Remember the days when you used to go on holiday and it wasn't a fact-finding mission for a potential story? Oh, you still do that? Must just be me, then.
Yep, here I am in fabulous Italy, in a sumptuous hotel with incredible vistas and a fabulous staff who bent over backwards to please (not literally!). And what do I spend every waking moment doing? Scribbling in my notebook. What's even more insulting to this wonderful country, is that I wasn't taking down notes of the phenomenal food or the glorious assault on the senses in preparation for a new novel, partly set in Italy (although it is in there somewhere, and I’m hoping Bri’s 300 photos will nudge any reluctant memories if and when the time comes).
Nope, these scenes which poured out of me unbidden, page after page of close-written text (so small, I have to use a magnifying glass to read them back), were most definitely set in the UK. Including Wales and Scotland, to be fair, but mainly in Archer’s Wessex, and modern-day Wiltshire.
"Sacrilege," I hear you say.
"Sorry," is my only reply. No defence, no excuses, just "Sorry, Italy. Will try harder next time." There will most definitely be a next time.
But it wasn't 24-7. Here's my whistle stop tour of the captivating Lake Como:
Thurs: Beautiful Bellagio (no dancing fountains, but you can see where Vegas got the inspiration). A lazy half hour outside the church watching the world pass by. My tongue was hanging out for a beer, but all the couples in the bar had coffee (it was only 11am). 15 euros for a t-shirt sounded steep, but it did have a beautiful font displaying Bellagio in diamante studs.
Fri: The next ferry-stop down - Villa-tastic Verenna. After 3 hours in Monastero, we hiked up a mountain trail worthy of Cader Idris (my Welsh mountain), only to find a further four flights of knee-crippling stairs to hit the top of the tower. The views were well worth it, and the ghosts were great fun.
Sat: Knees swollen to three times the size (we Sag's exaggerate on pan-galatic levels) demanded a day chillin' by the pool. Andrea's (yep, he was my waiter, Ace!) cocktails revived me sufficiently to wander into Magnificent Menaggio (the local town). A line dancing bar playing the Eagles "Get Over It" soon convinced my legs to stop wobbling and have a boogie. You gotta love a mum dance.
Sun: A super-fast ferry up to the North uncovered Gravedona's secrets (as recommended by said waiter). A 12th century church and spectacularly ornate graveyard made the visit well worthwhile.
Mon: Rain didn't stop play as we dodged drops to explore the gardens, then stared at the ceilings in the exquisite Villa Carlotta in Cadennabia.
Tues: Another super-fast ferry to the south. Como Cathedral has rich detail which makes York (and Canterbury) pale into the shade.
The purple rose? That's what the cute maid did with my nightie - a different, more complex sculpture greeted our return to the sumptuous every day. And don't get me started on the food: not a pizza all week, but every dish was so exquisite, it even got Bri raving about the porcini mushroom lasagna - and he normally hates pasta.