It’s tax time here, and my very first submission as a provisional tax payer since I started writing full time 18 months ago. Of course, I have no idea what to do, and so I’ve employed the services of an accountant. But, I need to get all my writing income and expenses across to her pronto. So I’ve spent this past weekend wading through receipts from our recent trip overseas, because travel for me is “work”—it’s called research. And with my stories set in novel places like Europe, England, and Africa, hopefully the tax man will see it all as research, too.
Taxes…no fun. Where is the romance in that? Frankly, there isn’t. BUT, when I allowed my mind to drift to the memories with every foreign slip I tried try to understand—yes, I used Google translate, and Google image translate quite a bit—I found fun and romance even in such a mundane task as my taxes.
There was the coffee and cake we enjoyed at the most gorgeous coffee shop in St. Petersburg, Russia—CyACTbE (about as good Russian as my English keyboard can type). The café overlooked the beautiful St. Isaacs Cathedral. Pretty much all I could understand on the till slip was cappuccino and latte. The rest was all Greek…I mean, Russian.
The numerous slips from Italy brought back many special memories, like the romantic dinner at a sidewalk restaurant in Venice, strolling through the narrow lanes at night afterward, and buying a map earlier that day so we could find our hotel in the mishmash of streets.
One slip from Rome brought back a bittersweet memory…the exorbitant lunch bill we were presented with at our impromptu late lunch. I learned one expensive lesson that particular day…always make sure you can see the price in writing. What we thought was 13.50 euro for gnocchi was actually 35 euro—each. So, the lunch we thought might be around 40 euro cost us a whopping 99 euro. Probably two weeks’ worth of groceries back home. “But there were truffles,” we were told when we tried to argue the price we’d heard. Oh well, you live and learn—some lessons a little more expensive than others.
Wading through the train and boat slips from Cinque Terre took me back to the day we spent in this string of five quaint coastal villages with old friends from Switzerland. Cathy and Thomas took the six hour road trip down to Italy from Zurich just to meet up with us…we hadn’t seen each other since the weekend we spent with them at their home in Zurich in 2001 (bar one five minute random encounter a few years back at an airport car rental in Cape Town). It was great fun to catch up with them.
The slips most special to me at the moment perhaps, were ones that came from Tuscany, reminding me of the gelato shops, the incredible scenery and quaint villages on hilltops, and the thermal pools to mention but a few. The visits to all these special places in this beautiful province of Italy have given me so much storyworld inspiration for one of the two books I’m currently working on—That’s Amore—Book 1 of a nine book multi-author series planned for release in April 2018. We’re really excited, and I’m super-happy that my research trip to Italy was worth every minute.
But, much as it was exciting to take a trip down memory lane, especially the romantic cities and places we saw in our travels, I really was glad to stick that last slip onto an A4 paper and file it, ready for my accountant. Bring on the tax return (or at least lower taxes to be paid)!
I’d love to hear from you what has turned something mundane into a memory filled with fun and/or romance.