The Perfect Day for Seeing Rainbows

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas, spent with family and friends! I certainly did and am glad to say I am getting acclimatised to the British weather again. I am spending this Christmas limbo before New Year, catching up with people, reading, watching films and going for long walks with the dog…just perfect!

This afternoon we had a rather delightful walk on the beach and were surprised by the most stunning double rainbow stretching peacefully across the River Stour. It appeared rather faintly during a quick shower, then grew brighter and brighter until two perfect rainbows appeared! Below are some of my pictures from today, hope you enjoy them!

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At its strongest and brightest! Although my photos don’t really do justice to how beautiful the rainbows were!

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Anna

Some pre-Christmas Musings

Despite it being one of the warmest winters on record in a long time, I am finding England rather cold and extremely windy. This, I am taking as a sign, that after three and a half years living in Milan, I am starting to be “Italianised”! Yesterday on a last minute Christmas present run, I found myself on more than one occasion pointing out people to my Mum and saying, ‘That is ridiculous, why is she dressed like that? It is Winter!’, about the girl in a skirt (no tights) and boots, a man in a t-shirt and jeans and a little girl in the garage in leggings and a sleeveless summer dress! The people of England have gone mad! It is worse than when they wear shorts and t-shirts and it is only 16 degrees out! My Mum merely replied, ‘Anna it is hot! It isn’t cold at all!’

I remember the first year I lived in Milan and I wore ballerinas in November without socks and got told off by more than one person and wore just a light rain coat up until mid December – but gone are those days. Yesterday I was wearing boots, a thick jumper, a big warm coat buttoned up to the top and a scarf wrapped round me and I was still cold! However, a down fall of my supposed “Italianisation”, is that I seem to be sick more often. I don’t know if the two things are connected, but I am suffering my third cold in the last two months, despite being wrapped up warm and eating well to keep up my defences.

We finally put the Christmas tree up at home a few days ago, so things are starting to feel all cosy and festive! Many people in England put up their decorations very early, even in November, but in my family it is tradition that we put them up later and as a child, I only saw our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve! Some of my friends think this is strange and say it is a waste, but I disagree and think it makes it much more special! Especially since I have German heritage and so as a child, we celebrated as a family with Christmas dinner on the 24th, so there was always great anticipation and excitement in the house on Christmas Eve morning.

Christmas Tree

England is the country that already has Christmas decorations and treats on sale even before Halloween is over and Easter eggs on sale as early as February. I guess this is now normal in the consumerist society we live in, but I will say in Italy it does seem to be much more subtle. Yes, the shops have Christmas products available around the end of November, but in Milan people wait to put up their trees until they celebrate Sant’Ambrogio, the Patron Saint of Milan, on the 7th of December. Of course the shops are busy in the run up to the festive season, but it seems less chaotic and panicky!

At home, everywhere you go there is that last minute rush to buy loved one gifts and Christmas songs blaring from radios and the smell of baking in the air. Lights shining from Christmas trees and blow up Santa’s and snowmen in gardens! Plus supermarkets are filled with panic buying shoppers, filling up their trolleys with supplies as if we won’t be able to buy any groceries for a month, when in actual fact, the shops are only closed for one day! It does make me smile, even though I was there too!

So, whether you are celebrating the season or not, spending it at home or away, in the sun or the cold, with family or friends, I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Anna

 

Things I Love Sundays

With just under a week until Christmas, there is a lot of festive cheer in the air and I landed back in England yesterday afternoon to spend the next two weeks here in Essex with my family.  This time of year is perfect for giving thanks and being grateful for all we have, so the perfect opportunity to get back into writing my Things I Love feature.

So here is what has been making me smile recently…

 -New starts, new friends and my new apartment – Christmas lights all over Milan – Singing with my gospel choir – Laughing with friends – My dog waiting for me at the airport – ‘Driving home for Christmas’ listening to Chris Rea with my Dad – Home-made mince pies – Blazing fires and being warm and cosy – Dinner with friends – Catch-ups – The prospect of quality family and friend time – Cinema trip with my Mum to see The Lady in the Van, which I highly recommend, Dame Maggie Smith is such an incredible actress – Seeing stars in the sky (something I miss in Milan!) –

I would also like to say Happy 1st Wedding anniversary to my dear friends Kate and Chris!

Christmas Tram

Spontini Christmas Tram in Milan! Why can’t all trams look like this!? It would be amazing!

Have a lovely Christmas week everyone!

Anna

A Glorious Autumn

Hello everyone!

Firstly I must apologise for not having written for a while! I really want to get into a better routine and get myself organised so I am posting more regularly, but still being fairly new to blogging, I have some work to do on this! I have been really busy with work and finding a new apartment, which I am very excited about and moving into in the next few weeks, so plenty of packing and organising and best of all…shopping to do!

Last weekend I went back to England for my Mum’s ‘special’ birthday! So Happy Birthday again Mum for last week, you are amazing!  I am so glad I got to be there to share it with her and my family! We had a delicious meal last Sunday in a beautiful restaurant called The Barn Brasserie, a very elegant barn conversion.  Lunch was accompanied by some stunning piano pieces played live by a very talented young musician – she played all sorts including pieces by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Daria Marianelli, who wrote the soundtrack to the film version of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley. It was truly a wonderful weekend, if a little too short!

In recent weeks I have become slightly obsessed with taking photos of trees, streets, parks, gardens and any green spaces I see! Is it me, or we having one of the most amazing Autumns ever? I can’t remember being so enticed by the colours and sights of Autumn before. Everyday seems to be more splendid than the last and I find myself really appreciating the colours of the nature around me.

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Norfolk, England

Driving home from the airport last weekend, my father and I kept remarking on all the different shades of oranges, yellows and reds lining the roadside and here in Milan I have even seen trees in tones of pinks and purples! Whenever possible I love walking through the park and crunching through the piles of leaves underfoot.

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Parco Sempione, Milan

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My dog enjoying and exploring an orchard. Norfolk, England

I have always loved Autumn and Winter more than the other seasons. Of course I love to go to the beach and be out in the sun, but I find there is something quite restorative about the Autumn. Maybe it is because we start school/university/new jobs at the end of Summer, beginning of Autumn. For me it always seems a period of possibility and change, much more than the Spring or Summer.

The thing I find annoying about Autumn, is the period when it isn’t quite hot enough any more in the morning to not wear a cover-up or cardigan, but by midday you are too hot, then come five o’clock you are cold again! I wake up and find myself changing outfits between the morning and afternoon! However, once the really cold weather hits, I am ridiculously happy! I love wearing winter boots, coats and big scarves! Here in Milan I have over ten different coats and  in England I have about the same again! My Winter wardrobe is much more extensive than my Summer one.

I also love Winter food, my Mum’s leek and stilton soup, goulash, stews, jacket potatoes, roast dinners, blackberry and apple crumbles! Real wholesome, hearty food! Then of course with Autumn and Winter comes Harvest, Guy Fawkes Night, Halloween, Advent and then best of all Christmas – where there is nothing better than walks in the crisp cold with the dog and coming back home to a cup of tea and a real fire crackling away with the Christmas tree lit up in the corner! I love being inside the house all wrapped up and warm and outside there’s a slight frost in the air.

I am getting carried away and all dreamy again…back to Autumn. Who else is enjoying the beautiful Autumn we seem to be having this year?  Let me know what it is like where you are, I would love to hear/see! I hope you enjoy my pictures – all of which I have added no filters to – the colours speak for themselves!

Giardino Valentino Bompiani

Giardino Valentino Bompiani, Milan

Giardino Valentino Bompiani

Giardino Valentino Bompiani, Milan

 

Anna

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!