We had always thought that a house in Portugal was a good idea. For years, we looked, imagined and carefully designed a villa with a pool, some land and a nice view.
Back home, we used to have a personal trainer. Sounds fancy I know but it was simply as a result of our eldest daughter booking him to come to the house for weekly training sessions only to find that she couldn’t really afford the ongoing torture. So, we took it on thinking that it may enable a new regime and bring on some well needed fitness. Shedding a few pounds certainly did have a new meaning especially when both the wife and I decided to run sessions together.
During this time the personal trainer decided that he wanted to enter a few of his trainees into the London Marathon. Bypassing me as a sluggard with inefficient knees, he asked the wife if she would consider putting her name forward. Ignorance being the better part of that decision, she agreed.
She was the only one given a place that year out of his roster of self-chastised clients and they started training to complete this relatively never-ending challenge.
Two weeks before the marathon, I suggested we go away; change of scene, recharge the batteries, rest up before the big day with a little jogging on the beach to keep everything flowing.
Having stuck pins in the map and considered travelling to far flung continents, we settled on the Portugal default. We made a pact. We would go as long as we didn’t start looking at houses. We shook on it.
Little did I realise at the time that this agreement held no guarantees. We lasted three days. We were walking along a clifftop path from the hotel towards the beach when we noticed a large sign: ’Se Vende’. Which we were reliably informed meant For Sale.
“No, walk on” I said firmly, “We have a deal!”.
“Yes, I know, but just one quick peek, even from the outside”, she suggested.
Six weeks later we walked in to our new house on the cliffs overlooking the sea.
I certainly thought at the time that this temporary change prior to running the marathon would be enough. Little did I realise that our decision would shape the next few years in so many ways.
This change as good as a rest became a regular feature in our diaries. At first playing builders against architects against delivery vans and council planners. Yes, we entered the terrifying world of renovating abroad, something definitely not for the weak hearted or those worrying about international exchange rates. Eventually we went there knowing with confidence that no one was waiting for us requesting funds to be made available and became confident that the view wouldn’t change. Our ‘House of Longing’ -Casa Saudades- was pretty perfect.
The second change as good as a rest started a short while after. I put together a small but perfectly formed mobile studio; A keyboard, a guitar and a few hard drives that lived there permanently and then whatever I decided to take with me from the Home Office to the Branch Office.
This was the incentive and motivation for me to write, compose, produce and build what I later decided was to be Topline-Music.
We would go every six to eight weeks. Sometimes for a week or two but enough time to charge up whatever needed charging and to sit quietly, except for the pounding waves outside, to work on new ideas and projects.
Each time, I would be happy to return with a few tracks ready to be completed and, listening back, trying to work out how, why and what had inspired them.
It’s that mysterious thing about the creative process that no matter what you write, you can stand back in amazement and wonder where it all came from.
Try for something that’s a change…. It can be as good as a rest, and if that rest produces something special it’s worth every penny, even if it does include buying another house!