Monday, June 21, 2021


 Yes, I finally did it! I'd like to say that I became disciplined and organised and wrote my book during the first, seemingly endless, lockdown but I didn't, because I spent most of the time just feeling scared. I did, however, plan my book and this time last year, when both restrictions and fear had been lifted a little, I had a long talk with myself and I managed to do it.

It was certainly a learning process and the great plan of course got altered many times. At first I thought I would discipline myself to write a certain number of words a day but as time went on, I stopped worrying about the word count and concentrated on completing chapters, which was much more satisfying. Linking one chapter to another was something I spent a lot of time on and eventually I reached the stage of choosing photos and that was both emotional and difficult; many of them, of necessity, show me on my own, not because of vanity but because it would have been impossible to contact and get permission from other people who feature in some of the ones I discarded. I learnt that, under British law, if the photo is old and there was "no expectation of privacy " - for instance it was a large group photo - then there is probably not a problem but I agonised over this type of photo nonetheless. Then I found out that you have to scan the photos you do decide to include at the maximum size and this entailed much running back and forth to a print shop. I had no idea what "crop marks" were, or that you do not use the double inverted commas on your keyboard for speech but use a code for single quote marks ( a kind friend who is a book editor dispensed a few tips like this) and I certainly did not know that a slight difference in the weight of Italian paper can make two or more millimetres difference to the page size!  It was all a fascinating journey.

I mentioned emotion. As the book is an autobiography which will, I hope, shed some light on what the times I have lived through were like for ordinary people, I had to recall some harrowing moments. I spent some days in floods of tears but at the end of the process I felt that a weight had been lifted. I also had to admit to the many stupid things I've done and I'm not proud of them!

But what was my reason for putting myself through all this? To leave a testimony, yes, but mainly I wrote it for my birth family, with whom, as some of you will know, I was reunited in 2014. (If you do not know this story, there is a page with links to my adoption posts at the top of this blog and it is retold in the book.) I would like them to know a little more about what happened to me and why I made some of the decisions I did, among them choosing to move to Italy at the age of fifty-five. Perhaps I can best explain my reasons for writing, along with my choice of title, with this extract from the preface:

It is August 1993 and my mother is delirious in a ward at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. She repeats to me,

‘I'm going, I'm going.’

‘Where are you going, mum?’

‘I'm going to a place called Siracusa.’

And now, in 2020, I live one hour from Siracusa. But why was my mother, who had never been there, talking about this place as she drifted in and out of consciousness and how did I come to live so near it?

This is the story of my journey and I am writing it primarily for my birth family so that when, in the future, its younger members say, at Christmas gatherings,

‘Remember that strange auntie who used to come at Christmas and wasn't very good at board games?’ they will have something to refer to.

I hope, too, that I have included a little social history here, for the world they will know as adults is one I cannot imagine. Maybe there will be no books at all, but I am convinced that people will continue to read in some form. And if they chose to ignore the book or throw it away, that is their decision, not mine, just as it will be their world, not mine and they will have the right to make their own choices.

It seems such a long time ago now, that I wrote that, yet it has only been a year. Perhaps it is because so much has happened on the world stage since then. All I can do is hope that the little ones do not have their education interrupted again, that they will have no cause to live in fear as they grow up and that they, my birth family, my friends and all who read my blog and / or my book are blesssed with health.

I finished the book and managed to get copies printed for my birth family as a Christmas surprise and  some copies are available in the Mondadori bookshop in Modica. I hope to have copies available online in the next few weeks. I will keep you posted, dear readers.

Sunday, June 20, 2021


Two lovely flags flew from my balcony today, for the occasion of the Italy - Wales match in the Euros 2021 in Rome.  

I love both countries but should confess that I don't love or understand football. However, sometimes you need to go with the flow and even I could see it was a good match. 

For me the anthems were the best bit and I must say the Italian commentator made a valiant attempt at pronouncing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Well done, Italy and onward, Wales!

Wednesday, June 02, 2021


Buona Festa della Repubblica, Italy!

June 2nd is also important for me because it marks the anniversary of my arrival, with my dog Simone, in Italy to live - sixteen years ago today.

They have not been sixteen years without trouble, darkness and even despair and of course the Covid situation has brought sadness and despair to us all, wherever we are. Those of us who have our hearts in two countries also worry twice, despair twice and grieve twice, just as we rejoice with both our countries when things go well. So please do not think that, because I have left the UK, I do not care about it, because I very much do.

This day brings many memories back to me and it is perhaps particularly poignant this year, as it was in 2020. I imagined many scenarios, both good and bad, that could happen when I settled here, but never did I imagine a tragedy like Covid - how could I, when the best scientists and virologists in the world did not? Nor can I inagine what the situation would have been like for me if I had lived through it in my country of birth; I can only try to deal with the situation here and now, and be happy that this is one bank holiday - only the second since the pandemic began, I think - which we in Italy are not spending in lockdown. 

And of course, today I think a lot of my little Simi, who "went on", as my mother used to say, six years ago now, though I believe she is still with me. Sometimes when I am out with my precious Bertie I see her there, beside us, and I say, "Walk with us part of the way, sweetheart", and I believe she does. Then she is gone again.

So on this day of many memories, I offer you an extract, recalling June 2nd 2005, from my book. (Yes, I have written a book! )

Three days later, I boarded the bus from Cardiff Bus Station to Gatwick Airport. I would stay three nights in a hotel there, walk around London and bid it farewell – for I didn't know if or when I would be in the UK again - and then, on the morning of 2 June 2005, Simi and I would board our flight to Italy. And that is what I did. I didn't go out to Pinner - Mum and Dad were in my heart, wherever I was or would be. Instead, I lit two candles for them in Westminster Abbey. Then I walked slowly around Poet's Corner to thank all those who are commemorated there, lingering the longest for Tennyson, Browning and his Elizabeth, Shakespeare and of course, Dylan Thomas.

I had, of course, kept in touch with the pet transporter company and they had reassured me that Simi was fine. At the airport, she had to undergo a final health check at which I could not be present. When I arrived there, I asked about her at check-in and was told I should ask at the departure gate. I knew she had been sent there but nothing more. The gate staff told me to sit near them and they would make enquiries. I had to wait until all the other passengers had been checked in and then a kindly ground crew officer approached me and said he had just seen Simi and had given her water. He took me to the window so that I could see her little crate being loaded. (She wasn't allowed to be in the cabin with me and I knew this. I also knew that pets are flown in a special area in the hold. I had been worried but my Cardiff vet had told me it is actually better for them because it's cool and dark and they usually sleep.) Oh, my little baby! As I was watching, the co-pilot came along and said that he, too, had just seen her and that she was a little anxious but otherwise fine. A nice Scottish lady also came over to tell me she had overheard our conversation and knew how I felt as she had previously flown her Westie dog from Scotland to London. Not so far, but it was empathy and I appreciated it. Once I boarded, I spoke to the captain too and he told me Simi was just underneath the spot where we were standing. I felt better then, knowing exactly where she was. By the time I sat down, I was so tired that I slept most of the way.

As we came into Catania, I did not see Etna this time, but felt the familiar surge of emotion as we touched down on the soil of this most beloved of lands that I had decided to make my home.

We were here!

I loved you then, Italy and I love you now.

I will tell the kind readers of this blog more about the book next time!


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