Music Mondays: oh, I wish, for once, to stay gold

It’s been a busy, yet quite happy, week. The weather has been mostly dark, cloudy, and rainy. It’s not very cold anymore, though, so at least going outside doesn’t automatically lead to numb fingers and noses.

We visited a wine fair on Saturday, and tasted plenty of yummy French wine, and then played games and ate vegan food at a lovely party full of Latvian people. We watched The Garbage Helicopter last night (a very strange, very cool, black-and-white Swedish film) and I’ve also been having more rehearsals as performance month draws ever closer.

The feedback from last week’s post has been very touching, and several people (some of whom I haven’t spoken to in years!) have personally reached out to let me know that 1. I should ignore the negativity thrown at me, 2. they’d hate it if I were to stop blogging, 3. I should do whatever the hell I wanted. All very good advice, which I’m trying to take.

I’m trying to flex my creative-writing muscles a bit more (these writing prompts are helpful), reading Le Petit Prince (in French), and watching an anime series, on a friend’s recommendation. And quite a bit of work has come in these past few days, so that’s been keeping me busy too. AND I’ve been exercising a tiny bit each day (10-15 minutes of relatively intense exercise, and 10 minutes of yoga), which seems to be… good for me? I think?

Also: the song above takes me back to sunny summer days with the sun beating down on my cheeks and forearms. Mmm.

{ First Aid Kit // Stay Gold }

{ The playlist. }

Things I Love Thursday

  • Encouraging words and lovely people
  • Feeling better in general (probably due to distractions, but still)
  • Crumpets
  • Not wearing make-up
  • Wearing make-up
  • Watching the Malta Eurovision Song Contest (or most of it) – hilarious
  • Rehearsals
  • Surviving a French oral exam (and now “graduating” to level B1.3)
  • Accepting my offer to start a traineeship at the European Commission in March… and feeling very excited about the whole thing
  • Starting to give English lessons again
  • Cats
  • A little bit of regular exercise (strange, but true)
  • Being able to live in another country
  • Getting ahead in my 26-things-to-do-before-turning-27 list
  • Long, relaxing bus rides

Music Mondays: the Internet is dead, the Internet is gone

Getting back into blogging like I used to is a bit hard. Even though I still get a lot of wonderful, sweet comments and questions about my blog posts here, over the past few months I’ve heard several snippets of negativity about myself, my blog, my choice of blog post topics… and it’s definitely contributed to me drawing into myself and not really wanting to keep going. (This is not a call for sympathy, by the way! I’m just voicing a few thoughts I’ve been having.) Every time a Thursday came around, my head would flood with voices saying “ugh, Claire is so annoying, always chirpy and cheerful, it’s too much”. So I wouldn’t put anything up.

I don’t know where to go from here. After semi-forcing myself to put up a Life in Luxembourg update post earlier this week, I’m thinking of slowly easing myself back into regular blogging, with my usual music posts on Mondays, Things I Love Thursday posts on Thursdays, and the occasional round-up of photos on Sundays. However, at the same time, this doesn’t feel right. And it’s not just about the voices that criticise my tone of voice or my lighthearted content, it’s also me wanting a bit of a change after several years of blogging several times a week in the same “style”. I love the lists I create and the way I make some people feel with my blog posts, but I guess I don’t feel the same way I used to. I would love to write different things, for example, but if I can barely cope with feedback on lighthearted posts about things I’m grateful for, I doubt I’ll be comfortable with feedback on more hard-hitting topics. I constantly feel out of my comfort zone, and maybe that’s good, and I’m getting stronger because of that, but, I don’t know.

Maybe I should just write more about books, films, and food.

Today’s song is magical and smooth. Close your eyes and bob your head.

{ Lydia Ainsworth // Malachite }

{ The playlist }

Things I Love Thursday

  • Blogging again
  • My blog post about my first year in Luxembourg being so successful and so well-received :)
  • The Oscar nominations being out, and trying to watch as many nominated films as possible before the actual Oscars on Feb 28 (29th for me) (pity about the lack of diversity yet again)
  • Watching Suffragette 
  • A really big, wonderful proofreading job
  • Panzerotti
  • Feeling like I’m getting somewhere with my French
  • All those messaging platforms that allow me to feel so close to my friends even when I’m miles away
  • A cupcake date with a lovely friend
  • Not leaving said cupcake place without paying (I almost forgot to pay, and I would have been m-o-r-t-i-f-i-e-d and would certainly have never returned – phew!)
  • The beautiful snow
  • Being an “aunt” to my friend’s dog, Yuna!
  • Long walks in the snow
  • Train rides
  • Doing some exercise
  • Having a good, proper bath (and using up a bunch of amazing LUSH stuff which surpasses all expectations, as per)
  • The (very) strange yet endearing world of anime
  • A lovely Thai lunch with a Thai friend (AND IT STARTED SNOWING SUPER HEAVILY) <3
  • Orchestral music
  • Finding the best Indian/Nepalese delivery place in Luxembourg (it’s called Namaste and it’s on Rue du Strasbourg and delivery takes 25 minutes from placing the order)
  • My boyfriend <3
  • A card from Malta with a cat called Piglet on the front
  • My new Daniel Wellington watch (10/10)

ONE YEAR IN LUXEMBOURG

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Earlier this month, I hit the big fat milestone of living in Luxembourg for one whole year.

It’s been very different to what I imagined, but it’s also been quite wonderful, and I’m a very big fan of this country. There are people from all over the world, but it’s still a very small, contained country, with its own ways of doing things, which means that I’ve encountered a lot of smiling and empathetic people. It’s still a city, even if it’s nothing like bustling London/Rome/Paris, so that brings about some “negatives”, since I’m not much of a city-person. However, being in the middle of a city (albeit in an unbelievably quiet area) has its advantages – lots of shops, restaurants, and more options for things to do. I’m close to everything, but after a mere 10-minute train ride or a 15-minute walk, I’m out in the countryside or by a river in the forest. It’s a real treasure of a country.

Since it’s been a year, I’ve compiled a few of my most noteworthy thoughts regarding Luxembourg under a variety of headings:

FURNISHING AN EMPTY APARTMENT

Most apartments in Luxembourg are rented as unfurnished properties. Ours was no exception, and we spent months living in a mostly-empty apartment, until we painfully purchased around a fifth of the IKEA-Arlon showroom, and now our apartment is as cosy as ever. Our kitchen still needs a lot of work (it’s a little too big to be a kitchen but too small to be a fully-fledged living room – we’re working on it), particularly because the kitchen counter, drawers, and cupboards are awful shades of deep blue/awkward red. Why.

BONNEVOIE

Our apartment is nestled in the heart of Bonnevoie, which is clearly (no bias, obviously) the best region in Luxembourg City. It’s got the best panzerotti, the best sushi, and it’s (mostly) quiet and very charming. Lots of restaurants, lots of people walking their dogs – it’s great.

THE WEATHER

The weather in Luxembourg is Not Good. It’s grey most of the time (very depressing), and rains more often than not (hate it hate it hate it), although last spring/summer were quite beautiful. When it was particularly hot, though, it felt like torture, and ALL FANS WERE SOLD OUT EVERYWHERE. It was tragic. And this country is landlocked, which is a very huge shame (especially for island-dwellers like us). We did manage to go swimming in a lake once in the summer, though, and it was GLORIOUS. Super clean, super refreshing, super beautiful.

Also: it snows here in winter, and that’s beautiful (although it can get really, really cold), and the autumn was also incredible – the seasons are so clear-cut, and they really connect you to the living and breathing world around you.

GENERAL NIGHTLIFE/LIVELINESS

Luxembourg is notoriously known as being “boring”. I can understand where this might be coming from, especially if you’re interested in a particular type of nightlife or a lot of new/different places to try out. Luxembourg doesn’t offer everything, BUT I still can’t understand how so many people are so quick to label Luxembourg as this boring, nothing-happens-here country. It’s such a popular stop for musicians, for example, so we got to see SO MANY great concerts last year, and there are so many beautiful restaurants to choose from… It’s not as busy or “buzzing” as somewhere like London, but that would – quite frankly – be a bit too stressful for me.

THE LANGUAGES

O mon DIEU. The language situation in Luxembourg took me by surprise. I thought I’d strengthen my French in a few months, and off I’ll go, happily ever after. This has not been the case. While French is the general lingua franca in Luxembourg (at least, in Luxembourg City), it’s not something you’re going to hear being spoken everywhere. I hear and read a lot of French in my day-to-day life, yes, but there’s also a huge amount of Portuguese, Luxembourgish, German, Italian, Spanish, English… It’s been quite confusing and has caused me a fair amount of anxiety. My French, however, is moving along nicely, and while I won’t be participating in full-blown conversations anytime soon, my comprehension has improved dramatically (phew). Then again, as soon as I venture out of the capital city, to somewhere close to the German border, for example, it’s tough to find people who can speak any English or French, which has led to some… annoying situations.

IT’S EXPENSIVE

Luxembourg.is.expensive. It’s not the most expensive in every single way, but it’s been very expensive for me. The biggest things are: travelling to and from the country (no direct flights to Malta), food (most meals out are double or almost double to what I’d pay back home, and supermarket trips are quite expensive too), and general services (hairdressers, doctors… everything). Also, obviously, rent is very, very high here as well.

SHOPPING

Luxembourg has quite a good array of shops that get me excited. LUSH! H&M! HEMA! Sephora! Grocery shopping has been a bit of a problem (mostly due to the next heading), but I’ve gotten used to labels in strange languages, so it no longer takes me an hour to grab a handful of items.

NO CAR

We haven’t gotten a car yet. We don’t need one urgently, but it would be infinitely handy (especially for grocery shopping and for trips around the general region).

FRIENDS

I haven’t made a huge amount of friends here, but I’ve gathered a handful of super-special people who I get to call my friends, and I’m eternally grateful to Luxembourg for allowing these beautiful people enter my life.

JOB PROSPECTS

Not great at all, but at least I’ve had a very successful year with regard to my side hustle (which has been my main hustle in Luxembourg), which is my proofreading business. I’ve also given a few English lessons and written some articles here and there. In March, however, I should be starting a traineeship at the European Commission (très exciting), and there are still a few other hopeful possibilities in the pipeline.

A PET CAT

I have been unsuccessful on this front, and we have no pet cat. I understand that it’s not very responsible to get a pet though, since we might move to a place which doesn’t allow pets, or we might not be at home due to travelling for long periods of time… (I still dream of having a pet cat daily, however).

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

It’s great. I love taking the train, especially. The only downfall is that buses and trains become scarce in the evenings and on weekends, which can mean a long chilly wait (or a long walk home).

VISITORS

It’s been lovely to host a few visitors at our place last year, and we’ve even gotten a giant sofa bed now. Not many people that I know would opt for Luxembourg as a travel destination, so it’s been great to show some people around this pretty part of the world (and discover more of it myself).

TRAVELLING FROM LUXEMBOURG

It’s both a blessing and a pain. It’s wonderful to be so close to so many European countries, especially Belgium, France and Germany, but at the same time, it’s quite an expensive endeavour to travel back home to Malta, since return flights are usually around the 200-300 EUR mark, and it takes most of a day to get there. That being said, it’s not that bad, and it’s been amazing to visit cities such as Trier, Metz, Antwerp, Riga, Aachen, and so on, apart from the wonders of travelling in Luxembourg itself – my favourite spots are Mullerthal, Mersch, Clervaux, Vianden, the Upper-Sûre lake, and the whole Luxembourgish Moselle region.

BEING A PLANT MUMMY

I’m terrible at taking care of plants. I’ve killed several cactuses this past year, and I’m quite ashamed of it. However, I still have a couple which seem to have survived my treacherous care (or lack thereof)…

THE POSTAL SERVICE (internationally-speaking)

It suuuucks. Things take ages to arrive to/from Malta, as well as from favourite sites like the Book Depository.

CRÉMANT IS THE BEST

It’s the Luxembourgish version of champagne. It’s delicious, and not as expensive as sparkling wine that’s designated as actual Champagne.

TRADITIONS

This little country has some wonderful traditions, which means that no period of the year is without an “occasion”. Eating a Galette des Rois in January, burning a giant cross with the rest of the neighbourhood in February, the Luxembourg City Film Festival in February/Marchbuying a pretzel for the one you love in March, celebrating the National Day in June, Rock-a-Field in Julygoing to the massive funfair in summer, THE CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN DECEMBER – there’s always some fun to be had.

THE COUNTRYSIDE, THE PARKS, THE GREENERY

They blow me away every day. There aren’t any grand mountains or harsh, contrasting landscapes, but the subtle beauty of the Luxembourgish “wild” gives me so much peace in my soul. There are plenty of places for walks and hikes, and it’s still a HUGE country to me, considering that I come from a tiny, densely-populated island in the middle of the Mediterranean.

In short, I can’t wait to see what Luxembourg has to offer in Year 2… :)

PS: the photo above was taken by me in Clervaux, Luxembourg in October.

My Favourite Feelings (Annelise’s)

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Annelise is my original bestie. We met at drama classes when we were 8 years old, and we hit it off immediately. Our friendship completely solidified at age 16, when we were studying together for our A’ levels, and then the rest is history. She’s one of the most special people in the whole world, she is ever-resourceful in any situation, and she always manages to trip over something or other every time we meet. I love her oh-so-much.

It took a while before I coaxed her into compiling a list of her favourite feelings, but once she got going, it seems that she loved the task.

Here are some of her favourite feelings:

 

  • Being on stage and the adrenaline before performing.
  • The excitement before watching a performance.
  • Crawling into a warm bed after a long day.
  • Playing football.
  • Watching Juventus play.
  • Jumping into the sea on a hot summer day and enjoying the instant coolness.
  • Sitting down outside on a calm summer afternoon in Malta and reading a nice book.
  • Having a nice meal in good company accompanied by some nice wine.
  • Hugs – particularly my mum’s hugs which are always the warmest and strongest.
  • Being with my family.
  • Hanging out with my friends and the warmth and joy I feel when I sit back for a moment to appreciate how happy they are together.
  • Happiness.
  • Love.
  • Baking.
  • Praying and knowing that I’m not alone.
  • Laughing.
  • When the sun shines on me and I immediately think of home.
  • Watching TV on the sofa at home.

Send me your own favourite feelings (claire@clairebonello.com). :)

Things I Love Thursday

http://lovetheworldlife.tumblr.com/post/103226568630

  • A long weekend in Rome with my boyfriend
  • A late night film with my bestie
  • Wrapping Christmas presents
  • Roman food
  • The Vatican museums, Villa Borghese… all the things in Rome <3
  • My blog
  • A good talk
  • Going for a swim with a friend
  • Red wine
  • Getting Christmas nails done
  • Hanging out with old friends

Things I Love Thursday

  • Rehearsing
  • My bestie, Annie, visiting me in Luxembourg
  • Christmas markets
  • Castles
  • The beautiful Luxembourgish countryside
  • Travelling by train
  • The Internet
  • Effective Christmas-present buying
  • Understanding French (sometimes)
  • Being back in Malta! THE SUNSHINE.
  • Making plans with friends

Autumn 2015 Favourites <3

October, November, December 2015 Favourites

After my awful blog problems this year, I’ve decided to group up my October/November/December favourites into a more general Autumn favourites. These past few months have had their ups and downs – but you could say that it was all eclipsed by the moment when I visited my first Luxembourgish Christmas market, mulled wine in hand, standing in front of a fire, when it started snowing. It was glorious.

Pictured favourites:

Some other favourites:

Hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas.