Tag Archives: Simon

My Top 5 Bars in Rome

10 Oct

5. Abbey Theatre

No matter where you go, you’re gonna need an Irish pub, right? Abbey Theatre is charming, with lots of smaller rooms linked by narrow corridors. The owner is friendly and fun [he called Nina a bossy cow while we were there and the name has stuck], there’s free wifi, they show major sports on their many TV screens, and basically it’s a go-to pub for a Guiness. Sit at the outside-facing counters for some great people-watching opportunities.

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4. Bar del Fico

Bar del Fico is right across from Da Francesco and near Baguetteria del Fico, as the name suggests. It’s vibey and loud, perfect for a Saturday night out. It kind of reminded me of my student days in Stellenbosch- almost like Bohemia in Rome. The music is loud, the people are a mixed bag of fun and wild, and it’s the perfect spot to start of end a big Saturday night.

Via San Marcello 19

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3. Baguetteria del Fico

I mentioned the Baguetteria del Fico as one of my top five food experiences in Rome, but it’s great for a drink. Grab a craft beer and seat yourself on one of the wooden stools next to the old-school cars, and enjoy summer afternoons in Rome. Perfect.

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2. Birra del Borgo

I had hat hair and feet that felt like they were bleeding when I walked into Birra del Borgo. And the combination of great, friendly staff, cool music, and delicious beer made it all go away! It’s a cool, laid-back vibe, and I highly recommend you sit at the counter and have an Isaac Weiss beer in one of these fancy glasses. I really enjoyed Birra del Borgo and when we left I just wanted to stay, and hang out there all night, being chilled and drinking the most delicious beer. If I lived in Rome, I’d make this my spot to go to after a hectic day, or to start the weekend.

Via del Colle Rosso

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1. Anywhere

Honestly, the best place to enjoy a drink in Rome is anywhere. It’s legal to drink in public until 11pm every night, so your best bet is to grab a beer or a bottle of wine from a supermarket or deli, find a cool spot, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Rome in all its glory. Rome is so beautiful and vibrant, and I love the people, so I could spend hours sitting somewhere pretty and just taking it all in. I would recommend the Spanish steps, Trevi Fountain, or a walking drink: There is something mind-blowing around every corner in this city, so you’ll never tire of walking it!

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My Top 5 Food Experiences in Rome

2 Oct

I had heard good things about the food in Rome. Amazing things, in fact, and I was excited. We did Rome with two friends and this is a list of my favourite food experiences:

5. Pane, Vino & San Daniele. San Daniele is a famous type of ham from the region of San Daniele in Italy. It’s sort of like a prosciutto, with a strong, delicious flavor. So we went to Pane, Vino & San Daniele to have some of this. We ordered a bottle of red wine, two huge plates of San Daniele, and two plates of fior di latte [which, did you know, means “tears of milk”]. Trust me, it’s all you need. Simple, high-quality food is the epitome of Italian cuisine so this was such a treat.

Via della Panetteria 42.

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4. Baguetteria del Fico. Near the well-known Piazza del Fico [fico means fig], this place is super charming and quaint. The interior is small and can probably seat about 6 people, but outside, next to an old car, there are a few wooden stools which we always used. You have to pick up your stuff and move out of the way if a car comes past, but it’s all part of the charm. The make sandwiches [as the name suggests] and you can choose from a variety of breads. Most options of 4-5 euros, and with combinations like prosciutto, mozzarella, and truffle paste, it’ll be some of the best sandwich money you’ve ever spent! Pistachio paste is another delicious spread, and I can highly recommend the pata negra, which is essentially a grilled Panini with thin slices of lard and balsamic vinegar. If you like Weiss beer, try a bottle of Mikkeller Belgian Tripel. Ideal for a long, lazy lunch.

Via della Fossa 12.

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3. Carlo Menta is proper local. We were the only people in the entire restaurant who were not speaking Italian, and that’s always a good sign! The place is packed, I mean almost shoulder-to-shoulder dining, and there are three things not to expect here: Space; quiet; and fanciness. It’s a bustling little restaurant with honest-to-goodness, well-priced, delicious Italian food.. Marguerita pizzas are 3 euro, and you should know that a plain, good ol’ Marguerita pizza is pretty the best thing to have in Rome if it’s quality. But the best dish on their menu has got to be the Gnocchi di Carlo Menta: Perfect gnocchi with a tomato-base sauce, mussels, and baby clams. Incredible flavours, well-priced, and the cause of much order envy.

Via della Lungaretta 101.

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2. Ginger was our “fancy lunch” for the trip. It was a hot, perfect summer’s day and we sat outside under the umbrellas, watching the stylish Romans go about their usual day. The interior is chic and simple but truly beautiful, and the menu is extensive: Everything from daily dishes depending on the available fresh produce to healthier options like juices and smoothies, Italian food like interesting pasta dishes and meat and cheese platters, gourmet salads – the list goes on. We had some champagne to celebrate my successful Jimmy Choo and Tiffany haul, and each enjoyed a pasta dish. The food is fresh, the décor is gorgeous, and all ‘round I think if I could have lunch at Ginger every day I would. Dishes cost less if you opt for take-away.

Via Borgognona 43/44.

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1. Da Francesco. The place where all four of us had the best meal we’ve ever had. No, really. The best meal ever, in four people’s lives with a combined age of 100. Neighbour to Bar del Fico [we’re back at this piazza], you’d be forgiven for not noticing Da Francesco. Some of the reasons you should go there are that it’s central, well-priced, the staff are delightful, and it’s a lovely spot to sit outside for lunch. The main reason to go there: Truffle and buffalo mozzarella pizza. Need I say more? I don’t think so. It was incredible. It was mind-blowingly delicious, and I pine for it daily. Truth be told I don’t have the words to explain how good this  pizza was, so go there and experience it for yourself. And bring me a slice, will you?

Piazza del Fico, 29.

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How To Visit A French Bakery

16 Aug

See you in three weeks, Paris!

25 Random Facts About Me, Before I Turn 25

2 Aug
  1. As a kid, I had a fear of pineapples.
  2. My pinky toe on my left foot grows skew, kind of over the other toe, and when I was little they wanted to amputate it because a doctor said it would hurt me. I said no [OBVIOUSLY! It’s my toe, you sickos!] and so far I’m still alive. Phew!
  3. When I was about two and a half, and then when I was three, I had two really bad drowning experiences. The first was in the pool- I was wearing one of those Bentley belts things [is that what they’re called?]. My sister went inside and as Murphy would have it, I tipped over. The Bentley Belt prevented me from being able to right myself, so I just had to kind of drown until my sister got back [she saved me]. The second time was when this freakishly huge freak wave took me in when I was playing in the teensy little baby waves. A teenage boy tried to save me, but got taken in as well. Eventually his dad and a lifeguard saved us. Obviously this was all fairly traumatising and while I can swim, it’s not exactly anything I’ve pursued further than splashing around to cool down during poolside cocktail hour. Stupid water.
  4. My favourite flowers are tulips. Peonies are a close second.
  5. I’m a maths freak. Not in any useful way, but I can multiply big [ish] numbers in my head. I found this out when I was 11 and I am almost always doing sums in my head.
  6. I learnt to ride a bike on Christmas Day… of 2012.
  7. As a kid, I stuttered really badly. I also couldn’t really cope with people so I had to be taken out of pre-primary school for six months. If you met me now, you’d never guess. What a dud kid I was! Jokes. I was adorable and perfect.
  8. I speak five languages. English, Afrikaans, French, Mandarin, and German.
  9. I did horse riding for thirteen years. I even made the provincial team for show jumping, showing, and equitation on a tiny little thing whose owners wanted to shoot him because he threw their daughter. I miss horse riding every single day of my life, so if you’re in Cape Town and need help with your horses, call me. I will love you forever.
  10. My family and close friends call me Lili [pronounced Lee Lee], which I love. My English teacher in grade five once told me Lize is a fat girl’s name. Humph.
  11. One of the absolute highlights of my life [thus far] was seeing Goya’s black paintings when I was 16 at the Prado Museum in Madrid. I can’t explain it, I was just so moved and overcome with emotion. I will never forget that. We saw an exhibition of his sketches in Prague last year on honeymoon which was also cool, although nothing like the black paintings.
  12. The coolest job I ever had [so far] was being a rugby presenter on TV.
  13. I’m an entrepreneur! I own a CC, and so far it hasn’t made us millions but it’s early days and I’m  confident it will be a success. I’ve also gotten funding for a second business idea I recently pitched and next week, on my birthday, I’m pitching this to the woman who I hope will be my partner. Hold thumbs!
  14. My  favourite songs are Hallelujah [by Jeff Buckley], High and Dry [by Radiohead], and Milk [by Kings of Leon].
  15. I am utterly and completely, absolutely obsessed with Paris. I dream of living there someday with SC and Eponine, and I cannot wait to be there next month.
  16. I have a fear of moths, and I hate birds [except owls].
  17. I am always craving salt and vinegar crisps. Like, at any given moment, if you asked me, I would be in the mood to have salt and vinegar crisps. Even if I have just eaten twenty kilograms of food, or am dying of food poisoning, I will have them. Macarons and champagne are a close second, though far classier.
  18. I can’t do a cartwheel or whistle.
  19. I’m one of five kids: A sister eleven years older than I am, a brother eight years older than I am, and two baby half sisters who are four and five.
  20. My hair has been super long, super short, shaved off, pitch black, snow white, silver, and pink.
  21. I have a tattoo on my left side of Jimi Hendrix lyrics, in his handwriting.
  22. I’ve never broken a bone, and besides for being born I’ve never gone to hospital. Up until recently I’d never had stitches, but then I had a mole removed from my face and got two stitches. IN MY FACE. Hard core.
  23. Up until the age of about fifteen I was going to be a vet. I even used to shadow my horse riding instructor’s father, who was a vet, and I’ve put stitches in a sheep, vaccinated sheep and cows, done blood slides, slaughtered a sheep [after which I took it apart to study all its insides], and did an artificial insemination. Yup, I made a baby cow when I was fifteen.
  24. I always had this theory that I was adopted. Sometimes I still do. See, EVERYONE in my family has dark hair and dark brown eyes. Extended, too. Secondly, my mum was adopted, so she would possibly want to adopt a child too, right? Also, everyone except me got a second name. And while there are pictures of my mum and my siblings in hospital, there are none of me. Not even one! I only come onto the scene at age one or two. Suspicious? Absolutely. And till this day, no one has been able to show me my birth certificate. It’s always missing, or with the other parent. *scratches chin*
  25. I actually do believe that Unicorns exist. For real.

A Weekend In Franskraal

7 Mar

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photo 4This past weekend we drove out to Franskraal, a coastal town just past Stanford on the East Coast. Now that we’re married we are eager to have tons of “weekends away”, and the Western Cape is so ideal for that. Just a few hours’ drive takes you to beautiful coastal towns, the winelands, mountains, and more!

We drove up after work on Friday which was a good move as it made the weekend seem so much longer! Plus the drive was beautiful and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the mountains, lighting up the beautiful Elgin valley, and finally setting the ocean on fire as we got to Hermanus.

On Friday night we drank and braaied to celebrate Stef’s birthday [the whole reason for the weekend away]. We all chipped in to buy him Settlers of Catan and an extension pack that allows up to six people to play.

On Saturday morning after a big breakfast we went to the beach. SC and I went for a jog and then walked back in the waves. I’m pretty sensitive to cold but the water was a perfect temperature and I have decided the East coast is where it’s at; I just can’t face the arctic waters of the west coast! After some reading time on the beach [still on Les Miserables, should finish in the next decade] we went for a swim and then finally headed home where we had a late lunch with some bubbly. We then went to Birkinhead Brewery in Stanford which has the most incredible mountain views and delicious beer. We watched the rugby which was not as exciting as the drinking game we invented: Take a sip every time the angry Afrikaner at the end of the bar drops an f-bomb. After that we played Settlers of Catan which I was sure I would hate but completely loved. At 2am, Chris won.

Sunday morning was another big breakfast and then SC and I went for soft serve. I’m not much of a sweet tooth but man oh man, give me soft serve on the beach and I am one happy girl! It has to be the strawberry and vanilla kind, or if it’s plain vanilla it needs to be dipped in caramel. Obviously.

After that we went horseriding on the beach. On Saturday we saw horses on the beach and jogged until we caught up with them to ask for a number. It was just Simon and I on the ride and he was a bit nervous because he hasn’t ridden much and the last time I took him riding he was put on a fairly grumpy horse. Simon got a palomino gelding Goldy, and I was put on a feisty little skewbald called Harry. He was a handful, but such fun to ride! Simon went from being nervous to even be on a horse, and having never done more than ten steps of trotting, to galloping on the beach! I was so chuffed and I definitely plan to do this again, soon. Having done horse riding for 13 years of my life, I miss it every single day.

After a really stunning ride, made better by the fact that we were the only two, along with the guide, we drove to Hermanus en route home. We stopped there for a walk around. It really is a beautiful town and was pleasantly quiet. We went to Hemingway’s which is contending with Book Lounge to be my favourite book shop in South Africa. I got a better copy of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin [ours is falling apart] as well as the complete works of Shakespeare because buying them individually is a mission and takes up too much space in our little flat.

After a lunch of gin and tonics and  fish and chips with a view, we drove back to Cape Town, enjoying another beautiful afternoon of sunshine.

It’s energising escaping the city, even if only for two days. I plan on doing more of this in future!

Home Making

9 Feb

Our flat came fully furnished since the owners live in Ireland. But the furniture, since the flat is inside a residential hotel and was rented out as a hotel suite, is very… Hotel-eqsue. By that I mean no clear identity of someone’s taste, nothing too arty or unique. It’s all standard home ware that is neither offensive nor particularly inspiring.

The coffee table, however, was offensive. Hideous, and with a design so impractical it infuriated us everyone time we walked past it [possibly a result of severe toe-stubbing due to said ridiculous design.

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After searching high and low, we found the design we wanted. I wanted something locally made, something that was simple and functional, and something that served to make the space look bigger and lighter, rather than the clunky, heavy piece we had. It couldn’t be white due to our Nguni rug, and black or dark wood combined with the dark wood floors would just make the room too dark. So we went for a colour: Jade Cluster [Dulux]. The design is by Stokperd, a local designer. The price was less than a third of anything else we saw, and it has made a big difference to our living room.

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The table is super glossy and the colour is a brilliant emerald green [which cannot be seen in the pictures]. And, of course, nothing in a house is complete without a little personalisation:

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From to right: According to The Rolling Stones; our wedding album; Grace: A Memoir; Biografie van ‘n Bende; The Clash.

 

The Childhood Project

3 Jan

For Christmas I got a BICYCLE! Yup, it’s just like when you up when you were a little kid and there was a shiny new bike, complete with training wheels and, if you were a girl, pink pom-pom things off the handlebars, and a basket.

For my tenth birthday [if I recall the age correctly], the usual ‘wake up and find presents at the foot of my bed’ was replaced with being told to walk down the hallway to the kitchen to go see my present. It was a bicycle. I had never, ever mentioned wanting one. I had never expressed the desire to have one, or do anything with a bicycle. I felt so guilty, feigning excitement, while on the inside I was going “Why on earth did you guys get me a bicycle?” I suppose the reason was that it was just the done thing: Kids learnt to ride a bicycle at a certain age, and kids wanted a bicycle at some point in their lives.

The problem was that I wasn’t overly excited about- or interested in learning to ride the thing. The bigger problem was that I turned my nose up at what I wasn’t naturally very good at. I got through music exams and school exams  without opening a book, and with very impressive results. I did horse riding every day, a combination of enjoying it and being good at it. But things I didn’t take to with ease did not interest me, especially having a fair amount of “things” at which I was naturally, effortlessly good.

I’m sounding very braggy right now- I promise this all has a point.

Even less appealing than having to actually practice something just to get the gist of it, was the idea that, in the process, I would be repeatedly humiliated. Falling off was one thing. Having my mother run next to me holding the handlebars of my bicycle steady was quite another. Of course the best place to try learn was in the street [completely flat and mostly very quiet in the small Mpumalanga town where I grew up], meaning having to endure all of this in plain view of others, well aware of their puzzled head-scratching, wondering how it was that a child of ten had not yet learned to ride a bike, and seemed to be unable to do it.

I lost interest fairly quickly, and traded that humiliation for having my siblings tease me for the next fourteen years about my disability.

And then, SC bought me the most beautiful Johnny Loco for Christmas! Her name is Vivienne, and she has a bell and she is the fairest bicycle in the land.

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I had been dreaming of cycling around Cape Town with its oh-so-trendy cycling culture. A woven basket in front, I would cycle to work, to the market to get vegetables and flowers, up and down the Company’s Garden- it was all very chic in my head. But now I had to learn to ride the thing. The hours leading up the lesson were spent rationalising that perhaps some people are just genetically incapable of riding a bike! This was met firmly with “You can stand upright, you can ride a bike”. SC was gobsmacked that I could ride horses without falling off, yet not ride a bicycle. But, as I pointed out, my horses didn’t just randomly fall over!

It took about 40 minutes or so. At first I was snappy and on edge. At some point, I think I just got over myself and pedaled off. It’s embarrassing, really, that it happened like that and that it was as simple as telling a very stubborn mind to just shut up and sit down.

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Now, this joyous occasion has not only robbed my siblings of their favourite joke, but also got me thinking to the other gaps in my childhood. There are many things I didn’t do! I grew up in a depressing mining town full of racists and kids who I found infinitely unrelatable and in general I preferred the company of myself to anyone else. So things like tennis, which involved other people, didn’t seem appealing. Plus, I didn’t need other sports: I had horse riding. Things like ice skating were far too exotic for Standerton, and the nearest rink was a good three hours away.

But I feel this lesson [in balance, and my own character] has brought about the time to tackle these vast expanses of my formative years, and fill them up. I feel I need to:

  • Play tennis: I have never ever so much as picked up a racquet and hit a tennis ball with it, but I actually think tennis would suit me because Lacoste
  • Learn how to do a cartwheel
  • Learn how to whistle
  • Learn how to ice skate: I was actually recently taken skating by a friend and made huge steps [as in, actually let go of the railing]
  • Watch Cinderella and Snow White [other than that my Disney education is quite complete, and I regularly indulge in my favourites]
  • Dive into a swimming pool: I don’t mean from a diving board, even. I have never dived head-first into a swimming pool. This, however, results from two very bad drowning experiences when I was 2, and then 3. Nonetheless, it must be tackled!
  • Go fishing. Sure I will hate it, but at least I will be able to have an informed opinion of it.
  • Climb a tree [you’re reading this thinking I’m a freak, aren’t you? I have pulled myself up and sat in the low branches of trees, but I’ve never actually climbed one, I feel.]

Another thing most children experience is getting stitches or breaking something. Besides for being born, I’ve never needed to go to a hospital. Besides for my wisdom teeth, which I had removed under local anesthetic , I have all my body parts including tonsils and appendix. Look, I did once suffer a kick from a horse which just about split my ear in half, but it wasn’t stitch-able. But still, it seems another childhood rite I skipped over. Although I could do with keeping it that way.

So there you have it. My chilhood project for 2013! If you’re an expert in any of these things and feel like giving advice, or maybe even teaching me something, let me know. And feel free to add other things that are must-do childhood activities- who knows what I’ve left out!

LH