Jools Gilson in Rome, 1
Tuesday, 23rd September, 2014
Through an accident of family and work and, who knows, twinkly magic, we are in Rome. We, being myself, my Italian husband, and our two children, Natalie (9) & Jacobo (8). Two months ago, we sold our cottage by the sea in Ireland (our home for 13 years), put our belongings into storage, and drove to Italy. We travelled for nearly two months – a week in Cork City, two weeks in Canterbury in Kent, another week travelling through France, and then eventually into Italy and down to the Villa Bufacchi near Anzio for another two weeks, before eventually settling in Rome a fortnight ago. It has sometimes been hard, managing family life amidst so much movement, but there is usually something which delights us, something which tastes amazing, makes us laugh, outrages us or takes our breath away. We’ve been shedding as we go. We left our cottage in East Cork at the end of July in a flurry of dusters and last-minute boxes, as the new owners looked at their watches at the end of the boreen. We’d intended leaving with one car (a neighbour offered to mind the other one), but ended up leaving with two – full to the brim. In Cork (in our first of several borrowed homes), we spent a frantic week shedding the contents of one car whilst we re-directed mail, closed utility accounts and generally wrestled with paper. We had a wall covered with yellow post-it notes, – some of them are still in my wallet . . . Somehow we got up at ridiculous o’clock a week later, drove to Rosslare and onto a ferry to Wales, driving the five hours to my parents’ house in Kent, where we would eventually leave half our clothes behind. Whilst we were on the road and the weather hot, I didn’t miss anything. It’s only now, where I feel underdressed dropping the kids at school, that I wish I had another darling frock or two. And so we are here, after thirteen years in Ballymacoda. And it is extraordinary. We’re living on the third floor of a nineteenth century apartment block on Via Romagna, in the home of my sister-in-law. Ordinary things astonish us – I haven’t yet got over being able to get a pint, well, a litre of milk in a minute or so, instead of driving two miles down to the village. Our school run is 2 minutes, as opposed to the 12 mile drive we did every day for five years. The children run down the stairs with their school bags on over their grembiules (school overalls), hiding in the stairwell, jumping out at us as we come down, before racing to the brass button which releases the great entrance doors. We tumble out onto the street, where we dodge men in suits on vespas, and walk briskly along a pavement covered in olives. We loved our home in East Cork, but the commute (60 miles round trip) finally got to us. So we have exchanged a sight of the sea for time with each other and a year of adventure. And possibly a new frock or two . . .