Back to reality.
This time last week we were making the 13 hour drive back from our month in Italy with 11 of our 13 children via a two day stop-off in France. It was a long day having begun at 4am, and an extremely long drive, what with having to add an extra third on to the estimated journey time that any sat nav gives in order to take into account the reduced speed of driving a minibus rather than car. Thankfully, we made it home with no issues or problems which is always something to be grateful for.
It already seems so long ago since we were sitting in the hot Italian sunshine. We had tremendous privacy and freedom. The children could play and run and shout (and argue) without us having to worry about disturbing others. We could play in the sun, whack the swingball rather over-zealously, throw frisbees to each other (and because we’re actually quite naff at it, missing catching them too), have water fights and sit and talk in complete seclusion.
Each evening, once the younger ones were safely tucked up in bed, Mike and I would take a walk around the grounds. Strolling hand-in-hand, we’d amble down great sweeping driveway, taking our time to slowly mosey along beneath the trees. Every few steps we would stop and gaze, looking up to see how the burnt orange and creamy white magnolias had bloomed so beautifully from the day before, or to note how much more the fruit had ripened, or to note anything new that had sprung or we simply hadn’t noticed before.
We laughed at how the lower branches of the fruit trees were quickly becoming bare of their once abundant crops, their harvesting having been gratefully carried out by a troop of children earlier in the day, who would run back up the driveway with sticky hands and juicy faces. More often than not, they’d be carrying back extra fruit to share with us, though by the time they reached the doorway the fruit was in lesser supply than they had originally intended, with it having already found its way to their full and happy tummies.
As we walked, we talked about our plans. Our plans to move to a place where we would one day be picking our own fruit, where our children could run out to play no matter how early it was, where we could come and go and live our lives with nothing but land surrounding us and with views stretching for miles. And then we’d amble back to the house, eat a bowl of delicious Italian ice-cream and drink a cup of tea or glass of wine and talk and talk some more.
We knew that we would all have trouble re-adjusting when we returned. The children miss the expanse of land they had to run together and hide from each other in. Mike and I miss our evening walks, knowing that the children were nearby but feeling as though we had some semblance of an intimate date night (even though our conversations consisted of the children and of work, as well as of our plans).
It didn’t take long for us all to realise how small our home had actually become, our tripping and stumbling over each other in every room became tiresome within the first day. We had only been home an hour when Paddy remarked at how much the house had shrunk during our time away. Indeed, that is how it felt after we had been spoilt with so much space both indoors and out.
We all miss Italy. We are so incredibly fortunate to be in a position where we can pack up our minibus and take off for a month and a half without worrying about asking the boss for time off (although the crux being that there is no time off at all for us, but that’s another post entirely). But while it is tempting to plan our return there (and plan it we already have), it is only a short-term solution to our yearning. What we want is for space and privacy, for fruit trees we can feast on, for rooms we can spread out in, for land we can enjoy and views as far as the eye can see to be our life, not just our holiday.
Within a day of coming home we were back into ‘Operation House-Move’. Mike has worked hard every day on one project or another and, true to form, we’ve been hunting out moneysaving deals and codes in order to stick to budget without scrimping on results. Another room is now finished and with that we’re another step closer to getting the house on the market.
We watched the video of the house we want again. It’s still there. Still unsold. I wonder if it’s waiting for us? If not that one, there will be another we know, but this has been our plan for so very long.
The temporary taste of what we could permanently have (bar the 30-something degree sunshine) remains, and we are so very, very close.
So for now we continue to plan and we continue to work, because, as we remind each other with our oft-said mantra when positivity flails and patience lacks, a goal without a plan is a dream, and we intend to make our dream a reality very, very soon.