Tuesday, 25 July 2017

What I've Been Watching #2

Lately I've been watching a lot of films and basically trying to catch up on all the DVDs I purchased over the course of my second year at uni in those small moments of panic or stress where I impulsively did an Amazon order or seven. I've also been logging everything I've been watching on Letterboxd, which is basically the Goodreads for films - give me a follow to keep up with my watching if you fancy it! Today I thought I'd share my very inexpert opinion on the last few films I've watched, because whenever I watch something I have so many thoughts and feelings about it immediately afterwards and rarely anyone to discuss it with. Just a note to say this will probably contain spoilers...

The Falling (2014)
This film is so eerie and beautiful, but incredibly dark and disturbing at the same time. It was very subtle with a slow pace and the kind of thing you wouldn't be able to appreciate if you were only half-watching it or on your phone (which, by the way, is one of my absolute pet peeves). It's about a girl called Lydia (played by Maisie Williams) whose best friend begins to suffer from fainting spells and eventually dies as a result of one - after her funeral Lydia begins to suffer from them herself, and the rest of the school slowly follow suit as the school try to work out the cause of the spells. The story also focuses on the difficult relationship between Lydia and her agoraphobic mother. Essentially this film is all about female friendships and relationships and unexplained phenomena, with strong undertones of the supernatural and nods to the medical treatment of women in previous eras. It reminded me of The Virgin Suicides and The Moth Diaries, two movies I also love, but with significantly less dialogue and slightly less death. I loved the setting of 1960s England, and especially of the girls school - I always love books and films that are set in schools, which is kind of strange as I don't even go to school any more but probably says something about an attachment to childhood or whatever. However, I found myself getting a little frustrated with the lack of clarity in the storyline - what was the actual cause of the fainting? How was it spreading among the girls? But while the logical part of my brain was demanding answers, I'm also trying to learn to appreciate a certain ambiguity in books and films, as of course it encourages the spectator or the reader to reflect on art and draw their own conclusions.

Rating: 7/10

Pulp Fiction (1994)
I've been meaning to watch this for the longest time - in my mind it's one of those classic films that people reference all the time and has had a huge impact on pop culture. I'm not familiar with Tarantino by any means but I knew roughly what to expect, which is what I got - strong language, violence and black comedy. Not to put too fine a point on it, it was nuts and horrific at times but in a weird way I actually loved it! The story is about a circle of mobsters and criminals in Los Angeles and their escapades which are slowly revealed to be interlinked. I have to admit that the chronology of the storyline confused me a lot and meant I ended up googling the plot to try to understand what was going on - it's kind of like a patchwork of stories which eventually come together in an intriguing and enjoyable way.

Rating: 8/10

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
One of my favourite films of all time is Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel so I expected to like this and I wasn't disappointed. It follows the lives of the Tenenbaum family and especially the three siblings who were viewed as geniuses in childhood but who experience disappointment later in life as their family breaks down. I felt it was a slight case of style over substance in that the plot was quite thin and predictable, but the characterisation and back stories are where this film really shines and I really enjoyed seeing the characters interact with each other. The other area where this film stuns is of course in the visual style, which is trademark Anderson with the beautiful colours and soft tones - basically the aesthetic of dreams.

Rating: 8/10

Mulholland Drive (2001)
It's no secret that I am deeply, deeply obsessed with Twin Peaks so lately I've been trying to explore David Lynch's other works. I hear that the original 90s Peaks isn't really a true representation of Lynch's style and art, which is more accurately reflected in the new series which I've watched the first 8 or so episodes of (and shall discuss in different post when I get home and can watch the rest!). Anyway, I have a box set of Lynch's his films to get through this summer, but I started with Mulholland Drive which was right up my alley. It's described as a 'neo-noir mystery' and tells the story of an aspiring actress who meets an amnesiac woman in Los Angeles, following their separate but interlinked quests to achieve fame and rediscover her identity. Although the film is set in Hollywood it takes place firmly within the realm of the absurd, with a plot that switches between seemingly unrelated vignettes interspersed with mild horror and dark comedy. This film was originally conceived as a TV pilot, but rejected and reimagined as a feature film which gives it an odd sort of narrative which leaves it completely open to interpretation. As a first venture into Lynch's film work, I was pleasantly surprised and appreciated the early 2000s aesthetic,

Rating: 9/10

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
This is another Wes Anderson film, which follows three estranged brothers who are reuniting for the first time since their father's funeral a year previously. They meet aboard the Darjeeling Limited, a train crossing the Indian countryside, and the film follows the events which occur to test their complicated and often conflicting relationships. I think there's something so charming about films, TV shows or books set on trains - which perhaps stems from reading Murder on the Orient Express at a young age. However, this was on the disappointing side for me - I think it suffered from the lack of a female lead somehow, but apart from that I can't put my finger on it. Having said that, the cinematography was stunning and I did enjoy watching it. 

Rating: 6/10

The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016-)
A few months ago I noticed my mum had the first two seasons of The X-Files on DVD and decided to take them with me to uni for the summer term on the inkling that they would be my New Favourite Thing. What with exams I didn't get round to watching any, so I brought them with me on my internship and I'm slowly making my way through them. Basically it's a science fiction drama that follows the investigations of Special Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder as they look into unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. My mum was obsessed with the series when it originally aired and over 20 years on I am following firmly in her footsteps - I love everything about this series so far and I'm not even at the end of the first season! I adore the 90s setting, the characters, the unexplained paranormal aspect, and anything to do with the FBI (Twin Peaks, anyone?). There are just so many episodes and seasons to get through I absolutely cannot wait to see how the series goes on, not to mention the fact that its currently undergoing a revival.

Rating: literally 12/10


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Summer Fashion Haul

I'm currently doing an internship with a planning company in the UK and while I admittedly have a lot of clothes, surprisingly little of it could be described as 'business attire'. After a rigorous assessment of my wardrobe I managed to pick out some suitable dresses and tops but I still needed some basic essentials to get me through the whole 8 weeks so I went out and ended up buying a few more dresses, a suit jacket, skirt and trousers and some tops. Luckily my workplace turned out to be more on the casual end of things (as in cardigans instead of blazers and flats instead of heels) but even so after the first week I decided I was in need of a few more items to avoid having to do washing every few days. The first weekend I was here I took full advantage of living less than 5 minutes from the shops and shopped till I dropped (and then came home for lunch and went back out again in the afternoon), and the following weekend I went to stay with my grandparents and did some shopping there. Basically I bought some stuff over the last couple of weeks and here it is, minus the first set of work stuff because most of it is in the wash. (Also there is a lot of non-work stuff here oops.)

Tops from Primark

I love this tropical print top (£6) - tropical prints are everywhere this summer, along with flamingos and parrots I've noticed, so this is just a really fun piece to wear. I also love dark florals so I'll definitely wear this in winter even when it's a bit off-season. The black top is exactly the same cut but a different print, I picked it up in the sale for £3 which I think is an excellent buy especially as I'll be able to wear both of these to work with some plain black trousers or a skirt.

Beauty and the Beast has been one of my favourite Disney stories since I was little as I always identified with Belle's bookishness, and I really enjoyed the recent live action film when I saw it in the cinema. I like how this top isn't obviously Disney or brightly-coloured with the characters plastered all over it, it's a lot more subtle but still has that reference if you know the story. The other top is just a simple strappy top and I always pick up one of these when I'm in Primark because they're so versatile and I wear them a lot.

Skirt from Primark & Top from New Look

Also from Primark I picked up this khaki green faux suede skirt (£8) which I LOVE and fits perfectly. I wear a lot of green and this shade is lovely and just a fab piece for autumn and winter. Then I got this white top from New Look (£14.99) which isn't necessarily something I'd normally wear, but it's definitely office wear and looks great with some black trousers or a skirt.

Top and dress from H&M, top from New Look

This top (£5 in the sale) is just a simple cami but I have two others exactly like this in a tropical and dark floral print (do you sense a theme here?) that I've had for ages and wear constantly, so I know I'll get a lot of use out of it. Also its black and white which means it's formal enough to wear to the office if we get any more 30 degree heat over the rest of the summer. I also got this dress (£9.99), which is perhaps the most basic H&M-looking thing I own but hey, again it's black and white so I plan to wear this to the office and maybe to a formal at uni next year.

A couple of things from Primark which proved impossible to photograph: firstly a pair of high-waisted black/dark grey jeans (£12). I rarely ever buy or wear jeans, but I really love the ones I got as they have a nice faded effect that makes them look almost textured. Also, I was on the lookout for some plain black loose trousers for a while and found some (£8). I have some similar ones in a dark floral print which I love, but they're quite hard to wear as you can only really wear them with a plain white or pink top so hopefully the black ones will be easier to style as well as super duper comfy.

I also got some really cool pyjamas (which remind me of The X-Files) and a photo frame from New Look, and a red corduroy skirt and some jewellery storage boxes from Primark - not pictured because I bought them while I was at my grandparents' and left them there for my mum to take home next time she comes.

So that's everything I bought!

Also, just a quick note to say that I totally missed my 4 year blogiversary on 5th July - so happy 4th birthday to the blog!


Thursday, 20 July 2017

Durham Creators

It's funny how some old sayings prove to be true - absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and these days I'm finding myself missing my quaint little adopted city in the north. So it seemed like a good time to finally get around to writing a blog post I've been meaning to do for a while: a small selection of my favourite YouTubers and creators, who all just happen to attend Durham University.

Bea Jonite
Bea (pronounced /bee/) is one of my absolute favourite YouTubers of all time, higher education location nonwithstanding. In my opinion her video editing skills are the best bar none - check out her Moscow Diaries video for a prime example. Bea is from Latvia and just graduated from Collingwood College where she studied Combined Honours in Economics, Business and Politics. She does a lot of fashion and lifestyle videos, but also travel vlogs, university-related videos, food videos storytimes and unboxings, so there's a huge variety to delve into on her channel. One of the most interesting videos she's made has been on her experience in jail where she spent five days for driving under the influence - it's a really fascinating, intelligent and well-thought out documentation of a pretty life-changing experience that I'm sure isn't exactly what she'd prefer to be known for, but it's one of the first videos of hers I ever watched so I suppose you could say it's what drew me into her channel. She also has a blog called Chanelegance, and of course a stunning Insta feed.

Imogen de Souza
I've followed Imogen's blog Une Maison de la Mode - which I found through Polyvore - since long before I ever even applied to university, let alone arrived in Durham. She studies Modern Languages (German and French) at Hild Bede College and posts outfit photos and the occasional holiday snaps, with charming little updates on her life in each post. I should probably mention that I was a bit of a weirdo and randomly sent her a friend request a couple of years ago - which she accepted - so now I see her posting there whenever she publishes a new blog post which is nice. It's also cool to see some shots of Durham, usually in the background, in some of her shoots.

Next I'd like to mention a couple of 'smaller' YouTubers who I came across recently who make videos specifically about attending Durham University, alongside other things. 

Life of M
This channel is run by a lovely girl called Mari-Liis, who goes by M. She's from Estonia (but sounds like she's from the Home Counties which is both bizarre and wonderful) and is studying English Literature at Trevelyan College. She makes university-related videos and vlogs and also has a music channel.

Samantha's Wonderland
Next up is Samantha who studies Combined Honours (French, History, Philosophy and Psychology) at Collingwood College and does mini vlogs, hauls and advice videos. She also has a charmingly transatlantic accent and an appreciation for stationery (which I share).

If you want to really get an insight into life at Durham and specifically studying Modern Languages, check out Jimmy's channel. He's studying Spanish and Russian at Castle (aka University College) and is currently on his year abroad. He makes informational videos about various aspects of university including freshers, what to bring, grading systems, room tours, colleges and so on.

I'm sure there are plenty of other talented creators who attend Durham University, but these are all the one's I'm aware of for the moment!


Sunday, 2 July 2017

Some Things I Know at 20

I turned 20 years old on the 12th of February, and to be honest nearly I'm still coming to terms with the facts that a) I'm no longer a teenager and b) I am officially in my 20s. It's a funny feeling, and one that I think is going to take some time to get used to as I keep almost putting my age as 19 on forms and surveys! (Just a note to say that I wrote most of this post several months ago but as I was incredibly busy with uni I didn't get round to publishing it, but I thought I would do it anyway as I like to document these things.)

My actual birthday was a very low-key affair, I went for lunch at my favourite place to eat with two friends and we had a lovely time until I managed, like the child I am, to spill my entire glass of elderflower pressé into my lap, luckily narrowly avoiding my phone. I had to sit in wet jeans until I got home and it was a cold, cold day so generally quite unpleasant. Then a couple of days later I had a proper party, which was 1920s-themed and honestly the most fun time I've had in a while. My uni house had a massive living room/kitchen space which was ideal for parties, so I took full advantage by blinging it up with loads of sparkly and gold decorations. Then I got my mood lighting set up and cooked a load of food and people started arriving, (nearly) all dressed in their flapper best so we just had a good time and grooved to my electro swing playlist and then we watched the The Great Gatsby film with Leonardo di Caprio aka my favourite movie adaptation of one of my favourite books of all time. 

To mark the momentous occasion of reaching the big double decade I thought I'd share a mixture of general and more specific and personal things/advice that I have learned in my 20 years of being alive. I wanted to make this into a sort of '20 things I know at 20' post after watching Hannah Witton's '25 Things I've Learnt in 25 Years' video but I couldn't think of enough things so we're going with what I've got.

  • Being an adult does not mean you have all the answers and know exactly what you want to do with your life. It's OK to take longer to figure it out.
  • If you're a introvert, it's important to balance your time alone and the time you spend with other people. Too much of either one isn't good for me personally.
  • Do things at your own pace, life is not a race. Especially in this socially-mediated world it's easy to compare yourself to other people and use their achievements as standards you feel you have to meet or benchmark goals you feel you need to achieve.
  • It's important to listen to your instincts about people - if you get a bad feeling, take a step back.
  • Take lots of photos, of everything. Photos are the best way of keeping a memory alive, but make sure you're living in the moment too.
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Have lots of friends in lots of different groups.
  • Sending important emails is a natural part of growing up, there's no way to avoid it.
  • Welcome change into your life. Just because things don't stay the same doesn't mean they will be worse.
  • Follow your interests. I mean that in term of pursuing your hobbies and passions, but also simple things - like if you realise that the vast majority of films you've ever watched have been very mainstream and not your cup of tea, make an effort to look into things that fall off the metaphorical beaten track.


Friday, 30 June 2017

Life Update

Well well well. Long time no see (perhaps even the longest break I have ever taken on this blog?) but here I am again. The last six months have been ridiculously busy, what with multiple important essays in Epiphany term that took all my time and effort, the Easter holidays which weren't really holidays as I spent part of the 5 weeks on a research fieldtrip in Liverpool and the rest of the time writing up the field report from the trip, and then finally exams in Easter term which took over my life for about seven weeks. Phew! Here are some things which have happened since I last blogged:

1. I turned 20! I have a half-finished post in my drafts about my birthday that I wrote in mid-February and never got round to publishing so I might just finish that off, even if it is about half a year late. But yep, I'm now officially no longer a teenager and closer to 30 than 10. Still processing that to be honest...

2. I finished my second year of university! I think I'm going to do a full on 'review' type post about my second year like I did last year, just for my own purposes and if anyone at all is interested in my thoughts on university life. Briefly then, it's fair to say that my second year has been really tough in terms of the effort required (see above) but also so interesting in terms of the work I did and the topics I studied, and I made a lot of really great memories. And to top it all off I got a 1st overall! Second year only counts for 40% of my overall degree mark but with 76% in the bag I think I've made a good start on doing really well.

3. My best friend visited me at uni! It was a fleeting visit for various reasons but it was so lovely to see her and to show her around Durham and introduce her to my uni friends. I definitely had the slightly disturbing sense of two worlds colliding!

4. I went on holiday with some uni friends! Durham has this thing where after exams we have three weeks of nothing where technically we're supposed to stick around but there are no lectures or anything, so way back in January we decided to book flights to Alicante and spend a few days at my family's apartment in that area. It was such a lovely and much needed post-exam getaway, and nice to be back at the apartment as I haven't been there in about three years.

Obviously more things happened but those are the highlights off the top of my head. Another major one was getting an internship with a planning company in the UK which I'll be doing for the whole of July and August, and then coming home for the last month to do my dissertation research. It's going to be a busy summer...


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Fashion Haul

I've been doing quite a bit of shopping lately (new year, new wardrobe?) so I thought it was about time for a haul post. I had a shopping trip here in Belgium and also picked up some things in a recent trip to the UK, so as usual it's half in pounds and half in euros - as is my entire life tbh. Also, apologies for the average to poor quality of the photos in this post, the weather has been so gloomy lately and my phone camera just can't cope!


First of all I did a bit of shopping in The Best H&M of All Time at my local shopping centre. There I picked up a stripy top (€12.95) in these really nice red, blue and beige colours, which I'm definitely going to get a lot of wear out of because stripy tops are my absolute go-to item of clothing and even though I have at least six thousand I can never have enough of them. Also, my hair is now the exact shade of red in this top so that's cool. I also got a teal slip dress (€9.95) which I wasn't expecting to fit me that well but surprisingly it did so I thought it would be really nice for a college formal some time next term. I'm always on the lookout for cheapish formal dresses! I'm not sure whether I'm quite brave enough to embrace the tops-under-slip-dresses trend but hey, you never know. Then I picked up this black pleated skirt (€19.95), which is one trend I'm definitely happy to jump on as I think they're super classy and can look amazing for formal occasions with the right top and a pair of heels. I tried on a couple including a very jazzy silver one in the sale, but the one I got is the perfect length to look classic without swamping me. Unfortunately they didn't have an extra small so I had to get a small which will need taking in at the waist a bit. Last but not least I got these black lace-up boots (€29.95) which I'm so happy to have bought because they're exactly what I was looking for, which is a pair of practical winter boots that I can walk long distances in. When I was visiting family the other day we went for a country walk after lunch and I wore them (which is why they don't look pristine in the pic) so I can confirm they are indeed both practical and comfortable!

While I was in the UK recently I also did a spot of shopping. In Topshop I got two tops which were both in the sale at half price: first this white one (£10) with a really interesting neckline (I love it because it's almost sporty with the mesh bit of course there's something very prim and proper about it because of the ruffle) and then this faded tapestry-effect one (£12) which I think will go really well with leggings.

Next I picked up a few bits in Primark, including this really chic black and white makeup bag (£3) which is great because I've been needing a replacement. Clothes-wise I got a really simple black zipped cardigan (£3) in the sale and a khaki green long bomber jacket (£5) also in the sale. Not gonna lie, even though I'm not the biggest fan of bomber jackets I just couldn't pass it up but I do like this one because of the length and plus it seems really warm. All in all you can't go wrong for £5!


Finally I got a couple of things in New Look. First I picked up this tartan tunic dress (£10) which was in the sale; I really like this style of dress as I think it's quite flattering on me and a little bit retro, plus I like the deep teal green colour running through the pattern. Last but not least I got this black backpack (£22.99) to replace a very similar one that I bought from New Look just over a year ago but which is sadly disintegrating slightly because it's made of a pleather-effect material which has started to crack. I like that this has different-sized pockets at the front because it makes it easier to organise my bits and bobs. Hopefully this one will last a bit longer!

And that's everything I got!


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

What I Got for Christmas 2016

Although the Christmas period is well and truly over I'm one of those nosy people who love finding out what other people got for Christmas, so I thought I'd follow the trend and show you some of the presents I received this year. Rather than including every single thing I've decided to be selective and instead choose my top five presents to show you in no particular order - these aren't necessarily the 'biggest' or most expensive ones, just my favourites that I'd like to share!

History book
I really love history and learning about the past so when I saw this in a bookshop a few months ago I knew I had to add it to my Christmas wishlist! It reminds me a lot of a similar book I had when I was little but this is much more orientated at adults and teenagers in terms of the topics and writing. The cover is stunning with really beautiful gold lettering, and it has great page spreads that are really engaging and dynamic with a good balance of text and photos to keep things interesting. It's absolutely massive too and weighs at least a couple of kilos, which is the only downside because it makes it quite hard to manouevre - the past couple of times I've been reading it in bed I've ended up pinned under it! Definitely one for the coffee table I think.

Chloé perfume
I've been wanting this for so so long and I'm so happy to have received it! I just love the bottle, I think it's so luxurious and obviously it smells gorgeous too. But as is always the way with expensive perfumes, I'm finding myself reluctant to spritz it and wanting to save it for special occasions! 

Marina & the Diamonds Electra Heart vinyl
This is the latest addition to my little vinyl collection which so far just consists of my favourite albums in vinyl form. Electra Heart is one of my favourite albums of all time so I've wanted it on vinyl for ages and it does not disappoint! It sounds really good even on my slightly crappy Crosley cruiser (I know, I know) and it includes all the lyrics on a separate piece of paper. There are actually two records in here, and they each have 3 or 4 songs on which is slightly annoying because you have to swap them around a lot but it's all part of the charm in my opinion! 

Paperchase washbag
It might seem a bit weird to have a washbag as one of your favourite Christmas presents, but words cannot express how much I love Paperchase's Gothic Garden range in any imaginable form. It's honestly the most me range I've ever seen; I love the darkness of it and the floral elements with the gold accents, it's truly beautiful. I think it was new in this autumn so it must be reaching the end of its store lifetime which is tragic but also brilliant because hopefully it will be on sale soon! I needed a new soft washbag as the one I currently have is huge and doesn't squash down very well even if it's not full (if that makes sense?) so this is a great replacement.

DVDs: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me and Hamlet
I'm including these collectively because I just can't choose between them and they kind of go together anyway. The Grand Budapest Hotel has been one of my absolute favourite movies ever since I saw it in the cinema, and it's definitely one of my top 5 films of all time. I've also seen Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me before, but it wasn't great quality so I'm excited to watch it again. I'm slowly building up my Twin Peaks collection (I also got a book on it this Christmas) in preparation for the revival this year! And last but not least, this is possibly the only DVD production of Hamlet I haven't yet seen so I just had to get it. It's the 2000 version with Ethan Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan (aka Special Agent Dale Cooper) and it's set in contemporary New York City which is so interesting. 

And those are my top 5(ish) Christmas present picks for 2016!


Sunday, 1 January 2017

Charity Shop Haul

It's been a while since my last haul post so let's kick off the New Year with an exploration of my recent purchases. Since going back to uni for the autumn term my love of charity shops has been taken to the next level as I discovered that they usually have quite a lot of books and DVDs in addition to clothes. I'm not quite sure how I'd managed to miss this up until that point but there you go. 

As I think I mentioned in a previous post, I now take the bus most days to get from my house to lectures. In actual fact I take two buses, not because it's a particularly long way but because the bus routes don't go in an ideal direction so rather than going in a sort of full L-shape I have to take a different bus for each bit of the shape (if that makes any sense?). As a result of taking four buses a day I have ended up spending quite a lot of time waiting in the bus station where there's a really good charity shop that I pop into at least once a week so I have ended up with quite a haul! Here are the bits and bobs I bought in Durham over the winter term - they were about £2 each, sometimes £3 so really good deals all round:

I also visited family in Gloucestershire between Christmas and New Year and happened to go into an Oxfam shop while out shopping where I picked up three DVDs. Everything was half price that day so these came to a grand total of £4! Which is especially amazing as the 3-disc one was only actually £1. Out of these ones I've seen Moonrise Kingdom and Notting Hill before, but none of the others:

And that's my little charity shop haul for the past few months! Here's to finding more great bargains in 2017.