Monday, November 21

Pavia, an adventure.

I like exploring and it's been a while since I'd done so, so one day after church the decision was made to go on an adventure to Pavia. Here are a few photos of the places that were recommended by friends which I jotted down to check out, with vague directions/information included. It was a lovely town and I'm very thankful for the time I spent there.

Sant Pietro in ciel d'oro out of station walk to left off to the side


San Michele


Walk to river and bridge

University, one of the oldest universitys in the world - science?

Towers - medieval
There were parakeets!

Friday, October 7

3 Burpees, a cup of tea and a dash of Whisky

The other evening I came up with a great blog post while trying to sleep but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was so this one will have to do.

The summer was great, really really awesome.  I relaxed, I saw friends and family, I ate a lot of things that I probably shouldn't have, and there were days when I did nothing.  It was great.

Coming back to Milan has secured a few things that I had started doing before the summer, during June and July.  One of them is my desire to get a bit fitter.  Sure I'm slim, I walk everywhere and can sometimes go up flights of stairs without getting breathless, but I want to feel less...feeble?...pathetic?...there really are times I struggle to open a bottle of water.

Welcome 'Fuelled by Fitness' to my world, a friend who is starting out as a Personal Trainer and who's embarked upon the task of helping me out via Skype.  So far she's scrutinised a food diary I kept for the worst week ever (I ate pizza four times, FOUR!) and given me tips on how to improve my nutrition (i.e. cut out the biscuits, eat more fish) and has devised a HIIT training program to help me reach my goal of twenty press ups by Christmas...5.30pm on the 19th December to be precise.  I don't want to lose weight, but maintain it by building a bit of muscle, preferably on my arms: the three burpees I can currently manage in twenty seconds are pretty flimsy at the moment but a good start.

Something else I was getting interested in before summer that has continued into the new academic year is tea.  Yummy tea!  I was given a beautiful tea set for my birthday which I now love to use to brew a pot of Kusmi Be Cool.  It is so refreshing and really does help me to unwind, ahhhhh.

Then, there's the whisky...specifically Peat's Beast.  I have fallen in love with this whisky.  From the notes I keep about drinks I experience in cocktail bars I have written:

Ruddy love this whisky.  Smokey but strong, it burns in a way that leaves you warm and tingly.

It makes me happy to know that this whisky was discovered in a bar on my is a bit of a silly word really, it was recommended to me by the barman.  The bar is now my go to: it's friendly yet escapist, and does attention to detail just the way I like it.  I highly recommend going there, although I don't really want you to so it stays empty for me!

And that's all I've got for now, oooo except Gospel Choir.  Yes readers, I am now the proud member of the Flowing Spirit Gospel Choir and highly recommend you come and check us out at a charity concert on October 22nd in Torino.  It will be worth it!

Monday, July 25

'Do one thing every day that...

...scares you' as Baz Luhrman states in my favourite summer hit 'Sunscreen'.  Well, I'm attempting to do at least one thing every day that challenges me: mentally, physically or emotionally.

I'm back on the Isle of Wight and I'm loving it.  This is me being on holiday.  In particular, since Thursday, I've had a close school friend stay with my parents and I and we've been pushing ourselves a little bit each day. 

On Friday we both attended a 'Danceatomic' workout.  This is something that my friend used to attend at least three times a week however a year ago she moved off the Island and no longer attends fitness classes to the same level.  I, on the other hand, have not attended a 'fitness class' since a spinning class in in 2010 or 2011.  This time round I was wearing inappropriate shoes and found myself at 9.30 am, in a gym, jumping around which led me to pull a deep calf muscle in my left leg that I didn't know existed.

The following day it was my turn to inflict something on my friend that I used to do regularly but don't do so much now, biking...the cycling kind. We pedalled off up the hill, turned left heading for the lane to Woodside but had to stop briefly as my friend...well...she fell off her bike. I mean. My Mum's bike.  After I'd recovered from the shock: she was absolutely fine about bashing her knee, grazing her elbow and bruising her shoulder, I put the chain back on the cog and we continued onwards.  On getting to Woodside Bay I was absolutely terrified when I watched my friend rub alcohol hand gel on her wounds.  I think I was sharing the pain, either that or I am turning into a wimp.

Good friends since High School                                                      I got creative at the beach!                

A real tree!
Sunday arrived and the challenge of the day was tree climbing.  Yep, we had booked ourselves on to a two hour Goodleaf Tree Climbing experience which meant ascending into the boughs of a large oak tree situated at Appley Park.  I highly recommend the activity as the two leaders were friendly, patient, very good at talking through the ropes (literally) and were able to co-ordinate the eight people ascending and descending the tree at the same time.  After a quick, but in depth discussion of safety control, they demonstrated how to ascend and descend the ropes and then worked with us individually to help us get started.   
I'm on the green loop 

Basically, once you are sitting in the harness and swinging happily just a foot off of the ground, you move the yellow rope up the red rope theoretically to chin level then put a foot into the loop...I could actually only get my foot chest height so moved the yellow rope to there.  You then push down with your foot while using your hands to move yourself and the blue rope up the red rope.  After three steps up you tie an 'acorn' knot and repeat until you reach your destination.  To come down, you call one of the leaders who undid your acorn knots and then let you 'drop' the yellow rope down to them.  After that you are able to slide down the red rope by gently pushing on the blue knot which allows you to control your descent.  Genius.

We even managed a few treefies!
Even though both my friend and I were suffering from pains in our left legs from our previous escapades we really enjoyed the challenge of going up into the tree on the ropes, just like arborists do (a.k.a tree surgeons).  Once we'd conquered one rope each we both enjoyed a cuppa and delicious flapjack while sharing our experiences of having to transfer our trust between the tree and the rope.  After that we set off up another rope each, mine leading to a hammock only to then discover another of our fellow climbers had managed to go up four ropes in the time it took us to do two!

Our plan for Monday is not confirmed but could involve a long walk following a book that my friend owns.  We are both avid lovers of the Isle of Wight and enjoy the adventures that the mystical place well as the nourishment provided by the hundreds of great pubs and cafes to fuel our adventures!  Whatever we get up to, I know that in some way it will take us just a little bit out of our depth.  

Sunday, July 10

A Castle Full of Questions

I've been to the museums of the Castello Sforzesco before when I found them full of interesting items and actually managed to find the musical instrument room.  This time though, I didn't find the musical instrument room but found it full of questions instead.  Here are just a few that came to mind on a recent, welcomly air conditioned, walk around the museums...
How do you get a building, complete with alfrescos, into a building?
How did this 1470 mural get 'discovered' in 1911?  Were all the porticos also originally covered in murals too?
How much does this Curate get paid for sitting in this chair, on his phone, and dozing?
What originally happened in a room that is 97 steps long (on my stride)?
Why do bees coming out of a baby's mouth get classed as a 'miracle'?

Monday, July 4

Summer 2016...

...has arrived people!  It knocked on my door this morning at 10:05.

Now, I'm not saying I've been living for the summer but this academic year has been tough.  And I mean tough.  Heck, some people that have been going through this academic year with me may choose different words to describe the year that I've had, but I'll stick to tough

Tough applies to every aspect of my world too.  My own personal, social and emotional development has been...well...developed...during 2015-2016.  I seem to have matured in all aspects of myself, from the top of my head, to the depths of my soul.  On the outside I have obviously lost a little bit of weight, but my inner parts, the bits you can't see, nor understand, without having had a long-term investment in knowing me (i.e. you've known me since before September 2015), have had a pulverising that can only be called 'transformation'.

Anyway.  Back to the summer, and what a summer I have ahead.  Today I managed to successfully book an appointment with the dermatologist unsuccessfully.  I've had to make the appointment for over 6 weeks and successfully got to the CUP to book the appointment today, however I've done so unsuccessfully as it coincides with the most important Parent Meeting of the year at school in September...doh!  I had my diary in front of me at the desk too...turns out you have to OPEN your diary to get the full effects of knowing what you're doing on any given day.  Another life lesson learnt.  Moving on...

I've booked myself a ticket for this years summer concert.  Last year I saw Burt Bacharach, the year before I saw Yann Tiersenn, in 2013 I saw Jovanotti and in 2012 I saw Paolo Nutini.  This year, my summer concert will be...*drum roll*...Pharrell Williams.  It was a close call with Rihanna who is in Milan the same week but Pharrell snapped it as I liked his website more as it promoted the idea of being individuals together, a great concept.  Check it out here.

So...after seeing Pharrell my summer will continue and include:
- going home.
- going to pubs.  Lots of them in all shapes and sizes.
- going to church, MY church, where I grew up.
- one of my best friends, and her family, camping in my parents back garden while I cosily sleep in my own childhood room.
- another friend staying for a weekend with me at my parents.
- meeting up with my cousin to have a natter.
- seeing Finding Dory, in English, at the cinema, a month and a half before it's released in Italy.
- CRICKET TOUR (get in!)
- assisting another best friend, and her family, with their latest doer-upper house/shop/home.
- returning to Pescara for a few days of beach and Cafe Venezia and arrosticini and friends and wine and arrotiscini and gelato and maybe even dancing...only the pig knows.
- my thirtieth, yes 30th, birthday.

That's all folks.

Monday, June 13

Message in a bottle... a Venetian canal by a gondola of course!

The last bank holiday weekend I had off work I went to visit some close friends in Padova who then took me to Venice for the day and helped me eat lots of food.  I then spent an afternoon in Bologna before going back to my humble abode in Milan.  It was a great trip.

We found a message in a bottle bobbing along this canal that had been written 10 days before.
It had been forecast to rain but we were fortunate enough to catch some rays instead.
Polenta.  'nuff said.
To top the weekend off, when I got back this was waiting for me!

Sunday, May 29

Tea, cake and one cup

I watched at least 5 tutorial videos on youtube to achieve the video below.  It's a small achievement but while drinking tea and eating coffee cake at a friend's house until the early hours of the morning, I did it.  Here's my version of this song that was a cover of this, that was apparently an adaptation of this.

The Cup Song - When I'm Gone

Friday, March 11

The day I went to Monza

It was an ordinary Friday of traffic jams and high frequency words.  

I was walking home from work and had an urge to do something so...I bought an icecream.  While eating the icecream I sat on a bench.  My urge to do something had not been fulfilled so I looked up the art galleries and museums I could get into for free.

None of the museums I looked at would be open long enough for me to get to so I had a think.  Monza.  I remembered that it was a town that a Pescarese friend had once told me I'd probably like.  Google Maps said it was a 11 minute train ride away.  Perfect.  I set off for home to change my bag.

At 17:50 I was on the train to Monza.  I arrived promptly at 18:01 and walked.  I walked for an hour.  I walked down pedestrian streets; down a busy main road; through piazzas; past red brick buildings, and past white buildings.  I then sat on a bench in a park and listened to whatever sounds occurred and then headed back towards the town centre.

Taking a different route back I passed a quaint tea shop that was both a shop and café.  After asking if it was still possible to get a cuppa, I sat down on a sofa (bliss) for 20 minutes while drinking a white/green blend with strawberry and star of anise aromas.  The café was calming and ran by a French family who had a budding artist in their team.

I left the serene environment to walk back to the station.  It took me longer to get back from the Milan train station to my house than it did from Monza to Milan...

That was the day I went to Monza.  I saw a sunset behind buildings.  I saw a hare too.  My Pescarese friend was right: I liked Monza, there was a big park.  Some days I am easier to please than others.

Sunday, February 21

Walking a New Way

I know I'm settling into a place when I walk a different route home. 

I've started exploring a bit more.  By exploring I mean leaving what I know, to look for new things.  This, in terms of building on my relationship with the zone I live in, means that I will decide to turn left instead of right on my way home and try and work out how to get home following the "new" road.  For example, the other day I walked home from the metro station taking a side street that I hadn't walked down before and in doing so I saw that there's a bright yellow, and really rather fetching, building on Corso Buenos Aires (one of the main shopping streets in Milan).  Annoyingly I didn't take a photograph of the building, and the Google Streetview has not updated to include the finishing result of what's behind the scaffolding!


This way of walking, taking new directions, is something I get excited about.  Since moving to my new home I have wanted to explore the area more, the idea of doing so has been there, but the actual act of doing it has taken 3 months to get to.  I think reason for this is echoed in a quote from D. H. Lawrence:
The world fears a new experience more than it fears anything. Because a new experience displaces so many old experiences. . . . The world doesn't fear a new idea. It can pigeon-hole any idea. But it can't pigeon-hole a real new experience.
Sometimes I have the time to take a longer route home, but I don't, the idea is there, but I don't make that into an experience.  Having discovered the quote above I can relate to my decisions not too as being part of fear: fear that I'll take a wrong turn and get really lost, fear that my phone will run out of battery so I'll lose Google Maps and therefore no longer have my trusty Plan B to hand, fear that the new route will take longer and therefore impact whatever plans I may have later in that day.

What I do know is that so many of my experiences thus far in Milan, which I have now been living in for the grand sum of 6 months, have been new, really new.  I have had to displace previous experiences in relation to my relationships and friendships, my career, my sense of self, and everything really, in order to allow for these new experiences to become.  

One thing, however, my creativity pigeon-hole remains reasonably intact.  My ideas about the importance of creativity, and ensuring I keep creativity alive as I plunder on in my world, is reflected in a rather cute letter that one of the blogs I follow wrote about recently.  In fact I encourage you to read this post as your assignment for tonight:

Monday, January 18

It happened…

…I’m writing a blog update.

It’s been a while since I felt I had anything to write but here I am, in my little studio flat, Lemsip to hand, typing.  When I was in Pescara it was much easier to write as there were a lot more 'first' experiences based on living in Italy for the first time: the language errors; the random excursions to towns and random places; the studying (oh the studying!); exploring with my visitors etc. etc.  Now I’m in Milan my rhythm has changed completely, in a way that I can't begin to explain here.  However there's one thing I don't miss about Pescara, and one thing I ironically do.

The thing I don't miss is the “I really need to get out of here” feeling that I used to get in Pescara.  Yes, I get itchy feet for travelling but it seems that it does not need to be every weekend as I felt it became in Pescara.  The city of Milan has a lot going on, and with the gift of a subscription to some of the Museums and Galleries, I seem to be able to do a lot without spending much money.  Of course, I am still a newbie to the city so the hype of the change is still in the air, but it’s a much bigger city that Pescara will ever be so it will keep me on my toes for a bit longer.  Heck, I could even use the word 'settled' how I like Milan, but on a good day!

Mountains, ironically, being just as close to them as in Pescara, are what I do miss.  The moutains near Milan, are real mountains, BIG ones.  The difference is that I don't see them like I used to see the mountains from Pescara.  I sometimes see them in the distance down a particular road on a clear day, but it's just not the same as seeing the 'Sleeping Beauty' silhouette of an evening cycling home. 

And there we go, blog post written, one thing I miss, one thing I don't.  Who knows when the next time will be that I feel an urge to let my fingers do some typing!