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!

1 comment:

Lois said...

So glad you're blogging again Welshcakes Limoncello! Good to catch up with reports from lovely Sicily!


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