Where did that year go?

Photo: The hills of Tuscany from Pienza.

Many people write up a review of their year and send them out at Christmas time. Our review of the year ends today, the 31st May (this date played a big part in our lives when we worked for Oracle, but that was eight years ago). How time flies. We haven’t updated our blog for a year, how time flies, so here’s a whistle stop tour of our 2021/22 season.

June 2021

New lights in the portico really finished it off well. Many a summer evening spent under the lights looking across the valley.


Another dash to London for our second vaccine. We took the view as we could get vaccinated about three months earlier in the UK than in Italy then it was worth the 22 hour drive each way, the quarantine and all the testing to get protected.

Whilst in London we watched some of the Euro2020 games in the pub. We were back in Italy for the final so began watching the game in Calcinelli with our Pansèr friends. After nearly 19 years of having a house here we had our first experience of being unwelcome. England scored first which, naturally, caused us to cheer. One local took great exception to this and got very aggressive. Gio Mare and Rodolfo Gasperini, both big blokes, kept him at bay. We decided that it would be better for everyone if we left. Such a shame as we’d been enjoying some fun banter with the young lads in front of us, in fact they asked us to stay. Even more so that Colin wore and England shirt and Jan an Italian shirt to show our support for both teams. Our friend Fiorenzo showed the proper spirit of the evening by being proud of this photo and sending it round to his friends.

In the heat of July there were few jobs we could do, so we sorted out the cantina, the coolest place to be.

At the end of July we went to the other end of the scale with our monthly Friday night Curry Club, including poppadoms.


Wedding season. First, Patrizia and Gio Mare who got married on the beach in Fano. Yes, all the ladies were asked to wear the same dress. We me were asked to wear white shirts and blue shorts. Marco decide to cross over.


Our friends Joep and Jelina’s eldest daughter Anna got married to Robert. We’ve known her since she was quite young so they consider us to be their aunt and uncle. Another wonderful day privileged to share in two people’s big day. For some reason Jan became known as ‘the lady in the hat’.

After the wedding fest we got away to Slovenia for a few days in Bled and Ljubljana. We had a great time. Slovenia really impressed us. Beautiful, clean, welcoming, considerate drivers and English widely spoken. We really liked Ljubljana. A wonderful little city with a real vibrant buzz.

Whilst rowing on Lake Bled we heard from the island “Hello Colin, Colin Fisher”. It was the daughter of Mario in our village.

On return from Bled there was work to be done. Time to harvest our grapes. We made grape juice and wine.


This was the month that our lives changed yet again. The prelude was a trip to Milan for a few days for some shopping and to see No Time to Die in English. We’d seen the trailer in Italian and just couldn’t bring ourselves to hear “Bonde, James Bonde” in an Italian accent.

We particularly liked the restaurant FUD. Everything is written so that if you pronounce it the Italian way is sounds like English, e.g. “ECSIT” for the way out.

On Saturday morning we headed off early to Monza. We were due to pick up something sleek and fast.

That’s the day that Phoebe entered our lives. An ex racing greyhound from Ireland. We met her in a field with all the other dogs that had been driven from Ireland, then drove her to her new home. Colin drove whilst Jan sat in the back with her. By the time we got home Jan was smitten, we both were. Such a beautiful young lady.


On the first day of the month, All Saints Day, we celebrated Phoebe’s second birthday with a Greyhound friendly cake. She enjoyed opening her presents.


The Italian health service starting offering third vaccinations to foreign residents. We took our NHS QR codes for our first two doses. They were recognised and we had our third dose. Our Green Pass was upgraded to the Super Green Pass. We were as free as we could be. It’s great when technology works.

We decked out the house for Christmas, using our now traditional olive tree, which we then put in the garden. We’ve a collection of five trees that we’ve done this with. A legacy for the next two to three hundred years.

We also copied our friends Joep and Jelina with a simple white Christmas tree visible from the village. Other friends Clara and Karel joined in to make the white Christmas trees of Cartoceto.

A late Christmas present arrived on the penultimate day if the year. Our Italian plates for the M2. It only too seven months to get them whilst the car remained in the garage unable to move.


We saw in the New Year with friends Gabrielle and Jacque, with Phoebe’s friends Archie and Sara. Strangely when the fireworks went off across the valley the three dogs went outside to watch.

Later in the month our lives were further enhanced. We’d agreed we’d wait six months before deciding whether to get another dog. Then Jan starting searching on the petlevrieri.it adoption site. “Look, look. Look how cute he is, and his name is Firmino” (as in Bobby Firmino the Liverpool football player). A little more research and Jan discovered that Bobby and Phoebe share the same father. The clincher was discovering that Bobby was born on Jan’s birthday, March 21st. That was it, we had no choice but to request to adopt him.

Mid January we drove back up to Monza to repeat the process. This is the first moment they met.

This time Jan drove back and Colin bonded with Bobby in the back of the car.


Last winter was mild, we did loads of work outside, even during lockdown. This winter the weather was awful. Cold, damp, grey and miserable. We decided we needed some winter sun. The ferry to Barcelona and drive to Sintra across the border in Portugal. We had a wonderful time, meeting up with Angela and Neil for her nnth birthday and Bridget who now lives in the area. They were brilliant travellers, so well behaved.


Jan popped back to London for a few days whilst Colin looked after the dogs. The big event if the month was of course Jan and Bobby’s birthday.

Bobby celebrated his third birthday with cake.

Jan celebrated her birthday with friends Clara, Joep, Karel, Jelina, Gabrielle at Da Gustin.

To finish the month off we tried an experiment. Could we combine one of Colin’s long distance rides with a holiday? We booked an apartment with a garden near Siena. Colin rode a 200km audax amongst the hills of Tuscany on the Sunday. We then had a day together in Siena.

… and a day in Pienza.

We had a lovely time. Jan concluded that one day on her own was fine but when Colin was to go to Sicily in May for a three day ride, he’d be on his own. Fair enough.


It’s a bit strange for us to have bonfire night in April but that’s when Joep and Jelina have their end of winter fire. This year it was a bit premature as winter seemed to last until May. Any excuse for a party though.

and finally to May

We missed spring this year. We went from winter to summer in one week. With the better weather so the jobs could begin. Installing a COR-TEN border and repainting the Forno.

Our reward was another meal at Da Gustin for Colin’s birthday.

The month didn’t end well though. Jan had been working long hours in the garden whilst Colin was in Sicily for a week. After a days rest and more time in the garden we both started to feel a bit rough. Colin had brought an unwelcome souvenir from Sicily. Covid.

Thanks to the vaccines it wasn’t serious. Jan was in bed for three days, Colin a day. The irony of it is that on the the last day of this review, the 31st May, Jan tested negative, Colin positive, so no escape from quarantine yet…

2 Replies to “Where did that year go?”

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