Saturday, 29 June 2013

Bits and Bobs

It's been a while since I did a bits and bobs post (thanks to some pretty busy weekends) so I have loads of bits and bobs to share today. There's been lots of really interesting things about too - yay for high-quality journalism!

- A fascinating look at the woeful dirth of films about women. And speaking of women in films, here's an article looking at the newest incarnation of the Superman franchise and whether or not Lois Lane is a modern woman.

- The Atlantic tries to explain a mysterious mass extinction event.

- A woman shares her story about living with an adopted murderer in the family.

- Have you all seen the hilarious parody PSA about 'bitchy resting face'? If not, check it out immediately. And then read this great article about why women are expected to smile more. As someone who is frequently told by complete strangers to smile more when walking about minding my own business, this article resonated with me a lot.

- It has been pretty well established thus far that I am really into maps. Here's an awesome, hand-drawn map of the world depicting the adventures you can undertake in each country - it's like a cartographic bucket list.

- Here are some mind-blowing photos of space. I really want to check out this exhibition!

- The Guardian sheds some light on the atrocious ways that some ministers have been manipulating statistics recently.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Vienna Part III: Palace

Spent our last day in Vienna at the beautiful Schonbrunn Palace - the gardens were so big, they felt endless.

 View of the fountain and the Gloriette perched on top of a hill...

 Feeling enthusiastic...
 Beautiful roses!

 We clambered to the top of the hill for tea and cake at the cafe in the Gloriette. The cakes were amazing!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Vienna Part II: Roses

Grab a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable - this post is epic ...

There was a beautiful rose garden near the Rathaus... we were here for a long time...

 The Karlskirche is absolutely beautiful - you can go up inside the dome and see the frescoes up close which is amazing.

The adorable cafe inside the Sacher Hotel... We had traditional Viennese Sacher Torte which was a surprisingly light and lovely chocolate cake.

The Belvedere is a Baroque Palace sitting atop beautiful gardens. Inside is a lovely museum and art gallery. They had a whole gallery of Klimt paintings that were amazing. I'd never been particularly fond of Klimt but seeing the paintings in real life as opposed to just prints was really eye opening. The gold on his paintings really sparkles and the pictures just draw you in.

 Awesome column inside the Belvedere's entrance hall...

Chicken stuffed with mushrooms and ham on a mushroom risotto - so yummy!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Vienna Part I: Courtyard and Cathedral

I went to Vienna with assorted family members last Friday. We arrived in the early evening so didn't have much time to explore; we just went into the city centre for a little wander and a lovely hearty dinner.

 Our hotel had this really cute little courtyard/ garden. We had breakfast here every morning.

 St Stephen's Cathedral with its amazing tiled roof. The lens flare is not my attempt to be arty; my camera is rubbish and the sun was setting and this was the best I could do.

 Lovely little flower shop in the square near the Cathedral. 

 Lovely Jesuit church - we had dinner right next door.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Bits and Bobs

I'm sorry this 'Bits and Bobs' post is a few days late but I only just got back to London after a long weekend in Vienna with assorted family. Epic Vienna posts will be forthcoming...

- Ever wondered what it's like to be in a gang?

- It is commonly assumed that good street lighting lowers crime rates in urban areas. Curious about this assumption, psychologists designed several experiments to study whether darkness really does affect our behaviour.

- A good explanation of why the NSA surveillance scandal matters.

- Check out this article from the BBC looking at the gay community inadvertently created by Mussolini.

- Why are so many wedding dresses strapless when they flatter virtually no one?

- This isn't an interesting article I've read this week; this is one of my favourite blogs. Illustrator James Gulliver Hancock is attempting to draw every building in New York - go check it out!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Secret Tea

Rahul and I went to the Soho Secret Tea Room for Afternoon Tea. I've been there before and was a little bit disappointed; I didn't think it was really worth the price. But the cake selection was much better this time (and the portion sizes far more generous) so I felt far more satisfied this time round. 

But to be honest, the main appeal of the Secret Tea Room isn't really the quality of the food and drink but the kitsch 40's aesthetic and the thrill of having tea in a 'secret' tea room (the tea room is above a pub and can only be accessed with a booking). The whole experience is fun and feels like an event rather than just tea.

 The strawberry tart was all kinds of amazing. And the chocolate brownie was incredibly rich and dense.

Photo courtesy of Rahul's instagram...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

A Sunny Day in London Town

I'm very close with my sister and I'm very grateful for everything she does for me (I'm the youngest of three and therefore have always been spoilt by my older siblings). This sunny Saturday we spent the whole day wandering around London and generally having a lovely time.

It wasn't until after I took this photo that I realised the sun lines up perfectly with the top of the Shard. I love the contrast between the different types of architecture which so typifies the streets of London.

Charlotte and I got frozen yogurt at Gelateria 3Bis in Borough Market. The frozen yogurt is amazing and pretty reasonably priced compared with Pinkberry or Snog. The ice cream also looked incredible so we'll have to go back and try them some time.

 Cheese and wild herbs for sale in the market. Then chutneys and balsamic vinegar in the background. 

 Giant mountain of meringues!

Charlotte and I then walked to the Shortwave Cinema in Bermondsey to see Populaire (the picture above was taken in their lovely bar). I thought Populaire was very charming! It would have been very easy for the relationship between the two main characters to appear sleazy and exploitative (which it sometimes does) so it's a real testament to the ability of the actors that the relationship comes off as sweet and genuine as it does.

The one thing that really bothered me about the film was that it's never explained why the main male lead is so obsessed with training Rose (the female lead) to win the World Speed-Typing Championship. There's some vague reference to his past as an athlete and the fact that despite having a lot of natural sporting talent, he never really achieved anything. So perhaps he is pushing her to win so he can live vicariously through her and become a champion. But that is only ever vaguely implied and his obsession with Rose becoming champion is never really explained.

Still, it was a funny and charismatic film. The late '50s costumes were also fantastic. Makes me want to watch the first few seasons of Mad Men again!

Charlotte and I then walked along the South Bank to have dinner at a lovely Mediterranean Mezze place behind London Country Hall. I absolutely love South Bank - there's always so much going on. Saturday evening there were numerous pop-up food stands, a community garden project, an artificial beach and, of course, countless street performers. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Bits and Bobs

Here are some interesting things I've been reading this week...

- Bloomberg Businessweek have an interesting article about companies selling cheap solar panels in Africa to provide people with affordable electricity.

- I love books. Look at this stunningly beautiful bookshop in a former theatre in Buenos Aires. And then check out this list of the 25 most beautiful public libraries in the world. And then check out this list of the 25 most beautiful university libraries in the world. And then, perhaps, visit an actual library - the British Library sells amazing cupcakes...

- Here are some amazing photos of waves by photographer, Pierre Carreau. The stillness of the photos is eerily beautiful; they look like they've been sculpted from glass!

- As has been made abundantly clear on this blog before, I love maps. Check out these maps showing the massive variations in pronunciation and dialect across the US. I'd love to see something similar done for the UK which, despite being significantly smaller, probably has an equally diverse range of dialects. 

- This is an interesting article looking at the relationship between black women and their natural hair. It reminds me of Zadie Smith's wonderful book, White Teeth, which I devoured from cover-to-cover as a teenager. My favourite parts of White Teeth were always the ones about Irie, the daughter of an inter-racial marriage struggling with her identity while growing up in London. It's interesting to think about how much our physical appearance affects our identity and internal vision of ourselves

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Bows and Planes

For years I'd always avoided high-necked tops because of the rule espoused by all fashion magazines that women who are, shall we say, generously endowed, should only really wear V-necks. But when I found this top with its gloriously large, flower-patterned bow, I didn't care whether it's neckline was appropriate for my figure, all I cared about was that I thought it was fun and pretty. So screw fashion rules - I'm not going to pass up on a fabulous item of clothing just because someone, somewhere has decided that my figure is not suited to it.

I completely forgot that I hadn't posted these photos from the last Bank Holiday weekend. For some family bonding time, my father, brother and I went to see the Shuttleworth Collection. The Shuttleworth Collection is a huge collection of aviation paraphernalia demonstrating the first 100 years of flight. They have some really amazing old planes in their collection. For example, they have Louis Blériot's monoplane which was exhibited at Selfridges after the first cross-Channel flight in 1909.

Some of the older contraptions are so rickety and fragile-looking that I'm frankly amazed that anyone volunteered to actually try and fly them. Incredibly, most of the planes in the collection still work and are flown from the airfield next to the museum for special events.

The brother... reading about a very early wooden and canvas plane...

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Chime for Change

On Saturday I was lucky enough to go to the Chime for Change concert in London. Chime for Change is a philanthropic community working to promote Education, Health and Justice for women and girls around the world. What's great about Chime for Change is that it brings attention to a wide range of different, interesting projects. You can peruse all the projects on their site, read about them, watch videos about their work, and then donate to the ones that really speak to you.

The concert itself was amazing and I'm immensely grateful to my wonderful friend, Jay, and her family for the ticket. 

For me the highlights were Florence & the Machine (Florence floated across that stage like some sort of ethereal earth-goddess; I couldn't take my eyes off her), John Legend singing 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', and J-Lo's cover of the The Beatles' 'Come Together' with Mary J Blige.

"Savour this moment guys... we will never again be this close to James Franco."

And, of course, Beyonce's performance was the absolute perfect finale to an awesome night. I loved the enthusiasm with which the whole stadium sang along to 'Irreplaceable' (one of my all time favourite Beyonce songs). Also, Jay-Z's cameo appearance in 'Crazy in Love' left me grinning maniacally.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Bits and Bobs

Last weekend didn't have a 'Bits and Bobs' post because I had a pretty busy Bank Holiday weekend. So here's some interesting things I've read over the last two weeks...

- Here's some amazing photography of elements taken up close.

- About a month ago I wrote an article about the 'princess phenomenon' and how the problem with young girls looking towards princesses as role models isn't really a problem with princesses but with our narrow definition of what a princess is (pretty, quiet and acquiescent). The Atlantic has just published a similar article looking toward a more expansive definition of princess.

- The Guardian has a pretty interesting profile of J Crew Creative Director, Jenna Lyons.

- I loved this poignant piece in the New Yorker about memory and war.

- Reading this article about the psychology behind 'fat talk' was pretty eye-opening. I'm now very aware of how often my friends and I engage in this type of conversation and just how damaging it is.

- In the wake of the murder of Drummer, Lee Rigby, in Woolwich, the Wall Street Journal suggests a new way to look at fundamentalism and terrorism.