The Wedding!!!

So, we’re on this fabulous -91- sleep round trip to a family wedding in Italy and we’re nineteen sleeps in, so that leaves -72- to get home again. The straightest route home would be to head south again:

….but instead we headed north and we’re now slap bang in the middle of Switzerland. On a farm.

… and tomorrow we’ll be heading off even further north. So follow along if you’d like. But seeing as this trip was all about the wedding, I’d love to share a little of it with you. As it’s not my wedding, I won’t overshare someone else’s day, but I do want to share with you why yesterday was so special for me.

If you’ve read any of my books, you’ll know I’ve never belonged or been welcome in my family of origin. You’ll also know how aware I am of the roles our tribes play in everyone’s lives, and how discombobulating and soul destroying it can be to feel you don’t belong anywhere. You’ll also know that for many good reasons, we’ve lived all over the world. That’s a great thing and I’m most thankful for that. But the two (no tribe plus nomadic lifestyle) can be a lethal combination. Especially for the things so many “normal” people take for granted; friendships, weddings, funerals, rites of passage, to name a few.

I love weddings, and one of the careers I might have had, if I’d been given normal opportunities, would have been somewhere around weddings. There are lots about that in my memoirs, but the bottom line is, that over the years, just for love, I’ve made half a dozen wedding dresses, a number of wedding cakes, run a handful of weddings, done the flowers for more than a few, and decorated for more than I can count. But being a “normal” attendee; not so much. And other than my children’s weddings, or the ones I’ve been involved in, I’ve missed almost all the family and friend weddings of my life.

Many of us don’t think of wedding attendance as being a rite of passage, but it’s only when you miss out on most of them that you realise what an important part of tribal culture they are. For the last few days, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching that play out at this wedding. Being a “destination wedding” everyone stayed a few nights at least, and we didn’t know anyone except the immediate family. So The Captain and I got to be a fly on the wall as the other guests assumed we had nothing to do with the wedding and did their thing. We got to sit around the pool next to some of them and overhear them sharing stories of the couple and themselves of years gone by. We got to watch them singing silly songs in the pool as they anticipated some antics for the reception ahead. Later, as they sat at the table next us to, we got to see the odd friend shed a tear of joy he thought no one saw.

The last few days we’ve watched friendships gather new depths, and relationships strengthen. We met super proud uncles, adoring cousins, and we got to see some people at what they thought were their worst but we thought were their best. When people feel pressure and rise to the occasion anyway, it’s such a pleasure to watch.

It was a gift. It was an honour to be there. But most of all, it was super special for me because the mother of the bride is my cousin. A third cousin I think, but none of this once or twice removed nonsense. We share an incredible heritage, and we share passionate Scottish blood. I had no idea she existed till just a few short years ago and suddenly I have family in ways I never thought I would. I do have another set of cousins whom I love just as dearly, but there’s always room for a second set I say! So the bride was my niece of sorts and as the Captain said so many times yesterday, we’re so proud of her!! How can someone new pop into one’s lives and take up a place so special so quickly? I think that’s the blood thing.

The Captain and I scrubbed up alright for a couple who’d been camping for three weeks! 🤣

The bride has brothers and of course a groom and it’s been incredible getting to know them too. One we’ve known for a while but for the baby of the family, I was so nervous to meet him for the first time. But we clicked and he found his way so quickly into my heart and when I learnt he was the baker of the cake and he learnt I could string a couple of flowers together we hit it off immediately. I’d already been given the honour of doing the flowers by his mother, my cousin, so this was really just an extension of that. But we had so much fun as he added the flowers to his creation and I got to cheer him on every step of the way. If you need a wedding cake (any cake!) anywhere in Europe, this is your guy!!!

To be included the way they included us was beyond special for me. To be there as a guest because they wanted us there was amazing. To attend a family wedding other than my own or my babies, was uniquely heart warming, and to get to contribute was also to be included – which means everything when you live on the fringes. To be invited in was so wonderful.

If you read anything I write or know anything of my greatest passions, you’ll know they’re all about community and inclusion and working alongside each other.

The wedding was beautiful and not just for this incredible setting and GORGEOUS bride, but because of the connections and the love and the laughter and the community and the kin!!!

So… now we’re off home again the loooong way around, AND book two in the memoir series goes live on Monday! So if you haven’t grabbed your copy at preorder prices then grab it HERE before then 😊💜👊🏻.

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Tip of Italy Base Camp!

It’s been a tough few days, and we’re ready for the next chapter of our second half. The weather and baby worries of the last few days have taken their toll. The entrance roof to our Agri Camp-ground blew off last night and six people died across the country in separate tree and roof weather incidents.

We’ve not had decent WiFi or phone reception through it all either, so we’re behind in everything!

We didn’t get as much sleep as we needed and while we woke to a sunny day, it was still quite windy and neither Pompeii nor the Amalfi Coast felt like good ideas.

So we tag teamed and drove down the rest of the Italian mainland, and found ourselves the most wonderful place to park Molly, high on the cliffs looking over the tiny seaside town of Scilla to the north and the island of Sicily on the west of us.

We’re the only people here other than the caretaker who doesn’t speak a word of English. But we paid our €20 and we’re all happy.

I think we’ll be sleeping here a lot in the future… an AMAZING base camp for coming through the bottom tip of Italy.

My view from bed as I type:

Pink Gin in writing hand…

Goodnight…

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Pompeii!

Coming to you tonight from a wild and woolly Pompeii!!! I can’t believe I’m saying that! As a young girl, the Pompeii exhibition came to town and it’s the first memory I have of being truly mesmerized. My teacher was an archeology guru of sorts and dragged us all along. This rich experience lies at the deep core of my love and compassion for tribes, humans, tragedies, and rich love stories. The imagine of a young Pompeiian couple cast in plaster, cuddling together forever, is as crisp in my mind’s eye as the day it captured my imagination all those years ago.

Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii… two words that I rarely hear or think about, but when they do, my heart skips a beat. It’s on the bucket list, …and not planned for this trip.

We planned to take a “short cut”; the twenty-one hour ferry from Livorno to Sicily this evening and last week booked ourselves, along with Molly, Hitch, and the Sphinx (of course) for tonight’s evening departure.

Right after a fabulous weekend in northern Tuscany with my very special cousin Kathryn, where we all ate waaaay too much food, and talked waaay too much. There was also much to be done around the farm, but the weather turned for the worse in a big way, so a cozy fire, a crazy kitty, and the odd G&T or red wine, and there went the weekend. We were determined not to let the weather dampen our spirits but news from home of desperately ill babies cast its long-distance shadow.

Super important meetings and speaking engagements were cancelled, Miss Four’s birthday party was cancelled, and poor Mama Bear spent the whole weekend in bed in such a big single-bed-ward with her precious and fragile Miss Two. It’s the third time in as many weeks this bubba’s been in hospital, from broken foot to serious gastro, but this time it’s a whole new ball game. I won’t go into details but it’s been terrifying … and while they still aren’t out the woods (or hospital) yet, things look like they are beginning to turn around. It’s things like this that tear at our hearts and remind us we can’t be away from them for too long.

Thanks to the amazing (free) Australian medical system for their incredible care of our babies! I know they aren’t perfect but they’re streaks ahead of any other medical system we’ve experienced over the years and believe me, we’ve tested them.

As the weekend came to a close and the weather changed from bad to worse, the ferry was cancelled and we set out this Monday morning to drive down the length of Italy instead of sail. It was by far my preference, as I’m not keen on the ferry idea at all, but wind which slows the traffic down to a standstill on the freeway is not my idea of fun either. Hours and hours of fallen trees, torrential rain, a few roofs blown off, and many of the cars pulled over to wait out the worst of it. Too many cars, in fact, which meant the slipways were over-full and cars stuck out into the road, hazard lights not really doing much.

By four in the afternoon it became so dark and dangerous we pulled into a service station and prepared ourselves to sleep the night if necessary. Then I noticed the Mercedes parked next to us with a shattered terra-cotta roof tile sprinkled across its bonnet and roof, with the windscreen smashed.

The police arrived, the service station was closed down, the rain subsided somewhat, and we decided we’d best venture back onto the roads again and find a proper camp site for the night.

Twenty minutes later we found a decent Agri Camper site on our app and wound our way through skinny streets (you know how much we love those!!), rain, puddles, wind, and even drove UNDER a fallen tree! It had landed across the road with its top on a very high, now broken wall.

So here we are, right in the middle of Pompeii. The weather forecast for tomorrow is clear and sunny skies, so we think we might just stop a moment and visit the only museum of the whole trip.

But I’m not holding my breath!

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Mountain Bike Ride!

Many of you will know how much he loves mountain bike riding and here in the Italian Alps there are mountains and trails all around us. It would be crazy for him to leave here tomorrow without a truly decent ride down one of these slopes, wouldn’t it?

So we drove to the top, high above the line where things don’t like growing and the air is thin…

Past beautiful mountain lakes….

And teeny towns that clung to the sides of cliffs…

Up we climbed in tight switch backs that had our ears popping…

It’s very hard to capture how steep it was, but this photo shows the road we’ve come to the bend on from the left as well as the road ahead to the right….

We climbed through the tall forests with their leaves changing colour for winter…

Above the trees where far in the distance the bare peaks already have their first dustings of snow…

We were supposed to mark on the map where our current home is so he could ride straight down for a few hours while I drove Molly back to camp… but he was a little bit frazzled and excited… so off he went (he’s in this photo somewhere along those winding paths)…

I waved him off taking the obligatory video, then Molly and I started the trek home again … just as the fuel light came on. The steep climb had chowed up so much diesel that there wasn’t much left and clearly driving down again wasn’t dissimilar. She had to be an automatic as with Frank I can’t push a clutch any more. So I watched the last of the fuel meter drop before my eyes.

I quickly realized we weren’t going to get far and an automatic car doesn’t roll so well on empty, so while there was still something left of the red I moved her into neutral and we coasted ever so slowly down most of the bends and eventually, as flattened out into the valley we rolled into the only petrol station around … with three litres (less than a gallon) left in the tank!

I wasn’t super in the mood for running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere without a word of Italian and unable to walk anywhere, and nor was I much in the mood for getting lost. But I’ve got a pretty good sense of direction and Molly and I followed our noses and I kept an eye out for the right mountains as seen from camp and we eventually made it home absolutely shattered!

Thankfully it was all worth it as he had an AMAZING ride, with barely any uphills as he dropped nearly six thousand feet of elevation as he rode about thirty five kilometers back to camp!

(His Strava is in meters…)

One very happy (and therefore somewhat less grumpy) husband this afternoon 😊😊😊

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