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My favourite hat is not expensive or overly gorgeous. It is not always comfortable or in the right shape. It does not always protect me well enough from the sun but my favourite hat has a story and this is it…

2003, Europe, or more precisely, Italy. The sun shone, the sea sparkled. Washed undies hung in the bathroom once more, drip drying, begging for a ride in a real washing machine. Bodies filled  3 rooms. A snoring chorus was rocking the joint. This was travelling, cheapish style.

Bleary eyes opened on a perfect Cinque Terre day. Those bodies rolled out of the semi-comfortable beds in the rooms of one of the colourful buildings in Riomaggiore. Dressed for a day of walking (or training, depending on energy levels) the bodies consumed breakfast, shared plans, and … exit!

Down the winding steps we went, down the steep road or pavement or whatever it was to the beginning of the famous walk. Money paid, off we went. I had my ridiculously small hat on my head. Twas all the rage in ’03. Or so I thought. We sauntered through the first part of the walk, scouring the sparkling waters for any sign of exotic wildlife. None.

The first town was ticked off with a visit to the chemist. Poor hubby was suffering from some nasal condition. With a dubious nod, hubby bought the suspect Italian drugs and kept walking. Sun shone, feet pointed straight ahead so off we went.

Town 2. Time for a spot of pizza. We trespassed on one of the farms that overlooked the incredibly sparkly, crystal, gorgeous ocean. We sat and looked and chewed and sipped on beers and headed for the 4th town. Beautiful Vernazza with its church by the sea. Here we sat once more, drinking in the beauty of the colourful buildings and the chiming of the church bells. A wedding. Why not?

The 5th town is where I met my hat. Intimidated by the reports of a difficult walk, we hopped on the train and headed to Monterosso al Mare. Hello hat, Hello Emma! I had been eyeing similar wicker hats that other fancy tourists had and had secretly wanted one of my own!

Our eyes met across a crowded marketplace (I think?!). Its beauty and price seemed to draw me in, like one of those weird background shrinking, face getting bigger shots you see in modern movies. Love my technical language! Super. Money was exchanged for goods (ie hat) and from that fateful day, hat and I have never been apart.

Hat lived in my backpack for the next few travelling months. She was the keeper of the clean undies. She smelled rustic and exotic. She still does. And that, my dear readers, is how I met my favourite hat. Not a rich, fancy hat. But a humble, floppy number with a great story!