Tag Archives: travel

Home is where the flowers are … and the wine

18 Oct

So much has happened since the last blog post, it’s hard to know what to cover. Let’s hit the highlights – I now live in Amsterdam. As a somewhat politically incorrect German colleague noted, I’ve moved “from the colonies to the motherland”.

What’s been the most interesting about moving to Amsterdam is how quickly I’ve begun to feel at home. Part of it was the ability to move directly into the flat where I’ll spend the next year. Another was being able to walk almost everywhere, so I quickly got a grasp of the neighbourhood up close. But the real excitement has been the block-by-block discovery of the streets around the flat, which led me to the neighbourhood flower shop.

Now there are undoubtedly lots of flower shops around the city. There are probably several within a mile of the house. But my flower shop is on a side street, in a converted garage with a permanently damp concrete floor, and a walk-in chiller filled with the most amazing roses, tulips, chrysanthemums, and this week, golden oak leaves and the last hydrangeas of the season.

Turns out feeling at home isn’t necessarily about having all your stuff around you, or knowing your neighbours, or having lived there forever. For me, it’s really about the special moment when you can mentally call up a picture of your space, and realise that there is no place you would rather be at the end of a long week, a long flight, or a long day. It’s the place where you want to have a glass of wine, make a nice meal, and just be. It’s the place where you know you will spend more time than usual, enough that buying flowers doesn’t seem like an over-the-top extravagance, but the most logical thing in the world.

Welcome home to me. It’s nice to be here.

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Naturale!

21 Apr

Last week, I made a spontaneous trip to Italy with a couple of friends, who very kindly let me join in on their fabulous itinerary at the last minute. The trip covered Florence, San Gimignano and Bologna and was absolutely amazing. One of the highlights was strolling around the piazzas and people-watching, although as I learned, when you are watching people, people are watching YOU!

I was walking along taking in the sights of street artists, when an old Italian guy waved his hand at me and started to say something in Italian while pointing at my hair. I stepped towards him as he gesticulated… body language being what it is I had a feeling I knew what was coming. Sure enough, as he pointed at my hair in disbelief making cork-screw motions with his hands, I caught the word “naturale” in the midst of his speech. Making a guess at his meaning, I leaned towards him while responding “Si, e naturale”.  At which point he reached out and patted my hair, after which he delightedly exclaimed “Si, e naturale!!!” at the top of his voice! It was hilarious – one more person who couldn’t wait to touch my hair!

Turns out hair like mine attracts attention, and people just love to touch it.  Sometimes, this drives me mental – I mean, I don’t go up to strangers grabbing body parts without permission! My hair is attached to my body, and definitely falls inside the personal space boundary. Why people feel it’s OK to touch it because it doesn’t look like theirs is beyond me. In the bus, on the subway, at concerts, in restaurants, in stores …. you name it, someone’s tried it.

But it’s the hair I have, and yes it’s natural or “naturale” if you prefer.  On the subject of hair, I’ve been contemplating letting it grow a bit this summer, but wanted to try some new hair styles and products.  Imagine my delight when I headed to the internet for some inspiration and found this amazing blog right here at good old WordPress.  Hair just like mine AND a plethora of product reviews just so I don’t have to spend all my money learning lessons she has already discovered! Even better, as the pictures attest – she is in the process of growing hers as well.

Now I’ve got some new ideas, and new hair products on their way. Molto bene!