Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The World is Abundant and Love is Manifold

I suppose it gets to the point where you have to stop apologising for not posting on your blog and just accept it is occasionally a place where you can just dump photos and a share a few sporadic thoughts. I hate to neglect my own little piece of the internet, but I guess life really has gotten in the way. Happily enough I'm writing more than ever at my current internship, and for the first time being actually paid for it - which feels like a small stepping stone but nonetheless an exciting one. And you know, I'm feeling pretty good about it, I'm grateful, but after this year I've felt a little tired, to say the least. London really has this way of sucking you in and leaving you drained, despite all the excitement it brings and my neverending awe of the city. So with that in mind it was wonderful to pay a visit after Christmas to somewhere I've wanted to visit since forever, The Scottish Highlands. And being in such a majestic, isolated environment of overwhelming natural beauty, like the kind you always expected to see painted in children's stories and never in real life, well, it got me thunkin. I'd arrived there feeling slightly overwhelmed by life and it was incredible to just be far away from everything, and see past your worries and just experience the world, just still and as it is.
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Where am I going with this? Am I about to tell you to live laugh love and take an extremely expensive trip around the world to find yourself? Nah, I guess my point, the revelation that I had, was that the world feels like a seething land mass of filth at the moment, what with all the injustice and prejudice and bad vibes maaaan, to the point that we forget that the world is absolutely all we have and it's both beautiful and scary, comforting and intimidating. And there's so much of it that we can barely take 5 minutes out of our day and our own jumbled heads to properly enjoy. It sort of took me back to *strokes metaphorical philosphical beard and puts on oversized glasses* learning about the sublime at university, this type of beauty that is overwhelming, boundless, unbelievably stunning in a terrifying way, which is not only looks to try for me but also the perfect description for this place.

The Isle of Skye particularly just has this exceptional landscape of mountains and sea that stretch so far that you honestly feel like you're at the edge of the world, even though it was grey, wet and windy, hell I think that just all added to the effect really. I never thought I'd be able to cry at a landscape, and being fortunate enough to witness and experience the world's indescribable and overwhelming beauty, but goddammit I was close. Really it means, literally, the world to look past your internal struggles and see that the trees and mountains and mist and rocks and beautiful walks with good people and adorable dogs have all been gifted to you. I guess I didn't come to this conclusion all alone, after reading (should I say bawling my mascara off) this piece of writing assumedly from actual angel Sufjan himself, I realised that a lot of the love I denied myself was all around me, and could be found in the most unexpected of places.
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And you know, not just landscapes. Having gone to stay with Katy and Eilis, it's safe to say that some people are just pure, generous, loving and kind enough to make you discard your cynicism about people. You could not find more giving, beautiful and hilarious people, trust me. I was fortunate enough to spend more time with them alongside two of my greatest friends in the world, Emily and Lucy, a friendship that has seen us travel everywhere from Arizona to Dublin to Northern Scotland right back to sitting on Emily's kitchen floor at 3am eating pasta and cheese. Whizzing past Scottish Highland landscapes in the car eating strawberries and singing along to Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Christine and The Queens was the stuff of the aspirational teen novel I should probably be writing. A proper Scottish hogmanay, jumping out of a moving car to get a photograph with a highland cow (might be a slight exaggeration), cuddles with Katy's adorable dog Bruce, grapefruit gin - these are all gifts that I suspect I might not deserve, but that I was lucky enough to experience here anyway.
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I hope you enjoyed looking at some pictures and reading some thoughts this time around, and hopefully there'll be many more in 2017, but let's be honest, don't hold out. Just on my own spiritual journey ya know.

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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Ippudo Review

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this blog is turning into a food blog, and although I'd love to get paid to eat delicious food and write about it, I think I will probably stick to clothes. Plus, my own restaraunt reviewing abilities don't really go further than 'oh, this is nice' and 'what's the cheapest wine on the menu?' Still, when the lovely people at Citizen M offered to wine and dine me for an evening, I wasn't about to let that opportunity slide. Maire and I headed to Ippudo at St Giles place to try out some of their Japanese ramen and have an afterwork catch up like the career women we are.
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Turning up at Ippudo I was really impressed by the fact that it is basically a glass box, it felt far too swanky for riff raff like me! The massive windows for perfect for people spotting and generally made the atmosphere feel really comfortable and open. We cracked open a bottle of white wine and ordered some starters, which I cleverly photographed halfway through eating because I was far too busy eating it and got carried away. Maire went for anchovy cream cheese and I chose Goma Q, cucumber drizzled in sesame dressing. It doesn't sound like the most exciting starter in the world but it was seriously, seriously delicious. So good that I still fondly look back on it and I'm even considering trying to make it at home myself.
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For the main Maire chose a couple of small plates and I went for the veggie ramen, which I had been so excited to try! I dug in with my chopsticks, which are usually a bit of hindrance for me as I'm completely inept (also, white) but it was seriously good and very filling. It was mainly fried tofu with thin noodles, spring onions and bean sprouts all in a mushroomy broth, which meant there were so many flavours going on (particularly garlic which I love the most).
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Ippudo is perhaps on the more expensive side, with small plates costing around £8 each and ramen mains coming in at around £12, but no more than anywhere else in Central London. Generally the place has such a lovely atmosphere, the food came quickly and the staff were so polite, attentive and friendly to us. I'd say that it's absolutely worth it if you want to have a relaxed evening sampling some authentic Japanese food, and I definitley will be visiting again!
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Thanks again to Citizen Mag for sending me! Check out their original review here and Ippudo's website here. 

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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Becoming Vegan

I've been thinking about writing this little update post for a while, but there's been a few reasons why I have held myself back. Mainly I guess because I will be covering facts and expressing opinions that ultimately don't match up to the way I currently live my life, and worrying about the kind of response I will get. If I've learnt anything over the past 10 months it's that the choice not to consume, use or wear animal products is a controversial one. It goes against everything I have ever been taught about food and lifestyle more generally.
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Since, it's World Vegan Day, I wanted to talk about my current relationship with food and processing the information I have actively sought out over the last few months. It started with my friends. I noticed that some of them had adopted vegan lifestyles, a thought that had seemed so extreme to me before that I could barely concieve someone doing it without crumbling into a pile of shrivelled bones. After this, I looked to Youtube and noticed a thriving vegan community on there, one which urgently shared opinions and facts that, perhaps begrudgingly at first, made sense to me. I couldn't hide from the facts anymore, I could no longer be apathetic. The mass suffering and brutality that we inflict on animals almost every second of the day is beyond imagination.

Each year we kill over 56 billion farm animals for food. These animals are often kept in tiny cages for the duration of their short lives. Cows are branded with fire and have their horns chopped off whilst still conscious. We let these animals live in intense suffering because we feel that they are beneath us, not as intelligent, thus they deserve to be tortured and murdered. The concept of ethical omnivorism falls flat when you consider that you are taking the life of a creature, entirely uncessarily, who probably understands what is happening to them. What is this all for apart from just habit and profit? Humans do not have the same characteristics as other omnivores yet most of us eat meat.

For milk (and cheese), mother cows are kept pregnant constantly, causing irreparable strain on their bodies which leads them to die much earlier than their life expectancy. Baby cows are ripped from their mother at birth and taken to be reared for slaughter. The mother understands the loss of her child and will shout out for their lost child for days, and all of this just so we can drink the milk meant for the baby cow. For eggs, male chicks are ground up as they are of no use on the production line. There is no justification for this level of cruelty.
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Alongside this animal agriculture is one of the top causes of greenhouse gases, uses up astronomical amounts of water and is a significant cause of deforestation. Strangely we never hear about this. In terms of health, a meat-heavy diet strongly increases your chance of developing heart disease and cancer, and the meat itself is filled with hormones that can cause all kinds of other problems, from cancer growth to acne.

This obviously doesn't make for pleasant reading, but these are some of the factors that have led me to change my diet. Although I can still only define myself as a vegetarian, I am making small steps everyday so that I can live a lifestyle that no longer supports the staggering exploitation of animals and destruction of our earth. In this time I have found a lot more peace within myself (sorry to go all hippy-dippy but its true) and truly learnt to enjoy vegetables, which I honestly thought would never be the case. Because my options have now been limited (although not nearly as much as people would lead you to believe) I have also learnt to appreciate food in a way I never have before, savouring the experience of finding a new vegan restaurant or discovering that something I love is vegan. Generally I am trying to become a more mindful person and the food that I consume is a significant part of that.

We have the ability to greatly reduce animal suffering and the strain upon our earth. By becoming vegetarian and vegan you can quite literally save animal's lives and reduce your carbon footprint. Really there is no better time than now to make a change.

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Friday, 28 October 2016

How To Celebrate Halloween

This time of year makes me feel so invigorated and excited for the future. Maybe it's the leaves falling from the trees, being able to cocoon myself in my large array of (faux) fur coats, or being at one with the spirits. Probably the latter. Halloween is something I always get excited about far in advance, but because it's usually such a busy time of year, the actual event can pass me by. I always think it will be this year when I will crack out the amazing costume and make the extra effort, but I usually end up just treating myself to a Lush pumpkin bath bomb and wearing black lipstick for the day. This year, with the help of HMV, I had a chilled evening of spookiness with my friend Freyia, lighting black tea candles, eating ghostly sweets and watching an absolute Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus. It was a great way to combine the cosiness of these colder months with the celebration of everything creepy and scary, which truthfully I am always low-key celebrating (I refer you to this perfect Tweet by Lorde). But now it's time to dim the lights and surrender ourselves to Satan...sorry fun, I meant fun!
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Donning my new Kat Von D black liquid lipstick in Witches and my knock-off JW Anderson for Topshop jumper with a terrifyingly unsightly stain on the front, it was time to turn off the lights and light up the candles. Hold the candle below your chin and look threatening for an extra spooky effect.
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Second, the films. HMV sent Hocus Pocus and The Exorcist, and although I've not actually seen The Exorcist before we decided to go for the lighter option. Hocus Pocus offers up all the hilarious witch-themed misandry you could ever possibly want from a movie.
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I'd picked up this bunting a few days before from the pound shop to get the whole house into the spirit of things. Watch as I forget to take it down for the next three years...
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HMV also sent some makeup and costume accessories! It was a bit of a struggle to get the fangs into my absurdly large mouth but it was necessary for the 'I vant to suck your blood' aesthetic.
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We also had some Day of the Dead style bunting which was a colourful addition to the dark bat cave we'd fashioned ourselves for the evening.
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Freyia wouldn't let me take many pictures of her 'until she'd had a few more glasses of prosecco' but she had a wonderful goth vampire maiden look, in a sheer lacy dress and robe. It was very 'Blanche Dubois spends an evening at the cemetery' and I lived for it.
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One of the most important things you can do at Halloween is drink prosecco out of a straw. It's a time to subvert expectations and commit evil deeds, and really there is nothing that is going to get more people side-eyeing you.
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Thanks for joining us at our cosy Halloween evening, and many thanks to HMV for sending such a horrifying set of goodies. My actual Halloween will probably be spent reading my favourite weird ghost stories or wandering the streets, howling and cackling at various intervals and passers-by.

What are your plans for Halloween?

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Monday, 24 October 2016

Let's Go To The Cemetery

Ever since moving to London I've had an ongoing list of places to see and things to do. I've been here five years now so I've mostly ticked everything off and am constantly discovering all the new experiences this city offers. However, there was one place I hadn't managed to get around to visiting in the last five years, and that's Highgate Cemetery. Why would you want to visit a cemetery, you might ask. Well, it's the resting place of a number of prominent figures including Karl Marx and George Eliot, it's in a beautiful area of North London that feels isolated compared to the hustle and bustle I'm used to, and Halloween is closing in on us, so a cemetery offers all kinds of spoopy atmosphere opportunities. Laila (once a blog friend, now a irl friend for over two years) lives close so we found ourselves on our seemingly annual October outing (last year we went to the Serpentine which was a photo opportunity and a half). highgate 3
This was a perfectly Autumnal day with a slight chill in the air. Laila and I picked up croissants and coffee before coming to the cemetary, and I was amazed at how different this area of London feels to the more urban crowded atmosphere that I'm used to. It felt as if we were wandering down a country lane back where I am from near the Cotswolds.
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I guess you could say that the cemetery is pretty chaotic, or maybe it's just the seemingly endless view in front of you of different graves intermixed with overgrown bushes and weeds, with angels, crosses, traditional tombstones with cryptic inscriptions and box tombs that rise from the ground. Laila commented that when she had visited Japan all the graves were uniformly placed together in perfect alignment, a far cry from Highgate Cemetry's method. The effect is striking, as if you are being led somewhere a thousand miles from London, the weeds circling around the crosses as the tributes of the dead seem to rise above you. The angels that had been slightly disfigured through time, with absent noses and arms, were particularly unsettling.
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I conciously dressed for the occasion, reintroducing the Autumnal aesthetic back into my wardrobe. I have to say that neon doesn't really work for the colder months, so I tend to veer toward more muted pastels and burnt oranges, like this beautiful duffel coat that I picked up in a charity shop. I've paired it with my Luella skirt from her 2008 witchy collection which I have waxed lyrical about so many times that I don't think I have to do it again, but I am always down for injecting a little British rural folk-horror realness into my wardrobe (that sounds weird but I'm pretty sure at least Katya would understand). I also have Kat Von D's liquid lipstick in Ayesha, which to be honest I'm not entirely sure suits me (it would look perfect on darker skin tones but it just makes me look awfully pale), but it's so perfect for Autumn/Halloween that I had to wear it.
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