Tag Archives: photography

2014 Travel, The Paris Edit

13 Aug

I’ve made it to 28 years of life living in England, and I have never experienced Paris. Despite this, it has always been a thing of dreams to me; a city entwined with romance and cloaked in illusion. I can’t help but think of the Chanel advert with Nicole Kidman, where she disappears off into the Parisian night, or alternatively (another Nicole Kidman related daydream) Moulin Rouge, and for this and many other reasons, the city has always been on my list of places I needed to see.

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So last weekend, the boy and I packed a bag and headed off for a birthday weekend (his) in Paris. In all honesty I can think of a whole host of other cities he would have rather spent his birthday weekend, but seeing as we couldn’t go for mine he graciously gave his. Because he’s good like that.

Window display in Laduree, home of the French macaron

Window display in Laduree, home of the French macaron

My experience of Paris was slightly different to where it had been positioned in my dreams. It involved food poisoning, closed establishments, delayed flights (both ways) and end of the world style rain. But hey ho, these things happen, and mainly to me. Despite all these things that I feel like were designed to make me giggle rather than cause problems, we had a fantastic weekend. We ate cheese (he) drank wine and coffee, and we moseyed along beautiful streets with stunning architecture, wondering what it would be like if we were Parisian and lived in such a wonderous city.

L'Arc de Triomphe on a grey Saturday

L’Arc de Triomphe on a grey Saturday

Has my opinion changed? No. the boy made a comment when we were walking around that the internet has ruined travel. He thinks that you have seen all these places before, so when you arrive its underwhelming and gone is the sense of surprise you experience when you see something for the first time. I see it from the flip side; I think that the internet has given you the option to choose, allowing you to whittle down the list of places you want to visit until you have an ultimate power bucket list, ready to hit hard and explore.

L'Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

L’Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

We were in the city in time to see the parade through the Arc de Triomphe to celebrate 100 years since the start of the war, so were privy to the pomp and circumstance of the army march. They lit the flames and laid the poppies, and then we watched as the canons were fired. It was a real privilege to be there for this occasion, and purely accidently too.

The Eiffel Tower itself

The Eiffel Tower itself

As well as the beautiful postcard ready sights Paris has to offer, the hotel was pretty special. We booked a night in the Hotel Splendor, which was magic themed. The highlight was the staircase, with magician’s hats adorning the banisters. Very unusual!

Notre Dame, sans Hunchback

Notre Dame, sans Hunchback

We also had time to visit Laduree, the winner in French macarons and my inspiration to take a macaron making class. A friend of mine bought me a box of the delightfully coloured marvels when we moved into our old house, and I savoured them like I had never eaten before. Thus began my affair with the macaron, so I was pleased to get in line to view the rows of brilliantly covered sweet treats.

Saint Chappelle, before the end of the world rain began

Saint Chappelle, before the end of the world rain began

Paris, even in the rain and grey still had mystery for me. We visited the Arc de Triomph, The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Saint Chappelle and the Champs Elysees, but didn’t get time to see Montmartre, the Sacre Couer or any of the Bastille.

The Money Shot

The Money Shot

Eiffel Tower | Paris | France

Eiffel Tower | Paris | France

But next time, as in the words of Howard Koch, “We’ll always have Paris”.

Crazy stairwell in our hotel

Crazy stairwell in our hotel

Have you been to Paris? What was your favourite part?

Sightseeing My City: Lazy Weekends in Central

21 Jul

There is always something going on in London, and this weekend wasn’t any different. On Saturday I met a friend and we visited Spitalfields (as we do a lot of weekends, its such a fun place) to find things to jazz up the bar area she is having built in her flat. We found a really fun pineapple shaped ice bucket, as well as some Andy Warhol lettering to spell out BAR and some amusing pictures of dinosaur dressed in suits, titled “Lads Night Out”.

Gorgeous flowers ourside Liberty of London

Gorgeous flowers ourside Liberty of London

And on Sunday, we visited Carnaby Street, where I head read there was to be a food festival complete with demonstrations from top chefs.

I love Carnaby Street. Minus the crowds of tourists, it’s a fun inner sanctum in the otherwise faceless Oxford Circus and despite it still being chain stores; it has so much more personality.

Liberty sits at the entrance like a beacon on a ship; in my opinion one of the most beautiful buildings in the area.

A hint of neon makes me happy | Liberty of London

A hint of neon makes me happy | Liberty of London

The old fashion department store has tiny rooms filled with designer goods and fancy wares, but the highlight is the flower stall out the front, it’s so gorgeous. Whoever decides what posies to team with which is a genius, and it’s a pleasure to walk past in such a busy city.

Liberty of London

Liberty of London

The streets of Carnaby Street were adorned with stalls and peppered with the smells of scores of different cuisines cooking away.

Carnaby Street Eat

Carnaby Street Eat

We perused through Cha Cha Moon, The Diner, Masala Zone and many other favourites before opting to take a seat in the diner and gorge on American style favourites. 4

There was a pretty cool stand called Bunnychow which I had heard of but never tried; rolls hollowed out and crammed with a combination of fillings. Definitely doubling back for one of those one day soon!

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If you are in London, you must visit Carnaby Street. Where is your favourite place to visit at the weekend?

One’s Destination Is Never A Place…

9 Jul

…. but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller.

It’s getting that way again, where my feet become restless and my heart hears the calling of the world around me, and yearns to get out there and do. Traveling is what soothes my soul and makes my heart happy, and I know there I have barely scratched the surface of what I need to explore, and the things I need to experience.

Last Christmas was rough on all of us, with having lost Granddad being so fresh in our minds, and I’ve been dreading the impending winter months, not wanting to feel the hollowness of our loss so strongly again.

So the boy and I are contemplating jetting off to see somewhere new and missing Christmas and New Year in the UK altogether. At first it was just a pipe dream (Imagine if we ditched it? Imagine if we ran away?) But the seed has been planted and I feel the roots taking hold and hopes growing from them.

So I’ve made a list (I’ve checked it twice) and I want your input.

Thailand

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Thailand has always been a place I need to see in my life, and the spark has been recently reignited by a number of friends having visited. Cheap accommodation, crystal clear seas and warm climes are some of the reasons it features so highly.

Costa Rica

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Another one that features highly on my list is Costa Rica. It’s a great place to trip to from the USA so a lot of my friends and family have been, but to me it just looks like paradise.

And also, sloths.

Venezuela

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Random choice for Christmas sun, but Venezuela comes up fairly cheap for flights in December, and sitting just south of the Caribbean, it obviously has its appeal. The angel falls sit inland, but they are a must see for the life bucket list. I must admit to not knowing too much about the area, but would love to explore.

Japan

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There is something mysterious about Japan, and it’s a place I would love to explore. Cherry blossom, snow-capped mountains and a culture like nothing I have ever experienced before.

Where is your favourite place in the world and where would you recommend to a traveller? I want all your tips!

2014 Travel – The New York Edit: The Statue of Liberty

12 Jun

The Statue of Liberty has been on my bucket list for the longest of time. Its an iconic monument and ive always felt that it would be a really interesting place to visit. Imagine having left your life and spent months on a boat crossing the ocean; cramped conditions, poverty, sadness, and then out of nowhere, when you feel like you have finally lost the will to live, looms a statuesque woman, holding the torch of liberty and guiding you from the old world to the new. Does anything seem more magical?

I got to New York and booked the visit. Top Tip – and one I didn’t know about – if you want to visit the crown and take in the views from there, you need to book 4 months in advance. Cue huge sad faces from me, and a need to pull my socks up and go visit what I could see.

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The ferry trip was amazing. I was one of the smug few who had got on top of the ferry and headed for the side looking away from the statue, as opposed to the scores of people all hanging off the side where you could see her in the distance. I had actually thought about it, and figured that the boat would have to turn to head towards the island, and therefore I would eventually be on the right side for the money shot. Mwahahahaha. I was. Excellent.

When we got to the island, we were presented with free audio tours (take note, Harry Potter tour and your pricy, on-top-of-the-ticket-price audio tour) and I learnt some pretty amazing things about Lady Liberty herself, I was on statue geek cloud nine.

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I love this photo. It looks like she is presiding over Manhattan

Did you Know? Although she looks like a solid mass, the statue of liberty is actually constructed like a bridge? They built her frame and then cloaked it in large copper sheets, moulded to her shape. So she is actually only the thickness of two pennies. This is due to the speed of the winds in the bay, and to prevent her from cracking under the force.

She is made of copper, which is why she is green. For the first two years, she was the same colour as a penny.

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One of her designers was Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, who later went on to lend his name to the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Have you ever been? What icon have you always wanted to visit?

2014 Travel – The New York Edit: Central Park

3 Jun

On Sunday I decided to take on Central Park, and all the sights I wanted to see. The park was the first major landscaped park in America, and designed as a calm for the city after unrest such as thousands of immigrants, cholera and poor environmental health conditions in the city. It is now a place where people flock – to watch free theatre, to exercise, to sit in tranquil areas and to just enjoy the great outdoors.

I was most looking forward to the Imagine tribute, as I love the Beatles. Sadly, it wasn’t the tranquil spot it promised, as there were thousands of tourists all wanted to pose doing the peace sign on the memorial. The Alice in Wonderland statue however, as wonderful. I have a special bond with Alice, as Lewis Caroll lived and died in my home town of Guildford, Surrey. I have grown up with her, and it was nice to meet her again.

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The Bethesda Fountain – the statue references the Gospel of John, which describes an angel blessing the Pool of Bethesda and giving it healing powers.

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The Bethesda Fountain was put in Central Park to show the turn around after the cholera that damaged the city.

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Strawberry Fields was officially dedicated on October 9, 1985, the 45th anniversary of Lennon’s birth. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, worked with landscape architect Bruce Kelly and Central Park Conservancy to create a meditative spot, so named after Lennon’s favourite Beatles song

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Alice and her cast of storybook friends found their way to Central Park in 1959, when philanthropist George Delacorte commissioned this bronze statue as a gift to the children of New York City. Inspired by the zany characters of the Lewis Carroll classic Alice in Wonderland, the sculpture was also meant as a tribute to his late wife, Margarita, who read Alice to their children. Engraved around the statue are lines from his nonsensical poem, The Jabberwocky.

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View as I left the part from the South side – the Israel parade was happening and all the streets were closed off

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The view on my walk to Times Square

Have you been to Central Park? What was your favourite spot?

2014 Travel – The New York Edit: Empire State Building

30 May

Last night I finally manned up and went out doing tourist stuff by myself. I took the Empire State Building tour with nothing but my trusty Nikon, and I’m so pleased with the results. The weather at the top of the tower was pretty blustery so I didn’t stay out there for too long, but once I worked out that turning the flash off was my best bet, it was nothing but plain sailing.

So come be a tourist too, and check out my photos! I’m also keeping the world up to date on my travels on Instagram, so go take a look! (link in sidebar).

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On the left you can see the Chrysler Building

On The Road Again

6 Feb

Next week, I am heading back to the place I love the most, California. I plan to take the boy, hang out with my family and visit some of the places my Granddad loved to go to when he was there. Paying my respects, and filling my world with his happy memories.

So while I am busy packing and getting prepped for the trip, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite shots from my past trips, ready for hitting the locations again with my new camera! (I opted for a Nikon).

Enjoy!

Las Vegas by night (I know, not technically Cailfornia)

Las Vegas by night (I know, not technically Cailfornia)

La Jolla Shores, and the seal colony

La Jolla Shores, and the seal colony

Jellyfish at San Franscisco aquarium

Jellyfish at San Franscisco aquarium

The Bluffs, Del Mar

The Bluffs, Del Mar

 

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Cable cars in San Franscisco

Happy Snapping

1 Feb

I’ve been blogging for a long time now and my blog has evolved during this time. I have shared good times and bad, embarrassing (and funny for everyone else) situations, and loads and loads of inspirational quotes. Which I love. Even if you don’t.

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But I have never branched out and bought myself a good camera, and I am feeling like now is the time. Gone are the days when I can get by with my camera phone, complete with dodgy flash and go faster blurs if I geta little over enthusiastic. Nope, its time to make the change.

But I have a real issue with purchasing anything of value. If I see a pair of shoes over £60 I will always rationalise that I don’t need them and I can cope with what I have, and anything over the £200 mark makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

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So ive been doing my research. I’ve spent what feels like days on Amazon reading reviews, ive scoured the blog world for recommendations for all kinds of bloggers, and I have made a shortlist. But it still makes me, you know, a bit itchy.

I wanted to reach out to you guys and ask what you would recommend? I did a photography A level at school, but that finished 10 years ago and I haven’t picked up an SLR since. I want something that is easy to use (like childlike) and that is reliable, so does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks peoples!

A Passion For Flashin’

14 Dec

When I was fifteen, my Mum bought me a Polaroid camera. I loved it. Suddenly I went from this shy little wall flower to a girl who was constantly in your face trying to get you from the best angle so a square little disk of history would come shooting out of the mouth of my machine. I was never allowed to touch my Dad’s SLR camera as a little girl (even though Little Bean was the accident prone one and not me) so I used to just lovingly stroke the strap which I still remember as being green and grey, and dream of all the creations I could make. I’ve always been a bit like that you see. They say that you either use the right or left side of your brain (I forget which way round it is) and that one is creative and the other is analytical; well I use the creative side a bit much. In fact, I think that the analytical side withered and died a long time ago, due to my neglect. Saying that though, one of the guys at work gave up a long time trying to show me how to do a clever excel graph that ports information from all sorts of places and then puts it in a dynamic chart with a drop down menu.  I had a look at it again the other day and nearly gave him a heart attack when I presented him with my fantastic graph, that I had finally understood after literally hours of peering at my computer and uttering.. “eh??”.

But back to the camera. Once I was in possession of this, I was delighted. I took photos of everything I could find, popping up from nowhere and photographing my family. I still have a selection of eight photos that I took of my first boyfriend looking perplexed at what I was doing, and they still make me laugh. My favourite thing was waiting to watch the inky shapes appear out of nowhere, forming silhouettes out of the darkness of the shot like evolution. I loved it.

This is potentially what made me choose to study photography at A level. I was enthralled by the entire process and would spend hours with my friend Jo in the darkroom watching the shapes develop from white to through grey to black; pulling them out of the chemicals at just the right moment or risking losing the shots forever into a murky grey grave.

Nowadays you can’t get cheap Polaroid films but I still have that massive old camera in its box, gathering dust as a reminder of something that brought me endless happiness.

Was there something that drove your passion? Do you still have it?

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.

The Byronic Man is my metaphorical three French hens. His dry wit never fails to put a grin on my face and I am often found uttering “right? RIGHT!” at some of his posts. He is truly one great writer. Go read!

My two calling birds were:Brooke & McKenzie

And my partridge in a pear tree was: The Redneck Princess

The post I think you should revisit of mine today is: The Squirrel all about the day that I saved the squirrel from my Dad.

Hope you have all made a dent in your Christmas shopping!

Belle xx