Musings on things to come…

Good morning to you all from (finally) a rather wintry, bitter cold Milan! Still no snow though! I am excited to get writing again this weekend and over the coming weeks and building my blog, which I think needs and deserves a little more of my time this year. Less procrastination and more productivity is definitely the key! We are all victims of this from time to time and I often more than others it would seem! But alas, I am full of ideas and determination, so lots of writing to do!

Including in the next couple of weeks a further post on my last trip to Venice, a book review and a focus on posts all about Milan, places to go, what to see, what to do!

For now, I leave you with a photo of the Bridge of Sighs – Ponte dei Sospiri – in Venice and will be back soon!

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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

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

Snow angels

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

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.

Autumn, England

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.

Autumn, Milan

Parco Sempione, Milan

Autumn, England 2

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

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

Back in Milan – Things I Love Sundays!

Ciao da Milano!

I am back in Italy after the summer and back at work.  So things have been a bit busy this week, what with my birthday, packing, flying, unpacking, work…which has meant I haven’t done much writing!  However, I plan to get myself more organised this week and get back on track!

So I will make it short and sweet! It is nice to be back and getting into a routine again, but I am already missing all my family and friends. However, as I am writing from a cold and rainy Milan today, I could be tricked into thinking it is England!

This week I have been loving…

Amazing chocolate birthday cake my Mum made me! Delicious! My suitcase weighing exactly 20kg at the airport (Phew! – No excess baggage costs! I am still to learn the art of packing light!) Starting My Best Friend by Elena Ferrante for my Read Around the World feature…I am already hooked!  Speaking and hearing Italian again Catching-up with my friends Dinner and drinks for my birthday Sunday brunch with my friend Grace Wandering around Milan Making plans and predictions for the year ahead!

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Eggs benedict at brunch today – with Green peach and mango tea! We went to Living by the Arco della Pace – one of my favourite places for brunch and they also do a great aperitivo and delicious cocktails!

I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!

Now Milan…where is the sunshine I have been dreaming of whilst I was away…..

Anna