Sunday, 17 September 2017

Rome.










How do you get excited again to be somewhere? Some people would do anything to live here in Rome. I cannot wait to be done with it and go live somewhere else. Unfortunately I have never liked living here, from the very start. This place is too big for me, too chaotic; it never changes, it is always the same and will always be the same - they don't call it 'the eternal city' for nothing. I feel always out of place here, no matter where I am - at university, when I go out with friends, even at home sometimes. There's always a knot in my stomach when I am here. 

Right now I am torn between going home for the weekend as frequently as possible or trying to stay here as long as I can. On one side I feel like going home often would be like giving up, on the other side I think I've given this city a fair chance... oh I don't know. I only hope time will go fast.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A late Summer wishlist.


Like every August, we have come to stay at my grandmother's house in the countryside for a few days. Well, when my brother and I were little we used to spend the whole Summer here - but we're all so busy now that a few days is all we can manage. There's a village fair from August 14-16th, and missing it would basically mean that the end of the world is near. So here we are. I'm happy to spend some time in nature, and I only wish I didn't have to study for most of the day.

Despite the fact that we have had around 40C every day for the past 10 days or so, I really feel like Summer is coming to a close. We're so in the middle of it, yet I feel like Fall will be here in a blink of an eye. The days are getting shorter and shorter, and suddenly working with wool yarn doesn't seem so such a terrible idea anymore. 

Just a couple of years ago I would have hated just the thought of Fall approaching, now I find myself almost yearning for it. I say almost because I know that these are the last few weeks of relative freedom I have before a very busy academic year - it will be my last ever as a student... I don't even want to think about it. But apart from that, after the hottest Summer in living memory I can't say I'm not looking forward chilly days and even cloudy skies.

However, there still are a few things I would like to do before the warm season comes to an end...

Go blackberry picking. I have so many memories of going up in the mountains to find less-picked bushes, coming back to my grandma's house with bags full of berries and making jam straight after. The sugary scent filling the house, stirring the jam with a wooden spoon and filling jars... oh, how I love that. I really want to try and make this blackberry and fig galette!

Go stargazing. The nights after St. Lawrence's day (August 10th) are the best for that. We usually go up in the mountains because there are less artificial lights and you can see the sky more clearly. We open up the car roof window, recline the seats and wait for falling stars. I think we might be going tonight!

Eat outside as often as possible. Be it on the terrace or on the front porch, I want to have at least one meal a day outside. And lots of cups of tea, of course.

Do yoga every day. I was very consistent with my yoga practice earlier in the year and I miss it. When came back home from the Netherlands my schedule got a bit crazy and I just didn't make time to do some yoga every day. I didn't feel the need to practice, and that's ok. Now I'm back in the mood for some daily morning practice and I want to make it a habit again. 

Collect pinecones. Every Summer we go into the woods to collect bags and bags of pinecones to use them as fire starters in the colder months. It's just a lovely way to spend an afternoon. 

Craft. I've been in this super creative mood for a few weeks now and I want to make the most of it now that I still have some free time. On the other hand, I have kind of been stuck in a reading slump... Reading just isn't appealing right now, probably because I started studying again and the last thing I want to do when I have a spare half hour is spending more time processing words. I have recently started a new shawl using the yarn I bought from a local seller, and I also want to start a new embroidery project I have been thinking about for months. 

What do you want to do before Fall kicks in? What Summer activity embodies the season for you?

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A day trip on the Apennines.

Like I told you in my last post, this year we as a family opted to spend our holidays here at home rather than going away for a few days. It's probably been the best decision we could have possibly made this year - I was abroad for half of it, so I was more than pleased to stay home. My parents and brother had come to visit me in the Netherlands in June, and so we had already kind of had a holiday this year. There is so much to see in my region that we have never run out of things to do - in fact there still are more places I want to see, but they will have to wait for next year I think. 

Last week we visited a couple of villages about an hour's drive away from where we live. I had stumbled upon a photo of a gorgeous medieval chapel on Instagram a few weeks before, and discovered it was really close to us! 





The church is so tiny and in the middle of nowhere that it's not even open all the time - you have to call the keeper and she will come and open it for you. Luckily she was already inside with a group of other tourists and she had begun her tour five minutes before we arrived. The chapel was absolutely stunning and my photos definitely don't do it justice. The frescoes have been there for 800 years and have survived a terribly destructive earthquake 8 years ago... it's just crazy to think that something so extraordinary is so little known, even by locals like me. 






Despite the chapel being so tiny, there was so much to admire. Part of the group of tourists we met was a priest, who talked about art, saints and prophets. My brother, my mother and I spent a good twenty minutes trying to translate with him a sentence from Latin, which he was convinced was not by Isaiah like the guide told us, and turned out actually being by Isaiah after all.




We then got back on the car and made our way to Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a tiny village on the Apennines. Less than 100 people live there. It's a place straight out from a fairytale. I bought naturally dyed local yarn for a shawl, and my mother bought local lentils and spelt. It was just one of those perfect days from start to finish.





I start studying again tomorrow, and because of that for the past few days I have been feeling like Summer is coming to a close - which is absolutely untrue because there still is all of August ahead of us, but still. I just have this feeling. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

July.


 
 

















I finished my exams at the beginning of July, and so I have been on holiday for the past twenty days. A month-long break is all I can afford before getting back to studying for my exams in September, so I have been trying to make the most out of these precious free days. It's the first year we decided not to go on holiday as a family, due to various commitments; but we have barely spent a day at home between going on lots of day trips, long drives around the area and spending time at the beach. I finally have time to dedicate myself to the things that make me feel alive and genuinely happy - I can devour books, stitch for hours and spend time outside. I love being able to say yes to any plan and opportunity that pops up.

While driving to the sea one day I surprised myself thinking, 'I am so happy I could die'. There was nothing special about that day - I hadn't won the lottery or found the love of my life. It was just a sunny Summer morning. I recognize I have changed so much in the past two years - the things that make me happy now are so different than those that made me happy before. And I have to admit, I am so much happier now.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Things I have missed.






The overpowering scent of jasmine. The voices of the neighbours downstairs -two pensioners- bickering about nothing. The light on the balcony just after the sun has gone down behind the other building and everything is calm. Unloading the dishwasher. The house phone ringing. Eating off a properly set table. The dappled morning light outside my window. My mother's geraniums. Cherries, my grandma's jam tart, thickly sliced prosciutto. The moody atmosphere in my room. Watching the news during meals. My brother's continuous chatter. Having lunch on the living room sofa. When you move and you feel the warm air moving, too. Studying on the balcony. The mountains. The scent of summer tomatoes. My grandma's dogs - one of them has aged so much, and lost so much weight while I have been away. The sound of the sprinkler. The sound of the cicadas. Home.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Ready for Summer.


I feel like the transition from Spring to Summer here in the Netherlands was quite sudden; maybe because the shift from Winter to Spring felt so long in comparison. In fact, the whole of April and the first few weeks of May didn't feel like Spring at all, to me. I meant to post about that but then it just didn't happen. Enduring a frigid Winter and desperately waiting for warmer weather to come in April and being disappointed day after day was tough. I had to accept a different kind of Spring than I am used to and it was tough. It really threw me off balance. Seeing trees in bloom everywhere but having to wear woolen jumpers just messed with my brain and made me quite restless. I am all about trying to live each season fully and accepting it for what it is, but April just was really challenging. I almost feel like I skipped a season...? I don't know. Weird stuff. Weird Dutch stuff.


So, it's been Summer for a few weeks now. I started to notice when the days started to get considerably longer. It doesn't get dark until 10 PM! Every day feels interminable. I have been really enjoying going for walks around my neighbourhood after dinner, often with an ice-cream in my hand.


People here really celebrate every ray of sun they get. Whenever the weather is even slightly warm, they bring out chairs and tables (even their sofas) out on the street, get badly sunburnt, chat with their neighbours and eat al fresco.




(from last week's trip to Utrecht.) 




(this is Leiden.)

All of this to say that I feel ready to go home and I feel readier than ever for Summer, and for all it's going to bring. And that will be: leaving this place and to all the amazing people I met, in exactly a week's time; studying like a crazy person for an exam in the first week of July;  saying goodbye to my best friend who is moving to Australia for a year; and hopefully, once I am a bit more free, lots and lots of reading all the things and sewing all the things and making all the things. I have so many  ideas. I am looking forward to being reunited with the people I love and a country I love.

What are your plans for the next season?