Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back

I love the days between Christmas and New Year. A slow time to recover from the Christmas excesses. A quiet time to reflect on the year that has almost passed. An exciting time to dream about what's to come. And, yes, a time for resolutions. I love resolutions, thinking about what I want to achieve in the months to come and what I want to concentrate on. I enjoy sitting down and spending some time making plans for the year ahead. I always start looking back at the resolutions made the previous year, because my new resolutions normally evolve from those. I also think about those resolutions I didn't keep and reflect on why and whether I want to try again this year or maybe it's time to let go of something I'm not really meant to do. This year, as I told you about all my resolutions for 2009 in the blog, it was a lot easier to look back. A year ago, I promised that I would:
  • Write more: I'm feeling a bit bittersweet about this one, the resolution that appears in my list every year (and that must mean something). I've written more often, I've started several short stories, I've thought about plots and topics for potential books... but I don't feel I've done as much as I hoped. I certainly haven't managed to write every day, and I still haven't finished any of my stories. During the year, however, I took a writing class for the first time and went on a writing retreat, I collaborated with Discounderwold, and I definitely step out of my comfort zone with my writing. So, for next year, I want to continue challenging myself and I'll come up with specific targets for my writing (I'm thinking at least a short story and a non-fiction article every month), and I'll be trying again to write something every day.
  • Take more photos: I feel I've achieved this one. At the beginning of the year I knew I enjoyed taking photos but I really didn't know much about photography. My blog camp girls, and specially Julie and Kristina with their passion, and Spud with her Camera Club have inspired me to think more about photography as art, composition, and even aperture! I definitely want to continue with this one, and I have several ideas for fun photography projects for 2010. I've also decided to participate in the 365 photo project that Julie has started in Flickr. I know it's going to be challenging, but I'm looking forward to it! Also, I got a a Diana F + for Christmas and I can't wait to start playing with it! The boyfriend and I are going on a photography expedition this weekend!
  • Decorate my own house: This is a difficult one. Yes, I bought a house, but I bought it in the wrong country! My boyfriend and I bought a flat in Spain and spent the week before Christmas getting it ready to rent it out in the New Year. So, yes, I'm proud to own my first house, and I enjoyed trying to make the most of it on a budget, but I haven't been decorating the house for myself and it was a bit sad knowing that we won't be able to enjoy living there any time soon.
  • Would do more crafts, specially sewing and knitting: I'm not sure about this one... I certainly tried and learned how to sew a bag, a purse, a skirt... I took a course on bookbinding and loved it and I've been trying to do more things with my hands. But I think I was pushing myself too much with this one, and I'm going to relax a little bit. I want to continue learning and experimenting, but I need to realize that not everything I make would be perfect, specially not the first time that I attempt something!
Uff, do you think that was too much? There was also the reading challenge that I didn't keep, the think before you buy challenge that I loved, my vow to not read the news, and a lot of thinking about my 5 rules for life, which can be considered resolutions for life.

What's left for 2010? Stay tuned... :)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

white snow flake, originally uploaded by micamica.

The boy and I are leaving for the airport in a minute. The snow has been causing havoc here in England, but that's not going to stop me from spending Christmas at home in Spain!
I hope you all have a lovely holiday! I'll see you here before the New Year. It's New Year's resolution time and you know I love it (See here, here, here, here and here)!

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Glee obsession

I've recently discovered Glee! How did it take me so long? My two guilty pleasures (musicals and high school dramas) combined into a TV series that is also clever, witty and lots of fun!
The perfect antidote for those winter, rainy evenings...

Friday, December 11, 2009

This year... and the next!

Hello, hello! Well, look at that! It's almost Christmas... Can I use that as an excuse for not having blogged in three weeks? No? How about my engagement? No? Surely, if I tell you that the wedding planning has started you'll understand why I haven't had much time...

I know, all lame excuses! But I'm here now. I'm here to stay. How could I not when there are so many friends reading and congratulating us in our engagement! Thank you so much to everyone who commented in my post. It's amazing to think about this bloggy community of ours, where we make new friends that then share with us so many important moments.

Yes, I'm in a reflective mood, as always at the end of a year.  I've been thinking back to what this 2009 has been like. I keep referring to 2009 as a "bad year", but that actually couldn't be further from the truth. It didn't start well, it's true. We came back from our amazing trip in South America at the end of 2008, and so 2009 was the year we came back to rainy England, the year we went back to work, the year Jon and I missed the freedom of traveling, spending time together, visiting amazing places, making new friends and doing something for others...

But of course, 2009 was also the year I turned 30 and had an amazing party, started to take blogging more seriously, made new friends and participated in the very first Blog Camp (as well as the version 2.1 in England, and we're planning the third one for January 2010). This was the year I bought my first property with my boyfriend (now fiance!), the year I got a new, much better job, and of course, the year I got engaged. Not bad, right?

So what's left for 2010? First of all, a wedding! We are planing to get married next summer. It's going to be exciting! And stressful! How do you plan a wedding in a little over six months and in a country different to the one you live in? We're about to find out! I'll try not to make this blog a wedding blog but I'll be showing you some of our ideas from time to time, if  you don't mind.

And a honeymoon! We're not planning anything extravagant, just a beautiful place where we can relax and be together. For the first time when planning a trip, our priority is not to see and do as much as we can, but to spend time doing nothing together. Any ideas for wonderful locations in Europe? Not Spain or England, please!

Friday, November 20, 2009

We're engaged!!!!

So, I wasn't feeling great the other day, I had a cold, I was tired, and I just wanted to go home.... The boyfriend, however, had other ideas. He insisted we went for dinner, as we had planned. I thought it was weird, since he's the one always telling me to slow down when I'm not feeling well. Turns out, he had a reason... and a plan!
He took me for a small picnic in the same spot in the park where we had our first kiss. And halfway through it, he went down on one knee and took a small box out of his bag. Now, I'd love to say that I was elegant and composed while he said his bit, but all I did was shriek "A box, a box, a box..." He was very nervous but was incredibly sweet despite my shrieking. I guess he knows by now what he's getting himself into!
Once I said yes (Of course!), we could both relax. He had planned an amazing evening with dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in Oxford, The Old Parsonage, and a performance of Giselle, by The English National Ballet.  The performance was amazing, but truth to be told, I may have spent more time looking at my ring than at the stage.

It was thoughtful, it was romantic, it was perfect. I can't wait to start this new chapter of our lives together. Jon, I love you and of course I want to spend the rest of my life with you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Simple things

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
Robert Breault

iPhone Photo by boyfriend

Christina has invited us to celebrate the simple things in life that make us happy.
These are some of mine...

* Breakfast in bed

* Arriving home right before it starts raining

* Listening to an old song on the radio and be instantly transported to that summer 

* Painting your nails pink and feeling instantly fabulous

* Reading a blog post and realized that someone has put your exact same thoughts in writing for you to understand

* Chocolate.

* An unexpected call from a friend

What simple things are making you happy? 

For a first round of my simple things, go here. See if you can spot the one that I've mentioned again today!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Education

"I feel old, but I don't feel wise.", Jenny in An Education

Oh, to have a picnic by the Seine...

I have just seen the beautiful film An Education and I highly recommend that you go and see it as soon as you can. It's the story of 16-year-old Jenny, who falls in love with an older, mysterious guy. It's the story of David, who sees everything as if for the first time when he's with Jenny, but hides a secret. It's the story of Jenny's parents, who try their best but make mistakes. It's the story of London and England before the sixties really started. It's a coming of age story, it's a love story, it's a social portrait of a time before modernity.

The story is beautifully shot and incredibly well acted. I liked every character (even those we weren't supposed to like), because the actors managed to make them all real, with their strengths and flaws. There is no doubt that Carey Mulligan's Jenny carries the film. She has already been compared by many to Audrey Hepburn. And she may very well be my new girl crush!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I hope you had a wonderful Halloween weekend! I've never before been excited about this celebration but I absolutely loved it this year. We now live in a neighbourhood with lots of young families and many of them went trick or treating with their children. And for the first time, we didn't go to a Halloween party and at the last minute, decided to stay home to give sweets to the children. Who knew it'd be so much fun! The neighbours next door had an amazing Halloween party that included fireworks! The children loved it! I'm already planning my very own Halloween party for next year!
I'm off to enjoy some pumpkin soup now...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wasting time

Oh, where does time go? That's exactly what I wondered when I realized I haven't posted here in more than a week! I'm not the only one who feels like this, of course...

Through the beautiful Peonies and Polaroids, I found Alison Provax, who is creating a series of letterpress prints that form The Time Wasting Experiment. She says of the project, In part inspired by tracking 'billable hours' but also coming from the compulsion to always be doing and producing objects. This series is sort of an audit of how I spend my time, but could also be thought of as permission slips to spend a period of time in a wasteful way (maybe recontextualizing a private, shameful activities into something which one tries to get done in a set amount of time).  You can buy the prints from her Etsy shop.

I love the simplicity of these, and seeing all these "wasteful" activities with a timeline attached to them is also a real eye opening. I'm definitely guilty of many of these, and since I'm not sure I can stop, maybe I should start trying to set a limited amount of time to do them.

So what have I been doing? Apart from wasting time, that is... I've been getting used to a new job, new projects, a completely different new way of doing things (in fact, part of my job is coming up with new ways of doing things!). I'm getting used to a new office and new colleagues. It's been almost two weeks and I'm starting to get a clear picture of what it's going to be like, exciting but crazy and stresful times lie ahead!

All this has left me with little energy to do much with my free time, and so I have been wasting my time with lots of movie and DVD watching (guilty secret, I've become obssesed with Brothers and Sisters... should I worry?). I've also been watching lots of Friends and listening to Regina Spektor, two things that never fail to put me in a good mood. And I've finally found a way to post music in the blog, so I leave you with my favourite Regina's song. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

12 months of being 30: On writing

* This post is part of my 12 months of being 30 project, an attempt to record what happens during my year of being 30.

Stacey said it first and Julochka instantly embraced the concept of writing as the new praying. I've been thinking about it a lot lately, because writing is definitely helping me feeling better despite the stress, the depressing weather, and the lack of energy that I told you about in my last post.
I know I haven't been writing here much (Sorry!) but I've been playing with words quite a lot, on my own, and as part of a Creative Writing class that I decided to take on a whim (a creative writing class in English! Talking about leaving my comfort zone!)
Last week, we did an exercise that I found incredibly liberating. We had to write three short autobiographical texts (100 words each), and chopped them up word by word. Then, we have to play with the 300 words and create a completely different text with them. The idea was putting words together without thinking too much about their meaning, but perhaps not surprisingly, most of the people in the class found that the words were definitely trying to transmit something to them. I had so much fun doing this and liked my text so much, that I used it as part of one of my 12 months of being 30 collages.

For the record, my teacher thought that I needed to add some concrete concepts as it was too abstract, but I still like it as it is.

I'm now determined to go back to a routine of writing morning pages before going to work, and sitting down and writing on a stream of consciousness whenever I feel lost or overwhelmed. I'm not sure if writing is the new praying, but for me it's definitely the best form of therapy.

PS. It's my first day at my new job today. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 12, 2009

If September was a month of new beginnings, good changes and hope, October seems to be the complete opposite. The beauty of cool, crisp Autumn mornings has given way to cold, dark and rainy days. This gets me every year, the beginning of a winter in England starts too early and will last for far too long. During the last week I've been fighting a cold and dragging myself to work, as well as trying to finish a couple of translations I volunteered to do, and so I feel tired, devoid of energy and ideas.  I haven't been writing, I haven't been reading, I haven't been art journaling, I haven't been taking photos.  I've just been doing a lot of nothing.

In an effort to get myself out of this funk quicker, I've of course turned to the blogosphere. The new Unravelling course starts tomorrow, and I'm really hoping it'll help me look around me and maybe take photos again. I did the first course Susannah taught at the beginning of the year and it was great, so I'm sure this one will be too.

The Fragrant Muse of course had the best oil for this situation and Cyndy has embarked on a decluttering journey that could be my inspiration. How about dreaming of other places?  I love absolutely everything about this post by Lana

SAS, who seem to be in a hole of her own, posted a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke that maybe exactly what I need: 
 Do not now look for the answers. 
They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. 
It is a question of experiencing everything. 
At present you need to live the question.  

Do you ever feel like this? What do you do? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Corner view: Oxford souvenirs, UK

This week's Corner View theme is Souvenirs of your city. Ah, Oxford! One of the most beautiful cities in the world. What could you take as a souvenir after visiting? What would you remember?

Well, there is the obvious, a postcard of the Radcliffe Camera, which is probably the most recognizable building in town...

Or a postcard of one of the Colleges, like Christ Church. One of the most beautiful buildings in the city, it's now famous because it inspired Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter movies. This is the back building overlooking Christ Church Meadow and my favourite part of the college.

You could get a book about the city. This is, after all, one of the most important Univeristy cities of the world, and it offers plenty of bookshops where to spend a fun afternoon...

You could go for something British... with a twist...

Or you could simply go and enjoy one of the old pubs in town. The Eagle and Child, in St Gilles, is where the writers' group, The Inklings used to meet. Its members included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, so you'd be in good company.

Go to Jane's blog, Spain Daily, to visit more Corner Views around the world.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Books and magazines (or languages and music)

Hello, welcome to the news edition of Cuttings on a blog!

We're discussing Dreaming in hindi at the Hermit Book Club today! I'm starting the conversation:

Dreaming in Hindi is the story of the author, Katherine Russell Rich, while living in India and learning Hindi for a year. But not really. It's mainly a collection of theories, ideas, and reflections on learning a second language.

Come and visit even if you haven't read the book, as we can have an interesting discussion about learning languages and living in different cultures. At some point in the book, the author mentions a Slovak proverb that has stayed with me: With each new language you acquire a new soul. In my experience, and that of the author of the book,  learning a new language is a window into a different world, and speaking a language can make you into a different person, even without you realizing.

On other news, have you seen Stacey's new venture, Music Sandwich? It's a music magazine with a multicultural angle. For this first issue, I wrote an article about the history of tango and the city of Buenos Aires. Oh, how I miss Buenos Aires... Unfortunately, the photos in the article are not mine, because I managed to lose most of them. There are also articles on jazz, electro music, and my favourite section: Sounds like... where you can discover local bands from all over the world that sound like the ones you already know and like. Have a look!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Randomness and links

I think it's time for another Randomness and links post, don't you? If only because I've been writing this one since July!
This made me smile...

Yep, I've been there! If I work from home, it doesn't mean I'll have time to do the laundry, the shopping and the cleaning. Also, no I can't meet you for coffee. I'm working. Although if I'm totally honest, I guess I also have moments of this:  

For more Artsyville prints, visit her Etsy shop.

The five rules from life blog is very inspirational. Every time I visit, there are new ideas to think about. I think these rules are my favourite at the moment. Oh, and just in case you missed mine, they are here. What would your five rules for life be?

I'm one of those people who have to arrive at the cinema BEFORE they dim the lights, before the adverts, and obviously, before the movie starts. I also like to wait until the very end to leave; yes, I leave after the closing titles have finished. I love the experience of going to the cinema and I don't want to miss a single second. This is all better it the movie has creative title and ending sequences. I really don't like it when the movie starts straight away, I think everyone involved in making it deserves to have their name displayed in an interesting opening sequence! The Art of the Title website pays homage to some interesting film and TV opening sequences.

Ah, Polaroid! There is something very special about them. For me, Polaroids are about small moments, about those rutinary objects that we never pay attention to, those scenes that we see every day. The uniqueness of the day to the day. I recently heard about Jamie Livingston, who took a Polaroid photo a day from 1979 to 1997. The story of his life (better, his day to day) on Polaroids. Go here to see them all, or read more about it here.


And for more creative photo projects, I'm loving The Photographic Dictionary. They keep adding more words and the photos keep getting better. Some of my favourites are birthday (hilarious), homepink, and plastic. I could spend hours checking every word!


I'm loving the idea of Hope notes. It's easy, it's beautiful, and it makes me smile. See how Kristin started the hope revolution here. I heard about it from Sas, who has already done it. I think for my first hope expedition I'm going to go around my office. We're not a miserable bunch, but the the days are getting shorter, mornings are becoming colder and we're all feeling a bit blue.

For more hope and random fun, go check the latest project of Improve Everywhere. They organized a photobooth in the underground! Brilliant! They should tour the world bringing fun to public transport. I love my bike, but one of the reasons why I cycle to work, even though it means getting up earlier and doing exercise first thing in the morning, is that everyone on the bus is always so miserable. It's not a good way to start your day!

This is a beautiful love story set in Rome, I love everything about it, specially the fact that it was made of photographs. Isn't it clever? I found it at M. A. Belle blog. Enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

12 months of being 30: new beginnings

* This post is part of my 12 months of being 30 project, an attempt to record what happens during my year of being 30.

Slightly different format for my 12 months of being 30 this time. Lately, there hasn't been much time to make collages (or reading blogs, or writing here for that matter). So much has happened... And so, this post is all about a tale of new beginnings.

If you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook, you already know about my news (Sorry to those of you that are both on my Twitter and Facebook accounts, I promise this is the last time you have to read about this!)

Firstly, I got a new job! It's a very exciting new post in the same publishing company I work for, but I'm now working on digital material. I'll still work with some of the same people I've been working with over the years but the job is totally new. I'm very excited and looking forward to more responsibilities and some great new projects.

And I have just bought my first property! My family owned a flat in my home town in Spain, Salamanca, and we didn't know what to do with it. Most people wanted to sell it, and so my boyfriend and I decided it was the perfect opportunity to buy everyone else off and get on the property ladder (which is a very English thing to do!). Of course, I live in England, the flat is in Spain and this throws all sorts of questions about home and the future. For now, I'm not thinking about it!

It's funny how these two things have been in the pipeline for a while. Forever, it seems. And then, they both happened at the same time. Right when I was reflecting about September, new beginnings, small and big changes. I feel as if I'm finally moving forward. It's been a weird year, since we came back from South America. What do you do after one of your big dreams becomes a reality? How do you move forward after such an important time in your life? And so, this year, I've been a bit lost, looking back, concentrating on the past.

This blog has really helped me during this process. I've also been journaling a lot, but writing here and knowing that someone was reading has helped me to keep on track. Everyone I've met (both offline and online) because of this blog has inspired me in one way or another, to think about what I really want and how to get it. So thanks so much for being there! You know who you are.

Now it's time to live the past behind, enjoy the present, embrace the new opportunities, and more importantly, start looking ahead. Exciting things are happening, new possibilities are opening. And I'm ready for them. I hope you're ready to come with me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Corner view: September in the UK

Corner View is back after our summer break! The very timely topic this week is September.

For me, September has always meant a new beginning. It's of course, the back to school feeling. After a summer of fun, I was always more or less ready to go home, to see my friends, to get back into a routine, and yes, even to go back to school. Because the new school year was full of possibilities, of new things to learn, of new ways of doing things.

It's funny, I had that same feeling at the end of my year travelling last December. After an amazing time, I was ready to come back and create new routines and a new life with the boyfriend. This year has been difficult, but we're getting to the place that we imagined at the beginning of the year. A place where we want to stay for a while. Everything we've done this year (and before) has brought us here. To this September. And, once again, September has brought with it exciting opportunities and new beginnings.

I'll tell you all about the details of our new beginnings soon. In the meantime, I leave you with these September photos that I snapped last week in a visit to my friends in Chichester, in Surrey, England. It was my first time in the area, and it's so beautiful, I can't believe I never knew.

Visit more Corner Views around the world:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9.09.09: A day for wishes

It's 9.09.09, a day for wishes.
I wish for a happy family, for smiley babies and tired parents
I wish for a simpler life, with fewer things and more fun
I wish for more time to write
I wish for a finished book, for a publishing deal, I wish to one day hold my own book in my hands
I wish for a road trip in North America
I wish for Blog Camp in New Zealand
I wish for my own coffee shop, a relaxed place where people come for coffee while they write, draw and talk. A place to be crafty, to discover and try out new things
I wish for more time, more space and less worries
I wish to keep on learning
I wish to keep on wishing.

What do you wish for?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I'm on Disco Underworld! Come and vote for me!

I've been interviewed for the latest issue of the online magazine Disco Underworld about my time volunteering in South America! It's been great to remember and reflect on my time in Ecuador. Now, more than ever, I can't wait to go back one day.

As you probably know, Disco Underworld is published monthly online and they also have one annual print edition that includes the best articles and interviews of the year (You can get the Gold Issue here). Please go and read my interview and vote for me to appear in the print issue, please, please, please! I want to be in print! You only have to enter your email address and vote at the end of the article about me.

And since you are there, you may as well read the rest of the magazine. The monthly theme is Positive Impact and there are plenty of interesting stories about giving back. As always, Stacey has done an amazing job at putting together another brilliant issue of Disco Underworld. Oh, and have you heard about her new project, Music Sandwich? I wrote an article about Tango in Buenos Aires for that one! It's very exciting to see this project coming to life and am really looking forward to the first issue!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

12 months of being 30

* This post is part of my 12 months of being 30 project, an attempt to record what happens during my 30th year on Earth.

Hello! Do you remember me, dear blog? I know, I know I haven't been around much. To be honest, I haven't been doing anything except working, in case you were thinking I've been having wonderful adventures somewhere exotic.
But here I am! A bit late, but I bring you a selection of the collages I made last month for my 12 months of being 30 project. I'm quickly realizing that my collages for this project seem to be more about what I need than about what I have. Even though I've been busy with work and various other things for weeks, my collages are calm and quiet, inviting me to pace myself and to do nothing.
Do you remember I promised to have a creative summer? Well, I've been making jewelry, sewing tote bags, embellishing my underwear (for real!), writing and making small books; I went to the Latitude festival and wrote about it at the amazing discounderwold magazine; I went to Blog Camp and came back inspired to make my photography better (and Spud is further inspiring me with her online photography club). I've loved doing every single one of these things, but now I'm plain exhausted.
I've been exposed to so many types of inspiration that my brain is full of ideas, projects, plans... Unfortunately, I can't take any of them past the initial drafting stage. It's time to stop, let the ideas settle down and think about which one of these projects I want to pursue right now, which ones I'll reserve for later and which ones are simply crazy ideas not meant to become a reality.
It's time to allow myself some space. To sit down and do nothing for a while. To pace myself. Which is exactly what I'm doing this Bank Holiday weekend.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

In Blog Camp...

There were six bloggers, and two suspicious partners.

There were Nikons and iPhones... And photos of the Nikons taken with the iPhones.

There were only good surprises...

There was Blog Camp Jam, made by the hostess...

There were of course, stones....

There was exchange of lenses, and lots of playing with them...

And there were also many things that I can't show you through photographs. The interesting conversations, about blogging, about books, about life; the laughs, the random ideas, the projects, the plans to meet again... and that fizzy feeling, the realization that something good was happening, that friendships were growing, the knowledge that we would meet again, in the blogosphere and beyond.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Still a blogger...

Random photo not related to this post
I seem to have taken an unintentional break from blogging, but I'm still here. I'm still a blogger, otherwise I wouldn't be going to Blog Camp UK tomorrow. I'm so excited about seeing Polly, Julochka and Kristina again. I can't wait to meet Spudballoo and Bee, who is hosting this edition of Blog Camp, in her house (that happens to be just half an hour away from my boyfriend's parents' house).  We'll miss Seaside Girl and Extranjera, but no doubt would be cheering on their honour.

I know it's going to be a creative and fun weekend, because I'm going to be in the company of these amazingly creative and fun women!  Right, maybe I should finish the presents for them, then!

I'll tell you all about it next week!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Seeing blue

Did I tell you I started a photography club at work? A friend of mine got a camera (not a Nikon, sadly...) almost at the same time as me. We were both excited, carrying our cameras everywhere and taking photos of everything. We got talking about how we sometimes felt too shy to stop and take a photo in the middle of the street, specially when you have to get on your knees, or you're seemingly taking a photo of something irrelevant on the road and people wonder what you are doing...

So we got a group of friends together and now we choose a topic and go out once a month during our lunchtime to take photos around Oxford. Last month we took photos of blue things and next week we're expanding the theme to take photos of blocks of colour. We're going to submit the best ones to the Tate Liverpool Colour chart group in Flickr.

These are some of the ones I took last month. It's amazing what you see when you start looking, there was blue everywhere!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

disco underworld & me

Hello, hello! It's been a while, forgive me! I've been on a staycation: A vacation where you stay home. I've always done and loved doing this, and people used to think I was crazy to waste my holiday staying home. However, this year, because of the recession, it's the cool thing to do and it even has a name!
It's been a busy staycation mind you. For a couple of days, I pretended to be a freelance writer and photographer. I took my laptop, my Nikon and my iPhone, walked around town taking photos and then walked to a nice coffee shop and wrote, wrote wrote. I tell you, it felt really, really good.
And I wasn't only pretending, as I was writing an article for the online magazine Disco Underworld. I wrote a review of the music at Latitude, focusing on music by women. You can now read it in the 10th issue of the magazine, which is dedicated to music. I really loved doing it! The photo on the cover is also mine! And there is more from me coming in the next issue... but I can't tell you anything yet.
If you don't know the magazine and the mastermind behind it, Stacey Childs, go and visit the website and her blog now. I really admire her energy and her endless ideas, she comes up with the most creative ways to promote the magazine!
And talking of women in music, I can't stop listening to Regina Spektor, who we also saw at Latitude and features in my article. She's so cute, I think she's my new woman crush (although I still like Zooey Deschanel). Here's a video of one of my favourite songs, On the radio:

During the rest of the week, I've been doing a course at a local school called Beginning Books, it was a mix of creative writing and paper crafts that I absolutely loved. I'll tell you more about it and show you some photos in my next post. In the meantime, go and read the story and tell me what you think.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Latitude: More than a music festival

Entering the festival site

OK! Where did this week go? Finally, here it's the promised post about Latitude! Because I know you've all been impatiently waiting for it!

Latitude's organizers market the event as "More than a music festival", and that's exactly what it is. Of course, music is a big part of it an it is part of what makes the festivals' atmosphere so attractive. They have great acts and many people come exclusively to see them. They have, after all, five music arenas, but there is so much more to see and do outside these areas: theatre, cabaret, literary talks, comedy, film, radio, a knitting surgery...

Knitting surgery

This is my favourite thing about Latitude. The amount of interesting shows, and the variety of it. You can watch a theatre play, then move to the Comedy tent to see an act, go and watch a short film in the Film and Music Arena before heading to the Literary Saloon for a debate on the future of the book and finally going to the main music stage to see Pet Shop Boys. There is so much happening that acts have to really try hard to captivate their audience. With so many other interesting things going at the same time, they can't afford to lose audience interest. And they very rarely disappoint.

Overview of the fields

The downside is that it'd be impossible to see everything you've planned to see. Inevitably your favourite things happen at the same time, or something is running late and ruins your schedule, or you forget about them in between all the other acts. The upside? If you let go of your schedule, you are very likely to find an unexpected gem, a new singer or writer you hadn't heard about!

It's funny how some people do their research before they go, grab a timetable as soon as they get there and then follow a plan all weekend, and others just drift from place to place looking for something they may like. Some simply camp in their favourite tent and spend a whole morning, a day, or even a weekend there. I'd love to say I'm one of the spontaneous ones, but I did lots of planning and research before I went, so I knew what I wanted to see. I did however allow for some free time and ended up discovering great surprises... the inspiring and slightly scary debate on climate change that took place in the Music and Film Arena, the absolutely brilliant and funny Jessica Delfino in the Comedy tent and the very young and very talented Ruby and her Whorses on the Poetry Arena.

Outside the poetry tent
Another thing I love about Latitude is that many of the people that perform over the weekend do it more than once and in different arenas. These artists are very difficult to classify, some appear in the Comedy tent first and the Poetry one later, or read their poetry and then sing in one of the music arenas. I love how there is music everywhere, even in the literary tent some of the acts manage to include music during their set. For me, great artists are those that express themselves in lots of different ways, that use many subjects and different tools, that simply follow their inspiration and let it guide them to the right media. On a personal level, this makes me realize that it doesn't matter that I don't know "what to do with my life", that maybe I'm meant to have more than one calling. That it's OK to want to write, take photos, make collages, that I can actually express myself through words and images whenever necessary. That I don't have to choose.

Outside the Literary tent

Going from tent to tent is so inspiring, there are so many ideas floating in the air, so many interesting people either performing or attending (sometimes both!), so many new things to learn, books to read, websites to check out, bands to listen to... It's impossible not to come back inspired to write that book, start that research project, or experiment with your blog... And I'm going to do all of those in the coming months! So wait and see!

But before, I want to tell you about some of my favourites from the weekend.

Comedy tent:
Mark Thomas: Ah, he should probably be the oficial ARWP comedian.
Shappi Khorsandi: Iranian-born, her family moved to England escaping the regime. She makes fun of politics, death threats, and race and can express better than anyone what it's like to belong in two different places, to be a foreigner at home... always with a laugh.

The theatre was seriously good. This tent was the first and the last that we visited at the weekend. We started with Is everyone OK? a play by the group Nabokov about being 30 and wondering "How did I get here?" (so appropriate!!) and finished watching an incredibly funny account of sudden loss of dignities. Check the Bush Theatre website for more. And if you have experienced a sudden loss of dignity, let them know! They may include your story in their next show!

Is everyone OK? by Nabokov
Literary Arena and Literary Salon
They had great writers at the Literary Arena, but what I really enjoyed was the Literary Salon, where there were debates on the future of the book, workshops on how to play outdoors or how to talk to strangers with The School of Life and talks about writing for the BBC. Well, you all know how much I like taking courses and workshops so as you can imagine I spent a great deal of time here. Also they had sofas!

A very tired me at the Literary Salon on the Sunday

In here, I was reminded that we should sit sill from time to time, let our mind wander, because than when the best ideas happen, and that we shouldn't let the fact that we are amateurs stop us from doing something. So what if my photos aren't perfect? I enjoy taking them and that's enough for now.

Film and Music Arena:
My favourite thing was Richard DeDomenici talking about plagiarism. Has everything been done? he asked, and although his presentation, tracking down the roots of many famous works in music and art seemed to say that yes, everything has indeed been done before, he ended up reminding us that there are new ideas around and it's up to us to find them! We also saw a fascinating debate on climate change. We were urged to make drastic changes to our lifestyles before it's too late, to commit ourselves with real action and to pressure our Governments to make a commitment to change in the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December. See where your country stands here.

All my favourite ladies were there (OK, Zooey Deschanel wasn't) I was already looking forward to both Bat for Lashes and Regina Spektor. It was the second time I saw Bat for Lashes live and she has grown and improved so much in two years. Regina was incredibly sweet, and she has such a strong and light sound at the same time, it was incredble watch her play the piano. The surprise of the Festival was Grace Jones who I didn't really know as any more than a famous name. She is an amazing diva and gave her everything to the public.

Grace Jones making a grand entrance

Also, The Doves were amazing, I'm not really a fan but there were great live and really engaged the public. Thom Yorke, of Radiohead, did an exclusive solo gig on Sunday morning, a mellow set that was perfect for a quiet Sunday morning. I also discovered and loved Sky Larkin. And The Pretenders! OMG, I heard I'll stand by you live!!!

Ufff, sorry for the long post. If you got here, thanks for reading!! I can't stop talking about it! And I can't wait for next year's Latitude!