Éowyn has done what it took me nigh on another 22 years to do: take a trip on an aeroplane. My first flight was in 1996 at the age of 23.5, Éowyn took her first flight just before she turned 20 months old. Friends of mine Simon and Stefania were getting married on the 18th June in Stefania’s home town of San Baronto in Tuscany, Italy. We therefore decided to make a holiday around the event and, considering other events due this year, make it our big holiday for the year.
The holiday didn’t start in the most positive fashion. Our flight was due out at 09:00 BST and so we decided to push the boat out and have tea (or dinner for you Southerners) at the Earlybird at the local Harvester restaurant. We went with Nanny and Granddad as we do relatively often. Both Lucinda and I decided that we fancied the scampi and chips and duly ordered said meal each. It tasted lovely and thought no more of it, and what followed may or may not have anything to do with it.
Cue 02:00 BST Lucinda begins throwing up. This took us back to when she was pregnant with Éowyn and suffered food poisoning from a re-heated quiche. That time we went to A&E and she was kept in for a few hours to monitor Éowyn. We were told then that the blood supply of the baby is separate to that of the mother so that the baby should be fine however it was important to keep up her fluid intake for dehydration was the real issue. This did become a concern as Lucinda developed diarrhoea.
Cue 04:00 BST and I began to feel ill. I did not vomit (which in hindsight was probably a bad thing as you will discover later) and only suffered the secondary issue (pun intended). So now there was no way we were going to be nipping off to hospital to get Lucinda and the bubba checked out before our flight (and for a while it looked like we were not going to be able to make the flight!). Fortunately about 06:00BST everything seemed to settle for a while so we decided to head to the airport (thanks Granddad).
At the airport we felt rough but (due to many years of experience) managed to check in and get through security and find the gate. Éowyn was being golden, and enjoyed looking around the shops. She eventually took me into one of the many shops in T5 Heathrow for she had spotted a World Cup ball and wanted it. As she was being so good I bought it for her for it was something else to keep her amused with, for airside we were both suffering new waves of diarrhoea. Fortunately we were out of sync with each other and could take it in turns to look after Éowyn.
We got on board and the plane filled up. It was going to be a full flight. As we taxied to the runaway we though we would give Éowyn her bottle to help with equalising her ears on take off. However we were foiled by the French! French air-traffic controllers to be precise who had decided to go on strike, thereby delaying all flights across French airspace. So we sat on the runaway, on a full flight, feeling rough with a 20 month old that rapidly drank her milk thinking things couldn’t be much worse. It wasn’t a good start.
However after about a 45 minute delay it was our turn to take off. We should have had no fear. Éowyn sat on my lap shouting ‘Wheeeee!’ all the way down the runway and into the air. She loved it. She was so well behaved on the flight, we could not have asked for any more from her. When we landed I felt incredibly bad and rushed for the toilet as we got off the plane. Somehow we not only got through customs, collected our luggage and hired a car. We managed to drive the 100km or so from Pisa airport to the Hotel Monti in San Baronto, check in before collapsing on the bed in the hotel room.
I stayed in bed for the next day and a half, unable to keep any food or drink down. I wouldn’t like to think how much weight I lost in that time frame but I was 9lbs lighter on my return and I ate nothing but pasta, pizza, cakes, beer and ice-cream while I was there. It was not much fun for Lucinda as she had recovered the next day and could not explore too far as I was the only one insured on the car and walking was out of the question as it was torrential rain for those first few days. The holiday had not started well.
I did, however, flush the toxins from my body and although weak and gaunt looking was able to get out of the hotel on the third day. Although I took it easy in order to save myself for the wedding, which was on the fourth day (Friday 18th June) of our holiday. My friend Hami also arrived on the third day just as I was beginning to feel better. Another good friend Sanjiv arrived late on the Thursday and caught up with him on the morning of the wedding.
The wedding was fantastic. The ceremony was held in the Church in San Baronto and the reception in Villa Rospigliosi in nearby Lamporecchio. Villa Rospigliosi is a 17th Century Villa built for Pope Celemns IX as a summer retreat from the Vatican. It was a fabulous setting for the wedding, Simon and Stef have true style!
We were in Italy for 10 days in total and took full advantage of being in the middle of Tuscany. We visited Florence, Lucca, Vinci, Empoli, Pistoia, Lamporecchio but missed out on Pisa (although we did see the learning tower from about a mile away as we headed to the airport on the way back home).
For Éowyn it was a holiday of many firsts:
- First time she had used her passport
- First time in the airport
- First flight
- First foreign country
- First trip on a bus
- First wedding
- First trip on a coach
- First trip on a train
- First time she has used another language on a trio (Ciao and Grazie)
- First Father’s Day spent outside of England
Highlights of the trip (apart from the wedding) would have to be meeting up with Simon, Hami and Sanjiv for me. The trips to Florence, Lucca and Vinci and the fact that we got to spend a considerable amount of time together as a family. Something that we very rarely do for any length of time. During our trip Éowyn is now confident counting up to 10. Can name a considerable amount of colours (her favourites being Orange and Purple) and can tell you the noises that animals make.
Funny moment of the trip goes to Sanjiv. Searching San Baronto for somewhere to have lunch (not an easy task I can tell you) Sanjiv spots some women perparing tables in a restaurant, calling over he shouts, “Scusi,” at this point we are impressed, we did not know that Sanjiv spoke Italian. Then Uncle Albert kicked in, “What-a time do you-a open?” he said, putting on an ‘Allo ‘Allo Italian accent. It makes me laugh now, just thinking about it! He should of course have said: “Scusi, Bootiful Lay-dees! What-a time do you-a open?” At least he gave it a go. I suffer from that English disease of being afraid of getting it wrong that I forget to try. I keep promising myself to learn another language but never get around to it. Perhaps I will rectify that some day. Sanjiv’s language skills narrowly beat the result of New Zealand v Italy game into second place, but as England were abysmal the least we say about the World Cup the better.
Returning home we had one more event before returning to work. Nanny Fran’s belated 60th birthday present. Due to her accident (she is still in plaster) our surprise trip to Rome has been cancelled and instead we took her to see The Sound of Music with Connie Fisher at Woking theatre. I have to admit it was a fantastic show and it also gave Nanny Fran a chance to see Éowyn who she hasn’t seen for quite a while.
Now I feel that I have waffled far too much, so please find some photos below to enjoy. I will be uploading a large number to Flickr in the next few days so keep your eyes peeled for those. I also aim to write a more detailed account of the holiday and post it as a permanent page under Éowyn’s own page in the right hand column, so keep an eye on that too.
Peace and Love