2020, a year to be forgotten .. or remembered?

 Hello everyone,

We are coming to the end of one of the strangest years ever. The whole world has been in the grip of the corona virus, Covid19, all year. We have lived with daily reports of death tolls and the sad testimony of lives ruined, people dying without being able to see their loved ones, businesses closing, people without work and many without hope. People have dealt with the situation in many different ways. Some are so fearful of spreading the virus that they feel uncomfortable without a mask over their faces, while others rant about how unnecessary masks are and make a fuss about wearing one.

You can see my mask in my hand .. I whisked it off for the photo!

In the first wave and period of lockdown everyone lauded the medical staff putting their lives on the line for us and most people were careful in their daily lives. Then we had the relative freedom of the summer where a lot of people thought they could go back to the way they usually live and as a consequence we had to suffer a second lockdown. This saw desperate peoples venom explode in angry words, pointless political attacks and even anger turned against the nurses and doctors who until then had been seen as heroic. I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for your efforts!

Moving toward the end of the year we were divided into various shades of colour zones across Italy and the ‘red’ of Christmas and new year was not at all festive. People living alone have felt more isolated and lonely than ever. Those living in family units have struggled to find a bit of space to breathe and nerves are frayed from the constant irritations of personality differences which have been exacerbated by the abnormal enforced contact. Some people have sunk deep into depression, some have embraced the conspiracy theories which have flourished across social media networks. Most people I speak to are either resigned and gloomy, or angry and madly ‘tilting at windmills’, Don Quixote style.

Whatever our personal situation, there is no one who has not been put to the test by this year, so at the end of it I find myself reflecting about what will happen in the future and what it has meant to me.

I have been luckier than most people. I live in a beautiful country village in Tuscany where we have access to the small local shops for good quality food and goods, which may be more expensive than our usual supermarket but are also of superior quality. I have been able to walk around the local area with Drake so that both of us have continued to get our daily exercise. I have still been able to work a few hours a day teaching and have had my writing to occupy the other long hours of the day. I’ve had a very clean house, since there was no excuse not to do the housework chores.

I’ve had to shelve the idea of promoting my wonderful territory, showing people the hidden gems known only by locals, though personalised tours with my business partner and his 7 seater Mercedes van. We have not given up but 2020 has been impossible for us, as well as many other people, to develop our ideas properly. However, I’ve tried to keep the facebook page for Tuscan Travel Tours going by posting anything interesting that we did manage to organise. Please do get in touch there if you want any advice about the best places to visit or things to do when you can finally plan to travel again!

Business partner, Stefano, and his shiny van, in beautiful Loro Ciuffenna

I did managed to buy a piece of land by the sea, with two caravans, which proved a wonderful (although it is a jungle still) retreat for us during the summer months and which will bring the family joy for generations to come, being in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt spots of the Italian coast. We even managed a bit of sailing in the summer, taking Drake with us and established that he does not like being a salty old sea-dog .. at all!

Sailing bliss, not appreciated by the dear doggy!

My other big project, and one which brings me daily joy and inspiration, is the small apartment that I am in the process of buying in the village. These investments are due to the small inheritance that my beloved parents left me and I believe that they would be glad that I am able to use the money wisely for the benefit of my sons, whose futures are looking so precarious at the moment.

The apartment sale has been delayed for months because of the difficulties in getting work done due to lockdown but I hope that by the end of January 2021 it will be mine. In the meantime work needed doing by the owner, to update it to the standard needed for the sale and to register it officially with the local authorities, so I have gone almost daily to see what the team of plumbers, electricians and plasterers have done and to imagine what it will look like when finished and decorated as I imagine it to be. When I don’t know what to do with myself, I spend time looking online at the furniture and decorative details that will make this apartment magical. I hope that soon we will be able to travel again and this place will be used as a B&B in the summer and my writing retreat in winter. I really do not think anyone except me will be excited about photos of the rubble and dust-filled interior of the apartment but you can see what a nice big terrace I will have for dining out next year!

Use your imaginations to fill it with plants, table and a gazebo!

I have run the gamut of emotions throughout the year. There have inevitably been some deep lows. Rather surprisingly there have also been some magical moments too and these I will treasure forever. I have been touched by just how much love there is surrounding me from family and friends who live close by and also from some special on-line friends around the world, who have reached out time and again in beautiful ways.

One thing that this virus and enforced isolation has done is to allow me the time, and desire, to look deeper into myself and get to know myself more truly. I’ve concentrated on raising my spiritual energy in many ways and have found that the daily use of Reiki, meditation and conscious compassion have become deep-rooted tools that allow me to pivot my energy when needed and find inner peace more quickly. I have learnt a lot about me; the good and the dark, the fragility and the strength. I have found a new path forward, which I am following towards the light that beckons, tentatively, from the future.

I hope that all those I love will also be surrounded by love and light and that when we all start to work together with kindness and compassion, for others and ourselves, we will be able to illuminate the future, which at this moment seems so uncertain.

Happy New Year to you all!



  1. As always, Toni, you amaze me with your insights and ability to express your feelings. This is a beautiful post that captures what many are going through. I am so pleased you have your apartment as inspiration. For me, I am ever grateful I've had the stimulus of my work. What a year it's been, but yes, what a year of digging deep into our strengths. You've put your finger on what has helped us all. Bless you, my friend. I so hope we will be able to meet in the coming year.


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