Monday, 29 December 2014

Winter Wonderland

Bonjour,

It snowed quite a lot on Saturday, and now everything is covered in what I romantically consider to be a thick layer of icing sugar. It's a shame it couldn't have come two days earlier, as we'd have had the first white Christmas in years.

Yesterday was glorious, so after wrapping up warm I ventured outside to take a few photos of the scenery with my new camera - these are the first of the photos I've taken with it to appear on my blog! I'm really pleased with the quality and such, it's more than a cut above my phone's camera I think you'll agree.




x

Friday, 26 December 2014

Favourite Xmas Presents of 2014

Bonjour,

Happy Boxing Day! I hope you had a lovely Christmas yesterday if you celebrate it, if you don't then I hope you just had a wonderful day. I'd just like to add that my Christmas went exactly as I explained in my last post - it's funny how some things never change.

Today I thought I'd do a quick post to show you my absolute favourite Christmas presents I got yesterday. I didn't do anything like this last year as I stopped blogging in about November, but this year I've done a better job of keeping up the posting, it seems. But anyway, I didn't want to post photos of every single little thing I got because I'm in no way trying to brag about what I was lucky enough to receive, but I still wanted to share my new favourite things.


Perhaps my absolute number one favourite is this book, Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher. It's essentially the book form of the website Letters of Note, a collection of entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters from/to famous and not-so-famous people, spanning centuries (the oldest one is from the 14th century BC and the most recent only a few years old). I've only read about 25 of the 125 letters, but I'm thoroughly enjoying myself - my favourite so far has been the one from Mary, Queen of Scots to Henry III of France dated February 8th 1587, in which she explains that she is to be executed the following day. Amazingly, there is a copy of the actual original letter in almost indecipherable handwriting and even more confusing old French, but luckily it is accompanied by a translated transcript. I also laughed out loud at the letter from comedy script editor Ian Main to the BBC after reading a pilot script of Fawlty Towers, in which he describes it as "as dire as its title" and "a kind of 'Prince of Denmark' of the hotel world". This thrilled me immensely, as not only am I a die-hard Fawlty Towers fan (my brother and I can quote entire episodes), I am also currently knee-deep in Hamlet for my upcoming app English exam and any references to it will trigger my Hamlet receptors in a flash. What I also love about this book is that each letter has a small introductory note to provide some context.

One of my other favourites is the boxset of The Addams Family DVDs. I usually get a boxset of some description every Christmas, and while it's traditionally Doctor Who, this year I opted for a something a little more creepy and kooky. I watched about 35 of the grand total of 64 episodes when they were up on YouTube, but since they were taken down I decided it was finally time to invest in the actual DVDs. I haven't watched any yet, but I'm SO excited about these!

I also got a new camera, hurrah! Or should I just say camera, as my old one is a Sony Cybershot DSC-S500 that I've had since about 2007 and which has been broken for at least 4 years. Anyway, I got the the Nikon Coolpix S3600, which to be honest I don't know much about, only that it will take photos which are a damn sight better than my phone can. I'm still getting to grips with all the settings, but I'm determined to become better at photography this coming year. Unfortunately I couldn't exactly use it to take the above photo, as it's not really possible to take of a camera using said camera...

And lastly, nail varnish. I got quite a lot of nail varnish this year, which I'm exceedingly happy about as I've rediscovered a love of it these past few months. I decided to just include one in the photo - this one is super duper sparkly and colourful, and I might actually wear it for New Year's Eve.

That's all for now - although I did get rather a lot of books too, which I might share with you at some point, if only in the interests of living up to my blog's name.

x

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Traditions Chez Moi

Bonjour,

It's unbearably close to Christmas, but somehow I'm still not quite feeling as festive as usual (which probably has more to do with impending exams than anything else but lets just gloss over that). So I thought I'd tell you about the Christmas traditions in my house and basically what we do during the run up and the day itself. I'm very conscious that this is going to be my last year living at home, so although I'll obviously be back for Christmas I'll miss out on some stuff.

Awful as it sounds, I tend to start thinking about Christmas shopping in the summer, or at least the pre-Halloween holidays. I'm usually in England then, so I like to take the opportunity to either have stuff sent there from Amazon to pick up, or generally browse the shops where things tend to be cheaper with a bigger variety to choose from.

Then there's usually a bit of a lull on the Christmas front until the 6th of December, when we celebrate Sinterklaas (or St Nicholas) here in Belgium. For many people this is even more of a big deal than Christmas, but as we're English we keep it very small and my brother and I usually just get chocolate and a satsuma, haha. But the key thing about Sinterklaas is that it marks the beginning of the end of school and the start of the actual festive season!

The next Christmassy event is, of course, putting up the decorations. Despite my annual pleadings to get the tree earlier, my dad usually gets round to it by about the second week of December, so that's when the rest of the decorations go up too. We have the usual fun of carting all the boxes up from the basement, and then the Christmas music goes on while the decorating ensues: my job is to put the greenery around the archway between the living room and dining room (no mean feat as this involves fairy lights and decorations, all the while balancing on a chair) and to try and create the illusion of snow by sticking snowflakes in the windows, while my mum does the mantelpiece and supervises my brother with the outside lights. Then we all help with the tree, after which my brother and I use the leftover decorations to decorate our own little 2-foot-high trees. Here I ought to remark that my dad will generally hide upstairs while this is going on, or else doggedly watch the football which we drown out with the music.


I know some people wait until Christmas Eve to wrap presents and put them under the tree, but we always wrap them in the couple of weeks leading up to the 25th and put them under as soon as they're ready. My mum usually wraps a few of mine and brother's each day while we're at school, and as soon as we get home we rush to be the one that gets to put them under the tree (although I always rearrange his ones afterwards so the display looks more artistic!).

We don't really have many traditions on Christmas Eve, except for hanging our stockings in front of the fire and leaving a mince pie and a glass of milk for Father Christmas, along with a carrot for his reindeer. I'm fairly sure I used to leave a letter with a list of things I wanted (what a demanding child I was!), but that's a tradition that's long since died out. I remember I always used to try and be asleep by about 9pm, my thinking being that the earlier I went to sleep the quicker the morning would come!

As none of our family live close, or even in the same country, we don't usually spend Christmas with them (instead they come at New Year) except for on the odd occasion. I recall a few years ago we had something ridiculous like 10 people over, which stretched our house to the limits! But usually we're all in our respective bedrooms, so first thing on Christmas morning (by which I mean about 8am at a push, although it used to be much earlier when I was little) either I wake up my brother or he wakes me up, and then we rush downstairs to get our stockings, and then take them into our parents' room to open in our pyjamas. This was a clever move back when we were little to keep us occupied for a few hours while my parents actually woke up properly, because we were so desperate to get to the present-opening part of the day.

Then everyone gets up, dressed, and breakfasted, and my dad will start the preparations for lunch. Around 10am, when me and brother can't wait any longer for the actual under-the-tree presents, he can finally be persuaded to leave the kitchen and be dragged into the living room for the legendary present distribution. This can only begin once everyone is seated in their traditional places (me in front of the TV, my brother by the window, my dad on the sofa nearest the tree and my mum on the other one), at which point my brother and I will proceed by picking up a few at a time and giving them out to their respective recipients. We have actual footage of this long-established tradition from 2000, when my brother was only a baby and I was nearly four, in which you can hear me reading the tags and saying very loudly "And this one's for Benjamin! And this verryy big one is for Sophie!" and so on. Once everyone has their presents the opening begins. This used to be an orderly process in which everyone unwrapped one and we went round the circle until there were none left (so my parents could watch our reactions, I think) but nowadays it's more of a free-for-all, while a mountain of wrapping paper grows steadily in a heap between us.

The excitement over, the rest of the day passes among half-eaten selection boxes and Terry's chocolate oranges, until the main event around 4pm: Christmas dinner. The first course is prawn cocktail with avocado, followed the main of turkey, sausages, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts (naturally), carrots, parsnips, stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy. Dessert is Christmas pudding and custard, which always fails to catch fire properly, and sometimes fancy little petit fours as well.

Then comes the annual semi awkward Skype call from my cousins in California, after which the Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who Christmas specials are usually on, so we collapse in front of the TV for a few hours. Next comes the slightly hollow feeling that accompanies the knowledge that it will be a whole year before this day comes round again, so we finish off the selection boxes to remind ourselves it's not quite over yet.

And that concludes my Christmas Day account! I hope you found this vaguely interesting (and well done if you got all the way through it!), and I wish you a very merry Christmas.

x

Friday, 19 December 2014

Happy

Bonjour,

School's finally finished for this year, but sadly I'm yet to get properly into the festive spirit. It doesn't feel at all close to Christmas in my opinion, but in reality it's less than a week and I'm finding that difficult to get my head around!

Anyway, today I just wanted to share my love of Marina and the Diamond's new single Happy, which will be part of her album Froot due to be released this coming April. The album's title track has also been released early, and I really do like it, but I much prefer Happy - it's a lot more raw and emotional which isn't something I necessarily associate with Marina based on her past albums, so I'm hoping Froot will be more along those lines.



x

Monday, 15 December 2014

Bloglovin

Bonjour,

Just a quick note to say that I decided to make an account on Bloglovin, so please follow me there!


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

x

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Fashion Faves & Haul

Bonjour,

Today I wanted to post some pictures of things I've bought recently, but instead of doing a typical haul I thought I'd talk a bit more about my current fashion icons and inspiration, my favourite pieces, and how my interest in fashion really originated to begin with.

Around the ages of 10 to 13, I'd by lying if I said I was at all fashion conscious. Of course there's nothing wrong with that, as barely any girls really are at that age. Looking back, I think I mostly wore things I'd picked out, but having no one to really look up to (such as an older sister), I never realised that clothes could be anything more than bits of cloth you put on your body.

But when I joined the website Stardoll in 2010, my whole perspective changed. Stardoll was originally a dress-up site where you could dress celebrity dolls, but at the point when I made an account it had long since advanced to the stage where each member had their own doll and could purchase clothes for it from a range of shops. I spent a good few months at the obligatory 'noob' stage, wearing the typical outfits, but as the range of stores (and my imagination) expanded, I soon realised the possibilities of a website where you had total freedom to express yourself through something as everyday as clothes. I loved dressing my doll up in all sorts of interesting pieces, changing up the style from one day to the next. Strange as it may seem, it was this, I think, that really sparked my interest in fashion in real life. I came to the liberating realisation that I didn't have to dress the same as everyone else - there were infinite possibilities: the only limits were my daring and bank account.

I would never go as far as to define my 'style' with a particular word, as I never really dressed goth, or preppy, or boho, or anything quite so defined, but gradually I started to develop more and more of an idea of what type of things suited me and how I wanted to express myself to the rest of the world. These days I love creepers, school shoes, velvet, crazy patterned leggings, and have a particular penchant for skirts of any description. Of course, I'm not claiming that wearing creepers makes me unique or original in any way, but in my school they're relatively ground-breaking, being a departure from the usual uniform of Converse and jeans.

I have never been someone who really buys fashion magazines, or even girly-type magazines, so much of my inspiration has always come from the internet. Two other websites were crucial in developing my 'style' and interests: namely Polyvore and Tumblr, both of which revolve around the sharing of photos (albeit in vastly different ways). These days I am less of an avid Stardoll user than I used to be, so these are my mains sources of inspiration. For instance, lately I've been really into the whole vibe of the movie Clueless (which, incidentally, I have never even seen but a few people I follow on Tumblr reblog a lot of stills from it):




I am basically obsessed with plaid, velvet, collars, knee socks and chelsea boots, so you can see where I'm coming from here. Also I could pretty much wear that checked yellow suit every day of my life. I can't say I'm nuts about every little detail, but the overall vibe really appeals to me as something I'd like to try to emulate.

Another favourite discovery of late which has proved quite an inspiration is Olympia Le-Tan's fall 2014 ready-to-wear collection. There is so much I love about this collection, especially fluffy pink jumper (spoiler alert!) and the playing card prints:





Of course there are limits to what I can actually wear in real life, but I truly adore getting inspiration and putting together imaginary outfits in my head. To me, fashion is first and foremost a creative outlet, one more way I can express myself in. I love the process of deciding what to wear, even just to school, from one day to the next, and I've really collected far too many clothes over the years.

On that note, here are a few things I bought when I went shopping in town on Saturday:

Pink Fluffy Cardigan from H&M, €24.99

This is my favourite thing I've bought in a long, long time. It wasn't overly pricey, but perhaps a little more than I'd ideally liked to have paid, but I decided it was well worth it. I absolutely adore it! It's just as fluffy and cutesy as it looks, and I honestly feel like I'm channelling Alicia Silverstone in it.

Black Disco Pants from H&M, €24.99

The second main thing I got was these shiny disco pants. They are, in fact, black, but especially with my (wonderful) phone camera proved quite tricky to photograph. I love them because they're essentially glorified leggings, except they're much more fancy and structured and you can tuck things into them without it looking weird.

Black Tattoo Choker Necklace from New Look, €2.99

My final exciting (hah) purchase was this black tattoo choker necklace. I never had one of these in the mid 2000s when it was cool, and I was thrilled to actually find them in the shops. They're oh-so-nineties, which I love dearly.

And that just about concludes this very much fashion-oriented post. I really enjoyed writing it, and I hope it gave anyone reading it some insight into my fashion interests and inspirations.

x

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."

Bonjour,

How are you? Personally I'm unbelievably tired and school is pretty stressful, but I can glimpse the Christmas holidays on the horizon which gives me hope. Of course, I've got exams the second week back in January so the break isn't going to be work-free by any means, but Christmas is one of my favourite times of year so I'm going to try and enjoy it as much as possible.

Last Wednesday was really exciting, as the English classes in my year went to London for the day! The whole point of going was to see the play Electra, but we also went to the Imperial War Museum which was brilliant, especially as the whole theme of war is very relevant to the periods we're studying in History this year. We went through the Second World War bits, but we spent the most time in the section on the Holocaust which was really intense and harrowing - I think I actually started crying watching some of the witness accounts.

After the museum we took the tube to the area the theatre was in, and had some time to go off and have lunch. My friends and I went to Wagamama's, which was divine, and then we wandered round the Christmas market on the South Bank and drank hot chocolate and inhaled a lot of mulled wine.


The play was brilliant, it was actually a Greek tragedy but obviously translated into modern day English so it was really easy to understand, more so than Shakespeare. It was interesting to see a Greek tragedy performed though, because in my advanced English class we did a lot on the tradition of tragedy and read Oedipus Rex and Medea in class so we have the background and were able to pick out the typical characteristics and discuss it in detail afterwards.

Then we had some free time in St Pancras Station, which was really lovely as it was all Christmassy with lights and garlands and whatnot. Most of us went to Marks & Spencer for food, as is kind of traditional, and wandered around window shopping. Then it was back on the Eurostar and home in less than a couple of hours!

I also got a sneaky few books in a discount bookshop (of course). I already have a copy of Dracula, but it's hardback and quite big so I when I saw there was a '3 classics for £6.99' deal I jumped at the chance and got Dracula, Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Possibly not what you might expect, but I'm half planning on analysing some examples of gothic horror fiction for this year's extended essay in advanced English, so I thought I'd better invest in a few relevant works (obviously I'm not counting Dorian Gray in that, ahah).




Every time I go to London, I realise how much I love it. Even though I'm not technically from there and I've only been a handful of times, I feel such a connection with the whole city - for instance, we were walking down the pavement on some random street in the dark, looking up at all the bright lights of the Christmas decorations and I just felt so exhilarated and happy and just completely at home. Maybe it's the history or or the culture of just the anonymity, but I just felt completely at ease, and I definitely want to live there at some point later in life.

x