Saturday, 19 July 2014

A Milanese Institution

So after a week and a half of mentoring the new intern, the last day came and my role ended. I hugged, I cried and I gave out mini cacti as gifts (they don't die as easily as flowers and they're unisex!)

A couple of my colleagues persuaded me to go for lunch with them one last time and the four of us headed out into the sunshine where we feasted on chilli and garlic spaghetti and baked eggs with mozzarella and courgettes. They also ordered me a litre of red, a coffee with a shot of grappa and a glass of Jagermeister. Lucky me.

On the way home, I popped to Exeter for a few days where the only photos I took were awful drunken ones of me with my friends. Who knows, maybe I'll reveal them to the public at some point.

And then today I arrived in Margate and have been playing with little Bertie, our new cocker spaniel puppy, for the last five hours.

He's a bit of a livewire and doesn't know how to pose for photos but we'll get there. First, I have a horrendously huge backlog to get through from the past, wonderful year.

Spontini is famous in Milan for its deep pan pizza. You just rock up to one of their 'restaurants', get ushered to a cramped table and are given the choice between a normale or abbondante (big). You choose the latter, get presented with a beast of a deep pan slice, work your way through it with a tankard of beer to help and then ushered back out again when your plate is empty for the next customer.

Pizza A Pezzi dishes up similar fare but there are a couple of differences...

  1. You can choose different toppings
  2. You can book a table

Magro has been coming here for years. Back in his Kung Fu days, he'd be in at least once a week with the guys and gals from the gym to chug litres of beer and eat slice after slice of deep pan goodness. I don't know where he puts it...

The slices are, after all, pretty humungous. Especially if you're greedy like us and order the extra large serving.

But it's a great place to go with friends and have a chat and a beer in an informal atmosphere, knowing you can stay there for as long as you like without being chucked out for the next in line. I do love Spontini but sometimes, lingering is the only way to tackle pizza like this!

But apparently not if you're Martina who defiantly exclaimed she would never be able to eat it all at the beginning but definitely ate it all before I did.

I tried to kid myself it was healthy by smothering it in fish and veg. Every little helps...

Proof that Martina ate more quickly than I did:

This is the problem with my dear friend. She is deceptively skinny. I take her out for dinner and rub my hands in glee when she orders something I fancy. There's no way she'll finish it!

Of course she does, every single bloody time.

And then she has room for dessert.

Some people eh?

We'll see how she fares when I introduce her to fish and chips in two weeks time... bring it on Marty.

Friday, 11 July 2014


Life is proving to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me at the moment.

I am having to say a LOT of goodbyes right now but I know that soon I will be greeting old friends and family instead.

And whilst I still miss Milly (or Millie, to be honest I never knew which way she preferred spelling it), we now have a new addition to the family which you may have seen if you follow me on Instagram (Lucyandthesky92) or Twitter (@lucyandthesky28).

Let me introduce you to...

...well I don't know actually. Because I say Billy (see a bit of congruency in my dog name choice there?) and Mum says Bertie Wooster. Yes really.

I fell in love with him as soon as Mum told me she was going to look at a puppy and that he was the last one left out of his brothers and sisters.

I have ALWAYS wanted to take the last puppy left or a dog from a dogs home so I was absolutely desperate for her to love him.

Apparently he was the shyest of all of them, not running up and barking like the others. After five minutes on Mum's lap he started crying to be let down. Things weren't looking good.

But in the end, my family went for it. He was a beautiful puppy from a good home and available at the right time, so that Mum and I can get to know him over the summer break before going back to teaching/university.

He got home yesterday and has already started coming out of his shell, exploring the house and playing with his new toys.

I can't wait to go home and meet him!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Getting Ready To Go Home

I haven't been posting much recently and I won't be able to for the next week or so either.

This is because *drum roll* I am actually coming to the end of my time in Milan. Seriously coming to the end of my time in Milan. I have a week left. Oh my God.

As such, I'm a bit of a busy bee trying to get everything done. I'm saying goodbye to friends, some of whom are also leaving, saying goodbye to co-workers, trying to arrange when I'm coming back, training the new intern (my replacement!) at work and wondering when on earth I'm going to pack my suitcase.

I'm heading back to the sea, where this time there will be no dog waiting for me. Mum's going to look at a puppy today but it's a dog rather than a bitch and she and my sister would prefer another little girl. I just get ridiculously attached to any dog (yes even this hypothetical puppy I may never meet) so I'm hoping she falls in love with him too. We were discussing names last night... Billy popped up until we realised it was just because it rhymed with Milly. Rupert and Oscar were other favourites.

But this isn't the end of my blogging experience! Oh no, no, no.

First of all, I have LOADS left to post about from my year. Meals out with friends, trips to Piemonte, Tuscany, Rome and Puglia, little trips around Milan...

Then there's the fact that I'LL BE BACK. At least once every couple of months and my goodness I will milk every second (and photo) out of it.

And finally, where I live is actually quite pretty too. And I learn interesting shit in Psychology so I'll tell you about that too.

In short, life goes on after Milan. Kinda.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

England comes to Italy

Why does it always rain when I go to Lake Como?

As beautiful and atmospheric as it was, this was the best we got all week:

I'm not really complaining.

After shooting down the motorway on Friday night (and turning up in a village just along from where we stayed last time, like, y'know, when we actually got to see the sun for a few hours) we pretty much flopped into bed straight after dinner.

Whilst Magro and I were dreaming of lie-ins and long lazy mornings, Andrea and Martina had different ideas and promptly woke us up from our sofa bed at 9am. The bastards. Lucky Mollie was locked in her own little room and didn't surface for another hour, when we breakfasted on chocolate chip biscuits and coffee.

And we contemplated what to do on this grey, drizzly day.

I mean, what is the point of going to Italy if it's just going to rain all the time? It's like, as soon as I'm in the office, the sun reigns supreme in the sky. As soon as I go away for the weekend (or even get ready to leave the office in the evening), it's rain o'clock and all my hopes are dashed!

Whilst we got ready, Andrea made some of his famous dough and left it to rise.

I will have to pinch the recipe off him so I can make my own next year because he really does make fantastic bread and pizza and foccaccia and it's all vegan!

We made the most of a brief break in the rain and went for a walk along the lake.

We didn't get very far before we were caught in the rain again but we stuck it out for a bit at least.

Swinging home via the supermarket to stock up on alcohol nutritious things, we headed home where we were once more treated to high-end vegan cuisine by Andrea.

Vegan carbonara using soy cream and tofu (so much better than you would think!) and courgette "meatballs" with a simple but delicious side salad. Just what the doctor ordered after being caught in the rain.

Look at that steaming plate of carbonara. Just looking at it is making me feel damp and cold and in need of its warming embrace again.

Afterwards, Andrea gave us a masterclass on kneading bread as he began preparing dinner mere seconds after lunch was finished. I keep trying to persuade him to give up his new career as a psychologist and go into food (partly because I want to be able to eat his food all the time) but he won't have any of it, even if he's always busy cooking something!

It was lovely being able to spend some time just being completely relaxed and without having to do anything. Of course I would have loved it if it had been swimming-in-the-lake weather or biking, hiking and running weather but it was so tranquil being able to chill on the sofa with a magazine and listen to the gentle sounds of Martina and Andrea bickering over soya cream (Martina brought the wrong one in her backpack hehe).

Even if it had been gorgeous, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy it. After lunch I was absolutely knocked out - my body just felt like it had crashed. I had the sensation of being in a fast car, my limbs heavy and restricted and my neck in a permanent state of discomfort. My head was swimming, my heart palpitating and my stomach churning. It wasn't fun. Magro was lovely and got me to lie down under a blanket, saying I'd had a heavy week (Arcade Fire gig, work after 4 hours sleep, a wedding, getting caught in the most horrendous downpour on the way to work which soaked the spare clothes in my backpack, getting the awful news about Millie).. So I went to sleep for a couple of hours, waking only when I heard the word "gelato" being thrown around...

Monday, 30 June 2014

Playing for the Tricolore! A Game for Rainy Days

This weekend, I went to Lake Como with a few good friends of mine.

Our plans were full of sunshine. Swimming in the lake, hiking up mountains, picnics and bike rides... to keep us going, I stocked up on some Tronky bars which, for those not in the know, are made by the same people who brought us Nutella and Ferrero Rocher (have your ears pricked up yet?) and are similar to Kinder Buenos with their light, crunchy outside and rich creamy fillings. Delicious. 

And perfect mountain fuel! (In fact, Magro kept a big box in the kitchen for hiking weekends until my Mum came to stay and ate them all. Eek.) As you know, I've been abstaining from sugar so I was ever so excited to be able to actually eat some chocolate without having Magro shoot disapproving looks at me. And when I saw that there was a new flavour for each of the colours of the Italian flag... well it would have been rude to only buy one wouldn't it?

So when it poured with rain for the entire time we were there (I swear to God, the sun never shines at Lake Como) I decided to change tactics to ensure I still got my sugar fix (well they are only 98 calories each! And you know, I really don't endorse dieting of any kind...)

On this gloomy, rainy afternoon, we brightened the day with a rather colourful game.

Magro is a massive game nerd and having actually checked out the weather forecast before we left, he had stocked his suitcase with games. You could buy Perudo or alternatively you could get a cup and 5 dice per person. It works like this:

1) Everyone shakes their dice in the cup before turning it upside down on the table and checking the up-facing numbers on their dice.

2) The first person to play makes a prediction on how many of a certain number there are e.g I think there are five sixes.

3) The next person in the circle has two options. Number one - they can raise the stakes with another number of their choice ("I think there are six/seven/eight/nine.. _____s") or by halving the current prediction and predicting that number of llamas (or ones if you're using normal dice) ("I think there are three llamas") or (if following a llama prediction and wanting to go back to numbers) by doubling the current prediction and adding one ("I think there are seven threes"). With me?

4) Number two - they can challenge the person before them. So if you don't believe there are seven threes, you say so and everyone has to raise their cups. The number of threes will be counted up (llamas or ones count as any number so they are always counted). If the number of threes doesn't reach seven, the person who made that prediction loses a dice. If it does reach seven or surpasses seven, you lose a dice.

5) The last person with their dice wins!

Mollie came first and chose the original hazelnut flavour.

I came second, nabbing myself the new pistacchio flavour I'd had my eye on..

And Magro came third, taking the milk and cereals flavour and refusing to pose nicely as he didn't win. Bad loser.

But nobody was a loser in the end because we split them between us after a delicious vegan lunch of courgette "meatball" and fried aubergine sandwiches, made by Andrea (that's a boy's name in Italy by the way, as is Daniele, Michele and Simone).

The meal had a bit of a tricolore theme going with the white of the bread, the green of the herbs and the red of the tomatoes in the sandwiches!

I wasn't expecting to like the milk and cereals flavour but it actually turned out to be my favourite, tasting just like a huge crunchy Kinder Maxi. I'm going to have to seriously stock up before I go back to uni as these aren't sold in the UK :( yet...

Even vegan Andrea got in on the action, showing us how he ate them as a child. Just look at that pistacchio cream!

The food all disappeared pretty quickly but luckily for us the rain had begun dying down this point, leaving us the rest of the day free to explore the area...
And as soon as I have my camera sorted, I will get the photos up so you can explore too! I hope you're not too peckish now...