They say that life is full of ups and downs - and there have been quite a few more downs than ups since my return from Portugal - hence the quiet period here - where I have been temporarily gone, but definitely not forgotten.
But today, for all sorts of reasons, the sun seems to be starting to shine again in my life. There are still holes in the heart - but they are slowly being patched up - due mostly to the love of my women friends - and truly, I feel I have been helped through a dark part of my life by their endless support and kindness.
I want to thank all the distant friends who read this blog, who have sent me their enquiries and good wishes - it is deeply appreciated to hear so many people ask about my welfare and simply send their love. (I attempted to reply to all messages - but some bounced and did not get through, I fear).
And for three special "in real life" friends, Liz, Jakki and Fiona, my special thanks in return. I would rather have three friends like these women than a hundred superficial acquaintances - they have been there for me, unstintingly generous in their toleration and affection - and for friends like this, I offer up my deepest gratitude. Strong women friends are worth their weight in gold.
I travel to Venice in October with Liz - and today we made great steps in that direction, by finally booking the return journeys by train, via London and Paris - travelling just as the two ladies who inspired this journey would have travelled 100 years ago. Our journey will be a little more conveniently arranged, but still it has not been without "hassle" - I tried last weekend to book the tickets online and only when I had gone through all stages, booked numbered and reserved seats and clicked on "pay by card" that I was told that my transaction would not go through - no reasons or explanations - just refused.
It was only today, when Liz's dear husband Tony, attempted to do the
same, with the same result, that I breathed a sigh of relief in one way
- at least it was not just MY credit card that was refused! But he is
not one to give up - and spent another 45 minutes on the *telephone* to
the French National Railways, making the bookings for us. Finally, all
was resolved. What a hero he is!
And to make things even better, we have also booked tickets to see a
performance of "La Traviata" on our first night in La Serenissima. Now
tell me, who wouldn't be feeling a good deal better with something like
this to look forward to?
The adventure of following, through their hand written journal, in the
footsteps of two English ladies who travelled to Venice in 1906, has
started in earnest now. Liz and I will be taking our own journals and
sketchbooks and hope to produce a book recounting our adventure when we
return. Until that appears, I will be tracking our own approach to our
journey on another site - so look out for more there in the next few
days. It would be great to have you all join in the adventure with us.
Off now, to dismantle and restore the enchanting character in the
photograph - a damaged piece of 19th Century Staffordshire china, picked
up for a song this afternoon in a junk shop in Hungerford - does this
guy have self confidence, or what? (and is this the sort of character we
can expect to encounter in Venice.....now wouldn't THAT be a blast!).