It’s morning in Venice. The sky is bright blue, the sun shines and there is an intense chill in the air. The boy and I are sick; it lingers in us unwilling to let us go. I am grumpy and resistant to the illness, refusing to give in to the fever. I remember how much easier it is to appreciate ones good health when you are ill. The last several days seem to have disappeared in a fog of hot, shivery cold and throbbing pain.
After delaying the trip by several days Theo and I (accompanied by Tony and Tessie who were only mildly ill) managed to peel ourselves off the couch and make our way to this beautiful, but incredibly cold city. I have never had much desire to return to Venice after a childhood trip one summer. I remember a hot, packed stressful city where my father argued with salespeople about the eye-watering prices. We left early and spent the rest of our holiday in a camp site in the south of France.
But I return now. Why? Well because Nigella Lawson told me to. Well actually not me personally – it was communicated to me via her TV show – Nigellissima. On it she said the best time to visit Venice was in the winter – the only time the city wasn’t heaving with crowds. And so dutifully I booked tickets and here we are.
I have been asking myself recently why I am so eager to travel. What’s this going to do for me? Wherever you go, there you are, is the title of a Buddhist book that is probably the best book title I’ve ever seen. OK so I haven’t read the actual book but I love the concept it expresses, one that I have really tried to take seriously – that regardless of where you are, what big changes you make in your life, whatever outside manifestations you change – you will always be the same inside, that person comes with you wherever you go.
I think part of my reasons for wanting to travel right now in my life is a search for adventure. I have lead a very responsible life since my son was born 7 years ago, maybe even since I got married almost 11 years ago. I am an adult, a grown up, and though that is in no way unusual at 35, in fact it is desired, I do feel a little itchiness underfoot. In fact it’s probably because of my age that this yearning has arisen.
We are not intrepid travelers, journeying into the jungle or travelling across the world. We are taking little trips to different cities, spending a few weeks or months, settling in an area and getting to know a little of the life that exists here. And then heading back to London, our home. Tony is photographing the cities at dawn. The kids and I are – eating, walking, trying to talk a bit, learning something and looking at beautiful things. It suits all of us – some work, some learning, some play. Our biggest questions about each city seem to revolve around food – what do people have for breakfast here? What are the cafes like? What happens at lunchtime?
I like how these little trips jolt me a little out of my daily routine, challenge me. I thrive on shaking things up every once in a while – routine makes me sluggish, my personality needs something new and fresh to revive me and keep me energised.
I think my purpose for travelling is to see something different. I want to explore this magnificent world in my small, safe little way. I want to find some new opinions, new ways of being in life. I want to see the beauty of the exotic and foreign. And I want all this to challenge me a little, not a lot, just a little. This kind of travelling isn’t going to change my life, but it helps to nudge me into enjoying my life that little bit more.