Monday, 2 June 2014

It's done! My first year of university is over. This past week I went back home to celebrate - and recuperate as a consequence. With assignments, deadlines and exams all out of the way, I left my laptop in London (hence the 2 week hiatus) and actually enjoyed what was in front of me: beautiful countryside, wonderful friends... and a fridge full of food that hasn't been restricted by a student budget. 
This year has been incredible. University has been life changing; my course has really opened my eyes in ways I couldn't imagine. Above is a picture of just some of the works we studied as part of my French course and, whilst not all were 'my cup of tea', I'm still pleased to have had the encouragement to give them a chance (I'd definitely recommend Les Liaisons dangereuses and Femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement - the former has an English version if that helps). Though I love reading, I never saw literature as my strong point, but this year has made me think otherwise.
But it's not just the academic side of university that has changed my life: it's everyday life itself which has been transformed. Yes, there have been times where, curled up in my bed with iPlayer and a cup of tea, I could quite easily have been at home. But most of the time, the fact that I have been living in London has been inescapable. From walking over the Thames and past Somerset House most days, to the eccentricity of the people living here - it's everywhere, and I love it.
And now, with a few weeks left here in the capital, I think it's time to make the most of it. Pictures to follow...

Friday, 16 May 2014

Pointing It Out

For me, the greatest thing about fashion is the ability to dress up in different styles, and satisfy each side of my personality. When lounging around, you will often find me in baggy clothes and slippers (which I'm forever being told are actual outdoor shoes, not slippers, hence why I can justify running to the shops round the corner in them). But lately I've been craving more 'ladylike' styles; outfits which nip in at the waist, touches of jewellery where I'd normally omit it, and, as you can probably tell, shoes which converge to an elegant point. 

This recent desire to dress in a more feminine manner probably has something to do with my binge-watching Mad Men. Seriously, it's addictive, and I can't believe I didn't jump on the bandwagon earlier when the show first stormed the TV world. Nonetheless, I find it enjoyable to dress 'like a lady' from time to time - refreshing, almost, given how easy it is for me to fall into the habit of waking up and throwing on a pair of shorts, a tee and a pair of flip flops. 

In fact, I don't even know if it is dressing femininely that I am after; I think it's just dressing up in any way possible. I find it somewhat pointless digging out my more exciting clothes as, in the midst of exams, there are very few occasions where I can justify sacrificing revision for a day out or, god forbid, a night out. But as the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to filter through (quite literally - the weather has been gorgeous here in London for the past few days), I think it's time I accompanied these pointed delights with some beautiful summer dresses. Any excuse for a shopping trip...

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Who? What? Where?

I recently read an article in the Daily Mail, revolving around the incredible photographs of Namibian tribesmen and women taken by Eric Lafforgue. Whilst I understand that regions all vary hugely within Africa, as someone who has never been to the continent itself - never mind this particular area - I found the images astounding and insightful. 

Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Stephanie Ledoux

Cultures are a point of great interest to me, as no two are the same. The scale upon which they differ is also fascinating in my eyes - continents have their own traits, and within that, each country, region, and village. So when I saw these photographs, portraying the daily activities carried out by the people in the Himba tribe, to the intricate detailing of their hairstyles, I was mesmerized. However, towards the end of the collection of images, there were aspects of several which saddened me:  A man wearing a Brazil football shirt (who is said to know nothing about the team due to no electricity in his village). Another man wearing a full blown biker outfit riding a motorbike. A woman drinking a can of Fanta. I think what bothered me most about the latter image is that huge multinational corporations such as Fanta most probably have no idea that these people exist, and care very little for this huge cultural shift. Though they may only be small glimpses of typically 'modern' goods, these items do betray the infiltration of Western culture on parts of the world previously untouched by globalisation. 

Photos by Eric Lafforgue/Stephanie Ledoux

Don't get me wrong: just because these people are from a far more remote area of the world, it doesn't remove their right to drink, dress, and do as they so please. I also understand that tourists - who more often than not gift them these items - allow them to afford a better lifestyle by buying Namibian goods crafted by the indigenous people. I do, however, find it a great shame to see them adapting to this Western lifestyle as I fear that it is the beginning of the end. How will anyone be able to tell where somebody is from, what values they have, or what their ancestral heritage is, if everybody is identical and drinking from the same shockingly orange can of drink? The very charm of these photographs is the individuality they exhibit - that is, the individuality of the Himba tribe and its unique cultural, and historical, rules and behaviour.

The problem is not isolated to just this one area. It's not even isolated to just this country. I see it here in Britain. Us 'Western' folk generally have more access to the internet and media in general (which I cannot criticise; it is the only way I am able to publish these very thoughts), and therefore it is expected that our culture may merge with others in a similar situation more easily, such as that of our neighbours across the channel, or our cousins across the Atlantic. However a typically 'French' outfit - Breton stripes, capri trousers, etc - would be just as at home here in Britain as it would be in its native land. Likewise, restaurants offering Italian, Chinese, Spanish and Indian cuisines may all be found next to each other down any main street, without a second glance. I am grateful for this possibility (mainly due to my greed), and while I have never been abroad and seen a restaurant revolving around the Great British Roast Dinner, I can't help feeling that regional and national individuality is depleting in the face of globalisation. 

The opportunity to dip into different cultures is incredible, something I appreciate hugely, but only so long as said cultures still exist; what makes Chinese food Chinese anymore if the quantity of such restaurants in Britain outnumber those offering typically British food? It is a complex thought, but one that bothers me. As with my earlier point - 'cultures are a point of great interest to me, as no two are the same' - I just hope that this applies in 50 years' time.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Drowned Man

Do excuse the huge gap in between this post and my last. The last week of March (and therefore term) was hectic, and that would be putting it gently. A personal favourite was doing an essay until 5am, before getting up at 8am to go and hand another one in before the deadline. I felt like a true student after that escapade. Even though completing the term is always a huge relief, it just reminds me that exams are that much closer. With that and various bits of writing outside of university which had to be done for this week, everything has been pretty stressful and so the blog was put on the back burner. But alas! I'm back. 

I thought it was about time I posted about an event I went to a few weeks ago. Well, event... Performance... I find it hard to define. The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable is apparently an 'immersive theatre production' put together by Punchdrunk and the National Theatre. Whatever category it fits into, what an experience that was. On entering the mysterious Paddington venue, you are given a slip of paper containing the background story, as well as a mask - which explains the photos. You then follow who I believe is the studio tour guide (forgive me for not fully paying attention at this point) into a lift, after which point the story unfolds in front of your very eyes.

It's an amazing concept, as you get such an intimate glimpse into the story and the characters' lives (the back stories of which are incredibly intricate), and genuinely feel as though you form part of the drama. And though I wasn't one of the lucky few, some people are approached by the actors for one-on-one performances, which are said to be amazing. All of the scenes in the 'Hollywood studio', plus each bedroom, bar, shop, and everything in between, contain such a vast amount of items personal to the characters, which make it feel like you've stumbled upon private information, though in this case you're allowed to rifle through it all guilt-free. Hallelujah!

I seriously recommend going - tickets may seem steep to some, but you can spend up to three hours exploring, so I'd say you get your money's worth (plus concessions are available). And besides, it's a unique experience - so unique that some people go multiple times and still haven't covered every aspect. My legs ached slightly by the end of it, but I can't praise the production enough; the acting, the level of detail for the sets, and the experience as a whole were all impeccable. Take a look at their website for information on booking, plus a little background information to give you a taste of what it's all about. What are you waiting for?

P.S. The current batch of tickets are running until May sometime, though I think they may release more every few months. I'd also like to point out that none of this is sponsored.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Bargain Hunt

Another week, another successful search for clothes that wont make a dent in my bank account. And so, here stands a H&M double offender, coming back with this camel jacket (faux suede, faux shearling, faux everthing, but who cares; it came in at £15), and underneath, the unapologetically orange jumper which, at £12, was a no-brainer.

Friday, 21 March 2014

£6 Well Spent

I love Zara clothes. I love them even more when I find them on eBay for a fraction of the price.