- We spent half the week with the in-laws in Ticino (Switzerland’s Italian canton) and I can report that three days or so seems to be about the right duration for a family holiday. I mean, sure, we can enjoy a longer break, but it’s increasingly hard work. Especially if you’re staying with people. The other people aren’t the problem, it’s the kids, and worrying about how much they’re bothering the other people. At 5am, say.
- I haven’t spent any time in Ticino before, but as I expected, I like it a whole bunch. It’s noticeably Italian in climate, landscape, architecture, lifestyle… just very Swiss at the same time. Which is to say, cleaner and more orderly. (And more expensive.) That definitely makes it a bit less charmingly romantic, but I suspect a lot more comfortable to live in.
- Every day was so beautifully peaceful. We hung out around the tiny harbour a lot – on the first evening, the kids accidentally took a dip in the lake (M slipped on a rock and got wet, so clearly it was clothes off time), but mostly it was just gelato and watching the swans. I figured the kids would get tired of that (gelato excepted) but not at all. In fact, Max had to be literally pulled away on the last day, complaining bitterly. He wasn’t done just hanging out and watching.
- I haven’t stopped being intensely grateful that I get to live in Switzerland, and I suspect I never will. It’s a weird little country, conservative and complacent, and I’ll never exactly belong here; but it’s ridiculously, unbelievably beautiful, and so much about the culture and life here is so good. It’s just as well I feel this so strongly, since my career is pretty much shot. (Well. My former career. One hopes there’s time to start a new one.)
- I think Instagram has given me permission to enjoy taking photos a lot more. I’ve never had a Proper Camera, nor have I taken the time to learn how to use Armin’s. (I have tried to try, let’s say. But not gotten very far.) And I feel deeply uncomfortable taking pics in public. So any efforts at photography have basically comprised scrounging up the courage for a few awkward clicks and then hastily putting the camera away before I look too pretentious. This did not exactly make for great results. But taking weird pictures of stones and tree bark has become normal enough, and cameraphones good enough, that I can indulge myself a lot more. I’m still deeply uncomfortable, and my shots aren’t going to set the world on fire, but I enjoy it much more, and the results are getting better. Having somewhere to share them really helps, too. I was slow to catch the Instatrain, and I’m never going to have a huge following, but that’s fine; I know what I’m getting out of it, and it’s worth a lot to me.
Nos 38 & 39 of #52recipes: Jamie’s roasted monkfish with parmesan polenta instead of mash. I was pretty much resigned to a disaster thanks to errors on many fronts (when will I learn to read the recipe through PROPERLY in advance!?), and arguably the flavours weren’t a great combination – too much, too rich – but basically it was all delicious. Also arguably, I shouldn’t count these as two full recipes since I used only one element of each, but I’m behind, so bite me.