Jill Mansell - Diary Summer 2007
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Thursday 26th July:
Hello again! I know, it’s been quite a while, but my lovely publishers have beaten me with a big stick and suggested that a diary update might be a nice idea. So this time I’m going to be writing about my summer holiday. And how hard it is to concentrate on my current book while my children are at home, each trying to see who can shout the loudest.
I’ve escaped upstairs to the bedroom, but sitting up in bed to write makes my back ache after a while. And I have a brilliant view from the bedroom window, of the sports ground. At this moment, Bristol rugby team is training on the left hand side of the field, which is distracting to say the least. And to the right, an episode of Casualty is being filmed. Holby ambulances are there, and all the TV crew are busy, and the actors are standing around waiting to … well, act.
You can see how hard it is for me, can’t you? I think I deserve some sympathy. This is all far more interesting than trying to work out what my own boring old characters are going to do next.
OK, my daughter has just come upstairs and caught me ogling from my bed, through binoculars. I’m now officially a Peeping Jill. The shame. She’s confiscated my binoculars now. It’s time to get back to Some Serious Work.
Wednesday 1st August:
And now I don’t have to think about the book because – hooray! - we’re off on our holiday. Cruising on a giant Royal Caribbean ship called The Brilliance of the Seas, around the Med, Turkey and Greece. Except we booked a year ago to fly from Bristol to Barcelona (from where the ship sails) because that would be quick and easy. What we didn't realise was that we'd be travelling from Bristol to Barcelona via Amsterdam, so the trip is going to take thirteen hours, not so quick and easy after all.
Up at 2:30am.
We reach the ship at 4:30pm, pretty shattered. But the ship is spectacular, so that’s a good start.
Thursday 2nd August:
We’re in Villefranche, an enchantingly pretty small town between Nice and Monte Carlo, and I already have handbag fever. Just manage to stop myself from buying a glitzy gold-and-white studded leather monster of a bag that I would never ever use once I got it home. I love people-watching in the South of France – it’s like a Jackie Collins novel come to life!
Friday 3rd August:
Livorno today, close to Pisa and Florence. Overheard a tourist saying, 'Hey, this leaning tower of Pisa. It really, like, leans!'
Saturday 4th August:
Earlier this year, I was interviewed for Waterstone's Quarterly magazine along with Sophie Kinsella and Wendy Holden. It was a brilliant day. The interview was conducted by Louise Candlish, whose book The Double Life of Anna Day I was then in the middle of reading and liking a lot. Louise told me her new book was a weepy.
Anyhow, last week she sent me a copy of this new novel, called Since I Don't Have You, and I brought it on holiday with me. And I’d just like to say publicly, thanks, Louise, for making me cry and cry and cry throughout the first three days of my holiday. You weren’t kidding, were you? I’m a blubber at the best of times, but I think I can safely say that this book has made me cry more than any book ever before, even Gone With The Wind. It’s fantastically good and deserves to be a huge success. I’m also somewhat relieved to have finished it, and I’m sure the other people around the pool are too! Shall read a thriller next. Lee Child. He won’t make me cry…
Midnight. Chocolate Buffet. Can’t write, too busy eating. Mmmmm. This isn’t the fattening kind of chocolate, is it? Phew, thank goodness for that.
Sunday 5th August:
We’re having a sea-day today, sailed through the Messina Straits this morning, heading to Greece. Bit choppy and I’m feeling sea-sick so have taken a tablet that might make me a bit…
… sleepy. OK, just dozed off for two hours. Feeling lots better now though. And my big achievement of the day has been to learn how to belly-dance! Well, you never know when it could come in handy, do you? It’s great fun too, all curly and whirly and wiggly and jiggly. I feel like Shakira now. It’s also an excellent way to embarrass my children, which is always a bonus.
Tuesday 7th August:
Santorini. This is what’s so great about boats. Woke up this morning, pulled open the curtains and found us anchored off Santorini. Right in front of us was blazing sun, a sparkling sea, a 900-foot almost sheer drop of volcanic cliffside, and dazzling white sugarcube buildings clustered along the top. Beautiful.
Monday 6th August:
Mykonos today, absolutely gorgeous. I love all the teeny-tiny narrow streets twisting and turning in every direction. And I’ve bought myself a fab pair of pink Brazilian Havaianas, very bouncy.
Wednesday 8th August:
Kusadasi, Turkey! Hey lady, very good price, where you from? Come into my shop, you my first customer of the day, I give you extra-special price, very very cheap, no, don’t go, hey lady, come back, I have many more things upstairs…
Whew, this is our first visit to a Turkish bazaar. It’s scary at first and my Britishness is showing. Then by the afternoon I’m bartering like I’m born to do it! Great fun. I won’t tell you what I bought, because when you see me with my ballerina-pink and pale green Prada handbags I’ll want you to think they’re real. That’s if they haven’t fallen apart by then.
Friday 10th August:
Sea day. Yay, more belly-dancing. Am now at championship level. Followed by a hypnotism seminar. Followed by an art lecture which meant, sadly, that I missed out on both the How to Lose Ten inches from your Waist lecture and the Men’s Belly Flop Competition. Who says cruises are boring?
Dinner tonight in the posh on-board restaurant, the Portofino. And it was lovely, very posh indeed. I can’t believe I read a review before coming here, where someone complained that the food portions on this ship were small. There is endless wonderful food served twenty-four hours a day and you can eat as much and as often as you like. Also, the staff are fantastic and if you can’t decide between two meals, they’ll bring you both. Er, allegedly!
Saturday 11th August:
Naples. Visited Pompeii and was shown around by a guide who delighted in telling us all about the Houses of Prostitution and what went on in them, oblivious to the alarm of parents with younger children listening with interest.
Sunday 12th August:
At sea. Last proper day, last belly-dancing lesson. Am now completely brilliant at it and shall surely be representing Great Britain in the next Olympics. Can I just say, another lovely thing about cruising is no mosquitos. I haven’t seen a single one.
Stupendous magic show this evening, followed by karaoke. I don’t want this holiday to be over.
Monday 13th August:
Last day. Hideous journey home - Barcelona airport is heaving - but we arrive back safely in the evening. And when I get on to the bathroom scales I discover I’ve put on half a stone. How can that have happened? Oh yes, endless wonderful food being served by fantastic staff twenty-four hours a day…
When can I go back?
April 2007 - Click here.