Wednesday, November 1


"Let's leave Milan for a walk." said our friend.
We ended up on a train to a random station on the Milano to Laveno line. On getting off we headed in a direction that felt 'out of town'. Sure enough we found a lane type road which led us to a footpath, along which we picked chestnuts!
A picnic, a barking dog, a teapot and a meringue mushroom later and we're on the train home again.
Just another All Saints' Day adventure!

Friday, August 11

Just another cake in France

For the last 5 days, H and I have been strolling around the Savoie area of France for the first part of our honeymoon.

Today we set off with the idea of walking around the different forts which were built in the early-to-mid 1800's when France gave this area back to the Sardinians (les Sardes). After about 20 minutes we decided it was coffee and cake o'clock and hoped the first fort, Fort Marie-Christine, would be able to satisfy our desires. Sure enough there was a restaurant inside the fort with a pretty courtyard with chairs and tables.

Excitedly we entered the restaurant and, ignoring the signs 'gourmet restaurant' and the placards proudly declaring the establishment featured in various good restaurant lists that exist in France (e.g. Gault et Millau), H demanded coffee. The waiter looked at us blankly, obviously weighing us up to be tourists, and proceeded to speak in French. As we stared at him foolishly, he then said 'deux café?'. 'Yes, yes!' was our response and we blundered back outside to sit in the then sunny, courtyard.

A few minutes later the same man appeared with two espressos. H cheerfully made eye contact with him and said 'cake?'. I hopefully looked at the waiter as he replied in French ending the sentence with 'pasticcerie'. 'Oui!' I intervened however this did not seem to impress the waiter, he muttered to himself in French, then proceeded to clear the table next to us and took the dirty cups etc. back inside.

Shortly afterwards another man approached us. He said a sentence that ended with the word 'gateaux'. H proudly responded 'No, no, cake.'. I laughed and explained to H that 'gateaux' is cake in French, which made H laugh too. We composed ourselves and listened to the waiter describing two 'cakes': one with raspberries and blueberries, the other chocolate and pistacchio. Opting for two of the chocolate ones, the waiter returned to the restaurant.

It wasn't long before the first waiter then brought out two, spongey/soufflé-y type desserts that were scrum-diddly-umptious. Another win for team Touri!

Tuesday, August 1

How to make...

...cherry ice cream.

H wanted ice cream but hadn't had enough hands to carry back the shopping so when he announced he had wanted ice cream, I remembered a recipe I had in my recipe book. Looking it up it was for strawberry ice cream, but having only cherries we amended the recipe. Ironically H went back to the shops to buy the cream for the recipe!

The recipe itself came from my Italian colleague in Pescara and I remember that we made it with the children at the school I was then working in. We had to keep getting the bowl of ice cream out of the freezer to stir it and, as a result, it took longer than we were expecting. Even so, here's a quick and easy recipe for cherry ice cream, I've named it 'Cherrydipity'.

300g fresh cherries
200ml single cream
300ml milk
100g sugar

Stone and blitz the cherries in a food processor, a mixer or with a hand held mixer. Mix in the milk and cream, then add the sugar and keep stirring it and crushing the sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Put in a freezer proof container and freeze for an hour. Remove from freezer and stir/break down the crystals. Put back into the freezer and remove every 20 mins to stir and break the crystals. Continue doing so until of an ice cream consistency.
And there you go. Ice cream!

Mission Wedding... complete!

Wow. I am sitting in my little house, still surrounded by petals and presents to open, unable to believe that the last ten days are over. Yes, our wedding was a ten-day process.

You see, we've had 3 ceremonies: a legal ceremony (think registry office) on July 19th, an Islamic/Muslim marriage (niqah) on July 22nd, and a Christian blessing on July 29th: spanning ten days. Each ceremony had its own prep and paperwork that we started when we officially became engaged in February. There was also the coordination of who needed to be where, and what they needed to be doing when which intensified in the run up to the last ceremony, the Christian blessing.

Looking back on the whole process, I can safely say that the best bit about the whole thing were the people that were involved, and I don't just mean the registrar, the Imam and the Vicar. I mean everyone. Absolutely everything was arranged or done by friends and family: I don't think there wasn't a 'guest' that hadn't contributed in some way to the process. Our friends and family became one big community from twenty-one nationalities which, in my opinion, is the biggest blessing.

Sure, there were some mishaps: the buttonhole flowers and corsages didn't get to the 'right' people as I forgot to send the list to the 'right' people, and the Live video ended halfway throughout the Christian blessing as I forgot to give my Wi-Fi to the cameraman so the data ran out, but mishaps always happen and will continue to do so. These things, although annoying, were far outweighed by the joy, happiness, willingness to serve, and patience that everyone had. It was that which made each day, and in particular the 29th July, so special.

With that I'd like to thank everyone that came, that helped, that didn't come but have sent presents, that couldn't come but watched on Facebook Live, the list really is endless.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 12

Things that surprised me...

...during my time in England.

I've been to England to enjoy time with my friends and family ahead of my wedding at the end of this month. It included attending my hen party, having my haircut, collecting my wedding dress, and making curtains while in the vicinity of a sewing machine. Here are some things that surprised me during my stay:

- My Mum and friends had secretly painted stone place names for the tables where we ate cream tea at my hen party. They had been to the local beach to collect the original stones, then they got together at my parent's to paint and personalise them. For all 22 attendees!

- First class stamps have more than doubled in the 14 years since I worked up the Spar shop.

- My Grandma hasn't lost her 'get-up and go' as proven by her magnificent pool shots during the 'Killer' pool tournament for my hen party.

- My brother's girlfriend 'knows' me very well, and can win a 'Know your bride' quiz, beating even my Bridesmaids.

- A lot can happen in 3 years as a catch-up with a close University of Chichester friend proved: life and death go hand in hand.

- I am still able to sew button holes using a sewing machine!

It's been grand England. Until next time!

Saturday, May 27

My Pilgrimage

I walked today. A lot. 20.86 km to be honest.

I saw a deer today: it had horns. I also caught a train by sheer 'chance' or by 'Godincidence', whichever word you feel more comfortable using. I didn't get photos of either of those events though. I did however take lots of other pictures and here's a Google slideshow of them in order!

The amazing thing is that on Friday, before having decided where I was going, a friend said she saw a 'dappled, deserted, silent sleepy courtyard, like in a Mediaeval /Arabic house, with a deep, still central well.'. When I arrived to the Abbazia, that's basically what I found in the cloisters. I hadn't looked at any pictures or information about the Abbazia so didn't plan it at all. Random!

Friday, May 26

Praying Away

'Trust in the Lord always and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.' ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 by memory so may not be accurate!

There have been a lot of developments in my world in the last few months, and there are lots of changes ahead. A friend suggested a retreat with Spiritual Direction may help me transition and discern what's happened, what's happening now, and what's going to happen. Initially I wasn't sure if a retreat was something for me, but as my inner child (who pops up from time to time when things don't go 'her' way) wasn't calming down through my usual sitting and waiting (in the Spiritual sense, not physical), I am now on a train, winging my way to a lake side town for two nights in a hotel.

Only thing is, it didn't start very peacefully!

I left my house for the train station to see the bus for the station on the roundabout. I chose not to run for it but then when it got to the stop it didn't move on when the traffic lights went green so I ran up to it. Except. The bus driver did the classic 'waggle finger' of a no, even though the bus was only a few metres past the bus stop. Humph.

My reaction? Run. I overtook the bus while it stood at the traffic lights and I ran. I ran to the next stop. But the drove alongside me while I ran! I was a bit confused, it was like the driver was teasing me, or perhaps cheering me on. Eitherway, I won the race as I got to the next stop first!

I am pretty certain this weekend will be full of odd events such as that.

Monday, April 3

It might seem crazy what I'm about to say...

...I'm engaged.

I am getting married. The when, the where and the how you'll know if you know. The rest. Well. It's exciting, scary, and feels overwhelming at times but I had to put it on here...on my blog.

This blog was started to journal my journey, from London to Pescara and beyond. When embarking on my move to Italy, and starting the blog in it's first form, 'Pakes in Pescara', I had plans. BIG plans. Plans to learn stuff, and see stuff, and do stuff. Adventures. Laughter. Ups and Downs. The Works. But me, oh my. I never quite imagined that the learning would ever go this DEEP. A soul-searching, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, mess-making, swirly-whirly depth.

This journey has led me to Milan and now an engagement to my Hussain. A man that has journeyed himself, in a very different way, but journeyed none the less. Now begins our attempt to journey together towards a wedding and beyond.

Marriage is going to be messy, and complicated, and full of mistakes, and, and, and, and...STOP.

I went through a period of only seeing the negatives of the whole thing. The loss of identity, the loss of 'independence', the loss of this and that and the socks. But enough was enough. I made a decision to change loss to transformation. I will always have my identity, it is just always going to be transforming. I will always have my independence, it's just right now the boundaries of that independence are transforming. And socks...goodness, I will loose a few but I can knit so there's no issue there.

Then, there's the butterflies, and this video. I made a 'discovery', while researching the lifecycle of a caterpillar for a class project, that the metamorphis of a caterpillar into a butterfly means the caterpillar, well, it's pretty disgusting, but the caterpillar...eats itself. Yep, when inside a chrysalis, which develops under it's skin during the last days of it's time as a caterpillar, the caterpillar releases an enzyme that dissolves itself into, as the video below says, 'butterfly soup'. Noone really understands how this goo then turns into a butterfly, but it does.

This metamorphis gives me strength. Strength in that if a caterpillar completely dissolves before becoming a butterfly, I too can sit and be patient while my insides dissolve and become something new. The gut-wrenching emotions, that can only be described as 'grief of myself', need to happen, even though it is such internal pain. However, the scars of that pain will transform into the fibres I need to make my marriage.

To close, as I transform from a 'me' into an 'us', I give thanks that I have my Hussain, the kind of guy that when I just asked him if he's happy replied "If I'm not happy in this moment when will I be happy then?". Honestly...God is good. Amen.