A few days on the Suffolk Coast

Whilst I was home for the summer, my parents and I (as well as the dog!) decided to spend a few days in Suffolk. We stayed at The Westleton Crown on the Suffolk coast between Southwold and Aldeburgh. The Crown is a charming hotel, restaurant and traditional pub, serving delicious food, with a great atmosphere and of course dog-friendly – Robbie loved sitting in the lounge after dinner! All the rooms were named after birds, rather than having numbers, which was a rather charming touch! I was in the Wren room and my parents in the Nuthatch.

We had a very relaxed few days visiting Snape Maltings, Southwold Pier, Dunwich, Dunwich Heath and Woodbridge. The countryside in  Suffolk is beautiful, especially Dunwich Heath where we went for a really lovely long walk (getting just slightly lost at one point), before heading back to the National Trust tea rooms for tea and scones! Perfect and how very English!

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It was a rather rainy day when we visited Southwold Pier, but I love how this image looked when I gave it this filter! Slightly mysterious!

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The Pier has an ‘Under The Pier Show’ with hand-built machines, all a little quirky and out there! I had a go on the ‘Crankenstien’, which you have to wind up and watch as Crankenstien becomes more and more angry! It made me jump when he suddenly screams at you!

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British street artist Pure Evil, created this piece of art to commemorate George Orwell and the time he spent in Southwold. Orwell wrote ‘A Clergyman’s Daughter’ whilst in Southwold. The artwork will remain a permanent feature of the pier.

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The stunning Dunwich Heath

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Giant (and surprisingly comfy!) deckchairs at Dunwich Heath!

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In the village of Westleton, where we stayed, there was a really interesting and quirky second hand book shop! My Dad found three history books, and when you wanted to pay, there was an old oil can and a wooden stick which you had to beat to get someone’s attention! Very eccentric…but charismatic! They even offered us a cup of tea!

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If you have never been Suffolk is a lovely place – great countryside, friendly people and it feels very traditional, very British! If you have been, where did you enjoy visiting? What did you see and do?

Anna

The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time: a Review

My Mum called me in July to tell me she had got us tickets to see The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night-Time on stage in London.  She had read the book with her book club and they had organised a trip to see the production at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s Westend.  Whilst I had heard a lot of hype about the book and could recall its front cover, (with the distressing cartoon of a dog, stabbed to death with a garden fork), I had absolutely no idea what is what about. So, being a literature graduate and believing you should read any book before seeing the stage or screen version, I rushed out and bought myself a copy!   I am so glad I did, because Mark Haddon is a fantastic writer and I absolutely loved it – and I think having read the book first, made me appreciate the stage production even more!

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*I have tried not to contain too many spoilers, but if you haven’t read the book, read-on with caution!*

The Curious Incident is the story of 15 year old Christopher Boone, who in the middle of the night discovers that his neighbours dog has been murdered, stabbed to death with a garden fork! Christopher, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, is a fascinating character with a brilliant mathematical brain. He only knows how to tell the truth and is an aspiring Sherlock Holmes! He shares the same intensity as Holmes and loves making lists and seeing patterns in the world and so decides he will take it upon himself to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington, Mrs Shears’ dog.  In the book, Christopher becomes both the narrator and the detective and sets out on a journey of discovery to solve this case.  Having never ventured further than the end of his street alone, the book sees Christopher’s journey taking him completely out of his comfort zone to the hustle and bustle of London.  Whilst he has an extraordinary brain, he struggles with interaction and understanding people, dislikes strangers and struggles with intimacy. The way in which Mark Haddon has written this book gives the reader a great insight into the way Christopher thinks and reasons, as well as explaining why he behaves in certain ways and I found myself completely understanding him and seeing his logic – you are transported into his mind.

After having read the book, I was really excited to see how they would have transitioned it to the stage, especially for example: Christopher’s train journey, a rather frightening episode on the London Underground and the street on which Christopher lived. How would these be represented and how would they help us to go inside Christopher’s mind like in the book?

Well, Simone Stephens’ adaptation was wonderful and very clever! The twist is that the stage production is as if, we are watching a School production of Christopher’s book! The set is simple but very effective, with square panels and inset lights, which reveal maths problems and graphs, as well as secret doors from which the characters appear and hidden compartments which they use to take props from.  At one point Christopher constructs a train track of London, with a steam train moving around the stage, an underground platform is revealed – when he must rescue his pet rat Toby and an escalator suddenly appears as if by magic from the wall…so that it appears as if Christopher is walking in mid air!

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I went to a matinee performance and Christopher was played by Kaffe Keating, who was utterly brilliant! I look forward to seeing what he does in the future!

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Whilst the book really takes us inside his head and reveals his inner thoughts and reasoning’s, the stage production allows us to share in his experiences of the external world and how this can at times seem very scary and surreal. The play features loud music and bright lights, the pace is fast moving and hectic, but at the same time the choreography is so beautiful and effortless that the story flows and moves from one part to the next with such ease. I found myself laughing more than I had expected and also with tears in my eyes more than once.

I am really glad my Mum got us those tickets and I finally got around to reading the book! I was not disappointed! Every single member of the cast was brilliant and the actor who played Christopher, Kaffe Keating, is certainly one to watch!  If you hadn’t guessed already, I can not recommend The Curious Incident strongly enough! But read the book first…because after all, that is where it all started!

Have you read the book, or seen it on stage? What did you think? I would love to hear!

Anna

 

Things I Love Sundays (on Monday!)

Hello all!

I am writing my ‘Things I Love Sundays’ feature a day late this week, as I had no laptop at the weekend to write on! But I am back now and very happy as today is my birthday! Last week was my last full week at home in England before I head back to Milan this week and get back to work. It has really been a very wonderful summer, spent with all my family and friends and I will be sad to leave…however I am looking forward to seeing the sun again and wearing summer clothes! England has been far too cold! So here is my last list of things I have loved this week at home…

  Seeing my cousin and her husband and meeting their new baby boy Cuddles with baby Atticus! Lunch out with my Mum and Dad Peaceful walks with my dog in the countryside and picking blackberries along the way! Taking my Grandma out for afternoon tea, she is one of the funniest people I know My Mum throwing an afternoon tea for my birthday with my dear friends Kate and Chris (it has been a week of endless afternoon teas! I am not complaining though!) Kate and Chris making me the most insane chocolate, fudge, more chocolate…more fudge, chocolate buttons birthday cake…with a pink candelabra cake decoration! It was amazing! Fresh flowers A crazy Sunday with my whole family, who are all mad and yet another afternoon tea!  My cousin and I blowing bubbles in the garden and the dog going mad for them!

It has been a slightly mad week really! I am definitely going to miss everyone when I am back at work…still Christmas isn’t that far away is it!?!

I am working on lots of posts and hoping to get into a good routine of writing and posting when I am settled back in Milan…including a recap of suggestions so far, for my ‘Read Around the World’ feature, new posts on Milan and more on the Expo!

Hope you all have a great week!

Anna

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What a great British Tradition! Afternoon tea – a pot of tea, sandwiches, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream and cake – of any sort…Victoria sponge, fresh raspberries and cream…or chocolate…or lemon and meringue!! Delicious!

The Liebster Award

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Thank you so so much to Caitlin at Caitlinfmc, for nominating me for The Liebster Award! Being very new to this whole blogging thing, I am really very grateful! Check out her blog, she is a film student and writes about all sorts of things, including films, music, book reviews and advice for University students! It’s fab!

These awards only have a few rules: 

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you with a link back to his/her blog
  2. Answer the questions asked by the nominator
  3. Nominate 5 – 10 bloggers with under 500 followers
  4. Create 10 questions for the nominees to answer.

First I have to answer these questions:

1.) What inspired you to start blogging?

I finally started my blog this year, as I missed spending time writing and researching. I wanted to set myself a challenge and also share my random thoughts and ramblings!

2.) If you had a super power what would it be?

I would be able to fly…..no more airports, I could go home whenever I wanted!

3.) Where in the world do you want to travel to most?

I think probably Africa! I would love to go on a Safari…maybe even a horseback one!

4.) What’s your dream career?

My dream career would probably be to be a film actress or to work in musical theatre!

5.) What was the last song you listened to?

The last song I listened to was ‘Volare’ by Gipsy Kings.

6.) What was the last film you watched?

The last film I watched was ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation’ at the cinema with my family.

7.) What is your biggest goal to succeed in life?

This is a hard question, but I would probably say my biggest goal is to be happy and content….and maybe to write a novel!

8.) List three things that make you happy?

Three things which make me happy are my family and friends, music and my dog!

9.) Which would you rather be, able to read minds or fly?

Fly of course – but then I wouldn’t be able to use ‘Oh the bus was late!’ as an excuse!! Haha!

10.) What is your life motto?

This is another difficult question…but I would probably say to try and always see the positive in everything! It is something my Grandma always taught us and I believe in strongly!

Thanks again to Caitlin and here are my questions…

  1. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
  2. What is your favourite book?
  3. If you were throwing a dinner party and could invite five famous people (dead or alive) who would you invite?
  4. What is the most precious thing you own?
  5. What can you not live without?
  6. Would you rather swim in a lake or the sea?
  7. What is your favourite song?
  8. Puppies or kittens?
  9. If you could play any musical instrument, what would you choose?
  10. If you could speak any language (other than English) which would you choose?

And the nominees are..

Anna

Things I Love Sundays

Good evening!

The end of another great week and what a busy one it has been! Only one more full week at home until I head back to Italy, so I will get straight on with just some of the things I am thankful for and loving this week…

  Macarons from Ladurée Quality quiet time to read and evenings spent writing   Meeting my Auntie and Uncle in London after not having seen them since I moved to Italy  1940’s Fashion Spending time with my parents Long walks in the country Staying with friends who used to live in Milan and laughing the night away Bellinis at brunch for my friends birthday Seeing the state rooms at Buckingham palace

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The ornate gates outside Buckingham Palace

I have lots of posts planned for the next few weeks, including a review on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time play,  photo posts from my break in Suffolk and weekend in London and how living in Italy has changed me, as well as how I am still British through and through.

I hope you have all had a lovely weekend!

Anna

Read Around the World

As a Literature Graduate, I am obviously very passionate about books and reading. During my school years and my degree I was always reading some book or other, whether for pleasure or for educational purposes. At school I was fascinated by William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, whilst at college I loved studying Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Then at University I particularly enjoyed Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and fell in love with the works of Charles Dickens, who is now my favourite author. I have every one of his books, as well as many texts on his life and works. I love how very descriptive his works are and how he creates these fantastic, often slightly mad characters.  I also have always loved learning about the Victorian period, as I find it a particularly interesting era.  Dickens’ Victorian England fascinates me.

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Inside an old school house, now transformed into a quirky second hand book shop in Whistleton, Suffolk! I visited this week for a browse!

I graduated with a joint Literature and Italian degree and whilst studying, often opted for the literature modules in Italian too. We studied Dante’s Divine Comedy and on my Erasmus year in Italy I also completed an Italian Literature module.  Furthermore, for my Literature dissertation I combined my love for Charles Dickens and my passion for Italy, by writing about his relationship with the country and support for the Italian Unification.

Unfortunately, since leaving University and moving to Milan, the amount of time I spend reading has definitely declined and it shamefully took me over a year to read Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit! However…through work I have read countless children’s books – The Gruffalo anyone?!  But this year I am determined to start reading more again and have already made my way through quite a few books!

I tend to read a lot of Classics, but my Dad has just given me My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.  Ferrante is an Italian novelist (under pseudonym) who was born in Naples and is the author of The Neopolitan Novels. I hadn’t heard of her before, until recently when my Dad mentioned an article he had read in The Guardian newspaper, listing authors and novels from ‘Around The World’ and this idea that we can read our way around the world! Anything he reads about Italy he usually tends to pass on to me and unbeknown to me, he had ordered me her fist Neopolitan Novel, My Brilliant Friend.

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With the arrival of the book, I decided to do a little research about this ‘Read Around the World’ idea and have found that it is quite a popular concept and some people even base their blogs around it!

So, I have decided to do my own version of reading around the world, starting with Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, which is the story of two best friends growing up in 1950’s Naples. Where better to start my reading journey than Italy?? The book and author have received a lot of acclaim and I am excited to start reading it and then eventually to review it on here!

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My question to you all then is, can you recommend any books to me, for any country in the world? They must be written by a native to that country, but apart from that I am open to any suggestions! Then I will make a list and hopefully over time make my way through it, reviewing and keeping you up-to-date on here!

Is anyone completing this challenge at the moment? Do you have any recommendations? What do you all like to read? I would love to hear!

Happy weekend to you all!

Anna

A Day at the Zoo

I don’t think I had been to the zoo in at least ten years, so my friend and I decided it was the perfect day trip for the Summer holidays! Our local zoo, Colchester, has recently been rated 2nd best in the UK and 11th best around the world! It is home to over 270 species and is set in 60 acres of parkland and lakes. The zoo partakes in many different breeding and conservation programmes and helps to protect threatened and endangered species.

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It has changed a lot since I went there as a little girl and has some fascinating new animals such as the adorable Red Pandas and the Sun Bears! We had a lovely day exploring the zoo, I even fed an elephant and a giraffe! We managed to catch a picture perfect moment when two sea lions had a cheeky kiss as they passed over our heads in the sea lion tunnel and saw two lions hugging! So sweet!

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I also posted this photo in my last ‘Things I Love Sunday’ post – but I just love it, so I am including it again!

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This is one zoo I would definitely recommend, not only for the animals and the awards it has won, but for all their efforts in helping to improve animal welfare standards, research work and education programmes. Hope you enjoy some of my photos!

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Have you been to Colchester zoo? What is your opinion of zoos? Do you a favourite zoo or animal park? What is your favourite animal?

Anna