So what’s the story? Well after coming back from Christmas holidays (about 13 nights off), my anxiety has increased a little while I get used to the change. The last time this happened coming back from Volterra, I was in a bit of a meltdown for 3 weeks.

Now, I am using my tools better to help me. Oh, I still have periods of high anxiety, and maybe because my symptoms have reduced in intensity, my ability to rest in them has lessened too. So, at times I don’t feel like I’m getting better, but when I think about it properly I definitely am.

So this is the beginning of the 3rd week (Monday 18th Jan), and last Wednesday I had a panic attack. But after a panic attack comes a period of reflection, in which you realise you can’t be hurt by any symptoms (new or old) you’ve just experienced.

Anyway, aside from mindful tools, I also try to walk a few kilometers a day. I have a treadmill for periods of bad weather, but there’s nothing quite like getting out among people. I miss casual interactions with people so much, but at the same time, I’m a little agoraphobic – and sometimes find it tricky to get out without my support person (Niamh). As Niamh is also on a health kick, I don’t mind missing going out on walks by myself, and enjoy when we get out together.

We generally walk around our hometown (Kilcullen, Co. Kildare), but for the past couple of weekends, we’ve gotten out to a wide open space in the countryside called the Curragh. As well as gently rolling hills of grass which is kept short by hordes of grazing sheep, there are also copses of trees and most strangely of all, one of Ireland’s largest army training camps and an associated barracked village.

The first time we went was Friday the 8th of January, when the were still patches of snow on the ground.

The second time (the Sunday just gone), we had a much longer walk around the back of the pitch and putt course, and up by the back of some of the training grounds and through the camp itself – not sure we were meant to be there, to be honest! Anyway, we circled back to the car afterwards.

So, what about Volterra?

Well I have some good news, some interesting news and some… well, not entirely bad news, but it could have been better.

Firstly, during the first Covid wave, Volterra peaked at (I think) 12 positive cases at any one time. This wave, it had no less than 127 – just before Christmas. However, they’re doing something right, because as of today they’re all the way back down to 9. As far as I know there were only a couple of deaths – the rest of the positives got well again.

Secondly, Volterra celebrated Christmas by paying tribute to its alabaster artists, rather than having a traditional Christmas tree. It was a brave move, but seems to have been favourably received. I won’t grab someone else’s work or hotlink a photo here, but you can check it out on this page.

Lastly, Volterra was among the final 10 cities in the running for becoming Italy’s City of Culture for 2022. It was announced this morning, though, that Procida (an island with colourful buildings near Ischia, in the Bay of Naples) was the victor here. Commiserations to Volterra, but congratulations to Procida. However, all is not lost. Volterra instead was declared the Tuscan City of Culture for 2022. I know it sounds like a consolation prize, but you’ve got to remember that we’re talking about Tuscany here – a cradle of western culture – and with the right ideas and publicity/marketing, this could turn out to be a golden opportunity for Volterra.

Niamh and I hope to maybe be a part of it, or at least partake in 2022. Forza Volterra!

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