I’ve recently spent my birthday in my childhood home for the first time in a decade, maybe longer, and it was wonderful. Originally I had planned on being back in Italy by now, but we’ve pushed it back a few weeks because of work that needs doing in Ireland before we return. The work we are doing here will secure the second leg of our Italy trip, but is inevitably punctuated with some down time. When I’m not filing and polishing silver at my improvised jeweller’s bench, I have mostly been colouring in, playing dress up and jumping around my old bedroom to long forgotten CDs with my favourite pair of five year olds. Ollie has been utilised as a beast of burden, a wrestling partner and a fountain of knowledge by the same two. I have also been escorted to bed every night and woken every morning by cats who are normally not allowed upstairs, except when we are home. It’s lovely to be a central character in these little daily routines.


I have caught up with some old friends and relatives, and made some new friends in the process. And there’s also a long list of people I still hope to see before I go. Looking through old photographs in my storage boxes has become a daily source of entertainment. It is the longest I have been in Ireland since 2011, when we left for London, and probably the longest I have been in this house since I left home at the age of seventeen, and I’ve enjoyed spending time with my parents and siblings. Soon I will be entering that melancholy phase which chews up the end of any break – the countdown to departure. A friend of mine, who has been living abroad for years longer than I have, once said that the countdown phase got so bad for her that she started to make fewer trips home and made sure they were of shorter duration. Once you are on a flying visit you don’t have time to settle in, so it’s easier to return to your life abroad without feeling blue and guilt-ridden for abandoning your loved ones again, just as they have gotten used to having you around. I’ve been home for so long this time that I am probably going to need medication at the airport!

I miss my friends in London too, and am looking forward to spending a week there, en route to Italy, to catch up with them all. But I’m not sure if Ollie and I will end up living in London again, so the realisation that that life may be over is dawning on me now too. Maybe we will return there but who knows. The future is wide open. For all my lamenting I should stress that I am really looking forward to returning to Florence! To be honest I can’t wait to continue my course and have access to a proper studio again. Making jewellery is a lot easier when you have all the right equipment at your fingertips, rather than having to improvise or come up with alternative techniques. I just wish that I could combine my favourite aspects of Ireland, London and Italy and have all the people I love in the same place. Really I should just win the Euromillions jackpot, buy an island in the Mediterranean and abduct my nearest and dearest…including the cats.

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