Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - The year that was....

2013. The year that was a rollercoaster!

I started the year with very bad January blues and it didn't get much better, what with the 30 contact hour weeks I was working, work was taking over my life. It did however persuade me to accept a new position when it was offered to me again, for the following academic year. 

The only trouble was that it meant I ended up preparing for the new job (meetings, demos etc) whilst doing a rather intensive qualification on top of my full time job. If I thought work was taking over my life in January I discovered just how far work could take over my life in March, April and May, when a stomach bug and then a family funeral felt like a lifeline to escape from the chaos for just a moment. Rest in peace uncle Don. It wasn't the same without you this Christmas.

These three months were very difficult, as A was pretty busy too with his new job, and I still had to do the majority of the housework. In July A managed to bill a record 270 hours. When summer camp started the end was in sight. I had handed in my notice a month early when I found out I had to work 12 hour plus days. If ever there was a sign I needed a holiday - that was it! I actually had a blast working the summer camp, but it was, unsurprisingly, knackering. 

In July I headed back to my parents' house for a total rest and it was fantastic. I took photos, I painted, and saw a few friends. I got up early for bike rides. I revelled in not wearing a watch. 

When A and I got back to Milan at the beginning of September (officially engaged!) after our very energetic and exciting holiday (climbed two mountains!) in the Dolomites I was in the form of my life.

Unfortunately I crash landed rather at the start of the school year as I went straight into lessons with no time to prepare, but worse I was totally unprepared for the culture shock that awaited me. I  then proceeded to get ill constantly. I think I've had everything going around. I really hope I get the Primary School Teacher's Immune System in 2014. It's been a struggle, but not working weekends and evenings really helps you to rest. I feel, mentally, much more resilient, if not physically.

I've made so much progress though. If someone had told me in September that by December I would be the school 'expert' in Interactive Whiteboard foibles and would have prepared 24 six year olds for the Christmas show I would never have believed them.

My family, friends and A have been my rock this year. I'd like to say thank you to my Mum and Dad, A, Marta, Giulia, Ester, Marco and Andrea in particular. I'd also like to thank everyone who left kind or interesting comments on this blog.

I'm really hoping next year will be more serene and relaxed, but since A and I have a wedding to organise and want to move house at the end of the year it seems somewhat unlikely!

I wish all you readers a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014. 

Buon Anno!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

How much is too much for fruit bread?

It's FESTA in Milan. Although, sadly, what with Sant' Ambrogio being yesterday on a Saturday and today being a Sunday and the Immaculate Conception there is no real difference to a normal week. The streets are heaving though due to the reduction in days to shop. We're staying away from the O bej O bej market and the fiera dell'artigianato at Rho because its just too crowded.

Instead this morning we headed for Brera, which was much much quieter for a trip to a famous pasticceria in via Montenapoleone.

It is tradition to eat panettone during the Christmas period and Milan is the spiritual home of the panettone, so many who work in Milan but have families in other places take home large beautifully packaged confections of fruit bread.

A is no exception and each year he gets a kilo panettone from a different artisan pasticceria. The first year I was totally incredulous as to how much this stuff costs - "20 euros for fruit bread!!" - but I've become acclimatised. This year's was the most expensive fruit bread yet, a what-the-hell 34 euros a kilo.

Still, I got to enter a shop on the same street as the 1% and their ferraris which felt somewhat glamorous.*

At least the bag is nice.

I considered getting one for my family, but the ones from the co-op are very nice too and I'm not sure we're expert enough to be able to taste the difference.

So how much is too much for a panettone? I'll let you know if they open it in our presence!

*A trip to The Rich Kids of Instagram suggests, that the 1% do not spend as much time shopping for panettone as I assumed.

Monday, 2 December 2013

One Wet Wedding

On the way to the airport...

Me: I'm going for a wedding
Taxi driver: In November? What will the weather be like?
Me: It's supposed to rain.
Taxi driver: I really hope it's inside.
Me: Oh it'll be inside.
Taxi driver: I hope so.
Me: Don't worry, I'm sure it will be inside. Nobody plans an open air wedding in November!
Taxi driver (still dubious): Well, I certainly hope so for your sake!

What about "sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata" and all that?!

I didn't continue trying to reassure the kind concerned man, that there was no way the wedding was going to be held outdoors. I suppose he's never been to a winter wedding or indeed any English wedding. You'd be mad to hold it completely in the open air... In Italy the vast majority of weddings are held in May, June, July and September since the weather is somewhat more predictable here. You also get two weeks off by law for your honeymoon, which makes this time of year popular if the newlyweds wish to travel anywhere in the northern hemisphere!

I don't have strong preferences myself but this Autumn wedding was beautiful, romantic and almost... cosy! If the bride had to wait half an hour to enter the church because it was raining so hard, well nobody minded. After all we were the ones waiting in the dry!


rose bokeh

The Second Dance