I took a Mayfly with me on my honeymoon. We got back a few weeks ago, but I have only just taken the time to go through it and listen back to all the recordings I made. Everything is still pretty fresh in my mind, but it’s surprising how many details – like the pianist singing in Italian outside the hotel bar or our conversation near the Rialto bridge as we attempted to draw each other – were already fuzzy before listening back to my Mayfly.
I used it in a combination of ways. I made some atmospheric recordings – like the hubbub of Harry’s Bar in Venice or the lap of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. I recorded a few of my spontaneous reactions to things – the best of these is my description of our arrival (and splendid upgrade) at the Hotel Excelsior on the Lido near Venice. You can hear the excitement in my voice bubbling over, helped along I’m sure by the complimentary bubbly left in our room. This came with a note wishing us “all the happiness in the world” and a “truly romantic honeymoon in Venice Lido!” It was printed on green paper, a scrap of ephemera in truth, but something that meant so much to us at that moment that I wanted to keep it. I tucked it into the pocket of page 8 of my Mayfly along with a couple of other Excelsior souvenirs – a cocktail stirrer and the list of departure times to and from Venice in their complimentary shuttle boat. I know that I’ll never forget stepping into that beautifully varnished boat and speeding over the little waves to St Mark’s square. I also recorded a few (slightly surreptitious) snippets of our conversations, which are very funny and lovely to hear back because they give a little flavor of the time we were having - basically lots of silly stories and us both laughing!
When I think of the sounds I’d like to keep and listen back to in years to come, they fall into two categories. Some are mundane, everyday sounds that I know will gain significance with the passing of time – like the distinctive squeak of our bedroom door handle, our cat Bruno meowing first thing in the morning or tuning in my Granny’s old Roberts radio in the kitchen. These are sounds that will link me to this time, to our house when we’re no longer there. The other category of sounds is in a way more obvious - one-off life moments, like our wedding day or these recordings of our honeymoon. It’s possible that I might hear the bells of St Marks again one day, but I know that the recording I have of them in my Mayfly will always make me think of that first morning of our honeymoon and the feeling of being in that room. Listening to the sounds of the street below - Venetians going about their business before the hordes of tourists arrive, birdsong and the bells ringing out – it’s not so much about remembering what that room looked like (although it was amazing with gold drapes and a huge bed!), but more about how I felt. This recording transports me back to that.
The Journal links me even closer to our trip. I used the larger one with pockets on every page. I enjoyed collecting bits and bobs wherever we went – a sugar packet with a picture of Rovinj (where we stayed in Croatia) printed on it, the leaflet for our Dolphin excursion and loads of tickets, receipts and scraps of paper. I also used the book to write a few short diary entries and for us to do some phenomenally bad drawings of each other! What I like about having the book, and the bits and pieces collected inside it, is that it travelled with us. Unlike the digital recordings, this is something I can touch and hold in my hands. One of the reasons we do things like get married and go on holidays is for the memories they give us. All the weird little things I collected will only become more interesting over time and, for us, their significance will only increase. I’m sure I’ll come back to it over the years, maybe not for a while, but when I do take it off the shelf to leaf through these pages and listen back to my recordings again, it will be like taking out these great memories and re-living them again.