I'm heading away for a few days next week to a place I've never, ever been before. Italy. There is no real reason why I've never been, I just haven't. People are always telling me that I would love it, it's all about food and wine after all. Even Fanny raves on about it all the time, but it still doesn't change anything. I've never been. Like most of us I am sure, the list of places I want to explore is ever expanding, and Italy just hasn't risen to the top of that list. Until now. It's all come around more quickly than expected. Am I prepared though?
So prolific was Fanny's writing that she has the perfect guide for any question that I may ponder in life. In 1950, she wrote a charming book called 'Bon Voyage' under the name Frances Dale, telling us, erm, I mean guiding us, how to enjoy our holidays in Europe by car. Surely this will be the only guide I need to get me ready. Fanny has a warning though. "A good deal of careful planning and a good deal of experience are required if the intended holiday-maker is to have both fun and freedom from worry." I wasn't especially before, but I am worried now.
I'm really not sure that I have enough time to absorb all the information that Fanny says I will require for my first trip. Fanny says I should have started to prepare for this trip as I travelled home from last years one. How will I ever catch up? I supposedly should have been ordering various maps throughout the year, and at various times laid them out on the drawing-room carpet floor, for my family to crawl over while I take after dinner coffee on my stomach. I'm only at the very beginning and already I haven't got the foggiest what Fanny is talking about. Besides, I don't have a drawing-room, or a carpet for that matter. Am I doomed?
I must make sure my car is in tip-top shape, because as Fanny reminds me, we 'as an island race' are not generally fluent on other languages. Fanny points out the obvious. "This disadvantage handicaps us from the start." She is right though, I realise, I can not speak a word of Italian. Nothing. I only have a few days to learn Italian. And car mechanics. Oh, and map reading too. It's overwhelming. Not to mention what I need to pack and how much money I need to take, all of which have chapters devoted to explaining Fanny's way. I've never felt so stressed out about a trip before in my life.
Reading through Fanny's guide, however, I soon realise with some relief that she has taken all the worry out of the trip for me, and has thought of everything. Even when it comes to which underwear I should pack, which is down to my own personal choice, if you are wondering. She's planned what I will do, where I will go, what I should eat, what not to drink, where to shop and what I should say to practically anyone I should meet. With all this worrying I have only just realised that I am flying, not driving. I can't even drive. So all I need to do is relax and enjoy my first experience of Italy, right? Well according to Fanny I should already of course be planning where to go next. Let's just see how I get on with this trip first - will you join me on a series of special blogs as I explore Italy with, and without, Fanny's guidance? Do you have any words of wisdom for me, to add to Fanny's expertise?