Bits & Pieces

Spring never usually has this effect on me – I'm usually more of an autumn girl – but this time round I've been unable to resist the temptation of little springy bits and pieces. 

It might be some small subconscious attempt to prepare for my month away (trying to make up for the fact that so far I have planned nothing apart from where I'm sleeping), or perhaps I'm just coming round to the season a little more than usual. Either way, the compulsion has resulted in the acquisition of a couple of things that I'm pretty pleased with.

I bought this top mainly for the pretty collar (which is not a good reason, I realise) and although I'm not entirely convinced by the print, I think I'm coming round to it. I'm sure there's a rule that says you can't possibly go wrong with herons...

My usual incredibly cheap H&M sunglasses. When I was in high school, I had a reputation for not being trusted with watches (they always ended up in hockey skirt pockets and then the washing machine) and although I have improved on that front, I am still at the same stage with sunglasses – I can't be trusted with a fancy pair, so these will have to do. I quite like them though.

This top is actually Ben's mum's, but I'm borrowing it. The picture is of the back, because I love tops with buttoned backs – there's something about them, although I'm not sure what. It's my new favourite thing anyway, and the rusty brown 1940s colour is perfect.

I'm always pleased when The Gentlewoman comes through my letterbox, and although I'm not sure that this is the best issue they've done so far, I'm enjoying it all the same.

Last of all, some tulips that we rescued from the supermarket. I always feel like I'm rescuing flowers when I buy them from soulless chain shops – almost as if something as lovely and natural as a flower shouldn't be allowed to be sold in huge numbers by huge corporations for huge profit. Anyway, we rescued them, and although they didn't last very long, poor things, they were pretty nice while they did.


On Portraits

Last year I was given this little book – it's a catalogue of portraits entered into the Taylor Wessing Portrait competition and displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in London. I've had it around for a while, and I've been flicking through it every so often just to be amazed at the subtleties and skill, and it keeps bringing me back to something I've been thinking about a lot recently. 


I find portrait photography wonderfully brave. While I like taking photographs on my little jaunts around the country, I'm always aware that they are often missing a real subject. I've been daydreaming lately about being brave enough to ask a stranger if I can take their photograph, and it has become a bit of a long-term ambition – a bravery I can work towards.

Portraits are often so subjective – initially for example, I thought the girl with the guinea pig was in a testing lab, but she's actually volunteering at an agricultural show – and what I like about portraits is that that kind of reaction is something that can't really be removed by the endless internet cycle of pinning and repinning etc. This is especially true, I think, when there are people taking portraits like those in this little catalogue. Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to take some of my own.


The Paragon

We were lucky enough this weekend to get a little tiny taste of spring.  

It hasn't been a particularly cold winter, (there has barely been a frost) but it seems an age since the sun was last here. To make the most of it Ben and I walked up to Clifton Village, the fancy part of Bristol, and wandered around the fancy shops with all the fancy people. I took my film camera along, to finish the film off – the rest of the photographs didn't work quite so well, but I quite like how springlike these ones are.

Scan 11

Scan 5

Scan 12

Scan 8

Scan 6

We came across a little curved street that I've never spotted before called The Paragon, which is the most romantic street name I've ever heard. It was a beautiful little terrace, with brass door knockers and enormous windows looking into equally enormous and expensive lounges. I can't help but look in when a window like that presents itself. 


Sightseeing #5

I haven't done a sightseeing post in a little while, and I kind of like them, so I thought I'd do another. I've noticed a lot of people talking about the same things at the same time recently – which I find fascinating – and some things that are completely different but have certain characteristics that link them together. So, here are a couple of things that caught my eye recently.

1. Motivational Music Mixes
The work I've been doing lately has been gradually moving away from aggressive reading (i.e. book editing – it often feels like aggressive reading to me) to things that don't require the 'words' part of my brain. This means that I can finally listen to music with lyrics while I'm working without getting distracted. I noticed that Anna at Door Sixteen and Kate of For Me, For You both posted motivational, anti-procrastinatory work mixes recently, both of which are so, so good. Kate's mix is great for introductions to new music while productively working away, while Anna's mix is perfect for a serious motivational hit (which is something I regularly require). 


2. Blogging Honestly
I noticed a lot of posts about blogging honestly in the last week of February too. Personally, I spend a lot of time worrying about this blog and where it's going etc, and it has been so interesting to read others' perspectives. Kate (I try not to post about the same person twice when I do these posts, but as Kate started this all off for me, I have to make an exception!) posted about putting a regular series of hers on hold last week, linking to a Brian Ferry post on the honesty of lifestyle photography, which I absolutely agree with, while Hila at Le Projet d'Amour posted about blogging the 'perfected life' and the honesty in that.

I find it quite interesting that I've worried a bit about linking to these posts, because linking to something not 100% positive feels quite strange, but I think that's actually part of the positivity plot of the blogging world: it's actually so important to balance things out a little. It also makes me realise that it's perfectly normal to consider the direction your blog is taking, and perfectly acceptable to change it if it isn't working for you, which is enormously reassuring.

3. Anonymity in the City
A week or so ago, I read this New York Times article about an ex-barista – retired from coffee and working on his career as a writer, but still being recognised in the street for his coffee – and really loved it. Anyone who has ever worked in a cafe, I'm sure, can identify with the story – and it reminded me of the many times I've avoided the eyes of old regulars when I pass them in the street, despite the fact that I can still remember their coffee orders four years on. 

For me, that wish to keep a certain (past) part of your life anonymous, contrasted perfectly with Vic's recent project 'An Extra Day', which I absolutely love. Her idea was to use February's extra day to meet 24 new people in London – one for every extra hour.

What I love about this, and what made me relate it to the barista in the NYT, was that they are essentially both about anonymity in the city: instead of assuming knowledge of a person and blustering on, as the people in the article do, Vic takes time to really connect with the anonymous people she meets, distilling them into a perfectly succinct and insightful line or two. My favourites were probably Tom, the Polish civil engineer working in a toy shop and Whytnee, who had nothing left to do but say goodbye. The portraits are beautiful.

In other news, last week I did a very short interview for new site the Everygirl, which can be found here, if you would like to read it!