Posts Tagged ‘Rome’

Remembering brighter days…

Hi all. For some reason, in London at the moment, it just feels like it’s been winter for ages. Now I’m not a real sun seeker or anything but it would be nice to have blue skies again. In honour of this, and that I am going to Italy next month, here are some pictures of blue skies from Rome last year!

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Constantine’s arch

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Trajan’s markets

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Piazza Navona fountain

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Trevi fountain

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Palatine Hill

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The baths of Caracalla

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A temple to a goddess… I’ve forgotten who.

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Bridge over the Tiber

Pathways

I’m on the move this morning, off to visit my favourite 5-year-old and her little sister so I don’t have time to write anything properly. Instead I’m going to do something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I really love taking photographs of paths leading off into the distance. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because of the potential for adventure, the invitation to explore an unknown world. I’ve taken tons of them so I thought I’d share a few.

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At the start of a hiking trail in St Leonard du Bois in France.

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At a lake in Northern France.

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At Boxhill, Surrey.

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On the Thames Path, near Ham

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Next to the river, Ham.

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On a little path I found when exploring the riverside around Richmond.
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The path down to the river, from near Richmond Park.

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Walking to Twickenham.

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In a friend’s back garden in Norfolk.

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Finding more hidden pathways next to the river, Teddington.

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A path cut into the edge of a rock in Portugal.

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On a walk near Gomshall, Surrey.

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Amongst the ferns in Richmond Park.

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In Highgate Woods, north London.

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Corridors under the floor of the Colluseum, Rome.

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On Tooting Common, south London.

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In between houses in Kew, West London.

On mushrooms

Yesterday, I found an old skirt which had little pictures of mushrooms all over it and so I wrote about mushrooms for my Nanny Rhino. I am going to share my mushroom chat with you as I wrote ten thousand words yesterday catching up on the days I missed with Nanny Rhino so I am all written out for a day or so.

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There are so many things to do and places to go with mushrooms that it’s hard to know where to start. I’d love to start in Rome, where any restaurant worth it’s salt would be proudly displaying a wooden crate of porcini mushrooms on one of its tables outside. Since this visit and my mass consumption of the fantastic porcini mushrooms, I am struggling with eating them here as they are all of the dried variety, which was fine and nice and lovely, until I saw the fresh ones in Italy. Now I feel differently about dried porcini. I feel a bit sad for them as they are trapped there on the shelf, in a little jar, moisture-less. Without any fresh porcini of my own, I am simply not eating porcini mushrooms. It is a sad state of affairs. Dried porcini are great for risottos though, as you can use the soaking liquids to hydrate your rice. It’s still not quite the same though, is it?

 

My next favourite mushroom is probably an oyster mushroom as I love their shape and texture. I love how wild and uncouth they look, all misshapen and not at all uniform like their little cousins, the button mushrooms. The problem with this could be that people may mistake your oyster mushrooms in your stir fry for a slab of fat off the meat (as happened to me when making a duck stir-fry), so it’s your decision whether you want to run the risk of being thought of as a ‘fat-cooker’.

 

Shiittake are my next favourite, for similar reasons to the oyster mushroom. It is kind of irregular and a dark mysterious colour. They have a great flavour that I love cooking with beef in a stir-fry.

 

Enoki mushrooms, so long and thin and tiny are great for throwing into dishes last minute, for an extra bit of flavour. Their size means they don’t need much cooking before they soften and taste lovely. I love putting them onto a pizza last minute before quickly oven baking it as it adds another element to something with relatively few ingredients.

 

Next we have the portobello and the chestnut mushrooms, larger, meatier and better for roasting than their smaller counterparts. They can also hold their own quite well in a pie or vegetarian lasagne with spinach and ricotta.

 

Lastly we have the humble button mushroom, great for general use, fabulous fried in a breakfast, but with less of the qualities that draw me so well to the other mushrooms.

 

Actually, I have a less-than-fantastic memory connected to a portobello mushroom. I was seeing a guy for a few months and we could both see that things were in steady decline. In the height of our excitement while things were great, though, we had booked tickets to go to a literature festival somewhere in the countryside. The ticket had been quite expensive and I had booked the day off work so I was reluctant to give it up. Also the gentleman in question didn’t seem that keen on letting the relationship go, although I knew he knew it was over.

 

He was all up for driving there and giving me a lift and acting like things were fine so I took the lift, slept all the way there and planned other similar tactics of avoidance once there. I thought I’d just potter off and get lost in the crowds. He wasn’t so easy to shake though. It took him hours to finally say he fancied seeing something he didn’t think I’d like and wandering off in the other direction.

 

I found the furthest away corner and went for a long walk among the trees, where none of the fun was happening. I saw a group of people open water swimming and got chatting and generally just soaked up the lovely day. I eventually got back into the foray of people and book stalls and performances and fun and watched an old work colleague doing performance poetry. Here, I had solace. Should the gentleman wander along and want to sit down, I could say I was busily engaged in supporting my friend and paying attention to his performance and apologies but I wasn’t able to have a chat right now. The gentleman did not appear though and the next performer was hilarious so I stayed there. At one of the food stands nearby, I ordered an amazing portobello mushroom burger with halloumi cheese and red pepper. I sat down with my burger, deep in thoughts about life and this tasty mushroom burger. It was such a great moment, there, sitting on the ground, with people milling about, books in hands, intelligent discussion being had all around me, a performer on a little stage not far away and these beautiful purple flowers lining a little garden wall to my left.

 

That’s when the gentleman came along, greeted me in surprise and sat down next to me, ruining my moment. My excuses for silence were none, apart from the tasty mushroom burger in my hands, which required all of my attention. We were stuck together again then, for the rest of the afternoon, until it all became too painfully obvious and, in a quiet late afternoon moment, sitting on the grass, he fell asleep and I sneaked away, got my bag and headed for the nearest main road to find a train station and scarper off back home, away from this awful awkwardness that I should never have embarked upon in the first place.

Coffee (the sequel)

A little while ago, I wrote a post about coffee. About how I had tried, and failed, over the years, to like coffee. I’d worked with it for ages. I knew exactly how to steam the milk and run the coffee so that it might appear more tasty. But none of it had worked. I was quite definitely a tea drinker.

So then we went to Rome, where I made a concerted effort to fit in with the locals and stand at espresso bars sipping on a granita or getting straight in there with a ristretto (not sure about spelling, it means a really short, really strong espresso). And actually, I think it worked. The coffee tasted different there. I’m not sure if there’s something different about the way they roast their beans or whatever, but it’s different. It didn’t make me too hyper. It was bitter, but the coffee taste itself was the overriding memory I have.

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Back in England, I’ve found that the coffee is more bitter. That’s the overriding taste, so that only if I’m really concentrating, can I taste the actual coffee in the background somewhere.

So I thought I’d seize the moment, on arriving back from Rome and start drinking espresso. I’ve been having one a day, mid morning ish. I have it quite short, about half the size of a standard espresso, with nothing in. No milk or sugar.

What fun! I’m so Italian! Look at me everyone! Look! Look! Watch me drink coffee like a grown up! Look, I’m one of you guys, a grown up. Look!

I’ll admit now, it was mostly for show, my self-imposed coffee habit.

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So then, I started getting headaches. Dammit. I found out, through various experiments, that if I drink shedloads of water beforehand and make sure I have some food in my tummy, then I’m ok. If, however, I drink it before I drink water or eat anything, then I start to talk very fast for a while, before suddenly feeling tired and getting a bit headachey.

The headaches seem to have passed now, although I am tired a lot. This could be many things, not the coffee. Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep last night (although sometimes I do get enough sleep but I still feel tired), maybe I’m partaking in lots of exhausting activity (not really)…..

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I’m not sure. As a newcomer to the world of coffee, I’m unfamiliar with the initiation ceremony. Is this how it goes? Headaches first, then the tiredness, then what….?

Is this the normal route to developing a coffee habit? Can any coffee drinkers out there tell me what to expect next?

Or should I stop now? Stop now while I’m just at tiredness? I mean, it’s not like I even notice when I don’t drink them. As I say, it’s all for show. I’m a bit too lazy to have any kind of actual addiction to coffee.

I should probably just let it go now, hey?

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Search terms 3

Ok, it’s the third installment of the Search Terms posts. In this one, we have your average search about Highgate or Kingston Uni or what to do with bingo wings. But then right at the bottom, a strange Donald Duck search, which must have lead to disappointment when Google sent them to me….

lazylauramaisey
dairylea triangles music
“ici logo”/ “wavy lines”
things to remember while swimming
deaflympics in brazil 2016
are you going to scarborough fair?
vaynites
upstairs downstairs
robinson helicopter garage
the grove highgate george michael
sandy denny maddy prior
once i’ve finished i dont like them
the song remind me of the good time
london eye chairoplane
inspirational quotes about new adventures
laura maisey
gold leaf wedding cake disaster
alwasy moisturise bingo wings
how do i put my kingston email
i like my childhood friend who is my hero
inspirational quotes
kate moss house highgate coleridge
salt works liverpool 1871
i don’t want to finish reading my book
through on my mind right now
my reflection in swimming in word
motivational quotes about journey in life
fromromewithlove.de
what do people say about working with chickens
taxi drivers don’t know the way
first bikram yoga class fainting
i don’t want to finish reading my book
skytrain o2 arena
whelk stall
what is the background laughter in parties
drunks refuse to pay for taxi cabs
chairoplane london eye
moss covered stump
upstairs downstairs 2012 and downton abbey
cockle & welks stalls 1950’s pics
store with this apron close to pantheon
why do i say things twice
goat and dog train boy
trolleyology
college bucket list
hit by bird droppings
goat met dog
what are renegade squats
which road in highgate does george michael live on
listening the songs reminds me of holiday
shakeing my head when swimming
who said “freedom is the absence”
letters and dolls
neologism of big brother
did it rain on may 7 2012
dedication sample
why do kids say things twice
my feeling about olympics
freedom rules
things to remember when swimming
books about truffles
a memo in a polite way to my lazy dog
kingston uni pgce interview
donald duck girls big tits

More awards. More of my nonsense.

Ok, it is time. Now that all the holidays and fancy lunches have died down, I am going to address the Liebster Award I was given by iamkaturah, who’s blog Internets Can’t Handle Moi, is a fabulous read. She’s young and witty and her blog contains a healthy amount of tongue-in-cheek.

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(This is the first time I’ve ever worked out how to put a banner for an award up, very exciting! Apparently you just copy and paste…..)

The rules are that I answer the 11 questions posed to me. Then I nominate 11 other blogs and pose 11 questions to them.

1. If you were money, where would you most want to be spent?
I would most want to be spent on some amazing food. I would feel well spent then. Something unusual and very tasty. Some lovely truffle oil, maybe.

2. What is the most important quality in a friend?
Calmness. I’m not into the whole friends-with-drama scene. I like a calm life. My brain doesn’t operate well with drama. People who are into the dramatic thing, having awful boy/girlfriends, staying in jobs they hate etc. Then moaning about it. It’s irritating. I’m outta there!

3. What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
Chill out. Mind you, I like looking back on the anxiety-fraught bad decisions of my teenage years. I would tell me to stop worrying about small stuff because I move to Africa when I leave school and things start to make sense. Life starts happening.

4. What did you think about life when you were 16 compared to now?
I don’t think I really thought about ‘life’,  as a concept. I just went to school, went to work, went to clubs. Now I think life is about finding things you like doing and trying to do them as often as possible. And it’s about finding people you like and spending as much time with them as possible.

5. Chocolate or lollies? Why?
I think chocolate. Because there is a little specialist chocolate shop near where I live and their stuff takes A LOT of beating.

6. Would you rather be a man who looked like a lady or a lady who looked like a man?
Man who looked like a lady.

7. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
It’s a toss up between The Great Gatsby and Tender Is The Night by Fitzgerald, The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd and Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeta Naslund.

8. What is 27 x 16? ( Don’t use a calculator!)
Well, 20 x 10 is 2000. And 20 x 6 is 120. So 20 x 16 is 2120. Now 7 x 10 is 70 and 7 x 6 is 42. So 7 x 16 is 112. So, technically, 27 x 16 should be 2232…. Did I get it right?

9. What is your favourite thing to cook?
Italian food. O, and banana bread.

10. If you could invent anything, what would it be?
A way to insert more hours into a day but without getting tired.

11. Why do you blog?
Because I like it. (See question 4)

So next up, my nominations are as follows:

1. Maggie of SomeoneFatHappened. Yet again. Because she said I can clean her yard for chocolate cereal bars. Four boxes of them.

2. My Little Italian Kitchen. What’s not to love? The clue’s in the title. This blog is one of my favourite recent discoveries.

3. Read Stuff With Me – this blog covers anything and everything and, predictably, is a space which encourages reading, which is a very admirable pursuit, I’d say.

4. Barcelona Street Scraps – Great photos. I love taking time out of my day to browse around the posts on this blog.

5. Reflections of a Book Addict – if nothing else, this is for recently reviewing a book I’ve been wondering about for ages and helping me make up my mind!

6. CyclingEurope.org – a great blog about all things bike-y. His book, Good Vibrations, about cycling to Italy was an obvious winner with me (I’m into all things Italy since my trip to Rome).

7. Fitness and Frozen Grapes, again. The great pictures of food, the impending move to the Big Apple, the Downton Abbey love. It’s all going on in this blog.

8. Little Commas – Because everything in this blog is beautiful. Everything. It’s all very very beautiful. Fact.

9. The Usual Bliss – Her Bliss Bits posts are lovely, that’s why. That’s not the whole reason, but it’s a large part of it.

10. The Idiot Speaketh – Because I think he needs cheering up after his wife gave him an old M&M as a congratulations….

11. Canadian Hiking Photography – This blog was a recent find and the photos are stunning. Check them out.

And my 11 questions are:

1. You go to the fridge and all you find are some garlic bulbs, celery sticks, marmalade, an aubergine, double cream and chilli chocolate. What do you make?

2. What is your favourite part of the day?

3. You can only listen to one song for the rest of your life. Which one is it?

4. How do you feel about Paulo Coelho?

5. How many of the wonders of the world have you seen?

6. What is your favourite place in the world?

7. How long do you stick with a book you’re not enjoying before you give up? Do you give up?

8. Do you think Kylie Minogue should make a comeback?

9. I’d like some good life advice. Do you have any?

10. I’m thinking of taking a minibreak for my next birthday. Any ideas?

11. Zombie films… Love or hate?

Reflections on Rome

Since returning from Rome, I have introduced some new habits into my daily routine, in an attempt to pretend I’m still on holiday.

I have at least one espresso a day. I have it quite short, a bit less than a single shot of coffee. I don’t put any milk or sugar or anything in it. And it is much tastier. I think the longer you run the espresso for, the more bitter it goes. As my previous dislike of coffee generally arose from the bitter taste, I am well on my way to liking coffee if I can figure out how to make it not bitter. So I just have a short one.

I also eat little Italian pastries quite often and, as yet, am unsure whether this is a reliving-the-holiday thing or a greedy-cow thing. I will usually have one with my espresso. Maybe that habit needs to calm down…? (When I was wondering aloud with a friend about how the Italians are not fat, she said, in an ominous tone, “O but they are! Check them out after they’ve turned 30, it’s not pretty.”)

I have eaten risotto both evenings for dinner since my return. Both times, I made it with porcini mushrooms and when it was cooked all the way through, right before I put it on the plate, I mixed in white truffle and parmesan. Porcini mushrooms and white truffle with dinner every evening will start to make me a poor Laura, if I don’t watch it…!

On the truffle front, do you remember when I went mental on discovering the truffle butter at the Fine Food Fair?

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Well, I was worried about trying to find it online because I thought it could turn into a real obsession, if I knew how to get it. Stupidly, I was having a truffle moment and was ordering some truffle pasta online and found the EXACT truffle butter I tasted. So I ordered one black and one white. This could be the beginning of my downfall, people. I’ll be writing posts about how I’m scared to go outside and I just stay inside all day, eating sticks of butter as though they are chocolate bars. I’ll quit my job and have bad cholesterol and turn my nose up at green vegetables. I may need you all to help me through.

I also wear my very Italian apron, when cooking my risotto, as it helps me feel all Italian. I got it at a little shop near the Pantheon. Here is a photo of me posing in it….

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I asked Danda what things he learned from our Roman Holiday and what habits he has kept up. He said “Ice cream.”