It began in January. An idea that bubbled up on a murky weekday evening and refused to go away. Dom and I were driving through town, talking about hot Italian summers and the trappings of a 9-5 job, when we came to it.
“Why don’t we just leave it all? Move abroad, write for a living”, I half joked.
Dom was silent for a while.
Then we went into the supermarket and schemed, with trepidation at first, like two people planning what they’d buy with a winning lottery ticket. We’d get a van, we told ourselves. Then we’d spend the summer in Europe – oh, could we get a dog? – yes, alright. We’d spend half our time writing, the other half eating, travelling, living.
Over the next few weeks, the idea morphed, and as it did it became a real thing. Instead of the van we decided to rent an apartment for the winter in Sicily. And in the spring we’d travel to Japan, Canada, New Zealand. All the places we’d wanted to visit, all the while writing and earning enough to get by.
In March we packed up our house in Northamptonshire. We gave away the furniture we’d so frugally collected, loaded a van and drove to Cheshire, where we’ve been staying in an annex attached to Dom’s parents’ house. Now we save, and work, and wait.
In April we took a holiday to Rome and Venice with my family. In the mornings I took my niece and nephew to a little bar in Trastevere, and ordered nutella-filled cornetti from the counter. Finley’s face was a happy, chocolate mess. “Do Italian children really get to eat these for breakfast?”
Rome in the green-choked days of spring is a delight. But it was Venice that stole us. It was just the two of us by this point, the rest of my family having left for home already. It’ll come as no surprise to anybody who’s rooted around in the archives of this blog, that I unashamedly adore Venice. Since my first trip, aged 16 and quite ready to fall in love, I have yearned, periodically, for its spires and canals and silent nights. The city has drawn me back eight times, sometimes staying one or two months as an au pair, other times spending less than a day in her grip. This time we stayed for just two nights, in a high-ceilinged hotel room that was gilded with the colours of Venice. As we ate seafood and drank spritz outside in the purple twilight, Dom and I decided to abandon the idea of Sicily and move to Venice instead. Just like that.
So now we need to find a place to live. In my imagination it’s an apartment in Cannaregio, with heavy furniture and a spare bedroom for guests. Perhaps it’ll overlook the district’s main canal, so we can watch the boats bring in their catches over coffee. More likely it’ll be somewhere small, a little dark, and no doubt cold in the foggy Venice winter.
At the moment we think we’ll stay for six months, or longer if we fall for it … and then? Who knows. Life has very suddenly sprawled itself before us, ours for the taking. If it all goes pear-shaped we’ll come home, get jobs in London, do our PhDs. But for now something else calls. And I’m all the happier for telling you about it, after all these months.