Mandy, Damien and I worked together for a year in Barcelona and I remember thinking, upon meeting her, “Here is a woman who knows who she is… and who has a great sense of style.” Mandy’s teaching adventures have taken her on an extraordinary trek around Europe while our work has brought us to Asia but we’ve kept in touch and I was really thrilled when she said that she’d like to participate in this project. Enjoy this tour of Mandy’s lovely flat in Vienna, Austria where she has found both love and a home. (Check out the amazing aquarium photographs!)
“Home! Home! Home is where the heart is…” If you, like me, were a teenager in the eighties, you will probably recognize this refrain. I don’t remember which soap it comes from, but I know it was one of the popular ‘down-under’ daytime shows in those days. Instead of doing my homework, I idled away many long hours in the late eighties watching mullet-headed muscle men in Australian soaps… Cooorrrrr! Anyway, the moment Monna mentioned this project that refrain sprung to mind and here I am sharing it with you!
Home is where the heart is… I live in Vienna with my love, Florian. My heart is here with him, in our lovely, cosy apartment, but it’s also in my hometown Southend-on-sea with my friends and family there. It’s also in Prague with my friends who live there. Home is where I live now, but also where I have lived before. It’s in the places where I feel/have felt most comfortable. It’s in the places where I am amongst like-minded people and where can be who I am. It’s where I feel loved and warm and cosy and happy.
Flo and I live in a flat in the 14th district of Vienna (there are 23 districts in total) with our fish and ‘Scotty’ the water snail. Our flat is just under 80 metres square and is on the 4th floor of a block 5 stories high. It’s not in our most favourite part of town, but it’s convenient for both of us to get to work and the beautiful ‘Schoenbrunn Palace’ is nearby, so we can indulge in fabulous walks there. We feel so lucky to have greenery outside our windows and are delighted with our little balcony – outdoor space, however small, being a MUST for us when living in the city. We moved here in January, so the place is a work-in-progress, but it’s gradually getting there.
Our flat is decorated with all sorts of bits ‘n’ bobs, reflecting our interests and travels. We both go for a mixture of old and new and love all things connected to the sea and water… maybe this has something to do with the fact that we met in my hometown ‘Southend-on-sea’… who knows?!
Whenever I move to another country I always take my favourite cosmetics from the UK with me. Somehow their smell reassures and comforts me when I am faced with all the challenges that living in a new country brings…orange blossom, geranium, lavender, lemongrass… gorgeous products housed in dark blue glass bottles… treats for the soul.
My fabulous red recipe book is another staple that accompanies me on new adventures. It was made by my friend Deedee and contains a wealth of culinary deliciousness from around the world. My two favourite recipes at the moment (both discovered here in Austria, but neither typically Austrian!) are beetroot humous and chocolate courgette cake – Yumaliscious!
Vienna is a wonderful city to live in. Everyday I marvel at what it offers – beauty and culture in abundance, history, ultra modern design and eco-living. I love the way the city is constantly evolving, successfully combining the old with the new. I love the fact that this city embraces eco-living in so many exciting and creative ways. Almost every street corner features a recycling centre for paper, plastic, glass, tin cans, old clothes and bio-waste. A city with a conscience – oh yeah! My favourite eco-initiative is ‘the bookshelf’ a random wardrobe stationed on a most unassuming street corner. It is filled with abandoned books, the idea being that anyone can offload their unwanted books there or alternatively adopt books that take their fancy. How cool is that?!
I absolutely LOVE the fact that we live in an area of the world where we have very defined seasons – Snow in wintertime, blossoms in springtime, sun in the summer and piles of crisp, golden leaves in the autumn. What is more, Vienna and the Viennese really do make the most of the seasons, celebrating them with a certain traditional, understated style. Wooden stalls selling aromatic ‘Punsch’ and ‘Gluehwein’ appear around town in the lead up to Christmas and when the Danube freezes over ice-skaters and kite-skaters gracefully glide their way along it.
In the weeks before Easter wooden stalls selling hand-painted eggs, homemade honey and new wines spring up all over the city in picturesque cobblestoned squares. In the summertime sand is shipped in and ‘city beaches’ complete with deckchairs and cocktails discreetly find their place alongside regular bars and restaurants. Countless sailing schools and pedal boat rental shops adorn the banks of the Danube at this time. Then in autumn pumpkins abound – pumpkin oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin soup and pumpkin jam everywhere!
When is it time to leave? In order to answer this question I am going to go full circle, back to ‘Home is where the heart is’. In my adult life I have lived in a total of 6 countries (England, Germany, France, Austria, Czech Republic and Spain) and in each one I reached a point where my heart was either no longer there or where I needed new challenges in order to ‘refuel’. I just knew when it was time to move on and that was that. At this point in time that feeling, thankfully, seems a very long way off… too many seeds to plant on our balcony☺