Girl Bitten By A Lizard

I have always thought that the famous painting by Caravaggio – Boy Bitten By A Lizard – was a bit over the top. I mean, a green lizard (the Italian title specifies “green lizard”) Biting? Do green lizards even bite?
Then the other day one of my cats caught a green lizard and I had an epiphany.

I saw he was looking intently at something in the garden, so I went out, saw the poor lizard and took the cat inside. Then I went out again to check on the silly reptile: I saw it was wounded and was not moving, so I wanted to have a closer look and I caught it. It bit me.
Green lizards do bite. It didn’t really hurt, but I was taken aback. And I thought of the many times I scoffed at the painting’s title



Last week-end I went to Lisbon.
I hadn’t been back for a while and it was really nice to see the city again. I hadn’t realised I had missed it so much.

I have visited many cities by the sea, but none of them has such an intense relation with water, the sea, the river. So much of its folklore, traditions, art is intimately related to water. It is a town that is open and welcoming towards its river, the Tejo: if you go to the grand Pra├ža do Comercio, the entrance to Lisbon from the river, you see a huge square, one side of which is the river itself, and even if it’s huge you do not feel intimidated or dwarfed, you see an embrace.


I like the light in Lisbon’s old town: the streets are cobbled with white stones that reflect the clear light and the atmosphere is really special. Sometimes they are paired with black stones to form patterns and designs, and the result is always very pleasing. (Black and white are Lisbon’s colours)


Lisbon is also the city of hills, steep hills. It’s a bit like San Francisco, even if the impression is completely different, as the streets are very narrow, sometimes to the point that there is no car transit, the houses are made of stone, and usually there are drying clothes hanging from the balconies.




I think they want my soul

I work in a corporate, and I do not particularly like it.
The whole company was acquired by an even bigger group last year and now all the new policies and work groups have started to be rolled out.

Teams supposed to handle different subjects have been created, but I find the common gist of the whole business is to make all employees centred only on the company, to make them have friends only in here, to make them totally dependent, not only for their salary.

I find this totally wrong and perverted. I am paid to perform a series of tasks during my work hours, and I do, I do stay longer when necessary, I do my best when working. I think the company cannot ask me to come on a Saturday “to socialise” with colleagues, to go out for dinner “to show my pride in working here” and other such things.
Now they even want to make a virtual wall, where we are supposed to talk about ourselves, about our lives. Well, it’s none of your business!!

It’s creepy how they try to sneak into people’s heads so that they can have the perfect slaves, the slaves willing to be enslaved in a sort of Stockholm syndrome.

I may be paranoid, but this feeling doesn’t leave me. And I think they are not going to obtain the results they are hoping for, as I have overheard many colleagues complaining about this. Instead of making us all love the company, they are making everyone less and less interested.

Is this a trend only in my company, or is this the general approach? I know that maybe I should not complain, as I have a job and it’s quite a feat in this period, but if they want my soul in exchange, I think it’s not a good deal.

<3 the envelope

I have just been away for a week-end with cabin luggage and I have had the chance to try the Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter Folder I have just bought (and talked about here).
Well, it was fantastic! I left home with a dress neatly folded in it, but then I went shopping (it was planned) and I managed to fit 3 dresses and 2 skirts in it, with some leftover room for other things, if I needed it. I am really glad I bought it, even if, at first I disregarded it and focussed on the cubes, and didn’t think it would be so useful in compressing my clothes, while keeping them wrinkle-free.
When I took the dress out, at first it showed compression marks where the folds were, but it immediately became wearable.

The only thing I am not too happy about is the Velcro, as, when the folder is full, part of the stiff side remains exposed and catches into ‘Velcro-friendly’ things. But this is my only quibble.

I’m all packed up

When I first started packing I was 11 and my mother had sent me to her good friend in Germany for a couple of weeks, however I hadn’t chosen what to bring, I just had to put everything back into the bag when it was time to come home.

Fast forward to my first interrail trip with my friends: I had a huge backpack with all sorts of possible clothes, carrying it was not a problem, the problem was fitting it into lockers. At one point I remember carrying a portable drying rack that I could hang from the back of a chair.

Then sense came to me and I started cutting down on the things I brought, so my packs got smaller. I think flying was one of the reasons, but also the fact that I realised I didn’t need so much stuff.

I am not an impossibly light traveller, but I can manage with a far smaller pack than I used to. I have developed a travelling wardrobe made up mostly of black and white items, so that all match one another and I can pull out a decent outfit for almost anything I decide to do.

But I wanted to talk about my week-end backpack (that can actually fit enough for 5-7 days, if necessary). I bought a Tatonka Flightcase that is really comfortable to carry, both as a bag and as a backpack, even if I mostly use it as backpack, and complies with carry-on measurements. I use a Muji plastic bag with containers for my toiletries, which is also really comfortable, especially because you can get any size and shape you prefer, all in compliance with airport security rules. And my most recent purchase is a whole set of Eagle Creek Pack-it Specter Cubes and a Folder. And while I was at it, I also bought a couple of Pack-it Shoe Sacs, which will be more than enough, as my feet are so small that I can easily fit a pair of flip flops and a pair of sandals into one of the bags; the good thing is that they are waterproof, so even if you have muddy (or dusty) boots they won’t affect your clothes.

I like the Flightcase, but with it being soft and not having dividers inside, my clothes come out quite crumpled when it is not full. I think the Specter set is the perfect solution as it’s really versatile and so light that it’s almost like not having it, but I can keep my undies and bras separate from my T-shirts and my camera. I can keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones, I can keep all my socks together. It’s true that the bag is not huge, but this way, it feels more organised.
Of course I know that the pack-it cubes have been around for a while, but they were too stiff, which resulted in me being able to fit less in the bag.
The new Specter cubes are almost shapeless, as they are made of the very light and supple silnylon fabric used for ultralight tents. The material is ripstop, water-resistant and durable, but gives practically no support to your clothes. I chose them on purpose, as they can adapt to the shape of the bag I put them in, and that’s exactly what I need. The Flightcase is a rectangle, but my larger backpack is not, so I think these will be most comfortable.

I can fit about 6-8 rolled-up socks into a quarter cube. I pack my bras and panties into a half cube and t-shirts and leggings into the cube. I have a spare cube for dirty laundry, when it’s empty it takes up almost no space at all and weighs only 1 ounce. The first time I used it I was amazed at the amount of clothes it can hold!
I was so happy with the cubes that I have just bought a Folder: I went for the smallest size as I am only going to pack dresses in it, so it will probably be enough. I will try it very soon.

Many cheap airlines do not allow more than one piece of hand luggage, so I also got a Lifeventure Packable Daysack, in light stone grey. It folds away neatly in its own pocket and, when open, has a lot of space for everything in the main compartment, and handy external pockets for Kleenex, sunglasses, and so on. It also has two net pockets for water bottles.
I have sewn a strap inside the main compartment so that I can attach a Pack-it Sac to it with my wallet and passport, that hopefully won’t get stolen.
The straps are, of course, not padded, but they do not dig into your shoulders, unless you really overload the rucksack. I manage to carry around my iPad, my mirror-less camera with a spare lens, a water bottle, and other bits and bobs without problems.

I hope this was not too boring and maybe included some suggestions for travelling lighter in style.

I am a sucker for design

I have been in London recently and I was walking around when I got my eyes on these little beauties:



They are the Sound Square and the Juice Cube.

The Sound Square is a portable loudspeaker compatible with many devices, including iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android phones and so on.

Sound Cube

It connects via Bluetooth or through the supplied micro-USB-3,5mm-USB cable. It is really easy to operate: just turn on the Bluetooth setting and it makes a funny sci-fi robot sound, turn on your device’s Bluetooth and when you find SoundSq, pair it. If you prefer, you can use the supplied cable to connect the loudspeaker to a sound exit.

Bluetooth ON

You can adjust the volume through your your device. The Sound Cube holds a lithium battery that can last for 6 hours on Bluetooth or 10 hours with cable connection, then you can recharge it via the supplied cable connected to either your PC or a USB charger.

It even comes with its own little drawstring bag, where you can keep it while on the road.

The sound quality is good for such a tiny thing! I didn’t expect much, but I was surprised to find out it is actually OK, though of course, no Bose sound system. It is good when you are travelling, or when you have limited space (or money).

Its little brother is an emergency battery for when you run out of juice on your smart devices while out and about. It is a tiny plastic cube with a mini-USB socket for charging it and a regular USB socket for charging your desired device.

Juice Cube

In the box you’ll find a USB cable with several tips according to your desired device, but you can, of course, use the device’s original USB cable.

If you shake the cube, the four LEDs on its back turn on according to how much power is left. Neat!



(sorry it’s blurred, but that’s the best I could do)

You charge the 2000 mAh cube at home, through the mini-USB, and when you need it, you can connect it to your device and it immediately starts charging like it does when connected to the mains. It holds a full charge for my iPhone and about 25% leftover.

Both items are designed by British company Gusto (, and “ethically made in China”; they come in several fun colours: classic black and white, fuchsia, blue, green, red and yellow.

I loved them so much, I had to stop myself from buying different ones. They are good quality and feel solid in your hands, and I think their performance is also solid for their price range.

I am happy of my purchase!