Wednesday, 29 June 2011

balloons, butterflies, books and beauty

A little bit of mid-week laid-back photography from flickr user _acido's today - balloons, butterflies, books and generally many beautiful images. Stumbled across her relaxed and atmospheric photography a few weeks ago and knew I had to post it - what a discovery! :)

Posting some lovely relaxing images while burning some lavender incense to a bid to help me chill out a little before trying to get some sleep tonight. I've been so so tired this week, but struggling to actually sleep - it's been impossibly hot and stuffy in London, and since I have a loft room here at home it seems to trap all the heat in (cold in the winter, warm in the summer, oh dear). I've had four windows open and a fan on and still have been lying on top of the bed for hours just waiting to get off to sleep... and it's resulted in me getting something like 6 hours of sleep for the past few nights. Yawn!

In other news, are any of you watching Wimbledon, and who are you supporting? I watch tennis religiously for these two weeks every year - I love it so much and always try to get tickets, although I didn't manage to get any this year. Very pleased in my most patriotic way that Andy Murray has got through to the semi-finals now, although anyone who knows me at all knows that my heart lies with Rafael Nadal (vamos Rafa!)... and so am struggling to know where my loyalties lie when it comes to the Murray vs Nadal match on Friday! Who gets your support - Murray or Nadal?!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

a little bit awol / delayed fives

Oh what a week...

Hello hello. I am sorry for a week's absence - I even missed posting the Friday Fives for the first week in ages, and I hold my hands up to being a bit of a rubbish blogger. Excuses? Well apart from running around London and working hard as usual, I was also feeling a little under the weather (bit of a cold), a little sad (long story) and just generally very very tired - I think my 12-hours-a-day-out-of-the-house and out-all-weekend-every-weekend lifestyle finally caught up with me.
In truth, I think I was just too tired to blog, and felt like all my inspiration had gone (and that right there is the problem with an inspiration-based blog... when you're tired and the inspiration in your life goes, so do your blog posts!)

But it wasn't all bad last week, as you'll see below - because here are a few very delayed Friday Fives, presented to you with a little apology for lateness and a promise to be back on form from now on :)

Five Photos

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Five things that made me smile last week

  1. Going to a film premiere on Tuesday - lots of fun! Life in a Day is an amazing film; review to follow on the blog shortly :)

  2. Going to the ballet! I saw the amazing Romeo and Juliet by the Royal Ballet at the 02 arena, and it was just beautiful. We had some impressive seats (right by the stage!) and it most definitely rekindled my love for ballet all over again.

  3. My friend coming to stay with me for the night on Friday - was lovely to see her and catch up, gossip and giggle together

  4. More cocktails in teacups! Another trip to lovely London bar Bourne & Hollingsworth with some uni friends - it was lovely to see them!

  5. Making some very exciting plans with some very lovely friends - birthday plans, holiday plans, weekend mini-break plans...

5 things that I'm looking forward to this week:

  1. Seeing the amazing-sounding Merchants of Bollywood at Sadlers Wells on Wednesday night

  2. A little road-trip to Bristol this weekend to meet the boyfriend's parents. Ok, perhaps the meeting-the-parents part isn't exactly something I'm 'looking forward to', but Bristol itself should be fun?!

  3. Two days off work, and a three day week!

  4. Catching up with old close friends

  5. Celebrating my boyfriend's birthday with him on Thursday evening :)

Monday, 13 June 2011

120 in my 20s: seventy-three

For a while now, I've had a new tab at the top of my blog - 120 in my 20s. Many of you have even asked about it, but I've kept relatively quiet as to what it is and why it's there - in all honesty, I felt a bit embarrassed about it.

Here's why.

One day, a little disillusioned with my life for a variety of reasons and wondering where (if anywhere) it was going, my 21 year old self decided to make a bucket list of 120 things I really wanted to accomplish. I tapped them out really quickly, sitting in my room on my laptop, and was surprised that I could find 120 things just off the top of my head that I really, really wanted to do.

Some are physical experiences - attend a Wimbledon finals tennis match; make a dress; see a Matthew Bourne ballet; move back to Brighton. Some are educational - learn French enough to converse with a French person; learn to play the piano so that I can play Einaudi's Andare; get another qualification. Some are silly, small things - stargaze; walk hand-in-hand along a beach with someone, barefoot, at sunset; fly a kite. A great deal are food or travel related - do a Buddhist meditation in a Buddhist country; go to Berlin and touch the Berlin Wall; buy chocolates from a chocolatier in France.
And some are personal, spiritual, and meaningful to me - write a letter to myself and seal it, to open on my 30th birthday; find love again; learn to like myself and accept what has happened to me in the past.

Presented as I was with a mix of things written hurriedly and without any real thought as a page on this blog, I decided to publish the page but do nothing about it for a while. I kept checking it sometimes, usually when life got busy, and would be reminded of the amazing things I wanted to do but hadn't got round to; was too busy for.
And so I decided: it was time to start crossing things off the list. And, as an extra challenge, and ambitious as I am, I decided: I'd do all these things in my 20s.

And so here I am, a few weeks away from my 22nd birthday, and pleased to say that I've accomplished a few things on the list already, in no particular order. And so here is the first, of what I hope will be many, blog posts about my 120 in my 20s project.


When one of my closest friends suggested a long weekend in Rome, I immediately jumped at the chance. As a big fan of Roman history, the capital of Italy was somewhere I'd always longed to go to - and, in particular, I wanted to visit the Colosseum.

Why is a visit to the Colosseum on my bucket list, and not the Vatican, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain or any one of Rome's other staggeringly impressive sites? Because, I suppose, the Colosseum is such an iconic landmark of the city: to take photos of the Colosseum, to wander around the outside and gaze all the way up the sides and to stand inside and look over the vast expanse of the stadium and imagine all the people inside - that really represents Rome and all the history and myths and tales associated with it that no other landmark does in quite the same way.

Visiting the Colosseum was on my 120s in my 20s list, and was a very special one for me; and this is why. The first day I arrived in Rome, I was on my own; my friends were joining me later that evening, but I'd got an early flight out of London and had the day to explore the city on my own. I left my bags at the hotel and, at about midday on this particular day in February, I walked from my hotel, over some squares and towards the Colosseum. I felt like an explorer, like someone discovering something amazing for the first time - alone and intrigued and determined in this city. The building came into sight as I walked past the ancient Roman fora on both sides of me, and I instinctively sped up my pace as I rushed towards it. There was some kind of draw to the Colosseum, which I can't explain - perhaps I never will be able to.
I didn't pay to go in, that first day; I went inside the Colosseum with my friends the day after. Instead, I sat outside the Colosseum and stared up at it, memorising every line and curve and crevice in my mind and trying to take snapshots of it in my head, so that it would never fade.

I can't describe how or why I'd exactly wanted to visit the Colosseum all my life; I can't describe how, aside from it being an amazing building, it had somewhat more of a strong pull for me. I also can't describe how I found that sitting outside it on my own that day, for what I was surprised to find had been hours, was somehow profoundly moving.
What I do know, though, is that visiting the Colosseum - a lifetime goal for me - was the first of my one hundred and twenty goals that I ticked off the list. And one experience that I will never forget.

Friday, 10 June 2011

friday fives

Flowers, sleep, dresses, books and tea... what else does anyone need for a perfect lazy weekend? Just a short friday fives this week as I'm still a little poorly :(

5 photos
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5 highlights of the (unwell) week

  1. My cousin's baby shower last Saturday, full of lovely Jamaican food and rum punch
  2. A lazy Sunday evening takeaway with friends (though possible the source of the illness!)
  3. Getting into an amazing book (Never Let Me Go - review to follow once I've finished!)
  4. Feeling better
  5. UK Tennis season starting - the best time of the year

5 things I'm looking forward to over the next week
  1. Going to the Queen's Club tennis finals on Sunday!
  2. Seeing my boyfriend
  3. Going to see the new X-Men film (embracing my inner geek!)
  4. Dinner with a friend (I feel like this is on my things-to-look-forward-to list every week, apologies for the repetition!)
  5. Going to see the ballet Romeo and Juliet - now only just over a week away!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

poorly / beach retreat

Hello, how are you all? Apologies for the lack of update since Friday, but I've been quite unwell the past few days; I woke up on Monday morning with horrible stomach cramps, sickness, aching and dizziness. Just a stomach bug, I think, but it's really hit me hard, and I've only really been able to manage resting in bed or laying on the sofa sleepily.

I've been thinking about holidays lately, as I think I've mentioned here before; but being unwell has made me think about getting away even more. I stumbled across photos of this lovely little beach house in Seasalter, Kent, a while ago, and drafted a post with all the images saved - and, for a quick post, I thought it'd be perfect to share for a bit of interior and holiday inspiration.

I love the shade of blue inside the house, and, of course, the beautiful green of the countryside surrounding it. And the beach! I know it's always said that British beaches aren't a patch on beaches anywhere else, but I think they get a bit of a hard time of it - there are some lovely beaches over here (if you search hard enough for them...), very quiet and tranquil and with a British charm all of their own (!)

If you'd like to see more photos of the beach house, you can find them here.

Friday, 3 June 2011

just a minute: june / friday fives

How is it Friday again already? And JUNE? The weeks are flying past at the moment!

I also have two weeks to catch up on with the Friday Fives, since Blogger was playing up again for me last week... hopefully this post will work though! :)

5 photos
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5 links:
  1. Penguin Beach - a new exhibit that's just opened at London Zoo!
  2. An amazing panorama of Paris
  3. Creative spaces - a gallery of art studios
  4. The best 100 opening lines from books
  5. A gallery of bookshelves from The Guardian

5 things that made me smile the past little while
  1. A (rather messy) cocktail-making session with friends last weekend
  2. A dinner date in London with my boyfriend incorporating, of course, cocktails in teacups
  3. Lovely tapas in London and celebrating a bestie's birthday in Brighton
  4. Two trips to comedy clubs in two weeks: one to see stand-up, and one to see an improvisation comedy group. Both amazing!
And another 5 things that have made me smile lately
  1. Seeing Barack Obama's helicopter flying over London
  2. Lazy dinner dates with friends
  3. A four day week this week
  4. Work going well :)
  5. Treating myself to a few new dresses for payday!
And 5 things I'm looking forward to:
  1. Summer!
  2. My cousin's baby shower this weekend
  3. Going out for a curry soon with friends - it's been too long!
  4. Researching yoga and ballet classes to go to after work
  5. Wimbledon and Queen's Club tennis starting

Since it's also (crazily!) the beginning of June, it's time for my little monthly blog feature, Just a Minute.

This month, I am:

Reading... Her Fearful Symmetry by Margaret Atwood. I've also loved The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox this month, and am moving on to Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert next.

Buying... lots of summer dresses, and lots of things in various shades of blue, apparently

Listening... to Einaudi, and Latin music, as always

Watching... The Apprentice, and new Louis Theroux documentaries

Loving... the fact it's nearly summer, and that I'm getting into writing again.

Planning... writing projects and summer plans

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!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

bourne & hollingsworth

Unsuspecting but intriguing, Bourne and Hollingsworth has realised a goal that many cocktail bars strive for but rarely manage to achieve; it is, quite simply, different. Yes, it may be so small that there’s hardly enough room to swing a cat, let alone dance to a gramophone record - and yes, it may be teetering slightly on the worse side of shabby chic - but its dedication and enthusiasm for quirky cool in the heart of media London makes this a stand-out venue.

After several recommendations from friends and colleagues, and finding ourselves near Goodge Steet and in the mood for a cocktail one Friday night, we decided to pay the small bar on Rathbone Street a visit. Tucked away in a basement on a street corner next to a busy restaurant, it's very easy to miss completely; we ourselves had mistakenly wandered past twice, ending up, confused, near the BT tower or down some long-forgotten alleyway.

Realising after we ventured down the stairs to the Bourne & Hollingsworth basement that we'd be sharing the place with exactly eight others, we soon found that a situation which would have been off-putting in any other Central London bar at 10pm on a Friday actually felt strangely and intimately endearing at Bourne and Hollingsworth.

After all, set out like a crazed long-lost great Aunt’s lounge that was in need of a spot of decorating some 50 years ago, it’s definitely a step away from the loud pubs and booming music of the modern world outside. This place has a way of warmly luring you in, with teacups on tables, floral wallpaper, frilly lampshades and framed needlework on the walls. Oh, and the promise of a Jammie Dodger with your cocktail, of course.

Propped up against the bar, we listened to the DJ - a choice of entertainment which may seem slightly out of place, but, like everything in this strange juxtaposition of a Central London bar, it just works - and examined the origami-like folded paper menu. Pleasantly surprised by the variety of different and unique cocktails that were on offer, little symbols by each cocktail to show how it’s served is particularly appealing if you're someone who chooses drinks on
appearances and names over the actual contents. Alongside the normal cocktail glass, there are drinks in an array of different objects, and we chose one in a jam jar and one in a tea cup - a floral tea cup, no less, with a saucer and a piece of shortbread.
Impressive, and tasty, the cocktails themselves are strong and not really too expensive for London prices - we paid just under £15 for two.

Incredibly friendly barmen are also on hand to take pity on any bewildered first-timers gazing round in bemused wonder at the place, and it’s certainly good fun to watch staff who wouldn’t look out of place in a modern bar making cocktails next to plates of biscuits, paper napkins, cupcakes and china teapots.

This is all very quirky and endearing, but why, really, does Bourne & Hollingsworth work so well? Apart from its individuality and its good, strong cocktails, its best feature must be its immediate appeal to the latest craze for all things vintage-inspired; although, like similar venues elsewhere, it refrains from doing this in a pretentious way, and instead evokes a kind of effortless chic. It has the ability to feel like your own little secret hideaway, whilst being extremely popular and doing a very good trade; and that’s quite some paradox to pull off.

Is it any coincidence that almost everyone who’s recommended me to go to this place has, at some point, lived in Brighton? Not at all; it has a sense of the hippy eccentric about it, and you can’t help feeling that Central London could do with more naturally quirky places like Bourne and Hollingsworth amidst all its commercial chains.

Or maybe, instead, the point is that B&H really is one of a kind - maybe it is that, after all, which makes it one of Central London’s most effortlessly cool bars.

If you’d like to visit, have a look at
Bourne & Hollingsworth’s website - it’s an extremely basic landing page, but, again, this is all part of the charm.

And a P.S: a little name check here for Alex, the first person to mention Bourne and Hollingsworth to me.
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