Lights of Summer

I once said to somebody that the world of film photography, and learning about it all, was similar in nature to opera, or fine wine – they are bottomless pits of niche expertise where you can keep on learning forever – which is a little intimidating.

Nevertheless, I took my first camera film in at least a decade to the developing shop to be developed this weekend. It had taken me all summer to finish the film. Convinced that I would be embarrassingly handed a packet of blank photographs, I was surprised to see that they all came out, and not just that, but split themselves merrily into two distinct camps: the light summer, and the dark.

Scan 9web
Scan 10web
summer lights
Scan 12web
Scan 13web

As today happens to be a day of luminescent pastels and sunshine in Bristol, I thought I'd post these summer lights, with all their pastelled optimism, and save the darks for later this week, when it will probably be grey and dark, raining, and altogether more fitting.

The lights are all luminescent and bright, while the darks are underexposed and brooding. It sums up the summer we've had quite well: there has been some lovely hot light, but plenty cold dark.


Colour Block

apc yes1
Image via A.P.C.

I always used to read magazine articles about the dreaded 'colour blocking' with some disdain. That was until a couple of weeks ago, when I realised that as it turns out, I wear nothing but blue. I'm doing it right now. Unoriginal as this already is, it is not a new problem.

When I was about fourteen years old, at boarding school and sharing a tiny room with three other fourteen-year-old girls (not the greatest time of my life), I had the smallest wardrobe you have ever seen, and, inside it, was a sea of blue wooly jumpers and blue jeans. There was also a tan sheepskin coat from La Redoute that everyone laughed at and that I considered to be the height of French couture, but that's beside the point.

All this blue was a problem, my fourteen-year-old self realised, and by the next school year, I had entered my psychedelic stripy Gap jumper years, which were a debatable improvement.

Image via A.P.C.

But it's not all bad! I recently put my wardrobe into colour order the other day and was entirely satisfied by the result; Joanna Goddard knows New Yorkers who dress all in one colour on purpose; and A.P.C have, helpfully for those New Yorkers, organised their new collection in colour order too.

I do need to break away from the blues though, I will never carry it off the way the girl in Joanna's article can. Perhaps instead, I'll linger longer on the reds section of the A.P.C. site, and see if I can shop out some things like these:




Polaroid cameras always seem like some kind of magic. One futuristic click, some whirring, and you get a fully mounted photograph. They must have seemed even more like magic in the 1960s, which is when the camera that took these was made, although I can't seem to find a huge amount out about the dates of the photographs themselves. All I know is that they were taken with a 1967 Polaroid land camera.

The Paris Review captions the top left-hand photograph 'Coney Island ritual' – what is so fascinating about it is that it could easily be a photograph of a ritual taken last week, or five decades ago. The photographer, Misty Woodford, has a website which reveals exactly nothing about them.

all photographs reproduced via Misty Woodford, taken from here

The pinks and blues and the general haze of these polaroids really caught my attention. I like the way that the camera is at once able to capture the essence of the carnival but also the ethereal atmosphere of a crunchy snowy morning. While I like using things like Instagram, there is certain saturation point that I am definitely reaching with fake-polaroid applications, and seeing the quality of the real thing is part of the reason why.

Whatever decade these were taken in, they must have been taken so carefully, with every click clicked with respect to the prohibitive expense of a polaroid film. The feel of the photographs is a combination of this and the real limitations of the development rather than on purpose to achieve a particular 'vintage' style. Either way, either decade, either atmosphere – I like them. Oh, and those shoes too.


The Glorious Hour

The Hour

It has been accidental Romola Garai season in my living room this past week. It all began with watching the dreadful Stephen Poliakov film The Glorious 39 after a 7-hour bus journey (if I had been less exhausted, I hope I would have turned it off rather than watching the whole thing) and ended with catching up on the not dreadful at all Abi Morgan BBC series The Hour. As a result of all of this (and the fact that I can't have been the only one rooting around for a 1940s nurse's cape after watching Atonement) I can tell you for certain that Romola Garai always gets the best costumes, no matter how good or bad the writing.

If you haven't seen it, The Hour is a new BBC drama centred around a 1950s news programme (called 'The Hour') which aims to break the strict boundaries of news reporting and bring something new to the growing 1950s television audience. Despite all this boundary breaking, the most unusual thing about the programme itself is that its producer is a woman (Romola Garai as Bel Rowley) who refuses to be cowed by the widespread sexism spouted by various politicians and, occasionally, her boss.

The Hour

The Hour

The Hour

The Hour

The Hour

The Hour

The Hour

The Hour

The storyline of a woman in a man's world in the middle of the last decade brings inevitable comparisons with Mad Men – but that's really where the similarities end – BBC drama is nothing to the power of the American television networks, and, in this case, that's rather why I like it. The slick offices and shine of 1960s advertising are far away, and instead we get a rather more realistic picture of what life in 1950s city workplaces was probably like: less flouncy mid-length skirts and high-level grooming; more polystyrene ceilings, grey metal chairs, terrible coffee and unashamed sexism.

That aside, I do admire Bel Rowley's way with a headscarf, colourful cardigan and a pencil skirt (and, as the Guardian points out, sleeves), and reporter Freddie Lyon's grey flannel suits. I was going to put together a couple of Hour-inspired outfits for this post, but it seems that colourful waisted cardigans are in short supply as the high street is currently deep in 2011's take on the 1940s. Just another reason why The Hour is nothing like Mad Men.


sightseeing #2

I enjoyed putting my last 'sightseeing' post together so much that I thought I'd do another. I often find the internet to be quite overwhelming in the information that it holds - it's quite easy to find yourself drowning in it - so it's nice to pick out some simple things that have made an impression, revisit them, and pass them on.

sightseeing no.2
1. Rose Martini
I've had a little bit of my brain devoted to cocktails over the last while - there's nothing not to like, of course - it's all the fun of baking with a recipe with a drink at the end of it. Someone mentioned the idea of a rose herbal tea & vodka cocktail a few weeks ago, and I've been on the hunt for some good rose tea to try it with. Sweetened, I think it could be the perfect summer drink. This recipe, by Jacinta Moore (of BawkBawkBawk), was done for Design Sponge a while back, but the sweet, rose tinted photographs have made me even more determined to find that tea and try it out.
There's something calmly fascinating about still dance photography, and this selection of dance stills through the decades tells its own story somehow. From the porcelain students with their Grecian urns in 1932 to the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1984, dance seems to weave its own way through the zeitgeist of the decades, held together by the fact that 'Some feelings and even some thoughts are too deep for words and have to be seen to be believed', as the article puts it. These also remind me of some fantastic ballet videos my friend Hannah has been posting recently: my favourite of her favourites is here if you're interested too.

Totokaelo/site inspiration
I have a feeling that this might only be new to me, but no matter. I came across the website via Kate Miss on Twitter this week, and I can't stop looking at it. The layout is so perfectly simple, and the styling is clean and strong with combinations likely do-able with things you already have, if, on the off chance, you don't have a spare $794 for a cardigan.
It seems unfair that menswear is so very accessible to women, but womenswear is so off limits to men. But, oh well. Pinching things from the other side of the wardrobe has become a favourite occupation of mine, but hasn't quite reached bags to such an extent. But! Reading this article, it all makes sense: men's leather bags are made with functionality and durability in mind – two things usually missing from the general women's bags scene – and they go with just about anything and are meant to get a little worn and scruffy over a long career – the implication being that if you have a scruffy bag, you're wiser than everyone else. Like those rose-tinted cocktails, I feel that there's everything to like about this, apart from perhaps the prices of those NYT-favoured examples of course.

& some others
* Reactions to the London/English Riots
It would seem strange to me to do a post about things that I've been interested in over the last week without mentioning the one thing I've been talking about solidly for the majority of it. The riots at the beginning of this week, which began in London and then aimlessly spread across the country (including briefly to Bristol), have been totally devastating to everyone, not least to beautiful architecture which once steadfastly survived the Second World War, but has now been razed to the ground for no reason whatsoever. I found Penny Red's reaction to the riots in London and Camilla Batmanghelidjh's Independent article on their root causes to be very insightful and this piece in the New Yorker just sums it all up. The heartbreaking damage is illustrated best by this Guardian graphic. Of course, there's always some humour to be had, andPhotoshop a Looter is pretty hilarious.



I'm pleased to be in August, the pulled thread leading to high summer's ragged edge. All (well, most) of the long-awaited, long anticipated, long-planned-for events of the summer are over and I'm already looking forward to when it gets cold enough to burn the logs I've been drying in my fireplace all summer long and drinking whisky & old fashioned cocktails beside them as they blaze away. Looking back on my posts from last year, I was at this point in July, so I consider this a definite improvement.

So, I'm pleased that it's August, but I'm even more pleased with the little details of the last few months that have been captured in my camera. Now I'm looking forward to developing the pictures from a recently resurrected film camera that I've used sparingly over the last few months.


my sister's beautiful hair
peas from the pod

summer pudding & champagne

neutrals, cos


A long-awaited piece of on-sale a.p.c. to add to my wardrobe of Breton tops - this one is by far the softest of them all
My sister's beautiful hair
Peas straight from the pod - the only way I'll ever eat them
Summer pudding & champagne, in the garden, of course
Neutrals on a visit to Cos
A little Russian family on my mantelpiece



I often find weddings quite bizarre affairs, but I had a feeling I'd like this one. As it turned out, my faith in them, once only kept quietly burning by the thought of low-key City Hall, was completely restored this weekend at a wedding of friends that I went to in Brighton. It was calm, simple and beautiful. Nothing awkward, just a perfect celebration.

I always insist on taking a camera – I'm often at a loss for something to do with my hands, and a camera can keep me entertained forever. I was lucky enough to borrow a fancy new lens, which was so incredible to use that it has jumped firmly up to the top of the 'things I'm saving up for' list. I got a little carried away with the details – there were some really fantastically put-together outfits there. The brights (see below and which I've mentioned before) were particularly inspiring.

The third picture from the bottom is Ben, wearing my grandfather's tie clip and his grandfather's cufflinks (which you can't see in this picture). Quite a nice symmetry, I think. There may be a few more pictures on my Flickr, if you are interested to see more!

In other, entirely unrelated, news, I was sad to hear this morning that Ellen Burney has decided to finish blogging at Vagabondiana. Her blog was always so inspiringly put - I do hope she decides to return some time!