Back to the roots

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #38

I am grateful for a lovely long weekend spending quality time with my family in France.  What a pleasure spend the hours like we did, chatting away while baking cakes, practising my portrait skills with my very patient sister as a model (portraits are so hard… I’ve got a lot of practise ahead of me), taking walks with Paolo in beautiful parks, enjoying long meals all together, celebrating birthdays and eating above mentionned cakes;), laughing and catching up…

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Fruit picking in Fruittuin van West

IMG_3487JOYFUL GRATITUDE #37

Spent a lovely morning last weekend with Paolo picking raspberries and apples at Fruittuin van West, a beautiful organic farm in Amsterdam-West where you can go to pick your own fruit (local and seasonal – hooray!) .  There is a lovely dynamic atmosphere, and I like that they share very openly in their newsletters about their fight against pests and the methods they use, as it gives a realistic idea of the challenges of organic cultivation.

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Searching through the raspberry bushes to find the ripe fruit, holding them softly between my fingers and pulling lightly to pick them without crushing them, was the perfect exercise in mindfulness.

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We walked through row after row of apple trees laden with tempting fruit and picked to our heart’s content, coming home with 4 kilos of appels next to our kilo of raspberries.

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Don’t they look delicious?! (Needless to say that as I write this, the raspberries are already long gone, we enjoyed them ‘au naturel’, with yoghurt and in a delicious apple and raspberry cake!)

Summer plants

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During the holidays, I spent lovely afternoons walks exploring the tiny alleys of the village of Capraia, looking at the carefully tended plants in people’s gardens or in front of their houses and I’ll share more about that soon.

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But I especially fell for the wild plants growing in the hills or on the edges of the cliffs on our way down to the sea.  Those plants really represent the island for me.

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I love how their branches and spikes lightly scratched my legs as I walked by, reminding me of their presence, as if urging me to look down and observe them.

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What the photos unfortunately can’t show is how the strong smell of the aromatic plants (like wild rosemary, erba gatta and elicriso) rose up in the air under the hot sun, titillating the senses as we walked by.

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Depending on the hour of the day, the light would show up the colours against the backdrop of the sky in different ways, what a lovely sight.

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The prickly pear cactus is one of the plants that is synonymous to me of hot summer days in Italy. When I see one I am immediately mentally transported to wonderful moments spent by the sea, feeling warm rays of sunshine drying the salt water on my skin and the joyful sensation of being on holidays and free:)

Plant spotting in Thailand

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #35

One of the wonderful things of exploring Thailand was the quantity of plants everywhere. On many street corners, balconies, house fronts there were lovely plants. There were all sorts of frangipanis (which are one of my all time favorites since I lived in Australia) but the gorgeous colours on these ones shown above defy anything I’d seen yet.

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This lovely lotus shot after a small rainshower is magical. Nature really knows how to combine colours.

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How could I resist making a close-up of such a tiny furry leaf… it’s pure perfection!

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There were also plenty of lovely flowers as decoration around the temples.

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In Surat Thani as I was walking by the river, I came across this plant vendor’s shop on wheels. I admired the collection of luscious green pot plants for every taste, expertly squeezed onto every square centimeter of the cart.

More botanic beauty

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Recently I found out that there is another botanical garden in Amsterdam and it’s less than a 10 minute bike away from my flat!  So on one of my free Friday afternoons, in between 2 rain showers, I decided to go and check it out.

It’s free and you can just walk in, while volunteers mill around doing their thing. It’s a lovely place to relax and you don’t feel at all like you are close to the busy Zuidas.

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The collection of succulents and cacti both in and around the glasshouses is spectacular, with hundreds of different species in every single available space.

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Observing all the different plants, with their details and colours was a real pleasure as usual. There were very few visitors so I was undisturbed as I got in close to photograph the details.  I think I’ll be heading back there soon for some more inspiration:)

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Check out Botanic Garden Zuidas for the opening times (it’s near the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam Zuid).

Such a perfect day

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #26

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Leiden to spend one of our ‘creative afternoons’ with my friend Eva (a.k.a. eating delicious lunch, talking about all sorts of things over coffee and cake, getting some creative inspiration and then enjoying more food for dinner and chatting further into the evening:)

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We decided to go to the Hortus to observe plants and spark our imagination.  It was so different from the last time we went in November! With the arrival of spring there were many lovely new plants, and we spent an amazing afternoon strolling through the sunlit gardens and then sweating profusely as we explored the tropical glasshouses.

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The collection is so abundant, that there was an infinity of amazing shapes and incredible colour combinations to look at.

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Soon we were completely in the flow, pointing out tiny details to each other and admiring the rich textures and striking shapes, orchids in retro-colours and wonderful bright purples and blues.

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Short walk around the block

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #24

In the last few years I usually try to flee Amsterdam on King’s Day to avoid the crowds of people dressed in orange who hit the streets to celebrate the King’s birthday.

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This year I’m in town but I took the opportunity of this day off to chill at home and do some spring cleaning at home whilst listening to S-Town (I’m hooked!).

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Neverthelsess with the sun shining so nicely outside, I decided to get out of the house and go for a spontaneous photo walk around my neighbourhood, where luckily there are no crowds.

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Despite May being just around the corner, it was still pretty cold, practically glove weather.  The flowers popping up on every corner, bushes growing shiny fresh new leaves of all different colours and trees in full bloom tell another story.  Winter is over!

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It was a pleasure to be mindful and take in all the colours and textures to be found on a short walk.