Some pictures

I have to say, 2014 has been a very nice year thus far. I’ve done some cool things, and look forward to doing even more! Currently everything just seems to look up and up, it’s a beautiful thing. I once feared adulthood, but I’m slowly learning to embrace it. Job, bills and all.

My homesickness has reared it’s head, and I am traveling back to Canada next week. If only for a short period, it will be sweet. I can’t believe it, but it’s been nearly a year since I left. And this month of last year was when I officially left Ottawa. So I’m really excited to be going back to see everyone! I would love to bring each and every one of them back to the UK with me, but alas, we all have carved out different paths.

Here is a collection of  very random photos I have taken over the last few months…some in Brighton & Hove, some in Shoreham-by-sea, and from our recent trip to Italy for Dave and Maria’s wedding!

 

Jack and his bicycle in Hove

Jack and his bicycle in Hove

Hove

Hove

A photo I took in my old flat

A photo I took in my old flat

Homemade scones

Homemade scones

Things I found in a tesco

Things I found in a tesco

Shoreham

Shoreham

Shoreham

Shoreham

Shoreham

Shoreham

Shoreham - photo by Jack

Shoreham – photo by Jack

Jack in the evening

Jack in the evening

My flat

My flat

Room with a view in Italy

Room with a view in Italy

Dave and Maria's wedding was held in this magnificent place

Dave and Maria’s wedding was held in this magnificent place

Jack in the flowers, Italy

Jack in the flowers, Italy

Hiking outside Rome

Hiking outside Rome

Roma, April 2014

Roma, April 2014

Roma, April 2014

Roma, April 2014

Escaping the busy streets of Rome

Escaping the busy streets of Rome

Snapshot of my balcony, 52 mm

Snapshot of my balcony, 50 mm

Experimenting

Experimenting

April 2014

April 2014

Feet in my flat

Feet in my flat

Out for a walk in Brighton, Spring time.

Out for a walk in Brighton, Spring time.

West Pier

West Pier

Cruising in my neighbourhood

Cruising in my neighbourhood

Mid-flight, candy clouds

Mid-flight, candy clouds

Jamie sleeps, Nicole chills, Alex texts

Jamie sleeps, Nicole chills, Alex texts

How to celebrate Valentines

This post comes late, and I apologize, but I’ve been so busy living that I forget to leave a trail of my words behind me. I’m very much caught up in the moment, with little regard to what’s ahead or behind me.

Last weekend was valentines day, and I’m not really the sappy type but for some reason this year was tugging at me, reminding me. Maybe because I know so many couples…but then again I feel I always have. Valentines day often reminds me of this time when I was 16 and received a massive bouquet of roses from a boy I had been desperately trying to avoid. This time of year makes me feel mostly… awkward. That’s the best way to describe it probably.

So it was completely amazing and perfect that Jack got me tickets to see Of Montreal. Probably one of the weirdest bands to witness live, and also one of the most fun! So we did the usual dinner thing on Friday, but come Sunday night I was feeling pretty jazzed about getting on down to the Haunt and dancing with a beer in hand.

The beginning didn’t make sense but that’s the point I guess. All the band members, excluding Kevin Barnes, came out on stage. Rebecca started saying things but her southern twang was so strong no one could understand what she said, yet agreed enthusiastically with anything that sounded to be posed as a question. I can’t decide if this fake accent was funnier because we are in England…I also wondered if maybe people thought that’s how she actually spoke…

Then Kevin Barnes, ‘the greatest singer in the world’, was called onto the stage and we screamed. We clapped. We tried to prepare ourselves for the magic.

Of course wacky costumes were intertwined, Kevin was wearing some sort of cape that made him look like royalty. We danced for a couple of hours, watched the odd animations flicker beyond the band on the back wall, cheered loudly and managed to get an encore out of it. I was pretty much dumbstruck and starry eyed the whole time, that’s how awesome they are. Kevin managed to remove his cape and white shirt throughout the show, and then re-entered wearing a silver sparkle sequin jacket and some rather tight psychedelic looking trousers.

I think we were all pretty happy with the evening. I left smiling and giggling and bursting with excitement.

So that is how I chose to celebrate Valentines day weekend. With beer, Of Montreal, and a really cool boyfriend who understands my strange musical obsessions.

M

Warpaint, Warpaint, Warpaint.

When I first saw the advertisement telling me Warpaint would be at the Brighton Dome this month, I pretty much ran home immediately and bought tickets.

I first heard this band a few years ago when a friend sent me the song “undertow”.

I fell in love immediately. This is a four piece girl band, and there is a dark and eerie vibe they give off that attracted me most. Heavy bass, dreamy melodies, and echoey voices. It was like nothing I had ever listened to before. I was hooked.

Now, when these four ladies stepped onstage, I didn’t know what to expect. If their moody tunes would match their personalities onstage. But they were a rather fun loving bunch, teasing the audience and dancing around the stage. At one point someone yelled for them to take off their shirts. This was deflected with class and with a rather pointed “no”. There was laughter but it was sarcastic. These women are musicians, better than many men out there. Yet even when they take the stage to bring the audience something beautiful that they have meticulously crafted in garages or basements or studios…talent is ignored and tits are the centre of attention.

I have to say I was offended for them. But they quickly went into another song, drums slamming and guitar strings plucking. Beyond badass, the comment was forgotten within moments. The music is why we were here together under this roof.

The best thing about this group is their obvious chemistry. They just seem to be four best friends having a jam session, enjoying the flow of the music and even laughing. I could see them whispering to each other while playing, huge smiles on their faces. It was basically like watching a scene from GIRLS, if Hannah, Marnie, Shosh and  Jessa were in a band – they would be like Warpaint. Actually, what is freaky is how much the bass player TRULY looks like Jessa. I did a double take.

So at one point the lights were turned up and we had a dance party. They actively told the audience…we can see you…making us feel almost naked. It was a perfect way to get back at the idiot who asked for clothing to be removed. A subtle ‘fuck you’ to anyone who doubts the power of females and their ability to make some amazing beats. It ended perfectly, although bittersweet. Because who really wants an evening with Warpaint to ever come to a close?

So I left with a brain full of happy thoughts, and I dreamt of beaches and sand and dancing barefoot.

Eurotrip collection

Hey! So during my travels through Europe I was often taking a lot of video footage. I had been working on said video at the end of June, but when my camera was stolen, I suddenly stopped going back to my work. I started focusing on other things. I really miss making videos! So I finally did it, I finally finished it.

So here it is! My adventure in film. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Remember, remember, the fifth of November…

November the fifth is a memorable day, one where I usually find myself watching V for Vendetta with a big bowl of popcorn and some friends. But now that I find myself on the Coast of England and just a half hour away from the Bonfire Capital of the World – well, I decided I had to check it out. So last week, we did just that!

We headed to Lewes on the train after waiting in a relatively short queue. We even managed to snag seats, we seemed to be in the clear, and I wondered just how packed this celebration would be. It was packed. I’m talking 30,000 people. It was incredible, the tiny streets filled with crowds of bonfire goers, from tots to teens to grandparents. We made our way towards the parade, dodging drunks and people with flaming torches. The parade is made up of several bonfire societies, all of them dressed in different costumes. Some were simple, just striped shirts and maybe some face paint, while others were dressed as the Pope or Native Americans with massive headdresses. Basically, if this were to happen anywhere else in the world, there would be havoc and a lot of ridicule. But it’s been a tradition here for so long it’s just something to look forward to each year. And a good excuse to drink in public. How outrageous the event is is what draws the massive crowds. Also, it is a lot of fun, so long as you don’t get too offended.

Now, I had been warned about bangers but wasn’t sure what to expect. Until one landed next to my feet and exploded. I shrieked, covered my head and wondered what had just happened. Oh yeah, get used to that, it’s going to happen. A lot. Eventually the heat from all of the flames and the noise from all the bangers and fireworks blended into the night…it just became natural. And it was amazing, I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

So, if you were to go to this event uninformed about why they do it, you might be a little shocked at seeing burning crosses and the like. But if you know that November fifth was the uncovering of the gunpowder plot back in 1605 – yes, Guy Fawkes and his crew had plans to blow up the House of the Lords but were thwarted. So now we burn effigies, set off fireworks and get a little rowdy. It’s also quite anti Catholic, hence the burning/exploding Pope. Mind you, it’s definitely not as violent as it used to be, and I’m glad for that. Also, in terms of the offensive parts, it’s all meant to be in good fun, but I guess it would depend where you stand in terms of your religious and political views. I tried to not think about it and just experience the event with an open mind.

Here are some photos from Jack’s iPhone, quality isn’t best, but photos couldn’t do justice to how grand it truly was in any case!

Parade on Bonfire Night

Parade on Bonfire Night

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Excited

Excited

Big bad baby...

Big bad baby…

We ended our night at Commercial’s bon fire. They had several effigies, including the Pope, Guy Fawkes and what I believe was either Kim Jong Un or Kim Jong Il as a giant baby. It had missiles strapped to it’s giant pram. Everyone threw their torches at the massive pile of wood with Guy Fawkes sitting on the top. It had to be three storeys high. Eventually it was billowing a lot of smoke. Next came the fireworks, and the effigies blew up in a rather comical fashion. And the fireworks, they were amazing. Better than anything I had ever seen at any Canada day or Fourth of July celebrations. Sorry North America, but bonfire night really kills it in the fireworks department. And that was only ONE bonfire society. There were several more around the city.

All in all, a successful night. The train ride home was less than comfortable, as we waited for over an hour in a massive line full of drunk teenagers. But I was still basking in the glow of a great evening. I really would like to encourage everyone to make their way to Lewes at least one November in their lifetime to experience this evening. Just don’t take it too seriously. Oh, and have a few beers. Dodge some bangers. Laugh.

-M

Just a wee dram – our holiday in Glasgow

In September we chose a rather warm climate, but last month we headed north to Scotland. The flight from London Gatwick to Glasgow International Airport was about the equivalent of flying from Toronto to Ottawa. And for the first time in awhile I was able to get off the plane without finding myself trapped in a massive line intended for “non EU passport holders”. In Italy Jack zipped ahead of me as I waited behind maybe 200 Americans who had arrived from New York, what luck.

We got in on a Sunday night with just a few days to spend in the city. We were lucky enough to have lovely friends – Miriam and Tim – meet us at the bus station in the city centre. From there the obvious next step was to find a pub or bar of some sort. They know all of the best spots. Our first stop was Nice N’ Sleazy, usually crowded but on a Sunday evening it was a lot more tame. My first pint in Scotland was not a Tennant’s, but that came a few days later when we found ourselves in a rather strange bar. We had a half and made a swift exit.

Glasgow seems to have some sort of reputation for violence etc, but I found the city to be full of kind people. What got me the most was the stunning architecture. Most notably, University of Glasgow. Walking through the Campus would probably make you think about Hogwarts and then make you wish you had gone to school in Glasgow. It made my University campus seem small in comparison, and certainly a lot more boring. But then again, a lot of things back home can seem “boring”, especially since history runs so much deeper in the UK.

While we did spend a lot of time checking out numerous drinking spots, we also managed to have a day where we wandered out of the West End. We were lucky enough to stay with Miriam and Tim in their amazing flat right in the centre of the West End, which, by the way, is probably the coolest area to stay in while in Glasgow.

So, we took a bus to Luss, which was about an hour. We didn’t really know what to expect, but we were dropped off outside the little village, where we walked down to Loch Lomond. The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond…

What a view. It was a foggy day but beautiful none the less!

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We then made our way back to some trails, where we hiked up some roads, going up and up. The hills were amazing, but unfortunately, we managed to take the wrong trail as recommended by Tim and Miriam. That was a bummer, but we still had a great afternoon and had plenty of good views. We also had numerous encounters with sheep and cows.

ImageImageAfter a day of hiking we had rather sore feet, but that didn’t deter us from going to, yes, more bars! I even managed to find a pumpkin ale at a place called Dram. That was very exciting, because I had been searching for many weeks at this point. We spent what we thought was our last day at a Botanics garden, which was amazing. I had never seen so many species of plants in my life. It made me wish I had my very own greenhouse. We also went to a nice little hidden tea house called Tchai Ovna. We would have never found it without specific directions from Miriam. We also checked out some cool vintage shops in the West End. Basically, I decided that I should live in Glasgow at some point. It was overwhelming how cool this city is!  Even though it rains and the sky is grey quite often, I found the people much friendlier than here in good old England. Sorry guys. It’s that Scottish charm that got me.

And the icing on the cake – our flight was cancelled. Which meant one more night in Glasgow. Could it be?! YES! So we had a chance to check out a really traditional night of Scottish céilidh music. I drank whisky and ginger, and wondered why everyone was so hard to understand. Were they drunk? Was I drunk? Or was I really that ignorant? I couldn’t understand the thick accents!

A man old enough to be my grandfather said something I couldn’t understand, grabbed me by the arm and swung me violently around in some sort of dance I had never seen or done before. Everyone was laughing, eventually the horror on my face turned into a smile and I was enjoying myself, despite being slammed into other men and women on the dance floor. I was mildly confused but also delighted to be taking part and having a truly authentic Scottish experience.

Here is where it all starts to make sense…sort of.

About an hour later they asked where we were from.

Canada, Tim and I replied. (Jack said England and was promptly ignored. It hurt his feelings.)

They just laughed and apologized. It turns out they had all been speaking Gaelic the whole time and thought we were from around there and knew the language. This was even more funny because Tim had mentioned earlier that my red hair may cause some locals to think I’m Scottish. What do you know, it did.

That was a great ending to our trip to Scotland! And yes, we will most certainly be going back.

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-M

Feel it all around

Something I have been craving, a man I have been dreaming of seeing for several years. To the point that when I met Chaz Bundick I actually asked him questions about what Ernest Greene is like. I know…

But the point of this post is that it finally happened! Washed out came to Brighton, so we got tickets and marched on down to the sea front to Concorde 2. This was a sweet relief because just a few days earlier Deerhunter were meant to be playing this venue, however, their UK/EU tour was cancelled. I didn’t cry but I might have had a bit of a tantrum…

Back to the night of dreams… being super keen we arrived around 8 p.m, and to tell you the truth the place was pretty empty. Us Baby Bear Bones were playing some amazing opening music, the way the lead singer hit her drum really caught my attention. To my dismay, they stopped playing after I had only heard about one and a half songs. I was disappointed, but this band happens to be local (and their name is even painted on the wall of Sticky Mike’s) so if I get a chance, I will definitely go to one of their shows. They made an impression.

Amateur Best was next. A man with a keyboard, a horn, a few other gadgets, and a voice. What a voice. I didn’t really know what was happening, it was all so different. It felt almost awkward, watching this guy sing his heart out, but the crowd was growing steadily and he didn’t seem to have any insecurities. I was doubtful at first, but impressed nonetheless. Mainly because he could actually play that horn really well, and captivate an audience.

And then it began. Washed Out came, first his band started playing , then Ernest ran out, looking like quite the hippy with his shoulder length hair and bohemian look, guitar around his shoulder. I will admit, I didn’t listen to much of his newest album Parocasm. I was surprised when he actually didn’t make it his sole focus of the show.

He played the old stuff, what I really wanted to hear. Get Up, Feel it All Around, and Belong were in there as well. I hadn’t felt so zen in a long time. I closed my eyes and swayed and smiled. Sipped my beer, and got slightly annoyed when some lads held up their camera phone for 30 seconds too long. But for the most part, I was extremely relaxed, because that is just what Washed Out does to me.

Afterwards, I was so starry eyed that upon walking into the smoking section and faced with several smiles and North American accents, I just began speaking to his band. Without realizing they were his band until about a minute into the conversation. Embarrassing? Slightly. But we were just too busy bonding over our roots. And I was still floating outside of my body most likely.

I mean, it’s been nearly a week and I’m still dreaming of the moment he stepped on stage.

So I will just leave this here.

Happy Wednesday!

-M

When in Rome…

I normally hate cliches but in this case, it just cannot be avoided.

We found ourselves hating the weather here in the UK, which, by the way, in September is truly not that bad. I would even argue it was quite nice. But the English do love to complain, so sometimes I will chime in as well. What’s the best way to cheer yourself up as summer comes to a close? Obviously go to Italy!

It was my first time, and I didn’t really know what to expect. Obviously some amazing Roman history and kick ass architecture, but seeing it right before my eyes was something else. Another cliche, but a photo just cannot do this city justice. It is beyond grand, and even a little overwhelming in terms of how gorgeous and perfect the city looks. Being a massive tourist destination, it was very clean. Yet I didn’t find it to be overly busy, this stood out mostly in the evenings. The streets were quiet, after the sun set people seemed to disappear to their corners. That is unfortunately when the rats come out, and I was unlucky enough to have dozens of sightings. Ick.

Moving past my disgust with the rats… we were lucky enough to have an amazing flat to share with a couple of friends just outside the walls of Vatican City. Despite being so close to a major destination for people from all over the world, our little area was lacking obvious tourists, except ourselves of course. We managed to stumble upon some amazing restaurants that travellers probably rarely get to see, so we indulged a little. The pasta was out of this world, and one particular restaurant owner gave us some sort of shot which we drank happily.

The Vatican

The Vatican

When we weren’t lazing beneath palm trees, stuffing our faces with gelato and pizza, or drinking 2 euro bottles of wine (which taste WAY better than the bottles I pay 10 pounds for in England), we were exploring the city and taking tours.

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Wandering

Blue skies featuring Jamie

Blue skies featuring Jamie

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Courthouse

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Laying beneath the palm trees

The colosseum is the first obvious destination. And I was originally thinking of just looking at it and moving on, but we couldn’t resist having a tour inside. I am mostly fascinated by the bloody history and learning more about gladiators and all that jazz. Once inside I was truly amazed by how massive it really is. Seeing it and being there made me feel so small and insignificant, just a blip in time really.

Inside the Colosseum

Inside the Colosseum

Just being tourists

Just being tourists

After our tour of the Colosseum, we went to the Roman Forum, some amazing ruins that reminded me of my time in Greece. It is really baffling to think about how these structures were built. They are massive and were built with pure man power. It makes today’s architecture seem so boring and mundane.

Tourists in the Roman Forum

Tourists in the Roman Forum

Arch of Titus

Arch of Titus

Rome has everything you could ever want! Amazing food, friendly people, and gelato at every corner. So yes, we indulged. I think I gained five pounds but it was totally worth it.

I also did that thing again where I make my way to a cemetery, because the ones in Europe are so damn awesome. Also, it was the Protestant cemetery that is home to John Keats’ grave, however, it does not bear his name. It was really eerie, but definitely worth the trip.

I was missing the sunshine immediately as I boarded the plane back to London…but I have photos to remind me of the warmth…

Somewhere in Rome, about to eat gelato again probably

Somewhere in Rome, about to eat gelato again probably

In the Church of St. Ignatius

In the Church of St. Ignatius

The Spanish Steps

The Spanish Steps

 

-M

A little shameless self promotion.

Over the past few months, Canculture has been putting together something pretty cool that I feel lucky to be a part of. It’s called Long Story Short, so if you love poetry and short stories, or just creative writing in general, it’s something you should definitely check out.

Also, I had been longing to have a platform (aside from tumblr) where I can publish my creative writing, so I’m really thankful that I was asked to share some of my work alongside some other amazing and talented individuals!

Check out Long story short here!

-M