November 23, 2017

Awkward Angles - Visiting Tunbridge Wells

On the 4th and 5th of November my boyfriend and I travelled to Tunbridge Wells for a weekend getaway. We were looking for a place that would be easy to reach from where we live and that would allow us to feel like we were on a mini holiday together. 

We booked a room at The Russell Hotel for one night (breakfast included - hotel breakfasts are a must in my opinion) and got on the train.

Once arrived in Tunbridge Wells, we explored the newer half of the town and decided to have lunch at Basil, as I had heard about that place and their food seemed delicious. The place was packed full of people and there weren't many options left for us on the menu, but we managed to get a sandwich and a filo pastry-thingy (which was a 10/10 in my book) and two huge slices of cake. I had mine, a three-layer sponge filled with cream and berries, and also finished off my boyfriend's chocolate digestives cake - typical me.

In the afternoon we took a walk up and down the town centre, quickly exploring The Pantiles. Before we got there, though, the rain started pouring down, so we ended up going back to our hotel sooner than expected and decided to chill out in our big comfy room (number 42, in case you were wondering) for a while. I read a little and Lorenzo played on his guitar.

In the evening we were planning to visit Dunorlan Park and see the fireworks from there, as the waitress at Basil had recommended them, but we decided to just grab a bite at Bill's and go back to our room instead, in order to avoid the rain and the cold. Thankfully the hotel had a wifi connection, so we were able to watch something on Netflix.

On our second day we woke up quite late, had breakfast, checked out of the hotel and went for a walk in Dunorlan Park. We both really liked the place and enjoyed strolling around the park together. The weather was so much nicer than the day before and the park was full of pugs (seriously, I lost count, I think there might have been fifty of them) which is always a bonus. Pugs make me happy.

On our way back from the park we decided to go back to The Pantiles. We had lunch there and had time to fully appreciate the beauty of that area of the town, which is the one that conquered my heart the most in these two days. Being Sunday, there was a tiny market along the way, which made the whole area look even more christmassy and beautiful. We had lunch at the Gastronomia and soon after stopped for a hot drink at Hattons, where I got the most delicious hot chocolate I have had in a very long time.

Our adventures in Tunbridge Wells ended there, as we decided to head back home as soon as the sun went down. The train journey took longer than expected as there were maintenance works were being carried out, but we got home safely and happy about our mini holiday.

I decided to title this post "Awkward Angles" because, as you can see, all my pictures look a bit crooked and messy. Unfortunately I didn't take many of them so I had to work with what I had, but I quite like the second one, and the first is not terrible, in my opinion. Next time I'm out I'll try to do something a bit more arty.

Have you been anywhere new recently?


November 21, 2017

Nonna Gemma

Exactly one month ago my grandma on my mother's side passed away. 

We have never been too close, as she's been ill pretty much all my life and she spoke a dialect that was hard for me to understand. 

The news didn't come exactly as a surprise, as my mum and my brother had told me that she'd been feeling even worse lately, but it still had an impact on me. I am one of the lucky few that haven't lost too many relatives so far, so this situation gave me an opportunity to ponder life and death and all of that. It also gave me the chance to observe the different reactions among my relatives and to try and understand what they were going through.

I would like to share with you two little stories that my brother and my grandad told me on the day of the funeral.

When I saw my grandad on the 24th of October I expected him to be really quiet, but he surprised me with his usual desire to speak to everyone, and as soon as he saw me he came over to kiss me and tell me that "your mum and your aunt wanted to dress her in an ugly grey suit, I convinced them to use the beautiful pink dress that she wore on our 50th wedding anniversary instead - that was my favourite." Bless him. I found this story so sweet. He also wanted to wear a matching pink tie for the funeral but my mum insisted on the dark one. Of course I told my mum off for that.

As you know, I live far away from my family, so I wasn't around for the last month of my grandma's life (I did see her a few times in September though, and she even said the word "London", which made me proud - she remembered that I live there), but my brother updated me on all the news via phone and also in person when I went back home for the funeral. Of all the things he told me, one struck me the most. A couple of days before my grandma passed away, my grandad was in the kitchen and he suddenly heard her shouting his name. My grandma had not spoken much in the past year or so and in her last months of life her words would be few and far between. She was also almost unable to move herself and her hands. As soon as he heard her calling, my grandad walked to the bedroom to check on her, and she waved goodbye to him and whispered "ci vediamo presto" (see you soon). A few days before that, she had woken up in the morning and grabbed his hand with all her strength and held it for a while. That's when my mum texted me to say that she knew grandma was leaving.

To think that she's not here anymore still feels surreal to me, and the fact that I live far away from the rest of my family makes everything feel like a dream instead of reality. Luckily I managed to fly back for the funeral and have an unexpectedly nice day with many relatives that I hadn't seen in ages. I hope I'll remember that day for a long time, as it felt like the right way to remember a dear person that passed away and made me realise once more how great my family is.

As I said, I have never been really close to my grandma (I do have a really strong bond with my other granny though), but I can say that I'll always remember her as a fierce, strong woman, for she fought against many diseases and surgery operations without losing her sense of humour and desire to live, and she always loved my grandad with all her heart.


November 18, 2017

Hibernation and Wintry Books

Helloo, long time no see! I ended up taking an unplanned month off blogging but now I am back, I have a few ideas and photos to upload and Christmas is near, which means gingerbread lattes and decorations are back and I am happy.

In this first post back from my month of hibernation I wanted to quickly talk about the books I read last month, as I managed to finish two and I liked both very much.

The first book I read is The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. Ever since it came out I have been attracted by its colours and design and I knew I would like it, but never got around reading it until my boyfriend bought it for himself. One morning I spotted the book on his nightstand, picked it up and almost read it all at once. I really really liked it and I would like to read more about Northern Europe countries, as I find them all fascinating (and I love their style, but you knew that already).

The second book I read is Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada. I picked it up at Foyles a few weeks back as I was walking around with a friend of mine. I am generally not an impulse buyer but as soon as I saw that book (and fell in love with the illustration on the cover) I decided to get it. I didn't even read the full description. Turns out it's actually a brilliant book, one of those that make you feel like you're using your brain and learning something. Without giving away too much I can say that it keeps smoothly switching between the bear/narrator being perceived as a human and it being perceived as an animal, all in a really interesting and well written way. I highly recommend it.

Reading Challenge 2017:
A book by an author from a country you've never visited: The Little Book of Hygge
A book from a nonhuman perspective: Memoirs of a Polar Bear
I have already finished another book but I will mention it at the end of the month in a different post, so don't forget to come back for that. You can also try to guess the title and the author if you fancy. It's a brand new book published last month, it's really easy to guess.

See you soon,

October 20, 2017

Let's Talk About Rings

And no, I do not mean onion rings, even though you could easily expect that from me since I am passionate about food. Here I am talking about jewellery. (And by the way, I don't like onions, just in case you wanted to know that.)

I have never owned many rings, in fact I only have two proper rings and a couple of cheap rings. I don't wear them everyday either. But I've always been into dainty rings and pearls and always been looking forward to the day I'll be able to wear an engagement ring or wedding ring (call me what you want, but I love traditions).

In February this year I discovered Maraismara on Instagram. I instantly fell in love with her creations and her ethic and I have set myself some goals, I want to buy a few of her pieces and also spread the word about her brand, as reading about her adventures opened my eyes on topics I had never thought of.

I have always wanted a knot ring. In fact, I have a tiny heart knot ring from Oviesse (think of a pretzel, it looks pretty much like that), but it was made of some cheap material and it looks really old and dirty despite the fact I've only worn it a few times. I really like Maraismara's Nodo Stretto Classico - both in gold and silver - and I think I'm going to buy the silver version for myself soon, either for Christmas or my birthday, as it's definitely affordable (it only costs €50).

Another Ring I really like is her Filo d'Oro con Luce. I believe this would be a perfect engagement ring for people like me, who don't like big, bulky, in-your-face rings and prefer tiny, dainty, everyday options. Her ring comes with a choice of moissanite (lab-made diamond) or natural Australian diamond (I would personally opt for this one as I like the idea of it being natural and Australian, sounds like a perfect combination), so it could really work as an engagement ring, as well as an everyday ring for anyone who likes diamonds and certified, fairtrade jewels.

I am not going to talk about all of her rings here, otherwise this post would seem endless (although there are more jewels handmade by Mara that I really like, for example the Intrecciato a Mano Diverso pictured here), but I recommend you check out her website and take a look at all her creations. I really respect the woman behind the brand and I think she deserves to be known more.

Beside Maraismara's rings, another thing that I really like are vintage, secondhand, hand-me-down jewels. One of the rings that I own belonged to my great-grandma, and that's the reason that makes it so special to me, no matter the price. 

I also really like pearls, as they have stunning colours and always make me think of queens and princesses, and I like twisted rings, so when I spotted the twisted pearl ring pictured above I just had to save the link to my favourites, although I doubt I'll ever buy it (it's from Etsy by the way).

You might be wondering where I'm going with this conversation, and the answere is nowhere. I just wanted to talk about rings, as I am trying to make up my mind on whether to buy the knot ring for Christmas or not, so I decided to share my thoughts with you.

Do you like rings? Do you wear them? Let me know in the comments.

Martina x

October 15, 2017

Alex Britti: Una su un milione

When I was in primary school I was friend with my neighbours' daughter. Our parents actually knew each other, so we would hang out a lot and travel to and from school together. Whenever her father would pick us up with his car for the school run he would play an album from Alex Britti, a quite famous italian artist, and we loved to sing and dance to a song called La vasca (The bathtub). It was a simple, silly, very Italian song, and just mentioning it brings back a lot of memories.

I haven't listened to Alex Britti much after those school mornings, but there is a song that I have kept on my mp3 player as I grew up, and it's called Una su un milione (One in a million). It's a really nice love song and I still like it nowadays. It reminds me a little of a lullaby and the lyrics are really sweet. It also makes me laugh a little bit because some lines are extremely Italian (at some point he says something along the line of "love is like tomato sauce on pasta").

I recommend you listen to it and maybe also watch the official video. I tried to translate it but it lost most of its magic, so I will only leave a few translated lines down here.
Accept me and you'll see, we'll grow up together
We'll grow a few metres tall and touch the sky
We'll be taller than giants, and stronger than Godzilla
We will travel on a yellow cruise ship
The destination is an island that looks like a painting
With huge colours and a parade-like sea
As far as I am concerned, I already have a ticket
Please don't leave yours next to a dream in a drawer
A "dream in the drawer" (sogno in un cassetto) is a typical Italian phrase. It refers to something that someone deeply loves and cares about and wishes that was real but might actually never turn into reality, most of the times because the person is too scared to pursue it and not because it is actually impossible. In my case, for example, it is singing and acting in a musical. In the case of the song, he probably refers to his dream of leaving for a journey/being in a relationship with the person the song is dedicated to.

Had you ever heard this song? Do you like it?

Martina x