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Claire’s (online) Chronicles is moving!

3 Jul

I’m finally migrating my little blog onto www.clairebonello.com permanently. This wordpress blog will still be up, but for new updates, head over to clairebonello.com – which also has all the posts that I’ve ever put up on here.

The look of my new site is still a little (a lot) of a work-in-progress, so excuse the wonky layout and the strange changes over the next few weeks. I’m trudging on through the process (mostly) on my own, and my attempts at “design” are sometimes a little… questionable. Forgive me! 

So if you’ve stumbled onto my blog, please click over to www.clairebonello.com and update your RSS feeds, etc. If you’d like to receive email updates when there are new posts, there’s an easy subscribe button on the sidebar.

Much love and happiness,

Claire

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How to Survive a Music Festival

15 Jun

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FESTIVALS. Don’t you love them? It’s quite a must if you’re a music + people + travel lover that you take yourself to a music festival. Europe does music festivals really well, and there’s always one going on during every weekend in Summer. My main music festival experience has been Glastonbury 2011. I’ve also been to other, smaller festivals. Fun times.

I actually don’t think I’m up for going to another major festival like Glasto – it was so tiring and overwhelming and dirty. Even though I saw amazing acts and drank all the delicious cider of Somerset, I had quite a few miserable moments. BUT, I would heartily recommend going to a festival, and I’ve decided to compile a little guide to help you survive your music festival experience (including a few things you should definitely take along). Mainly: enjoy yourself and always remember where you’ve pitched your tent.

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  1. Hygiene is important – take wet wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, deodorant.
  2. Wellies – my boyfriend thinks that hiking boots are a better option, but I still think wellies are the way to go. They’ll keep your legs (up till your knees, at least) free from that awful mud, and even though your wellies will start weighing a tonne as soon as they become caked in mud, it’s better than having your feet soaked in the aforementioned mud.
  3. A drawstring bag – light, and necessary.
  4. A water bottle (refill often).
  5. A small purse for money.
  6. If you’re camping, then don’t forget the obvious: tent, sleeping bag, pillow(!), etc.
  7. Consider taking/buying a fold-up chair for surprisingly welcome comfort.
  8. Get ready to stand or trudge through mud for a hell of a long amount of time
  9. Let go. Once you’re at a festival, you’re not going to be showering often, you’re going to need to be laid back: enjoy the music, the sights, the food…
  10. Don’t eat or drink too much. That would keep bathroom visits to a minimum.
  11. But do try out a few “stranger” things that can be found at music festivals. Ostrich burgers, amazing cider, South African delicacies… so many options!
  12. Take an extra mobile phone battery. There will be charging stations, but they will have a ridiculously long queue.
  13. Take a flag or two. You’ll find your tent easier, and have something to wave.
  14. Sunscreen. Lots of it. Even if it’s cloudy.
  15. Take some food. Cereal bars, beef jerky, crisps, nuts, biscuits.
  16. Prepare for all sorts of weather. Take wind cheaters, rain coats, (plastic) hats, sunglasses, scarves.
  17. Dry shampoo.
  18. A little mirror (optional, but useful when you need to check up on your face-paint or any mosquito bites on the face area – ick).
  19. A map of the festival grounds/surrounding areas.
  20. Embrace the hippie in you: paint flowers on your face, dance with people who are probably so high they can’t be pinned down, drink crazy-organic/vegan/raw/whatever juice,
  21. Maybe buy a really cheap phone to use for the duration of the festival. And a disposable camera. It won’t be pleasant if you lose/damage/get robbed of your smartphone or DSLR camera, right?
  22. A roll of toilet paper will be useful. And some more tissues while you’re at it.
  23. Clothes that you won’t mind getting destroyed by the mud/crazy jumping around/elements.
  24. Some sort of jacket/coat which you’re comfortable in, will keep you warm and dry, and has pockets. Maybe this shouldn’t be your favourite coat. And add a plastic raincoat to your list. You might need it.

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So those are my top tips for surviving music festivals. Let me know if you’d like any other information, and enjoy your music festival experience.

Birthday Sneak Peek

26 Apr

Birthday cake 2013

I just wanted to share some photos from my birthday (which was last month). My birthdays are usually one extreme or another. Two years ago, for example, it was mostly amazing. A year ago, it was mostly disastrous, but then ended on a fantastic note. This year, I was having a little bit of a depressive episode during my birthday week, and that meant that I wasn’t much of a happy bunny. Luckily, I still managed to host a little party at my house, and baked myself a truly magnificent cake (above – LOOK AT IT) :) The evening had wine (pictured), pink cider (not pictured, had already drunk it by then), and did I mention the CAKE?

My wonderful friends also brought a few presents with them.

Birthday gifts 2013

I even received a special package from the Netherlands, from my favourite Dutch lady, Eline <3 This cupcake drawstring bag is seriously gorgeous. So striking and sturdy. It was really the perfect surprise.

Eline gift Birthday 2013

And finally, a little peek at one of my “Maltese” presents. It’s an owl-shaped hot water bottle. Microwaveable and everything! I haven’t used this yet, but it looks so cute and charming that I’m keeping it out all year long!

Owl hottie birthday present 2013

I wonder what next year will bring? :)

Waiting…

19 Apr

Throughout my life as a student – also known as my life in its entirety – I’ve always felt like I’ve been playing a waiting game, until the next thing that comes along.

A’ levels, my first degree, second graduation, MA at a foreign university, back in law in Malta…

And once that next thing comes along, it immediately becomes another waiting game for the next thing to aspire to.

This is more of an issue because of acquaintances. I’ll be asked by a random acquaintance what I do, and I’d feel like my state-of-being is inadequate. Right now, for example, regardless of the letters after my name and all my achievements, I still feel uncomfortable saying that I’m just “a law student”, because I say that, and then I immediately qualify it with a quick “oh, but I’m hoping to sit for the warrant exam and be a notary this time next year”.

After all that is over, I bet it will still not be enough. I’ll be all eager to confirm with people that, even though I’ve gotten my warrant, “I’m just about to finish the Doctor of Laws course”.

When is it enough? Why isn’t it ever enough?

My Birthday Wishlist

15 Mar

I did one of these Birthday Wishlists a couple of years ago, and it was quite a hit. And it’s always fun to put together a list of things you’d love to receive as a birthday present… some “window-shopping” on the web, if you will. Here’s one I’ve just whipped together (before my birthday on Monday):

  • Benefit CORALlista blusher (I’ve been dreaming about this blusher for over a year now, and it’s high time I include it in my make-up collection. Problems: it’s expensive and very hard to get hold of from Malta.)
  • Le Creuset kitchenware (especially the cute little ramekins)
  • Pretty A-line dresses (I can never have too many) (have a peek at this Pinterest board of mine with lots of gorgeous dresses)
  • Cheese (stinky, non-stinky, soft, hard, I like a lot of types)
  • Luxurious skincare
  • A new bag(!) – I don’t know what I want and/or need. I need something that is versatile enough to use every day (i.e. as a student, as a trainee notary, a traveller), and which goes with everything; and I love a long strap to wear the bag across my body, but I also need it to be quite small (yet large enough to fit a bunch of stuff anyway). This perfect bag clearly does not exist.
  • New boots (they need to be waterproof and preferably ankle boots and a very neutral colour and they must withstand scuffs and stuff)
  • A string of twinkly lights
  • Life-changing books
  • A perfect backpack
  • Packets upon packets of sweeties
  • And the usual: jigsaw puzzles, restaurant vouchers, notebooks, and flights to wonderful places!

Things I Love About Malta

13 Mar

Malta for Elanguest

(A guest post by the lovely Stephanie Spicer.)

Hi! My name is Stephanie. I’m from the United States, and I moved to Malta last year to work at an English school in St. Julian’s. Sometimes people are surprised to hear that. You lived in America and you moved to Malta? I’ve always loved my own country, but I’ve also found so many things to love about this little island in the sea.

The Big Trade

I come from the forest. I’m used to seeing green all around me. Now, whenever I stand with my face to seaward, all I see is BLUE! (Actually, blue is my favorite colour, so it’s not a bad trade.) I love to see ships on the horizon from my living room window. I love the colourful luzzus resting in the bay. I love the crashing and smashing of the waves against the bastions when the wind is high. I love seeing sea creatures that I’ve never seen before. I love the way the water feels when it holds you in its comforting coolness after a long, hot day in summer.

From the New World to the Old

I come from a new country. We don’t have a very visible ancient history. In Malta, there are old things all around you, whispering echoes of the past into your ears wherever you go. I love the fortresses of Valletta, Birgu, Isla, and Bormla. I love their story, of knights and battles and reckless bravery. I love to think about the fact that people have been living, walking, trading, sailing here for thousands of years. I love that I can touch the oldest known manmade structures in the world.

A New Latitude

When I lived in the States, I had my own business selling organically-grown plants and trees. I’ve always been enchanted by the magic of growing things, and used to daydream about having a glass house someday, where I could grow tropical plants. I didn’t get my glass house, but now I live where it never freezes! I love growing a garden on my little balcony. I love my lemon tree—I always wanted one! I love the oleander planted in the boulevards. I love the quirky space-age-looking flowers of the agave. I love to see the almond trees in bloom.

A Place of Story

I love stories. It is amazing to live in a place that is mentioned in the ancient epics. I love that Malta is immortalised in the Bible, and Gozo by Homer’s great pen. I love, love, love the National Library! I can’t read Latin, but just standing in that immense room, filled from floor to ceiling with leather-bound tomes, makes me feel like Belle in Beast’s library. I love that I can find books in so many languages here. I love that the story of Malta is the story of so many lands.

The Expatriate Life

Just before I came here, I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I brought along with me Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Last Christmas, my sister gave me Villette by Charlotte Brontë. Sometimes we just happen to read the right books at the right time. I’ve found that so many of the world’s greatest writers lived as strangers in foreign lands, and that they found their home, not in a place or nationality, but in a lifelong discovery of the world. I love to think that I have a chance to do what they did, and find what they found.

Stephanie Spicer works at Elanguest English Language School in St. Julian’s. 

French Skincare Haul

12 Mar

french skincare haul

What’s one of the greatest things about France? Yes, croissants.

But also: French skincare! Ever since I dabbled in a couple of Caudalíe products last year, I have been in love with the amazing potential of these products from beautiful France. And after reading countless blog posts all over the internet about favourite French skincare products, French pharmacy hauls, and so on, I have been just aching to visit a couple of French pharmacies in Paris.

During our trip about a week ago, I popped into quite a few pharmacies, and – oh yes – they were pretty wonderful. Shelf after shelf… huge arrays of beautiful luxurious products… I was in heaven. And there were so many familiar ones! I immediately gravitated towards a big bottle of Bioderma (which I’ve heard and read tonnes about) (do be careful about the price of this… in a bunch of pharmacies it was almost double the price that’s shown on mine).

I also picked up an Embryolisse moisturiser (purely because I heard good things about this brand, and the price was not too bad at all).

Then, on one of our evenings, while at a supermarket, I spotted the argan oil shower gel which smelled fantastic and was incredibly cheap – I hear such great things about argon oil, so why not slather it on my body and see what it does?

Finally, my priciest purchase: a Caudalíe serum – which cost around €26 and is from their Vinosource range. I had tried a moisturiser from that range last year (which I adored), and I have been vowing to buy another Caudalíe product ASAP, but they aren’t very easily available (or cheap). In French pharmacies, the prices are a little easier to stomach, and they all looked so pretty and accessible!

I haven’t used any of these products yet, but I have high hopes for them, particularly since the night cream I was using has just decided to give up on life. I’ll probably whip out the serum tonight…

Vive la France!