Total Mileage: 18,354
Bits of the van that fell off/broke: 3
Birthdays in the van: 1
Early ‘Christmas day’ celebrated: 1
Gilet Jaunes protests crept through: 2
Jamon Ibericos snuck back to England: 1
Impulse buy PS4s bought: 1
Total number of countries visited: 16
- Marsciano – Italy
- Parco Nazionali dei Monti Sibillini
- Pals – Spain
- Calais – France
- Dover – England
So it seems we left you all stranded in Marsciano for about three months! Hopefully there was somebody out there sitting on the edge of their seat in excitement, checking their emails daily, scratching their head in confusion, and patiently waiting for the next update of our route and trip and Tina. Apologies to you kind reader about that vast interlude.
We did make it back safe and sound-ish in December, just in time for my mother’s memorial service. A few parts of the van were beginning to fall off, the tap and water pump had packed up, all the nooks and crannies were in desperate need of a hoover, and a large dribble of condensation had appeared one day from behind the ceiling cladding. The van was certainly reflecting my mood, tired, deflated and weeping, and I’m certain Harry had his own similar feelings.
We finally prized ourselves from the comfort of a house, washing machine, and the good company of my aunt and uncle and did some touring around Italy. We checked in on a few of my old haunts from a six month period spent learning Italian, plus a few new places just to keep things exciting. We visited our friend Alan near Lake Como, the chef from the boat we used to work on, and went to see Ben Howard play in Milan. Then a quick dash across the borders to Pals on the Costa Brava in Spain where my family had all gathered for early Christmas, a tradition we now do so a cousin who works as a ski instructor over the normal Christmas period can join in. We also celebrate the actual birthday of our saviour too so its a bonus really! Then dodging various ‘Gilet Jaunes’ protests and road blocks, with multiple searches of the van by police who obviously found us dodgy, to get to Calais and finally on home to England’s green and pleasant land.
Do excuse my brief and rather sparse description of our last month in the van. The death of loved ones puts everything into perspective a bit and as much as I have enjoyed the trip and would love to sit and chat about it, tell you all the minute details that made us smile, gaze in awe, feel scared, and cry, my priorities have slightly changed. What I will say is what a trip and experience it was. Sharing it with Harry was special enough, but sharing it with a Ford Transit van that we made into our home and managed to coax into driving across deserts, pot hole strewn highways, sand dunes, mountain passes, hell-raising motorways, and through the rush hours of various mad cities, was truly unforgettable. A few days ago was our year anniversary of leaving our jobs in the yachting world and heading home to meet Tina, therefore it seems to me a suitable time to call this journey a wrap. Some things we would have done differently, some we wouldn’t change for the world, but that is another story for another time maybe. Tina, you bloody annoyed me half the time but the other half you completely amazed me. Being ‘In Transit’ with you was an absolute pleasure, what a champ you are. ❤
The medieval town of Siena, where I spent three months learning Italian, with il Duomo and il Campo in all their splendour.
The town of Norcia in Umbria that was badly damaged by the earthquakes in 2016. The locals seemed quite surprised to see a tourist back here, especially in winter.
Il Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini has this vast plain nestled amongst rolling mountains, the closest thing to the Gobi desert outside of Mongolia. The mountain village of Castelluccio, that was also devastated in the 2016 earthquakes, was closed off but we saw the rubble and remains peeping through the morning mist in the valley plain.
Some of the magnificent mosaics in Ravenna dating to the 5th century. I think these are genuinely jaw dropping, Harry isn’t quite so geeky and wasn’t too interested.
Bologna – la rossa, la grassa e la dotta, the red, the fat, and the learned one. I spent another joyous three months here learning more Italian and it is just the best place ever, everyone must go, and eat and drink to your souls content.
There is a reason people go to Como in the summer and not the winter, it’s bloody cold and there is nothing to do. Yet we stayed with our dear friend Alan and his girlfriend and again ate and drank to our soles content.
A few last few happy days spent in and around Milan. At this point Tina was giving up the ghost and so where we. Yet, it is amazing how much a bbq and winter sun can cheer you up.
A ‘Christmas day on December the 1st’ swim in the sea with my dear sister Philly, cousin Katherine, and our boyfriends. The other ten of us were prepping Christmas lunch and enjoying a very sunny and warm December’s day. A joyous and well oiled weekend all spent together.