Natale in Italia

December 23, 2015

I wasn't sure what to expect from Christmas in Italy - it's not a country like Sweden or Germany that one would expect to have heaps of festive spirit and besides, where could be better then London at Christmas? 

It's true that in Bologna there is no Winter Wonderland or overpriced ice-skating rinks... but it's pretty good just the same. Christmas lights have sprung up all over the city over the last month, and festive markets and mulled wine are pretty much everywhere. So I've been pretty happy. 

It's been a bittersweet kinda happiness though, because Christmas also means that anyone who's only doing Erasmus for a semester is going to be going home. Unfortunately, that's pretty much everyone apart from us five hardcore 'Irish girls' sticking it out for a year... so we had to have a little festive party to say goodbye!

Christmas in Belgium

December 18, 2015

So, finally, Christmas is here! 

Bologna has been looking more and more festive over the last couple of weeks, but I've been almost too busy to notice - December exams might mean I don't have to study over Christmas, but it's meant these last few weeks have been crazy. But I said arrivederci to Italy for a month and flew home last night, ready to relax for a while! 

This post is a little late, but a few weeks ago I went to visit my friend Meg for the weekend, who is studying abroad in Belgium. Belgium is pretty infamous for it's Christmas markets and chocolate - two things that I very much wanted to experience - and December was the perfect time to do that. I also hadn't seen Meg for July so it was time for a good catch up...

Firenze, Italy

December 01, 2015

It's been a while since I last wrote a post. November has been ridiculously busy - I popped to London for a few days and have been busy playing hostess to friends staying for the last couple of weekends. It's been really great to share all my new favourite places with all my old favourite people. 

So anyway, this weekend I had a little spontaneous trip to Firenze, somewhere I'd heard a LOT about and was very eager to visit. My friend Maeve was running the marathon there and since I know exactly how difficult that is, after running the London one in April, I was more than happy to go along and be standing at the sidelines this time instead!

San Luca, Bologna

November 08, 2015

This week the weather has been, for want of a better word, on point. 

London, I do not miss your grey, gloomy, rainy autumn weather. At all. Being able to sit outside in a t-shirt in November is a concept that is highly unfamiliar to me - but one that I could definitely get used to. 

However, it's probably unlikely to continue for much longer (alas) so, this week, we decided to make the most of it and do something I've been putting off for a while. 

Sat on top of the hill just outside Bologna is a basilica, with an arched passageway leading all the way up to it from the city. It's an infamously long, uphill climb to get there - hence why I've avoided it for so long - but once you reach the top, the view is pretty great. 

With another sunny day and a totally free afternoon (it's almost reassuring to know that in Italy classes are cancelled just as often as at home) we decided to make the trek and take a little picnic up to the top. 

dolce far niente

November 01, 2015

According to the Italian lifestyle bible that is Eat, Pray, Love, there's a saying in Italy: 
"Dolce far niente."

If Julia Roberts is to be believed, it literally means 'sweet doing nothing'. Whether Italians actually use this expression I don't know - I've made a mental note to ask next time I see one - but I kinda like it because it basically sums up my life in Italy. 

I think I've explained before that Italians don't really observe the concept of time like the rest of us do. I've learnt not to expect anything official to be done in less than two weeks, and a couple of hours must be added to every appointment time. Which is annoying if you're a control freak like me. 

But after a couple of months here, I've actually realised it's quite nice. It just means that Italians take life at a much slower pace - having a three hour lunch break means that instead of a quick sandwich at your desk, lunch can be a three course meal in the sun, with a bottle of wine. (And who could refuse that?) 

It also means that there's never a bad time for coffee with a friend, or an Aperol spritz and some aperitivi in the evenings. Unlike in England, there's no need to rush around anywhere - even I am now half an hour late for everything, meaning I am totally running on Italian time. 

So today, whilst I fully expected to be a hungover mess (in case you live under a rock, it was Halloween last night. More on that later), it was beautifully sunny and I decided that it would be quite nice to just go and and enjoy doing nothing. So I grabbed my book - Cinquanta Sfumature di Grigio (No judging please, it was €3 in the second hand shop) - and headed out for a coffee.  

Ferrara, Italy

October 24, 2015

So, I've now been here five weeks. 

I think I'm actually starting to get into the swing of Italian life - and by that I mean that I too am now at least fifteen minutes late for everything, and I eat a lot of pasta.

I sporadically attend Italian language classes and can therefore actually order the coffee I want, rather than nodding vigorously, saying per favore a lot and seeing what I end up with. I still have a long way to go - last week I think I ordered a pizza with a church on top, instead of basil (basilico? basilica? easy mistake, right) - but I'm improving. So that's good. 

Anyway, despite the fact that I now have 18 hours of classes a week rather than the six I'm used to at home, I do have Fridays free for trips and activities. This week, we decided to take a little trip to Ferrara, just outside Bologna.

10,000 views - and some Parmigiana

October 12, 2015

Yesterday was kind of an exciting day. I hit 10,000 views!

Admittedly it's taken me two years and 60 posts - and most of the clicks are probably either mine or my mother's - but who am I to argue with official figures?

So, to celebrate, I did something really Italian... I made food. 
After finding out that this year doesn't actually count towards my degree, I decided my Monday afternoon should be filled with something more interesting than work: reading Fifty Shades of Grey in Italian - for educational purposes, of course - and cooking celebratory Parmigiana. I've tried to cook this before, several times, but it's always turned out watery and never had the sumptuous, cheesy taste it should. But apparently Italy is rubbing off on me, because I think I've cracked it. 

Life in Italy - Some Initial Thoughts

October 10, 2015

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as one part of your life comes together, another falls spectacularly to pieces." 

This is a quote from my favourite movie of all time, Bridget Jones (no judging, please) and is also, unfortunately, true.

Washi Tape, Home Decor

September 03, 2015

As a kid, the start of a new school year meant only one thing: new stationary. 

I'd get to go and pick a new pencilcase, folders, pens and if I was good, a flexiruler too (the holy grail of all rulers, duh). Then, on the first day back, I'd eye up everyone else's purchases and come to the conclusion that, luckily, they weren't as cool as mine.

Anyway, I've grown up a little bit since then (honest...) and September doesn't mean new stationary anymore; but it does mean a new house. And, when it comes to buying new things, I feel almost exactly the same feeling of excitement. 

Fairy lights! Bunting! Polaroid photos! Oh my God, aren't the opportunities endless?

I've been on Pinterest religiously figuring out exactly what style I want to go for, and thought I had it figured out - and then I flicked through the new ASOS magazine and found something that totally changed the game. 


Dark Chocolate, Avocado and Chia Brownies

September 02, 2015

OK, I'm going to admit something that you're not supposed to admit.

I don't like clean eating. I think rye bread is disgusting, chia seeds are pointless and anyone that buys a Nutri-Bullet is an idiot. (They're just blenders. Really. Overpriced blenders.)

I think women have enough to deal with without feeling guilty for eating a burger every now and then.

But I do like avocados. With eggs, with salmon, for breakfast or a midnight feast; there is literally no  bad time to crack open an avocado. 

And, needless to say, I like chocolate. A lot. 

So, when I came across a recipe that involves both of those ingredients, that's 'clean' as well as tasty, I thought I'd better give it a go. Here's the recipe for some delicious, not-too-naughty chocolate brownies. 

Off to the Races, Newmarket

September 01, 2015

Arrivederci Summer, buongiorno Autumn. 

The sunny season has officially been and gone with, lets face it, not all that much sun. My move to Italy is now getting alarmingly close, and my Facebook is filling up with the inevitable freshers event invitations. Which is sort of fun and exciting.

Anyway, I haven't seen all that much of my friends this summer, so we thought a little trip to the races would make a nice treat. 

Also, McBUSTED WERE PLAYING. Need I say more? 

(I hope not.)

Asos Edit, September

Hyde Park // Peckham, London

August 19, 2015

It looks as if summer may well be over. The nights are slowly getting darker, and as much as I try to deny it by wearing skirts and bare legs - it's getting colder too. 

Let be honest - before we know it, we'll be discussing Christmas plans and Slade will be on the radio. Selfridges already have their Christmas window display up. 

The end is nigh. 

So, with that merry thought, I planned a weekend of summer-themed fun to a) make the most of my last free weekend in London and b) deny the fact that summer is basically over and I have done nothing but work, work, work.

Obviously, the place to start was a picnic. And what's more fun than just a picnic? A cold, windy British picnic, of course.

Columbia Road Flower Market, London

August 18, 2015

I've lived in East London for the past two years now, and I thought it was the best part of London to live in. 

Obviously, every Londoner thinks their area is the best. The North/South divide can be a controversial subject: Northerners think everywhere south of the river is the countryside, and Southerners don't care because they know that when there's a tube strike, they'll be winning. 

I really did think East London was the best. I lived a stone's throw from every new niche pop-up cafe in existence (Shoreditch), undoubtedly the loveliest park in London (Victoria Park) and several great runs along the river, with a view of Canary Wharf. Central London was practically walking distance. I was wholeheartedly a Northerner - why on earth would you live anywhere you had to take an actual train to get to?

Until I moved to South London. Or rather, Katherine did and I just jumped on the bandwagon. Yes, it is serviced only by National Rail and it's undeniably suburban - but it's cute and friendly and has such a nice atmosphere that, within weeks, I was converted. 

I have since fallen in love with Brixton, Peckham (more on that later), Dulwich, Crystal Palace and even Croydon; which may be one of the worst places I have ever been to, but it does have a remarkably chilled Primark.

However, there's still a couple of things I never got round to trying in East London, and since I only have a few weeks left in the city before I move to Italy, I wanted to give them a go. One is Columbia Road Flower Market. I've heard plenty of good things, and decided that on Sunday, I'd make the trek back to visit. 

Citadel Festival, London

August 04, 2015

Despite many, many efforts on my part to organize things, this summer was always going to be a little bit boring. In an attempt to see that as a positive, I decided that it would be my "summer of blogging", and I would actually post more than just once a month. 

Then, I got a job. An actual, real life 9 - 5 job in the city that requires I write an awful lot about things I know nothing about - so whilst I've settled into office life, eaten a lot of Pret sandwiches and drunk too many overpriced lattes, the blog has remained a little bit forgotten. 

Anyway, despite the fact I see none of it from my desk, the sun has been out and festival season is in full swing. For someone with an avid dislike of camping, mud and fat people in denim shorts, that's not a particularly good thing - but you can't go wrong with a one-day festival in London, right?

Bologna, Italy - The First Post

July 24, 2015

So, the big news is that I'm moving to Italy. The land of pizza, pasta, red wine and a guaranteed weight gain of approximately three stone; yep, very exciting.

The less fun part is the fact that I speak absolutely no Italian. Zilch. Nil. Nada. Actually, I can't even say that in Italian. 
So when Mum and I went last week to find me a flat, it was all rather interesting.

Gay Pride, London

June 30, 2015

It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I love my girlfriend. It will also come as no surprise that I don't tend to talk about my sexuality. Like, ever. 

Gay, bisexual, straight - it doesn't really bother me, and I'm not sure why it should bother anyone else either. I find it all about as uninteresting as an article entitled "Jennifer Lawrence pictured wearing pencil skirt and crop top"; although that has been trending news on my Facebook all day, so apparently I'm the only one. Recently, it was headline news absolutely everywhere that Kristen Stewart's mum was totally unphased that her daughter sometimes dates women. I think that's a pretty uninteresting story too - perhaps if she'd kicked her out on the street and refused to speak to her again, it might be headline worthy. But again, that's probably just me.

Anyway, I give all this as a backstory because at the weekend, I went to Gay Pride.
And it was totally fucking awesome. 

Fez, Morocco

June 21, 2015

Morocco is pretty much my favourite place ever.

Alright, one of them. It's dirty and smelly, but also overwhelming and different and totally magical. 

I booked this holiday totally on a whim - flights were £60 return with Ryanair, which is amazing. I mean, they might be shit, but how can you complain when they take you to a different continent for the same price as a train ticket to Manchester? 

The hotel was incredible, and also completely underpriced. It was little Moroccan paradise in the middle of the city, with courtyards and fountains and a roof terrace overlooking the whole city and mint tea on tap. 

Something for the weekend: Cinnamon Rolls

May 29, 2015

Happy Friday! 

Today I decided that baking was the answer to my post exam boredom. Let's face it - food is always the answer. So I had a scroll through Pinterest - always the first port of call for recipe inspiration - searching for things I could make; I had to bake something that filled up an entire day, and the only thing that really fits that criteria is bread. The problem is that I am a notoriously bad baker. I mean, terrible - if it were the 1950s, I'd be an awful housewife. I hate making bread even more than cakes - my hands get all achey from the kneading and I just don't have the patience to let it rise. But, I do love cinnamon rolls. A lot. They remind me of school, where they were served all hot and sticky and delicious and I decided that, if I was going to spend an entire day making dough, it might as well be for them.

May Bank Holiday (a weekend of food, wine and activities)

May 26, 2015

Today, I'm finally having a completely stress-free day on my own.  I've been looking forward to this for weeks; I'm an only child, so I like my own company - in fact, I pretty much prefer it. No revision, no exams, just me and a LOT of catch-up TV. I got up late, watched several episodes of Grey's in bed with tea and toast, and went for a gentle run in the sun. When I'd done that, I made another cup of tea, ate some chocolate and watched back to back Friends for hours; in other words, what should have been a pretty dreamy morning. So, you can imagine my surprise to find that actually, I'm kinda bored. I think I've packed every day for the last few months with activities - running, revision, exams - that I've literally forgotten how to do nothing - which is a shame, as it's something I used to be rather good at. So I thought I'd write about the weekend to cheer me up - unless you're revising, Bank Holidays are usually pretty good, and as the first weekend after the end of exams - this one was perfect.

Friday night started with what was meant to be just a few drinks and a catch up with Meg, who I hadn't seen since before exams. We met at Vinoteca in Soho, which is a really lovely wine bar - although I'm not sure I can really call it that since, oddly, it doesn't have a liquor license unless you buy food. I'm not sure if that's just a ploy to get you to spend more, but it worked. As I should well know by now, a 'few drinks' is never just a few drinks - we stumbled home later that night, three bottles of wine and several plates of spanish ham, cheese, salmon tartare and olives fuller. The wine list there is amazing, even stocking a Hungarian red that I tried in Budapest - Soho can be a bit hit and miss when finding decent bars, but this one is definitely worth a visit.

Vintage Salt @ Selfridges

May 22, 2015

Finally, another year of uni is over. I've learnt a little about law, a lot about how difficult it is to keep a house clean and, as usual, absolutely nothing about the repercussions of binge drinking. After nearly two months of revision (procrastination) and exams (binge-watching Grey's Anatomy, my new obsession), I emerged blinking into the sunlight at around 1pm yesterday; literally bouncing out of the exam hall and doing a celebratory heel click like something out of the Wizard of Oz.

I now have four completely free months ahead of me, and I'm planning on making the most of summer in London before I move to Italy. As a little mid exam treat, I bought myself a fancy new camera; it's heavy and complicated and I have absolutely no idea how to use it, but it makes every picture I take look very professional and I am absolutely in love with it. Katherine's now learning just how annoying it must be to date a blogger - apparently, me stopping to take photos of everything we eat is a little embarrassing. But whatever.

Anyway, as a post-exam treat Katherine booked a table at Vintage Salt, which is the newly opened pop-up restaurant and bar on the roof of Selfridges. It's inspired by a "Cornish fishing village" and has a super cute beach theme, complete with deckchairs, beach huts and waiters in nautical striped shirts. After a quick glass of wine in the sun on Heddon Street, we whizzed up to the top of Selfridge's in the express lift a little before our 8 o'clock reservation - so far, so good.

Thoughts on running a marathon...

April 30, 2015

On Sunday, much to the surprise of pretty much everyone - including myself - I ran the London Marathon.

I entered last year on a bit of a whim - to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I even knew how far a marathon was. I saw that it was trending on Twitter and hopped right on that bandwagon, because I'd just started running a few times a week and, you know, how hard could it really be?

Lust List: February 2015 edition

February 07, 2015

Today I am feeling very ill, and very sorry for myself. Life has been pretty busy since I last posted; exam time is drawing nearer, marathon training is getting longer and harder and it seems to be all catching up with me. For that reason, I am currently in my pyjamas on the sofa, cup of tea in hand and Tay Tay on the speakers, where I have been for most of the day. One of the first things I do to cheer myself up when I'm feeling down (after watching Friends, obviously) is, or course, online shopping. Currently I can't afford anything - but instead of getting depressed about how financially bereft student life has left me, I have decided to share it all with you instead, and hope none of you are as poor as I am right now.

Proud Cabaret

January 20, 2015

A few weeks ago, I received a Save The Date card for my friend Joey's 21st birthday. There's something nicely old fashioned and exciting about a Save The Date - and the invitation that followed didn't disappoint. Joey had invited us all to Proud Cabaret, one of my absolute favourite places in London - what's not to love about great food, delicious drinks and half naked women all in one fabulously 20s themed underground club?

A return to blogging... and my guilty cat obsession

January 16, 2015

Belated Happy New Year everyone! 

Blogging has been pretty thin on the ground (ok, non-existent...) for the last month. I've spent Christmas at home in Suffolk, surrounded by all my favourite people, happily munching on mince pies and turkey sandwiches and drowning in red wine; as you can imagine, I've been in my element.
I wasn't particularly looking forward to going back to a cold house where I have to cook for myself after a month of toasty log fires and being spoilt by my mother, but come January it was time to get back to reality - and head back to London. 

HOWEVER. It wasn't all bad. As a little incentive (and a late Christmas surprise), Katherine had booked to go to Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium for lunch. Now, anyone who knows me will know just how exciting a present this is for me. I am a cat freak - and I'm not ashamed. Not a day goes by without a friend directing me to a cat video on Facebook, or sending me a cat meme, or, oddly, wanting to buy me cat related clothing found on a stall in a Thai market. I have a Pinterest board full of cats I want. I still can't look at a photo of a Siamese kitty without thinking about my beloved Monty - who, contrary to popular opinion, was NOT hairless - and was in more photos from my 17th birthday party than me after I passed out at 10pm. 

Anyway, enough mad cat rambling - you get the picture. Katherine, however, doesn't like cats at all - so it was quite a selfless act to take me to lunch at Lady Dinah's. In case you haven't worked it out yet, Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium is a cafe where you can drink tea, eat food, and cuddle and play with rescued cats to your hearts content.