Monday, 30 May 2011
It's a bank holiday here in the UK; another lovely day off work, and the first I've got booked up until August, although I think I'll be taking a few days off in July. It really makes all the difference having a three day weekend and a four day working week - a chance to relax a little bit more.
These photos envoke a sense of summer and laziness to me; found on Flickr user Luciecamp's photostream, I adore them.
I'm up bright and early today, because (surprise surprise) I'm off down to Brighton for the day. I have a meal out planned - Spanish tapas, one of my favourites - and then a comedy show in the evening. Should be fun! It's just a shame the sun isn't shining; the beach won't be half as nice when it's grey and cloudy...
As for the rest of this lovely long weekend? My boyfriend took me out for dinner on Friday night, which was delicious, and then, fancying a little cocktail, we went to a little place called Bourne & Hollingsworth - I would tell you more about it now, but I think it was such a great cocktail bar that it deserves its own post, so look out for it shortly. A little hidden gem tucked away in a basement, suffice it to say it was a great place and made for a lovely evening!
The cocktail theme of this weekend continued on to Saturday; it was a friend's birthday, and she'd arranged for ten of us girls to go cocktail making to celebrate. We took it in turns to learn how to make the cocktails, in pairs - and the one that I made was called (ahem) Pretty Pretty Bang Bang, made up of vodka, cranberry, raspberry and Red Bull. I have to say, it was surprisingly nice!
I'd definitely recommend learning to make cocktails as a lovely girly evening out, although perhaps book it for a little later than 5pm, when we went - we were all rather tipsy by the end, and it was still only 6pm, so we still had a whole evening ahead of us! Needless to say, it was a little messy...
How were your weekends?
A little P.S: apologies for no Friday Fives or The Sunday Read this week. Blogger seemed to be down for me again - I couldn't access my dashboard, so couldn't post! Did anyone else have that?!
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
On Sunday, I went down to my old university town to visit friends and, in the mood for a walk in the countryside, we drove over to Beachy Head - the biggest and most impressive of the Seven Sisters cliffs - for a nice walk. Unfortunately though, it was more than a bit windy up there -we walked for a while but it all got a little too much and we ended up sheltering by a lighthouse at the top of the hill, eating chocolate muffins that one of us had brought along - I felt like something out an Enid Blyton story!
When we got a little bit sick of getting battered by the wind - see the last photo, above, with my crazy hair! - we decided it was time for some afternoon tea.
Have to say it was a little creepy in the café we found though... it was tucked away at the top of the cliff, looking out to sea, and it was getting battered by the wind, creaking like crazy, cobwebs everywhere, draughty, windows that hadn't been cleaned in years and some interesting characters in there too... Still, we managed to look quite cheerful enjoying a cup of tea anyway!
In the evening, four of us girls went to see amazing stand-up at Komedia, Brighton's comedy club and my absolute favourite place to watch comedy. Stephen Grant was the MC - as always, and he's a brilliant MC - and we saw two hilarious acts: Doc Brown and Chris Ramsey. Chris Ramsey is one of my absolute favourite comedians - I've seen him a few times now and love him, so I knew what to expect and certainly wasn't disappointed. I'd never seen Doc Brown before, though, and he was absolutely hilarious too - a new addition to my top 5 favourite comedians! We all laughed til our sides ached and we cried actual tears of laughter. Amazing.
Check out Chris Ramsey here and Doc Brown here - and let me know what you think!
Oh, and the rest of my weekend looked like this - my favourite lazy weekend breakfast :)
Sunday, 22 May 2011
It starts with a fling; a hazy one night stand between two vague acquaintances on 15th July 1988. The room is filled with the smell of smoke, the pair are hungover, and it’s the day of their graduation. They lie in a room with half-empty wine glasses, condoms and left-over joints surrounding them, and casually speculate about the future, about where they’ll be in twenty years’ time. It’s hardly a scene from Romeo and Juliet, but perhaps it’s a modern day romance, of sorts. Or perhaps not.
We revisit Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew on St Swithin’s Day every year for the next two decades, and we are shown how their lives entwine, how their friendship develops and - ultimately - how experiences shape and change them, for better or worse. And all this with a powerful injection of wit; take Dexter’s colleague who only speaks in capitals and whose favourite phrase is “WAHEY!”, for example, and Emma’s comedian boyfriend Ian, a head-in-hands unfunny man, whose face reminds Emma “of tractors” and who walks around the house in his “tracky botts”.
One Day is much-praised for its unique narrative concept; a structure which, with credit to David Nicholls, does not become wearing at all. The real charm, though, comes from the characters - their realness, their plausibility: because everyone knows an Emma Morley, or a Dexter Mayhew. A free-spirited, independent, working-class lefty who takes herself and her views on literature and politics very seriously and has a grudge against the world; and, the polar opposite: a handsome, popular and apolitical womaniser from a wealthy family who wants “to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random it would be a cool photograph”.
And this is the beauty of this book; it is the authenticity of the two main characters, moreso than the unusual structure, the humorous prose or even the twisting plot, which lingers long after the last page. In creating characters we can all relate to, in some way at least, the impressively observant One Day not only appeals to any reader in some way, but offers something deeper.
Indeed, although disguised as a laugh-out-loud coming-of-age drama with a hint of romance and rather a lot of sex, drugs, brilliant characters and wild parties, David Nicholls has, again, done what he does best; as with Starter for Ten, he’s taken a powerful message about today’s society - about prejudices, class barriers and regional divides, about loneliness and bright-eyed youthful aspirations succumbing to middle-aged acceptance - and has interwoven it so subtly in the text that you could reach the end without realising that what he has to say goes deeper than the comedic and, at times, touching, journeys of the protagonists.
In creating characters the reader can relate to, Emma and Dexter’s friendship becomes a microcosm of society and the opportunities we each have, the paths we take partly through choice and partly through compulsion. The novel begins with the pair leaving university as supposed equals, both with a degree and both with the idea that they can do anything they want to. Fast forward to 1991, though, and with Dexter living in a glamorous London apartment and working as a TV presenter after travelling the world for two years while Emma is a waitress in a cheap Tex-Mex restaurant and struggles to pay the rent, and some of what Nicholls wants to portray becomes alarmingly clear.
But it is not all serious; indeed, it’s hardly serious at all: it is secretly deep, with a read-between-the-lines kind of subtlety. This is a book, really, about friendship, about love, about the ups and the downs of life, and about coming-of-age in modern Britain - and it makes for a funny, addicting and actually quite profound read.
Friday, 20 May 2011
Wow, what a week. I won't go into too much detail but it's been hectic in quite a few ways - and I'm very glad it's Friday! Relaxing photos to go accompany how I feel about this weekend...
5 interesting links of the week
- The Burning House blog - little discovery of the week and well worth a read
- Beautiful photography and article about Paris over at Dwell
- Announcement of the Autumn 2011 season at Sadler's Wells
- A tower made of books in Argentina
- And another new favourite blog - Letters to my cat, Janit
- A video of 300,000 birds swarming over Denmark
- Great interview with Tamara Rojo, amazing ballet dancer
- A little article worth reading on the Ken Clarke rapegate
- Urban Poetry art
- How a single word can change a life
5 good things about this week
- The fact it's over (am I allowed to say that or is that quite overly negative? Ok, it's overly negative. Sorry... here are 4 positive things:)
- Lovely dinner and rather a lot of alcohol with a friend on Thursday night
- Starting the 30 Day Shred and feeling optimistic aboout it
- Frozen yoghurt from Snog
- The release of Pirates of the Caribbean 4... can't wait to see it!
5 things that I'm looking forward to in the coming week
- Laying in bed all day Saturday and doing absolutely nothing
- Going to lovely Brighton (again, I know - I do unashamedly love it there)
- Seeing Chris Ramsey and other no doubt brilliant comedians at Komedia on Sunday evening
- Booking exciting theatre trips
- A friend's birthday next Saturday which includes a cocktail making session!
Monday, 16 May 2011
I've posted about Pull & Bear before - their lookbooks seem to be a weakness of mine, because I always love all of them. They're always beautifully shot and I love this hazy S/S 11 one in particular - the soft colours, the clothes, the composition... lovely!
Oh, and the photographer is the hugely talented Spaniard Txema Yeste - love all of his work. You can read more about him here, if you so wish!
How were your weekends? Mine was very lazy but lovely - it consisted mainly of eating lemon tart, watching Eurovision, eating pizza, drinking wine, eating quesadillas (yes, there was a lot of eating this weekend!), going to the cinema and going for nice walks around lakes. And generally lots of being lazy! I needed a relaxing weekend though, because this week's going to be hectic, with events and seeing friends and tutoring, oh and working of course...
I've also been booking time off for holidays this week, which means that I've been thinking about holiday outfits - which means I've been thinking about toning up a little bit. Let me clarify at this point that I'm not a girl who's obsessed with my weight or body - I don't weight myself or measure inches, typically - and I eat fairly healthily, although I do admit to being a chocoholic! Although I work 8 hours a day and am out of the house for a minimum of 11 hours a day during the week, I currently walk fifteen minutes each way to the station near me and then a further ten between the station in London and where I work at least one way, meaning that I get 40 minutes, at least, of exercise a day. Enough to be not completely unfit, probably, but hardly enough to tone up or make any real difference - but by the time I get home at 7:30pm at the earliest and eat, there's really no time to go to an exercise class or the gym (and I doubt I could be bothered to venture out the house again anyway, if I'm totally honest).
So. In an effort to tone up a little (emphasis here is, by the way, not on losing weight - I don't really care about that, but I just want to feel more toned and perhaps a little healthier), I've been inspired by the Where are my Knees girls and have decided to try Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred this month. I've been looking for a good exercise DVD for a while, and the good thing about this one is that it's an intense 20 minute workout that burns calories really quickly and mixes up cardio, strength and abs - so you get a bit of everything and hopefully do some good in a really short space of time; perfect for my commuting lifestyle! Today was my first day doing it, and so far, so good - I started on Level 1 which I found manageable in terms of my legs (did ballet for years, they're very strong) but a bit of a workout for my arms! I'll be letting you know how I get on though - and, for the purposes of this little exercising experiment, I've also taken measurements, so I can also keep track of any potential inches lost over the next 30 days.
Have you ever tried it? What exercise would you recommend for a busy lifestyle?
Sunday, 15 May 2011
So I think everyone's well aware by now that Blogger was down for a few days - one of those days being Friday, and meaning that this scheduled post was not only not published when it was supposed to be, but also deleted from my list of posts, as were the comments I had on my two most recent posts. Great! Oh dear... Luckily though, I had a little emailed version of this post saved, so here are the Friday Fives from last Friday :) And if you commented on either of my two most recent posts and your comment got deleted, I'm sorry! Comment again if you had a question (I think someone did) or want me to get back to you.
5 things that have made me smile this week:
- Dinner with my cousin and seeing her baby bump!
- Trying Uzbek cuisine
- A gossipy dinner with another cousin
- Getting lots of reading done
- The Apprentice being back on TV
5 things I’m looking forward to this coming week:
- Going on a pedalo and playing crazy golf this weekend (hence the second photo!)
- Little Eurovision party on Saturday (I’m sad, I know)
- Catch ups planned for the evenings of next week
- Going to a comedy show in Brighton next weekend
- Booking holidays!
5 photography links:
- Beautiful black and white photos of Paris
- Same Hill, Different Day - brilliant creative project by Paul Octavious
- Writers at their typewriters - one for the writer in me…
- Emotion - an atmospheric gallery from Luis Beltran
- A photo competition called World Views, which looks well worth entering!
- Brighton’s Book Festival - I want to go to everything here
- A peek inside the house of Jutta Rikola, for some colourful design inspiration
- A gallery of the best ballet costumes from The Ballet Bag
- A Postcard from Brighton - a very cool video all about my favourite town
- twitter.com/teabreaksblog - yes, a Twitter link; my little blog has a Twitter all of its own now, so please follow!
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
A little bit of mid-week interior design inspiration in the form of Mapesbury, a residential house in London's NW2 postcode.
Lovely, isn't it? What I love about this house is the neutral whites - the white floorboards of the living room, white walls, white furniture, mixed with splashes of colours - the red curtains and lamp of one of the bedrooms and the pale orange walls of another of the rooms, brought out by an orange dress hanging up on the back of the door and shoes lined up. I love white and neutrals in a house, but think a bit of colour is always needed - and they seem to have got it just right at Mapesbury. I particualrly love the use of blue in this house; a lovely calming and cooling colour when used correctly in interior design, it's certainly the case with Mapesbury - I love the striking feature wall and the couch.
My favourite image is definitely the second one of the series - I adore the staircase, the mosaic tiled floor, the elegant couch on the landing (and lovely cushions!), the patterned windows and the chandelier adding a further touch of colour to the room. Which is your favourite?
How is your week going? I'm in the middle of my first full week back at work after a series of 3 and 4 day weeks with bank holidays and a day off and trying to get back into the rhythm of normal working weeks!
Had a lovely few days, though - went out for dinner on Tuesday evening for my cousin's birthday to a restaurant called Samarqand, where I tried delicious Uzbek food for the first time (review to follow soon!), and then met another cousin this evening for another dinner, which was very lovely and filled with a lot of gossip and catching up.
Monday, 9 May 2011
Sometimes you see one image and absolutely fall in love with it - and just know that you'll love pretty much anything else by the photographer. Such is the case with the work of Italian photographer Viola Cangi - I found the top photo by chance while browsing Flickr one day, and then spent the next hour or so (I lost track of time, to tell the truth) just gazing through all her photos. Absolutely beautiful.
In other news, forgot to mention that I saw Submarine the other week - have any of you seen it? I really wanted to see it and so my boyfriend drove me the best part of an hour across the Buckinghamshire countryside to a town where it was showing (how lovely of him!) - it was worth it though! A really good British film, hilarious in places, seriously head-in-hands cringey in others - a mix of awkward moments that quite beautifully and yet clumsily describe growing up. Great film, showcasing brilliant British comedy - go and see it if you can while it's still showing!
Friday, 6 May 2011
Happy Friday! I've got the day off today and am going to be spending it relaxing with my friends by the seaside, hence the calm and leisurely feel of these photos!
5 photography links of the week:
- Haitian women - amazing photos of the strong women in post-earthquake Haiti
- Retratos - an atmospheric gallery from Carolina Navas
- A must-see portfolio from Mark Tipple
- Intimate portraits from Masha Demikhova
- And, of course, you know me... have to have some gorgeous ballet-related photos too
5 other great links of the week
- The amazing Alice in Wonderland restaurant in Tokyo which I simply have
to visit one day
- The Five Stages of Relationships via bitchbuzz - thought-provoking...
- The gorgeous home of textile designer Amy Butler
- Amazing, social and innovative art project "The Sketchbook Project"
- The scary reality of Barbie: what she would look like if she were a real woman - a must-read
5 things that have made me smile this week:
- Chinese food with an old friend in Soho's Chinatown
- Knowing that my grandfather was fine, post surgery this week
- Working a second 3 day week in a row!
- Lovely gossiping chats with best friends
- Lazy days off, and enjoying the first full day I've had at home since February
- Enjoying the rest of my day off, with going to Brighton!
- Seeing the show Avenue Q this afternoon
- A relaxing day in the Buckinghamshire countryside planned on Sunday
- A busy week next week to look forward to, filled with meals, drinks and fun after work
- Seeing my boyfriend next weekend :)
Monday, 2 May 2011
Just a Minute is back for May - but, before I give a little summary of what I'm up to now and what I'm looking forward to in the month to come, here's a little round-up of April!
It's been a busy month, but also a great one - we've had summer in spring this year, four bank holidays and it's been a hell of a lot of fun. April's highlights have included:
Afternoon teas with friends
Enjoying delicious food (curry, left, and pub grub, right) and champagne (Veuve Clicquot and strawberries, mmm)
Nights out and fun with friends
...and laying on the beach to recover the morning after.
Days out in sunny London...
And more days out in Brighton...
Finding an alternative career path (ok, not actually!)
Finding treasures in vintage and bric-a-brac markets...
And finding the car of my dreams at Silverstone (a Ferrari, of course)...
So - all things considered, it's been a fairly busy month! And now onto May - how are we getting on for half-way through the year already?
This month, I am:
Reading... Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, and moving on to the intriguing Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert afterwards, after a recommendation from a good friend.
Buying... new brogues, shorts and suncream (hello summer!)
Listening... to Katy B's new album, and also to Jamie Woon and Adele
Watching... America's Next Top Model, The Only Way is Essex (I know, I know - I'm fully aware it's awful), the new series of Doctor Who, and the new series of the Apprentice which starts this month
Loving... the bank holiday weekends we've had, the fact that I've got another day off on Friday of this coming week, the sun, my lovely friends :)
Planning... summer holiday and weekend plans, evenings out and theatre trips
Want to join in with Just a Minute? I found this on Daydream Lily's lovely blog via August Street, late last year, and it's a lovely little monthly activity. Feel free to join in - and make sure to send me a link if you do though, so I can see what you're up to at the moment!