The summer of 2015.

There are still 23 more days until autumn officially starts but I’ve always felt that at the end of summer holidays, summer was, for the most part, over. And I have to say that this has been one of the best summers ever, if not THE best one so far. The weather was properly summer-like all throughout July and August, I travelled a lot and I spent a lot of time with my family. I don’t get to do it much during the rest of the year so I was very happy to spend some proper quality time with them this summer.

In June, I went to Rome with my sister and our mum. It’d been such a long time since the three of us went somewhere together and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I hadn’t been to Rome before and exploring an entirely new place is always incredibly exciting. I have now finally edited all my photos from the trip so hopefully I’ll get around posting them in the next couple of days.

Then in July, dad and I took my youngest sister to London. My father had been many many years before but it was my sister’s first time ever. I showed them the most famous sights in Central London and a couple more spots I thought would be a shame to miss out on (like the Tardis in Earl’s Court and Platform 9 and 3/4). They loved everything and were such troopers walking around for days on end! We spent many an evening walking around Southbank (they both loved it there) and I they fell in love with the Borough market, just as I’d thought.

In August, the three of us went for our annual holiday to Turkey. A completely different kind of holiday. I read 4 books, caught up on sleep and Outlander, spent hours swimming and goofing around in the sea and pool with my little sister and I also managed to finally properly relax. It’d been a busy summer and I really needed to shake off all the tension and just let go. I tried water zumba and water gymnastics for the first time ever and I actually enjoyed it — but that was all thanks to the wonderful woman who was training us. I love that I managed to stay active for the whole 2 weeks there (aside from the aqua gymnastics/zumba I went to the gym every morning and it did wonders for my core and flexibility). I felt like I managed to strike the perfect balance between active and passive relaxation and it was just what I needed.
Aside from my travels, I spent some beautiful evenings/nights with my friends (pool party!), attended and photographed a wedding, took many walks with Eda and managed to stay on top of my work/skating/gym schedule. And that’s quite amazing, if I say so myself.

Right now, I have to work on putting together my new schedule for this autumn term. It’s always a problem because people are mostly interested in lessons in the afternoon/evening but it’s impossible to satisfy everyone (though I do try!). When that’s done, I need to figure out my skating practice and gym schedule (tricky, specially regarding ice time). I am very determined to be reasonable about it though and leave some time off for my side projects and some downtime with books and tea and bed. :) Also I am dog-sitting for my sister again and will be until the rest of September so I may have to cut some gym time this upcoming month in favour of my dog walks but I honestly don’t mind at all. I love spending time with Eda, it’s incredibly rewarding and it does us both good to spend at least an hour every day outside.
Thing is, the more I stress about managing to fit every single thing into my daily schedule, the bigger problems I have and the more tired I am. And every time I’m relaxed about these things, it just starts working out. So, basically, I just have to relax. :)

I hope that we will now slowy ease into a beautiful, sunny autumn. I will miss the beautiful, warm summer days but I’ve made so many memories this summer that I really can’t be (too) sad about the fact that this season is on its way out. Besides, there’s so much to look forward to in the next 4 months!

Happy September, everyone!

Oxford, part 2.

We spent the rest of the day just walking around Oxford. I wish we could’ve stayed longer and explore more but then again, I definitely want to go back so at least I’ve got a lot to look forward to.


The streets were super lovely.


The OUP Bookshop.


All the spires are simply breathtaking.


Another beautiful spire.


Until next time, Oxford!

Fruit & veg haul.

I have a big fruit & veg problem because our local farmer’s market is a joke. They have an extremely narrow range of fruits and veggies and they only sell their goods on weekdays in the morning. I finally found a company which delivers fresh fruits and vegetables even to my neck of the woods. It’s all locally grown products, there’s a lot of choice and the quality is impeccable. Who would’ve thought I’d be so excited by something like this…. but I am.

This week, there’s asparagus, broccoli, courgette, tomatoes, chanterelles, fennel, lettuce, red peppers, potatoes, spring onions, figs, gooseberries, raspberries, redcurrants, eggs… and I’m most likely forgetting something.


This week I’m especially excited about gooseberries. They don’t seem to be very popular but I absolutely adore them. Their taste takes me back to the garden we used to have when I was a child.

Oxford, part 1.

A year ago I made my first ever trip to Oxford. I only spent there one day but I was very impressed. It’s a really lovely, picturesque place with some really beautiful streets, buildings and sights. I hope to go back some time soon to do some more exploring there!


At the very beginning we did a very touristy thing that has, however, proven very useful in the past: we took the sightseeing bus. It’s good in that it shows you the layout of the city and you have a good opportunity to decide which places you want to see up close, especially when you are on a schedule.

Photos from the top off the bus.


Right after getting off the bus, we went to this shop as it is not to be missed when you’re in Oxford.


The colleges.


I had a Harry Potter moment there.


Fine dining indeed!


Harry Potter moment #2 because this is totally Fawkes.


From there, we went to explore the town centre. Stay tuned for part 2!

Rome: first impressions.

I feel like I have just only now began to process my trip to Rome. We had a fantastic time but it just went by too fast! Here are some of my thoughts and impressions.

  • the monuments: they are huge. I mean, I don’t think anyone would expect, say, the Colosseum to be small but it’s just so much bigger than I imagined it to be! And not just the Colosseum, but all of it. The sights are really breath-taking in person. Sometimes I would just stand there and stare because that was all I could do. I was awestruck. The Pantheon in particular is just stunning.
  • Trastevere is just gorgeous. We spent a good part of the Sunday afternoon walking through the streets there and it’s just so picturesque!
  • the only thing I was a bit iffy about is the public transport — but I did expect that. And I admit to being spoiled by London and Geneva in this matter. :P
  • the queues; oh my goodness, the queues. If you ever do go there, book or buy your tickets online so you can skip the queues. I mean, the queue for the Vatican Museums was the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. I think that some of the people we passed on our way there might still be waiting there. Book or buy your tickets online, always.
  • the Sistine Chapel is a wonder to behold and worth the claustrophobic tour. As is going up the 551 steps up the Basilica di San Pietro. You can take the lift up there, too, but it’ll save you barely a half of the way up. It’s a good exercise and the view from the top is breathtaking.
  • we visited Ostia Antica one day as well and it was gorgeous. I’m such a city girl but I really enjoyed walking out there all day long. It just smelled like summer there and I loved it. It’s really interesting there and well worth a trip.
  • I loved the food. I’m a pasta person so I knew I would but damn. I’d never get tired of it. I actually have some recommendations regarding the restaurants, cafes and gelaterias that we tried. So here’s a small list of places you should definitely not miss if you’re ever in Rome:
    1. We stayed in a place called Atlantis Inn and I can’t recommend it enough. It was super clean, the owner was very helpful and efficient and it was about a 5-minute walk from Castel Sant’Angelo. Perfect location, perfect services. That part of the city was really beautiful, there were also many restaurants and cafes and the nearest metro stop was within a 10 minute walking distance from the hotel.
    2. Splendor: this is where we had breakfast every day and it’s such a neat, retro place. Great cappuccino!
    3. Pizzeria La Boccaccia: we ate there the day we wandered through Trastevere. It’s a tiny pizza place where you can choose from many delicious pizzas. They sell them by weight so you can actually taste as many of them as you like, you just tell them how big a piece of each pizza you like. Delicious.
    4. Il Sorpasso: We ate there after our visit to the Vatican. The waitress who served us was amazing. The menu was in English but the daily specials were not and she just went through all of it with us, making sure that we chose something we really liked. Same with the puddings — I hadn’t heard of some of them before and she was just beyond helpful. And the food was fantastic.
    5. Cantina E Cucina: Deceivingly close to Piazza Navona but definitely not a tourist trap. It’s bigger than it looks from the outside, it’s very stylish and the staff are so friendly! Try the asparagus risotto while you’re there, you won’t regret it.
    6. Pompi: This came recommended as the best tiramisu in Rome. I concur. We had one (HUGE) strawberry tiramisu each and despite our primary apprehension about it being too much to eat for just one person, we were so happy we didn’t have to share. :P
    7. Gelaterie del Teatro: Our favourite gelateria. We actually went there instead of dinner one day because we just couldn’t stay away. They have so many fantastic and unusual flavours — chocolate+wine, cheese+fig, lemon+rosemary… the list goes on. It took us forever to decide just on two or three flavours each time and quite frankly, I do regret not having enough time there to try them all.
There will be pictures, of course! Here’s a little taste from my instagram. :)

Peonies.

So, peonies. I’m really crazy about them. I think they’re right up there with lilacs as my favourite flowers. We used to have them in our garden when I was a child, we had these huge, bright pink ones. They were astonishingly beautiful. I loved seeing them all over the garden and I loved bringing them back home with us. With them, unfortunately, we’d also always bring back home these huge blue rose chafer beetles. Well, they may not have been so huge but they certainly seemed so to me then, and quite frankly they still do even now. I can’t stand beetles, I have always been terrified of them and these colourful guys unfortunately love peonies as much as I do.


It has been unexpectedly difficult to buy peonies here but I finally managed — one day before I leave for Rome. I hope I’ll be able to get some more when I get back!


For me, peonies are the true heralds of summer. I’m yearning for long, hot summer days and I’m so excited about the upcoming weeks!


I’ll be away for a couple of days but, as ever, if you’d like to keep up with me, follow me on instagram. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. And go buy some peonies if you can. :)

My friend’s wedding.

I went to my friend S.’s wedding. I’m not really a wedding person but I must admit that their wedding was really great. Luckily, they had great weather, which was pretty much a pre-requisite because it was an outdoor wedding. I was so happy to be able to spend the whole day outside as I don’t get to do that so much lately. It was a fantastic day.


This is the place where they chose to say their vows. It has been voted the most beautiful spring in the area recently and it’s a really nice spot.


They were married by the bride’s close friend and colleague, who also happens to be an evangelic deaconess (<– I hope that's the correct term?)


The bride and the groom.


They had the most beautiful peonies there from the bride’s garden.

Since I was the one taking photos, I appear in exactly ZERO photos from the wedding. :P But I at least took a photo of my outfit before I set out. In hindsight, it was a great choice of a dress — and I’m very happy that I decided to wear lycra shorts underneath it because I ended up climbing around a semi-derelict amphitheatre in order to get the picture I wanted. :P


The dress is Yumi (from their last year’s collection).

Swiss roll woes.

I made this swiss roll two weeks ago. It was really delicious but making of the whipped cream turned out to be a nightmare. Let me take you through the process.


First, I put together the cream and chocolate and mixed it together. So far so good. Then I put it in the fridge for some time and I thought that’d be it.


Meanwhile, I whipped the egg whites.


Mixed the yolks and some sugar.


Then I put it all together and mixed it very gently as it needs to remain fluffy.


All done. Then I rolled it into a damp cloth.


That’s a very important step because if you don’t do it, it will crack and fall apart.


:D


I prepped my strawberries and started whipping the cream. It didn’t work at all. The consistency was all wrong, it was too runny and there was nothing I could do about it. On the second try, I had the same problem and eventually, I managed to turn it into butter. Eventually, I just made it without the chocolate and that worked. I still don’t understand what I did wrong on the first two tries and it really bothers me.


It was still good but I really wanted that chocolate whipped cream!

Lilacs: the 2015 edition.

I can’t let a year go by without taking photos of my favourite flowers: lilacs. Their smell always takes me back to my grandparents’ garden. It is a smell that is full of happy memories of my family and it carries a promise of summer. The weather has been less than summery here lately but the lilacs keep me hoping. :)


I love how the colours vary slightly.


Chestnut trees.


I may have gone a little overboard there. :P