Thursday, 16 December 2010


Coming home is always so hectic - packing seems to never end and my family are always late when coming to pick me up. But getting back to the house is such a wonderful feeling. It's become a bit of a ritual for my friend Anya and I to visit Leong's Legends in Chinatown when we get back from uni. Often that trip will be my first one of the holiday into town. The first time we went was after our last ever school exams, followed by a trip to Ben and Jerrys (We party hard). That summer I went back time and time again with family and friends. Their soup dumplings are so good, I could happily just eat those on every visit! Sadly service is oftern rushed and they can be a little hostile, which is a shame because the food is so yummy! Anyway, I keep vowing to talk about something other than food on this blog....but it just isnt happening yet!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010


Back! And will update properly soon. But for now, am totally in love with this song:

Friday, 19 November 2010

Breakfast like a king

I never seem to have time for breakfast anymore. It's probably because I get up for my 9am lectures at 8.25. Last weekend however I felt the definite need for a slow and relaxed morning, with a proper breakfast. So I made these amazing smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with bagels. They were soooo creamy and the perfect start to a sunday morning after a hectic week. Replacing some of the milk with a splash of double cream added to the lovely texture. A glass of orange juice and my favourite seat by the window which overlooks an apple tree made for a very relaxing morning!

Also, this blog is become increasingly food dominated. I promise that I do more at university. Well, maybe not.

Sunday, 7 November 2010


One of the biggest selling points of living in a house out of college this year was having an oven. Today I finally made proper use of it by baking a cheesecake! I got the recipe from the blog Coco and Me. It's written by Tamami who has a stall at Broadway Market selling chocolates and cakes. I've not been yet but the pictures on her blog make them seem to die for. She pays so much attention to presentation and everything looks mouthwatering. The recipe is totally fool proof, I just replaced the lemon juice she suggests with vanilla. Nom nom nom!

She uses cookie cutters to emboss her cheesecakes. Choosing between the different animal shaped cookie cutters I had was a difficult decision but in the end I went for giraffe!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Friday I'm in love

Things that made this week bad:

1) New tuition fees
3) Essays, past papers and a test to revise for
4) Not speaking to my sister all week
5) Snapping one of my favourite necklaces

Things that made it a little happier:

1) Mocha dessert *drool*
2) Making up the lack of contact with my sister with an hour long checkers tournament over Skype
3) Going to Dojo's with 2 of my favourite people and eating yummy noodles
4) Golden autumn leaves
5) The Hold Steady announcing a UK tour!

Have a lovely weekend!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

A little comfort

Whenever someone is ill or upset my friend Chris' first response is 'Would you like a cup of tea?'. Usually I find this amusing and so undeniably British but I really don't think there is anything as comforting as a big mug of milky tea. Except maybe chocolate. Yesterday was a long and grey day and I'd been missing home a lot more than usual. The colder weather and lectures and practicals form 9-5 at the end of what felt like a year long week left me feeling ready to burrow into my duvet and not emerge until July. One chocolate pudding and a cup of tea later though life looked a lot happier!

Excited for halloween!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Maybe it's because

Oh no it's been over a month since my last post. Probably lost the few people that did read it, but I'm gonna try and get it back on track again. Have been at uni for the last month. Fresher's week seemed much more fun as a second year not worrying about filling in millions of forms and making friends. But now that work has set in and we're about halfway through term I find myself craving London. I even miss taking the tube and the wave of satisfaction when I go back for the holidays and go into town. The masses of people from every corner of the earth, the hundreds of different languages that you hear on the streets, every form of food you can imagine and the historical and the modern coming together. As a kid my Dad used to drive me around the city a lot when he was looking after me for the holidays and had errands to run and I would sit, neck straining to take in all the sites - the monuments and neat elegant town houses with splashes of red everywhere in the form of buses and telephone boxes. It's a city that has been through so much, that has been a beacon of hope and opportunity for so many and I miss it! Thanksfully going home this weekend for a couple of days so should be less homesick soon!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Face palm

I seem to be an embarrassment magnet - not only do I trip/stumble/fall over my own feet several times everyday but there are so many 'Why me?!?!' moments I have lost count. This morning I was getting my hair highlighted in a salon in Westfields when the fire alarm decided to go off. The hair dresser had just combed out my hair so that it looked like a massive mane/birds nest/humongous ball of frizz and had put foils in. We were ordered to evacuate and out I went with my ridiculous hair wearing those black capes they put around you that are really glorified bin bags. All I could do was pray that no one who knew was there.Horrifying though it was to me, it did seem to provide some amusement to the disgruntled shoppers and staff who had their days interrupted!

I'm never sure of the graceful way to deal with embarrassing situations, the best I can do is try and laugh it off!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Hidden Beauty

I have a tendancy to be quite disparaging of the town I live in - Harrow. Having central london 20 minutes away means I don't pay enough attention to place, often dismissing it for being a middle class suburbia with nothing notable about it. Recently however I've been thinking a lot about Harrow on the Hill and it's history. The place feels so completely preserved - the shops and cafes have all the charm that I'm sure they had a hundred years ago. St Mary's Church at the very top is serene and peaceful and it is here, in the churchyard under an elm tree, that Lord Byron was thought to have written some of his early work. This poem totally took my breath away:

Spot of my youth! whose hoary branches sigh,
Swept by the breeze that fans thy cloudless sky;
Where now alone I muse, who oft have trod,
With those I loved, thy soft and verdant sod;
With those who, scattered far, perchance deplore,
Like me, the happy scenes they knew before:
Oh! as I trace again thy winding hill,
Mine eyes admire, my heart adores thee still,
Thou drooping Elm! beneath whose boughs I lay,
And frequent mused the twilight hours away;
Where, as they once were wont, my limbs recline,
But ah! without the thoughts which then were mine.
How do thy branches, moaning to the blast,
Invite the bosom to recall the past,
And seem to whisper, as the gently swell,
"Take, while thou canst, a lingering, last farewell!"

When fate shall chill, at length, this fevered breast,
And calm its cares and passions into rest,
Oft have I thought, 'twould soothe my dying hour, -
If aught may soothe when life resigns her power, -
To know some humbler grave, some narrow cell,
Would hide my bosom where it loved to dwell.
With this fond dream, methinks, 'twere sweet to die -
And here it lingered, here my heart might lie;
Here might I sleep, where all my hopes arose,
Scene of my youth, and couch of my repose;
For ever stretched beneath this mantling shade,
Pressed by the turf where once my childhood played;
Wrapped by the soil that veils the spot I loved,
Mixed with the earth o'er which my footsteps moved;
Blest by the tongues that charmed my youthful ear,
Mourned by the few my soul acknowledged here;
Deplored by those in early days allied,
And unremembered by the world beside.

Poem copied from:

Friday, 3 September 2010

Role models

Many people complain about the celebrity culture of today, and our materialistic preoccupations. This blog itself has almost entirely been about trivial things but my justification for this is that it only one small part of my life. In anycase, some things transcend the different compartments of your life.

 I don't have many current heroes - whilst there are many admirable and successful people in our society, it is not often that you find someone who truly deserves the term hero. Lasantha Wickrematunge was the editor of the Sunday Leader in Sri Lanka. In early 2009 he was killed by gunmen following years of abuse and attacks on journalists. Seeing the terrible situation in Sri Lanka, he foresaw his own murder and wrote the following article days before his death. It is one of the most powerful pieces I have ever read. I remember reading it at the time and being so struck by how haunting it was. I have come back to his last article time and time again, when I have felt myself losing track of priorities or acting in self interest. This man is an absolute beacon of conscience and good. I cannot even begin to comprehend the bravery with which he lived his life, in pursuit of the truth and freedom. 

I don't think I could ever live my life with such integrity. But more people need to know of this man, of his true courage and personal conviction - to the end of knowing that he would be murdered for it and still burning a bright beacon of hope to all those oppressed in Sri Lanka, and around the world.

I have copied the article from the Guardian website here:

No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces - and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the last few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print institutions have been burned, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories, and now especially the last.
I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be the Sunday Leader's 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.
Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood.
Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries.
Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.
But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.
The Sunday Leader has been a controversial newspaper because we say it like we see it: whether it be a spade, a thief or a murderer, we call it by that name. We do not hide behind euphemism. The investigative articles we print are supported by documentary evidence thanks to the public-spiritedness of citizens who at great risk to themselves pass on this material to us. We have exposed scandal after scandal, and never once in these 15 years has anyone proved us wrong or successfully prosecuted us.
The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves. That is our calling, and we do not shirk it.
The Sunday Leader has never sought safety by unquestioningly articulating the majority view. Let's face it, that is the way to sell newspapers. On the contrary, as our opinion pieces over the years amply demonstrate, we often voice ideas that many people find distasteful. For instance, we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urge government to view Sri Lanka's ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens. For these views we have been labelled traitors; and if this be treachery, we wear that label proudly.
Many people suspect that the Sunday Leader has a political agenda: it does not. If we appear more critical of the government than of the opposition, it is only because we believe that - excuse cricketing argot - there is no point in bowling to the fielding side. Remember that for the few years of our existence in which the United National party was in office, we proved to be the biggest thorn in its flesh, exposing excess and corruption wherever it occurred.
Indeed, the stream of embarrassing expositions we published may well have served to precipitate the downfall of that government.
Neither should our distaste for the war be interpreted to mean that we support the Tamil Tigers. The LTTE is among the most ruthless and bloodthirsty organisations to have infested the planet. There is no gainsaying that it must be eradicated. But to do so by violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting mercilessly, is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be custodians of the dhamma is for ever called into question by this savagery - much of it unknown to the public because of censorship.
What is more, a military occupation of the country's north and east will require the Tamil people of those regions to live eternally as second-class citizens, deprived of all self-respect. Do not imagine you can placate them by showering "development" and "reconstruction" on them in the postwar era. The wounds of war will scar them for ever, and you will have an even more bitter and hateful diaspora to contend with. A problem amenable to a political solution will thus become a festering wound that will yield strife for all eternity. If I seem angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my compatriots - and all the government - cannot see this writing so plainly on the wall.
It is well known that I was on two occasions brutally assaulted, while on another my house was sprayed with machine-gun fire. Despite the government's sanctimonious assurances, there was never a serious police inquiry into the perpetrators of these attacks, and the attackers were never apprehended.
In all these cases, I have reason to believe the attacks were inspired by the government. When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.
The irony in this is that, unknown to most of the public, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and I have been friends for more than a quarter-century. Indeed, I suspect that I am one of the few people remaining to routinely address him by his first name and use the familiar Sinhala address - oya - when talking to him.
Although I do not attend the meetings he periodically holds for newspaper editors, hardly a month passes when we do not meet, privately or with a few close friends present, late at night at President's House. There we swap yarns, discuss politics and joke about the good old days. A few remarks to him would therefore be in order here.
Mahinda, when you finally fought your way to the Sri Lanka Freedom party presidential nomination in 2005, nowhere were you welcomed more warmly than in this column. Indeed, we broke with a decade of tradition by referring to you throughout by your first name. So well known were your commitments to human rights and liberal values that we ushered you in like a breath of fresh air.
Then, through an act of folly, you got involved in the Helping Hambantota scandal. It was after a lot of soul-searching that we broke the story, urging you to return the money. By the time you did, several weeks later, a great blow had been struck to your reputation. It is one you are still trying to live down.
You have told me yourself that you were not greedy for the presidency. You did not have to hanker after it: it fell into your lap. You have told me that your sons are your greatest joy, and that you love spending time with them, leaving your brothers to operate the machinery of state. Now, it is clear to all who will see that that machinery has operated so well, my sons and daughter do not have a father.
In the wake of my death I know you will make all the usual sanctimonious noises and call upon the police to hold a swift and thorough inquiry.
But like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too. For truth be told, we both know who will be behind my death, but dare not call his name. Not just my life but yours too depends on it.
As for me, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I walked tall and bowed to no man. And I have not travelled this journey alone. Fellow journalists in other branches of the media walked with me: most are now dead, imprisoned without trial or exiled in far-off lands. Others walk in the shadow of death that your presidency has cast on the freedoms for which you once fought so hard. You will never be allowed to forget that my death took place under your watch. As anguished as I know you will be, I also know that you will have no choice but to protect my killers: you will see to it that the guilty one is never convicted. You have no choice.
As for the readers of the Sunday Leader, what can I say but thank you for supporting our mission. We have espoused unpopular causes, stood up for those too feeble to stand up for themselves, locked horns with the high and mighty so swollen with power that they have forgotten their roots, exposed corruption and the waste of your hard-earned tax rupees, and made sure that whatever the propaganda of the day, you were allowed to hear a contrary view. For this I - and my family - have paid the price that I had long known I would one day have to pay. I am, and have always been, ready for that. I have done nothing to prevent this outcome: no security, no precautions. I want my murderer to know that I am not a coward like he is, hiding behind human shields while condemning thousands of innocents to death. What am I among so many? It has long been written that my life would be taken, and by whom. All that remained to be written was when.
That the Sunday Leader will continue fighting the good fight, too, is written. For I did not fight this fight alone. Many more of us have to be - and will be - killed before the Leader is laid to rest. I hope my assassination will be seen not as a defeat of freedom but an inspiration for those who survive to step up their efforts. Indeed, I hope that it will help galvanise forces that will usher in a new era of human liberty in our beloved motherland. I also hope it will open the eyes of your president to the fact that however many are slaughtered in the name of patriotism, the human spirit will endure and flourish.
People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the German theologian, Martin Niemöller. In his youth he was an antisemite and an admirer of Hitler. As nazism took hold of Germany, however, he saw nazism for what it was. It was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niemöller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, he wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
If you remember nothing else, let it be this: the Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled.
Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.

 That's it for my serious note, back to cupcakes and ice cream soon.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Under my bed

Dear Mr Spider,

It is flattering that you have chosen under my bed as your new home. However I am afraid there may be some problems with your neighbour upstairs. You see, she has a horrible fear of you and your many legs. She knows it is unreasonable and that you can't actually hurt her but she is consumed by thoughts of you crawling up the bed post with your many legs and eating her alive. I understand that you need somewhere to live and would like to offer you alternative accomodation in the garden. All you have to do is appear from under the bed and let my Dad transport you, all expenses paid to your new home. It is a much better home as it has bugs and flies that you can eat and no screaming girls.

Please write back soon. I shall be sitting on my bed terrified until you do.


Sunday, 29 August 2010

You shouldn't have

Buying presents is both one of my most favourite and most dreaded things to do. I love finding items that are perfect for my loved ones but the pressure of making sure that present is just right it also a lot. I definitely get overly worked up over presents but this is only because I want something that is materialistic to represent more than this - to express love or give the receiver an experience and memory they won't forget.

I was looking for a present for my sister when I came across something I never thought anyone would think of selling. Nothing.
It's supposedly for those who have everything. And a lesson to teach others about our materialistic society. Although I'd say it's the makers who have priced stale air at £2.19 that should learn that some things in life do not have a monetary value.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Mission Accomplished

I've never paid much attention to the London music scene, or any music scene for that matter (unless you count the brief brush I had with emo when I was 15). However, I don't think anyone can ignore the chart success that many London based artists are having right now. I think that it is really exciting that our charts are getting more and more dominated by homegrown talent instead of American imports and especially talent that did not find fame through a reality TV series. So when I heard Katy B's 'Katy on a mission', and then proceeded to listen to it on repeat for about a week, I knew I had to post on it.

She's a 'singer songwriter' from South London, and a graduate of the Brit School. The term singer songwriter is often an immediate turn off for me and I think in this case it totally under sells her. Her music has a clear house/dubstep/R&B vibe and for me this sets her apart from the Kate Nash/Marina and the Diamonds/million others that share this title. Her voice is lovely and soulful and sounds awesome on top of the music. She's been recording music for a while now and worked with many famous dubstep/grime/funky house producers (I won't pretend to have a clue who any of them are)

Anyway, I love her debut single, and it's bound to have huge success in tomorrow's chart and clubs, so I'm jumping on the bandwagon.  Enjoy!

Let them eat cake

I rarely pay attention to the ads running down the side of the facebook website. I'm not interested in insurance, finding singles in London or in bank accounts. However I think facebook and I have finally become more than just acquaintances and  it seems to really understand me now. It offered me free cake. It came in the form of an exhibition on this weekend in London called Cake Britain. Sponsored by Tate & Lyle the organisers say this is Britain's first edible art exhibition. Contemporary artists have been paired with leading 'cakeists' to produce works that are tasty and creative.

My kind of fast food
The best part of this cookie wall of Futureheads lyrics was the odd cookie that was missing here and there. As we walked round the gallery we saw a little old man leaving, sneaking with him a cookie from the wall.

If I ever get married I want a cake that looks like this
The idea is that by the end of the three days everything should be eaten. Along with the missing cookies we spied cupcakes with icing that had a finger had scraped off and a bite out of a meringue that was suspended from the ceiling. The exhibition ends tomorrow and is worth popping in to see. There is also supposed to be lots of free cake and treats but unfortunately it had all run out when we went - boo! I satisfied my cake craving later however with a trip to the Hummingbird Cafe.

Sorry for the pinkish tinge on the pictures, my camera is evidently seeing things through rose coloured glasses!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Uniform heaven

The final thing I have to say about Italy on this blog is about the uniform of the Carabinieri - a police division. I first spied them on the second day we were in Rome as we went to see the Pope. They looked so good! Their uniforms had just the right level of ceremony about them whilst still being practical - I could still see them handing out speeding tickets or whatever it is they do in them. Annoyingly I couldn't take any pics myself at the time but there are a few I found on google.

Their trademark is the red stripe down the trouser leg and the theme runs through. The cars and motorcycles of the officers also have a red lightening stripe along the sides. I fell majorly for how sharp these policemen looked. I came home and looked up the uniforms and found out they were designed my Armani! No wonder. How good must it be to wear Armani everyday?!

What really got me envious about the uniforms was the white bandolier they wear on the torso. They end in a very military looking leather purse type thing - but much more macho than that description. I desperately want one!

This is the type of uniform I can expect to wear when I finish med school - shapeless scrubs. What are the chances of Armani redesigning those?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Creative Necessity

One thing I hate most about travelling is using public toilets. And hotel and restaurant bathrooms can be horrible too. In Italy we looked into some truly disgusting toilets (Note: Do NOT, under any circumstances use the McDonald's toilets in Venice Mestre Station). Last year my parents redid our bathroom and I went along to bathroom and tile stores with them. There was really very little that stood out as creative and different. I get that the whole sparkly white and clean look is attractive, and it certainly impressive when done well but why shouldn't we decorate our bathrooms with more care and personality like other spaces in our homes?

So with this in mind went in search of some inspirational bathrooms and founds some amazing ones:

at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Wisconsin

Sofitel Queenstown, Queenstown, New Zealand
Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, Missouri

I absolutely love the above bathroom - the women's ones have more fresh flowers and a water fountain whilst the men's have a billiards table and leather armchairs.

Bar 89, New York
 These bathrooms use liquid crystal technology to turn opaque when in use.

 And finally....

R-Bar, Brighton
These quirky urinals were originally installed by Virgin Atlantic into the bathrooms of the clubhouse in JFK but had to be removed because of the number of complaints. Whilst fun to look at I imagine they're a little off putting to actually use, but maybe R-Bar will see more success with them!

Nom Nom

Last night I went out for dinner with my friend Anya to Seventeen in Notting Hill. The menu is a mixture of Chinese cuisines, focusing on food from Szechuan. Whilst I love Chinese food I really don't know much about the flavours from the different regions of China but a little research before hand left me expecting a spicy and yummy meal. The restaurant is furnished and decorated to perfection - very modern but with a traditional theme running throughout. Wooden screens seperate the room into sections so you don't feel seated too close to other people dining there. The downstairs is more impressive than upstairs and has a much more edgy feel to it. From the outside the place really didn't look like much but we were very impressed once we'd gone inside.

The waiters were lovely and helpful although I felt that as they got busier the service became a little slow. To be honest though, I was in no rush and was quite happy to enjoy the surroundings a little longer. The menu actually features a lot of dishes you might find in a local chinese takeaway, such as Sweet and Sour Chicken, but done to a much better standard.

We ordered Aromatic Crispy Duck and King Size Shrimp in Abalone Sauce for starters. The duck was great with good Hoisin sauce. But to be honest, I'm no food critic - it was just yummy! The Shrimp was a toughie to get the edible parts out. I performed decapitation surgery but was totally stuck after this. Luckily our friendly waiter took pity and helped us out. After we ordered the Kung Pao Chicken which was so full of flavour but very spicy - I couldn't handle more than a little! Their noodles were also fine, but not particularly better than other places I thought.

All in all, I like the food and love the atmosphere of the restaurant but probably wouldn't pay the high prices for the dishes. This time we had vouchers which essentially gave us a 60% discount. It was good to see dishes usually butchered in local chinese takeaways be prepared carefully and with flair though. They also have a dim sum menu, which although a little limited, looks good and is much better priced - I think I'll give it a try soon.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

A museum in the making

I got back a couple of days ago from a holiday in Rome and Venice. I think often with holidays that you think of them more fondly once you get back. In last couple of days the bug bites, ridiculous heat and thousands of other tourists everywhere made me long for cold England, but now that I am back all I want to do is go back there!

Rome is a beautiful city. It seemed that around every corner was a beautiful square or monument or ancient ruin. There is something sad about a city that has passed it's glory days though. Maybe it was the time that we went at but the whole city seemed overrun with tourists, and all the people that worked there seemed to be doing jobs that supported this industry. It made me wonder what my own city would be like in a few hundred years. I'm fiercely proud of London but it is clear that Britain is at the end of its greatest era. The British Empire is over, the world is dominated by other nations and whilst London is still a thriving and alive city I can't help thinking that in a short while it will be another Rome - a picture of the past. But maybe I am reading a little too much into this, and should have spent more of my holiday enjoying all the wonderful things Italy has to offer!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

All that glitters

This weekend has involved manic shopping for a holiday to Italy this week. We'll be going to Rome and then Venice and I am so excited for the sights and food! (Mostly the food) I'm trying to pack as lightly as possible to make the travelling between cities easier - I find this easy when it comes to clothes and shoes but am totally stumped when it comes to jewellery. I would quite happily take everything I own if I could find a way of storing and carrying it all. In narrowing it down though what I have realised is that there is so much jewellery that I wear rarely and then a few pieces that I wear almost daily.

I have a massive obsession with pocket watches as necklaces. The elephant necklace in the picture opens to a cute little clock. The market stall I bought it from had other cute animal watches - including little tortoises! My sister informed me recently that 'pearls are SO out of fashion' - but I still love these earrings. They make me feel elegant as soon as I put them on.

I got this Buckingham Bracelet on sale at Debenhams. I love the colour and delicate feel to the bracelet.

My friend was recently in Pakistan and got me this amazing necklace. She had one like it and saw that I really loved it - thanks Rani! Its so bright and a great statement to add to simple clothes. The bells on the end jingle with every step and the sound makes me really happy!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Safety first

One of the nicest things about starting university last year was that I began riding my bike properly everyday to get around the town. I bought a lovely old one with a wicker basket and called it Queenie.Whizzing down the hill my college is on each morning to lectures was one of the best parts of the day.

Since I've come home to London I'd been dying to get my bike out onto the streets again but Queenie had a flat. Everything is sorted now and I began riding again yesterday. It was terrifying! I'd forgotten how busy the roads get, all the different rules at traffic lights and how on earth do roundabout work?! Drivers are much more irate here and much more likely to pull dangerous stunts trying to overtake you. I've realised how important safety on a bike is in the city and thus I come to my point with this entry....the bike helmet.

I never wore my helmet in Cambridge (I know, I know I'm a bad person), reasoning that it was a mostly pedestrian town anyway and I'd be safe. But being back in London has made me realise how necessary bike helmets are - but they are so ugly! Please don't think I'm shallow, but I immediately feel 'dorky' when I wear mine.

Enter Yakkay cycle helmets. Their motto is 'brainwear for smart people' and their helmets are gorgeous. They have a very British classic look to them with no unsightly brightly coloured plastic.

Aren't they lovely? Unfortunately much more expensive than your regular bike helmet, but I think I'll be saving up for one of these! Until then, my terrifically uncool bright purple bike helmet it is...

Magpie Syndrome

 Ever since I was little I've been completely enchanted by anything that reflects light, to the point of once stealing a hairclip my parents wouldn't get me when I was 6 - sorry Gap! My parents got really mad and made  me give it back so my life as a shop lifter ended there, but I still get pangs of guilt everytime I go into Gap. Nevertheless, a good piece of jewellery is all it takes to make me act like a child desperate for a new toy again.

I've been having a massive bracelet craving this week and have been looking for something special on ebay. I found a gorgeous vintage Gruen gold bracelet that I was determined to win on. The bidding price with 5 minutes to go was £7.50 - a bargain! I let the clock count down to one minute and then pounced with my bid of £8. To my horror I was apparently immediately outbid, I carried on bidding but everytime someone beat me to it! I'm so disappointed to have lost the bracelet as I know I'll probably never see one quite like it again. I became somewhat attached to the bracelet before I had bought it and numerous searches on different sites have brought up nothing.

The only cure for my sadness over this is buying new jewellery....

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Peace, love and ice cream

Last weekend I went to the Ben and Jerry's Sundae Festival with a friend. Think cone after cone of delicious ice cream, sunny Clapham Common, great music and fairground rides. It was pretty much my idea of what heaven would be. On top of this the entire event was climate neutral and fairtrade, with the motto being 'Peace, love and ice cream' The ice cream was unlimited and every Ben and Jerry's flavour was available. I planned to go through all the flavours I haven't tried. In the end though I kept to the flavours I always get - Cookie Dough, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Strawberry Cheesecake, Baked Alaska and Phish Food. Along with several piece of their amazing Ice Cream Sandwich (served by witches!)

Found a horse on the carousel that had my name!

I hadn't heard of a lot of the bands playing earlier on in the day, but many of them were great, particularly Slow Club. Idlewild were brilliant. Scouting for Girls were headlining - I've never been much of a fan. All their songs sound exactly the same. It all melted into one giant song of repeated lines with very little depth to them about being in love with a generic beautiful girl. They had clearly tried to make the new material different, but there was something really cliche about it all. The new single, 'Everyone wants to be on TV', feels like a crappy version of Just Jack's'stars in their eyes'. Either way, I had a good time eating icecream and making fun of them and the screaming girls around us!

Monday, 2 August 2010

A Constructive Summer

I've never been one for summer. There is too much expectation to enjoy, to tan, to explore the world and come back a changed person. I would love to do all those things but I always seem to get to this point having achieved very little. So I am on my first ridiculously long summer from university and am yet to actually do much. At the midway point I'm starting to feel the pangs of guilt for all the time I have spent watching House and wandering aimlessly around town. And so I come to why I have decided to start this blog: to try and add my voice to the hundreds of thousands out there, and maybe actually do something with this summer.

And as for the name of the blog? Well, a friend has given me the nickname swishy and it is also the name of a song by my favourite band - The Hold Steady. The title post is also stolen from one of their songs. And there will no doubt be a post about them sometime soon!

Anyway, I'll leave my first post there. I hope it hasn't put anyone off already!