Tag Archives: winter

A photo a day in December: days 16-20

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I’m currently sitting in Malpensa airport, where I arrived ridiculously far in advance of my flight. (Thanks to the bus times, it was that or a nerve-wrackingly tight schedule.) At least it means I get time to post my next five photos…

  • A bookshop which I have never actually been into but whose window I admire all the time;
  • There’s a boring and obvious joke to be made here about “I took a self portrait!!!” which I am not too dignified to make;
  • The view from the bus window this morning — I am so glad to be going to Australia and summer;
  • Cool architecture at the back of the Ospedale Oftalmico;
  • The river Po on Sunday afternoon in the sunshine and haze.

PS: You can check out my other posts from the challenge here

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A photo a day in December: days 11-15


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It’s been COLD!!! here in Turin these past few days. At least, cold for Turin — temperatures near freezing, and lots of fog to keep you feeling nice and damp and clammy. Ugh. Makes for some atmospheric photos of the bare trees in the park, though.

On days 11-15, I took photos of:

  • The park at night. I had spent the entire walk from the train station to my house trying to get a good photo of the Christmas lights in the city centre; every photo I took was vaguely unsatisfying and I just wanted to get home and have a hot drink. On impulse, I snapped a shot in the park, it was the best photo I took all evening;
  • Another photo of cookies: my life these days is basically work/try to get a decent photo each day/bake cookies because why not, it’s nearly Christmas;
  • Cute street art, awwwww;
  • The fencing near the entrance to the Royal Palace is nicely dramatically lit from below;
  • Pretty sure loose-leaf tea, a fancy-looking cookie, a book to read, and a journal should win me instagram-bingo, right?

PS: You can check out my other posts from the challenge here

A photo a day in December: days 6-10

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I am rather excited that a) I actually did another 5 days of my photo-a-day challenge, and b) I found some colourful things to take pictures of!

In days 6-10, we have:

  • “Superfood salad”, aka brussel sprouts, pomegranate and hazelnuts. (It’s based loosely on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Before serving I added apple and a vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt and chili powder.)
  • The skating rink in Piazza Carlo Alberto;
  • A tin of home made cookies;
  • Bark and lichen — ooh nature; and
  • Possibly the coolest shop decoration ever: they have covered the entire store front in a patchwork knitted/crocheted blanket:
    Shop front with knitted decoration

PS: You can check out my other posts from the challenge here

A photo a day in December: days 1-5

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Obviously the smart thing to do in the month when the days are shortest is to challenge yourself to take a photo a day. Who even needs natural light anyway? (My ancient phone camera. That’s who needs natural light to function. I really don’t know why I thought I should do this in December.)

My plan is to post the photos to my blog every few days to take advantage of fear of public shame to avoid just accidentally photographing the inside of my handbag and calling it a day.

In days 1-5, we have:

  • A mirror selfie, as taken by someone who doesn’t want her face on her blog;
  • A grey Saturday morning;
  • Photographic proof that the houseplant Mum gave me in late October is still alive(!);
  • Whoops I didn’t remember to take any photos during daylight hours… Um well ok here’s a candle if I put on a sepia filter it looks kinda alright; and
  • A sunset with the Moon and Monviso –I had to take this one quickly because it involved opening the window at work on a cold afternoon.

PS: You can check out my other posts from the challenge here

Snow in Giardino Aiuola Balbo, Turin

Notes from my extremely glamorous life: Let it snow

It has been an extremely, ridiculously mild winter here this year, with blue skies and daytime temperatures often getting into the teens. (Celcius, I mean. That’s how mild it is.) The other day, I got gelato on my way home from work and ate it standing in the sun, thinking, Is this really February?

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I also sent this picture to various friends, saying, “I’m eating gelato, what did you achieve today?” because I am a terrible person.

So I was as taken aback as everyone else in Turin when I woke up on Saturday morning and saw white fluffy flakes falling, the first snow in the city this winter.

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I’m not normally much of a fan of snow. It’s cold, it’s wet, and if you think Perth drivers are useless in the rain you should see how people drive in the snow. But I needed to go to the pharmacy anyway, so I pulled on a woolly hat and my warm coat and took a walk through the city centre.

When it’s a late winter Saturday one-off, it’s harder to be cynical about snow. The buildings and statues look statelier. The dusting of white brings out the form of the bare trees. The snow on the ground makes everything look brighter even when it’s overcast. And on a Saturday morning, I wasn’t the only one enjoying the snow — the parks had plenty of delighted dogs running around wondering what had happened to make the ground so much fun all of a sudden.

As I walked, the clouds lowered and the snow fell harder and I brushed the snow off my arms as I went. By the time I got to the river Po almost the whole scene was grey and white.

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And then by lunch time it had turned to rain, and by evening you wouldn’t know that it had snowed at all.

A perfect Perth winter day, in Torino

Winter barefoot walks FTW!
Photo credit: “Winter barefoot walks FTW!” by Simon Wright, via Flickr

Today was one of those Torino autumn days that felt like a perfect Perth winter day — blue skies, chilly in the morning, but warm enough under the midday sun eat lunch outside and not need a jacket. In Perth, I’d have gone for a walk on the beach on a day like today, and come away with wild hair from the buffeting wind. Here, I caught glimpses of the sun setting behind the mountains as I walked through the meadows in Parco Colletta, and got grass seeds stuck in my socks.

It occurs to me I haven’t been in Perth in winter for 5 years now, and on days like today that feels like a long time. I miss Perth. Not just the people, who I miss frequently (and do a terrible job of keeping in touch with!) But the geography, too. The open space and wide empty streets, single-storey houses on quater-acre blocks. The way the city is flat, until you notice the undulations of the sand dunes it’s built upon. The route from my old place to work, cycling through bushland just a couple of kilometres from the city centre. The Swan River, or rather, just “the river”, as if you needed any other rivers in the world.

And other days I miss Glasgow, and other days I miss the tiny wheat and sheep farming town I lived in as a kid, and other days I miss the months I spent in Florence. Probably one day I’ll be living somewhere else again, and missing Torino.

We were talking over dinner the other night about the idea of being “from” somewhere. Like, can you be from somewhere if your parents weren’t from there? In Australia, yes, but that’s not universal. And I was thinking afterwards about how I’d never thought about being from somewhere until I lived in Glasgow for a year and realized that Britishness was something I recognized if I squinted and held my head at a funny angle, but it wasn’t my culture, and the city was lively and Scotland was beautiful, but it wasn’t my place.

Because my culture is Australian, and my place is Perth.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Zoe, from Australia.”
“Oh? Where in Australia are you from?”
“Perth, it’s on the west coast.”
(That last statement delivered almost as a question, because I will never completely lose my Australian habit of upward inflection.)

Snow in Giardini Reali, Turin

Getting the hang of winter.

Way back in October I wrote about autumn here in Torino, so I think a winter post is surely due by now. And I’ve had my laptop open half the afternoon, thinking, come on, you can talk about winter! it’s not that hard! And I’ve made cups of tea, I’ve fetched my doona to wrap around me on the sofa, I’ve kicked the doona off and puttered around the living room, and I haven’t written a word about winter, because I can’t pin down what I think of it.

The light is very pretty but there’s not enough of it, is I think how I would summarize.

Magic light this afternoon.

Magic light this afternoon. The sun was soon behind a building and my living room went dark.

Actually, we’ve had a decent number of clear sunny days in the past few weeks, days that remind me of Perth winters where you can walk on the beach in the sunshine and even push your sleeves up if the wind isn’t strong.

Except that here, even the sunny days are short, and the overcast days are shorter. I love that in late December we get magic afternoon light by 2pm, I just wish we didn’t get nightfall by 5pm.

Because the problem I haven’t solved yet is how to get myself to go out and do things once it does get cold and dark, which means that 7pm has found me with my doona on the sofa more often than I’d like. Do I go straight from work so I can’t stop at the sofa? Make more effort to organize social events I can’t skip? I did get myself out the door and power-walking down Corso Regina the other night after I’d read something that made me too cross to stay sitting down, but I’m not sure the exercise gains are enough to counter the emotional cost of “read poorly-argued things you disagree with” as a strategy.

But then — thinking out loud here — do I want to go out more? Maybe it’s wise to have a season where I’m not active, where I can’t pretend that I’m a Busy Important Person who is busy Doing Important Things, where I recognize that no matter how much I do in my life my achievements aren’t going to last very long. On an overcast day, everything seems grey and same-y, until I start to look closely at what’s in front of me, to see shape and pattern and texture and muted colour differences. Maybe I need to take winter as a reminder to pay attention to the quieter parts of my life.

So I’m not sure yet what I think about winter, but I’m starting to think it has something to teach me.

Oh yeah, and snow. Still don't quite have the hang of living with that.

Oh yeah, and snow. Still don’t quite have the hang of living with that, even when it’s barely there.

Notes from a week in the mountains

  • Probably it’s for the best that the american lady on the bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel who was loudly discussing how she finds australian accents “sooooo sexy” didn’t hear me turn to my colleague sitting next to me and dramatically sigh “why does no-one take us seriously?”
  • Until now, when people said they quite like snow, I always thought they were a bit funny in the head. It’s wet! It’s cold! There’s mud everywhere! But having finally seen thick, fluffy, pretty snow, I start to understand:

    No slush in sight!

    No slush in sight!

  • Skiing: ahahahahahahaha. Not my forte at all. As predicted, hilarious. Picture a 76-year-old french winter-ski-instructor-summer-mountain-guide who’s just come off his cigarette break yelling “snowplow! wider!” and me yelling “I’m so sorry!” as I nearly mow down a row of small children who at age 4 are better skiers than me. Speaking of which, the small children body count from a 2 hour ski lesson: 1 collision, 1 accidentally closing the chairlift barrier onto a kid’s leg.
  • Apparently, there is a St Bernard dog museum near Les Houches, which we didn’t get a chance to see. This must be rectified. (A museum about dogs!)