Sunday, 27 September 2015

September Favourites 2015 | The Small Desk

I used to find writing Favourites posts quite enjoyable, but I'm increasingly finding them stressful to write, as it has basically become a way of reminding me how quickly time passes. HOW IS IT OCTOBER 2015 in a few days!?

I felt like I was fine with 2010, 2011, even 2012, but as soon as 2013 came it felt like I really had 100% made that transition from graduate to adult, and it still terrifies me today! I think your twenties are weirder than any other time in your life for thinking about the future, because you start to really remember the past. Like when you're 16 and you think about ten years ago, you're six... you can hardly remember it... but when you're 27 and you think about ten years ago, you were 17... I can very much still remember those times.

I know I've come a long way in ten years, but it still freaks me out to think how quickly ten years can go and I don't think you really have that feeling until you're in your late twenties. I know, I know, it must be weirder if you're older than that, but surely you have had more time to adjust!? I duno!

This month I've had a cold for about half of it so haven't really enjoyed it that much, but there have been some highlights along the way and I'm going to talk about them... now!

1. Electric Cinema
My top favourite of this month was going to see Marshland at the Electric Cinema in Shoreditch. I bought the boyf a voucher for this cinema in January, and he only found a film he wanted to see this month! To be fair it was an absolutely stonking (I love that word!) good film. It was the best cinematography I have ever seen. Even though I only saw it for the first time this month it still made my Top 20 Films post.

2. Pottery course
This month I have started a pottery course! After collecting pottery for a while now I thought it would be fun to see how it is made. I'm doing the course with one of my besties; we are two weeks in and we are already using the wheel! It's way harder than it looks, but it is great to do something that isn't looking at a screen. I might do a post on all the things I have made once the course is over. Watch this space!

3. Mum over for dinner
One Sunday this month I had my mum over for dinner and I made a Deliciously Ella curry. I was a little bit concerned as to how it would turn out, as I've never made it before, but it was a success!

4. Cousin's wedding
This was the third wedding I've ever been to, can you believe it!? My cousin got married to her partner of five years in Dulwich Christ Chapel. It was a beautiful ceremony with fantastic music and then a delightful reception afterwards. I wore a £40 dress from ASOS, was pretty pleased with the bargain! I had a bit of drama finding a dress for the wedding, I lost count of the amount of times I bought something online and had to return it! My cousin wore a skirt made by her mum!

5. Chinese takeaway
After work one day one of my old school friends came over and we ordered Chinese takeaway. I think we massively over ordered and ended up lolling on the floor in pain from our over stuffed stomachs!

6. Work conference
What!? A conference in my favourites!? Well, put it this way it had a chocolate brownie break and was in Brighton. Nuff said!

7. Friend's birthday drinks 
Last night I met up with some of the guys I went to Perranporth with, for one of their birthday drinks. Was great to catch up.

8. Walk with the boyf
Went for a walk with the boyf in the park near where we live one Saturday afternoon. I really love going for walks with the boyf, as it gets us away from our computers and phones and we have some quality conversation!

9. Heated drying rack 
My amazing mum bought me a heated drying rack. I highly, highly recommend it, just so you don't have to have your clothes hanging out across the house. It is so nice to have them all in one contained space, and they dry quickly!

10. Succulents from my friend
My friend came over for lunch and brought me a present, which was a little succulent in a glass jar! Basically a little terrarium, which I've been wanting for ages. It was so nice to receive a gift for absolutely no reason!

How has your September been? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!


Thursday, 24 September 2015

There's something about forests | The Small Desk

There's something about forests that I'm a little bit obsessed with. I think it's the joy of being surrounded by nature, walking aimlessly and stumbling upon unexpected gems hidden deep within. It's also the colours and the textures, which I try and bring into my everyday life, whether it's a forest green jumper or a wooden Christmas tree decoration.

I've explored forests in Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and in the UK. The first time I realised how in awe of forests I was, was when I was on a coach in New Zealand going towards Milford Sound. We were driving so high up on the side of a mountain that we could see the tree tops of the forest below. It felt like we were in pre-historic times and it instantly made me feel like I had re-connected with the Earth on some level. I think sometimes we can all get so wrapped up in technology and the manmade that we forget to remember where everything started; from nature, from the Earth.

When I enter a forest for the first time there is something so calming about the sense of feeling lost. A forest sometimes has paths, but with the trees so tall around you and not being able to have much sense of space it is difficult to know quite where you are at all times. The tall trees give you perspective; making you remember how small we are on this planet. When I feel anxious about something I like to imagine myself in a forest and then imagine a bird's eye view of me in the forest, and then me in the town, then the country and then the world. It helps me to remember how insignificant my worries really are. It visualises how nature will always tower over us and provide us with years of wisdom locked within.

When you leave a forest and are at first blinded by the tree-free, bright sky ahead, you feel as though you have just stepped out of a magical world and are smug with glee that you've been able to escape the real world, even just for that moment. Then there are the animals of the forest; in the soil, on the bark of the tree, on the leaf at the top of the tree, you can't count them on one hand. It's fill to the brim with life working away to survive, but then it's also an offering to us humans to run away from the work we do to survive and take a deep breath.

I've found some beautiful pieces of artwork to bring the forest into your home: a) Lucy Driscoll b) Darrelynne c) Peter Donnelly d) Maloriz Home e) David Fleck f) Hacklock

Do you share my obsession with forests? Let me know in the comments below.


Monday, 21 September 2015

Homeware for people who love Zoella | The Small Desk

So I guess you could call this a fairly niche post – a post about one YouTuber's homeware... however it's not just any old YouTuber, it's Zoella.

I am still always amazed by how successful this seemingly average 25 year old is. She owns her own five bedroom house in Brighton and is ALWAYS sharing her new clothes, make-up and, most importantly for this post, homeware.

For a while her favourite homeware shop appeared to be Edited in Brighton. Now, I'm thinking it might be Heal's, which is a pretty darn expensive shop! Anyway, as I am also OBSESSED with homeware I thought I could help some of you like-minded Zoella fans out, by telling you where some of her homeware is from.

1. This grey and yellow cushion is from Edited.

2. I have been wanting this cushion for a while now. It is by a brand called Ferm Living and can be purchased from Made in Design.

3. This cushion used to feature in almost every one of Zoella's videos. It is by the company, Ohh Deer, who also do amazing greetings cards.

4. I have the matching bed linen to this throw... it is from John Lewis.

5. These copper letters come in every letter of the alphabet, but every time I've been into Oliver Bonas to find them they've not had the one letter I've wanted!

6. The Joseph Joseph chopping board set that everyone wants! You can find it on Amazon.

7. This 'Anything' print was bought by Zoe in a print shop in Brighton, but it is by the printmaker, Tom Pigeon.

8. And this 'Everything' print is by the same printmaker, Tom Pigeon.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I know it's a bit different from my usual style of post, but I thought I'd try it out as I thought it was important to share my knowledge of Zoella's homware with the internet! Which is your favourite piece?


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Postcards to Edna | The Small Desk

Every year on the 12th of April we would make the journey to visit my Great Aunt Edna on her birthday. Every year my Mum would bring Waitrose food that could be easily cooked in Edna's slightly temperamental oven. Every year my Dad would expect to be told off by his Aunt for not visiting enough. And every year we would spend the day inside her house, because trying to take a 100-year-old lady on a day trip is near on impossible.

With the exception of her budgie, and after the death of her husband, Norman, Edna lived alone in her own house until the age of 101. This is an incredibly impressive achievement, but it was also an incredibly lonely existence. My parents would ring her regularly, her brother-in-law and his wife stayed in contact, and she had some very loyal neighbours who would visit her once a day. I tried to provide some light relief in the form of letters, postcards, photos and cut outs from magazines. She used to ask me to send her the photos of the 'pretty dresses' from Hello and OK magazine.

Then one day she had to go into hospital, and this is sadly where her life ended. I remember I was in a pub sitting at the bar when I got the call. I can't say I wasn't expecting it, and despite dreading the bi-annual trips to Nottingham, it was weird to say goodbye to this lady who had always been part of my life.

The other day my Mum unexpectedly brought round the postcards and letters I had sent to her, and it got me thinking about the significance of receiving old correspondence you sent to someone who has now passed away. What should you do with them? I often keep things to show any future children I may have. But these letters I wrote to Edna only seem like they would be interesting to Edna and me. Perhaps that is just it; it's something for me to remember her by. It's a record of our relationship. I only have birthday cards from her; our pen-pal set-up was only one way. But that was fine by me, there's no way she could pen a whole letter, not because she couldn't mentally, but because she couldn't physically. I think she liked receiving the postcards, but equally I enjoyed sending her the postcards, hoping that it would make her day.

It's been seven years since she died now, and I still like to make myself feel good by sending postcards, but now it is only to my Grandparents. I only send them to my Grandparents when I'm on holiday, but I like to think they're not as lonely as Edna was. I used to send Edna postcards even from the city I was living in. I hope that if I get to 101 I'll have someone who sends me regular postcards. There's something about them that just says 'I'm thinking about you, you're not forgotten'.


Saturday, 12 September 2015

My Top 20 Favourite Films | The Small Desk

On my way back from Cornwall I was chatting to my friend about foreign films, indie films and documentaries. We were exchanging recommendations on what films we loved, hated and thought were alright. After this chat it made me realise how different my taste in films is to a lot of people. Although I like to think that it's not different taste, it's just I look a bit harder for films, I don't just watch the big blockbusters. Therefore I thought it would be nice to share with you my top 20 favourite films.

There are some blockbusters in the list, but there are also a lot less well-known films. I'd be fascinated to know if you've seen any on the list and what you thought of them. Also, please leave your film recommendations below, especially as it's starting to get colder and darker, and the need for film nights is increasing!

1. The Lives of Others
Language: German
This is my all time favourite film. It is set in 1984 East Berlin, and involves spying, love affairs, political betrayals, Brecht, and so much beautiful cinematography. The acting is also second-to-none; sadly though the lead actor died before he knew how successful the film would become. There are so many unexpected moments in this film and before you know it it's over, and you want to watch it over and over again to notice more and more of the clever subtleties littered throughout.

2. Goodbye Lenin
Language: German
Warning: the actor who plays Alex in this film is drop-dead gorgeous! Again, this film is set in East Berlin, but this time a bit later in 1989, just before the fall of the Berlin wall. The film sees the fall of the wall, but Alex's mother does not, as she is in a coma. However, when she awakes from her coma eight months later, they must pretend that the wall is still intact, so as not to send her into shock. Not as easy as it sounds, considering all the East Berlin brands have quickly become relics of history. Hilarious, joyful and historically accurate, it is a genius masterpiece of German filmmaking.

3. The Imposter
Language: English
This is a documentary. I kid you not it is one of, if not the best, documentaries I've ever seen. It is shocking, confusing, terrifying and thrilling. It is a thriller documentary... if that's a genre. It tells the story of a French man who pretends to be a missing child from the USA. The family from the US take him back to the US, despite not being 100% convinced that he is their child. It is a spine-tingling story, that you cannot believe even happened. It is worth watching the trailer.

4. The Edukators
Language: German
It's set in Berlin, again, sorry! But this time it's set in 2004! It follows three anti-capitalist activists who want to educate the capitalists of Berlin about the effects of having too much money. They do this, controversially, by breaking into people's houses. Accidentally they take one of their targets' hostage. Political ideology and romance are the main themes of this film. With surprising twists and turns and a stint in a mountain cabin, you'll have to watch the film to see if the activists ever trust the capitalist hostage.

5. Catfish
Language: English
The first major blockbuster in my list that I think most people have now heard of, considering the MTV show. Nev Schulman directed and starred in this documentary that follows his search for his online girlfriend. Catfish is all about finding out who the person behind the screen really is. It follows Nev's emotional reactions when he finds out she is not really who he thinks she is, all the way to where he finds out who she really is, and why she felt she had to hide her identity. It is a film that shows all the different types of human emotions and reminds you how different peoples' lives are.

6. Lust for Life
Language: English
This is a bio-pic of the life of Van Gogh, made in 1956. Van Gogh is played by Kirk Douglas, the father of Michael Douglas! I am pretty sure one of the main reasons Van Gogh is so famous is because of his tortured life; it completely plays into the hands of 'the tortured artist' stereotype. But his tortured life is what makes this film so fascinating. It is an excellent and easily digestible way of really understanding the artist's work and life. Considering his stuff is everywhere, it's pretty important to know a bit more about him!

7. Dark Days
Language: English
You'd be forgiven for thinking this film was filmed in the 1970s, as the quality of the film is so grainy and it's all in black and white. It was actually filmed in the 1990s with a 16mm camera and Kodak film. It is a documentary that shows what life is like for the homeless living in the underground tunnels of New York City. Crime, drugs, and mental health are all topics, which are sensitively but at the same time grittily portrayed by filmmaker Marc Singer. With a soundtrack by DJ Shadow, this film has become a bit of a cult classic.

8. Kolya
Language: Czech, Russian, Slovak
There are so many 'awww cute' moments in the film, just take a look at the DVD cover for one! It is a 1996 film set in Czechoslovakia. It follows the troubles of a fledgling concert-cellist, Franta, who is a bachelor and ladies' man. He runs into trouble when he agrees to marry a Russian woman so that he can make some money... she leaves her five year old son, Kolya, with his grandmother but when the grandmother dies, Franta is the one who has to look after him. It follows the pair in awkward, hilarious and sweet adventures. If you're having a bad day, this film will definitely cheer you up!

9. Le petit nicolas
Language: French
This is an amazing French comedy about a little boy called Nicholas who gets up to all kinds of mischief with his friends. His life is turned upside down when he finds out he is going to be a big brother. He doesn't really understand what this means, which results in some hilarious antics. Plus it is narrated by the little boy! It is utterly heart-warming!

10. Micmacs
Language: French
This film is insane. I remember loving it but find it really hard to explain, so I've had to do a bit of research to write this! Released in 2009, Micmacs is about Bazil, whose life has been ruined by weapons of war. His father was killed by a land mine, and he himself gets a bullet lodged in his skull when finding himself in the middle of a crossfire. His mission is to get revenge on the manufacturers of the weapons that have affected his life so much. He meets a band of eccentric junkyard dealers that help him on his mission for revenge. The acting, and cinematography is like nothing I've seen before. There are a lot of special effects and it's hard to differentiate reality from fantasy.

11. A Serious Man
Language: English
A Coen brothers film (the guys who did the Matrix), A Serious Man is set in Minnesota in the 1960s. It follows Jewish physics professor, Larry Gopnik, through his divorce and the trials and tribulations he has to face. It is a black comedy, and is said to be the closest to an autobiographical film that the Coen brothers have ever done. The cinematography is what made me put this film on my Top 20 list. It is a slow, but beautiful film, that you need to give time to.

12. Into the Wild
Language: English
Released in 2007, Into the Wild is an adaptation of a 1996 non-fiction book of the same name. It is a real-life story about Christopher McCandless who decided to leave home and travel across the Alaskan wilderness. Christopher meets many different characters on his travels, but when he ends up in the complete wilderness of Alaska, we see the struggles he faces living life alone, with no-one to rely on, or talk to. It is a powerful and emotive film that leaves you talking and thinking about it for days afterwards.

13. Amelie
Language: French
I reckon this film is now one of the most famous films of all time? Well, like I said I do like Blockbusters, and this is one of my all time favourites. It never fails to bring a smile to my face. I just Googled it and it came out in 2001! What?! It's 14 years old! Ugh, that makes me feel old! It is a romantic comedy set in Paris and follows the life of Amelie; a timid woman who most enjoys helping others. She was raised by eccentric parents who thought she had a heart defect, so wrapped her cotton wall with the result that she developed a very active imagination. She finds a treasure in her kitchen and we follow her story in her quest to re-unite it with its owner. 

14. Marshland
Language: Spanish
I only saw this for the first time last weekend at the Electric Cinema in Shoreditch (HIPSTER!). It follows two cops trying to solve the disappearance of two sisters from the Guadalquivir Marshes in Spain in 1980. It is a dark thriller that has many layers to the story, and the most incredible cinematography I have ever seen. I know that is a big statement, but I mean it. It is quite gory in parts, but it is worth seeing for the cinematography. Every shot could easily be a photograph in an art exhibition.

15. Breakfast at Tiffany's
Language: English
An absolute classic, if you've never heard of it, where have you been!? Released in 1961 it's a rom-com starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, an eccentric society girl. She has amazing parties and ends up in an incriminating relationship. It's a cult classic, and it's everything you hoped for.

16. The Parent Trap (old one)
Language: English
NOT THE ONE WITH LINDSAY LOHAN, THE ONE WITH HAYLEY MILLS. For most of my childhood there was only one Parent Trap, and that was the one with Hayley Mills, and then came along Lindsay Lohan and ruined my favourite film. Ever since I have been telling people how much better the old version is! It was released in 1961 and is far less glossy than the new one, but 10x better acting! Rant over, sorry!

17. Run Lola Run
Language: German
1998 German thriller, Run Lola Run, sees Lola try to find 100,000 Deutsche Mark in 20 minutes to save her boyfriend's life. It is a highly stylised film that shows three different scenarios of what could happen to Lola in her pursuit of the money. It's a very clever film, that is for anyone who enjoys films for its artistic capabilities.

18. Spellbound
Language: English
This is a fantastic documentary about the national spelling bee in America. It follows the lives of some of the finalists up to the national competition which is televised on ESPN! The finalists are all children under the age of 15, and it documents interviews with them and their parents. It is an enjoyable and gripping ethnographic piece of filmmaking. 

19. Garden State
Language: English
Written by Zach Braff, you know the guy from Scrubs, Garden State is about Andrew Largeman who returns to his hometown after his mother dies. It is set in New Jersey and follows his time at home where he meets a woman who is a pathological liar (played by Natalie Portman). It is a journey about health, love and family, with some obscure scenes put in for good measure. It is now considered a cult classic and I can see why.

20. Mary Poppins
Language: English
Released in 1964... I'm actually surprised that they haven't tried to re-make this one yet! What do you bet? 2016? Mary Poppins is a British super-nanny who comes to the rescue of the Banks family. She looks after Michael and Jane and takes them on all sorts of magical adventures with the help of the local chimney sweep! With some classic tunes, such as 'Feed the Birds', this is a film that always reminds me of my childhood, God knows how many times I've watched it!

I hope you enjoyed reading through this list, and like I said earlier, let me know if you've seen any, and leave me your film recommendations!

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