Remembering The Great

The Great War.
To end all wars.
The Great War, the Great Loss.
The Great Changes
The Great Fields. Fields with grass gone. Bare earth remaining.
The Great War, the Great Loss, the Great Cries of pain.
The Great Pain.
Great Tears of Great Pain.
Pain soaking the bare earth.
Nothing else remains.

Earth soaking wet.
With blood, guts, limbs, bones and shells.
Cannon fodder everywhere.
Becoming mud; the Great Mud.…

Calls for mothers and mates,
Bawls of Terror, Sobs in the Dark, fires lighting up the sky.
In the Fog of Dawn, the enemy invisible lurks, stings and burns….
Gasping for breath, gasping for air,
Men falling everywhere.

Stumbling and catching on wire,
Tearing of cloth,
Ripping of flesh.

Howls of Hurt,
Wails of Pain,
Muted by shells.
Viscera bared, squirting blood, gurgles of breath,
the squelch of feet heavy in the mud.

In the pale light of dawn,
Crows reclaim the air.
Whispers of life’s last warm breaths.
Glassy, sightless eyes.
Souls lost,
Live and Dead bodies
Left on Red Fields.
Red with blood drying in Deafening Silence;
no bullets and shells marring the skies.
Blood drying in biting cold winds.
The Great Grief on the faces of The Ones Left.

The Great War, the Great Loss.
Blood loss, youth loss, loss of generations.
Innocence, illusions shattered, orders lost forever.
Bodies wounded and deformed.
Souls left to recover,
Pick up the shattered pieces of Maimed Bodies and Fractured Minds,
Inside their Shells that remained.

Remember them. Learn from them.
Grieve for them. Respect them.
And never forget them.
The Ones who Perished.
And The Ones who Remained.




Best of motherly love – The kids just want to hide from the cold, only the mother can help give them warmth and love.

It’s Mother’s Day here in the UK today (11/03/2018). A dear friend suggested to find as many words as I can from the letters in those two words. Mother is the first and obvious one. Smother came next for me. And then mors, (mortis, f. = death in Latin, and also Mors). I wasn’t aware of the last one. So then I thought to myself: well, that’s very telling! And decided to republish my long ago post on my own blog. Not just because it’s Mother’s Day today, but also because I wanted to get it out and maybe help other children or survivors out there. And I want something good to come out it all. And for it all not to be in vain. So thank you, dear K, for your loving encouragement!

Abusive mothers rarely get the credit they deserve. The subject is hard to think about, as I still feel so infuriated and tremendously sad that most people didn’t believe me, or tried to dismiss or diminish (odbaciti ili umanjiti) what I was going through at the time. It was incredibly hard for me to write this post the very first time I wrote it a 4 years ago and release it into ether via another blog. But it’s not at all hard today. Four years alter I am a different person.

Why should I write anything? It’s not as if it’s going to help me now. Or my loved ones to whom it matters; or the dead ones who were powerless to stop it at the time it was happening. But I hope my words will make a difference to maybe just one single person out there. I’m writing in memory of my father and as a thank you to those who helped me to come out of it alive and sane – not just existing.


My MOTHER was my abuser. There, I said it. Just as I said it so many times in the past in so many different ways to so many people. Only to have my heart broken every time and my hope die a little. “There is nothing we can do.”  Or: “You shouldn’t say these things about your mother. She’s a single mother and doing the best she can.” (Pedagogue woman at school told me this!) If that was the best, I’d hate to see the worst! In other words, I was labelled as a very ungrateful and unhelpful daughter at least.

She was a single mother because Dad left to save his sanity, his future and himself, when his red fog cleared and he realised what she’d reduced him to. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad trying to defend himself (I wasn’t more than two years old at the time). He left so he wouldn’t kill her. He tried to get me out of it, too: he had a boxful of papers to prove it to me 20 years later, because he knew I would ask him: “Why!!! didn’t you get me out of that hell!??!?” It still wasn’t enough to get me out of there. Because the state and laws protected and preferred mothers as custodians of children. And because of unbelievably un-educated professionals and the unhealthy attitude of ordinary people who wouldn’t or couldn’t believe that mothers would be capable of beating and verbally abusing their child. Personally, I found the Balkans of my youth to be a place where it was “normal” to slap a bit. Shout a bit. Call your loved ones names and tell them they are stupid imbeciles. Because, maybe some of our parents were raised in such situations. And they don’t know anything else. Or any better. They learnt it from their parents. That is my opinion, based on my experience and the mentality of the people around me when I was growing up. You don’t have to share it.

Jer Božja zapovijed kaže: Poštuj oca i majku da dugo živiš i dobro ti bude na Zemlji /Because the Lord said: Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee

I’ve heard those words very often from my mother. Mother is supposed to love you no matter what. She’s supposed to be your safe haven. Your comfort and your support. A lot of mothers are, but mine wasn’t. And weirdly, sometimes she was ok. But her behaviour was very inconsistent – something incredibly damaging for a child. Or anyone, for that matter, but especially a child whose personality is forming, as they learn how to socialise and how to think. There should be safe routines, definite rules and loving: some consistency. But they aren’t always there.

Here are some of the things that may sound very familiar. From:

“…The Characteristics of Abusive Mothers

  • Constant criticism
  • Labeling (name calling and insults)
  • Always dominating the conversation
  • The need to have the last word
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Using force as an act of degrading
  • Threats of rejection
  • Threats of abandonment
  • Placing guilt on to the child (emotional blackmail)
  • Incapable of feeling guilt
  • Blaming the child (it’s your fault, if it weren’t for you…)
  • Using rewards and punishment as a tool of manipulation
  • Use gifts as a tool of manipulation
  • Invading privacy
  • Refusing to give privacy appropriate for the child’s age and development
  • Silent treatment (ignoring)
  • Underestimating their child’s talents skills and abilities
  • Refusing to acknowledge any accomplishment such as sport or academic achievements
  • Refusing to apologize
  • ‘You owe me’ mentality….I feed you, clothe you, put a roof over your head
  • Say negative things to relatives and friends about the child
  • Embarrass their children
  • Demand unconditional love
  • Demand respect
  • “I’m always right” (and never wrong) mentally
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Treat other siblings or other children kindly to reinforce that you don’t deserve to be loved, treated kindly or respected …”

I could give you so many examples of every single point here. But, I won’t. Use your imagination instead.

Signs of abuse to watch out for :(From: )

  • Withdrawal from friends or usual activities;
  • Changes in behavior — such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity — or changes in school performance;
  • Depression, anxiety or unusual fears or a sudden loss of self-confidence;
  • An apparent lack of supervision;
  • Frequent absences from school or reluctance to ride the school bus;
  • Reluctance to leave school activities, as if he or she doesn’t want to go home;
  • Attempts at running away;
  • Rebellious or defiant behavior;
  • Attempts at suicide.

I’ll add a few more:

  • stuttering = mucanje;
  • twitching = (grčevito) trzanje;
  • body posture: bent shoulders and lowered head (polozaj tijela: pognuta ramena i spustena glava);
  • irregular breathing extreme cases (nepravilno disanje);
  • aggressiveness towards other people (maybe) weaker than themselves;
  • inability to make decisions and always questioning themselves because of a lack of self-confidence.

Look for combinations of all those signs, too. And listen, for crying out loud, listen and help those kids in any small way you can! You just might save their life.


So how did I persevere and survive after the police told me and my father that they couldn’t do anything because there were no witnesses when my mother beat me? My half-dressed body full of bruises, my hugely distressed state of mind, my lack of glasses and wristwatch were not enough evidence. I had ran out of the flat in desperation, at around 10.30pm, to save my life, because I could see in her eyes that she was going to beat me to death if I didn’t. My uncontrollable shaking, teeth-chattering and soul-wrenching sobs were not enough. NONE OF IT WAS ENOUGH. I was 18 then. I’m 41 now. It happened about 23 years ago. It was the night before my Biology test. Wednesday night.

The lady doctor wrote a little note of what she’d seen and what she’d treated me for that god-awful Wednesday night. Dad kept the note and tried to use it as leverage to stop my mother beating me again. I don’t know or remember what he told her. I wasn’t there when he talked to her.


I knew then that I was entirely on my own. That ‘nobody cared’. That NO HELP will EVER come. That I had to help MYSELF, because nobody else will do it for me or with me. I knew then that it was entirely up to me to fight for myself and survive each day.

I realised that I had to pick my battles carefully, to win my war for survival. That I had to keep my mouth shut, if there was no benefit for me in talking back to her. Keep secrets from my mother and lie to protect myself. To try to keep close to the truth, because she’d beat me for lying, of course, and it was easier to keep track of fewer lies (I had undiagnosed thyroid problems then, so had bad short-term memory).

I tried not reveal too much, so as not to give her weapons to use against me.

I was switching off and ‘travelling’, making plans inside my head to escape the depressing life I was trapped in. Daydreaming about the future and a better life. One day it would happen. I took comfort from kind people and small positive things wherever I could. I spent a lot of the time at the local library reading anything useful (popular and proper science and psychology stuff) – plus any half-decent romance story in books or magazines. That’s how I learned how, ideally, people are supposed to treat each other. Mother taught me how they shouldn’t J.

My humour is darker than a Black Hole. I listened to the music to stop crying and keep myself going. Queen was always brilliant, just the sheer energy of Freddie’s voice was incredibly uplifting. And of course The Animals: We gotta get out of this place. I didn’t care about the other words: I just had to get out of that place!

And I eventually started fighting back. I would hit her back if she hit me. I would try to prevent her from hitting me by grabbing her arms or hands with all the strength/adrenaline I could muster. (If you do that, mind your legs, especially if your mother wears clogs [klompe]!) I stayed away from home as much as I could, by being at university or the library. The local vicar had a room where I could study in peace and sleep off the stress because I was incredibly exhausted emotionally, mentally and physically. She wouldn’t let me sleep and have a rest, like the rest of the normal teenage population.

I listened to my instincts, my common sense and logic (thank you, Dad!) and tried to rationalise what and why and how I should do things, or what to say. I tried to predict her words and behaviour and adjust mine accordingly ahead of time, to ‘reduce the impact’. And I trusted nobody but myself. Sad, but true. I knew I could only rely on myself.


In 2000 she came home one day and said I was going to meet a woman from an au-pair agency that she spoke to and some weeks later I was put on a plane from Zagreb with around £250 in my shoe, a suitcase I didn’t like (very awkward to carry, but chosen by my mother despite my instructions, because she KNOWS BEST what I need). She said to go and make something of myself and not to come back because there’s nothing for me ‘here’ to come back to. I had addresses and phone numbers from some of my mother’s friends and my father’s friends from high school days. They had been very close as a class. So they must’ve heard things. They were wonderful to me. I suppose they were my new role models (on top of my mentor with whom I share birthdays, my lovely dentist and my godmother who I did not yet know well).

I landed at Heathrow on a cold February morning in 2000. I CAME HOME to England, UK. I knew better than to go back to Croatia any time soon. I fought tooth and nail to stay away from her. I still only go back if I really need to. And when I do go back, I don’t necessarily tell what’s left of the family. My husband insists that I always have him there with me for support (which I am more than happy with J). I have learnt to say NO. And FUCK NO! It took quite a few years and a lot of hard work. But it feels great. I still keep in touch with the people who have helped me survive, such as two lovely friends, one of whose letter from long ago helped me not to end it all and leave this world at the tender age of 18. I haven’t spoken Croatian much, or followed the news from ‘home’. I moved on and healed myself with the loving help of new and old friends and some family members old and new (in-laws). I live in the UK. I speak English. And I have just started thinking that there are some nice things about the country and the system that I was born in, but that failed to protect me, that let me down. I paid my dues dearly. Most of my battles are OVER. And I am OUT of it.

Or am I…?

To be cont’d….

Thank you to both Martina – Dear skin and Martina- AlterEgo Style and my lost friend Milena S-W for bringing some Croatian beauty back into my life. I shall treasure it always.

Thank you to my old friends who helped me survive and to my new ones who give me hope, Zubin blog, Bitchy Dust, my family members from the Balkans who are scattered around the world, some of whom I’ve reacquainted myself with in recent years. Thank you to my Happy A:runners and Timmy’s and Charley’s campers, Yarna and my Arts and Minds friends for their teachings, incredible Energy, motivation, warmth, love, kindness and laughter. And above all, a massive thanks my husband. You all make it a life worth living. I love you. Thank you.

Academaze: Finding Your Way through the American Research University by Sydney Phlox

Academaze Book Review

I was given an advance free copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Blogger Sydney Phlox (academic science blog ) is woman in a (mostly) man’s world – a professor in a physical science field at a major research university in the U.S.

SP is a US university professor, so the book provides us with insight into how things work across the Pond (tenure, funding, teaching, travel for work, etc). Having said that, I think that the principles might be pretty similar elsewhere (UK and Europe at least, I can’t comment on Asia or Australia).

This book is a must read for anybody interested in how the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) world works, what the life of a scientist/researcher/lecturer is like at an American university, the things they have to do to keep their labs/ research groups going;

  • anybody interested/ thinking of/wanting to work in STEM/ especially, but not exclusively, women;
  • family and friends of the said women or men; undergrads and postgrads wanting to pursue career in academia, career advisors and student advisors, PhD students and post-docs, PIs and mentors;
  • anybody wanting to know what the life of a(n) (academic) researcher is like.

I think this is a fantastic book to prepare you for what to expect of a career in Academia.

I really enjoyed reading Academaze, which is such an appropriate title for it. The book is very easy to read, the chapters and subjects covered flow very well. While I was reading the book, it felt like I was talking to a more experienced, very friendly and professional colleague over a cup of tea. The world of academia would benefit from more Sidney Phloxes!

Academaze is a very inspiring book from a very inspiring person, Sydney Phlox is a role model for women in STEM, or any career. The book is bursting with excellent advice, great humour, a realistic but hopeful ‘can-be-done’ tone. Things are well explained, but not at all patronising, and with funny cartoons galore to illustrate the points. It also makes you contemplate roles within STEM from the perspective of colleagues across an institution’s hierarchy.

She’s covered it all: advice on how to navigate your relationships with your colleagues, supervisors, PIs, mentors, lab/group/ institution and field politics, career advice and job hunting for recent graduates, even mental-health advice (it doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to get done up to an “it’ll do” standard) and coping techniques; from impostor syndrome, writing papers and grant proposals, to balancing family with work, teaching and advising on travel for job/career, even advice for non-native English speakers.

I am a woman in STEM  in the UK and have recently completed my postgrad studies. I wish I had read this book as an undergraduate or just after graduating, as it would have answered a lot of questions I had, and quite a few I didn’t know I had. It also would have saved me a lot of grief and help me make more informed decisions.


Eel, tree and ginger / Jegulja, stablo i djumbir

Hello all! I hope you enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend, especially Monday off, if you are in UK. I find it’s always harder to get back into a work routine after the longer weekend.

There was an Eel Festival weekend in Ely this Bank Holiday. Husband and I missed most of it, but we went for a late lunch on Monday, shortly before it ended. While eating our lunch we sat in a little covered area where they were doing cooking demonstrations. We were lucky enough to have caught the last one shortly after 3 pm. Emma Thorburn, a winner of Kirsty Allsopp’s Gingerbread Champion in 2015, made a gingerbread tree house with a fairy on a swing. It was great fun watching her do it in front of a small and friendly audience, telling us about trying out different recipes and eventually using one from a lady in Florida, talking about her experience in front of the cameras while trying the keep the dangerously hot caramelised sugar in a liquid-ish state. There was a little raffle with the demonstrated gingerbread cake as the prize. Now, yours truly never wins anything, because I rarely – read never – enter any competitions.  Then I heard Darren Brown’s voice in my head (sort of: you’ve got to be in it to win it) and decided to buy a raffle ticket last minute. At that time, I didn’t actually know that the prize was the tree house being made in front of us. And I won!!

Hearing other people’s reactions I always wondered why winners never say anything more original than “OMG I won!”, but I said those exact words myself. So much for originality in the heat of the moment. Here is a very shocked (naked faced and bad haired) me with Emma below.

Isn’t the tree house brilliant? The little Fairy kept going upside down on the swing, I think she wanted to smell the flowers. The roof is almost gone now, as we’ve been dipping it into our tea any chance we get. Yummy yum yum! Thank you very much Emma! If you need some gingerbread for any occasion, get in touch with Emma via her website Buns of Fun!

Scroll down for a few more pictures from the day Some are from Monday and some I are from the last year’s event, as it started raining so I had to put my camera away.

"OMG, I won!!"
OMG I won!
Gingerbread tree huose with a swinging Fairy
Gingerbread tree house with a swinging Fairy
Eel detail
Eel detail
Upside down Fairy smelling the flowers
Upside down Fairy smelling the flowers


Bok svima! Nadam se da ste svi uzivali u proslom vikendu (kod nas u UK je bio produzeni, pa se ljencarilo 3 dana). Ne znam kako vi, ali meni se uvijek tesko vratiti u rutinu nakon duzeg vikenda. Inace mislim da moji vikendi nisu nista specijalno, ali ovaj sam morala podijeliti s vama. Nastavite citati i vidjet cete zasto!

Prosli vikend je bio Festival Jegulja u nasem gradu, Ely, (Eel = jegulja). Nazalost, Muz i ja propustili smo dogadjanja u petak, subotu i nedjelju, ali smo uspjeli ugrabiti sat – dva prije zatvaranja Festivala Hrane i Pica i rucali s nogu . Dok smo se tako sklonili od kise i i zvakali nase pecivo s mesom u slasnom sosu, gledali smo demonstraciju Emme Thorburn, pobjednice of Kirsty Allsopp’s Gingerbread Champion 2015. Emma je radila kucicu na drvetu s vilom na ljuljacki. Muz i ja smo se bas zabavljali gledajuci Emmu valja komadice trave i listove, prica s voditeljem, drzi oko na vrucem seceru i zeza se s publikom. Rekla nam je da je isprobala puno razlicitih recepata za kekse od djumbira /malo tvrdji medenjaci) dok nije nakraju naletjela na ‘onaj pravi’ od jedne tete iz Floride. Sad se njih dvije medjusobno prate po internetu. Bas lijepo, sta ne? Imali su i tombolu s nagradom- torta koja je bila demonstrirana. E sad, ja nikad ne osvojim nikakve nagrade, uglavnom zato jer rijetko (citajte nikad) ne natjecem. Onda me u glavi poceo naganjati glas Darrena Browna, pa sam ga morala poslusati jer nije ni on blesav (moras se natjecati da bi nesto pobijedila/osvojila). U zadnji cas kupila sam jednu karticu lutrije bez da sam znala sto je nagrada, i nisam nista ocekivala.

I znate ono, kad slusate na radiju ili gledate tv pa cujete kako ljudi uvijek kazu OMG, pobijedio/la sam!! I uvijek sam se cudila kako ljudi ne znaju nista pametnije reci u tom momentu. Naravno, ja sam rekla potpuno iste rijeci. Toliko o originalnosti u tom trenutku. Evo i jedne slike gdje sam sokirana, golog lica i lose frizure koju sam pokrila kapicom. Sta nije super kucica od medenjaka? Vila se stalno okretala naopako, mislim da se htjela namirisati cvijeca ispred kucice. Krov je skoro nestao, jer ga mocimo u caj kad god stignemo. Njam njam! Puno hvala Emmi na odlicnom medenjaku!

Evo jos par slika koje sam uspjela snimiti prije nego mi se fotoaparat smocio. Neke su od lani kad je vrijeme bilo bolje, a neke su od ove godine prije kise.









E8_menu_2015 saintr_sinners







What next?

I started learning some new ‘things’ while finishing my postgrad studies. It’s a very strange feeling when you’re finished with something that has been taking up all of your time and energy: like there’s something missing from my life and I’m forgetting something, but can’t quite remember what it is. It’s strange finally having more free time, and not having the same thing on your mind for years. It’s like I came out of the dark and I forgot what the outside world looks and feel like. There is future to look forward to. Only I am not the same person any more. Years went by, good and bad things happened.

Yet again I find myself between two stages in life: after the studies and before a new career path. Last time I rushed into something and not listened to my instincts. This time I wanted to take time and research my options more thoroughly and carefully and also take other skills, talents and personal preferences into consideration. I’ll share my experience with you in this post. I hope you find it helpful.

There are a lot of questions to ask and answer when considering a new career path. This is called self-assessment. It enables you to gather information about yourself and put the puzzle pieces together. It is essential that you are completely honest and opened with yourself when answering these questions, so you get the maximum out of self-assessment exercise and can be well informed to find the career path most appropriate for you. I highly recommend getting help and advice from a careers adviser/ counsellor if that’s at all possible. In the UK, universities and colleges offer this service during your education and for a limited time period after graduation or completion of your course, or you can inquire at your county council – local library. I don’t know if things have changed on the Balkans.

Below are some of the questions you need to answer. Some of them are more general, and some more individual.

How do you decide where to go and what to do next (career wise)?

How much do you know about yourself and what more do you need to find out? (Who you were ‘then’ vs who you are now? When I say ‘then’, I mean before you wanted to change career paths, when you were starting your previous job, studies, etc. What made you want to change your career path?

Did you choose your current career path because your first choice seemed impossible at the time? How do you remember and remind yourself what you liked, what were your talents long ago and what are they now? Do they differ and if they do, how/ in what? Have you changed fundamentally, or have you remained the same at the core?

Which values and beliefs are important to you (value inventory)? What do you want out of life and career/ job? What are your priorities? Are you a people’s person or not? Do you like collaboration? What keeps you interested/ ‘out of mischief’/ challenged? Do you like a challenge?  If you are the type who gets bored quickly/ within 3-6 months, you might like a job/career employing different sets of your skills and abilities.

What motivates and drives you, what are your needs and attitudes (personality inventory)? What makes you happy? What do you enjoy? What’s important to you?

Which activities do you like and dislike and why (interest inventory)? What are your hobbies, what do you like to do in your free time?

Where do your talents lie (aptitude inventory)? What do you find easy to do? But, importantly, do you also enjoy using your talents? For example: if you are very talented at learning languages, but you don’t enjoy doing it, then you should take that into consideration. What are your skills? How do you join/ combine the two satisfactorily? It is important to distinguish between enjoying research and enjoying learning!

Think of your dream job and does such a job/career exist? If there isn’t, is there a gap in the market for it? Or do you want/need a longer career break?

Where are you willing to compromise, if you are willing to compromise? How much do you need to earn/ how little can you afford to earn?

Do you need to move for any reason (lack of funds, contract running out, studies finished, going back to live with your parents for a while)? It is easier to move to another city / country/ continent if you are by yourself (single and don’t have any dependents – children) if necessary. This move also depends on the knowledge of other foreign language(s).

Changing careers is not an easy thing to do. Support from your friends and family is priceless if you have it. But even if you don’t, stay true to yourself, talk to other people in a similar position and research potential career paths. It’s your life, do what makes you happy.

Have you ever changed careers or know someone who is trying? Do you have any questions or comments about your or friend’s experience? Feel free to share them here.

My Cup of Beauty / Gratitude in the 2015


I hope you’re all well and settled into the New Year 2016 and that you had a good break over the Christmas and the New Year festivities.

I decided to start this year with a sort of a thankfulness post for all the good things in the year just gone by. It has been a loooong time since a whole year was that positive.

Thank you to all of my ‘old’ and new readers who are still reading my blog. I have been less active on the blog in the second half of the 2015. Thank you for still being here.

I am grateful that I was able to give and be a part of a wonderful volunteer team of lovely people from all walks of life in a local charity shop. It was a wonderfully satisfying and fulfilling experience and I also made fantastic new friends.

Helping old friends and business contacts helped me rebuild my confidence. They have known me for a long time, when I was at the very beginning of my career. They gently guided me, taught and mentored me, believed in me and saw my hidden potential that I myself didn’t believe I had. When after a long time they came to me for help, I was so honoured and proud to have been asked to help them, I did it with such a joy and lightness in my heart. And at the end of it, their many sincere thanks were completely unnecessary, because I was so grateful/thankful to them for uncovering all my long forgotten potential, belief and faith in myself.

It was great seeing my Macedonian friend from Germany when she came up to UK for a brief visit and meeting another lovely lady in London with her.

We finally got to have a holiday after exhausting few years. Slovenia was the chosen destination last year. I revisited places after many years (since ex-YU) and saw things with new eyes. It was a fantastic week. We’d definitely go back there again! I bumped into an old colleague there completely by chance and also met a lovely young couple starting a new life and a better tomorrow far from home.

A trip to Slovenia was like a little test for the Balkans, but very enjoyable and without all the pressures usually present when one travels to one’s home city. I might write a separate post about all beautiful things Slovenian, as those lovely people and places definitely deserve a separate post.

I finally went back to Croatia again after a few years. One of reasons for going was my high school’s 20th reunion. The main reason for going was really to make new, good memories and motivation for more frequent visits. Whenever we went there in the past (three times) we were traumatised for one reason or another, desperate for another holiday just to recover.

It was great making new memories, seeing old friends and acquaintances. After so many years I reconnected with my more distant family and it was great to share old memories with them. I also rekindled old friendships and relationships, people I haven’t seen for at least 20 years. This visit helped me rebuild myself, my life and my future on the solid foundations. It gave me strength to close a few chapters of my life and move on. You have to lay all the old ghosts to rest to be able to move on and be happy.

It was great meeting wonderful new people – my new friends <a href="" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://bitchydust find more’, ‘Bitchy’);” target=”_blank”>Bitchy and Zuba (which had started as a ‘virtual’/online friendship ), and Tanja et al. from the 4 City Windows.

Lisa Eldridge’s book Face Paint was finally published and I pre-ordered it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to London, to have it signed and see her in person. I can’t wait to start reading it properly when I cross a few more things from my ‘work’ list. For now, I’m just dipping in occasionally and enjoy all the gorgeous photos (practically salivating over them) and a few paragraphs at a time.

I did, however go to Brian Blessed’s book signing! He happily thundered around our Cathedral for a while and then he patiently signed his book for a tonne of people until stupid o’clock that evening. I also bought an extra pre-signed copy for my mother-in-law and an audio book CD, so I can read his book, and actually hear his voice! Really great treat!

I (almost) closed another career chapter and completed a challenging thesis write-up. I say almost because the viva still needs to be crossed off the list.

You know that amazing feeling when you have completed a very challenging project, met the deadline and a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders? I earned a giant/ roaring woo(p) of joy (pun intended) and I walked into a MAC store on the way home and treated myself with a fabulous red lipstick. Because I love myself. And then I strutted proudly and confidently out of the store wearing a satisfied lingering Ruby Woo red smile and boarded the train home exhausted, but so happy because I finally succeeded and won, despite every obstacle thrown my way in the past 5 years. And I sent a virtual kiss to all my cheerleaders who were a significant part of my journey.

Thank you to lovely Louise for giving me something to look forward upon the completion of my work: a day in London at the V&A. We thoroughly enjoyed exhibitions of Indian textiles and painful shoes. It was great thinking about and doing something different (= not hard-core science) and relaxing. Seeing fabrics and textiles and different footwear really makes you think about all aspects of life, past, present and future. It makes you think about life, processing of everyday objects that we take for granted most of the time. About different countries, natural resources, cultures, classes; about yourself and your place in this life and all the changes throughout history that brought us to the life as it is now.

Wishing you all the best in the New 2016!

Is there anything that you were especially grateful/thankful for in 2015?

Libraries and Balkan immigrant(s)

I’ve been in living in the UK for 15 years now. When I talk about Croatia, I don’t say ‘back home’ any more. I stopped saying ‘back home’ quite a while ago. UK felt like home just a few months after I arrived. I love living here. For so many different reasons. One of the things that stuck with me was that there was a lot of green. Green meadows, green hills, green parks (and Green Park). The grass really looked greener here, on the UK side, than back on the Balkans. No pun intended.

One of the first places I wanted to go to, if not the first place, just a few days after I settled into my new routine was a local library. I had no cassette/ CD player yet and was looking for something to read in the evening. And I was curious to see if ‘their’ libraries were any different than ‘ours’ ‘back home’.

File:Public library interior, Woking England.jpg,_Woking_England.jpg

One day, I just went in, exchanged polite greetings with the librarians and just had a good look around. As far as I remember that particular small town library was only on one floor. Apart from just books and archives, there was also an audio book section, a CD section, a video section, magazine section, section with maps (A-Z) of different places in the country and a career section slimming supplements.

I never heard of any library having tapes/CDs and videos, let alone a careers section. Well, not a Balkan library in my hometown, anyway. Not that I’ve visited that many libraries ‘back home’, da se razumijemo (let’s make that clear). I haven’t even been to 10 different libraries, so it’s not like I’m an expert on libraries and what they should have and how they should look like. I just assumed they were all pretty much the same, in principle.

Without wanting to sound like a grumpy old woman, from what I can remember in my time, CDs and tapes were bought, and there were places where you went to rent a video. Not libraries. This just seemed rather different to me. A very good different.

When I asked if I could join the local library where I had lived at the time, I was told that I don’t need to pay any joining fee!!! I couldn’t believe my ears!!! I needed a letter from my host family (I was an au pair then), and a photo ID; to confirm who I was and where I lived. And the best part was, that I could borrow more than 2-3 books. I can’t remember now whether it was 9 books (15 years ago) maximum or more for not 2, but 3 weeks!!! I was shocked! That was just brilliant!! 😀 😀 😀 And that wasn’t all!

The libraries here (local ones) are government run. That explains the lack of joining and membership fees, because it comes out of our taxes. This has its limitations, as the budget belts are getting tighter and tighter *blows raspberry*. All the libraries in a county (zupanija) are connected, so you can reserve and borrow books from another library in your county if your local doesn’t have the book you need. If you’d like to return your books/items on loan out of working hours, there is a drop box available.

Libraries also have a fantastic little trolley where they were selling less popular or very slightly damaged books, for a superb price! Sheer heaven, I tell you, for a bookworm like me! These days you can now borrow e-books if you have the right (read: up to date) gadgetry / e-readers.

There are mobile libraries, too. I never needed to use them. It’s like a mini library on wheels for the areas without library buildings (small villages or some suburbs). Mobile LibraryMobile Library

The 'Marsh Mobile' library van at Burgh-le-Marsh Roman weekend. Credit: Joe Blissett


This is a pic from an old (2008) article, but I thought it would be funny to put it in here to illustrate the point of mobile libraries and their role in communities

There are many other useful things in our (UK) libraries, like little exhibitions, careers service, council help desk, etc. But more about that next time, if you’re interested. This was intended as little teaser post to see if you (non-UK readers) would like to know more about my immigrant library experience(s). Or if you’re from UK, maybe you’d like to read about impressions of someone who likes your libraries for reasons different to you? I would like to know what our Balkan libraries are like now.

Sugar and Spice and Tom Ford things nice…

Champagne_Tom-Ford_Counter_JarroldsI’ve written only one review of the MU / beauty sort of experience, and that’s not been published yet. So this will be the first beauty post I’m publishing. I am not sure how good I’ll be at this, but I’m giving it a try anyway. My Cup of Beauty is having an adventure!

A much as I love nail polishes and makeup, I’m not really obsessed with it and my life doesn’t depend on it. I enjoy using nail polishes (often) and makeup (when I can be bothered). I’m not a beauty expert or anything, but I thought I’d share my opinion. I hope you find it useful and share your thoughts with me.

If you read my post about a day in Norwich, you’ll know that I had a spur of the moment mani at the new Tom Ford counter in Jarrold store. I promised a post on those polishes and here it is.

I prefer a proper mani, when you can sit and relax for a while and have a breather, not worry if I’m going to be late for my next appointment or whatever is in my diary/planner. While this was a lovely impromptu mani, the Husband and I were in a rush.

This was only the 5th mani I ever had, but I did notice yet again my nails were filed as they shouldn’t be (in more than one direction). I am really careful about this when I do my own nails as they break in layers easily. The only time I had experienced ‘proper’ nail filing was by a French professional at a hotel spa in Monaco. Not surprising, considering the location.

Anyway…Christine from the TF counter said that the mani is complimentary and that there was no pressure of purchasing. Which was great as I really don’t like pressure selling and run from it like from the Plague.

I was looking through the selection of all the nail varnish bottles Tom Ford counter had and found it hard to make up my mind and choose one gorgeous colour. So I chose two colours instead: Ginger Fire and Black Sugar wikipedia reference.

Ginger fire is a gorgeous, shimmery, vibrant orange with a tiny hint of red. I think it would look great on both lighter and darker skin tones (my opinion, not evidence!).


Black Sugar is a creamy, taupe base with just a hint of red shimmer. That hint of red shimmer is precisely that, a very subtle hint. It is more visible in the bottle than on the nails (even with three layers), which is a real shame.


Brush wasn’t ideal if you prefer wider brushes, like Essie (retail).

Both these colours were quite sheer and needed 3 layers for full coverage (after their base coat). With only two layers of Black Sugar, some uneven coverage was clearly visible. Very slight tip wear started on day 3 and by the next day, the tips were chipped, so I removed it. Rather disappointing for a costly price tag of £26 (12ml).


Would I buy these two colours? Not for that price tag and the hassle of three layers minimum. I can do without it. I’ll probably play with my Bourjois 04Taupe classy and OPI Die Another Day. I won’t get the same mix and texture, but I’ll have fun trying.

Have you tried any Tom Ford polishes? What do you think?

A Day Out in Norwich

Husband and I went to Norwich on Thursday after we voted. A Fine City, Norwich. As usual, we had a good time there. But I thought I’d write a little post about it because I had really great time and lots of fun, it felt like a little outing.

I love Norwich. We lived there for a few years while I was studying at the UEA. Since we’re still living ‘in the neighbourhood’ (one county down), we like to come up and visit our friends whenever we can. Apart from being a good place to shop, it also has some hills, a nice change flatness of the Fens in Cambs.


We had our traditional lunch at The Pantry in Jarrold’s. We first went there while shopping in the haberdashery part of the store years ago. I like having lunch there because of their lovely cold meats and salad bar. Pantry_napkinIf you don’t make roast dinners yourself, this is a good place to have a delicious roast. If you’d prefer something warm and quick, an omelette or a soup might be more up your street. I never tried those, and keep thinking I will, but I see the salad bar and forget about everything else. I love my salads, so I piled my plate with tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot, a bit of mackerel, a hardboiled egg, olives, mixed salad, etc.; as we planned a late dinner with family and colleagues. I topped it off with a caramel tart and a pot of English tea. As we were there during the week this time, instead of the weekend, the restaurant was rather quiet. We could actually hear ourselves talk (not just enjoying the view), and I chatted to friendly staff there.PAntry_salad-1 Pantry_salad-2

After we stuffed ourselves almost like Christmas turkeys, we had a quick walk down the stairs to the ground floor. As I was dragging my feet through the Makeup and Beauty department, looking and turning everywhere, a lady from Tom Ford counter asked if I’d like a complementary manicure as they are introducing nail polish into their range of products in the store. I saw another lady enjoying hers with a glass of champagne, so I said, why not! Surprise, surprise *rolls eyes* continue reading this. Never mind the eternal waiting Husband who was ‘forced’ to go out and entertain himself while I was being pampered by a great guy called Chris, whose mother comes from the Balkans. I chose Ginger Fire (gorgeous, shimmery orange with a tiny hint of red) and Black Honey (a creamy taupe with just a hint of red shimmer). Thank you, Chris and Danielle!Champagne_Tom-Ford_Counter_JarroldsTF_mani_ginger-fire_black-honey

A stone’s throw away from Jarrold’s is a lovely tea and coffee shop – Wilkinson’s of Norwich where I stock up on some teas, when I can’t get what I want locally or want to try something different.Wilkinsons_tea_4_every_occassion

After that, a good talk on the exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts – Francis Bacon and the Masters . If you’re in Norwich, I recommend seeing it before it closes on 26th July. Some of the works exhibited in this exhibition have not been shown in the UK before. There’s plenty to see, so don’t go around savouring the exhibition on an empty tummy. Unless you are one of those people who practically runs through exhibitions and museums and don’t really think about the works displayed. Picnic on the UEA Broad  or a snack or lunch in the cafe there with a view of gorgeous sculptures are a bonus.

Eggs, Rakija and Gratitude / Jaja, Rakija i Zahvalnost

Ovo nije kokica moje prijateljice, vec nekog covjeka u susjedstvu. Setali Muz i ja neku vecer i spazili kokice u necijem vrtu uz cestu jer jos nije bilo lisca na njihovoj zivici. Ljepota u gradu – kokice i jaja. Husband and I went for a walk the other day and saw some chickens in a neighbourhood garden. Their hedge didn’t have any leaves yet, so I took a photo. Beauty in a city – chickens and eggs.

I thought I’d write this post as a thank you to lovely Sharon who gave me a little pressie on Sunday last week as a thank you (a lot of thanking here). Something like a proverbial thank-you rakija (vodka). She brought me some lovely eggs.

Htjela sam napisati ovaj post u znak zahvalnosti divnoj Sharon koja mi je pklonila 6 domaćih jaja koje su snijele njezine sretne, šetajuće kokice. Dobila sam divna jajca u znak zahvale (nešto se ovdje puno zahvaljuje ovih dana!).

Free range from her happy chickens! I was utterly touched and very pleased. For a Balkan in the UK, that feeling catapulted me straight back to the said Balkans. You know when you were very grateful to a village or small town doctor? So you or your parent or grandparent bought some coffee, or a box of chocolates or a bottle of rakija (read methanol) – Sljiva, Loza or a bottle of wine; or made some cakes or biscuits or whatever other homemade product and took it to your/the doctor as a token of appreciation. Is that still done down there?

Jako su me dirnula ta divna jaja njezinih kokica. Za mene s Balkana, to me odmah katapultiralo u ona vremena dok sam još bila dijete. Znate ono kad idete kod doktora ili slično, pa ste toliko zahvalni da jednostavno ‘Hvala’ nikako nije dovoljno, i osjecate veliku potrebu da u znak zahvalnosti donesete spomenutom doktoru (ili kome vec), bocu rakije ili kave ili da ispecete nesto domacih kolaca, itd. Se to jos uvijek radi?

I had great plans for those six eggs: pancakes, baking, bread making, fried eggs,… Until I heard my Husband going on and on and on about our holiday breakfast at our friends. Our friend’s Dad keeps happy and free range chickens, so regularly has fresh eggs to give his kids. So when a friend of mine came for lunch yesterday, I boiled three eggs and served them together with some improvised salads and snacks. The eggs were really delicious and yummy!! I have to admit that I really don’t want to eat the rest of those divine eggs, I just want to adore and devour them with my eyes; because they’d last longer than if we gobbled them up straight away. But we should probably eat them soon because they won’t stay that fresh for long!

Imala sam planove za tih 6 jaja: palačinke, kolači, kruh, jaja na oko,… Sve dok Muž nije spomenuo kako se još uvijek sjeća jaja na tvrdo za doručak od kokica što ih ima kumov tata. I nikako da on zaboravi taj okus i osjećaj friških jaja. Tako kad nam je došla prijateljica na ručak jučer, ja skuhala tri jaja na tvrdo uz neke salate i improvizacije od svega pomalo. Ajme divote! Sad moram priznati da mi se ne kuhaju ova druga tri jaja, jer mi ih je žao tako divno friških i ukusnih (radije bi ih obožavala i jela očima), pa mi neće puno trajati ako ih sve brže bolje potamanimo. Znam da ćemo ih vjerovatno pojesti uskoro, jer inače neće više biti tako divno friška.


Did you ever get a proverbial thank-you rakija? Jeste li vi tako dobili ‘rakiju zahvalnosti’?