International Center Of Photography Features WeeGee, The Father Of Tabloid Coverage

June 6, 2012 by  
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If looking at glossy magazine shots of the Empire State and Brooklyn Bridge is not your thing; then dig a little deeper into the unedited side of New York City, and add the International Center of Photography to your secret New York Noir lust-list.

There is a whole new layer hiding underneath the sparkling overcoat of towers, lights and irreplaceable landmarks that we all know and love. There’s history, raw culture and alternative arts made by great minds. So, what are you waiting for? Forget the generic guide; grab your Fedora and travel down to ICP to explore what New York City really means. You’ll have your heart stolen (and for all the right reasons…)

The Works of WeeGee- New York City in stills, and not a sparkle in sight…

Whether you are a journalist or you simply read New York Post on your commute to the office-nineteenth century photographer/ journalist WeeGee is sure to be on the same wave length as you. The “WeeGee: Murder is My Business”exhibition includes a mix of raw imagery, crimes and news reports of the time; resulting in a truly graphic collection of photographs which pride themselves on being unshakable from the mind. Many of WeeGee’s images, such as the “Naked City”, which is displayed at the center’s museum in all its frightening glory-once inspired the early tabloid newspapers and are partly responsible for making tabloid journalism what it is today!

Nineteen Fifties Heroines Live On in WeeGee’s World…

Even if you’re not a news buff, there is still plenty to love about WeeGee’s collections. Have you ever seen classic images presented in anyway other than in black and white, or on canvas? Well, in the “WeeGee’s World: Distortion” exhibition, you will see prints (such as Audrey Hepburn and the Mona Lisa) which have been twisted by old-school darkroom effects, snapped by playful camera lenses and burnt by naked flames. The best ones on display are of 1950s icon Marilyn Monroe-with her supersize pout and pre-digitally streamlined legs; you will never think of her in the same way again!

Discover Thousands of Original War Prints in The Photography Collection…

If you are into history, then chances are that you will love “The Photography Collection” at the museum; it holds thousands of vintage images taken by major photographers and photojournalists from around the world- and still on their original slides! Among the best is a collection by Hungarian combat photojournalist Robert Capa; it contains the exact envelopes that were written on during the five wars he covered and documented throughout the 1940s. As well as featuring an impressive amount of artists from as early as the 1930-1960s period; The Photography Collection also keeps back copies of famous publications such as French born weekly,Vu’ (from the 1920s), and American bornLife magazine’, (from the 1880s) of which the “Naked City” star WeeGee contributed to.

Historians, Politicians and Kindergarten Kids alike will love to see presidents in frills and bows…

If you are looking to visit New York around the summer months, then now is a great time to consider the International Center of photography’s upcoming exhibitions. From May 18th- September 2nd, you will be able to catch “Presidents in Petticoats: Civil War Propaganda in Photographs” — an amusing collection of images from the late 1800s, which present the story of President Jefferson Davies and the allegations that arose after he was caught fleeing a camp in Georgia… unintentionally dressed in his wife’s overcoat! The exhibition is deeply informative, yet still manages to stay light-hearted and whimsical; a winner in the eyes of politicians, historians and kindergarten kids alike!

Make Your Visit End on a High Note with the Great Performances Café

Eyes tired? Tummy rumbling? Then why not head down to the Great Performances Café in the International Center of Photography’s museum, for a delicious coffee and some well-earned lunch? With a new set of salads, sandwiches and gourmet goodies presented each day, there will be no reason not to come back again and again. Bon Appetit!

MoMA Exhibits: Mingle With Monet, Van Gogh And Picasso At The Museum Of Modern Art

June 6, 2012 by  
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Feeling the wrath of New York City‘s mind coaxing culture? Where better to spend your lunch hour than at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), sorrounded by the likes of Monet and nineteenth-century visionary Vincent Van Gogh?

Whether you choose to snack on Twinkies and corn dogs or to relax and enjoy the fare at MoMA’s own Vino and Panini, a visit to the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd in Mid-town, is a must do. With its fresh take on traditional art, cloud-skimming surroundings and glass walls, the Museum of Modern Art holds so much more than the aesthetical views that can be seen from the sidewalk. Featuring renowned artists, insightful exhibitions and interactive museum tours; MoMA is able to give you a feel for vacation spent immersed in culture without running overtime on  your typical lunch-break.

Immerse yourself with the master-planners of the suburban dream.

Have you ever pictured yourself rocking back and forth on a swing, sipping sweet tea and revelling in the smell of the roses surrounding your suburban dream home? If the answer is yes, then the ‘Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream’ exhibition, located in the Robert Menschel Architecture and Design Gallery, is right up your avenue. The exhibition takes a very complex but practical look at American architecture and the effects of the Foreclosure Crisis; and it hosts many presentations and open discussions based on the threats faced by urbanized cities (such as New York City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.). Guests can listen in on cutting-edge plans, voice and exchange ideas or examine scale models that will bring  the project to life before your eyes. If you’re short on time, a five minute listen to one of the heated discussions within the ‘Foreclosed’ exhibition will be enough to  give you a feel of what it’s all really about.

Make Yourself at Home in Moma’s Garden

If you are looking for a getaway in the summer months, then a stroll around MoMA’s Sculpture Garden should be bursting from the pages of your to do list; in fact, with The Garden Bar offering colorful sorbetti and wine, you could spend your entire lunch hour in a quiet escape. Whether you are examining the nude stone statues poised over contemporary water pools (such as Aristide Maillol’s “The River”), or taking a breather on a candy-colored seat- there is much to keep you involved in MoMA’s very own gardens. The ‘Figurengruppe’, or the ‘Group of Figures’ by German artist Katharina Fritsch, is an exhibit to pay special attention to. Built and designed between the years 2006-2011, Figurengruppe is a vibrant collection of religious sculptures made from bronze, copper and stainless steel; featuring characters such as a jade green St. Michael, a dandelion coloured Madonna and a snake coated in matte ebony. There are many interpretations for the Figurengruppe, making it exciting to view regardless of age or tastes; whether you are a grown-up admiring the story behind the characters, or a small child with a soft spot for skeleton bones and snakes!

Mingle with Monet and Nineteenth Century Vision Vincent Van Gogh

An art museum really would not be an art museum without the classics; the two-hundred-year-old works by Vincent Van Gogh, the beautiful oil paintings by Spanish-born Pablo Picasso and the calm brush strokes of the Parisian impressionist Claude Monet. With pieces such as “The Starry Night” by Gogh, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” by Picasso and “Water Lillies” by Monet, the Painting and Sculpture Department houses an array of classic modernist icons that always worth viewing.  Whether you find yourself caught in the fantasy of Gogh or frowning at the obscurities of Picasso, your modern-art experience will be fulfilled with a review of the foundational works of the period.

Don’t forget a visit to the MoMA Store — with its range of décor, innovative glassware and artistic prints; you’ll struggle finding anything as beautiful in any shop in town!

Pixie Would Give Up Twinkies for Life in the Name of Anomalous Travel

May 27, 2012 by  
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It’s 8.00pm, the sun is beating down and the birds are still tweeting outside. Its the 26th of May, and I am perched on the edge of my bed in my little student room, thinking about where my life is about to take me next.

It’s `that time` again- the minute where I realise that I’ve exhausted the past few months and that I’m sitting here, twirling my miniature world globe around on its axis and weeping into my Hostess Twinkies (warm from sitting in the sun all day, but still full of that sweet, heavenly faux buttercream that I revel in knowing how bad it is for me). The year of education that I remember dreading so much (post Atlanta) is now over, my newly aquainted friends are jetting off on holiday or excitedly booking festivals and gigs in the big cities- and I am finding myself sitting back, envying said friends and their holidays and festivities. All whilst spilling tears onto my travel literature and wishing that I still wrote travel literature. *Swoon*

This made me realise, with an undignified wretch, that I am being lazy. I have over three months until I need to prepare to relocate in time for university- and until now, I haven’t been planning to do a great deal with this time. That said, this academic year has been super busy. My course work and my part-time job as a waitress snapped up most of the time I had- and what was left of it was spent writing travel articles for the International Business Times (New York section) from the safety of my bedroom, surrounded by English food, English candles and English TV (snore). Alas- this year has been less action, and more theory; or less doing, and more dreaming. And I really do hate theory.

Although I know that good grades and a (semi) smart mind are both super important for my career as a Travel Journalist/International Reporter; the restrictions that came with my studying made me want to work harder and harder, in an effort to score my free time back. So I’ve spent pretty much the last nine months locked away in my student room- tapping out essays, watching documentaries, gazing at maps of America on my wall and ignoring any opportunity of socializing that I came my way. I’d officially become a recluse in the name of A-levels!

And let me tell you, `recluse` is one word that will never again be in Pixie, or Pixieabroad.com’s vocab.

We would sooner give up Twinkies for life.

So now, I’m going to take advantage of my new found freedom, and welcome myself back to Pixieabroad.com. Although, unfortunately, I can’t deliver first hand accounts of any wonderful place outside West Yorkshire until next Summer- I will be researching like never before to offer you lots of personal advice on what is worth visiting (travellers in search of text book style places, hang your heads in shame).

As a truly famous component in Travel Lover’s Land (and rightly so!) New York City  will be the first set of blogs to appear in `Pixie’s Globe`. Sure, it has cloud skimming towers, trillions of pretty lights and a suspension bridge that would make the Swiss Family Robinson blush- but the Big Apple has so much more to offer than it first lets on. Although the Empire State and the Statue of Liberty have to, by legal rights, be included- they are just the beginning. The City has an extraordinary back catalogue of modern history, contemporary arts, culture, dance, music… and a side to it that delves far deeper than the aesthetical layer of sparkles and sky-scrapers that many connect it with. We know how beautiful the city is, we can imagine the way our breath would stagger if we were looking over the Brooklyn Bridge at 11pm in December. We know that the Rockefeller is the go-to for ice skating and Christmas trees and we already know that Bloomingdale’s are going to have a blooming big sale.

We know, we know, WE KNOW.

So tell us something that we don’t.

The entries will be a pick of the most usual, exciting and quirky hubs of New York City- whether they be bistros, museums or open air parks that will steal your breath in a snap; so that when you touch down in the city yourself, you won’t have to waste time researching. (Your boring bits are my fun bits!)

Following this, by the summer of 2013, I will be in the city myself- scoping out more super cool places, blogging about them, photographing them and vlogging them (perhaps even interviewing them)- to give you an even better insight to the City of Dreams that we know we’ll never be able to stop dreaming about.

I am also super excited to say that my farewell message has finally changed! No more ‘wishes from rainy England’…

I wish you many walks through falling pink blossom and many a Starbucks Frappé.

Love,

Pixie xx

Pixie Says: Focus On Your Happily Ever After

March 17, 2012 by  
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Buenos Dias, chicas y chicos.

Mi nombre es Leonie Ann Garlick, o Pixie.

As this is my first blog for Pixie & Franx, I am going to write you something that is very close to my heart- something that I don’t usually get the opportunity to express within the crazy, fast-paced flurry that is my Journalism work- and that is my love for self-improvement, which I adapted from my daddy and ever since live my life by it.

As a travel writer, I know how hard it is to make it in a field so competitive. You’ll want to knock yourself down, pull yourself back up and push yourself around until you’re where you’ve envisioned yourself to be. Wanting something so badly feels like a mass of butterflies, accumulating inside your body and mind- eager to chase you somewhere you never thought you’d end up. It is mind blowing, confusing and ego battering- and the more you want that something, the harder it hits you.

There are a million and one things that inspire me to carry on with my dream to be an International Journalist. My number one inspiration is self-belief; belief that I can look at a photograph of my biggest aspiration and end up doing it/being there during the time that I planned I would. If you don’t believe that you can do it, then you never will. I apologise for saying it sin sugar coating, but you honestly won’t succeed if you don’t put your entire heart and soul into it.

Believing in yourself can seem impossible at times; especially if you are going through a bad patch at work, you’re flat broke or you generally don’t feel good enough to complete the task you set out to do. But as one great philosopher (my cheerleading coach) once said, “You’ve got to have something to hold onto”. And he was right. And for me- that something is having even the tiniest hope that I will end up reporting hurricanes in the United States of America one day (a day during the winter of 2016, to be exact). So, every night when I’m walking home, I’ll watch the airplanes as they fly over my head towards Leeds and Bradford Airport; and I feel those butterflies with their gigantic pearlescent wings fluttering around in my body. It’s not fear or uncertainty, though- it’s knowing. I can watch that plane and I can imagine myself sitting on board, right next to the wing where it is less frightening- and I can feel what it would feel to be like if I were on that aircraft. And do you know what? Nothing matters as much as it did before, because when I see that plane- I know that I’m still heading in the right direction regardless of the bumps in the road. So where is your plane taking you? And are you giving the hostess your ticket; sitting your bum down and being wished a pleasant journey, or are you not?

What is driving your heart right now?

Omens are also great inspirations; photographs, charms, coins, mottos, songs, maps- even silly little drawings that you draw from your mind’s eye one afternoon when you get bored. All of these pictures can then be tacked to your wall, set as your desktop, set as your Facebook background, stored in your make-up bag- so that every day you are surrounded by your occupation and your dreams. Omens are also a sure fire sign that you’re heading in the right direction- if you are open to a little fate.

People can be your biggest inspiration if you choose wisely. Parents, lecturers and friends can hold ten thousand times the amount of support than what you may be holding for yourself. You may even find somebody else out there in the big wide world that does exactly what you want to do with your life, but be careful- imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but envy will kill your passion and squash those ever growing butterflies!

For me, it’s Virginia Woolf- a passionate writer; Marie Colvin, the beautiful and extremely determined Journalist who was killed in the midst of her dreams- and my own dad, who taught me everything I know. So you see… role models don’t follow a certain prototype; they are purely people who make you feel good, proud, determined and excited to be yourself.

Look around you.

Who is driving your brain right now?

I’m sitting amongst my whirlwind of papers, pens, and files- listening to Sara Bareilles ‘Breathe Again’ and the light rain hitting my window, whilst sacrificing myself to the taste of Milky Way Crispy Rolls and thoughts of my little house on stilts in the Southern Outback.

What is driving your body right now… is it strong enough to make you hold your pen that little bit tighter?

Believe in yourselves, bebes- because it will be the making of you!

Love, Pixie

xx

Originally written for `Pixie & Franx` pixieandfranx.tumblr.com

Pret A Manger: Goodbye British Christmas, Bonjour Paris!

March 3, 2012 by  
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Pret A Manger: Goodbye British Christmas, Bonjour Paris!

After experiencing Pret A Manger’s luxurious décor; gorgeous salads, baguettes and gleaming eyed baristas; you wouldn’t be left with enough energy to wonder what goes on the other side of those star crested doors. While you were surrendering yourself to the sweet froth of a Pret latte, chances are you missed the best part about visiting one of the 265 branches across London, New York, Chicago; Washington and Hong Kong (wish we could mingle in all five!)

At Endeavour magazine, we believe in the spirit of Christmas. And as a late Christmas gift to you- we’re going to update you with the `best parts`. So Good Morning Britain, Hey America… and last but not least, Ni Hao to those of you in China!

We travelled to Pret’s very first branch in London Victoria to meet with the Head of Sustainability, Ms Nicki Fisher to unveil the secrets behind Pret A Manger’s global projects, hard grafted philanthropy and sparkling aspirations. We’ll be saying “Salut beauté” as Pret lands in Paris; we’ll arrive an hour early before our flight to catch a glimpse of a brand spanking new branch- and we’re having a little chat with our friends over at Pret USA (and wishing we were there). We’re also filling our ears with all the brilliant things that happened over the festive season. Who knew that a Christmas fare, fit for Saint Nicholas himself- could contribute directly to charity?

It was raining torrentially, our promising umbrellas had just blown inside out and all we could focus our minds on was our need for a hot, fluffy coffee (Mm- we wonder?) As soon as we stepped inside the Pret headquarters, our minds began to embark a little. It appeared as a contrary universe- waiting to be opened up to us and us only. Oh, and you lovely people, too…

Christmas in the United Kingdom

With December having just passed, we thought it fitting to pleasantly interrogate Nicki about the Christmassy bits… and there is a lot more to praise than just the hand-made mince tarts. Although they are a pretty good place to begin!

“With every seasonal sandwich that we sold, 25p was donated to local charities. This ensured that the less fortunate were able to have hot dinners throughout Christmas time as well as year round support”Nicki says with a great warmth, which instantly makes us believe they done a pretty good job of it. And with £124,470 raised in only five weeks- we have very little reason to believe otherwise. There was something on sale to suit all tastes- the `Christmas Lunch` for meat worshippers, and the `Brie & Cranberry` for Veggies- as well as the Gingerbread Snowman- all of which graced the cute Pret baubles in their Santa hats. There are 250 Pret branches in the United Kingdom; and thousands upon thousands of tummies wishing to sell their own soul for something a little festive to knock back the winter blues. By using our expertise in calculating equations, we figured that we would be seeing the six digit number fly off the gauge before we could blink the snow away from our eyes. And that would have been after we treated ourselves to our nearest Pret. Visit Pret A Manger’s web page to watch the baubles count up all of the pounds and pence donated over the festive season.

One man’s Christmas sandwich is another man’s Christmas pudding…

Philanthropy in the United Kingdom

Little White Vans

Pret A Manger is famous for using only the freshest ingredients; we know this because we often catch sight of the yummy pastries and coffee beans arriving on a burgundy trolley of an early morning. Like us, do you ever wonder what happens to any of the left-over products at the end of the day? (We would hate for them to go to waste). Thoughts like these led to the discovery of the `Pret Charity Run- small, white star crested vans which deliver any remaining goodies to local charities in the area… every, single, evening. This makes us shiver in our boots; firstly because it is icily cold outside the Pret headquarters… and secondly; more vitally- because we are considering the dauntlessness behind it.

Every evening, the unsold but still perfectly formed sandwiches, croissants; baguettes (the entirety) is distributed to those who, quite honestly- have nothing. The Pret Charity Run should not be confused with a project created solely for Christmas time; oh no, it should not. It is efficacious every evening, all year around. It is restless- which is the most exceptional factor about it. Dozens of organizations promote charity and good will seasonally. But why wait?

This is funded in a similar way to the Christmas dinners; which is by selling products such as the `Love Pret` bar, with charity donation tags (without the baubles, of course). It must be working especially well, because it has been providing for over 100 local charities and organizations from the year 1986. Some may argue that it is less complicated to rise the funding and then send it directly to the charities; so what is it about Pret a Manger’s morals, which makes them, go to such lengths to do things alternatively?

“It is too easy to send a cheque to an organization and feel good about yourself. There is littlecompassion behind it. I think it is very sad that Britain, as a first world country- is in a state where people are hungry on the streets” Nicki continues to explain just how many organizations depend on Pret A Manger’s daily visits. “We make it possible to eliminate the need for a food budget. The organizations are then able to put the extra money into other vital areas, such as medical treatment and housing”

Career Prospects for the Less Fortunate

We were already taken aback by how charitable the coffee chain was able to be around Christmas, when Nicki graced us with a bigger bombshell. A bigger, better one. Annually, the company helps homeless individuals off the street and makes them into special Pret A Manger apprentices; providing them with an allowance for food, travel and clothing as well as full pay. This ensures that the new recruits are presentable and able to carry out an average working day with ease; which, ultimately- allows them the same opportunities as any other individual working for Pret a Manger.

Nicki goes on to say, “Our apprentices are treated and paid in the same way as any other member of staff. We know how important it is to make them feel part of the team” We find this incredible. Pret AManger is a company that believes heavily in equal opportunities; so heavily that they help people off the streets, rebuild their lives and offer them full time careers. And thanks to Pret’s down to earth approach to employment, 88% of the apprentices that they took on last year have brand new lives. Following this success, Pret A Manger have plans to take on 70 extra recruits, as well as expanding the project- known as the `Simon Hargraves Apprenticeship Scheme`- to several cities outside of London after the new year.

Now we know why the baristas of Pret A Manger are always so gleamy-eyed…

New Year in the United Kingdom

Our minds are vibrating and we are on the edge of seats, peering into the eyes of this inspiring women that we now know as Nicki. The sudden overload of information has us wanting to come up for air- but we’re far too intrigued to go anywhere. We must find out more. And there’s one more question resting on our lips- just waiting to burst out- and because of this, we must stay a little longer.

What is waiting for Pret A Manger on their already beautifully expanded horizon?

“We plan to build on the foundations already laid around carbon reduction, ethical sourcing and healthy eating” Nicki says, before going on to explain exactly how they will do this. “We are increasing the vegetarian options on our British menu, as well as reducing the salt and fat content in many of ourproducts” Sounds brilliant to us already; our on-route breakfast from Pret, only skinnier. And it’s not only our mass that Pret A Manger wishes to keep healthy, either. “We believe in preserving as many of our natural resources as possible. Sustainability has always been very important to the company, so every year we strive to improve our performance in the key environmental and social concerns” Nicki says thoughtfully.

We can tell just how important this is, by the sustainability section of the website; where the targets- clear, concise and well thought out- are listed in burgundy stars down the centre of the page. Nicki goes on to tell us what is at the top of the list. “We are keeping an eye on our packaging lines, as well as introducing new in-store recycling stations” This does not surprise us. (Remember the recycled napkin thing? The baristas were obliged to present only one napkin to each guest and if anymore were given then said guest was allowed to give them an evil eye). And this is not meant as a bad thing. In fact, because recycling is promoted so much in the UK; it is actually comforting to know that one of the most obvious forms of resource preservation has not been missed out.

New Year in the United States of America

We love nothing more than hearing about different parts of the world (particularly about a collection of states in a far-flung kingdom known as the United States of America). So when we found out what our friends at Pret A Manger USA had been getting up to, we had butterflies the size of Brooklyn whirling around in our tummies.

Nicki, who also deals with the sustainability for Pret’s global branches, says “We are focusing on carbon footprint within the entire US business; as well as understanding the water usage to see where we can cut down” Pret A Manger USA are also following the success of the Brits, with plans to set up their own Pret Foundation Trust to help the hungry in the States just as in the UK.

Pret goes to Paris… and beyond

Pret a Manger are putting on their burgundy berets and mingling with the city of romance as they launch in Paris, France in early 2012.

If you’re flying out before Christmas, then you may encounter one of the two brand new branches in Heathrow Terminal 4 (Airside) or Manchester Piccadilly train station (Landside).

We would like to wish you a Happy New Year… wherever you are in the world.

Leonie Ann Garlick

Victorian Writings- A Draft

March 3, 2012 by  
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… I may have gone a little heavy on the adjectives- but I wrote whatever was in my mind, on the page!

I can hear the soft sighs and the slow piano wavers of the music that is coming from inside of the cab; and the moment that I step out; straighten myself up and crane my neck to get an eyeful of the exquisite building that lay before me, I know that I feel right at home.

My first impressions of Von Peep graciously knock me off my feet; and they cordially torture any previous expectations that I had of it, like the image of a cheating soul mate caressing his mistress for his wife, and for the entire world to see.  If I close my eyes, plug my fingertips into my eardrums to block out the clouds of present day noise that are gushing around me, and fantasise in complete silence; I can hear it, as if it is a reality. Oh, how I can imagine how it used to be, living as a maid here in the old days; waiting a pebble throw away from a pair of love struck teenagers dressed in secretive bloomers and lace trimmed tunics. I can visualise how she observed them from this exact spot where I am standing, sometimes she may have caught them frolicking in the lavishly kept gardens beside me. I can hear the creaks and clip clops of the old fashioned horse drawn carriage, the magical jingle of the bell incrusted reins; and the strong aroma of musk and fuchsia as the wind carries it kindly to my nostrils from an empress that reaps sex appeal; she is sitting amongst the blood red sateen overcoats in the back of the carriage.

I can subconsciously feel the presence of the building lurching over me; the scratchy frills and fiddly buttons of my gusset causing me to fan myself into a hot flush, my hook eyed velveteen boots growing heavy on my ankles; the rosebud bushes shedding old, tired petals in preparation for the next bloom. I can hear the prickling shrills of little children laughing and playing in the distance; feeling the thud of a one second time gap as each side of a metal hula hoop clangs onto the bricked courtyard, like the intervals between slow, passive breaths that are inhaled during a severe anxiety attack.

My cheeks are burning, and they are heavily dry from the layers of dusted powder that has been blotted to my skin; dozens of tight, flawless ringlets bounce and blow in the night breeze as I turn my head wearily to rest my eyes upon the structure that makes me feel as if I am a young girl committing an unlawful sin by simply being here unattended. If I look at it directly for too long; maybe the maid will grab my arm and usher me away in fear that I will, too, fall into a passionate love affair with a gentlemen, much like the stray fetale of whom is under her lock and key, sprawled across the grass of the gardens with ruffles of silk around her ankles within this exact moment. Maybe she and my father think I may ruin my chances of being seen as the pure, respectful daughter of a gentry’s scholar; in this day and age being pure is a very different matter, after all.

As I silently cast my eyes around in the dark night sky and look out across the pitch black fields, I feel as if I want to run through the greenery; run for miles and miles across the gardens until I can run no further. I wish I could run so swiftly that my heart begins to pound in my chest, I wish I could feel every inch of stress and life worry fall away as I run, as if the knotted segments of built up anxiety could flow down the lengths of my outstretched arms, and whisk away across the fields along with seeds of the sunflowers and the daisies that are spreading at the beginning of germination. If only the land was bone dry and it was a hazy summers afternoon; and if only I had nowhere to be, no one to make conversation with or no time to follow, then I could carry on running until every stress has been shaken from my body… if only.

As I am walking through the over grown grass, little trickles of water are splashing up and around my bare ankles; I feel as if I have weights on the tops of my thighs as I lift each stiletto heel from the grass, leaving a trail of perfect indentations in the dewy ground. I pull the rim of my tiered velvet tea hat down with the soft palm of my left hand; I balance it at a slant on top of my tight ringlets, so that only the right side of my eyes, nose and lips are now visible, along with a single defined spiral of brown hair. I pause dramatically when I reach the grand entrance to Von Peep, adjusting my hat for one last time so that my face is unobstructed; I give the dapper concierge a playful, flirtatious smile with my eyes whilst I am contemplating where to go next.

My guilty spirit, which is stuck inside the photograph of my outer body experience, snaps and breaks away from the maid’s gripping hold; I now feel entirely free to take in as much of this addictive model as I would like with no dictations or commands to go elsewhere, I am leaving the other young girl behind; to play away and to be dealt with on her own. My pulse is skipping curiously as I take in the greying manor, which stands like a mystical giant, casting a dark cloud in the middle of the sky.

To clarify to myself that I am no longer dreaming, I smooth my hand along the intricate, webbed railings of a hollow, ring shaped summer house that is to my left of the entrance; it looks identical to the shell of a gleeful carousel, which I imagine would have been very popular in the Victoriana era. Perhaps this is the type of thing that the architects of the building took a lot of the inspiration from all those years ago; it seems impossible to me that they could have created such a heart possessing work of art, purely from creative whims and hunches. It seems impossible how they could have built it all with their bare hands; the one-of-a- kind beams lined with gold leaf, the sculptured oblong balconies entwined with ivory scroll work and the ghoulish gothic window frames.

My mind wonders as I am trying to contemplate how the builders could have crafted statuesque columns so tall, and I try to fathom how they taught the vines of ivy to weave up the sides of the walls so elegantly. My fingers wind and curve freely around the sculptured cast iron, my fingertips bobbing gently as they hit balls in the surface; they feel slightly muggy from the layer of weathered dust that I swept off; the railings probably haven’t been touched for tens of years. I don’t even know how I stumbled across this summer house, why would anybody usually notice such a small feature? It seems to be lost in the array of fantasy décor and mesmerising horticulture that ripples and echoes from the manor and through the gardens; with its rich burgundies, burnt tangerines and olive greens that forces the beholder to wallow into an image of a deep, steamy autumn afternoon.

I realise that I am now standing alone in the middle of the gardens, holding my gaze with the same amount of pressure that I am using to hold down the undercoat of my dress; which is now struggling to flutter around and is threatening escape within the clutch of my hands in the evening wind. It also hits home that it is not a hot autumn afternoon in the 1800s; but a bitter cold evening in present day Britain, and the stems of my nude heels are sinking further into the pristine grass with every second that I stand in the same spot.

Mini Writings

March 3, 2012 by  
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Newcastle Opened My Eyes

I remember being nineteen when this memory took place. It was the first time I looked inside myself and found heaps of exciting, powerful dreams, just waiting to burst out. I’d been experiencing something difficult- not just difficult, but negatively life changing. I’d been pushed towards a dead end in my life, and I’d barely turned nineteen. My dad, also my best friend, was going to Newcastle to drop my brother off at university; so after hesitation of leaving the dilemma I was stuck in, I headed up North to get away from it all.

My dad and I had some time in the evening to look around Newcastle; and both of us being deep hearted, strong headed souls- spent that time conversing, looking out at the city from the highest platform of The Sage; and dwelling over how tall the cast iron bridge we walked across may have been. It was the millennium bridge that I remember so clearly, though. I have a postcard of it attached to my mirror back home, and whenever I look into it, I can imagine how it made me feel all over again. It was getting dark, but an indigo blue dark; not a pitch black dark. It was freezing cold, as it always is up North; and the wind was whipping my hair around my face and across my eyes so I couldn’t see clearly. The bridge itself was alight in pretty colours, and it swung above our heads like an oversized disk. The colours radiating from it reflected in the water; which looked peaceful considering it was amongst the signature winds of Newcastle. I had a specific song stuck in my head, The Script- Break Even. It was played so much around the time; and when I hear it now, I still think of everything. I stood still for the first time in a very long time, breathed the air in- and felt my worries fall away. I could see the lights and feel the wind collaborating with my heart pumping in my chest- and I just knew that I would be okay.

My dad and I went to a late night bar for yet more enhanced conversation; but this time, we had hot chocolates to keep our hands warm. That night in my hotel room while watching Celeb Air (the aspiring travel addict that I was), I finally felt calm enough to fall asleep. I gave myself strength that day, no matter how impossible those times were- and for that, Newcastle will always have a place in my heart.

The World is my Soul Mate

From a very young age, I’d fall asleep on an armchair in my parent’s house, where they would wake me up and tell me to get in the car. I never knew where we were going, and often it was just a Little Chef to get dinner- but everything about it made me excited. By the age of ten, I was memorizing travel guides for Disneyland Paris, crying because I couldn’t keep my admissions ticket to the Eiffel Tower and collecting loose currency from the floor with my brother when we were stuck in Belgium. I’d buy a diary for each holiday, and then fill it with scruffy squiggles so I could remember every minute.

As I grew older, I waited until I reached the car until I fell asleep; a pen still in my hand after describing how the clouds twisted and turned like a tornado. I wanted to see one so badly, though I knew deep down it wasn’t ever going to happen. My diaries became more intense; I wrote on my hands, arms, napkins- anything I could find. I also got my first digital camera which never left my sight.

As I reached adulthood, I left my parents behind and headed down south to Georgia. Except for this time I knew exactly where I was going and the excitement didn’t fade. I stayed awake for the whole car journey and fell asleep crossing the Atlantic Ocean with a journal in my lap. I spent the evenings with my website, documenting a hurricane that was due to hit the coast as CNN cuddled my ears in the background. I never got to see the storm, but I know it’s going to happen one day- as long as I believe in happy endings and fairy tales as much as I did as a child.

Arabella’s Secrets- a shot of romance

March 3, 2012 by  
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Christiana gathers her wavy, auburn hair in her hands. It is three am and her mind is whirring with irrational ideas, disrupting her sleep. How can she ever sleep, at a time like this? She wraps her hair around three times, like the autumn leaves that are tumbling through the breeze of the woodlands outside her bedroom window. She wraps a blanket of peach lace around her shoulders. It may be at the midst of summer, but the wind still leaves goose pimples across her skin at this hour. She opens her journal to a new page, and touches the beige leather lovingly. No, it is not her journal; but her diary. It is a collection of ivory pages, worn in leather and heart felt writings that nobody but herself, ever sees. Christiana curls her delicate fingers around her beloved fountain pen, one that the governess had given her with blessing of her nineteenth birthday. She dips the tip into a cauldron of black liquid before pressing it against the nothingness of the ivory- “August 23rd, 1852.”

The amethyst velvet that cuddles the pen still feels untouched, as it did three years ago. “Remember who you are when you hold this to write, sweet Christiana. It is there to guide you through any hope or dream you wish to prey upon,” Christiana remembers the words of her governess like a reign of fire in her mind; and she knows that she will never forget them, even when she has passed. She was the only one to ever know Christiana’s hopes and dreams; and now she is gone. Everyone that she had ever truly loved is gone.  All that is left is the deep purple fountain pen that rests between her fore finger and her thumb as she gazes into the night. And for a reason beyond her, this is enough.

The leaves are tumbling at a glacial pace now, quickening as the gust of the wind grows stronger. Christiana dismantles the delicate butterfly slide, incrusted with tiny gem stones, from her hair; and shakes it vigorously. She cannot make up her mind. How can she possibly write, or how can she possibly sleep- at a time like this? A soft glow reflects from the window in front of her. Its warmth peers into the darkness of her room; as if it is watching, waiting- to see what she will decide to do or not to do next. Christiana instinctively knows where the glow is coming from, and she calms. From the reflection in the window, she can tell that the glow is drifting along the far side of the staircase. How long will it take until it reaches her room? Christiana drapes the blanket of peach lace over her stool, undresses; and climbs beneath her sheets. She knows that she must sleep. But how can she possibly?

she walks through the gardens just beside the woodland, holding the tiered tail of her gown away from the grass, which is coated in a light sheet of rain water. She is surrounded by flowers typical of an English garden; roses, crimson and honey suckle- all of which are dispersing of the last droplets of rain before they present their beauty. Christiana moves in circles until she finds what she is looking for- a small, perfectly formed ring of daisies. The rain has forced more than half of them to lie flat against the grass; but they appear hydrated rather than lifeless.

She gathers the tail of her gown, olive green and thick with netting, within her hands and allows it to fall into her lap. She secures her hair with the butterfly pin once more, before re-lacing her boots so that the laces are perfectly aligned with each hook-eye. “Arabella- I call on you,” She says airily, as if the wind is taking away her breath so that she is able to speak. Her hair dances with the wind, as it always does. The daisies quiver on their stems, nourished and somewhat reborn by her presence.

Christiana’s eyes sparkle as an elegant faerie, barely visible to the eye; kneels before her. She has a calm disposition, her eyes shining with a warm glow; the warm glow that makes Christiana feel calm enough to sleep at night. She has the same auburn hair, the same olive green netting. She has always been here, in the gardens- waiting for Christiana to take her hand. She had watched as Christiana came into the world, scripted her beautiful writings and developed relationships with her governess, her family and even with a kind gentleman that nobody, but her had ever seen. She waited patiently as Christiana hurried through the gardens and into the woodlands once every month, gathering the tail of  her dress and aligning the laces of her boots before telling her secrets than only she had ever been told. And now here she is again, settling before the daisies to tell her of the irrational ideas that kept her awake the night before; as she always does.

Arabella holds out a delicate hand, ruffles the ring of daisies into a perfectly formed circle; and she closes the door.

Adeline Virginia Woolf

March 3, 2012 by  
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Virginia Woolf was born on the 25th January, 1882 in Kensington, the heart of London. She was a British novelist, essayist and existed as one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century- until she weighed down her pockets with pebbles and waded out into the River Ouse on the 28th March, 1941. Virginia had medium brown hair which often fell from a loose bun, wide eyes and a typical pure, simple composure that many women had during her era. She was very timid looking, and any attraction she had was from the inside, and it never failed to fill the air every time she wrote.

Virginia had a warm place in her heart for St.Ives, in County Cornwall. She would stay there, next to the Atlantic Ocean to gather inspiration for her writings. This particular place was the light through her darkness. Virginia suffered many traumas during her prime, including family deaths, sleepless nights; invasions of her home and waves of serious depression due to a psychological disorder. She was often described as `mad`- she would become so hazy she would not be able to think, read or write; and it was one of these haunting episodes that led her to suicide. Despite the few blessings in Virginia’s life, she was still one of the best writers of her time; she would spend hour upon hour writing beautiful words although all she could see was a single stem of candle light in the middle of the night.
Virginia’s passion for writing and her determination to hold onto her humanity were just two of the reasons why she is so influential to Novelists, like me, today. It is very easy to connect with her personality and how she saw the world; never through rose tinted glasses, but she had the ability to sift through the bad to get to the beauty, no matter what happened to her.

iHoppers.com diary- Angels of Adeje

February 29, 2012 by  
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Oh, sweet Adeje. I had a very fond impression of Adeje the moment I became face to face with it. Her instant rush of sticky heat clouds, dipping caramel coloured canyons and historical statues.

Adeje’s architecture is pristine and compact, as if it had been designed and structured last week. It is pleasantly quiet in contrast to the hustle and bustle of its neighbouring cities, although just a short bus journey away. The true culture of this old, pretty land is baffling, with its arch ways to parks and patisseries.

The residents of Adeje must feel they have a sense of humour; and they do. We were admiring and snapping photos of a statue, when a car drove by with its passenger calling- `Zat is my Grandvaser`. Thank you, passenger. You saved us the hassle of locating the sign.

We entered a beautifully neat Crematorium, its entrance was a small park which looked well cared for, and historical information signs adorned its arches. The Crematorium itself held its marks, names and flowers in tiny sections along the walls, as opposed to on the ground. Was this a Crematorium made for locals, or for royalty? I was not sure. We captured many photographs of Adeje, but felt it was disrespectful to take any in the Crematorium or its grounds. There was a small shrine towards the exit, I could pick out from the Spanish language that this was a shrine made to show memory and honour, from this, I know this is a Crematorium for special natives of Adeje.

The town of Adeje itself seems rather petite, with a sense of normal Spanish inhabitancy. You often see sights of fathers dining with their daughters, smiling waitresses and friends having beers and an innocent chat. There are small boutiques and hairdressers lined along the streets, with no direct centre. Adeje seems to me a perfect place to live if I was to move to Tenerife, and I am sure you will not disagree.

Adeje comes across as a respected little town, of pure unspoiled beauty, not affected by the civilisation or the times. I wished for a temperature scale, as I could not believe the levels of heat.

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