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Italy in a Car Park: Brockley Market

As my in-laws are sunning themselves in forty degrees heat in Southern Italy, the Italian and I decided to cheer ourselves up by cooking a nice Italian lunch for friends. What perfect opportunity to head out to our local farmers market in search of ingredients.

We had driven past Brockley Market lots of times but today we finally made an effort to pay it a visit. I’m so glad we did!

There was lots of really good street food to choose from: Mexican omelettes from Dias de los Muertos (although they call themselves ‘muerto’ without the plural ‘s’, not grammatically correct but apparently they’ve been told a million times so.. I digress!) , burgers from Mother Flipper. There was grilled mackerel and BLTs, cakes, breads, olives and even squid! There were fruit and vegetables, fish and chicken and even juices from Serious Smoothies made with Peruvian Macca!

Amongst all of this merriment we managed to get excited about a few Italian items that we could use for lunch. Here are a few photos that I took to prove that it’s not hard at all to find a bit of Italy in a South East London car park!:

Brockley Market, Saarf East Landon

We found an amazing Italian sourdough ring at Aston’s which was to die for and our friend from Rome said its the best bread she’s tasted, ever! (outside of Rome that is.. of course)

From Olive Branch we found amazing Olive Oil and..

a Tuscan tapanade which I couldn’t stop eating with the free grissini..oops!

The best buy of the day was without a doubt the fennel salami and the red wine and hazelnut salami from Moons Green Charcuterie. These pork Gods are from Kent and what they don’t know about meat is not worth knowing. I swear, and even the Italian agreed, that when tasting the fennel salami you never ever know it had been made in England! Amazing.

Although not for our lunch, I also bought some of these gorgeous white baby aubergine to go in the vegetable lasagna that I will be making for Bambina.

All of this with lots of tastings and a fabulous coffee, the best in London as far as I’m concerned, from Dark Fluid, and a wonderful morning was had by all!

Now I just have to remember to take more money with me next time I go as the stall holders only accept cash. I did spend a small fortune but if you want to eat well you need to spend well!

Yum Yum in my tum!

X-O-X

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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in London

 

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Lets Go Shwopping!

Readers who live in the UK will have heard about Marks & Spencer’s new campaign called “Shwopping”.

When you spend £35 on clothing, home and beauty products in M&S stores and online and you donate an item of your own clothing, you get £5 off your bill.  Not a bad swap!  You can donate any brand of clothing, it doesn’t have to have been bought from M&S.  If you’re not buying anything, you can still donate old clothes by simply dropping them in one of the Shwop Boxes dotted around the stores.   Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer have teamed up with Oxfam who are benefitting from receiving the clothes and will be shipping them globally to those in need.

Last weekend, whilst on a trek around town, I accidentally stumbled across the Marks & Spencer Shwop Lab. I wondered what on earth all these clothes were doing hanging outside the building and when I got closer I realised what it was.

Did you know that we throw away 10,000 garments to land fill ever five minutes. That us an incredible one billion garments to land in the UK alone each year. Discarded clothes, usually in great condition, that other people would be greatly for.  M&S are urging the nation to take part in this ‘buy one / give one’ appeal.

Here are a few pics that I took to share with you:

Clothes on the floor, walls, trees, everywhere!

A clothes bicycle, a clothes bench, even a clothes dog!

Don’t Ditch it! Shwop it!

Can you believe someone Shwopped this gorgeous party dress?

Pretty bold: Change the World, SHWOP!

 There really are some quite amazing charity events going on in London at the moment.  If you don’t live in London, or the UK for that matter, but still want to get involved, contact a local store with the idea and see if you can run your own Shwopping event for Oxfam! If you do… let me know!! I’d love to hear about it.

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Save The Children: #BlogitforBabies – The Movie

The Build it for Babies campaign is well and truly underway.  The launch of the virtual clinic was last week and this week we have made it to HollyWood with a #BuilditforBabies movie.

The leading lady, the one and only Annie Spratt, stage name Mammasaurus, tells us below why #BuilditforBabies is so important.  Go on, make yourself a cuppa, sit down and have a look!

You can also check out the #BlogitforBabies website for more ways to get involved.

Related Articles:

Save The Children: I’m building it for Babies, are you?

Save The Children: My Birth Experience #BlogitforBabies

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Street Art: Love it, Don’t Loath it!

It’s not often that I notice graffiti to be honest. Well, yes, of course I notice it if it’s an eye sore but what I mean is I don’t pay much attention to what it actually is.

Today however I spent the afternoon walking around Brick Lane, the famous London street otherwise known as Bangla City, that houses a thousand Indian restaurants, colourful Sari shops and food stores that are an Aladdin’s cave of spice and flavour.  Amidst the hustle and bustle of Bangra sounds, my eyes were constantly drawn to amazing street art of women. Pictures were hidden in doorways, over shop shutters and in parking garages.

Check out some of these very cool images:

 I have walked down this street a thousand times and only noticed yesterday that it’s called Fashion Street! This is we’re the images began. The blue lady is a drawing of Lily Allen.

 How stunning is this?! I found this lipsticked lady on a side wall of a night club entrance. It’s a huge street mural.

This little lady was found on a garage shutter. She is actually really small and very easy to miss. Just look at the size of the lock to imagine it.

Hidden in the apartment doorway od No80 Brick Lane was this sad eyed little girl just waiting to be discovered.

And in the opposite street, in another doorway, hid her sister.

I was quite amazed at how I must walk around with my eyes shut, to have not noticed and appreciated the amount of man hours that goes into this street art. Admittedly I probably wouldn’t be so appreciative if it was on my own doorstep but Brick Lane is a vibrant, buzzing Asian part of town and somehow it just fits.

Next time I go out browsing on a saturday afternoon, I’ll be sure to keep my eyes peeled because I really enjoyed myself stumbling across these!

Hope you enjoyed them too!

X-O-X

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2012 in London

 

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Save The Children: My Birth Experience #BlogitforBabies

On the launch day of Save the Children’s virtual clinic (Build it for Babies ), I thought it appropriate to share with you my birthing story in support of raising £1m to build essential clinics in rural Bangladesh. Was my birthing experience really so bad? In comparison the answer can only be no.

In 2009, I was told that I probably wouldn’t have children.  Not the best news to hear when in you are in your early 30’s and assuming that the next chapter in your life consists of wedding bells and nappies.  This happens to other women, right? Not so.

My husband said we could get a dog.  He meant well. Today, we don’t have a dog but we do have a baby!! Mother nature decided that she would go against the grain and give us a helping hand.

After a fantastic Italian wedding just outside of Venice and a romantic honeymoon at Lake Garda and Verona, we headed home to London with me feeling a bit, well, ropey.  After telling my husband that my boobs felt like a butcher had hacked them off with a blunt knife he whispered to me from the across the room..”are you pregnant?”. We both just sat and stared at each other.  It was the best wedding present we could ever have wished for in all the world!

Bambina was due on 22nd May 2011.  The mediterranean in her had other plans.  The midwife told me that “it” (we didn’t find out what we were expecting) was going to be on the large side so I should probably leave the place that pays my bills a week earlier than planned.  I did.

With three weeks to go, I walked up to stairs, I ate curry, I had sex (if you could call it that!), I ate pineapple and I drank raspberry leaf tea until it was coming out of my ears! Bambina stayed where she was. The due date came and went and I walked more, up and down stairs, up and down hills.  I watched TV bent over on all fours and bounced on that flipping gym ball so much that I’m surprised I didn’t give myself concussion!

Two days late, five days late, eight days late. Still no sign.  I remember going to the hairdresser and I was HUGE. The girl asked me when I was due and went pale when I told her “over a week ago”.

If I lived in Bangladesh I would have been working in rice fields until my waters broke, fourteen hours a day.  But what if my waters wouldn’t break? What would I do?  There is no induction, no help nearby, no support or advice.  I would probably go so late that the child would die and be born still birth by the body expelling it.  Or, I may die too.

I went to hospital to be induced when I was ten days late.  The first time I was induced it didn’t work.  I had some pain but nothing worse than a period pain.  I was induced again six hours later.  That kind of worked, enough that I had to put on the tens machine.  Which, my husband decided to play with whilst it was still attached to me, cue electrocution by birthing tool! Six hours later I was induced for the third and last time. Other women had been and gone and I was still there, being electrocuted, as you do.

I remember the sweltering heat as I walked around the hospital car park in my pyjamas.  Could I have done that if it was forty plus degrees? If I was in Bangladesh I would have to. I would have to cope, to work, to continue to raise my other children, mourne the ones I had already lost, take care of my husband, look after my house, well, hut.  And we think that we multi-task!  All of this whilst trying to fight the fear that the child you’re about to deliver may not live in this world for more than an hour.

At 10pm on 3rd June 2012, I was taken to the labour ward to have my waters broke.  The pain started immediately but surprisingly it was fine. Doable. Bearable.  After a few hours I was really feeling it.  After having to forego the luxury of a birthing centre because I was so overdue, I was determined not to have drugs.  However, once six hours had passed I still hadn’t dilated so the registrar suggested that I consider and epidural and santonin drip to bring the labour on faster.

I agreed and as soon as the epidural went in it was like angels came and tickled their tiny gold dust fingers all over my body and with one gracious little poof, the pain was gone.  I slept until 6am when the registrar came back for a check up.  Great! I had detracted one centimeter.  I was going backwards!!

My husband let out a shriek and the registrar lifted my gown.  I had swelled. EVERYWHERE.  I could barely move my hands or feet.  My joints were triple the size.  They almost cut off my wedding ring but I was damned if I was going to give birth without it on!!

I had a choice to make; wait a few more hours or go to surgery.  It was a no-brainer.  My husband looked great in the blue overalls, all dark and mysterious under his little blue hat.  It has been a long long long night, or two nights, and I was having severe convulsions and body shakes from the epidural wearing off.  My legs had to be strapped to the surgery table.

The screens went up.  The tools came out and the nurse told me that I would feel some pulling.  it was totally harmless.  I couldn’t believe we had reached this stage.  Within seconds we would have the baby that mother nature gifted to us and we held on tight for the next few minutes. Then, with one last pull, the doctor announced that the baby was out and all looked fine.  I remember wondering why I didn’t cry straight away.  They held the baby up over the screen but I couldn’t see.

“It looks like me!!” the Italian shouted, excited.  “But what it is it?” I slurred.  “It’s a …It’s a giirrlll….” and with that the tears welled and be both cried.  I was exhausted, drugged, emotional but what I remember the most of those few minutes was how happy my husband was.  I don’t think I will ever forgot the expression on his face.  Its like I’ve bottled that expression and stored it away somewhere very safe.

The doctor wished us congratulations and leaned toward me and said “just so you know, there is no way you would have been able deliver this baby on your own.  She’s not small”.

In the recovery room, she weighed in at 10lb4oz.  At 7.55am on Saturday 4th June 2011.  Healthy, happy and here.  Wanted and needed more than the air that I breathe every day. Loved with every ounce of our souls.  She was ALIVE.  If she was born in Bangladesh, she might not be.

The women in Bangladesh don’t have the luxury of being induced or of having check ups at a local hospital or clinic.  They don’t have the luxury of birthing tools, pools or centres.  Worst, they don’t have the luxury of holding their baby in their arms and knowing, just knowing, that they are all well and safe.  That from that day forward, everything will be ok.  They don’t have that luxury.

Now, with the help of Save The Children Build it for Babies campaign, the clinics will act as a safe heaven.  These clinics are a life line to a next generation of stronger healthier women.

So, you’ve spent the last, what, ten minutes reading this post.  Extend that by a further five minutes to check out the Save the Children website to find out how you can get involved.  Then, get involved… do something to change this situation. NO CHILD WAS BORN TO DIE.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in London

 

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Tea&Biscotti Seeks Sponsor

I have toyed with the idea of looking for a sponsor but how do I know I’m good enough yet? How long does it take for new bloggers to become known?  I have no idea, I’m just enjoying doing my thang, you know, crossing my t’s and dotting my I’s (is that the other way around?).

I’ve been doing all the things I should, exhausting every social media outlet I can and I’m happy to say that I think my little creative outlet is moving along at a good pace.  I’ve had almost 2000 hits from Google, over 300 followers and am also nearing the 300 mark on Twitter.  Tea&Biscotti is a Mumsnet Blogger, is active on LoveAllBlogs and has just joined Tots100 (although my badge currently doesn’t work and is in the bloggers badge hospital getting fixed) – not bad for a newbie but there’s always room for improvement…*cue best smiley face and fluttering eyelashes to seek a sponsor so I can go to Cybher and learn how to get better!*

As my blog says, I’m English, my husband is Italian and our daughter, well, she’s Bambina.  I am starting to love Italy and all things Italian.  I get it now.  After five years I finally understand the humour, I get the obsession about food and clothes, I get the sunglasses thing – Italy is really bright, you actually do need sunglasses, all the time!

I started my blog as a me thang. I kind of lost myself, felt like I had lost my identity a bit, after having a baby so I started to write. Writing is my favourite guilty pleasure.  I didn’t want to be a mummy blog as there’s a lot more to me and us than our baby.  I wanted to concentrate on the English/Italian mix, the culture, the differences and the everyday life that we encompass, especially when it comes to raising a bi-lingual child. I try to write posts that are meaningful and that are a reflection of who I am, who we are as a family.  They might be funny, they might be emotional but they will always be truthful.

Tea&Biscotti was born when my husband said he was sick of seeing me having tea & biscuits – that’s pretty much all I did on my maternity leave!  I think I ate McVities’s dark chocolate digestives out of business! After much giggling, what with me being English and all, it developed into Tea&Biscotti because that’s like us…English tea and Italian biscotti – clever eh?! We just go together.

So Tea&Biscotti is now 2 months old and still very very new but tackling the cyber world a day at a day time. I still hold a full-time job and my blog is my little hobby. I want to get better and am hoping that next year my writing skills will have improved hundred fold.

In order to be brilliant, I need to attend various upcoming events. I am attending the Save the Children Blogger Conference 2012 and would love to attend Cybher too.  As Tea&Biscotti is still an infant, I have been unable to participate in things such as ParentDish MAD awards but that is definitely my goal – who knows, I might actually hold an award this time next year – how super amazing would that be?! 🙂

If you were to be so very kind as to sponsor Tea&Biscotti, you could expect the following:

  1. Sole representation of your brand at Cybher.
  2. Your brand logo will be used in all posts leading up to, during and after the event, as well as mentioned in tweets and on the Tea&Biscotti Facebook page.
  3. I will display your logo/badge on my blog for 1 year and allow you space via your own page to promote and showcase your goodies.
  4. I’m happy to don the logo somehow at the Cybher event but not really sure if I’m a t-shirt wearing girl – open to suggestions!

In exchange for such utter dedication and commitment, I would love for you to support Tea&Biscotti by:

  1. Providing the cost of the Cybher ticket – £100

I live in London so don’t require travel costs but if you could stretch to a bite to eat, a copious supply of H2o and the odd full fat latte (I’m still breastfeeding after all..), that would be amazing!

If you are keen to know more I would absolutely love to hear from you so do please contact me at teaandbiscotti@hotmail.co.uk or tweet/DM me at @TeaandBiscotti.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in London

 

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A Road Much Travelled

I think we would agree that amongst other things (food, fashion, football and the generally good-lookingness of its population), Italy prides itself on having built roads, no? I believe so because I am reminded of it every time my husband and I get into a ‘my country/your country’ debate.

If it wasn’t for Italy..”, blah blah.. “if it wasn’t for the Romans…” yada yada yada…. YAWN! We have had many a debate about our home countries: mine being cold, his being hot, mine gave The Beatles, his gave Bocelli, they’ve got tagliatelle, we’ve got toad in the hole (does anyone under 100 eat toad in the whole in England?).  Now, I know this is slighty clutching at straws but they’ve got Prada, we’ve got Primark.  Totally validating this last point given the joy we ladies feel when purchasing a garment from either store!  As much as we would all love to be walking around in a Prada puffa jacket with over-sized fur-trimmed hood (usually real fur!), you can’t beat a seasonal splurge at Primark.

No matter what my comeback is, I am always hit with the road story.

What baffles me is if the Romans built all these roads for their troops to get around Europe, why don’t the Italians use them nowadays? This is clearly a huge generalisation but since I’ve been married to an Italian, I have noticed that travelling outside of Italy is not high on the list of priorities for most. Other than the mass exodus to Argentina and America in the 17th century, it seems that most Italians only use “their” roads in “their” country.  When I was travelling in South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, I don’t think I met a single Italian person (that was travelling).

A couple of years ago I mentioned to my brother-in-law that he had never visited us in London.  His response was “what would I eat?”.  He did visit, once.  He rather enjoyed himself. That was, until, he asked me if I like Italian food.  I do. But I prefer Indian/Mexican/Chinese, anything that’s not based on tomato or cream.  He asked me if I liked Italy in general. I do, from what I’ve seen so far. But in terms of “travelling”, I prefer Brazil/Colombia/Thailand, places where I can retell a story.  He hasn’t spoken to me since – that was 18 months ago.

According to Fanny Burney (I know, I’d have divorced my mother if she’d have dreamed up that name for me! God forbid if it were back to front!), “traveling is the ruin of all happiness! There’s no looking at a building after seeing Italy”.  This might have been true for the English novelist back in the 1700’s but hello, there is a world out there – go explore!

This extreme pride and inane belief in one’s nationality could be because Italy does have a lot going for it; beaches, mountains, lakes, food, wine, style, gorgeous looking people, a to-die-for accent and …ROADS.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Italia

 

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