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A Letter to Bighton & Gundleton From Abroad

We have two friends who, for the last two years, have been planning the experience of a lifetime. In January, plans complete, they rented out their house for 12 months and set off on their new adventure. Little did they know what was going to happen……

To help take our minds off the worries of Coronavirus they have agreed to chronicle their adventure with all its highs, lows and funny moments and produce a series of updates of life in Italy to be published in Big Gun News and on the village website.

Ian & Gail


La Dolce Vita

The Best Laid Plans (Step One) …

Two years ago, one late Spring evening, we were sitting in our garden in the south east of England and I turned to my husband and said “What exactly are we doing with our lives? We took early retirement to get a motor home, travel around Europe, see something of the world … and we've done none of that”. He replied “Well, what do you want to do?” and apropros of nothing, I answered “move abroad for a year, experience another culture, another lifestyle and feel part of a country”. He looked at me for a minute and said “I'm going to make a cup of tea”.

I have no idea where that comment came from, I certainly hadn't been contemplating it and I knew he wouldn't be keen (he loves the UK and the area where we live). I also realised, in that moment, I really wanted to do it, fancied a change of scenery, pace of life and lifestyle.. I also knew I only had moments to formulate a plan before he came back with the tea to sell the idea to him … and also think about where I wanted to go.

Thirty odd years ago, we had planned something similar but the country of choice then had been France. We bought a campsite with some friends and planned to live on site and run it as a business. In the end, it had fallen through, the timing wasn't right, there were elderly family members to take care of, my husband wasn't really that keen on the idea and basically, we wimped out. Our friends bought half the site and carried on by themselves, continuing to live there for the next 10 years. Months later the UK went into a huge recession and it turned out, unwittingly, we had made the right choice. However, I think the fact we had failed to carry out that plan had always been at the back of my mind. I don't like living with regrets which is probably why I came up with the idea of moving abroad.

To my huge surprise, he came back with the tea, put it on the table and said “Ok, let's do it … where do you want to go?”. In the brief time he was in the kitchen I had time to think and had decided on Italy. It is a country I love and have travelled to many times but fellt I would love to get to know it better. Not as obvious as somewhere like France or Spain (I speak a little of both languages and it is compatively easy to move out there) where people would have said “oh, that's nice and thought no more of it” but still in Europe, comparatively easy to travel to but a little different, out of our comfort zone …. and a place where our friends and family would want to visit (and perhaps be a little jealous about the fact we were doing it!).

Now I didn't have to sell the idea of moving abroad but I had to sell the idea of the country where I really wanted to go. Knowing my husband I also knew he would have to think it would have been his choice. So I offered up “Australia or Italy” (love Australia too so that wouldn't have been a problem) knowing he would not want to move that far away from home. His response was immediate “Italy” … we were both happy, I had got the country I wanted to go to and he felt it was his idea.

So, that was it – we had had both agreed we wanted to take a year out, decided on a country and now all we had to do was make it a reality.

© Ian Johnson 2020

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