Our Full Monte Life…

The missing year… and our Christmas message

Did you miss us? I know, I know… it’s been too long. Our last post was at the end of 2019 in which we said this:

” And 2020 WILL be different for me & Steve because itโ€™s our last chance (for at least a year or two, never say never) to pour our love & care into this amazing project that has transformed us personally & professionally and touched many other lives also. We will be enjoying the HECK out of this coming season people, so make sure you join us at some point to share the experience with us.”

Ummm. Well THAT didn’t happen. But 2020 WAS different for us all in ways we could never imagine. Nothing like a global pandemic to put the kybosh on the world’s plans. Our dearest hope is that you are all safe & sound and have found some peace & stability despite the disconnectedness.

I don’t know how it was for you, but over here there was a lot of ‘missing’ going on.

Just missed it…

In March I (Denise) missed springing the surprise of the year by whisking Steve off to Rome for his 60th birthday. And he missed celebrating his 6 decades with his sister & close friends. Instead it was just me & him, a glass of buck’s fizz and a cake.

Birthday boy
“I’m not 60! – I’m 59 and 365 days”

In April we missed seeing anyone or doing anything much more than walk the dog & do essential shopping as Montenegro locked down hard & fast. Curfews were imposed along with a whole raft of restrictions.

April was spent agonising over whether we would, should or could open in May, but we realised there was still work to do. If by some miracle, the situation changed, we had to be ready to open. Even if we had no guests or volunteers lined up, we would need to make the place comfortable for us to live in. The building work and additions to the campsite which started in October 2019 still needed finishing touches. The seedlings set in February needed planting out and tending. The “To Do” list was frightening.

Too good to miss

Serendipity struck when Marius & Annika, a ‘van life’ couple, heading south for the summer, got stranded by the travel restrictions in our Municipality. We eagerly accepted their offer to help out in exchange for food and a place to park their home.

Missed it by a mile…

The early strict measures delayed the arrival of Covid-19 but by May reported cases began to increase & we took the decision to remain closed all season. We still welcomed trusted friends in country. We even hosted a party or 2, when outdoor gatherings were permitted again. But mostly it was just us & Daisy Marmite living the most surreal summer, missing everyone who was scheduled to come & visit and were not able to.

In June I missed having a proper send off with my wonderful work colleagues. I bade farewell from afar to the company & role that had stretched, supported & rewarded me so well for 2.5 years. I also missed the first of a few key appointments to check the progress of my eyes following my lens replacement surgery in January. (Yes folks, I now hove bionic eyes! Swimming & star gazing has never been so much fun)

In July I missed having a whopping big party to celebrate turning 50. However our friend & skipper of the Yacht Monty B kindly whisked us off to a beautiful spot in the Bay. There we were joined by other mates on boats for a lovely day in the sunshine. We ate, drank & danced and No.1 husband (Steve – Well that’s news! – who’s number 2? ๐Ÿ™‚ ) even made me a gluten-free chocolate cake.

In August we missed throwing the biggest party EVER at the campsite – planned to be our final send-off before taking a break to do some exploring elsewhere and give the land a fallow year.

Still counting our blessings….

Let’s be clear. We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. We feel incredibly lucky to have enough resources to sustain us. Not just money, but strong minds & bodies, good friends and loving relationships. The campsite itself has been, and continues to be an amazing resource. The organic garden was fruitful enough to keep us in veg & salad all summer; as I type we still have enough onions to last us well into the new year, a butternut squash & a bunch of chayote remain untouched and our freezer is stocked with homegrown beans & carrots and homemade pesto sauce & soups.

Things we DIDN’T miss…

No border traffic gave us a peaceful summer. The roads were not congested with the usual tourist traffic, so travelling about was easy. With no guests to tend to & measures in place to secure the campsite, we could easily leave & explore this beautiful country further with friends who were similarly unoccupied. Highlights included: hiking in Zabljak, kayaking & hiking in Lake Skadar region, a yoga retreat in Kolasin, a Gong Yoga event, mini off-roading adventure on our hunt for a great place to view the comet, a raw vegan food event and our first proper beach holiday in Ada Bojana with our dear friend Annie.

Too good to miss, too

As September rolled on we realised we had to shake ourselves out of our stupor and prepare for closing the campsite. We had a huge list of tasks we’d been sitting on as the hot summer days ticked by & motivation waned… Enter Victoria & Alex, volunteers from South Africa & the Netherlands respectively: cyclists looking for a place to call home for a little while on their travels South, with a wonderful attitude and energy to inspire us. We achieved so much together in the weeks they were with us. And chatting with Victoria about Cape Town and the Garden Route whetted our appetite for travel again. In return we got them addicted to Tac-Tik

We kept the momentum going and rallied to finish some key projects alone before the autumn turned to winter.

The new bedroom we had built was a blessing and though nights eventually turned chilly, we were cosy. The weather stayed fine & dry for most of October and we were able to live on the land, in the fresh air, COVID-free and socially distanced, until then.

Missing out – the broader view of unhappy endings

The final months & weeks have been difficult. The US election debacle and a broken nation. The UK government’s, lack of decisive & effective leadership. The plans made & cancelled. Hopes raised & dashed. Health services under strain. Teachers overloaded. The collective disappointments, hugs un-hugged, masked (& un-masked) fears, hours cut, jobs lost. Brexit. As this blighted year winds down, people we know still mourn the loss of their loved ones.

New beginnings

As the inimitable Slade, in that iconic Christmas song sings:

“Look to the future now it’s only just begun”

A brand new year is round the corner and we have to hope it’s better than the last. We have no idea what the immediate future brings and there’s a lot that’s beyond our control. Our globe-trotting plans have been shelved indefinitely. So we’re focusing on the stuff that we CAN do. There’s a lot more to say on this – subscribe to this blog for the next instalment of our story in 2021, but in the meantime here’s our short-term aim:

Put simply, it’s to share our little piece of paradise widely.

We’re networking locally with some cool, positive humans and exploring the options our venue offers. Yoga retreats. Vegan raw food events. Eco workshops. Kids drama. Mini festivals. Organic gardening weekends. African drumming. Dance. Meditation. Holistic therapies. Writer’s retreats. Art workshops. The possibilities are wide & varied. We hope to attract higher numbers of talented volunteers next year and if we succeed, and we can cover our costs, we’re considering upgrading our accommodation to include wooden cabins, whilst still welcoming travellers and campers.

Follow-up to the missing year… filling in the gaps!

We understand that many of you are unable or unwilling to travel, so our hopes of seeing friends & family here in 2021 are rather fragile, but when you are ready, if you are able, when the time is right… we’ll be here to welcome you.

It could be the last season of the Steve & Den show. We’re not getting any younger and we still have a wanderlust to satisfy. We’re not naive enough to imagine it will be a buzzing summer, but if our beautiful, peaceful space can restore some harmony; re-build connections to simple pleasures (like growing your own); raise eco-awareness; educate future green warriors; provide a safe, outdoor area for topping up that all important Vitamin D; facilitate at least a little laughter, music, dance, merry-making and delicious, nourishing food for even just a few lovely folk… well, it will be worth it. And perhaps our legacy will sustain if we can find suitable care-takers or environmentally-aware entrepreneurs wanting to take over the reins… Know anyone who fits that bill…? Send them our way. ? Want experience of running an eco campsite? Or know someone who does…? Put them in touch ?

Seasonal wishes

Whatever your religion or tradition at this time of year, we wish you the happiest festive season possible.

Look for the love, head to the light, move forward with positivity. Care for your body & your mind, focus on health & well-being. Be kind to yourself.

We’d love to hear how this year has been for you. Post a comment below or get in touch. We’re on facebook, instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter & email.

Warm wishes from me (Denise), Steve & Daisy the dog

4 Comments

  1. Rachel Hibberd

    What an amazing tale and one which is very inspiring. So much done by you guys in such limiting circumstances. I do hope your dreams do come true soon Den. In the meantime I’m really looking forward to your next blog. Sending peace and love and the hope that all remains safe and sound.

    Reply
    1. Denise (Post author)

      Thank you! We are normally SO excited to see that anyone has actually commented on our little blog that we are gushing all over this page straight away… No idea how this slipped through the net. Cheers for taking the time to read & to comment, it really helps.

      Reply
  2. Dragan Mirosavljevi

    Thank you my lovely friends. It was utter enjoyable read. Love you both. Merry Christmas my lovely people. Hope to see you at some point soon. Met some really great people here including energy healers. Love living here. It is my home now. Got residency so I am here to stay. Marry Christmas!!!! ???

    Reply
    1. Denise (Post author)

      Dear Dragan. Thank YOU – for reading & commenting. Such praise indeed… The author (Denise) is very humbled… And here we are a few weeks later, actually collaborating together! What a joy!

      Reply

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