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!

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

Have a lovely Christmas week everyone!

Anna

Christmas Spirit and New Beginnings!

Oh dear! I have not done well at blogging recently…with almost a month between my two recent posts! But I am feeling really positive and excited for the future at the moment, what with all the Christmas spirit in the air and so many new opportunities and beginnings springing up, not only for me but my friends too!

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Here I am in Piazza Duomo, Christmas 2013! Photo credit: Anna S

I am sitting writing this in my new apartment! I moved last weekend and it is finally starting to feel homely as the boxes and suitcases slowly disappear (and I get an internet connection again!)  I consider myself a quite positive and chilled person, but I definitely found this move (my third in Milan) rather more stressful than I had imagined. Not the actual move (for which I am extremely thankful to my friend for all her help!) but for all the other admin and organisational stuff! However, It is the first time I have taken an unfurnished flat and I am so excited to inject my style and personality – it is a complete blank canvas! I have longed for the opportunity to do this for a long time and finally I get to and I couldn’t be happier! My bank balance definitely could though!

This move has given me a renewed sense of admiration for my Dad and all those weekends he spent putting together beds and tables and cabinets and garden furniture! You know…when you hear those dreaded words…’Anna can you come and hold something for me for five minutes? I need your help.’ Oh how I would moan and try to excuse myself only to met by those words every child hates to hear..’It is good for you’.  To which you think how can helping fix the bannister, or mend the broken chair possibly be good for me?  Just like when children think…’Why do I need to learn another language, everyone speaks English.’ or ‘Sir, why do we have to learn maths equations…I am never going to need it.’  The truth is, it really was good for me! It taught me to be precise and read the instructions…to make sure I have everything I need before I start and that if you get stuck walk away, take a break and come back to the task again…because nine times out of ten, it will seem a lot easier and you won’t end up throwing things across the room in anger!

This year Milan is looking rather beautiful and festive, with some absolutely stunning Christmas lights, pictures of which will follow in another post. Every area and main street has its own theme and design and is definitely getting me in the holiday mood! This weekend is Sant’Ambrogio, a holiday which takes place every year on the 7th of December in honour of Milans Patron Saint, followed by The Immaculate Conception on the 8th, meaning a four day weekend! Since living in Milan I have always seen this weekend as the real beginning of the count down to Christmas. On the same day the ‘Oh Bej! Oh Bej!’ Market starts, which is a lively and fun Christmas market, with stalls running from the piazza Duomo all the way down Via Dante to the streets surrounding the castle!  I remember the first year I lived in Milan, a friend and I were exploring the stalls near the castle when it started to snow and in our child-like excitement at the prospect, we ran all the way to the Cathedral as we wanted to see it with the snow falling gently around it.  Later that day the snow came heavy and we made snow angels on the terrace of my first apartment here!

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Duomo in the beginnings of a very snowy weekend, Christmas 2012

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Snow angels!

I have lots of posts planned for the upcoming months and hope to get back  to posting regularly.  I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of the festive season and keeping warm and cosy! If you aren’t, stick on some Christmas songs, heat up some mulled wine and have a mince pie or a slice of cake!

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The magnificent Swarovski Christmas tree last year in Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele, Milan

What do you have planned for the season? Are you visiting any Christmas markets or going away anywhere? Travelling home to be with your family or jetting of to a warmer climate?  I would love to hear!

Buon Sant’Ambrogio a tutti!

Anna

Things I Love Catch Up and Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad’s birthday, so Happy Birthday Dad!  One of the hardest things about living abroad and being away from your family, is missing birthdays or anniversaries or even Sunday Lunches! Of course this makes the time I spend at home even more special but I do miss being there for special occasions and of course birthday cake!! Thank goodness for skype! When my Mum lived in Germany she could only call my grandparents or write letters…these days you can face time, skype, whatsapp, distances of thousands of miles can be forgotten in seconds!

I haven’t done a Things I Love Sundays post for a couple of weeks, for one reason or another, so today I am doing a little catch up of everything I have been thankful for and loved over the past weeks!

Spontaneous trips to Venice Catching Up with one of my best friends Laughing uncontrollably and not really remembering why Cappuccinos and Amaretti Singing in a choir again for the first time since High School Surprise birthday dinner for my friend and seeing her completely shocked French lavender candles – Skyping with friends The first signs of Autumn in the park Unexpected late Birthday presents…loose leaf Sencha and Oolong tea which smells divine! Salted Caramel and Rose Macaroons Walking for hours and getting lost, but not really caring Peaceful nights sleep at the Casa Caburlotto and waking up early (something I don’t find comes naturally!) Late night walks to buy chocolates in Venice Singing and dancing around my apartment to 60’s and Motown music…The Shangri-las, The Shirelles,  Procul Harum, (which my love for, is thanks to my Dad! It was all we ever listened to in the car when I was little!)

One of our favourites…

Have a great week everyone!

Anna

 

 

 

Meet me in Venice…

How can you refuse when a friend asks you to meet them in Venice? You simply cannot and so I find myself heading there for the weekend, rather spontaneously! We decided I think on Sunday evening! My friend, whom I lived with whilst at University, is living in Dubai, but has popped over to Europe for the week and as our meet ups are now spread so far apart from one another, they are even more special! So I am super excited!

This will be my second trip to the city this year, as I went to meet another friend from University there in March, when we ended up going for a Venetian Rowing lesson which you can read about here and I attended a talk by Art Historian and presenter of the BBC’s Italy Unpacked Andrew Graham-Dixon. The talk you can also read about here.

I am not sure what we have planned for this weekend, but I am sure we will end up having an adventure or two! The first, shall be finding one another…I don’t think I have ever visited Venice, without getting a little lost!

I am looking forward to my train journey as I can read some more of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, which is the first book I am reading for my Read Around the World feature! More to come on that soon, but you can read my first post here and I am still looking for suggestions of other books, from each country around the world! So let me know if you have any!

For now, I must pack, as I am prone to leaving things to the last minute! Only thing is, I am at a loss as to what to take! This week has been a disaster weather wise, Wednesday was 13 degrees, stormy and rainy (I even wore wellies!), Thursday and Friday 23 degrees and sunny! It makes my head spin all this weather changing…but the forecast says it should be nice, so fingers crossed!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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A picture I took of San Marco from the water taxi back in March

Anna

Things I Love Sundays

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It has been a busy and full week back at work and I have to say it is taking me a little while to get used to it again! However, it has warmed up slightly here and the sun is shining bright today…which puts you in a good, positive mood!

I am thinking about doing my ‘Things I Love Sundays’ feature every two weeks, or as a month review, but I haven’t decided yet. What do you think?

For now however, this week I have been loving…

Going back to work and seeing all my students! Getting organized  Making new friends New opportunities arising  Lavender and Chamomile room spray Saturday lunch with my girls Catching up with friends who live way too far away Being asked if I live in a library because I always have new books…then being told by a little girl we should open a library together and call it ‘La libreria dei sogni’ The Library of Dreams Chamomile, lemon balm and lavender tea (Loving Lavender and Chamomile everything, at the moment!) – Discovering new places in Milan I haven’t visited before, like the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio (pictured below!) – 

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The outside of the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio, Milan

What have you been up to or enjoyed this week? I want to hear!

Here’s to a productive and happy week ahead!

Anna