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🍕🍝 Too much pizza, pasta or Putin...

But I felt nauseous as we left Lake Garda and drove east home to Nyíregyháza, 64km from the Ukrainian border. I planned a lovely blog post with uplifting stories of our trip to Italy. How I found James Joyce and Monet in Trieste, caught the last days of carnival in Venice and reunited with old friends at Lake Garda

That's me rescuing James Joyce from my wind swept scarf in Trieste  

That was until everything change on the return trip home. 

From Lake Garda to Nyíregyháza it’s just over 1,000km so we stopped off in Slovenia for a night for the sake of our 3 year old (and our ears). 

Our journey home from Riva Del Garda, Italy to Nyíregyháza, Hungary.

Turn off the telly!

Firstly, the TV in our room had Sky News and BBC News in English, which brought the shocking reality of war in a neighbouring country home. Don't get me wrong, I haven’t had my head in the risotto for the past week, I’ve been on my Irish Times app, The Journal, BBC Word, and Budapest Times all day and sometimes at night… normally around four am - heebie jeebies time.

family_day_in_Venice_Italy_Natalie_Forrester_Art

That's me, my husband, Laz and our son Wolfie at Venice Carnival 2022  

But there is something about watching the news on a good, old fashioned TV that scares the living bejesus out of me. 

I haven't had a TV connection since I left home over 20 years ago, (we stream), that's about the last time I was in Venice - nothing has changed on both fronts… one is a positive.

venice_italy_at_sunset A terracotta sunset in Venice

What really scared me

We were enjoying a lovely Slovenian breakfast in our little Gothic B&B of fried eggs on ham, trying to ignore Wolfie eating nutella directly from the sachet, when I noticed a table occupied by a quiet lady, with model like features, and her well behaved daughter. 

driving through Slovenia

Driving from Italy to Hungary through Slovenia


I couldn’t help but notice that an almost tangible sadness enveloped them as they walked from the dining room.

The penny dropped twenty minutes later in the car park as I witnessed their almost reluctant departure. Their family car, packed to the brim, looked like it had been through a harrowing journey, the number plate, the distinctive yellow and blue, embedded in our collective brain: Ukrainian 🇺🇦

I felt the blood drain to my toes and my legs turn to jelly as I walked towards my family car containing my child and my husband.

Riva_del_Garda_Italy

Riva del Garda, 2 March 2022

Locking my eyes on Laz to steady myself - nothing felt fair.

No reporters between this Mom and me, with household jingles and familiar logos. She got into her family car, I got into mine meters apart, and because of a mere 64km, I got to keep my husband.

The tone was set for the journey home: ‘what if’

A mother embracing her son with lake Garda in background

Me (Irish artist Natalie Forrester) embracing my son, Wolfie, at Riva del Garda, Italy

I realise I have two options

Option 1: Live in fear, halt our plans to renovate our family home (we're supposed to start work next week) and / or leave the country in case that ejit has further plans or, option 2, appreciate what I have: ❤️  the love that surrounds me, the safety, the roof, the warmth, and the strength to give as much as I possibly can - refusing to live in fear. 

Driving Our wonderful friends from our Tenerife chapter, from left to right: Moira (Italian), Me (Irish), Laz (Hungarian), Carlos (Canarian)

For me, as an artist I have to find my way, much has changed since I picked up a paint brush 10 days ago.

I'll keep you up to date on the donation run and how my brain processes this tumultuous time into art… but I've got a feeling ❤️  will prevail. 

Keep up the love, 

Natalie 👩‍🎨