Update

It's been over a month since I published anything here, I have several unfinished drafts in my dashboard but never quite managed to complete any of them; Probably because they weren't unanimously positive and I maybe haven't got my head around describing something negative unless in a more abstract or nuanced way.

I wrote something for the university paper - The Student - that was a general recap of the last few months and I'm now back in the rolling green countryside of Chester, a world away from the jostling heart of Rome. There's a beautiful walk on the sandstone trail from Beeston Castle to The Pheasant Inn that we went on Sunday afternoon. It was the shortest day of the year so despite our relatively early start the sun was disappearing as we approached the car on the way back.

Beeston - Cheshire
I've lived in Rome for 15 weeks now and I think I only started to finally feel comfortable in my surroundings at the start of December. It has been a long slog till then. I read a quote yesterday that said "The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality" it came from a brilliant Ted talk which is the best I have seen on the subject. I felt sapped of a lot of energy in October/November which makes being proactive particularly difficult. I started reading again in earnest a few weeks ago making up for a slack couple of months with an eclectic selection of modern day fiction 'Any Human Heart' by William Boyd, business/productivity book 'Essentialism', sports strategy focussed 'Pep Confidential' and I've just started 'Brideshead Revisited' by Waugh.

The cinemas in Rome usually churn out one or two hollywood based films a week which is a welcome addition to puerile Italian comedies but is still lacking strong British dramas which they have in abundance in Edinburgh. I can't imagine a city in the world that has a stronger selection of film to Edinburgh. The triangle of Filmhouse, Cameo and Cineworld means just about everything is on show. The Imitation Game lived up to expectations, sad but incredibly inspiring at the same time.

There are some small signs of hope that I might be able to pass university this year. I've started to do several tandems throughout the week which have been a big help and I have a few allies in my various classes. One of my local friends pointed out the senate library which was hidden in a piazza 30 seconds from my flat. To the right of this is my favourite church in Rome - Basilica Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. Unlike the majority of churches which have a range of frescoes littering the ceiling, Sopra Minerva has a midnight blue ceiling covered in stars. There was a Christmas service here last week, the church was lit up with hundreds of candles, the choir filled the building with Italian hymns and as you looked up it reflected the night sky outside.

Christmas in Chester, New Year in Edinburgh and back to Rome in early January.

TJP

View of the Vatican