“I Like Driving in my Car, bah bah BAH bah bah BAH!….”

July 31, 2007 at 4:39 pm (Italy, photos)

Ciao tutti! Siamo arrivati! (We have arrived)

Right, well we’re here and what an amazing journey it’s been so far. We left rainy kent early (and I mean EARLY) last Tuesday and headed for Dover. The sun came out and the water wasn’t too choppy, so the first part went well. We decided that A would do the first part of the European leg as he’s driven abroad before, so I was cheif navagator. However, I didn’t have to do much because it was really easy. The weather was great the views were even better. The scenery was just stunning, it’s a good job A was driving because I don’t think I could’ve resisted getting my camera out, which may have been dangerous!

We got a tiny bit lost driving into Chambery, as the google map wasn’t very clear and it had been rained upon so was a bit blotchy! Doh! But the hotel was good enough for us to crash out, and we were up again early the next day.

Again, the weather was clear, so driving over the alps was superb! I would recommend it to everyone. As it turns out we could’ve done the whole journey in one day but splitting it into two meant that we could take our time doing the fun bit. (Although obviously A wanted to go very fast and not take his time on the windy roads, but that was to be expected!) We stopped just before the Italian border at mount cenis somthing…(sorry can’t remember, A probably got it right on his blog post) and got some fab pics of the views.

The final part of the journey was a touch scary as we were driving to a deadline (to meet the landlord’s daughter to collect the keys) and we got a bit lost in Torino. I tell you, it’s a wee bit tricky getting yourself back on track when the map you’ve got is all watermarked, (the proper map having been packed away neatly in the boot, which now has two bikes strapped to the back, so no chance of recovering it) there’s traffic everywhere beeping horns like crazy, you’re hot, one of you (and it wasn’t A) gets all stroppy cause they don’t know what they’re doing or how to solve the problem and all the streets are one way! After all that, I feel that just to be here at all is an accomplishment.

As usual, there are lots of photos to peruse through and they can be found……..wait for it……….here!

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In New Music We Trust

July 20, 2007 at 10:00 am (music)

Unlike the title suggests, I’m not talking about the radio 1 feature but rather, new classical music.

After watching the BBC’s Classic Britannia I realised that there are a hell of a lot of composers out there that I either know nothing or very little about. I have picked a few composers whose snippet of music I heard on the programme and liked and I’m making a note of their names here. Hopefully, this will help me to remember

  1. who they are and
  2. that I wanted to find some new music at all! (I have a terrible memory!)

So, over the coming months I will endeavour to find some/more of their music to add to my collection and will let you know what I think of it.

The list so far:

  • Nitin Sawhney – ‘Eastern Eyes’ (Indian raags meet dance music)
  • Nussen – ‘Where the Wild Thinghs Are’ (Opera collaboration with a childrens novelist about friendly monsters)
  • Mark-Anthony Turnage – ‘Greek’ (Opera set in the East End of London in the 80s using Edopus as a theme)
  • James McMillan – ‘The Confessions of Isabel Gaudi’
  • Zoe Martlew – ‘Shift Trap’ (Cellist click listen to samples on the left and composer)
  • Michael Nyman – ‘Peter Greenaway’, ‘No Exit’, ‘The Piano’ click listen to samples on the left (Good old Nyman, mostly film music and I like his work for piano)

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Northern Lights – the movie

July 18, 2007 at 2:00 pm (Uncategorized)

As I read on a friend’s blog, the book ‘Northern Lights’ by Philip Pullman is being released as a movie this December. My Dad suggested that I read the book a few years ago and now pretty much all the family has read it and its two sequels. I must admit that I found it a little hard to get into at the beginning (even though it is a children’s book) but I really did enjoy it. For some reason, however, I didn’t get round to reading the second and third books in the series but I now have the motivation, as I want to get them read before the film comes out.

To have a look at the trailer or to find out what daemon you have, then click on this link. For some reason they’ve changed the name of the film to ‘The Golden Compass’ but hey, that’s Americans for you!

My daemon is a gibbon! A gibbon?! I’m not sure if I’m very happy with that but the characteristics that come with it are quite nice, so I suppose I’ll just have to accept it.

If you can’t see the picture above, click here and it’ll take you to my daemon’s page.

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An Early Morning Cage

July 16, 2007 at 8:07 pm (music)



Yesterday morning, after a night of drinking, I woke in the early hours to go to the toilet. As I was washing my hands I heard some music and straining to listen, I thought, “that sounds like gongs, actually, that sounds like gamelan!” Immediately I turned off the tap in order to hear it better and I was surprised to hear that it was John Cage’s ‘Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano’. (To hear an example click here and when you get to the Amazon page click on ‘Listen to samples’ and you’ll hear what I’m talking about)

In these pieces of music, Cage puts nuts, bolts, rubbers and other small bits and bobs inside the piano, on the strings, so that when a note is played it sounds more like a gong, drum or saron (the closest western instrument is a Glockenspiel or maybe a metallophone but they don’t really sound the same as sarons have only 5 different notes and a duller timbre).

This music is not particularly common, so I was amazed to be hearing it at 5 in the morning. As I opened the window to see if I could work out exactly which Sonata it was, the music stopped; all I could hear were the birds! Confused and sleepy I thought that maybe I had imagined the whole thing and began to wonder “how much did I drink last night?” However, when I closed the window I could, again, hear the faintest sounds of percussion. With this, I decided to return to bed but I couldn’t help wondering where the music was coming from. My guess (and it’s the most logical solution, although I would like to imagine that someone, somewhere is recreating John Cage on their parent’s piano in the wee small hours) is that a neighbour is studying music A-level and is cramming before next week’s exams. This being said, I am given a glimmer of hope that there are other gamelan (and in fact Cage) lovers out there and when I returned to my bed, I slept peacefully, reminiscing about all the crazy and wonderful music I studied at school and uni. Good times.

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A Beautiful Country Wedding

July 16, 2007 at 2:05 pm (photos)

I had a fab day on Saturday at a gorgeous wedding 20 minutes from Bury-st-Edmunds. Jess and Tom were the happy couple, and they were exactly that.

The wedding was set in Jess’ parents grounds where the little church is about 200 metres from the house and marquee! The weather was gorgeous and so was the bride with a nice tan and the most beautiful dress.

It was really refreshing to go to such a laid back, enjoyable wedding. Lots of little nibbles were being brought round as we all relaxed on the grass whilst the photos were being taken. Everything had been organised so well that the day ran extremley smoothly and although not entirely traditional, much the better for it.

One example of this was the cake, I think it must have been everyone’s idea of heaven, so when it appeared at dessert, we were all very impressed.

After the wedding ceremony (and far too many champagnes in the grounds of the church) we all took our places at the tables in the marquee and waited for the speeches. They were very tasteful and Jess’ Dad’s brought a tear to my eye. (In fact I was welling up at various intervals throughout the day!)

Food was gorgeous and (on our table at least) everyone just had a generally great time.

The first dance was fab and Jess and Tom had obviuosly prepared; we took too many photos of it but it was just very cool!

There was a full evening of dancing to the live band and after this the night ended with fireworks.

The heart shaped firework with J and T in the middle was the cutest. Unfortunately it was too far away and my camera wasn’t feeling up to taking a good shot of it!

In total, I took 240 photos!! I’ve never taken so many photos in one day. I have deleted about two thirds of them though (all the rubbish ones), so I am sticking to my new rules about taking photos! They are here if you fancy a gander.

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Torino July 2007

July 15, 2007 at 9:14 pm (Italy, photos)

I’ve recently put my photos of Italy up onto flickr. They include some gorgeous Italian scenes, a few glorious piazzas and some stuff that’s a bit arty! Click here if you want to see them.

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Not Sure About These…

July 14, 2007 at 8:32 am (fashion, Italy)

A few things that I’ve noticed about Italy that are quite different to England are:

1. Toilets – they seem to think the definition of a toilet is a hole in the ground that has two feet-shaped areas either side of it. As you can imagine, this is supposed to be squatted over! All girls will know that this is not an easy task, especially when the door doesn’t lock and you’re fighting to tear off the last two available squares of toilet roll. Haven’t been enjoying that so far!

2. Shoes – Wow! It’s almost like heaven. There are so many shoes. I know people say that Italians are well dressed, they take pride in their clothes and which labels they are wearing; those people are not wrong. It’s all about the appearance. This is all well and good but I have no idea how they strut so confidently down the narrow cobbled streets with 6 inch heels. Something I will have to master but I’m certain that this will be time well spent!

3. Parking – For all those crap parkers out there, get yourselves to Italy. If there’s an available space, the driver doesn’t see the need to reverse park into it, he/she will just go in, nose first, and leave the car’s bum sticking out! So all subsequent passing drivers have to skirt round it. And this is very common, you see it everywhere. If only we were taking my beloved micra then I too would have a play at this game. As it happens we’re taking A’s car and don’t think he’d be too happy if I came back from a shopping trip with a dent in her bottom!

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Appartamento Favoloso

July 10, 2007 at 11:10 am (Italy, photos)

It’s official, we’ve got an apartment in Turin. It’s big, on the first floor of the block, right in the city centre, has space for visitors and (the best bit) it has a terrace. I can’t wait to get that BBQ going!

So, if you’re planning to come out and visit, click here to see where you’ll be staying. Obviously it’ll look much better once we’re in there, as it’ll have had a bit of a clean and will have been improved with some girly touches.

Just imagine sitting out on the terrace on a warm summer’s evening with a fine glass of Italian wine – bellissimo!

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Ciao raggazzi

July 9, 2007 at 10:19 pm (Italy)

So we go out to eat and I have the best pizza ever, with tons of seafood on it! Yum! As we are walking home (I’m complaining about my blisters) we hear an arpeggiated squeal from a trumpet! My ears prick up (as do Adrian’s) and I’m thinking, surely that was just a piece of music and not possibly someone playing their trumpet at 22:00? However, low and behold, as we walk further along the piazza (“It’s a Piazza“-Michael Caine) there’s a group of ragazzi (‘youths’, but much less of a derogatory word) with saxaphones and trumpets improvising to some hip-hop music. It sounded excellent and was the perfect way to end the evening. (It all took place at La Drogheria in piazza Vittorio Vineto.)

Ooh, one last thing, as we sat down, a couple came up to ask if some seats were free and the woman lives in our (soon to be) apartment block! Che strano! So, we now have a friend. She doesn’t know it yet but she’s the only one we’ve got, so we’re gonna follow her round like lost puppies and make her speak to us in a combination of English and slow Italian. Lucky Elisa!

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It’s the Little Souvenirs…

July 9, 2007 at 12:18 pm (Italy)

Note to self:

* quattro litri di vino bianco = 4 litres of white wine

* quarto litro di vino bianco = 1/4 of a litre of white wine

Don’t get this wrong unless you’re planning a very long night (with a lot of warm white wine)!

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