I am feeling excited now. Late last year, while laid low with Covid, we decided to give overseas travel another go. The last memorable trip was in 2018 and we have been wondering when we might travel again, if ever!

After much discussion, many YouTube videos and a great deal of exploration, we took the plunge and booked flights in and out of Frankfurt. In deference to our advancing age (and bodies), we are going very slightly upmarket in premium economy.

Southern Germany, Tuscany and Sicily won the contest as destinations, and many hours have been spent deciding how, when and where we will go. Images of sunsets in the Tuscan hills, Sicilian cannoli for breakfast and the Zugspitze peaks in Germany seduced us, connected by many trains (love European rail), a couple of rental cars (I have to control my fear) and a ferry (with our sleeper train on board). Time seems to go slowly and now, suddenly, and we leave in a few days.

The sun-drenched hills of Tuscany

My feelings are a little mixed about this trip. Having not travelled since pre-Covid, things feel different now. For a start, I am five years older, and my body is less compliant with my plans. But then that is a good reason not to wait any longer: I want to go again before I can’t! My knee replacement nearly a year ago has made this adventure possible. And, amazingly, my heart function is the strongest it has been since before it failed in 2003. I am very thankful and take nothing for granted.

The pandemic has also changed the landscape. As I fronted up for my fifth vax and a flu shot, hoping to time them for peak protection, I realised that it is all about mitigation of risk. I could get sick; I could trip over a medieval cobblestone; I could look the wrong way crossing the road in reversed traffic. Staying home, however, doesn’t remove these risks – things can happen here too.

Now to fit it into suitcases!

So the well-travelled suitcases have come out of the storeroom, and I could almost hear them muttering, “Here we go again, buckle up for the ride!” Ever hopeful that we will travel lightly, we start to throw compression socks, maps and toiletries on the couch, delaying the final decisions about what on earth to wear in Europe – Italy is burning up in an unprecedented heatwave right now, but the summit of the Zugspitze will be icy cold. So, a little of everything and plenty of layers. Feeling like very tech- savvy boomers, we have hidden AirTags in our luggage, hoping it will reveal where it ends up if it is lost! Our family probably think we each need one in our pockets.

Multiple devices used for research

We always love to research, so have a folder full of bookings, tickets, destinations and things we would like to see. Peter will doubtlessly take in more art galleries than I can absorb, but scenery, trains, gardens and picturesque medieval villages will keep me happy. Spending time in lovely places will encourage us just to relax and read sometimes, or enjoy the Mediterranean beaches. The amazing combination of God’s creation and the creativity of humans through the centuries is endlessly fascinating. I love exploring planet earth.

I especially like adventures with my dear husband, who often pulls two suitcases, does the driving on the wrong side of the road and is the best travel mate I could wish for. This will be a great celebration of our 50th year of marriage.

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