Travelling, travelling, travelling .......

So far four trains, two buses, a plane, a London underground ride and a taxi;  two hotels and a succession of coffees in paper cups and tasteless sandwiches.   No wonder I'm feeling a touch jaded.  And my poor laptop has  been trying to connect to so many internet hotspots it's become confused!   I'm currently in Ipswich giving a talk on Katherine Mansfield to the Suffolk Book League - a lovely group of book enthusiasts it was a pleasure to meet.   Waterstones even managed to sell a few books.  But I wonder whether audiences have any idea what an effort writers make to meet readers and talk to them about their work?

I haven't been to Ipswich before and at first glance it seems like most modern English town centres - hardly any old buildings left and most space taken up by a pedestrianized shopping mall with all the usual suspects;  Monsoon, Debenhams, H&M, McDonalds, Gap, Benetton, Costa coffee, M&S.   There is, apparently, another face to Ipswich - the waterfront - which I haven't seen yet. 

There are lots of very young mums here, strolling around with their babies in buggies - some of them don't even look old enough to have left school.   That's something you don't see in Italy and I wonder why?  Do Italian girls have better things to do than have babies as teenagers?  Most wait until their late twenties or early thirties.  Cultural differences?  The family group is certainly stronger and more important in Italy than it is over here, so perhaps young girls feel less compelled to begin their own.  But there's also a demographic shift in Italy - the birth rate is dropping and the government are worried about it.

Now I'm about to start the journey again in reverse - taxi, trains, bus, plane (fog permitting) and hopefully Neil will be waiting for me at Pisa airport around midnight.   It's sunny over there he tells me and tonight the sky should be clear enough to get another look at Venus and Jupiter together - the brightest objects in the night sky.


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