Sunday, March 26, 2017

Part One: The Feeling of Hope

What a week of happiness, anger, sadness and ultimately... hope. It was disheartening walking home on Wednesday (we live 2 mins away from St Thomas' Hospital and Westminster Bridge) to see sirens blaring and commotion in the aftermath of what happened.

I know it's probably strange that I'm sharing these smiley photos after such a sombre week, but it definitely brought out a feeling of hope that all is not lost and a reminder to love deeply and madly, even with its consequences.

And thank you for sharing your thoughts in my previous post on the blogging culture, it was great to see so many opinions and safe to say I'm feeling more positive with you lovely lot sticking about.

I was hoping I had more to say than this but I guess not - I've had a great week catching up with my best friend who's in London for the first time but I've also been swamped with work and tedious details.

Some days I am astounded by the possibility of being alive, and I am stunned that I breathe and live right in this moment and it makes me cry. The feeling of hope: doing crosswords for the first time, arguments about the kitchen, playing bossa nova – forever is made up of moments that we act with kindness and bravery, like petals that rise into floral hurricanes in spring and eventually melt into air.

So thank you for reading these small and sometimes insignificant words, and being my interwebs friend! It's a short one today, and I'm off to Greece on Wednesday so see you peeps real soon! Have a good week ahead - let me know what's up with ya!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Originality and The Cookie Cutter Culture in the Blogging World

I originally named this post my Almost Spring Outfit and do the whole low-down and general catch-up but then I realised that there was something that was bugging me for a while. I didn't want this space just to be a place for photo dumps and surface-level conversations consisting of clothes I liked and here's-what-I-wore's and waking up to comments that read "Love that outfit x" and no real conversation behind the person who took their time to type that out.

Lately, I've been feeling that disconnect with the blogging community – I feel dismayed and disappointed whenever I try to talk to someone (with meaningful intentions) but get an extremely generic and uninterested response. I log onto Twitter after work hoping to catch something interesting and funny but always get swamped by POSITIVITY-FIRST messages and relatable tweets which ironically, aren't very relatable.

Why is everyone talking about that same damn top from Zara, or that book, or that podcast?! Why is blogging now becoming a perpetuation of consumerism and trends-led buying habits? Gone are the days where I could talk about my new shoes without the worry of an SEO-worthy title.

And I feel like this 'Cookie Cutter Culture' isn't going to stop anytime soon. And it frustrates me because everyone talks about being special in their own way, and how we've got to embrace individuality; either I'm blind but I just can't see that in a crowd of samey content and running to hottest cafe in town that costs £4 a coffee.

Don't get me wrong, I love and indulge in my fair share of lifestyle and blogger-type posts: pretty flowers, outfit shots, beauty products but when all YouTubers go on about their luxury bag collection totalling to my annual salary and more, you know your girl has got to draw the line. Originality seems like it's now a formulaic approach of being pretty, attending events, going to Maldives and buying the new Givenchy Antigone.

So is anything Original? Cue my inner Critical Theorist à la Adorno and Horkheimer (lol I don't mean to be pretentious but their piece on The Culture Industry has been an enjoyable read for me), spontaneity is now meekly rehearsed and anything enjoyable is something that we curate and monitor as a result of / with intention to seek affirmation from others. We feel closer to happiness if we ruthlessly envision unity: between you and I, because you love the same Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk and if I also say that I love it equally, we are now.... self-empowered women making our beauty choices known because we can.

... wow, I did not mean to get so ~deep~ but you get the flow. What I'm trying to say is, we are trying so hard to advertise Original when ultimately, our photos, our lives, they live a "surrogate identity" that betrays the truth we know very well within ourselves.

For the years that I've been blogging, I have always tried to write things I believe in and with a conviction that I hope conveys meaning  (there was a time where I believe my photos on Instagram were good enough without hashtags but man I was so wrong) – I know and have met some terrific pals through blogging, and some days I wish we all know that we don't always have to like, or post, or post pictures of the same things for the sake of talking to one another or god forbid, be liked by another blogger.

Now on to the outfit bits - my sailoresque top is one of my favourites in the wardrobe and find that it works really well with my ochre corduroy trousers that were €4! I threw on my 10 year-old Converse's and stomped around one afternoon. 

(Outfit: Top - Korea / Trousers - Pull & Bear / Shoes - Converse / Bag - Coach)

Anyway - serious talk is over! Hoping you are having a good week ahead :-) What are you looking forward to? 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Styling My Grafea Birthday Backpack

lavender grafea backpack review

lavender grafea backpack review

Finally sat down to properly blog this outfit that y'all seem to love, featuring this floral embroidered sweater from New Look and my birthday gift to myself – a lavender Grafea backpack. I got it right smack in London Fashion Week, so I felt pretty smug wearing it around, knowing that I was at least 'in the stylish crowd', ha.

lavender grafea backpack review

Anyway, if you know me, you'll know I'm not one for an all-black outfit. I prefer bright and bold colours, and my favourite colours include mustard yellow and a deep sangria.

I didn't want to go all out, so I matched my pastel backpack against the dark-coloured top which I thought gave off a casual but ~cool badass~ vibe. I've been eyeing the Grafea backpacks for years now (I first saw Popcorn on Zoe Suen) and had never felt like I could justify such a big purchase... then your girl got excited pre-birthday and come payday this was firmly in the checkout and to say that I'm completely smitten by the colour is a total understatement.

Grafea is a Manchester-based business which started out with their iconic Hari backpacks, and have since taken over Instagram pages by storm due to the fashionable and hardy design of its bags. It's a well-loved brand which evokes a classical style, and after reading up on many reviews as I could find, I thought it'd be a good investment.

While some people have had issues with the metal clips clanging against each other (=noise) and that the surface of the leather may get scratched/worn/dirtied which is probably true for the lighter colours (white, beige, grey and probably mine too) but I thought it could give off a nice, aged look after using it for a while...

lavender grafea backpack reviewlavender grafea backpack review

These days, I opt for a backpack over a big handbag (that said, I still love all my bags I own) because it's easier on my shoulders and it's so useful for carrying so much. I can fit my camera, water bottle, mini jumper and a scarf, even a laptop if I wanted to. I used to carry the Longchamp Pliage bag to uni and it hurt my shoulder like a biatch and I made the switch to carrying a backpack to work.

So far, I've been really enjoying using the backpack and I always get compliments whereever I go. Once, I was in Yumchaa and these two girls next to me started Googling furiously about the range and it secretly made me happy 'cause that made me seem like such a fashonista (lol, not really).

lavender grafea backpack review

lavender grafea backpack review

Unfortunately (for some) this is leather - but for those who don't mind and are looking for a sturdy backpack, they come in a delightful assortment of colours. I had difficulty choosing between Lavender and Sky (which is currently reduced further if you're interested!) but settled with the former because I liked it more. Grafea also carries other styles of bags, but their most popular is still (I think) the Hari backpack. Feel free to ask in the comments if you have any other questions :-) 

Anyway, sad to say that the New Look jumper is now sold out but there's been so many floral-inspired trends out on the marketplace and if you're looking to cop some for yourself, here are some brilliant alternatives: another from New Look, ASOS, a Zara favourite.

And of course, topping the entire look with the comfiest boyfriend jeans from Subdued and shoes from my favourite footware brand (honestly!) ever. 

lavender grafea backpack review

lavender grafea backpack review

I've spent this weekend relaxing and tidying up and feeling optimistic (!) about Spring being right round the corner, with rare sunshine days coming out to play in London a couple of times this week! How crazy... How have you guys been?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Dublin: Trinity College Library

Dublin, Ireland


After a feast of the sea and amazing scenery, our last stop in Ireland was its capital: Dublin. I've only been here once, because we usually prefer to take on Ireland and its wild rugged coastlines over a city. This time however, we decided to spend a couple of days in this charming little city and on the top of my list was of course, Trinity College's Old Library

It's probably been on every Pinterest board, Instagram, and hailed as a magical heaven on earth. And it didn't disappoint, although it did set us back €14 (ouch) but if you're a student concession rates are available, or if you're lucky to have a friend who studies there, they can bring you in for free. 

A ticket includes the Book of Kells exhibition - illustrating the four Gospels in Latin with decorated texts and designs. While this was quite interesting, I would say the highlight was definitely The Long Room...

long room trinity college library ireland dublinlong room trinity college library ireland dublin

long room trinity college library ireland dublin

Ascending a set of stairs after the Book of Kells, we walked towards the resplendent room housing over 200,000 books! It was musty, old and aged... all sorts of wonderful. It was teeming with classic book spines, gold-lettered shelves and spiral staircases.

Look up and you're greeted with yet another floor of wooden rows, where the upper gallery looms overhead as you stroll down the aisles with marble busts of philosophers and writers.

long room trinity college library ireland dublin

It reminds me of Belle's library, and a sort of Belle Epoque - which is at odds with the minimalist ideals we seem to strive so much for these days. A space which holds histories, something that says: 'you are here and there is so much to live for'.

Wanting to make the most out of our ticket price, we spent quite a long time in here (and because it was cold outside) just silently walking along the shelves over and over, wishing that this was part of real life and that once we made our way out of the library gift shop, that it would continue as it was.

long room trinity college library ireland dublin

long room trinity college library ireland dublin

Alas moments of time and photographs were all we had, and I suppose that's enough. The sublime wooden hall thrilled my inner lit student dream, and brought me back to a wintry room in July (note: Australian winter) with my typewriter and a sad little heart.

The Long Room is worth a visit for anyone who fancies a step back into time, to be greeted with beautiful display of architecture and a snapshot of what life was before Kindles, iPhones and VR.

The Book of Kells and Long Room is easily reached via the main gate of Trinity College in the heart of Dublin. It's open 7 days a week but be sure check for special public holidays like Christmas, Easter and New Year.

long room trinity college library ireland dublin

Have you been before? Are there other beautiful libraries worth visiting? I've been to Livraria Lello in Lisbon and Shakespeare & Co. in Paris, but those were on a much smaller scale! 

(Check out my previous Irish Wild Atlantic way adventures here)
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