Wednesday, 30 December 2009
I'm writing my thank you notes to relatives and friends today. I had great intentions to be very creative and make my own, but unfortunately my time is somewhat limited at the moment - university vacations are flying by, and I realised this morning that I've got about a week and half to write 5,000 words (2 essays). Ah. Pre-made thank you notes it is, then... but I need pretty ones at least.
Hello Cath Kidston, my first, obvious choice (as I honestly believe that shop could have been made for me). Looking a bit further afield though, Paperchase and John Lewis do some great notecards. Or a personal, more local favourite is Brighton's Pen to Paper, a gorgeous little stationery shop tucked away in the winding Lanes, where, along with every kind of moleskine item you might ever want, you can buy things like this (I am in love with the Alice in Wonderland journal):
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Ten things I want to accomplish/experience in 2010:
- To continue to have a very loving and very successful relationship with my wonderful boyfriend.
- To graduate with a good degree and get a job in PR or publishing.
- To finish writing my first novel, and to write it well.
- To start taking piano lessons.
- To rediscover ballet dancing; to practice it and perhaps even take classes.
- To travel somewhere interesting and feel like I'm exploring something new.
- To begin to master film photography.
- To get back into theatre, and to take part in (at least) some amateur dramatics.
- To learn a new language and to keep up with the ones I already know (Spanish, German).
- To continue with this blog, and to make it a good and interesting read.
Monday, 28 December 2009
Just came across this shoot, and had to post it. Not only does it feature some beautiful dresses, but the period house setting is exquisite - lattice windows, dark wood, water fountains and soft candelight. I think I like the setting more than the dresses actually, as lovely as they are; it probably has something to do with the fact that the model is painfully thin and it makes me shudder a little to look at how clothes hang off her. Still, love the shoot.
Oh hello Diana Mini!
My Christmas wish came true and Father Christmas bought me a Diana Mini, along with 8 rolls of 35mm film to experiment with. Very very exciting! I've nearly used my first roll of film already, and will soon be getting them developed and seeing if any have come out, or if they're all pretty awful (I'm fully expecting the latter option).
Very cool to have made that first step into film photography though, and Lomography at that.
On top of that, yesterday my dear Grandad gave me one of his old film cameras that he was about to get rid of. So say hello to my Zenit 3m, my new 35mm, 40 year-old, Russian-made SLR camera. Huge, heavy, most definitely vintage, and ever so cool.
Photos from both cameras (hopefully) to follow in the next few weeks.
Sunday, 27 December 2009
I had a wonderful, successful, family-orientated Christmas period this year, in which I had two turkey dinners, six desserts, a lot of wine, champagne and malibu, and consumed at least half of my bodyweight in Lindt chocolate. Just as Christmas should be, then.
I was fortunate that everyone I gave presents to seemed to like them this year, and I was also lucky enough receive a lot of lovely presents in return. Aside from something camera-related and so exciting it deserves its own post, I unwrapped cosmetics, wooly socks, two adorable beret hats (one white, one black, both sequinned), two pairs of earrings and two necklaces, chocolate, a couple of gift vouchers... Oh yes, and a whole lot of books, including Spoken Here - Mark Abley; The Lost Continent - Bill Bryson; The Seeds of Speech - Jean Aitchison; Vanishing Voices - Romaine & Nettle and Through the Lens - a collection of some of the best-ever National Geographic photos.
And so with that, let me present you with my personalised definitive must-read list for (at least the first few months of) 2010:
- Dissolution - C. J. Samson
- The White Queen - Philippa Gregory
- The Lost Continent - Bill Bryson
- West of the Wall - Marcia Preston
- Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
- Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
- The Winter Ghosts - Kate Mosse
- The Call of the Weird - Louis Theroux
- Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood
- Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger
- Kommandant's Girl - Pam Jenoff
- Glamorous Powers - Susan Howatch
- Spoken Here - Mark Abley
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Winter is most definitely upon us now, and with only 3 days until the 25th it might juuust be a white Christmas. Incredibly exciting, would it not be for the fact that public transport has pretty much ground to a halt, the roads and pavements are covered in ice, and people have hardly been able to leave their homes for 5 days now. Ugh.
But it's not all bad. Homemade mince pies? Mmm, yes please.
Saturday, 19 December 2009
We've been snowed in all week, and while it's beautiful to look at, it's a little impractical and has all turned to ice - very treacherous! I've found myself longing for warm summer weather, and the opportunity to lie in fields daydreaming, take long walks and drink cool pear cider. Ahhh.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
My boyfriend Richard and I took a trip to the New Forest recently. It was idyllic; long walks in the countryside and quiet pub lunches sat next to an open fire. I love the English countryside in the Autumn.
Oh, and my boyfriend also recently bought this:
The Olympus OM-10. He's been wanting a film camera for a while, and I can't wait to see what photos we got from it on our walks.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Sunday Read for this week: The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite (Beatrice Colin).
This is an amazing book, and has recently seemed to gain a huge amount of accolade. I'd love to say that this is what drove me to read it, but in actual fact, I just picked this up in a bookshop on a whim. During the summer, I had a long commute to work of two hours each way, and I ended up reading every book I owned. I found myself with all of about five minutes in a bookshop before my train was due, so I quickly read the blurb, thought it sounded readable, and away I went with my shiny new copy of The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite.
Good thing I did! It turned out to be a fantastic read; one of those books that transported me away from my dull packed train to the seemingly wonderful yet depressing world of Berlin at the turn of the century.
The novel follows the ever-changing life of Lilly Aphrodite (such a wonderful name for a heroine), complexly juxtaposing desperation and poverty with glamour and fame. Although a work of fiction, the book is nonetheless historically realistic and offers the reader a highly plausible insight into the capital of Germany under the Weimar Republic. It was, by all accounts, a time of extreme hardship, which to the author's credit, Lilly's life reflects - she is raised in an orphanage, raped by wealthy employers, and spends much of the novel surviving on next to no food. While this admittedly could have made for a rather dreary read (indeed, at times it's hard not to feel quite depressed by the girl's desperate situation), the author offers the reader some light relief in its uplifting focus on Lilly's career, as she emerges as a glamorous and successful black and white film actress. Ultimately, it is with this increasing portrayal of her infamy in society that the novel begins to lose its sense of realism and probably its high level of impact upon the reader, but all in all this story offers a powerful message about growing up in a time and place which seems to be all too often overlooked in literature. Lilly grows up in desperately hard circumstances, and her story is predominantly one of extreme suffering, mixed with a passionate yet ultimately failing romance, and rather a lot of glitz and glamour. Beautifully written, this is really one of those books that you just need to read.
Friday, 11 December 2009
Top of my Christmas wish list this year: the Diani Mini. I really love Lomo photography and want to try my hand at it, but not having a Lomo camera is a bit of a problem. Hence this amazing little camera on my wish list.
Here's the spec:
- Square and rectangular half-frame formats at the flick of a switch
- Takes all types of 35mm film
- Shoots up to 72 shots per film on half-frame mode
- Shoots up to 36 shots per film on square mode
- Requires standard 35mm film development
- Ultra-compact and pocket-sized
- Multiple exposure functionality
- ‘B’ mode for long exposures
- Cable release attachment – a Diana first!
- Sunny and cloudy exposure settings
- Overlap frames across photos for endless abstract panorama
Um, or failing that, I wouldn't mind this:
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Christmas is nearly upon us again, and so I found myself wandering around Brighton's Lanes yesterday, trying to find cute little gifts for family and friends.
One of my housemates loves Lush Cosmetics, and while I have to say I didn't know much about them until I started living with her, the array of gorgeous bath bombs, soaps, shampoos and lotions lined up in the bathroom made me rather inquisitive. I ventured in there yesterday, and fell in love! Everything from this shop - especially the bath bombs - are just so pretty, and smell gorgeous. Completely natural and organic as well, which appeals to the inner hippy in me!
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
I've become slightly addicted recently to a BBC3 programme called School of Saatchi. 6 young aspiring contemporary artists compete for Saatchi's attention and some incredible prizes. The series has got me hooked, despite my general dislike for contemporary art. I'd love to make out like I'm really cultured here, but unmade beds, a shark in a tank - I get it, but just don't like it.
That said, I adore Antony Gormley's work.
He's well known for the Angel of the North, but he's done so much more than that. I went to an exhibition of his at the Hayward gallery in London a couple of years ago with my ex, who was heavily into art. I was skeptical going, but of all the exhibitions I've seen, it's the one that probably sticks in my mind the most. What appeals to me is how a lot of his work is public - surely every London resident has seen one of his statues on a rooftop at least once.
My favourite part of his 2007 exhibition at the Hayward gallery was Blind Light, a large transparent glass box filled with what can only be described as cloud, and vivid, bright white light. Visitors were invited to venture into the box, through the one opening which functions as both an entrance and exit. Inside, it was immediately apparent why those with nervous dispositions or heart conditions are not allowed to experience it - it was incredibly disorientating, scary, bizarre - and quite wonderful. With visibility so poor that you could barely see your hands in front of you, people walked around blinded by bright white light, somewhat struggling to breath as the cool white cloud seemingly engulfed each person. I wandered around for ages in wonder - it felt like I was the only person in the world and as though I was literally walking inside a cloud - I can only describe it as euphoric.
Antony Gormley is one of 30 contemporary artists displaying work in an exhibition at the Royal Academy, which runs until the end of January. Is my wonder at Gormley enough to lure me to a whole contemporary art exhibition - me, a complete contemporary art skeptic? I'm beginning to think it might well be.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
As a ballet dancer myself, this shoot really appeals to me. Whimsical dresses paired with legwarmers and leotards and captured beautifully with some perfect pas de deux poses. Ballet is, to me, one of the most wonderful forms of art, and it completely inspires me to see it merged so effectively with inspired fashion and stunning, simple photography. A lovely work of crossover art.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
In my procrasination from third year university work, I've been daydreaming of holidaying in far-away places. Icelandair have a fantastic offer on at the moment for a 4 day, 3 night break to Reykjavik, staying in a 3 star hotel with a trip to the Blue Lagoon included. £269 - if only I didn't have over 5,000 words to write over Christmas and an empty bank account, I'd be on the next plane out there.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Lovely chicken escalope with a twist.
I've been trying to perfect my cooking skills lately, and am pleased to report that this is a dish I've managed to cook well on a few occasions now. Get chicken breast fillets, dust them with homemade breadcrumbs mixed with a dash of sage, and fry them gently on both sides until they start to brown. Separately, fry cherry tomatoes, garlic and sweet onions, and add some mixed herbs. Spoon the cherry tomatoes, garlic and sweet onion mixture onto the chicken and cook in the oven for fifteen minutes or so, adding slices of buffalo mozzarella on top of the chicken halfway through cooking, so it melts on top. Serve with sautéed potatoes and some green beans or spinach. Easy.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
As I sit here at my computer and browse through my facebook friend list, I can pick out, straight away, eight girls who I know have eating disorders, and are painfully thin. Eight - and that's only counting those who have admitted in the past to being anorexic or bullimic. I very much suspect that at least ten more have some kind of eating problem, just by looking at their pictures and knowing their attitude to food.
Sure, I know it's ok to be slim. One of my best friends is tall, thin and eats like a horse - I've known her to eat a whole multi-pack of biscuits as one half of an afternoon snack, and yet she never puts on weight. Some people's metabolisms are built like that, I get it, and that's fine. But to be so thin that your spine sticks out, to be so mentally warped that you think a single apple for lunch is excessive, to be so set in this mental attitude that you have to be hospitalised and force-fed - that could not be justified as normal by anyone with half an ounce of common sense.
Really, you have to wonder therefore at the great juxtaposition of views that the media portray. I am an avid magazine reader, and it's always great to read about anorexia treatment, "why curvy is back in fashion", about the horror of pro-eating disorder websites and forums, and see pictures of normal women just like you in a "real-life special". I read articles like that, and think that the media is finally being pro-active in trying to tackle girls and womens' attitudes to weight. Good on them.
But here's the huge glaring problem: in the same magazines, I find four photoshoots, all featuring women who are, at most, a UK size 6-8; I find photos of skeletal celebrities labelled "gorgeous" and normal sized celebrities labelled "fat"; and I find a feature where a group of people are asked to talk about a size 10-12 woman's appearance, where they call her "overweight" and say she "could do with losing a few pounds".
And then, perhaps most disturbing of all, this morning I found the aforementioned article on Marie Claire's website, in which Kate Moss exclaims that her life motto is "nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels". The best bit is that the Marie Claire writer then added: "But before you recoil in total horror, the model mum did then redeem herself by, adding: ‘You try and remember, but it never works.'"
Oh, so it's all ok then. As long as it doesn't always work, but that she still does try to abide by the motto that starving yourself is the best way to live, then there's no need to be horrified, dear readers. It's all ok.
The thing is, Marie Claire is my favourite magazine. I've always applauded Marie Claire on being the only magazine who actually talk about curves in a positive way and seem mostly grounded in the real world. But by them posting this article, I feel somewhat let-down. I suppose they'd justify it by saying that it highlights how ridiculous Kate Moss' attitude to food is, and for me it has done just that, granted. But for one of my recovering anorexic friends, who idolises Kate Moss? Let's just say, I hope she doesn't find the time to browse marieclaire.co.uk any time soon.
Kate Moss is a beautiful woman, but I wish that her and the rest of society would learn that being skinny is not anything to aspire to. There is not a black and white line between being size zero and "fat", and I find it truly sad that anyone would actually think there is. I worked at a well-known UK fashion magazine for a few weeks, and it was only after the experience of seeing painfully thin, depressed-looking models come in for castings every day that I truly realised how warped the media attitude to this whole debate really is. They say that models are healthy and happy and don't have any problems, but in the flesh they paint a very different picture.
Curves are great and back in fashion, but only skinny people are allowed to be photographed in magazines? Sort it out, UK media, before you help create generations of paranoid, starving women.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Minimalist and classy with a hint of vintage - and all for under £1000.
This is the beautiful West London home of stylist Milly Goodwin, who transformed her £400,000 maisonette after moving in a little over two years ago. She may have changed the wallpaper in her bathroom five times a year and repainted the walls over and over, but it's obviously been worth it, as she's created a simple, stylish and homely space. And what great proof that beautiful living doesn't have to come with an extortionate price tag - picking up bargains from markets and reinventing tired furniture instead of buying new means that renovations have cost the Easy Living stylist less than a £1,000.