Monday, May 07, 2007

"Italy Continued"

This is me last week, shopping in a hilltop town in Umbria. But a long time ago, I was 19 years old and I went to Italy on my first trip abroad.
I'd had holidays in Cornwall, Wales, the Lakes, holidays throughout the UK. But all those years ago, This Trip Was Something Else.

I was a student in Liverpool, my school friend S was a Geographer at Durham; her feller and his two best mates were dentists at Newcastle.
That winter, huddled in a pub up in the NE ( no doubt supping Newcastle Brown) the five of them, plus a few others, planned the Ultimate Grand Tour Of Europe....and I was cordially included.
This, you understand, was all A Good Few Years Ago.....when a Gap Year probably meant putting up with an ugly space between your teeth till the dentist could fix it....not hiking through India in Tiva sandals and a sari or swimming off Bondi Beach or sailing across the Gulf of Thailand to a Full Moon party with the youth of Australia in tow..
But this WAS, in its day, pretty exciting stuff.
We filled a mini bus with food, sleeping bags, tent gear and off we went.
Brussels, I think, was our first stop, then Strasbourg where we camped by the river and sang all night.
Even the place names were magic; there was Milan, Viareggio, Lake Como and Naples, there was Rome, Brussels, Brindisi, Bologna...
And there was us, new to travel, new to Europe, new to days of travelling in our jolly, friendly van....
Us, new to nights on sultry campsites (by beaches, in pine woods, on hilltops ) where people spoke many languages and some looked like Dylan and some like Baez and they smiled as they strummed guitars and all the while, the Beatles, the Stones, Velvet Underground sang out.... as we cooked and laughed and smoked and talked and drank.
And some of us were new to each other and probably new to ourselves.


Blogger Philippa said...

Hi, there, Jan. Now I know why it had gone very quiet on your blog! Umbria sounds wonderful; not a part of the world we know well. Shame the pool was so cold, it looked very inviting! We've been on the water today - the River Dart from Totnes down to Dartmouth. Glorious. We've been spotting cormorants, herons, egrets, Canada geese, shelducks, et al and had lunch at the locally-renowned New Angel. A real bank holiday.
Hope Guy's teaching is going well. I've got a student with me at the mo, saves me a lot of lesson planning!! When are Ric & Kristy planning to tie the proverbial knot?

8:47 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks and great to hear you.
I'll email our news ASAP and also tell you about the Bear.
We could buy one and bring it your direction when in Cornwall.

9:46 pm  
Blogger Carole said...

Memories. You've taken me back to my own student days in Leeds when I hitchhiked down through France with my future husband, spending a night in a haystack and ending up on a beautiful beach in Spain.

7:37 am  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

Believe it or not, you've brought back memories of ABM and my trip to Europe in 1978 in a blue VW van named Herman. Ah! The memories ...

12:07 pm  
Blogger liz fenwick said...

Brought back memories for me too. Thanks!

5:32 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Sounds good to me!
Years ago, we had a brilliant holiday travelling with 2 friends through France and Spain.
I didn't know at the time that I was pregnant but I SHOULD have had one massive clue...on the way home, an old lady was selling oranges and I ate 6 in quick succession...
something to do with needing the extra vitamins, I suppose!

I wonder if I ever passed ( or trailed) Herman on the road...!

Pretty precious, all our memories, aren't they?!

10:42 pm  
Blogger Anne S said...

Finally a picture of THE Jan - instantly warmed towards you, not that I haven't already.

I was too poor in my youth to go anywhere even though my comtemporaries all headed off to England and Europe at the time you are referring to, so I've never set foot in Britain or Europe. I've only been to the Solomon Islands and the USA. Both of which places I enjoyed very much.

I did have lots of adventures at home so never missed the travelling back then.

11:09 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Hello Anne:
Glad my photo had SUCH a good effect!
Yes travelling IS great, I agree, but I've always reckoned that finding happiness in one particular place is a gift...
I've lived in the same house for millions of years and I love the echoes of past times, the memories of people who were here, the sad times as well as the happy ones...and the fact the house is a permanent fixture in a life that ambles about, swerves about, sometimes stumbles..

7:17 am  
Anonymous marly said...

Wouldn't we all like to be marching down a street in Umbria with Jan? I suppose my most adventurous outing was doing the Cotswolds and perimeter of Ireland on a bike, long ago. Came home with an extensive population of tiny Irish insects in my then also-extensive hair--from either the sheep fields or that child's bed in Dublin.

3:35 pm  

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