I’m finally at my desk for the first time in six weeks. It’s a bit depressing that the summer’s nearly over, but I’m also very excited at working on my notes for novel #3 (promised for this week by Editor Leah) and starting on novel #4.
I’ve been away almost all that time, mostly in Greece, where I was researching my new novel – parts will be set there in the early 1980s, where my (British) main character is backpacking alone in her gap year.
While the story is not at all autobiographical, I did that too back then, and, while I still have my notebooks of the time, I wanted to remember fully the rootlessness of travelling around and not staying anywhere very long. I wanted to get the sounds, smells and colours right, the animals and insects, the texture of the dust and sand.
Plus, I’d rented our house out for a month, so there was nowhere else for us to go (and a bit of cash to fund our travels).
So, after the family holiday bit in Corfu, Daughter and the OldMan returned to various work commitments, BigSon skipped off with his Greek girlfriend, and LittleSon and I set off on our adventure, taking in Athens, Serifos, Milos, Santorini and Crete.
But, if I’m honest with myself, this trip was not very like my youthful adventures: on a luggage level, wheeled suitcases have come on a bit and my osteopath would blanch if I said I was actually taking a rucksack with me. Also, most of our ferry journeys were by SeaCats, which are more like boat aeroplanes than the old ferries I used to squash onto (deck class, of course).
But the big difference was – despite my best intentions of just turning up somewhere and seeing what was there, perhaps following a little black widow lady off to her dhomatia – I got all over-organised and booked everything in advance on the internet. My excuse was that I was travelling with a twelve-year-old and, anyway, it’s just too easy to go onto booking.com and find a lovely-looking cheapy place (back in the day you’d have to write months in advance, or have a linguistically challenged and eye-wateringly expensive phone call to book anything, and that would be without seeing any photos).
But actually I think it’s just because I’m not nineteen any more.
For this same reason we slept in hotel beds rather than on beaches (once, quite memorably, I discovered that I had spent one of those 1980s nights on a rubbish tip, with rats for companions). And I hired a car from time to time, rather than hitching. Obviously, while LittleSon and I were on a budget, we allowed ourselves something more than the daily couple of quid (or, I seem to remember two thousand drachma) I was on back then.
What these contrasts underlined for me was how fearless we are in our youth. And how, as we get older, more entrenched in our lives, and the idea of comfort seems more attractive than reactionary, we start to pad ourselves into a box. It all fits very well with what I am going to try to explore with my next novel. And it has spurred me on to a new resolution for this new school year:
Worry less. Plan less. Let it happen.
O god though. I hope it all works out all right….