Tarantella The Night Away!

Do you dance? No, me neither.

Not until the tarantella found its way into my life, that is. This night was up there with the most fun nights ever since fun nights began.

What better way to stomp away a bitingly cold February evening than by learning the deceptively simple tarantella steps? This fiery, traditional southern Italian dance is unbelievably fun, exhausting and hilarious. A touch of fact – the word ‘tarantella’ is another word for ‘tarantism’ – the hysterical condition following a bite from a grotesque ‘tarantula’ – now your turn for a ‘t’ word.

Let me rewind.

I went with a gorgeous, (more so than enthusiastic I might add) group of friends to what seemed like an abandoned warehouse in nondescript Limehouse, (think distressed, eery SAW shoot location if you will.)

Do not be fooled by appearances!

If the thumping percussion, siren singing and red music doesn’t seduce you then, frankly, I don’t know what will.

I hope the pictures below awaken something tarantella-esque in you enough to get your ‘jeeeeg’ on (as the Italians would say.) If that fails to stir you, perhaps the flowing wine and cosy entertainment might be enough to lure you out of your  70% off GAP pyjamas.

Watch for upcoming events here at the Jamoboree!

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10 Top Stories – Quick 2014 Round-Up

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1) Hair cut and a telling off here

2) Eavesdropping, Spanish Steps Style here

3) Overheard amusing conversation on the London tube here

4) 10 reasons you know you live with an Italian here

5) Magazine moment and inspiration ladies here

6) The date, nutella-dilemma and ivy embellished bars here 

aka “Why American boy when you are in Italia?

7) Jazz moment: here

8) Paris, Paris, Paris

9) New years resolutions of 2014 – being flawless isn’t always necessary or all that exciting here

10) Roman Insults, Yoga & a Revelation here

 

10 Reasons You Know You Live With An Italian

As you may have heard, I’m back from Italy but have not completely banished all things Italian from my life. Living with an Italian, I wanted to voice a few things that make me chuckle, that would just not happen if that person wasn’t from outta town.

 

1) He/she will make you do a double take when they ask:

 

“What is?”

 

     and lean in curiously to listen when you explain it’s one of the below:

 

a) toast and butter

 

b) poached egg

 

c) eating a mince pie

 

2) When he/she informs you that said poached egg in Italian is translated as

 

‘egg in a white shirt’

 

3) Making a cup of tea means for most of us, well, making a cup of tea. But for some people it means popping a tea bag into a pan of tepid water and just waiting what happens.

 

I know.

 

4) You will learn you can never eat enough Nutella. On, everything that will allow a knife near it.

 

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5) You will learn delightful and moreover, useful new words in Italian, such as:

 

‘mullet’, (caschetto)

 

6) London is and will forever be a foreign land, which means that most visits near Camden result in picking up either

 

a) a laminated picture of a red bus

 

b) a laminated picture of a red telephone box

 

c) a laminated picture of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, you know the one

 

7) Fish fingers from Iceland are a special treat

 

8) Having to explain what the word ‘treat’ means

 

9) Prefers to watch football with a bucket of popcorn rather than a beer

 

10) Instant coffee is unheard of, the most unheard of, and is cast away from the kitchen faster than you can say when is your Dolmio day?

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Magazine Moment, Prosecco & Inspirational Ladies

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I’m sure there was once a point to human handbag-shelf and tottering bottle of hair-spray Olivia Palermo, but I’ve forgotten it. The reason I bring her up is because I ran into her website the other day and then ran away for fear of turning into a pink Furbee embellished with diamanté bits and oversized sunglasses.

“I ran into her website the other day and then ran away for fear of turning into a pink Furbee embellished with diamanté bits and oversized sunglasses…”

What I am happy about is the new Porter magazine which I found on a colourful mag vendor in Campo de’ Fiori the other day. Don’t get me wrong, Vogue UK and Italia is still up there with top magazine totty, but I was curious how yet another magazine could be brought to life, successfully.

Turns out, the editor Lucy Yeomans has a point. She is an example of magazine goddess-ism, swanning her way from editor-in-chief of UK’s Harpers Bazaar to the luxury online fashion website of Net-A-Porter. Before you ask, yes her big, blond hair is bouncing with creative originality and tons of ways to present fashion, art and design to the consumer and culture hungry audience. More significantly, she knows how to merge commerce with content. This will be the “fashion magazine of the future.” I hear your cry: don’t they all bloody say that?

“Before you ask, yes her big, blond hair is bouncing with creative originality and tons of ways to present fashion, art and design to the consumer and culture hungry audience…”

As an avid reader of magazines (I love the scent of a fresh publication, the new season’s adverts and where possible, interviews of the female power forces behind loud industry brands,) surely it must be hard to push yet another one into the market. Giving Lucy Yeomans the benefit of the doubt, her editor’s letter already has more substance than some of the existing fashion comments that drip across the already limited pages filled with the written word.

As you can imagine – adverts still breed adverts and so it is basically the same as every other sodding mag you know. BUT it also aims to offer “a unique global curation of all the most beautiful and interesting things in the world…” whether you want to know about a book, a trip of a lifetime or a magnificent art-show. It’s not all skirts, people!

In a recent interview, Yeomans states that the “traditional publishing world has so many boundaries…but the internet changes that completely.” In other words the internet allows for reaching a vast global audience. Being a reader and consumer it is vital not to waste time on rather flat, poncy websites that are ultimately tools of self-promotion (sorry Palermo) but to focus on something that brings inspiration on top of the flat and poncy stuff.

The thing is, fashion is a living and breathing thing and I admire Lucy Yeomans for leaving the Ferrero Rocher scented and Champagne gilded Harper’s Bazaar to launch Porter into our hands.

Essentially, she’s celebrating a bouquet of “incredible women’s stories and empowered women to be everything they dreamed of.” See, that’s nice, isn’t it?

References
http://www.net-a-porter.com/portermagazine
http://www.businessoffashion.com
http://www.oliviapalermo.com

“Essentially, she’s celebrating a bouquet of ‘incredible women’s stories and empowered women to be everything they dreamed of.’ See, that’s nice, isn’t it?”

The Date, Nutella-Dilemma & Ivy-Embellished Bars

You are probably wondering (nosy) what happened to Mr American Pilot who I met the other day and I’ve been meaning to describe the date. This was a Saturday a few weeks ago now and what with Paris and the demands of au-pair life I’ve not written anything yet. Here we are then:

“I’m still getting used to the joy of real, homemade fresh pesto and the children turn up their noses as if it’s bloody beans on toast – ungrateful if you ask me…”

The hardest part of the date was actually leaving the house as the children decided that they didn’t want delicious fresh pesto pasta which is a) quick and easy b) quick and easy especially as I needed to get ready and go out for a date later. Seriously, I am still getting used to the joy of real, homemade fresh pesto and the children turn up their noses as if it’s bloody beans on toast – ungrateful if you ask me.

Frilly fusilli with pesto was swiftly served and greedily eaten despite the fuss and the children’s parents returned later than planned meaning I had about twelve minutes to make myself look vaguely respectable for my first date in a LONG time.

When was my last one? Of course I’m not telling you.

(Ahem.)

“I had about twelve minutes to make myself look vaguely respectable for my first date in a LONG time”

As you can imagine I was really nervous, but didn’t think it appropriate to have a small glass of wine over dinner as the children were on the juice (why do I never just think of myself?) Of course as soon as I put a SMALL bit of make up on Tesesa bounded over to me in the bathroom and demanded to know where I was going. I lied (I don’t know why I lied but she was annoying me) and said I was seeing friends from my language school to plan for the upcoming trip to Paris (see recent photos). That threw her off the scent so I manged to pull on my All Saints puffy, black jacket over my jeans and silky top and close the door gently behind me once I heard the father turn on the TV.
Note to self – when getting date-ready, apply make-up en-route to said-date, for fear of incessant interrogation in shape of bouncy-blond-Italian-bambina. Seriously – children are SO nosy. If I was that nosy as a wee girl I would have earned myself a flick or two on the nose.

“Seriously – children are SO nosy. If I was that nosy as a wee girl I would have earned myself a flick or two on the nose”

Anyway, I was late with half-face full of make up and pesto hair. I think what needs to apply hear is ‘what happens at work, stays at work.’ The whole ‘leave your troubles at the door scenario’ and not worry about anything. By that point I’m reluctant to say I wished I was only going to meet my friends.

Anyway, as agreed, Mr Pilot was waiting by the monument in Campo de’ Fiori and was looking dashing and taller than I remember in a light blue shirt and jeans. It was a warmish night and my coat was too heavy, the piazza starting to stir with the hustle and bustle of loud locals merging with quiet tourists drinking in the bars scattered outside. My Pilot had one of those very, white American smiles and probably twenty-twenty vision (a pilot-must-have – as you can see I did my research for this date.)

“Mr Pilot was waiting by the monument in Campo de’ Fiori and was looking dashing and taller than I remember in a light blue shirt and jeans”

I’d quite forgotten how American he was in the sense that he had a loud, Southern drawl that transferred to his vaguely-learnt Italian. So the foreign words he’d learnt were even more stretched out and funny sounding. My mind was going a bit silly so instead of thinking about that strangeness I decided it would be better for both if I listen to what he was saying. We had Prosecco, (good choice) and then another glass (they were quite small) and he told me all about why he was in Rome and his early experiences as a pilot. (Turns out he is a bit older than I thought but I decided not to point that out.)

I told him about what I was doing in Rome and felt quite open to talking about the disastrous homesickness of my earlier days here, the search for actual friends and the genuine relief when things in my life started to fall into place and I didn’t constantly Skype family and mope like a big girl’s blouse.

We left the piazza and he decided he wanted a Crepe. I thought two thoughts:

1) “I definitely want a Crepe because I am hungry and he will probably offer it to me”

2) “I am never allowed to eat Nutella in public ever because I get it all over my face. Friends and family have investigated why it goes quite so all over the place but after numerous findings and detailed analysis no ultimate nor successful conclusions were drawn.”

 

To avoid Nutella-over-face dilemma, I suggested we wonder into the Baroque Piazza Navona as it is beautiful and quiet at night. Then I worried he thought I might be cornering him but at that point I decided my brain needed to just shut up. We wondered amongst the marble benches and majestic Bernini sculptures (Fountains of the Rivers is one of them) and laughed at a man sitting on a bench with an icecream in one hand and an impatient dog in the other.

“To avoid Nutella-over-face dilemma, I suggested we wonder into the Baroque Piazza Navona as it is beautiful and quiet at night…”

Behind the piazza was a hidden bar with the entrance disguised in draping green Ivy like an emerald cloak.

“Table for two please” we gestured and ordered a colourful cocktail each. There was even live guitar music! By this point I was relaxed and enjoying the sophisticated company of the Pilot. He was charming and funny and to be honest, I liked very much speaking in my mother-tongue English finally. The conversation flowed perfectly and I felt a little disappointed when he said he couldn’t stay too late as he had to travel the following morning. He said he would like to see me again and asked if he could walk me home. I said it wasn’t necessary (I don’t know why as it definitely was – I blame brain that was in sleep-mode as had told it earlier to shut up.) So outside the bar amongst the cobbles, floppy ivy and acoustic guitar music he gave me a light kiss and said “I’ll be in touch,” as in the films. I forgot to use any words and so waved, then wondered home.

When I arrived back in the apartment, Elena (the mother) was in the sitting room reading a magazine and drinking herbal tea. She asked where I had been and after I explained all she said was:

“Why American boy when you are in Italia?”

She had a point.

Chic-Snap, Milano, Rain-Check Coat

Chic-Snap, Milano, Rain-Check Coat

Street style: quilted black trench: check out the snazzy, red shoes on the left! That is one way to sparkle up the damp streets of Milan! 2014 Milan Fashion Week

A Date, DVD Bonding & Blue Skies

I think it always happens when you least expect it. Popping up, out of the blue, you don’t feel you look your best. Handsome and leathery, taut and sexy – you absolutely must touch it…we all get like that around…a new hand-bag purchase!

What did you think I was talking about?

Cheeky.

But seriously. I have a date! Let me set the scene. I arrived back in Rome after a few ‘touch-in’ days at home. Long, country days and indulging in mum’s bath. Teresa, bless her, was delighted to see me and gave me a big hug. The father was too and gave me some books to read and a strong cup of Yorkshire Tea (from a packet I brought back, I’ve never seen someone’s eyes light up so much). Elena was in Milan with work, doing Milan things. The boy was out at a friend’s house.

“HSM1, HSM2…I would rather tear out my hair with pliers then eat it with charcoal spaghetti…”

The other night Teresa and I celebrated my return (she said she’d missed me) by going for hot chocolate and renting High School Musical 3. Why not number 1 I hear you cry? Well we’d both already seen HSM1 and HSM2, together, twice over, and I thought I would rather tear out my hair with pliers then eat it with charcoal spaghetti than sit through them both again. With all due respect Vanessa Hudgens.

Anyway, there is this funny, nifty ‘DVD vending-machine’ curled up in a terracotta cave at the end of our street. It’s dark and small and I’ve never seen anything like it. Like a lonely, rejected cousin of Blockbuster. I came across it the other day, by noticing a man nip in the side of the road then disappear. I was rather baffled and so followed him (I had some time). It turns out you shove five euros in the Doctor Who machine and a DVD pops out. It was one of those spectacular days so it took my eyes a while to adjust to the shadows, blue, blue sky that looks like Michelangelo accidentally kicked over his lapis lazuli paint pot in a scramble to catch X-Factor, dribbling blue liquid over his chalky floor.

“…blue, blue sky that looks like Michelangelo accidentally kicked over his lapis lazuli paint pot…”

I digress.

There Teresa and I were, lured in by the mysteriousness of it all. I thought a bit of Zac Efron, the life-size bottle of golden syrup, Colgate and sticky hair-gel, would be nice viewing and I could probably temp the father to give us some Euros for a nice wedge of pizza.

 “…Zac Efron, the life-size bottle of golden syrup, Colgate and sticky hair-gel…”

Whilst my eyes were adjusting, a tall, figure loomed over the entrance on his way out and nearly trod on poor Teresa. He apologised and was definitely American. He reminded me of a lankier Tom Cruise, (not difficult) and had piercing blue eyes and nice hair. No gel in sight! (I am not sure why some boys insist on dressing like a French student in the 1970’s. That question should probably be put to Stephen Fry and his trend analysis team).

Anyway, he is American. A pilot. Can I just say that again: A PILOT. I had to ask him to repeat himself. Perhaps it’s me but I always imagine a pilot should not be right in front of you, casually chatting. Surely, he always has somewhere to be, in a pressed, crisp uniform, looking concerned, no time to chat, let alone flirt. (I should be shot for my stereotypes!)

 “A pilot…Surely, he always has somewhere to be, in a pressed, crisp uniform, looking concerned, no time to chat, let alone flirt…

But chat and flirt he did! There is a bar in Campo de’ Fiori. He has some friends and time. I have an evening free (tomorrow night!) No Teresa you can’t come.

Did I mention I haven’t had a date since before Christmas? Don’t give me that look, I’ve been busy!

(I’m not usually crazy about Americans but it was nice to speak to someone in my own language to be honest.) And apparently being English and having an ‘Oxford’ accent is exotic and ‘sexy’. First hint that maybe he doesn’t spend much time on land?

 

Pilates-Inspired Romance & Teeny-Tiny Muscles

My friend and I went to a Pilates class the other afternoon. After my dabble with yoga with the Italian mamma Elena, I decided the release was an addictive, enjoyable thing to do with forty-five minutes of my week. I slept better after, started to eat better and have generally become a nicer person.

When it comes to being an au-pair, it is important to make the children think they are always right, whilst in fact proving later they are wrong: this applies to timings, homework, brushing hair, brushing teeth, TV times etc. But to apply this kind of command, you need a calm collectiveness that I’ve discovered can be  found and maintained by yoga (or Pilates, or by the time I’ve written this three more vaguely similar workout techniques will have appeared all over adverts).

“After my dabble with yoga with the Italian mamma Elena, I decided the release was an addictive, enjoyable thing to do with forty-five minutes of my week”

So my french friend Anne-Sophie and I got our Sweaty-Betty’s (sweatpants for women who don’t ‘sweat’ ever, but maintain a glowy, doe-like sheen before, during and after a work out). This is as much not me as I wish it was.

So, there ended up being four of us in the class.  Only four, I was quite embarassed. No room for hiding or shirking any yoga responsibility. The class was made up of my friend, the instructor, another lady and myself. The instructor was French, but spoke fluent Italian. He was quite small, but very well built, with slightly crooked teeth. Anne-Sophie liked him immediately (don’t ask.)

The lights dimmed and a hush fell upon the room as a reedy, whispering sound came from the instructor’s iPod, which he took out what looked like a bag made of bamboo leaves. The music was entitled: The moon song of the winds that graze over the grasses of Mount Kilimanjaro, in the springtime, on horseback, serenely. I

The main focus of the class was to relax, wake up and tense your tiny, vital stomach muscles near the pelvic bone, (the ones you never use and may not know exist but are really, really important). The instructor helped show us where they were by pressing down on our stomach muscles, and I don’t remember thinking I’d signed anything for that yoga-related intimacy to be ok. I was very uncoordinated at first, then got more into it as the song merged from Grass Grazing to River Wallowing. The music was calming at least and I couldn’t even hear any noise from the street. There was a little window that poured sunlight into the studio, so that was nice and probably a bit of a prop too.

“Main focus…was to relax, wake up and tense your tiny, vital stomach muscles near the pelvic bone, (the ones you never use and may not know exist but are really, really important…)”

In the end Anne-Sophie got a date of it, (and probably a couple more free sessions if you know what I mean) and my teeny-tiny stomach muscles that had probably woken up with a jerk felt a little bit firmer than they ever had, so I left feeling like the cat who got the (non-fat, no dairy) cream.

“In the end Anne-Sophie got a date of it…and my teeny-tiny stomach muscles that had probably woken up with a jerk felt a little bit firmer…so I left feeling like the cat who got the (non-fat, no dairy) cream”

Chic-Snap, Milano

Chic-Snap, Milano

I’ve recently been to Milan with Elena (mother I au-pair for) and managed to spy some glamorous, Italian moments, otherwise known as “Don’t look at me BUT make sure you look how fabulous I am” Happened to be there when … Continue reading