A Little Sublime

…goes a long way this weekend. I thought I’d try my hand at trying to photograph my pretty things in an arty way, and this was one of my favourites (my husband said it looks a little strange because the top of the shoes got cut off, and that the heels look huge, but never mind). I love seeing the artistic shots of ordinary and girly things that photographers take, and wanted to try something similar with one of my favourite pair of shoes.

The sparkle on the heels are my favourite bit, although I love the colour this came out in the muted sunlight too!

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A Polar Bear Journey

“You have travelled far, but the hardest part of a journey is always the next step.”
― Jackie Morris, East of the Sun, West of the Moon

There are some who argue that the fairy tale re-tellings genre are spoiled by already knowing the story and it’s ending. I say that the stories aren’t – it is not the ending of the story but the journey, and East by Edith Pattou certainly has a big journey, involving compasses, polar bears, ancient Seal tribes and a troll queen.eastL

East (also called North Child) begins with the marriage of Arne and superstitious Eugenia, which whom he eventually has seven children with. It is Eugenia’s belief that a person’s personality, and ultimately their destiny, is reliant on the direction that she was facing when the child was born – that is, a South-West facing birth is a South-West personality, and accordingly is named with the same SW initials. Eugenia neatly has a child for each point of the compass – until her favourite, East-born child, Elise dies, and she has another to replace her.

EBBA ROSE WAS THE NAME of our last-born child. Except it was a lie. Her name should have been Nyamh Rose. But everyone called her Rose rather than Ebba, so the lie didn’t matter. At least, that is what I told myself.

The Rose part of her name came from the symbol that lies at the center of the wind rose – which is fitting because she was lodged at the very center of my heart.

Having been told years earlier that a North child would be crushed by ice and snow, Eugenia is determined never to have a North child, and so when Rose is born, with ambiguity about her birth-direction hidden from her, and she is brought up being told that she is supposed to be an obedient, passive East child.

And so we follow Rose, that is, until one day a giant white bear comes to claim her; one who has watched her through her early life, and who is under an enchantment – and from there, Rose agrees to accompany him in return for health and prosperity for her poor family and sick sister. Pattou follows the original Norweigan story quite faithfully, although it is much more richly embroidered, in which we see the mysteries that Rose faces, and it is here that the real story beings and Rose’s real journey is revealed.

I loved the culture behind this story, that of the ancient tribe that Rose encountered, the Troll Kingdom, the history of compasses and mapmaking, and the stories behind the ship captains who carry Rose across the sea – each lend a story to the main one, showing Rose life beyond her parent’s icy gardens and the idea of love in different forms.

There are many versions of this story (including one being Beauty and the Beast), and I’m sure many of you will have read the story in one version or another. What makes this story more beautiful is the realism of it, the attention to detail in places, characters and culture that Rose is brought up in. While the Trolls and White Bear in the story have a sense of surrealism to them, which is both horrifying and magical, there is also a fiery character in Rose which shines through. And if that doesn’t appeal to you, then there’s several nonsensical troll words like Slank and Turik to twist your tongue on!

Edith Patou, East (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: London 2005) pp. 528, £7.99

The Flowery Cafe in the Corner

I love finding hidden away gems in the hustle and bustle of the streets of London, and it’s always a joy to find a new place that hasn’t been overly-glitzed by over-enthusiastic foodies (like me, I’ll admit) and isn’t overrun. I found a beautiful, flowery cafe hidden away behind the walls around Stratford area recently, and loved the fact that it’s quiet, peaceful and serves yummy-yet-healthy food which is ideal for a quick lunch stop into a flowery wonderland.

Amazingly enough, this one is literally a few stone’s throw from my work place (almost across the road), and in all the years I’ve worked there, I’ve never noticed it until a work colleague took me to lunch there a few weeks ago.

I love the colours that come slanting in when the sunlight pours in, it’s a pretty yet simple effect and isn’t ruined by the fact that there’s still plenty of passerbys.

Here’s a few quick snaps I took from the last time I visited, it’s hard to capture the flowery prettiness, but I’m sure you get an idea!

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Serenity is…

...standing by the the colour blue, looking for fishies, enjoying the salty breeze on your face and looking at ships glowing as they sail by.

I’ve been completely unable to switch on my computer this past week, either because I’ve finished work late, only to rush home and have to do some house chores, or end up shopping for lipsticks and chocolate cake groceries and milk and stuff. Which usually means that I have around an hour before bed and not much time to switch a computer on.

So I’m making the most of a lazy weekend (which consisted a marathon watch of season 1 of Broadchurch, home-made popcorn and some geeky online gaming – that one’s my husband, not me) and making sure I managed to sit down with my computer and catch up on reading, browsing and photos!

Here’s one of my favourites, my husband and I managed to get a free spot on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, where the fishing trade is a popular one, and makes for a beautiful view as well. We tried our hand at it for a few minutes before giving up, but it was worth stopping for just to see the boats sailing by, the smell of freshly-caught-and-cooked fish along the pier, and the amazing stillness when you sit for a while and watch the blue ripples.

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10 Perks of doing an English Degree

So I’m one of those blessed peopledictionary-costume who spent two years at college, and three years at university studying the joys of Anglais, reading plenty of contemporary, medieval and classical literature,  and contemplating the symbolism behind storms in an angry scene and the writing int he ingredients part of a chocolate bar.

Unfortunately, in the work-world, there’s isn’t always a way to apply the lessons of Shakespeare and Chaucer to, say, buying bread from Asda or typing an email to a client saying that you need them to send in proof of their VAt registration. And stuff.

So here’s a quick list of things that only English majors (and lit-geeks) would probably sympathise with. Wave a sonnet at me if you can relate.

1. People remind you that you already know how to speak English so you just wasted a degree and three years of your life.

2. You are the office dictionary.

3. You are also the office spell-checker and thesaurus.

4. People don’t believe you when you say you have to read books for your studies.

5. Your parents don’t believe you either.

6. People think you’re weird when you say “Oh yes I’ve read that book” every time a new film comes out.

7. Everyone assumes you want to be a teacher because of the english degree. Even if you don’t really like the idea of teaching other people’s children.

8. You over analyse. EVERYTHING. One lone egg left in the fridge? Must be a sign. (To make breakfast maybe).

9. It’s YOU’RE. Not YOUR.

10. You become a little pretentious. Cos you know how something is really spelt, or the origins of a word, or you know the ending of that film cos you read the book.

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A Few Simple Chinese Characters

I’ve been playing around with the ink function on my graphics tablet, and thought I’d try drawing some simple Chinese characters. I was surprised to find that although the strokes look a lot simpler to draw, they are a lot more difficult than they look! I had to re-do a lot of the lines after I made them until I got the hang of using bold, thick black strokes and direct them in the right angles.

Here’s my end result, I drew a few classic symbols with the translations underneath, that I liked because they were pretty universal. It’s made me want to try out a few drawings on paper with ink, but I’ll have to wait to buy some before I can try it out!

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