The Archives: Life

Life

Rome’s coast: Beach, or outdoor living room?

This is what you probably don’t associate with a relaxing day at the beach: Forty-five minutes in the car, windows down, hot air streaming in. Traffic; a long, slow snarl that snakes towards the coast, tangling up hopelessly at every on-ramp and poorly-placed stoplight. And a painful hunt for an acceptable parking space; a space where you might have a chance of actually extracting the car at...

Food  |  Life

An abundance of time and apricots

It’s late June, and summer has long since arrived and settled in for the long haul here in Rome. When I initially sat down to write this post, just over a week ago, I started to write that we were at the point in the season where everything still felt exceedingly new and pleasant: The sun on my back as I walked down the...

Life  |  Travel

Wandering Rome: Trastevere’s hidden corner

A couple of weekends ago, after waking up unusually late to find a heavy grey sky outside the bedroom window and a lunch appointment lurking just over an hour away, I pulled on a wooly sweater-dress (my winter uniform for any situation in which I want to be both cozy and reasonably pulled-together), grabbed my camera, and tucked an umbrella into my bag before heading out the...

Food  |  Life

Ending 2016 at the table

January. I always feel vaguely divided about this month, torn between liking the freshness of a new year and feeling somehow let down by the fact that the cozy, festive initial part of winter is already over while the colder, bleaker part of the season will be settling in for the next few months. January means that it’s time to box up the decorations, to start being productive again, to stop buying industrial quantities of panettone and then demolishing it all within a couple of days, and, in...

Life

The merits of extreme procrastination, holiday edition

Here’s a confession: I leave my Christmas shopping really, really late every year. I think I’m actually getting worse as time goes on, because last year at this time there were wrapped gifts sitting under the tree and I had already turned my attention to the somewhat anxiety-inducing question of the Christmas dinner menu. This year, with a grand total of three days to go until Christmas, I only...

Life

The sudden season

It’s May. Nearly mid-May, actually, since the first part of the month seems to have spun away into nothingness without me noticing anything, rushing past while my mind was telling me that we were still lingering somewhere near the beginning of April. May means that we’re deep into the heart of spring, a season that always manages to surprise me. Winter in Rome is such an undramatic, subtle affair that I never really notice its arrival; the trees shed their leaves so slowly, and the vines cling to their colour and foliage for so long that I start to wonder whether...

Life

Parking alla Romana

This morning, walking towards Campo de’ Fiori, I heard the distinct crunching noise of plastic forcibly contacting more plastic. I stopped, turned, and immediately spotted the source of the sound: A car wedged partway into a parking space considerably too small for its length, its bumper pressed up firmly against the car in front of it. My first thought was that the driver had returned to his car, which he had perhaps parked perfectly normally the night before, to find it thoroughly boxed in on either end by later arrivals. This, therefore, would give the driver little choice but to nudge...

Life

Holiday tradition, looking back and forward

The Christmas lights have been going up all around Rome. I first spotted a lone tinsel-draped tree standing defiantly in a shop window in mid-November and thought, huh, that’s oddly early this year, and then the decorations started gaining momentum and spreading steadily through the city until one day it was undeniable. The holidays had arrived. So here we are: December. On the first day of the month, embracing one of the few holiday traditions that I actually look forward to, I headed to one of my...

Life

Horror story without an ending

I found it just after lunch, a seemingly insignificant brownish shape on the floor behind the table, right next to the baseboard. It was a leaf, I assumed, blown in from outside. Possibly a scrap of dark paper. I swooped down to pick up and dispose of it, then stopped. Something was wrong. This was not a leaf. This was rather three-dimensional, more defined, more… leggy. This was a scorpion. There was a scorpion in my apartment. There was a short pause, maybe two seconds, although it felt much longer, during which my brain processed this discovery: First, a fleeting feeling of...

Food  |  Life

Lamenting and then savouring summer: A recipe

Yesterday afternoon, I did something that I haven’t done for months: I pulled a cake out of the oven and set it on top of the stove to cool. It was a simple cake, a fairly basic batter studded with halved plums and showered in brown sugar, but it felt oddly symbolic: plums are an end-of-summer fruit that make their appearance just before the season changes, and the cake itself – the first thing I’d baked in ages – was a celebration of the temperature finally...

Life  |  Travel

The wrong side of the road

I was introduced to my adversary, a tiny white hatchback car, in a nondescript parking lot in front of a bland-looking low-rise office building. It would have been the most unremarkable, non-threatening encounter ever, had the parking lot not been in Ireland and the office building not an outpost of a car rental company. But, as it happened, I was about to rent the car for four days, which meant that I was also about to drive on the opposite side of the...

Food  |  Life

Despair and frustration at the supermarket: A rant

I had intended to write about something reasonably interesting to break my months-long silence here, but as I’ve just come back from the supermarket, and, as usual, am feeling irritable after the experience, I’ve decided to write about that instead. Grocery shopping is decidedly un-glamerous, but as it’s also unavoidable – and unavoidably frustrating, especially recently – I will write about it. I’m fortunate enough to have a supermarket just around the corner from my house, although calling it a “supermarket” actually feels like a fairly significant stretch of the word, since the whole thing occupies about the same amount of floor space as my apartment...

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