Pizza, pre-party naps and pleasurable pain

Early post today because who knows whether I’ll be fit for anything later. The apron to turn me into Maria from the Sound of Music is ready (kind of) although I might have grossly overrated my sewing skills.

1. Pizza. The two key secrets to my current slow and steady weight loss seem to be: cutting down on refined carbohydrates and not eating after 7.30 pm. The latter seem to be more important than the former but they are both tricky to achieve if you’re Italian and a pizza lover. And I do. I love pizza with a passion. And I’m not even strict on toppings. If pineapple and ham rock your boat, who am I to argue?

2. The English countryside. We’re in Weston Super Mare and it’s superbly cute. It reminds me of why I love living in England. My soul is here in a way that’s hard to explain. The view, the smells, the atmosphere, even the cold. They ground me. There’s a solidity and an honesty to it that I’d never found anywhere. And it’s so quiet.

3. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I finally finished the audiobook. The reader wasn’t great unfortunately. Too fussy. Too theatrical but the book is frightening and frighteningly relevant. I’m glad I’ve read it although I wish I had read it years ago when I was at school. I find absurd that people read it today without seeing the parallels of what we’re going though.

4. Pre-party naps. I don’t have enough of those.

5. Muscle soreness. Lactic acid everywhere after an excellent yoga class yesterday and I love the feeling. Right now my back muscles ache in a delicious way. I wonder what it is about it that makes that type of pain strangely pleasurable. The thought of it as a result of hard work in a primal way?

Here’s my outfit:


Chums, sewing skills and how do you solve a problem like Maria

I’ve let you down tonight. I was busy sewing a last minute fancy dress costume for tomorrow.

1. The Sound of Music. Yes, I’m going as Maria. I spent the night making the apron and I remember how much I love that movie. My now estranged cousin and I used to perform the goodnight song for our family when we were little.

2. Salzburg. The husband and I went when we were newly engaged. A beautiful city. We went on the Sound of Music tour with the campest straight tour guide I’ve ever met.

3. Weekends away. Ah l’amore! I’m always grateful for that.

4. Sewing skills. They are not very good but it’s good fun and very useful to have. Especially the day you find out you need a fancy costume for a party the following day.

5. Chums. This is the thing I’m most grateful for. Friends you can be foolish with. Friends who will always have your back, who take care of you and make you forget all your worries for a silly weekend.

That’s all I have today. Goodnight and be kind to each other.

Insight, trees that don’t care and a frog that looks like Princess Leia

I’ve been sitting at my desk working all day and now my eyes are going all funny. Hence the below list.

1. Stamina. /def/ the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort. I don’t have much physical stamina because of  my stupid low blood pressure but mental effort (and pain) I can do. I could always get better though. I want to be confident and not fall to pieces at the mere hint of failure.

2. Insight. How would you define it? I’d say it’s the ability to look inside your own brain have a good rummage around to see whether there’s anything you need to learn or whether there’s any dead wood that needs to burn in order for you to develop and to make room for something new. I’m very much at that stage. Bits of my identity no longer serve me and I’m ready to learn new skills. Insights happen daily at the moment, almost faster than I can keep up with them. And I wake up in the morning and I’m not the person I was the day before.

3. Willpower. A brother to stamina. There was this girl at university at the same time I was there. She graduated in three and a half years instead of the standard five (university is longer in Italy).  She was fast. So clever, so fast, and had amazingly nimble willpower. I’ve got plenty of character flaws, but luckily envy which I despise is not one of them, but this girl tested me. She was something else. So good. What was driving her? and why oh why whatever was driving her couldn’t give me a lift as well? But at the venerable age of  *cough*ty-eight I’m practising strengthening my willpower. Wish me luck!

4. Funny animals. Funny weird rather than funny ha-ha. Nature is incredible even though is constantly trying to kill us. Half the creatures out there, you look at them and you think ‘How the hell did that happen?’ But I also find nature and animals incredibly soothing and comforting. If I’ve had a bad day only two things can lift me up: FRIENDS and videos of talking animals. Why are they so funny? What is it about them that makes them so funny?

5. Trees. I love trees. They don’t care about, well anything! They are tree. They don’t care if you like them or not. They just are. They don’t care if they are fat or thin or different. They will continue being tree in that self-assured tree-like way with zero-f**ks to give. Because that’s what they were born to do and just by being they are fulfilling their purpose, their meaning, their destiny. Why can’t I be more tree?


Romance, a bigger brain and doggy bags.

At times this blog feels like flash blogging. That’s why it’s called a challenge!

1. Romance. I’m grateful for romance in any form. We need love to keep evil at bay and romance, romantic gestures are fundamentally ways in which we tell another person that we’re greateful that they are in the world and in our life. Not a small thing. Romance is a way of cherishing someone, to show them we don’t take them for granted. Romantic stories are a reminder that there’s love to be experienced in the world. They are hopeful and optimistic. C’est l’amour!

2. Meditation. It makes my brain bigger and I could do with meditating more regularly. Even so. Writing helps; it’s a form of meditation. Even this blog is a form of meditation. Not taking my phone with me to the bathroom also helps. I got the idea from this video. I thought that in order to meditate effectively and become really good at it I needed to do it for long stretches of time but actually a couple of minutes here and there are better than nothing. And it makes my brain bigger.

3. Train journeys. I guess I love train journeys for pretty much the same reason. They are extremely conducive to meditation and mindfulness. There’s a promise contained in a train journey, the unspoiled potential of books to read and dreams to dream. My grandmother used to live about five hours away from us and we’d go visit fairly frequently, often by train. I made friends during those train journeys. I made plans and read plenty of books too.

4. Left-overs and doggy bags. I went to Arabica in Borough market for a for lunch today and we overordered, as you do. At the end of the meal, the waitress asked if we wanted the leftovers wrapped, and after a moment’s hesitation I said yes. I knew the husband would appreciate the treat AND I hate wasting food. At the moment I ‘m trying to learn to sto eating when I’m full which means really that I’m trying to learn to give myself permission to leave food on the plate if I’m not hungry. If I misjudge how hungry I am that can be irritating so I like ‘doggy bags’ because they quieten my conscience.

5. An empty stomach (sometimes). I used to be terrfied of the actual sensation of hunger and that was one of the many factors contributing to my overeating. This would happen in spite of having actually experienced for instance how much better my yoga practice is on an empty stomach. Right now, this is another habit I’m trying to develop: not to be afraid of the sensation of hunger, to remind myself that it can be good for me and that this is London: I will always find something to eat if I need it. And for that I’m grateful but it’s not easy. By the way, gratitude itself is a very helfpul way to start overcoming emotional eating. So there you go.

A different kind of doggy bag (sadly that’s not my dog):


Black truffle, a steampunk brooch and public displays of affection

I’m slightly inebriated and very very cold, sitting on a bench waiting for my train at London Bridge.

1. A spreadsheet. I like my reading spreadsheet where since 2007 I’ve been recording the books I read. Geeky? Who? Me?

2. Truffle. We’ve been out for a truffle supper club at Sardine. The husband and I. He’s a bit poorly but trooper that he is he came out anyway. I did mention to him that he’s contractually obliged to indulge my truffle obsession in sickness and in health.

3. A steampunk brooch. Oh it’s pretty. Found it on years ago. You like?

4. When you don’t have to wait for your bus. You’re at the bus stop and it’s cold but suddenly the bus appears and you can text home to put the kettle home because you’re on your way and the tea will barely have time to brew before you get there. Bliss! I think the digital countdown is one of the best inventions. Ever. I mean, technology is amazing. It means you don’t have to stand there in the cold.

5. People kissing. People complains about public displays of affection but I don’t mind. Why would I? The world is a miserable enough place without denying people the fleeting moments of joy they can snatch. Let them enjoy it. It’s love and we need more of it in this world. If only people kissed more and argued less the world would be a better place.

Compliments, All the King’s Men and Frances McDormand

1. Compliments. Giving compliments. Receiving compliments. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that telling someone you like something about them or that you appreciate them doesn’t cost anything. By raising someone up you will not bring yourself down. Quite the contrary I promise you. I live in London and giving compliments to strangers is considerate inappropriate, which is incredibly sad. At times I break this rule and if I have something nice to say I’ll say it especially to women as we’re harder on ourselves and hold ourselves to very high standards. So a lovely skirt, a good haircut, stylist shoes, even just general loveliness. Seeing the smile blooming is quite cool. And who cares if they think I’m weird? I can’t be any weirder of the man who once told me I had a lucky face, and that put me in a great mood for the rest of the day. If someone pays you a compliment just smile and say thank you.

2. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren. Excellent book by a three-times Pulitzer price winner. Excellent. I highly recommend it. He won the Pulitzer three times and what have I done with my life?

3. Burger and fries. So indulgent but nevertheless part of life. I refuse to be told what to do and what to eat.

4. Bookgroup Mondays. I’m grateful for my chaotic, nerdy, spreadsheet-loving Book Group still going strong after over twelve years.

5. Frances McDormand. Because she refused to be told what to do and what to wear while still fully supporting the #metoo movement. That’s a true dissident right there and for that I’m grateful.

Sunday roast, gratitude itself and hugging a radiator

It’s Sunday and like every Sunday, the afternoon sucks. Why are Sunday afternoons depressing? Does anybody have a word for the ennui of a Sunday afternoon? Thank goodness, for friends, food and books, I say. Have a good everyone!

1. Sunday roast. To round up the birthday weekend, we had a Sunday roast at the Royal Oak in Borough. I had duck, he had lamb saddle. And all the trimmings. A couple of hours with the person you love talking about anything and everything, and you feel there’s no other place in the world where you’d rather be.

2. Gratitude itself. It resets me and makes me realise that no matter how much I complain or how bad I think mylife is, there are things in my life worth celebrating. Big things. Small things. That renders life worth living. That makes putting up with suffering and evil possible. Life is not perfect but it could be a hell of a lot worse, and gratitude helps me remember that.

3. Warm jumpers. It’s like the echo of a hug especially for someone who’s always cold like yours truly. My favourite are the cachemire jumpers from Uniqlo. Shame moths seem to like them as much as I do. Ah but lavender pouches are the future. I sound like my grandmother.

4. Being there for someone. Having someone being there for you when you need them is priceless but being able to be there for someone else in their moment of need is pretty neat too. We worry too much about having good friends but not enough about being a good friend, I think. The pleasure of having the chance of being a true, loyal friend is wildly underrated.

5. My heart. My heart is playing up at the moment. Nothing major. Just a few palpitations here and there during the day. I don’t know if it’s stress-related or genetic (my dad had heart problems) but even if it’s not perfect, I like my heart and I’m grateful for it, you know? I can walk, dance, write, read, eat and much much more than that because of it.

Ok – Winter came weeks ago and hopefully is about to go. The end is in sight but I would and often do hug the radiator. My best friend.