Thursday, 26 June 2014

Out and About - Evening in Milan

Out and About in Milan in the evening

The enormous flower pots.
Waiting in Red

At the ice cream parlour

Needle and Thread.

No tram.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The 50 Ways Challenge

I was a bit unsure about posting this, but then I thought if I can't be an idiot on my own blog where-else am I going to do it?

I decided to take up the 50 ways challenge last week.

Nothing silly about that. The 50 ways challenge is where you take an object (I believe mailboxes are popular in the US) and photograph it in 50 different ways. It's a creativity challenge, aimed at pushing you into thinking outside the, er, mailbox. I had a spare afternoon on my hands, but no object. Until I spied Gino the very small rabbit.

I put my camera onto manual, although I left auto focus on (we beginners can't do it all at once!) and set to work. Unwittingly I had left my whitebalance on tungston some time ago and all my early photos have a decidedly blue cast. One day I will learn from these mistakes!

I got to 25 without too much trouble. 30 was a struggle. 40 was just about do-able, but I had to change locations. By 50 I had entered the land of absurd photography, if there is such a genre.

Meet Gino

Gino in opposites

Gino in gimmicks

Gino does feelings

Gino does shoot on set and I get increasingly desperate.

I think my favourite is Gino with film noir lighting and processing but somehow I don't think I'll frame any of them.

That was never the point though, and far as the point is concerned I think I certainly got to know my camera a lot better. I think I'll do it again with a more serious object next time.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The World Cup and the Wedding

Since you have probably noticed that the world cup is on TV, nobody is going to be surprised to hear that on Saturday A and I found ourselves duty bound to be enemies for two hours. The Italy-England match was, surprise surprise, won by Italy 2-1. The second half had me groaning and clutching my forehead on the sofa so much A asked me if I had a temperature and if I was feeling OK. The final half hour was particularly painful, but the morning after it was worse. Having stayed up til 2am to watch the match I had gone to bed immediately in the hope of not missing too much beauty sleep and escaping the gloating post match analysis and hollow commiserations, but alas A and his father were in fine form all through breakfast analysing just how good Italy's chances are of winning the world cup, again, this year. I had to slink off for a strategic shower after an hour of it.

Tonight England play Uruguay, who also need to win to stay in the World Cup. I'm not sure I can bear to watch it.

Ugh. Some nations don't even know they are born.  And now Spain are out they're getting even worse. Hah! Spain and their one measly world cup! says A.

I fear the world cup fever is about to get worse though. You see we didn't check very thoroughly to see when Italy and England are playing, and it's looking increasingly likely that England, or far more likely Italy will be playing on our wedding day. Sigh. I must resign myself to more irritating football comments, and possibly even football watching even on my wedding night. Is nothing sacred?!

Admittedly I realise that this will put A in an even more impossible situation than it does me. What poor man should have to choose between his wedding night and supporting his team at the World Cup? I'm sure he knows what's best for him. Ahem. (I know what you're thinking A, give her two glasses of wine and she'll be asleep in no time).

And while I'm on the subject of weddings I have heard a lot of funny things recently from friends and family with regard to Italian and English traditions, which occasionally make me want to pull at my hair  (panicked emails - OMG have you told everyone not to wear hats?!!!) but mainly laugh.

So I'd like to state for the record, not that any of my family read this, (if they do I shall soon find out in the comments) that

  • Notwithstanding what you may have read on the internet, I will not be meeting and greeting  my lovely guests at the ceremony an hour before, even if you are very lovely and I am very happy that you are coming.
  • Dad - you do not need to give your speech in Italian!*
  • You do not have to wear black (?!), in fact avoid black.
  • English people are very happy drinking wine. Honestly. They do not need to drink beer at all times and on all occasions.
  • You do not need to wear a morning suit because I am English.
  • Likewise nobody is going to throw you out if  you wish to wear a hat.
  • Hats are not worn because all English women copy the Queen.
  • Hats are not worn by English women because they want to copy Pippa Middleton either.
  • I don't hate Camilla or Prince Charles. 
  • I don't think the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana's assassination by car crash.

There is more than one thing wrong with this cake topper.

*My Dad is the master of the understated wind up, (currently known as 'trolling' I believe), so I have no idea how serious he is on this one.

Monday, 9 June 2014

San Tommaso and nostalgia cooking

The lucky ones of us do not burn in the shade!

The final weekend in May A finally didn't have to work all the way through it, so we grabbed the occasion and went up to San Tommaso, a wee chapel and small holding high on the mountain side over-looking Lecco. It was a stunning day. I burnt my shoulders whilst walking in the shade. We slowly made our way up the hill and had a good hard look at that view.

Over Lecco

 We had a look at the agriturismo, which has some amazing looking vegetable gardens and was set up like one of those toy farm sets you have as a child. There was a fountain in a wash house. The courtyard had a big tree in the middle with a big dog on a chain lying under it. It had a proper kennel and a cart full of proper hay - not wrapped up in bales. There was a very lucky family on a big trestle table eating some tasty looking food. I would have taken a picture because I get very excited when I see things that look like they should, but it felt a bit invasive.

San Tommaso, Valmadrera

Then we chose our picnic spot above the farm with an amazing view. It was hot but not so hot as to drive us into the shade. A perfect day. Shame we had to talk wedding, but with A being so busy he takes the opportunities when he gets them! We packed a big picnic complete with hard boiled eggs, tuna mayo sandwiches and banana muffins. It was a bit Famous Five-y (although I prefered the Secret Seven) but we didn't have any adventures, as I discovered as was actually quite tired, so we walked back down the track the way we had come up.

Then on the bank holiday Monday, I decided to celebrate the extra time by cooking some scrummy cinnamon buns. Authentic English cooking, as I was feeling nostalgic for real baking.

Sticky cinnamon buns - look at that glaze!
I fully recommend this recipe from the BBC. It takes several hours what with the dough needing to rise, but it's worth it if you have the time. It's the holidays now, and I'm at home raring to cook, but alas the heat has come and nothing will induce me to turn the oven on between now and October probably!