A Scandi-venture #BEDM

The topic for today in BEDM is adventure.

Last year in October, my boyfriend and I found ourselves by the river in London, in a beer garden, daydreaming about travel – from big holidays to little weekends away, we wanted something to make the grey autumn-winter months a bit more bearable.

A couple of pints later, we’d booked flights to Oslo for 2 weeks later. Queue me texting my then-boss to ask if I could have some last minute time off, and us pondering that suddenly we needed accommodation for a weekend in a city we didn’t know at all.

As it turns out, it was a pretty awesome adventure, that left us yearning for more.

We explored the city:

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Looking beautiful in autumnal shades of red and gold.

We went to a football match between the local team and.. another team.. Specifics be damned! Go local sports team!

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A tiny turn out, but a pretty awesome atmosphere.

We took full advantage of the blue skies:

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Blue skies + crisp autumn = everything looks beautiful.

We went on a boat trip around the fjords:

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One of my absolute favourite experiences, the scenery was out of this world gorgeous.

And we visited Vigeland Park:

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A beautiful sculpture park showcasing work by Gustav Vigeland.

Adventures, to me, don’t have to be 18 month treks around the planet, or bungee-jumping, or lion taming. They can be simple weekends away with your favourite person, exploring new spaces, and feeling happy to be alive.

Ely Cathedral

In my last blog post, I went off on a tangent about religion, and how much I don’t need it in my life, in fact what I need are people to just care about each other. Not difficult.

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That said, I do love me some historical buildings – even if they happen to be religious.

This is Ely Cathedral, in Cambridgeshire. Ely was an important Christian centre from as early as the 7th century, and was founded by St Etheldreda, the daughter of an Anglo-Saxon King. Basically, its an old religious area.

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The cathedral itself was built from 1083–1375, is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles. I remember going to visit quite often as a kid, and being a little girl in such a huge building was a memorable experience – although, even now, I can’t quite grasp how big it is. I can never seem to get any context when I’m inside, it just seems to go on and on.

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Last time I was in Ely, I decided to pop into the cathedral to take some photos. Like I said, I’m not religious, but I can appreciate incredible, historic buildings. The ceiling of the nave is an impressive feat of ceiling design.

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In fact, all of the ceilings are painted incredibly, and preserved so well.

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A lot of the cathedral is gated off, and members and paying visitors can explore more. The free bits are pretty good though, lets be fair.

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In one of the little side chapels, there are piles of hand-stitched cushions, featuring names and dates of various saints. Again, I appreciate the craftsmanship and the effort that went into every detailed design.

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As a child, I could never decide if stained glass windows appealed to me or freaked me out. I’m pretty sure I like them now, though I should admit the designs occasionally leave me feeling a bit disturbed.

If you’re in the area, Ely Cathedral is worth visiting – its rich, varied history, with Saxons, Danish invasions and even Jurassic finds in the area (an almost complete specimen of a Pliosaur was found nearby!), it’s a sweet little place.

The Earth laughs in flowers

Thats one of my favourite quotes, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a 19th century American essayist. A philosopher, he championed ideas such as individuality and freedom, and “the ability for humankind to realise almost anything”.

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He rejected the notion of God as a separate entity, instead believing in the moral worth of the individual. Given the current atrocities happening in Gaza, and all the wars as a result of religion, I kinda like the idea of rejecting God.

Anyway! I digress! This blog post was basically just to show off some photos of nature – beautiful flowers in bloom. Beauty like this is natural, no religion needed.

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Just some colour to counteract the grey days.

London sunsets

The past few nights in London we’ve had some pretty fantastic sunsets, as well as the big thunder and lightning storms…which unfortunately I didn’t photograph. I did however take some snaps of the colourful clouds and sunsets that I wanted to share.

Friday 18 July 2014

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Saturday 19 July 2014

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Even though I didn’t get any photos of the lightning, I did have one of my tweets about the storm featured on a Metro.co.uk article, which made my life. I laughed so damn much as this.

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The full article here.

Its the little things!

Project 365 – part 4

The final chapter.

This is the part that feels most relevant to my life at the moment – that might be because the last photo was taken 6 days ago, so it’s not that surprising. But this final quarter starts at the beginning of December, and actually, it’s a pretty good quarter.

December through to February saw me do some more travelling (Warsaw, Jersey, Cannes, Manchester), spend super happy times with my family and best friend, throw some colour into my life, and learn some new stuff.

Festive December…

December saw a lot of pre-Christmas crafting, my nails snapped (need moar calcium?), I got a new iPhone, I had another trip back to my parents (see photos with my mama and my Lauren), I acquired a super sassy hat (blue glittery tophat!) and sated a work-Christmas-party hangover with a trip to Five Guys. Christmas was spent in Poland which was relaxing, with board games (including a Polish game about queueing in front of shops in the 1980s) and walks in the forest. New Year was spent with my best friend, eating a lot of Turkish food, playing with sparklers and having sekrit times.

New Year – January…

The New Year continued with time spent with my best friend – on the first of January we went on the London Eye, which I absolutely loved. We also visited Winter Wonderland (btw HOW BIG is the German Beer Hall there?! it’s amazing!). In contrast to last month, my nails were now screwed because of wearing false nails. C’est la vie! This month also saw me get my bangs cut back in, travel to Jersey for a beautiful few days for work, try a street dance class and do Fire Marshal training for work.

The final month – February…

February was the final month of my Project 365 – by now, it was completely ingrained in me to photograph something everyday. The month started with a weekend in Cannes for the Midem music hack weekend. Such a surreal weekend, I loved it. I also became a qualified First Aider (spent part of the afternoon flouncing around pretending the mannequin was my boyfriend.. I thought more people would do this, apparently not..). I travelled to Manchester to see Childish Gambino, ate the biggest pancake ever at My Old Dutch, received the most beautiful flowers for Valentines Day, went to a London Fashion Week event, visited Greenwich, bought a dress, and generally continued to love London.

Phew.

Once again, I have to say thank you so much to you guys for reading and revisiting my year in photos with me. Part of me looks back and thinks not much has changed, but a bigger part of me is amazed at how far I’ve come. I’ve loved looking back at the little details in my life, laughing at how silly things have been, seeing myself move on from sad times and throw myself into the good times.

I’m already 5 days into my next 365, and can’t wait to share that with you.

Project 365 (part 2)

So yesterday I posted the first quarter of my Project 365 (a photo a day for a year). I humblebragged about how proud I was, and going through the next section of photos has been no different. It’s so interesting to see how far I’ve come, in the space of a year – how much has changed, how much I’ve done, and it’s really lovely to look back on photos of relatively insignificant things and think how fun they were.

The whole process is making me realise how much I value the little details in life, which has made P365 so worthwhile.

So here’s June…

June was the start of the summer heatwave – it saw me eat at some goooood places (Hache burger, Meat Liquor, that fancypants 1920s stylee French place near Piccadilly.. name escapes me..), also this was the month I hung out with the Queen at the trooping the colour, tear a ligament in my foot, and finally spend a lotttt of man-hours making origami hearts. They were made for a summer garden party for my parents in July, and I still love looking at the progress of the hearts – I made 400 of them in less than a weekend. It. Was. Glorious.

July was this…

The heatwave continued, London was a sweaty mass. The month started with a sciencey event where I learned about alcohol (by drinking a fair amount of free booze… all in the name of science!), a trip to Poland for the aforementioned party – look at those hearts in situ! I was in love with them! July was also my birthday (the 17th! represented here with a chocolate ball and raspberry sorbet ball.. heheh balls..), the month my hair kinda exploded with volume, there was free Eton Mess in Soho Square, and I bought kabanos.

August was good…

It started with a little photo-montage of how I made origami stars (which I then didn’t blog..), and my new camera arrived! What a little babe! I had lunch with a dog in a pub; Patrick and I got hammered and barged into Ed’s Diner for the most amazing chips; I worked on my portfolio site. I also flew to Berlin for a long weekend – another garden party, plus boardgames and photobooth fun! Lauren came to visit, we played Guess Who! amongst other sekrit activities. This was also Notting Hill Carnival month, where Patrick and I accidentally joined the parade and shook our booties.

I’m getting all nostalgic looking back at these photos – for about 90-95% of them, I can still remember exactly what I was doing, how I was feeling, why I snapped that photo, what it means to me. My actual memory is pretty shoddy, and I’m a sentimental person, so being able to flick back on photos and remember every feeling (good and bad!) is a novel experience. My next post will be autumn, which holds some sad memories, but also some exciting changes. More tomorrow.

Project 365 (part 1)

Friday (Feb 28th) saw the final day of my first completed Project 365. P365 is a photo a day for a year. Sounds simple, and it’s something I’d actually attempted to do a few times previously, but my god is it difficult.

My previous attacks at doing it always faltered after a couple of weeks, then I’d forget a couple of days and suddenly BAM! its 6 months and I’ve forgotten it. But not this time.

Let me just preface, this is a bit of teeny tiny humblebragging – I am So. Damn. Proud.

So because there are 365 photos to share, I figured I’d do separate posts and split it down – so there are 3 months at a time.

Here are some facts, who doesn’t like facts…

  • There are a fair few selfies. Sorrynotsorry.
  • There’s not a whole load of pattern, consistency, rhyme or reason to the photos taken – basically like me – I very little pattern, consistency, rhyme or reason.. yeah..

These photos chronicle my life for a year, which has had ups and downs, and snaps include…

  • Food. A lot of food. The naughty food crops up more often than the healthy food – let’s be fair, these things photograph nicely. But rest assured I ate plenty of veg in between the junk
  • Booze. It was a summer fuelled by Pimms, I’m surprised it doesn’t feature more
  • Boyfriends, break ups, sad days, good dates, bad dates, and mistakes I’ve made
  • Mundane life – sometimes a photo of a streetlight, at 11.59pm when I haven’t taken a photo of anything else that, seems like a good idea
  • Travel – one of the best things about the past year, starting with the kickstarted my 365, Lisbon, Newcastle, Devon, Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Jersey, Cannes and Manchester(!)
  • Health, weight gain, weight loss, an indulgent summer followed by an autumn of mistakes followed by a winter of hibernating
  • Happy days – seeing my parents, my best friends, feeling safe

Images are clickable and make a nice little slideshow, thanks for that one WP

So hey, here’s March 2013…

March started with a trip to Lisbon, saw some flowers bloom, legs bared (…then the snow came), and Easter, which involved a visit home to my parents and egg painting/dying.

April 2013

April saw more sunshine, the London Marathon, ice cream, more flowers and going to the gym a lot.

May 2013

May was a mellow month with some good cocktails, a trip to Devon, pancakes, cameras and seeing The Book of Mormon.

My next 365 has already started, with a trip to Birmingham yesterday, which deserves its own blog post really.

Making my own happiness

So, I should preface this by saying I’m quite a sensitive person – unless it’s constructive, I don’t handle criticism well; I don’t get along with angry people; I’m inherently a happy person and I think everyday happiness is a choice. You can either get on with things, be grateful for what you have and be happy.. or.. you can be miserable.

But even happy people get sad, and this just so happens to be one of those days for me. I struggle with people who are immediately challenging, or aggressive, or defensive, or argumentative; I try the old ~water off a ducks back thing, but sometimes it just doesn’t work.

A wise woman once asked me “what do you do to make your time worthwhile?” and after refuting my answer of getting drunk in the pub after work with work friends, I started thinking some more. After a few days, I realised I do have a whole heap of things I enjoy, that I do for my own happiness, and (gasp!) aren’t rude or saucy in any way. So let me present the tangible things I’ve done recently, that have made me happy…

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My friend Kate and I found a really cute job in Greenwich where you can paint your own pottery – this is the finished work (mine is the blue/green, Kate’s is the orange). Just an afternoon of playing with paint and making a mess was enough to make me smile.

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This is the beginnings of a Christmas present I made for my mama last year – see the finished article below. They’re crochet granny squares, hundreds of them, and it was honestly one of the most cathartic things I’ve done.

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These are the famous origami hearts I made – they looked so beautiful strung up. I made 400 of them in 1 weekend, and it was such a nice process – my hands make-make-making, whilst the rest of me watched films.

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This is the point where the original few hearts became 400 of them. I love the colours of them, together in a box.

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Of course, I take hundreds (thousands?) of photos – even photos of cameras make me happy. This is my latest baby, to replace my previous Olympus Pen that died a sad death recently. I love taking photos and looking back on them, months or years later. So much changes, and we miss it even happening.

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As well as origami hearts, I made these tissue paper pompom flowers for the party in Warsaw in July. Because they’ve got a lot of wiggle room and don’t need to be perfect, it was the best afternoon task – just snipping and tying and poofing out, no worries that they’ll look bad.

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Origami stars are another way I occupy my hands – I have no idea what to do with the hundreds of stars I’ve already made, but they look cute stored in my wine glasses, vases and bowls. Again, just keeping my hands busy, and coming out with something so sweet, really makes me happy.

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Pancaaaakes, and big long lazy brunches, are some of my favourite things. I rarely have time for proper breakfast, I just grab something and eat at my desk, but the process of cooking can be as fun as the actual eating. I’ve realise it’s about keeping busy and doing something with my time – and having something so nice at the end.

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Even “borrowing” a colleagues heart-shaped hole punch made me happy – I love playing with patterns and shapes, and this is such an utterly pointless piece of paper, but it’s cute, and it was fun to play with.

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At Easter, I went home to my parents and with the help of some Polish “egg dye”, we decorated eggs. A fun little afternoon of dipping and dying and painting is time well spent.

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I’ve been a knitter for years now, and as with the crochet, it feels almost soothing for the soul to knit – I can do other things at the same time (read, watch a film, chat to friends) and suddenly I look down and I’ve made something lovely. You definitely don’t get that with buying something in Primark, trust me.

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Calligraphy is a relatively recent hobby – in spring this year I invested in some inks and nibs, plus a pad of paper, and I just started going. Practicing the alphabet is a brilliant way to get stuck in, I found it really calmed me down, and the calmer I got, the smoother the letters – so, in a bid to improve, I made myself become even calmer and relaxed.

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I also like secretly decorating the light switches at work with cute little faces. Because, well, why not?

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Over Christmas/New Year, my mama started teaching me how to knit lace patterns, and I loved sitting with her, laughing at silly things and talking, and learning more techniques. I love this little swatch of work.

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And finally this – this is the crochet blanket I made for my mama for Christmas (this is before the loose ends were tucked in/tied/cut off!). The idea is that it goes from a mix of light blues/grays/greens, through to medium, and then dark navy and greys; when you shake it out I wanted it to look like waves (my parents went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy in October last year, I wanted it to remind them of that). A huge piece of work, which I was still finishing on Christmas Eve, but I’m still so in love with it.

So there you go – I do have things that make me feel worthwhile, and I do them myself, I don’t rely on anyone else. Because happiness really is a choice.