November 30, 2017

Books of November

This month I read one book and a half. 

The book I finished is Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. Did anyone guess that?

I have been a huge John Green fan for years now, ever since I started watching the Vlogbrothers on YouTube years ago. I read all of John's books and I really like them. Turtles All the Way Down is probably not my favourite out of all of his books, but I really liked reading it and I found it highly captivating, I literally (literally) couldn't put it down. I really appreciate the fact that the author always teaches me something while keeping me entertained with a curious story. This time the main topic was mental illnesses, and I found the way he describes the main character's stream of thought highly effective and relatable. It really helps you understand her point of view and her struggle and - at the same time - the struggles and thoughts of all the people that surround her, love her and would like to help her, each their own way.

The other book I have been reading is Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I read this book ages ago, before seeing the show for the first time, and I absolutely loved it. I have been thinking of re-reading it for ages and I finally decided to pick it up. Now that I am a bit older I am appreciating it even more. I love Maguire's writing style and the way each section of the book is different depending on who is narrating it. When I finish this book I want to read more of his novels.

Since I haven't finished reading Wicked, I will not count it as a book I read this month, but I thought it was worth mentioning because I'm really into it and I have already worked my way to page 209.

Reading Challenge 2017:
A book with an unreliable narrator: Turtles All the Way Down
Martina x

November 28, 2017

White & Quiet - Visiting Eastbourne

This month my boyfriend and I were so lucky we managed to book a second weekend getaway together. We decided to visit Eastbourne as hotels there seemed to be really cheap and it wasn't too far if travelling by train.

On November 17th we hopped on a train at Victoria train station and traveled all the way to Eastbourne. The weather was nice, not too cold or windy, and the sky was of a beautiful light blue-whiteish hue. We checked in at the Hadleigh Hotel and then took a walk on the promenade. Everything seemed really quiet and silent, there were only a few other people around, and that was exactly what we needed. We walked up and down the pier and had a coffee at one of the caf├ęs on the beach, then we visited the town centre. In the evening we had a lovely dinner at Gianni's. The waiter there seemed really nice to us.

On our second day we repeated the same pattern. We went out, had breakfast, took a walk along the promenade and explored the centre once again. Around lunchtime it started raining, so we visited the shopping centre and had lunch there, then we decided to head back home as the weather didn't seem to improve. Despite only being in Eastbourne for a short time, as we travelled back home we felt really relaxed. We are both really happy whenever the opportunity to visit a new place in the UK shows up, even if it's just for a short time.

Where should we go next? Any suggestion would be highly appreciated!

Martina x

November 27, 2017

November Favourites

My top favourite this month has to be tap dance. For the past three weeks I have been attending to some tap dance classes for beginners and I have been loving them. I am an extremely uncoordinated person, and I have never really been interested in any kind of dance up until last year, so the fact that I am attending such course might come as a surprise for those who know me best. At some point last year I was watching some videos from Singing in the Rain for my dissertation, something clicked in my brain and from then on I developed a passion for tap. I have only been to three classes so far and today it will be my first class with proper shoes, but I am confident I can get better at this. I have been practicing at work while no one was watching, ha.

Thanks to one of the tap class girls, I also found a piece of clothing that is going to save me this winter. I am talking about the Velvet Leggings from Primark, some high-waist black leggings that are covered in fluff (on the inside) from the belly button to the ankle. They are super comfy and super warm and only cost £6, I am definitely going to recommend them to every girl I meet this winter. I have already recommended them to all my colleagues.

Food wise, my favourite this November has to be bubble tea. I had never tried it in the past and I wasn't too interested in it until I went out with a friend and she said she was kind of addicted, so I followed her advice and got a green tea with tapioca pearls and man, it tasted delicious (I think it was matcha tea to be precise) and the bubbles added something extra to the drink, I definitely appreciated it.

This month I also loved the two days trips that my boyfriend and I took, the first to Tunbridge Wells (you can read about that in my previous post) and the second to Eastbourne (post coming soon).

My last favourite is a film I watched yesterday night with my boyfriend. It's called Love, Rosie and it's one of those girly films where way too many things happen and then everything ends in a happily ever after, but I happen to like this kind of films (or books) and I really like Lily Collins, so yeah, a film we picked kind of randomy on Netflix ended up being an unexpectedly good film.

Martina x

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,