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!