A couple of friends have asked how my resolutions are going. I felt a bit silly for posting them here, but I did it so I couldn’t easily give up on them. So here’s an update.
* Driving to Germany with Steve and Vincent in August …
Hooray, we did this! The three of us drove to France, Belgium and the Netherlands too. We stayed (appropriately, some would say) in a converted pigsty in Heinsberg, west Germany. (I’m doing it a disservice – it’s beautifully converted.) We camped for a long weekend in the Belgian Ardennes; introduced Vincent to Nutella (and Nutella to Vincent – it even found its way into his ears); swam in lidos, and fell in love with chic Maastricht thanks to a personal recommendation from Mick Jagger. (Well, the Mick Jagger of Dutch tribute act The Stolling Rones, but he was every bit as rock’n’roll as the real Mick, if the real Mick were to be found washing his pots at a family campsite in Spa.)
* … and looking for family travel blogs I can guest-post for
I haven’t done this. Guest posts are brilliant for boosting one’s profile and building linkbacks, but my hours and brain are filled up with Vincent and Good As Gold. There really isn’t much space for anything else at the moment.
* Writing the first few thousand words of what I hope will be a full-length manuscript about how motherhood clips your wings – and my journey to overcoming this
I’m on Chapter 3. Still noodling.
* Looking for funding for a very big adventure for summer 2014
This is on hold. We’ve booked a trip to Paris for early July but the rest of the summer will be dedicated to my next project …
* Waiting to hear about the future of a guidebook I’ve pitched
This is going ahead! I’m not sure how much I should say about it yet, but the editor asked for my initial idea to be re-pitched as two books. The first will be published in March 2016. I won’t have to compromise on family life as Vincent and Steve are accompanying me on most of my research trips. I look forward to sharing more news with you here, as well as my love for, and growing knowledge of, the destinations.
* Drafting an essay for a rather daunting travel-writing competition, just for the hell of it
I did this, and was happy with the result, but my piece didn’t get anywhere. Ah well … I’ll try again this year.
* Buying us a big tent (it has to be huge: “We need to zip Vincent into his own room because he snores too much” – Steve)
Done! See above. Vincent loved camping … he took run-ups at the canvas walls and bounced backwards in snorts of laughter; studied the beetles that crept under our flysheet; found joy in madly waving a torch into the darkness. Whole days spent in the fresh air made him so tired that he slept for 13 hours each night. As any parent will tell you, that feels amaa-zing!
* Planning for us to fly somewhere in October – maybe Italy – just to say Vincent’s been on a plane
In October we had lots of renovation work carried out on our Little Donkey house and were too broke to travel far. Instead we escaped for the half-term week to heavenly Honeysuckle Cottage in Hutton Rudby, North Yorkshire, which was just the holiday we needed.
Vincent experienced his first flight in between Christmas and new year, when the three of us flew to Amsterdam for a few days. It was a cop-out journey – less than 30 minutes’ flying from Norwich – but Vincent chattered happily through the trip which gave me hope for future journeys.
I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ten years. While our children fought over Toot Toot Vehicles (I found the battery-operated singing much less irritating in Dutch), lovely Elvira and I reminisced on our month spent backpacking, camping and carousing in Australia, 2001. I’m really looking forward to seeing Elvira again, even more so now we have small boys and work-juggling in common.
* Applying to be a Yahoo! UK contributor and writing about parenting and travel
I was accepted by Yahoo! UK, which was great, but I haven’t found any of the assignments relevant to me yet.
* Looking for a home for my unpublished book, Love On A Third Class Ticket
Nope, this is still gathering dust under the bed.
* Pitching story ideas to editors based on a wonderful-sounding press trip I’ve been offered
I looked into publications I could approach but the tourist board in question has already done a sterling job at gaining coverage in the UK national papers, none of which will feature the same destination for several years now. Most regional and local papers seem to have stopped commissioning, due to an unfortunate decline in budgets and, in one case, a change in pagination meaning less space for colour images (which are almost essential for travel pieces). I should persist with the pitching, but I also know that my going away for a week would make life harder for at least four other people … not because they’d miss me (although Vincent would be utterly baffled; I’m not ready to leave his sleepy head behind either) but because they’d have to pick up all my daily duties.
* Tinkering, when I’m stuck with travel, with a novel set in Cromer and a couple of travel-inspired poems
I return to the novel sometimes but I’m not sure my poetry will ever be ready to see the light of day.
More soon! x