Sunday, 20 November 2011

swiss life is cosy, cosy cosy ♥

i don't really have time to blog at the moment. but swiss life is pretty wonderful. full of fresh mountain air, productive thesis writing, lots of socialising, cosy chalet life, coffee on the balcony and lots of good food. so much good food! but that requires another blog post... ps. obviously i don't live in a chalet but it very much feels like it.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

swiss life - week one - in instagram pics

i have been living here just over a week and swiss life is just peachy! i'd forgotten how much i love, love, love living with raffaele. even simple things like cooking together are just so much fun.

i've met some really lovely people so far and my writing is going well. tomorrow the circus is in town and on friday i'm going to a knit club. not a bad start to life in brunnen!

 my cousin, phoebe, took this the night before i left. it was a lovely celebratory night.

 my first morning. clear skies. the view from our dining room.

 raffaele made this delicious plum tart.

first snow on the mountains. moody skies. the view from our living room.

 military provisions!

 artichokes stuffed with bacon, garlic and parsley.

 raffaele celebrates his very last shift at the bistro he used to co-own and has just sold!

 swiss crutches. with spikes on for the snow and ice!

 the first raclette of the season. this was divine! the photos don't do it justice.

 a current WIP (work in progress). knitting in our home, surrounded by mountains, is thoroughly enjoyable!

 monday night roast.

 raff agreed it was photo worthy.

hammock life. swiss life. our balcony.

Friday, 28 October 2011


i've been working really hard all week to pull together another draft empirical chapter and i am *almost* there. oof, working on a friday night and over the weekend can take its toll sometimes.

anyway, one of my favourite ways to take a quick break is pop over to pinterest and see what beautiful images are there to inspire me. and today i saw these fabulous tarts!

of course i love a stripey wardrobe as much as then next person but stripey food is so fun. you can check out my pinterest boards if you'd like to see what else has taken my fancy. also, click here to see this wonderful stripey beetroot, posted earlier this week by the chefs at the ethicurean.

ps - be sure to check back here this weekend for details of a figs and roses giveaway!

Monday, 24 October 2011

anticipating swiss life

i was feeling a little stressed. mainly about money. but then a conversation with raffaele and a quick look at my old swiss photos (taken nine years ago) made me relax. and i realised that soon we'll be going for walks here:

if you'd like to see the rest of my swiss pics from last week's trip, you can see the flickr set here.

right, back to my thesis as writing has been going well today.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

she makes my heart swell


isn't it simply wonderful when you have a real connection with someone? no matter how young or old? i didn't think it was possible to feel happier and luckier this week. but then i went and had coffee with liz and her daughter darcie (who i looked after once a week from 11 weeks - 15 months).

i hadn't seen her for months but she still remembered me and it was the first time we'd been able to have a proper chat. she's two and a half and some snippets of our conversations went like this:

(as i help D take off her shoes and put on her slippers):

D:  are you ok nancy?
N:  yes, darcie, i'm great because i'm here with you.
D: yes.
N: i used to look after you when you were a baby.
D: yes. do you like your baby?
N: i don't have a baby. do you like babies?
D: i do, nancy. i love babies.

other sweet questions she asked me:

- do you like to spin?
- can i have a cuddle? can i have a hug? can i sit on your lap? (lots)
- can we pick some straw bears (strawberries?)
- what is your friend boy's name? (she was confused about me explaining about raffaele but then pronounced it perfectly).

when i held her she played with my necklace (pictured in the blog post below). she asked me if it was broken because it was in two parts. she held my necklace and swept my fringe out of my eyes just like she always used to do. except this time she told me. she whispered  'i'm just moving your hair out of your face, ok?' then she gave me a kiss. it was so intimate, so special. liz and i both had tears in our eyes. 
it was no nice to be able to text liz and ask her to give D a hug and a kiss from me and to know that she would understand what that meant. apparently she hasn't stopped talking about me and asking where i am. it makes my heart swell.

words and pictures don't nearly convey how special this little person is and i am so thrilled to still be in her (and liz's) life. i can't wait to see them for coffee again but think skype will also be an excellent way to stay in touch now she's so articulate.

you can read my other post about D here.

ps thank you liz for taking such lovely photographs of us!

soft wave. favourite necklace.

i took this on my 34th birthday. little did i know how much i would enjoy being this age! i blogged about my laura lombardi necklace here.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

happiness update

i had the most wonderful time in switzerland and raffaele and i decided very quickly that it makes the most sense for me to move in with him (tin brunnen - pictured above) and finish my PhD from there. i'll fly back for supervisions and other commitments and we're only going to spend about six months there before deciding where to be next. so, it doesn't feel like too much of an upheaval but is still extraordinarily exciting and i could not be more thrilled.

i lived with raffaele in switzerland 9 and a half years ago so i know that part of the world quite well but there are four developments (in addition to the fact that we'll be living together again!!) that i'm particularly excited about.

1 - we'll be living in brunnen in raffaele's beautiful apartment (pictured below) which has oodles of character, is surrounded by mountains and is only 5 minutes from the lake and nice bars, cafes, restaurants and the train station so it feels very civilised. it is the town i most wanted to live in when i was there all those years ago.

 the view from the study (nice and inspiring to write my thesis)

the view from the balcony. in a few weeks these mountains will most likely be completely covered in snow.

2 - many more people speak english than used to (people are older, more confident, have travelled etc) so i can communicate with people at a deeper level. i knew enough german to get by pretty well and it is coming back quite quickly - along with a tiny bit of recognition of swiss german (a dialect so different that native german speakers don't understand it). but the more people that speak english the better. especially since it's a short-term move so i won't have a chance to become fluent.

3 - raffaele's sister, monica, has had three beautiful girls since raff and i were last together and it was so exciting to meet them and feel so welcomed back into the family. i'm so pleased to have three new nieces.

4 - the internet exists! ok, it did exist then but i wasn't connected in the way that i am now. being able to talk regularly to friends and family on skype and being able to chat to friends via e-mail or facebook and bristol knitters (for example) on twitter means i won't feel isolated.

i'll do another post of more photos soon but, for now, here are three more of my favourites:

photo at the top of this post via

and another shot of brunnen just for good measure... via

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

everything is possible

there is so much i want to say, so much i want to shout from the roof tops. but i am oh so tired (i had a *fantastic* PhD supervision today but they always take it out of me). plus i want to save some of my words for raffaele, for us.

so, this is just a brief post to say how wonderful it feels to be truly living in the moment.

i have always been one for plans. but life never goes to plan. for the last few years, i have become more and more preoccupied with having children. it is what i have always wanted, what i have always been sure about. the constant in my life when other things have changed.

but now that raffaele and i have found each other again (ten years after we met and eight years after we split up), now that i am hopelessly in love with this brilliant man, i feel calmer than i have ever felt. we have time. we are free.

for now, i want to suck up this life we’re living together, just the two of us, where everything and anything is possible.

and there is something quite unique about this feeling – the heady, electric, dreaminess of falling in love and feeling a little addicted (ok, quite a lot addicted) to someone. but to feel all of this at the same time as having that history, that security and that certainty that that someone is the love of your life.

my goodness, that feels good.

if you want to read about another wonderful story of reuniting, head over to drea’s blog – i feel like she knows exactly how it feels to fall head over heels back in love.

Monday, 3 October 2011

raff on the beach

as hoped, i have worked my way through a tough blip on the PhD and, despite being unsettled by some news at the weekend, today i have a spring in my step and writing is going very well indeed :)

so, in a very short lunch break (got to harness this high motivation), i thought i would share the second gif. i love how the water, as well as raff, moves.

to everyone in the uk, enjoy the last day of summer!

how to make gif

Saturday, 1 October 2011

a game changer

here it is again, that familiar rollercoaster nature of writing a PhD and that overwhelmed feeling is creeping back.

i have been on a huge high (of course i have, what with a fabulous time in italy and all the exciting developments that brought with it!!). but i was also back to feeling really capable (like when i wrote this post - 'after the storm') and i felt like the end was in sight.

last night i was talking about when i might get this beast finished. i had been hoping to submit a polished draft by christmas. but then someone mentioned spring. what?!! no!! i can’t possibly cope with still working on it until then.

but that is the thing with an 80,000 word thesis. it. just. keeps. on. going...

nb - i took this photo back in 2003 when i lived in central switzerland. i'm going back next week to stay with raffaele and work from there so i will be climbing mountains in real life as well as metaphorically.

Friday, 30 September 2011

over at figs and roses...

if you don't follow my other blog about my newly launched business - figs and roses - you will have missed me talking this week about the inaugural bristol knit club (pictured below) and about raffaele's inspirational nonna who is still working as a seamstress. at 92!!

you can read more about it on the other blog (just click on the 'figs and roses' badge under the blog heading and it will take you straight there). you can see more photos there too. as you can see, theo didn't knit but i'm sure we'll have him casting on soon enough.

so, here is a friday night shout out for my new company before i attend to the more pressing matter of my thesis.

did you know you can show your support (which would be most welcome!) by becoming a fan on facebook? all you have to do is click here and click 'like'. easy! you can also follow @figsandroses on twitter to be kept up-to-date with developments.

right, back to work. a chapter deadline is looming...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

fun with gifs - part 1

i have been meaning to post some gifs on here for an age. but then i realised that viewing more than one gif at a time is messy. so, i'll post a series of them and break them up with some nice photos (or some other posts). just because...

first up, i was re-inspired to create some gifs when i spotted this *lovely* one back in july:

NYC Photographer Jamie Beck

caught in the rain

Thursday, 22 September 2011

magical ischia

well, WHAT a holiday.
there are so many highlights and those of you who know me in real life will have had the full details! ♥ ♥ ♥

here are some of the most memorable ones...

meeting some of raffaele’s family and, in particular, his 92-year-old nonna who was ever so sweet and it’s amazing how you’re able to form relationships with people with only smiles, hand gestures, kisses and a few words of italian. although raffaele was chief translator, the family spoke italian constantly to me and, within two weeks, my knowledge had gone from 3 to almost 100 words. SO motivated to learn this beautiful language.

sailing with raffaele off maronti. deep belly laughs from me even when i ended up in the water (twice). can't wait to do it again.

whizzing round the island on the back of the bike. just thrilling.

this is pretty much what it was like except on a smaller scale (and faster!). next time i’ll make my own video.

(for some annoying reason, i can't embed the youtube footage like i normally do so just click here to see the video).

bathing in the natural hot-water springs at sorgeto in the light of the moon. i don’t have any photos but this video shows what it’s like.

espresso (made by raffaele) or cafe crema at the beach (also known as cafe del nonno).


the food, obviously. most of the time i was too busy savouring it to capture it on film. we generally ate very simply and the tastes are still so vivid in my mind.

and, if you're still reading (since i still can't work out how to get links to open in a new page), you can view the rest of my holiday pictures here on flickr.

i am so excited at the thought of spending future holidays there. plus next time we’ll have to visit all the places we never got around to this time (capri, pompei and naples). there was just too much to explore on ischia. it really is the most wonderful place and this holiday was *exactly* what i needed.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011



some of you will know i am off to italy on thursday. i am so, so happy about this!

i'm going to ischia with raffaele (an ex who remains a very dear friend) and, since his family live on the island, we'll be staying in a vacant family house for two weeks.

raffaele and i have already been to various places in italy together - milan, rome (see above) & sicily - so this is a continuation of our italian adventures. i'm so excited to meet his 90-year-old nonna who i hear makes *incredible* pasta and to scoot around on the back of a vespa checking out all the island's beaches, restaurants, markets and bars.

we're meeting in rome and getting a train to naples. we're also planning to visit capri and pompei. i'll be sure to post some holiday pictures here when i get back. but, for now, imagine that i will mainly be channeling these women in a bid to feel suitably stylish.

 this year, i found my capsule wardrobe board on pinterest especially useful in helping me gather inspiration for what to buy or wear on holiday.

i placed my first ever ASOS order. i was very impressed as i hate, hate, hate shopping and this took all the stress out of it. i love all my purchases and also got some swedish hasbeens from amazon so i'm all set!

images sources - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & the final photo is mine.

ps - since ischia is where the talented mr ripley was filmed, i'll also be channeling marge and her ability to write so that i return fresh and ready to attack my thesis with renewed vigour.

pps - i got a new super duper lens for my canon DSLR for my birthday so i am SO excited to try it out in italy and you'll see the results when i'm home.

ciao! x