, so super dooper. If you haven’t already, you can read about it here. You could also do yourself a big favour & join us for next year’s tour. Pop it on your Kris Kringle list. Go on !!!
This year we have 16 fellow travellers joining us. All are coming from Australia and many are treasured customers of Relish Mama. It promises to be very special. At the end of the tour, I am off to Sicily for a few days, in preparation for next year’s food & wine tour (Come with me to the sea). I am jumping the gun though and will report back on these adventures after the tour.
Here I want to share with you some of the highlights of the last three weeks and a summary I guess of what my heart is feeling / what I have learnt.
- I have learnt that my tribe is very, very cool to travel with. Well I actually already knew how cool they were but three weeks solid time together…..so utterly cool.
Sestri Levante swim time
- I have discovered sides to my three daughters that, in the past, may have been a little hidden. Travelling and navigating our way around countries bought forward some really admirable strengths.
Go girls !!! You make your Mama so proud.
- I have adored having time with Michael to talk about our paths, our dreams, our life.
- I thank heavens and I treasure the sense of sound.
~ I sit here writing this with a glorious hum of traffic (mainly vespers) buzzing away in the background. You cannot hear it (I so wish you could) but it is creating a feeling deep in my core that I can only subtly describe to you. This same sense was heightened yesterday when I stopped to take a photo of some children playing soccer in the Piazza just near where we are staying. After taking the photo, Michael was looking at me in a very beautiful way (which was a relief as I was a little concerned of how stalker-ish I looked to the parents) . I explained to him how beautiful I found the voices of Italian children & he totally agreed. He said it is all part of the magic but it can only be captured by us and a memory really now.
~ I clearly didn’t capture what I heard in this one photograph above & I know it is not even that great of a photograph but perhaps just close your eyes after looking at this photo & PLEASE…TRY…FOR ME. Take yourself there. Such a simple scene but a beautiful one. Just imagine the sounds (for me ? )
~ Sound again – I confirm that Bruce Springsteen is nothing short of awesome to listen to on the 5 hour drive from Milan to Rome. Bruce is one of our fave’s & cranking him loud and having your kids scream the words to “Erie canal” makes your heart burst. Grabbing your husband’s hand as you drive through the mountains & tunnels to “ Dream baby dream” !!!! is also right up there.
- A little left of centre here but after loosing our legendary “Bob the dog” in March this year, I have discovered that over family dinner conversations in Italy….I have absolutely NO say, WHATSOEVER!!!, whether we get another dog or not. The NOT part was not an option. Apparently “the tribe” has spoken. I will love him with a very full heart (and that, my friends, was my concern…not sure I can go through that heart break a third time)……my gang are just happy I will love him. Stay tuned for new arrivals.
- I tell you once & I tell you twice – Food tastes better (as corny as it sounds) when it is cooked with love. I would suggest you pop it on an apron or tea towel but I believe that boat has sailed.
Anyway….one fine day, we walked from Santa Margherita to Portofino (which btw…is one of my favourite walks ever & I will be lucky enough to do it for a third time next week on tour). When we arrived in stunning Portofino, the girls are “STARVING” and yes they likely were “STARVING” for it had been at least two hours since their last gelato. I had a ristorante we visited last year that was really lovely & one other on my wish list. Instead, we ended up at the shit scores of hell (& yet conveniently opposite the one on my wish list to rub it in a little further). Our girls were over my food obsession in preference to their need to curb their “STARVATION” that at that point seemed to only be cured with shit pizza.
A beautiful walk, a beautiful day, a beautiful boat ride home but a really, really crappy meal.
After paying the bill, Ettie & I qued up for the bathrooms inside (we had eaten outside). It was like a comedy act. The Chef was one grumpy lady and every time she bought a dish out she cussed and pretty much threw the dish at the servery. It was unpaid entertainment but for someone in the industry, it crushed me (a lot). Ettie said, “next plate that comes out Mum & we had better duck for cover. She is so angry & doesn’t want to be here!”
Bless this amazing child of mine who then said, “ You could taste in the food that she was angry”. Oh my children, my children !! I love you.
One of the best things in the world – best friends and belly laughs
- I have learnt that reunions with friends from home now residing in the Netherlands is very special. Watching your children laugh so hard with their closest friends on the other side of the world was a privilege.
- I know that a boat ride in Hilversum, drinking French champagne whilst tearing apart a roasted Chicken with ones hands and shared with ones friends as the sun sets is a very awesome thing to do.
- I have learnt that children do not appreciate the Champagne area of France as much as we do. When savoring a glass of bubbles in one of the Champagne houses, I was actually asked by my second born “So Mum…are you going to drink that or what??? Let’s go please!!!!”
- I know that the streets and squares of Venice awaken something deep inside. A tear can be shed in this place on many occasions.
Standing below our apartment in Venice and listening to a violinist by the name of Viktor Angelov moved many to tears. It was such an experience to stand in the streets, surrounded by a small gathering of strangers and leave each other knowing by our faces that we had just shared something so unforgettable. As we headed up to bed, the musician kept playing and I closed my eyes and sunk into that bed and felt right then that I must be the happiest person on earth.
- I have reminded myself that you have to keep dreaming.
Paris was my dream come true. Despite being there before, this was a first with our girls. For anyone who has ready The Relish Mama cookbook, you may have read a little page dedicated just to my girls. We call it ‘the green page’. On this page I wrote that one day I hoped they would get to Paris together and climb the Eiffel tower – just as they had spoken about as little girls. To experience this with them was unbeatable. Standing on top of, what feels like the top of the world, with those you hold closest ………very often I find that you don’t have to be careful what you wish for.
Thank you my family for an unforgettable adventure.
I love you