I’ve only just regained my equilibrium after an overseas holiday and find myself starting to sink into old routines again with pleasure and a little sadness.
Being on the road is lovely. Visiting new places every few days and catching up with old friends and family… It’s always a surprise to find I enjoy the nomadic lifestyle when I’m such a homebody at heart. I miss it – even the annoying bits like airports and disappointing meals. But one can’t travel forever (one can, of course, but I doubt it would suit me and we’d end up very poor!) so here we are, home again.
It was a wonderful holiday. There were a few days spent exploring Dubai, a week in England visiting London, Oxford and tripping about the countryside catching up with everyone, four days in Rome alone with James (bliss), a week in Umbria with the extended family and another couple of days in Thailand on the way home, just us three. It felt like being away for twice as long. The key was to keep moving; nothing felt stale.
There were so many favourite moments: England was all nostalgia for me, my second home. Visiting my husband’s family farm in Somerset, wandering about the galleries in London with essential trips to the V&A, Natural History Museum and Liberty (yes, I’m a grown-up Clara Button) and a day in Oxford with my treasured friend, Meiling. Dubai was a blast of heat and strange luxury, Bangkok humid and delicious (oh, how we ate) and Italy was, as always, sumptuous, inspiring and seeped in the sort of history that makes my mind boggle. Get this – in Rome we were staying in a little hotel (a former Palazzo with soaring ceilings) opposite 2,500-year-old Etruscan ruins. With a bus stop and busy thoroughfare roaring only a few feet away. It felt like madness that it wasn’t cordoned off or treated with more fanfare.
After pouring everything I had into the novel I’ve been working on for the past year or so, I was feeling so empty; emotionally and physically drained. It came not a moment too soon.
Vanity Fair’s May issue featured an article about Salman Rushdie, and went into much depth about the circumstances surrounding the release of The Satanic Verses and the subsequent fatwa placed upon him by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. One passage struck me as very true: “One holds so much of a novel in one’s head during the years of work that when it’s done and the thing in your head evaporates it’s a little like having your brain removed. I felt lobotomized.”
While my novel is certainly not on the scale of Verses and didn’t take me five years to write, I have to say that I do understand how he felt.