Saturday, 3 June 2017

Lake Como-Italy

I have always wanted to go to Italy, let me just say, it didn't disappoint and I can't wait to go back. I haven't been on holiday since 2014 due to my health. This was my first holiday post my kidney transplant and I was feeling a bit nervous. So I'm a naughty traveller - yes I'm that annoying over packer. I'm that person who can't lift their own bag onto the baggage belt (or get it off the belt for that matter either.) Yeeeeeeh, I also have a bit of a confession to make....I also had half of hubby's big bag as well! I know, I know and I didn't even wear half the clothes I took (oops!). I think I will leave some of my art stuff behind as well next time, which I had in my hand luggage. I thought I was going to have time to sit, draw and paint. No such luck, we were soooo busy going back and forth across the lake.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got to Heathrow Terminal 5 and I found the Harry Potter shop and they had Nifflers! I wish I had had more time before the flight and I could have spent more time in the HP shop. I really want one of these - hope I get one for Christmas/transplant anniversary maybe!! I had to be convinced to leave (without the Niffler, crying and wailing - ok that might be a slight exaggeration!).

I'm a massive Harry Potter fan as many will know but I'm trying to restrain myself (yeh who am I kidding?). I could end up with a whole house full of HP stuff - hubby's not really an HP fan so.....that will be a no then - lol!!
Then I was looking out of the window (because I had the window seat obviously,) and I suddenly realised we were flying over the alps. It hadn't occurred to me that we would be going over the alps.The view was amazing and I just loved being back on a plane, even though I felt anxious to start off with. 

I slept a bit on the flight (I really hope I wasn't snoring/talking in my sleep - TMI - bit awkward!!)

So after collecting our luggage we got our private transfer to Menaggio on Lake Como. It was lovely driving around the lake with some beautiful views of the lakes and little towns dotted along the lake's edge. I snapped a quick pic of this little church, which was very pretty and many similar ones were dotted around the lake. It was slightly hairy in some places when we came face to face with a massive truck once or twice - eeeeeek!

Menaggio, was so beautiful and a typically Italian little town with beautiful views of the lake. The left pic (above) was the view from the town and the right is from our apartment. I loved staying in a self catered apartment because it gives you more freedom for cooking. I love going to local shopping markets and finding new things, trying them out. I wish, I had bought more pasta back from Italy-literally I could have filled the whole suitcase with pasta after seemingly buying half the shop. Not sure how customs would feel about this.....!! Customs officer: do you have anything to declare miss?Me:....errrrrrrr!!!

Pics above from left to right, Menaggio bright red Vespa, Bellaggio painted bottle restaurant, Tremezzo Gelato truck.

Bellaggio is also beautiful and became one of our favourite places on Lake Como. We visited the Villa Melzi and the gardens.The gardens were lovely with the lily pond surrounded by lovely vibrant Acers. The Moorish Kiosk was so sweet, nestled right on the lakeside (great for picture opportunities - but I did forget our tripod, so I had to prop it up.) We then discovered a little chapel which was very tranquil and peaceful (until I tripped over the end of the bench - why am I so clumsy?). I enjoyed our walk and spent a few hours walking round, taking photos and chatting. I did lose my hat a few times, had to chase it, so I ended up pinning it to my hair so it wouldn't fly off (more clumsy blogger moments!). We went to Bellaggio several times. 

(below) Taking photos with my late Dad's film camera

We went over the border to Switzerland for a few hours to have lunch and wander around - as you do! Unfortunately it was rubbish weather as you can tell by my really sexy drowned rat look that I'm going for in these pics - it's so annoying as I had a nice outfit that I had picked out for the day trip! 

We went back to Bellaggio, I was walking along the lakeside and then I saw this beautiful property and thought oooooh I could totally do this up and have it as our holiday home - if only we had a few million floating about! We could have been neighbours with George, but actually he lives closer to someone I know these days in Berkshire. Oh well, maybe one day!! I'm so in love with Italy I wouldn't say never to owning a property out there one day (obviously not as big as this but a cute little apartment for when we have a family - would be pure heaven!). I was looking for him on the lake too when the really beautiful boats went past.

So after a busy day in Bellaggio, I decided to sit by the lake and do some sketching while hubby read his newspaper. I decided to do watercolours but just as I had settled down (with a cup of tea and all my art stuff) to do a lovely drawing, my view literally disappeared behind the clouds and then I heard massive claps of thunder (I swear the only epic fail that didn't happen to me was falling off the boat or dropping my camera in the lake). Then there was a massive thunderstorm and there was a lot of rain and lightning. It was pretty spectacular, we sat and watched it late into the evening.

My mum did say she wanted Villa Carlotta as her new house! Don't think it's for sale!

Luckily the next day it had cleared up and the sun came, which was lucky because it was our last day, so we went off to Villa Carlotta, Tremezzo and it was stunning. Beautiful flowers including Bird of Paradise, I spotted while we walked in the gardens which are massive but we only saw a tiny bit. I then saw these lovely Rhododendrons which were in lovely shades of pinks and whites. I think, I literally took about 1,000 pictures of this place on various devices. Instead of being a crazy bag lady, I looked like a weird camera lady with millions of cameras and lenses and tripods and selfie sticks. Maybe I should get a T-shirt that says "yes, I take millions of selfies and photos.....I'm a blogger don't you know!" or something slightly shorter like "I 💖 Selfies...I'm a Blogger!!" Oh I should have patented that!!

I was sad to say goodbye to Italy, I fell in love as I knew I would and can't wait to go back. I would love to visit Positano, Sorrento, Capri or Sicily (desperate for more cannolis).


PS I love you Italy, miss you already!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

What I ate - Italy Edition


So where do I start? No seriously! There was so much food and it's hard to know what to try first. We arrived about lunchtime and we were absolutely starving, we headed to the square where there were cute cafes. We found one called Cafe Central (which is part of the Hotel Du Lac and La Dependence restaurant group) which we thought would be perfect for a light lunch. We had a panini, think mine was tomato and ham and hubby's was a different one (can't remember - rubbishy food blogger!). I had mine with a coffee (one of about a million!). The cafe was nice.

In the evening we walked along the banks of the lake, which was very relaxing, to the restaurant at the other end of Menaggio. We decided to go to La Grolla Menaggio Restaurant so we booked a table. I really wanted to try Spaghetti Vongale, so the first night I saw it on the menu and I had to try it and I have to say it was delicious! Hubby had a lovely pizza with ham, peppers and artichoke, which he enjoyed.


We decided to head over to Bellagio on the other side of the lake, for lunch and a bit of a touristy mooch. We decided to have lunch at the Hotel Florence where we had a lovely lunch, right on the lakeside. I had lasagna which had pesto drizzled over it (which made it even better I think) and hubby had a spaghetti ragu, they were both delicious. While we waited for the boat for the journey back we decided to try gellato from Gelateria Splendide because it would be very rude not too (when in Rome.....well you know what I mean). Mine was coconut and pistachio and hubby's was double chocolate with hazelnut.

In the evening we went back to the apartment after being out for most of the day, so we decided to cook rather than go out. We decided that my mushroom risotto would be easy.......errrrr finding fresh mushrooms was a challenge. I kind of felt that I had some sort of truffle hunt on or something - they were that elusive. We were both a little tired because we had done quite a lot so we had a chilled evening in.


So, we decided to pop over the border to Switzerland and have lunch. It was quite a fun experience, we had to take our passports just in case. We decided to have pizzas from Spaghetti Store as you do get such a great variety, plus it was a bit cheaper than a pasta dish. My pizza was a 4 topping combo I actually picked from a list of toppings. I had cooked ham, anchovies, mushrooms and rocket (I was a bit obsessed with it actually - had it on most of my pizzas!). OK my combo was a bit weird but it was good. Hubby had a pizza with the 4 combo but he went for salami, artichokes, mushrooms and sweet peppers (he also seemed to have artichokes on most of his pizzas). Then we walked back in the drizzle, stopping off to get a few coffees and then we saw some yummy macrons. I had a strawberry one and hubby had a chocolate one of course.

In the evening we went to Il Ristorante di Paolo which was in the square, it was Cordon Bleu but it didn't live up to expectations. It was very disappointing and the service was awful. The food was so undercooked, it was raw, and we had to send it back. Compared to the other meal that we had around the lake, where the portion sizes were generous, these portions were so small that you would need a magnifying glass. I really dislike this type of food where you pay ridiculous amounts for hardly anything. I am from the school of thought of 'fill your boots' type of food. Hubby and I enjoy our food and we don't like tiny portions. So this is definitely not one I would recommend. I nearly forgot to say what we had because it made me so cross. So mine was the risotto with beetroot and scallops (yes only 3 scallops) - it looks bigger than it was! Hubby's was lamb that was so pink he had to send it back, they then got in a bit of a strop with us for complaining. His dinner didn't come with any sides or anything. We felt so underwhelmed by our experience we thought we might make a snack when we got back. You live and learn, we will take TripAdvisor recommendations with a pinch of salt next time.


We went over to Bellagio again, we really enjoyed our time there and we wanted to try some of the cute cafes/restaurants.We had some peach Bellini's (mine was a mocktail) at Hotel Du Lac Bellagio. They were lovely.

We found a lovely little pizza place. It had a wood fired oven for pizzas which made them delicious. I had a lovely pizza, with shrimp, courgette and rocket. I think it was probably my favourite pizza of the whole trip. Hubby had a pizza with sausage meat on it which he enjoyed.

We then went and had a coffee before we went back to Menaggio. It was a Mocha Macchiato and I have to say it was amazing and I will try to find one when I'm back in England. It was soooooooo delicious, I think I could try and recreate it when we get a new
Nespresso machine (on our Christmas wishlist).

We also found some cannoli's in a cute Pasticceria Castelli and an amazing deli, which we nicknamed the singing deli, a funny group of Italian men started singing as soon as they realised we were English.

We then had another chilled evening in as we had done a fair amount in the day. We decided to have traditional Italian ragu for dinner, which we cooked together. It was lovely but very different from our British Bolognese which we are more used to. It was just lovely to eat all the traditional Italian dishes and it made me think about doing an Italian cooking class.


Breakfast was great because we bought extra cannoli's to have, they were delicious. We had a lovely coffee before heading to Tremezzo for a lovely walk around a villa and the gardens. We worked up quite an appetite so we then wandered along the bank of the lake to find a nice spot for lunch.

We had pizzas, mine had cooked ham and rocket and hubby had 4 toppings on his, which I think were olives, ham, mushrooms and artichoke.

We then had a quick drink where I got given a mocktail before we

had our last dinner where we had our first dinner (so we went back to the start). We both had mussels spaghetti but when they came they had more seafood than just mussels, but I enjoyed it all the same. We were celebrating my 8 months post transplant. That langoustine however was a bloody nightmare to get anything out of. We then shared a tiramisu (no raw eggs in that one).

We saw some amazing pastas in the deli and at the airport which I thought I would include. I was in awe of all the amazing coloured pasta (which I was furiously googling because I wish I had bought more home - annoyed with myself).


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Look Book-Italy

My Look Book may not be as glamorous as some of these other bloggers and vloggers but I tried to look as glam as I could (and I did try my best on my little budget and with my figure at this time - it's hard when my face is as round as the moon and you have as many epic fails as I do on a weekly basis!). As usual, I overpacked, so many more clothes than I needed, I really didn't know what to expect weather wise. I was so glad that I packed loads of trousers and didn't opt for shorts or shorter skirts (didn't really fancy getting my pasty legs out anyway!).

So I've included some day looks too because they were cute but casual. I think my favourite day look was my No.2 look, which was the first time we went to Bellagio, when we went for a walk through these lovely gardens at Villa Melzi. I loved these trousers, they kind of remind me of a water colour painting (these were bought for a cruise I didn't get to go on.) They are very Milan I thought (fashion capital of Italy). I paired the trousers with a sheer white shirt that had bobbled detail on, a long cream cardigan with striped detail on it and a blue little scarf that I matched to the trousers and my little blue spotty plimsolls (no idea where they are from - they're old).

I also had my velvet backpack from Primark to carry all my cameras in and my big sun hat that had sun, sea, sand on the rim and my Italian style sunglasses. I had to take my hat off while taking pics though because it kept getting in the way but I did wear it while I was walking around Bellagio. The whole outfit was from Primark apart from my Sun Sea Sand wide brimmed hat which was from Matalan. I added my little silk scarf to give it a bit of colour. I love it so much, I felt so glamorous and chic.
However I did have a bit of a #FashionFail which was rather embarrassing and a bit unfortunate (my 1st of two embarrassing fashion fails/epic fails.) Errr well where do I start? I was walking along in the beautiful garden, thinking I had done well with my look until I noticed that my trousers had split a little bit in a very awkward place at the front. So we decided to swiftly leave and head back. I then continued to wrap my cardigan around me so it wasn't noticeable.

I also liked No.4 look for the day, I wore a beautiful mint waterfall dress, I absolutely love the colour. It's very striking and great for summer parties, picnics and general glamorous social activities or just a Thursday, all the while being so effortless - lazy fashion, my kinda fashion! I paired this with my long white cardigan and my pompom sandals (which I'm obsessed with). Believe it or not that whole outfit is Primark apart from the hat (which is Matalan.)

I also travelled in these Peacock palm leaf and tropical flower jersey trousers and they are literally the most comfortable pair of trousers I think I have ever owned (apart from a very fluffy and soft pair of grey trousers from H&M when I was at school). I changed into the palm leaf trousers in the morning to have my breakfast because they are so soft (No.3 I know I'm wearing them, totally clashing with stripes but I was enjoying my cannoli too much to care #sorrynotsorry).

No.1 and No.8 are my evening dress looks, they are so beautiful and they are definitely my go-to dresses for looking very glamorous. Both of these dresses are from Amazon. Unfortunately my other #FashionFail was while wearing No.1 look (on our last evening), my beautiful red silk dress with a silk rose on the shoulder. Again I was walking along admiring the view (in my lovely new cream lace ballet pumps from Primark) and I sighed contently after a delicious meal and a lovely evening but as I did so my zip split rather spectacularly. Luckily my long cardigan came to the rescue again to cover it up, so I had to walk home rather quickly. I then tried to get out of the dress with quite a lot of difficulty before calling in reinforcements to assist and try and get the dress off (no rude jokes please) without damaging it further. I finally got the dress off before I had a panic attack. All in all it was an interesting end to the holiday. The little blue envelope clutch bag was from TK Maxx which you can see in both my evening looks, it felt very sophisticated. I really like it because it had plenty of room for all my phone camera lenses and various things I wanted to have with me.

No.6 and No.7 were the same look but you can't tell because I'm wearing a raincoat, so I included a more detailed view of my outfit choice for Switzerland. The day we jumped on a bus and just crossed over the border for lunch, which was great fun but it was so rainy and cold we didn't do much exploring. We did have some nice pizzas and coffees though. I wore my mint green summer jumper which was lightweight, my light pink jacket and a little scarf to bring the colours together. I then had to wear my lightweight raincoat over my outfit which was annoying but it kept me dry. I wore my white jeggings from Primark which I kept clear of any spillages and then paired the whole outfit with my flowery plimsolls which I think were from Shoe Zone.

My last look is No.5 which was I thought cute for a day of exploring, it was my tulle black floral skirt and my silk scarf with pink jacket, all from Primark, and I recently bought an off the shoulder white summer top which was from TK Maxx (not pictured). I loved the scarf because it looked quite Italian. I wore this on another visit to Bellagio.

I think I had a few other looks but these were my favourite ones. I wanted to do another Look Book because I did really think about my outfits and shopped for specific items to take to Italy. I didn't want to look like the chubby British girl alongside the slim and elegant Italian ladies.

Anyway got lots more blogs to do for Italy so best get on,