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As humans I guess we need comparison. So often Tim and I will say to each other how somewhere reminds us of Cape Town or how the pizza isn’t as good as in Naples. Particularly when we travel we compare places to other places we have been and lived. There is even a scale of comparison: Would we go there again? Would we live there?

And so I must compare Pula to Trieste, the city I now live in. This is done on the basis that although we spent three nights in the city I promptly got sick and therefore only really experienced a few hours of it.

In some ways they have a similar history. They are both part of the Istrian Peninsula, Trieste forming the northern reach and Pula the southern tip. They were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Trieste its commercial harbour and Pula its military port, but had a large percentage of Italian speaking residents. After WWII Trieste (eventually) became part of Italy and Pula became part of Yugoslavia and then Croatia in 1991.

From my brief experience, Pula seems like Trieste’s slightly homelier and poorer relative. The buildings are a little more warn, the port is not as pomp and regal looking, the residential waste collection bins are more sporadic. But having realised this Pula got smart about attracting suitors and has built an excellent tourism industry for herself whereas Trieste seems to have sat down for apertivos to watch life amble along. I am sure that doesn’t seem very flattering to either city but I mean no offence.

Pula’s tourism office is definitely on the ball and the city is definitely a lot more lively than Trieste. When we walked around one evening after going to the very well maintained arena to watch a ‘gladiator fight’ the city was packed with people, the restaurants were busy and shops were open until about 11pm. In Trieste shops seem to be closed more than they are open. Honestly I think Trieste caters very well to its residents and it is a lovely city to live in but it could learn a little about tapping into it’s potential as a tourist destination.

I know I missed out on seeing a lot of things that Pula has to offer while I lay on the couch. My friends certainly seemed to have had grand adventures by bike around some beautiful coastline and had sightings of the world’s rarest mammal (they were beach companions of a monk seal for half a day). Next time I visit I trust I will get to experience more of that.

If you enjoyed this you might be interested in reading about more of my travels in Croatia and discover more about my local town, Trieste.

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After my interiors post a little while back, I thought I would share a few interior bits of our flat. Firstly to show myself that it isn’t all that bad but also to share what the reality of living in an Italian rental is and also perhaps get advice from any of my interior style mavin friends out there. So please chip in.

I had planned on sharing a post with you on the whole lounge and what I have done in it but there are a few extra bits I wanted to do first, so today I am just highlighting a little corner.

When you have a whole flat to bring into the 21st century, a plethora of dated and/or clunky furniture and no magical pot of gold to solve your problems it can get a little frustrating. I am not a huge fan of these shelves and how they are laid out (why leave such a tiny gap between them); also just to the right is another cupboard which overlaps marginally on the top shelf. That said I really like how I have decorated them and started to add personal touches to the adjacent wall. The only new things on the shelf are the watercolour of Dubrovnik, which we picked up for €5 from an artist positioned on the city walls, and the wooden houses, which are from a local shop. I want to get more of those, they are sold by weight and work out at about €3 each.

What this spot has helped me realise in practise is that just styling something nicely makes a difference. Who knew? And also that by doing little bits over time adds up. I’ve decided I am going to make or buy something new each month, September I think will be a big print for another wall in the lounge.

read ‘em and eat

read em and eat ricotta honey topped pancake

I’m heading into the last week of my almost year long ‘holiday’. Pretty weird thought. Monday week I start working part-time doing admin at the school where Tim teaches. I am definitely looking forward to having a bit more structure to my life and feel like it is the next step to assimilating more into our life here.

In the meantime we have had another set of friends staying with us for a long weekend and then we head off to Milan for two nights. We needed to go for a bit of ‘personal admin’ and thought we would stay for some exploring as we haven’t been before (leave any tips if you have!).

In the meantime my mind is moving to organising and scheduling and that ‘start of school’ feeling. Feels like a fresh start of a new year. Anyone else’s brain moving this way?

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READ ‘EM >>>

  • It seems the whole world has been saddened by the suicide of Robin Williams. I found Russell Brand’s thoughts on his death are really touching.
  • With all my thinking of blogging lately this post came up which is great for getting your blog ‘fit’.
  • How amazing is this 10 year old cookie mogul. I need to be more stylish!
  • Anybody that has been asking me about food photography tips – well the job has been done by Edible Perspectives in an ongoing series that is just brilliant.
  • Do you love a good moodboard? I love a good moodboard. Love this lady’s mini project of 60 moodboards in 60 days.
  • If you don’t follow Humans of New York on facebook I really think you should! Brandon (they photographer behind the page) is currently touring several countries with the UN and the stories of people’s he captures is just so beautiful.
  • Love this styling the season idea which you can join in on.
  • Instagrammers to follow: I am particularly fond of @charlottelovely‘s videos. So clever!

In real life I have been paging through some Max&Co catalogues which have both Italian and English and so am picking up a few words. Like how “stash” is translated as “riserva segreta” (secret reserve).

EAT >>>

Fluffy buckwheat pancakes, ricotta and honey. Definitely a winning combination!

what is the subject?

what is the subject

I find myself mindlessly scrolling through people’s blog posts and looking at their pictures, catching a line or two of text if the pictures look interesting. I don’t think that is going to change to be honest but I thought it was a good metaphor for how we even look at pictures sometimes and therefore how we take pictures.

Point, click, done.

Without trying to sound pompous, taking pictures on film (with only 24-36 frames) really makes you slow down and think before you shoot. What is the subject? What do I want to highlight? I don’t always get it right but I get a good ratio of decent to throw away pictures on a roll of film. But when I shoot on digital that ratio widens. I don’t focus on the subject all the time. Clutter gets in and I ignore the rules of composition. Now sometimes the rules need to be broken but a vast history of art exists which show us the rules work. They lead the eye, grab our attention, create an atmosphere.

I thought I would share some tips on composition over the next while if people are interested (so let me know if you are interested by commenting).

But today’s post is just to remind you to start thinking about the subject. Sometimes it is obvious. A person or a group of people, a vase of flowers. Sometimes it is less obvious. Sometimes you zoom in on the flowers – now which one is the subject, the one tilting it’s head. Or what about when you are shooting a landscape. Sometimes it is the castle on the hill but maybe it is just a beautiful scene. Even then a picture becomes more interesting and people look more intently when something captures the eye. A lone tree, a bench or a person in the distance. Even when the subject is a ‘scene’, being aware of what you want to highlight helps you to frame the picture, consider focal point and use compositional rules to lead the eye.

By being conscious of choosing your subject you can instantly start taking better photos.

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy these tips for composing better images and an exercise in light.

read ‘em and eat

read em and eat

So I decided to shake my ‘happy fridays’ post series. From now on there will be a Sunday post where I share some links from the week with the added bonus of a breakfast idea, simply because breakfast is my favourite meal. It took me a while to come up with the title but I’m quite chuffed with it. I’m such a weirdo!

READ EM >>>

Off the computer I started the week reading a trashy chick lit that I took to the beach but just couldn’t bear to continue. I am ending the week re-reading ‘Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere’ by Jan Morris. I read it before I moved and thought it would be interesting to read again having lived here for about 10 months.

EAT >>> Today Wednesday’s breakfast is featured. My friend who is visiting made us scrambled eggs and I made beans to reduce bread intake for the day as we were heading to the beach for a picnic, which of course would involve bread.

p.s. If you want to know what makes me happy follow me over on Instagram. I started to feel that a list of what made me happy didn’t really need to be shared here but it does sit more happily in with Instagram. I really find that I am enjoying the ‘microblogging’ nature of Instagram.

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Don’t you love when you come across a hashtag on Instagram that no-one else is using. It works as a great ‘filing system’. I have started ‘filing’ my images into several categories and #buildingsoftrieste is one I started to tag all my photos of the buildings I capture in Trieste. There sure is some fancy architecture around here and it is great when I want to brag to friends or family who haven’t visited yet to show them the beautiful city I live in.

I also tag my food pictures with #mycreativeeats. I love food and this is a great repository for mini-recipes (you know the kind that are just ingredients thrown together and not really recipes at all). I also just started #mypancakeclub which I would love people to share their own pancake inspiration to. Just a unique topping or addition to the mix. I love pancakes!

Moving on from my own ‘creations’. I love #notmynonni (nonni being grandparents in Italian) from @notmynonni. Italy’s elderly make up a large chunk of the population and they are such brilliant characters.

I’ve found participating in hashtag challenges (is that what you would call them) or just tagging pictures are a great way of coming across new (to me) Instagrammers (particularly in my new part of the world) and a friendly way to grow my Instagram following. Though I suggest when hashtagging don’t go overkill!

So tell me how do you use hashtags and what are some of your favourites? And also how irritating is it that you can’t click on tags on the Instagram website?!