It seems that in Ireland over the last decade, anybody with a bit of spare loot is buying a bolthole in the south of France, or Portugal, or south of Spain.
I don't have spare loot. But I've spent time in both France and Spain over the years. I've done many flying visits in both countries, and also in Portugal. I like them all.
Still, if I wanted to live somewhere else for a while (retirement isn't on the horizon, and I never expect to be able to afford it anyway), it would probably be Italy, and either Tuscany or up further around Alba.
There's something special about Tuscany. Though I've only been there four or five times, mostly short overnights on business, once over a few days on a trip from Milan to Rome. The long way. One of my few longish holidays in recent years.
In general I like Italian food, but I don't eat either pasta or risotto. When I'm at a big-shot formal restaurant in Milan or Turin or Siena or wherever and the pasta plate comes along, I ask instead for a dish of chopped tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Absolutely scrumptious ...
Other than the pasta or risotto I like pretty well everything else about how the Italians eat. Especially when I'm in a very ordinary place, where ordinary Italians go to eat on a nightly (and daytime too) basis. The food is simple, recognisable. Edible in toto.
The wine is invariably super, whether just the house's table stuff or something special from my favourite areas of Alba or Chianti. There's a thing about Italy's winemakers that I found some time ago — they don't export their best, they keep it for drinking at home. Another reason to consider spending some of the rest of my life in a part of the world where you drive into a piece of history every time you turn a corner. Or happen on a family winery.
I can't just up and go. I have commitments here, business and personal. I have work I still like to do. And I need to be in Ireland to do at least part of it.
Now here's a thought. If I was to decide to move to Tuscany for a year, what's to stop me commuting home for half of every week? Or every second week? I could line up my review cars for the times I'd be back in Ireland, and through the modern miracle of the internet (and a suitable broadband connection) I could manage the writing and design part of my work from wherever I might be renting in the Italian countryside.
At least every other week I'd be scheduled to fly somewhere else in Europe anyhow, and it would be as easy to arrange flights from Italy to the launch events as from Ireland. Easier, in fact. I could even drive to some of them.
One of the miracles of modern transport is an Irish-based airline that flies people all over Europe at very low fares. Ryanair is the quintessential European model of the low-cost carrier. One of the most successful airlines in the world, in fact. Ryanair flies to Pisa. That's a handy connection to where I'd like to be. To anywhere else I'd have to be.
I'm not looking for the 'Year in Tuscany' thing, trying to make a new life in the hardship worlds of farming or tourism. I don't want any new hardship at this time of my life. So I'd be aiming to do a location shift while maintaining my current work.
This is a muse piece. Nothing decided, just developing an idea.
So stay tuned to see if I get it moved on.