What I learnt this fortnight:

From summer to Christmas in two weeks

It’s been a busy few weeks in the Freeman household. After gleefully pressing send on the second round of edits for A Little Christmas Charm, the family set off to northern Italy, where Christmas couldn’t have felt further away.

From the elegance of Milan, to the excitement of Monza, the first five days went in a flash. No Jenson, no Aiden Foster – my racing car hero from Before You – but what a race Monza put on for us. And thank you Lewis Hamilton not only for winning, but for using the corner we sat on for your final thrilling overtake (photo is of the first corner – I was too gripped by the race to photograph the last).

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The males in my family successfully ensured I didn’t step in a single shop in Milan, though actually they didn’t need to shepherd me away quite so rigorously – even window shopping felt too expensive. But the cathedral, and the views from it, and the roof terrace bar – wow.

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After Milan, we wound our way up to the Italian Lakes.

There was Maggiore’s Stresa, with its elegant promenade (and me trying to look elegant on it) and the jewels of the Borromean Islands.

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Following that was the utter elegance of Lake Como, where I’m sure I saw Mr Clooney sitting at one of the lakeside restaurants, an Aperol spritz in his hand and a sexy smile on his lips as his deep brown eyes came to rest on me…okay, okay, a girl can dream. And trust me, it was hard not to think romantic thoughts in Bellagio or Varenna (photos of Como, Varenna and Bellagio).

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Even exercise was a pleasure (though I had to do a lot of these to work off all that pizza).

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All too soon it was over, and a day after I’d left the sunshine of Italy, I was proof reading A Little Christmas Charm. I’m looking forward to introducing you to Owen Cooper and Gabby Sanderson. I’m also wondering how I can weave the Italian lakes into my next book…