What I Learned This Morning

Shortly, I’d like to mention that I’m on a bit of a sabbatical since Sunday. I won’t go much further into it, but will instead go off on a bit off a tangent about things I have learned between 7am and the very moment I type this (so the fact that I recently discovered that the 170 bus goes all the way to Roehampton won’t play any part, unfortunately).

Firstly, that Erdogan is hilariously backward, but we knew that already. That ridiculous things happen even at places like Oxford (this abortion debate business); and that once again ones (conservative-)liberal values are forced to somehow clash with the rest of ones values because everyone’s a monger nowadays (even, thankfully, the Spectator) – but that I truly thought a little higher of society and its tastes. That there are a bunch of fun things one can do to make ones house smell Christmassy – even in November, when nothing’s supposed to smell Christmassy. That even if I’m a terrible grump denouncing this far-too-early Christmas spirit, here’s a nice little compilation of Christmas markets and fairs (sorry, not sorry) happening around here. And, that even if there are lots of wonderful fairs in London, let’s not forget that it appears to be a horrible world out there (an unarmed teenager! 3 blacks and 9 whites! It reads like they’re asking for riots, surely – whatever the details of the case; which I’m embarrassed to say I’m not far too familiar with). Being a pacifist myself, I still cannot fathom how there’s a shock whenever a riot breaks out over something like this. I didn’t know the godawful Bono/Geldof-promoted/ing Do They Know It’s Christmas? is about to get an even more godawful remix by David Guetta (let me reach for the nearest bag, bin, or bucket) and I didn’t know that William Whitaker’s partner is Swedish. I didn’t know that 110 people control 35% of Russia’s wealth (It’s in the Economist; but can that even be correct?!) and that I’ve still got the vague remains of an artistic talent left in me.

The Great Product Hunt

My mother has this thing where she gets unreasonably upset whenever she happens to see the contents of any of my cosmetic/haircare bags, whenever I fly home for to pay the parents a visit. I say ‘unreasonable’ because until I started buying my own products (and this was at like, the age of 19 or so), I didn’t realize how difficult and expensive it is to get the best stuff; and how many terrible things there are out there. And now I also get ‘unreasonably’ upset, whenever I walk into a Boots or a pharmacy.

(My best friend, Natalie, has even started a blog about this.. now that’s real passion for you)

I won’t name and shame any products (but I’m looking at you, TRESemmé, Garnier Olia, and Dior); but it so happens that most of my things (including a wonderful natural carrot oil! And a tube of dead sea mud my mother bought me in Jordan!) are stuck up in Yorkshire, and I’m feeling pretty deprived – at least I know my hair is. What doesn’t help is that I’m living off my limited stack of Korres and Apivita products (highly recommended) from my summer in Greece, and was struck by a wave of nostalgic pain when I walked into the bathroom this morning and found my housemate Phoebe’s Clarins lotion on the mirror’s ledge. Aloe Vera Pflege

It basically made me miss my pampered adolescent years, when I’d find myself mysteriously showered in boxes of Lancôme eyeshadows, Clinique cleansers, Clarins powders.. well, you get the picture. I don’t even know where all the stuff came from. Last Christmas I randomly received an amazing kit of LR moisturizers (day cream/night cream/eye cream). What I’m trying to say is that recreating this storm of quality beauty products in my own little flat, on my own little budget, is incredibly difficult – and just incredibly weird.

But today I had enough; I ordered Korres ginger & vitamins foundation, Clarins muti-active night cream, Clarins daily energizer cream, Clarins daily energizer cleansing gel, and a Phyto shampoo.

I’d also like to add that anyone crazier than I am about beauty products should go out of their way to look up Swiss Jüst and LR. Other than that, I had to restrain myself from also getting this Lancome mask, a Korres chap stick, a Korres hand cream, a Clarins bronzer, a Clinique moisturizer, some YSL lipsticks and some Neal & Wolf stuff for my hair. Basically, I really need to get a real job. Pronto.

My Questions of the Day

  1. Has anyone actually leased Poveglia (Europe/the World’s scariest island)? Yes. Early last summer, Poveglia – the beautiful Venetian isle turned plague quarantine – turned insane asylum – turned abandoned food for horror movies – was to be auctioned off on a 99 year lease by the Italian government, in hope that some real estate tycoon would swoop it up and turn it into a resort. I never heard much of a follow-up on the matter; and now I read that Poveglia was auctioned off for 513,000 pounds. The isle stands less than 20 acres; and the buyer, Luigi Brugnaro, would be expected to pay 16.25 million pounds to restore the old asylum buildings. Also, rumor has it that the soil is 50% human ashes, and that fishermen avoid the island because there is a high likelihood of netting human bones. Being the home of plague pits and lobotomies, and the death of 150,000 people, it does sound like a little piece of heaven; but surely superstition shouldn’t get in the way of such things. It’s only a little creepy, but also ridiculously attractive – and a real bargain, as a matter of fact.
  2. Is there really an Egon SchielVENEZIA 10/10/06 FOTO AEREA ISOLA DI POVEGLIA   © GRAZIANO ARICIe exhibit underway? Yes. Although I am a bit of a traditionalist, I can’t deny that I am swept away by Egon Schiele, who was, after all, born in 1890 (and succumbed to the Spanish influenza, together with his pregnant wife, at the young age of 28). Schiele’s exhibition is taking place at Richard Nagy and there is no entrance fee – so no excuse not to go, either. It covers sketches that deviate from his normal depictions of human form, and stands until the 5th of December. Chop chop. Other than that, I might point out that there is Moroni at the Royal Academy of Arts, Rembrandt (as we’ve briefly discussed before) at the National Gallery, and Turner at the Tate. You know what to do.
  3. What have you learned this autumn? That finding a nice flat in London wounds the soul, but isn’t impossible. That eating too much takeaway is bad for you (but oh so delicious). That I really need an iphone (sorry, Samsung). That dressing gowns are crucial to ones existence and that one cannot get up in the morning, unlekauernderss immediately stepping into a dressing gown. That a dressing gown also works as a parka. That as a journalist, one must rather defy court and be jailed/pay a fine than disclose a source. That the gym is a nice place. That old friends are gold. That curry is gold. That ebay is gold (but we already knew that). That referendums are a waste of time (but that doesn’t stop politicians from throwing them all over the place).

Museo Sorolla

Bizarre as it may strike you, I happen 17161-3to be one of those people with favorite galleries and museums; I genuinely cannot help myself. It’s a madness. Of course, saying that the Louvre or the Louisiana or the Tate Modern is your absolute favorite ever doesn’t count. You’ve gotta go out of your way, you’ve gotta find that one place you swear could be your home, your corner of the world. And I’ve found it; I found it at the age of seventeen, I believe, on a history of art trip to Madrid.

The Museo Sorolla is, to me, that one magical place. Of course, I have other favorites; the Musée Rodin in Paris, which I had the great advantage of growing up next-door to, is one of them; Liljevalchs, another. But Museo Sorolla is both a great gallery and my dream home, merged in one. You basically just need to see the garden, the detail, the bright walls and all the different rooms, the Spanish somberness mixed with Moorish patterns in every color you could possibly imagine. Truly enchanting stuff. The house itself, which is the former residence of painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) contains most of the artist’s work hung up seemingly randomly in chambers reminding you of a partially depleted antique market. The paintings are striking in their own right; waves of color, light and foam, creating portraits of sea and summer, youth and garments blown in healthy gusts of sea-breeze. It is difficult to find work that conveys a similar feeling of freedom and movement; seas tremble, the coats of animals glisten in the sun, children laugh and run across dunes. Sails shake and waves crash, and there’s a joie de vivre to everything the man depicts, from ox to crumpling veil.

You get a strong feeling that these paintings belong at home, or maybe in a sun-lit beach house outside Valencia, the places most of Sorolla’s paintings depict; not in the Petit Palais, the Prado, or anywhere else. Just like the painter felt confined by the regulated practice of portrait painting, his work would feel confined in the presence of tamer, quietebeached-boats-1915.jpg!Blogr work. There is no shade of politics, no malice there; Sorolla was, in his lifetime, embraced by his surroundings, financially adept, and showed a greater interest and compassion for his direct community (he was an orphan, which could potentially explain this interest). Most of his work was donated to the public by his widow, Clotilde, whom he continuously portrayed.

A Chocolate Consolation

1395282_10151882950116141_896443077_nI thought I’d share, on this dreary clouded day, one of my grandmother’s really naughty (and super easy) cake recipes. Well, it’s like a brownie-cake, but even better. Think the naughtiest-possible chocolate creation, and this is probably the outcome; the name given to this calorific beast is psimeno-apsito, Greek for ‘fried-unfried’, which sort of says it all about the consistency. Happy baking!

You need:

  • 250g butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/2 packs of bitter chocolate
  • 3 tbs self-raising
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Milk/cream

Pre-heat the oven at 200C.

  1. Break the eggs; separate whites (smaller bowl) and yellows (big bowl) in different bowls. Whisk the whites
  2. In a small pan, melt the butter
  3. Mix the sugar, butter, and yellows in the big bowl
  4. Add the three spoons of flour
  5. Melt the chocolate with milk/cream in a pan, and add to the big bowl. This is the moment you add some liquor too, if that’s your thing
  6. Mix the whipped whites into the big bowl
  7. Butter a baking tray/cake form. Sprinkle it with flour
  8. Put the chocolatey wonder in the oven for 20min or so
  9. Take it out, and check the consistency with a knife – the outside should be hard, then immediately spongey – and the inside should be sticky chocolate filling.

Recluse Ramblings

HRS SchulquadrilleThe last few days have been infernal. I’ve got my NCTJ exam on Wednesday, and have literally spent my entire week in self-imposed house arrest, forcing myself to read McNae’s Essential Law For Journalists from cover to cover (with notepad and highlighter frantically clutched). The furthest I got from McNae’s was taking out the recycling. Life has been hell. And while all this has been happening, London seems to have been alight in splendid things to do; ice skating, nights out, markets, even the tour-stop of the exceptional Spanish Riding School of Vienna (performing at Wembley).

I had the great pleasure of being taken to a performance at the actual School at the age of fourteen. The summer week I spent in Vienna was magical; almost surreal, lakes and boats and spare ribs all around me, from what I can recall. And even though I got a cold, it was one of my most memorable summers (this was only that June – plenty was to come). Horse-mad girl-child that I was (and still am), I couldn’t think of anything better than the Spanish Riding School; I’ve still got the ticket, badly dogeared and abused, lying about in a drawer somewhere. The performance was a dream. What made an even greater impression on me was the sweetness in which it was all Bellotto_Colonel_Piotr_Koenigsfelsconducted. Treats were given after every jump; the horses were continuously stroked and reassured by their uniformed Austrian riders, who I had expected to be stern and correct in every movement, like your usual competitive dressage rider. Not so. The horses were treated with such innocent candour, like they were being gently coerced into every step. It was pretty overwhelming. There was simply not a second’s stress to the performance, no judging, no scrutiny of the smallest details. Just art, and history, and excellent horsemanship all come together in one beautiful performance.

Recent Musical Crushes

10469747_726495844094220_303981805998312128_nI am a big soundcloud enthusiast. This has nothing to do with actual adeptness at using it; I just consider it a sort of eternal source of happiness. One of the simpler reasons that springs to mind is that it runs on, and on; it makes me feel like I have a relatively good taste in music without having to go looking for the actually good music (like you’re half-way forced to do on spotify). And of course, I can avoid any form of fad. And listen to weird, unpopular acoustic covers and bemoan how truly unappreciated some of these people are compared to the likes of Katy Perry (am I the only one who cringes at the mere thought of her voice?). So here are today’s musical crushes: Anabel Englund’s cover of Howling (her new release isn’t half as good as this stuff) and LA-based Annaliese’s CASHMERE

My second crush of the day (but more appropriately, probably Crush of the Year) is Stephanie Fraser, who I by complete coincidence happened to walk in on performing at the University of Reading’s Coffee House Sesh. I was innocently off to have some post-seminar hot chocolate around this exact time last year, attempting a quick catch-up with my close friend Jennie. What happened was this: we weren’t really paying attention, and then the strumming began. And we instantly became Steph’s biggest fans. Afterwards she came over to our table and we had a hearty chat about uni life, went and grabbed a drink, got given free EPs, and got impromptu invited to a London house party. We left campus with an unsettling sense of wonder. As soon as I got home, I fed the EP into my itunes and had a listen; I had especially liked her cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark and the heart-wrenching Trying to ResistSteph’s recently been featured on Tenterhook’s flagship track London Heart, on which I was hoping I’d hear a little more of her own singing (although the song is perfectly gorgeous just the way it is). She’s got one of those voices you could possibly listen to forever, and it doesn’t hurt that she happens to be one of the coolest kids on the block.

Three Articles

Briefly, I’d like to applaud the BBC for its sensible journalism in an era when you have to dig like a starving dingo for quality news/writing, while being spoon-fed drivel from dusk till dawn. As it’s a widely understood concept, I won’t go anywhere near a tangent of abuse over the appalling lack of self-education out there, but will instead highlight my personal favourites of the day.

  1. Cameron’s newest stunt about ‘benefit tourism’; being one of these horribly naughty (potentially job-stealing) EU immigrants myself, I find the recent EU farce to have gotten completely out of hand (mainly as a result of atrocious journalism). Curious as I am about society’s absurdities, I couldn’t keep myself from reading some of the deeply intellectual remarks that always seem to surface once you invite the more clueless parts of the public to have a say. I know that what I just wrote comes off as smoothly as a goat trail (and incredibly undemocratic), but if a society fails to educate itself it’s obviously welcoming disaster with open arms. It seems as if between the freedom ohomeycameron120dpif being a cretin and the freedom of doing minimal research, we’re applauded for our emotional braying and not for basic, civilized, educated correspondence. Anyway. I shall only fleetingly mention that when it comes to ‘job stealing’ and how the blue collar jobs ‘offered to the British workforce’ are ‘below their dignity’, I can tell you that if the UK universities offered free/cheaper education to the UK public, or maybe educated nurses and NHS staff for free (they seem to forget this is a very well-off country) instead of making them pay appalling sums of money to perform a relatively low-paid job, the NHS wouldn’t be looking elsewhere. The public would hardly feel like it’s competing for blue collar jobs. Can we just like, take a moment to think about this. Privatising the universities has basically made a large percentage of the UK public border-unemployable, unless they had money to begin with. As the comments show.
  2. Danny Shaw’s article about sex offenders; with the Ellie de Freitas and Ched Evans cases plastered all over the place, it’s funny how this is finally brought up. And just so painfully obvious. In the first case, we have a young woman with bipolar who mustered the courage to report a man she didn’t have enough evidence against, but who had clearly done her wrong in some way (I say this only because the police believed her story). The case was dropped, the man went unnamed and wasn’t even brought to court – and suddenly there’s a huge fuss, lots of money thrown at the whole thing, and a young woman takes her own life. In the second case, we’ve got a convicted rapist who is suddenly invited back to be a public figure, still denying his guilt. And then we ask ourselves why rape and sexual assault is so seldom reported – well, you sure don’t get this sort of contradictory hullaballoo over alleged robberies, I can tell you that. Shouldn’t we, as a society, have a little more sense and a little less prejudice? The year is 2014. Ordinary people don’t sing rape from the rooftops, they just want a fair chance in the justice system. Why would a jury even be used for the Max Clifford case? Anybody willing to illuminate me?
  3. The fined banks; I’m terribly ignorant on this subject, but I feel like we all knew this was sort of happening. But – quite the interesting subject to acquaint myself with. My only question (scroll down to the chat room interaction part): how clever do we actually think these blokes are? I was simply waiting for the ‘well played’. Mate.

A Short Word

Considering I’m lazy and ill this wonderfully ordinary Tuesday evening, this is about to be a bit of a random one. But do not fret! I have a way of rambling my way toward better things. Tomorrow I’m shockingly going to roll out of bed, hit the gym, and then (hopefully) at some point attend the Rembrandt exhibition at the National Gallery. I am super excited about this, and you should be, too. It’s kind of a big deal.

Self-portrait in oriental attire with poodle. Personal favourite.

I will then (hopefully) also write a long, semi-educational Rembrandt post that will mainly consist of swooning and mourning the death of real painting, so please prepare yourselves. It’s not like his late work is a bundle of fun (he eventually became rather poor and rather sad); I’m expecting some remarkably gloomy self portraits, the frequently criticised slapdash style of his late career, and lots and lots of feelings.

Other than that, I did a small dose of amorphous pondering on what I’d like for Christmas (strictly material), and my top four options are as follows:

Donations (in transfer/check/cash/solid gold/property) are very, very welcome..

I’m Yours

This is certainly no music blog (and I harbour no greater knowledge in the area in order to pretend it is one). However, one of my oldest childhood friends, the wonderful Alexandra Berglöf, released her first song this summer (with accompanying youtube video) called I’m Yours – and it’s tremendously catchy. She has, more importantly, got a wonderful jazzy voice going for her. Alex has recently decided to pursue music full-time, after graduating from the University of Edinburgh. I wish her all the success in the world, and add a soundcloud track she’s featured on.

You can find a little promo site for her here, and here’s her facebook page, too.