This day next week I'll be nearing journey's end. And what started as a bit of a wheeze of an idea many months ago will actually have come to pass.
The idea was to spend a few weeks in Venice, both working and playing. Nothing unusual there, for I've done it many times over the years, spending a month or six weeks at a time there in a city I know like the back of my hand, and in the place where my husband Gerry and I spent many, many happy days and weeks, from our very first visit in 1995 right up to our last sojourn there, just a few months before his death in the summer of 2015.
So when I first told friends I was planning to head off again for the month of March they looked at me quizzically, as if to say: "So what? Sure, you're always going there."
"Ah," I said. "But this time I'm taking Dudley with me."
Now, Dudley is not a brother or a friend. Dudley is my dog. An adorable, wire-haired dachshund, he came into my life a year ago - and has transformed it utterly. So no, I wasn't leaving him behind.
But how, exactly, was I going to get Dudley to Venice? With considerable difficulty, as it turned out.
I'd fly. With Aer Lingus (Ryanair only take service dogs). Well, talk about being passed from pillar to post until, finally, I landed on my feet with Kevin Kenna of K International Freight. A mine of information and practical, no-nonsense advice, Kevin couldn't have been more helpful. And so the arrangements were eventually put in place - but only after I had recovered from the shock of the €500 fare for Dudley. One way.
Further investigation into the return trip via the relevant Italian freight companies threw up a fare which was almost €1,000. Just for Dudley. One way. My response? No way.
So, I'd cough up the €500 all right to get him there but it was back to the drawing board in terms of bringing him home. That journey, it transpires, will now take us on an overnight train from Venice to Paris, another train from Paris to Cherbourg, an overnight stay in a dog-friendly hotel in that French port and then we'll take to the high seas with Irish Ferries for the voyage back to Dublin.
Phew! All sorted? Well, no, actually, because just after Christmas I was informed that IAG (parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways et al) had decided to suspend animal transport for the foreseeable future. Maybe it would be sorted before my flight date, but I couldn't take that chance.
So, bowed but not broken, and with a firm image in my head of Dudley sitting on my knee at the front of the Number 1 waterbus as it meanders slowly down the Grand Canal, I reached for the laptop yet again.
And after a few hours of googling and clicking to establish ferry and train times (and their dog policies) I got everything booked and can now present the complete itinerary for Dudley the dachshund's three-day journey from Dublin to Venice.
This is it: ferry from Dublin to Holyhead; overnight with a friend; train from Chester to London Euston; train from London St Pancras to Folkestone; overnight in the dog-friendly Holiday Inn; pet taxi service (yes, that actually exists) through the Eurotunnel; train from Calais to Paris; overnight train from Paris to Venice, arriving in time for breakfast tomorrow week.
My suitcase has already gone ahead (sendmybag.com - what a find!) so it's just me, my back-pack and Dudley. What could be simpler?
The adventure begins…