And this is why I've never been able to keep a diary. Nine countries in five weeks, a series of glorious cities, thousands of readers, an impossible quantity of cream tea, and not a single journal entry to show for it. It seems my natural inclination is to write down made-up things, rather than to record real ones.
But the tour deserves better, so herewith my first installment. Bearing in mind that if I wrote it all down I'd never get any of my next book written there will be lots of photographs. They do say a picture tells a thousand words . . .
It started in Rome, one of my favourite cities in the world. I ate lots of pasta. The roses growing wild throughout the city smelled heavenly. My interviews (like this one) took place in a sunny little courtyard with a fountain trickling lightly in the background.
History is so tangible in Rome. No matter where you turn, there's a marker of the past. The ancient past. It's intoxicating to visit a city where an enormous roundabout echoes with long forgotten cries of Gladiators, and the view from your dinner table is a set of stone columns that once held up a building in Caesar's Rome.
I couldn't get Shelley's Ozymandias out of my mind:
I met a traveller from an antique land who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert.'
There were lots of interviews and a presentation and signing at Mondolibri, viale Marconi, 70, which was a great chance to chat with some of my lovely Italian readers. It was also my first meeting with my Italian publishers from Sperling & Kupfer, who were wonderful.
Did I mention that I ate a lot of pasta?
I also managed to write quite a lot of the opening to my new book, which was unexpected and happy-making. There really is no greater joy than being lost in the world of a story, hurrying behind as it weaves itself together in front of me.
Here is the first in a series of photos taken to prove that I was working, not just consuming way too much coffee/vino/pasta. . .
See -- that's manuscript, right there in the back corner, a little out of focus. There is even red pen involved, and we all know that means Serious Work.
From Rome I caught a super early morning flight to Paris, right over the top of the Alps. What an exhilarating sight that is.
Next episode: Paris.