How to Plan a City Break

Planning a trip

If any of you are like me, then when you go away, whether it be for a short city break, holiday, or a long trip travelling, then you’ll like to be prepared. I mean, packed a few days before, with about 3 different lists, guide books galore, and various maps of your location with hotel, train stations, and airports circled and ready to navigate.

Or maybe, you’re a chilled out traveller, who picks up their currency at the airport, and books accommodation a few days before.

I have done both kinds of holiday, and both have their merits, but everytime I’ve done a city break without planning, I’ve always left regretful that I’ve missed out on things, or not done enough. I’ve always been a planner, and thought I would share my tips for getting the most out of a holiday.

1) Before booking, pick up a guide book…

and see what’s there, check what time’s/days/months the attractions you want to see are open, and make sure your trip cover’s those times. Let me tell you, I once went somewhere in europe for a mini-break on a sunday and monday and there was NOTHING open. We spent about 4 hours watching TV in the hotel room because there was nothing else to do. A mistake I will never again make.

2) Make a shortlist of things you would like to do.

Divide them into ‘Musts’Would like to’s’ and ‘ if we have a day spare’s’  This way you can be flexible when your there – if you are round the corner of a ‘Would like to’ with some time to spare, pop-in. Likewise if you are in the middle of a must, and having so much fun you don’t want to leave and head to that thing that you think might be cool, but you aren’t really that fussed (*cough* me and famous churches *cough*) you don’t have to rush off to make sure you fit it in. It also mean’s if you’ve booked perhaps a few days more than you needed somewhere – you can fit that church/museum in that will make you feel good and cultured.

3) Make sure you can be flexible

Don’t get too caught up in the schedule that you are rushing around and don’t have any time to relax and do the things that you enjoy. Sit at a street-side cafe, do a bit of shopping – whatever makes you feel like your on holiday!

4) Walk.

I always try to walk, or get buses rather than tubes so that I get to see as much of the city as possible. When you are travelling underground, you miss so much of what is going on – and you never know what you might discover. It’s also the best way to get your baring’s in a new place. So don’t forget to schedule in a bit of extra time to take a wander round the back-streets.

5) Know why you are going.

If it’s a girly weekend away, find an alternative guide book and look up a few local shopping hotspots so you don’t just end up in Zara again.

Research some restaurants and bars, you don’t have to go to them – but have some back-up’s if you don’t find something easily. If you are travelling hundreds or thousands of miles to a new city – there’s nothing worse than ending up shopping and eating in places you could’ve gone to down your local high-street because you weren’t prepared and didn’t know where to look to find the gems.

What are your top travelling tips? 

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Show of the Month: Bryony Kimming’s and Tim Grayburn ‘Fake it ’til you Make it’

Bry and Tim

Bryony Kimming’s show’s are always topical. I don’t mean Greece or Syria topical – but that she chooses issues that effect almost every person, but are rarely spoken about in the mainstream media. The last two show’s of her’s I have been to,  at least half the audience has left the theatre weeping hopeful tears. Her shows are always personal to her, but through her truth, it becomes personal to many.

She doesn’t need extravagant sets, or costume to make her shows spectacular. She does it by being herself, and telling stories of real people, and real issues, and that quality is what makes ‘Fake it ’til you Make it’ such a joy – or perhaps, strange hopeful sadness would be more appropriate.

Bryony, and her Fiance Tim stand together or stage, dancing in their underwear and singing a song with bags on their heads. Anyone who has seen a Bryony Kimming’s show before is unsurprised. The set, as I mentioned before, is minimal, only 2 microphone stand’s to start with.

It is Tim’s story that they are telling. It doesn’t have a happy ending, but it doesn’t have a sad one. In fact, it doesn’t really have an ending at all, because Tim is still on this journey, and to give it one would take away from the fact that depression often is a life-long recurring illness. It will have many endings, and many beginnings.

Tim works in advertising normally, and has taken a year off work to make this show. He has very little stage craft. He is a slightly awkward dancer, and doesn’t like looking at the audience. But. It is his story, and frankly, his inexperience and obvious nervous energy only make him more endearing. Although told through silly dance’s and song’s the truth in the words being said is never lost. It is a love story, and the love shown between the two on stage stops the show from falling into the realms of “depressing show about depression” and instead makes it hopeful, makes it real, and most importantly make’s it relatable.

The show wasn’t made to be a great night out at the theatre after all. It was made to raise awareness of male-depression, and try to break down some of those everlasting taboo’s of mental health being a women’s sickness, and any man who has it as being less “manly.”

Whether or not it achieve’s this I cannot really say, never having bought into the taboo myself, I do not know if this show will change opinion. But what it does do, and what it will carry on doing is telling people; man, woman, child, and everyone else; that it is ok to be depressed. It does not make you weaker. It is ok to ask for help. It does not make you failure. It is ok to have relapses. It does not mean it will last forever.

With one in three people experiencing mental health problems (and those are only the one’s they count!) I think those messages need to be shouted from the rooftops, because if even 1 person goes to the doctor after seeing this show, it could save their life.

Fake It Till You Make It is on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.If you aren’t heading that way, keep checking back HERE for tour dates.

 

 

Things I Wish I’d Known Before Leaving University with an Art’s Degree

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So, you were eighteen, you were passionate, you were excited, you wanted to go against everything your teachers/parent’s wanted you to do and you went to study the creative arts. You’ve invested minimum three years, and thousands of pounds, and it has all culminated in one final show / production / piece that you’ve created and you have never been prouder of yourself, or felt more accomplished.

But then, graduation comes and goes, and suddenly your finding yourself looking into the black hole of the now nearly non-existent Ideastap Jobs Board and wondering what went wrong in your life.

For those of you who are just leaving university and getting ready to enter the big wide world – I’m not trying to put you off. And those considering going to university to do it – trust me it will be a brilliant decision, and you’ll have the best time of your life whilst you’re studying.

 Jobs

When you leave, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be so, so hard. You are going to doubt every decision you’ve ever made, you may be filled with so much anxiety at times you no longer want to leave your house. You will put in endless hours on bars, and in shops, and feel like your life is going no where, but always remember that as long as you keep working, going to class, attending other people’s shows, and trying really hard to do what you want to do,  then everything will work out. And I’m not guaranteeing you’ll get the job of your dreams, and live your life as an actor or artist forever because you might not. But you will have tried, and it will be worth it.

You might apply for 100 jobs before you get an interview. You might get the first one you apply for. But you all will eventually get an interview, and you will eventually get a job. No one has ever been eternally jobless for no reason. It will happen for you.

Homes

You might move in with your parents to save on rent and you will sacrifice a lot of the independence you’ve been enjoying throughout university. But, if it means you can put in a few more hours a week chasing your dream rather than serving someone’s drinks then it might just be worth it.

It also might not be worth it depending on what kind of person you are – but I will tell you from experience it is nearly impossible to hold down a full-time job, and continue to practice, or better yet work, in the field you actually want to be in. Also, if you want to life in London then paying rent will eat all of your probably measly wages, and you’ll have to live of baked beans and fish fingers again. (This bit is actually quite a lot like being at uni in reflection.)

Motivation

It is this hard for everyone, not just for you. At the end of the day, it is the people who strive the longest who are likely to have more success. It’s the people with the most motivation, and often the most to lose who will work harder. Hard work tends to lead to greater achievement.

Likewise if you realise early on that the artist lifestyle isn’t actually for you. That’s fine too. Find something else your interested in, volunteer, intern, change fields completely if you want to.

Friends

You will no longer see your friends everyday. In fact, you may go months in between meet-ups. But when you do see them, it won’t be any different. Those who you don’t see anymore, or who when you meet-up with them you no longer have much in common. It’s OK to let them go. It will happen naturally, but don’t feel guilty or sad. You’ll meet plenty more people, and make new friends, and have a fabulous time.

Life

Essentially the point I’m getting at is that life is hard. After uni, what happens is life. When your in education, there is always something that’s certain, regardless of what happens in your personal or family life, your education has a structure, there is always a next step and there is also someone to guide you through it. In life, suddenly nothing is certain. It’s a hard adjustment. But it does get easier. Just keep trying, and live life how you want to. Be a nice person, help people, do small things to help make the world a little bit better. Or big things if you can and want to. At the end of the day, your career doesn’t have to define you. The way you choose to live your life as a person is just as important.

TopshopXOlympusPEN: Photography Basics.

light

Now, don’t get me wrong I am by no means an expert when it comes to taking a photograph. In fact, until a few weeks ago I could get to grips with composition of a photo, then stand there with my camera in auto and hope for the best. But then I attended the TopshopXOlympusPEN workshops, and I basically learnt the basic’s of operating a camera in manual, and I’ve found it SO useful, that I thought it would only be fair to share my knowledge!

The Event

The event itself was brilliantly organised, and well thought out.  The session I attended was taught by Cleveland and Victoria from In the Frow. We had nearly an hour, and were all given an Olympus Pen to try taking the perfect flat-lay with the props Topshop had provided. The camera was lovely to use, I also brought by own along and used that for some of the shots as well, and these are the ones I’ve used here.

Both the teachers, and the other Olympus staff there were super helpful, and now I’m so much more confident using my camera, and I hope my photo’s are starting to slowly improve too! So here’s a summary of what I learnt, and hopefully it will be useful to someone out there who was as clueless about this as me!

 

What I learnt

This is the before snap –  when I shot the photo in auto, (my camera does normally take better photo’s than this in Auto but given that we were undergound in Topshop with TerHERible lighting, this is what it produced.)

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So exposure is basically to do with how much light is coming through your camera lens, this is important for quite obvious reasons. Too much light = photo is too bright. Not enough light = photo is too dark. You get the idea. But the exposure can be controlled but changing these three elements.

Aperture 

This is the setting that controls the size of the opening that is letting the light through the lens. Aperture is measured in f-stops, and basically the lower the f-stop number, the larger the opening and the more light will come in through to your lens, and vice versa.

Aperture is also what allows the focus to change between the items in the foreground, or background. Basically when you see those great looking photo’s with a product nicely in focus and a blurry background – this isn’t done in editing, but by changing the aperture settings! A high f-stop should be used for this effect, and low f-stop for a landscape or similar where you want both the background, and foreground in focus.

Shutter speed

Shutter speed controls the amount of time that the light is let in for. Changing this allows you to take photos of moving objects.

ISO

This is useful if you are shooting in different lights. So for example, a lower ISO on a bright day, and your image will come out crisp and sharp. In low light, you will probably need to have a higher ISO, but too hight and it may decrease the sharpness that’s achieved with the lower ISO.

And this is the after photo, after applying my new knowledge. As you can see I spilt a LOT more nail polish after this process, and the photo is brighter, sharper and less shadowy than above!

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I hope this helped even a little – if you have any tips to share please feel free!

Bonus snap: me practicing at home with better lighting and the amazing items Topshop gave every participant in a goody bag! I’m now completely addicted to these Vita Coco coffee things!

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Thought of the Week: Blog’s I’m loving!

Blogs I'm loving!

So I don’t know about you but I waste a lot of time on the internet, and most of that is spent either online shopping (hello Asos) or reading blogs. Now, since I started blogging myself, I’ve started reading more and more and learning about new bloggers and different genre’s and there are a few that I seem to go back to time and again (every day) and I wanted to spread some love, and share them with you lot! Now I’ve only been in this game for about 4 months now, but these lovely blogs are all inspirations to me, and so if you enjoy my blog I imagine you’ll enjoy theirs as well.

Creativity

Foundsomepaper.com by Uli. 

I love reading Uli’s post’s because they are always so different. Her pictures are colourful, and vibrant and her writing is intelligent and insightful. She describes herself as ‘an advocate of creativity’ and there is always something you can get involved in. Her post ‘Found Some Thoughts on Creativity’ post is one of my favourites.

Fashion/Lifestyle

Iamdaisyalice.com by Daisy Alice

This girls got great style and her food photography always makes me hungry! She’s got a great balance between fashion/style posts and lifestyle, and I love the ‘Shop’ feature on her page (saves me a lot of the afore-mentioned ASOS time wastage!)

Food/Health

Brittonloves.co.uk by Lauren

Lauren is my favourite go-to blogger for healthy lifestyle posts. She has some gorgeous recipe posts, and I love reading her well-being advice. My favourite is her ‘Why you should put happiness first post!’

Photography / Blogging Tips

Mediamarmalade.com by Melissa

Now, I was trying to stick with blogs under 1000 followers, but I also thought I’d put in a blogger that I take mega-inspiration from, and someone who I aspire to have a blog even remotely like some way down the line. Although this technically isn’t a photography blog, but Melissa’s photographs are INCREDIBLE! She post’s some lovely style posts, but my personal favourites are the tips posts, that cover both blogging and general life. One of my recent favourite’s is ‘how to be a success’!

Future Friends

So there you have it 4 of my absolute favourite blogs that I read time and time again. I hope you’ve made some new discoveries!  It feel’s good to share some blogging love, and I’m always looking for more blogs to follow so please always share your links in your comments on my posts, and let me know if you have any favourite bloggers you’d like to see in one of these post’s in the future!

Show of the Month: Golem

 

Golem

Disclaimer: this is a bit of a tease, as this show was only on for a limited run in London and has now closed! However, tour dates can be found here! (they are in Paris next week if anyone fancies the trip – I’ll come!)

For a theatre company founded by an animator, you would expect 1927’s animation to be pretty well sorted. Their acting, dramaturgy, storytelling, and other theatrical devices maybe less so. This however, is not at all the case with this spectacular all-rounder of a show.

Based on the myth of Golem – a clay man who comes to life to obey his master’s every command – we see Robert and his family’s life disintegrate as Golem begins to control them. Golem becomes a must have product on the market, and influence’s all it’s master’s choices through tactical manipulation and product placement. By the end of the tale, we see Golem: Version Three, being inserted straight into people’s brains. His original purpose – of helping with physical tasks being lost – and he becomes a tool used by the corporations to control the human’s every thought.

The story is an exploration of human kind, and our obsession with machines. The need and desire to have the latest technology, as we believe it will better our lives, and the dominance of corporations and the control we don’t realise they have.

We are guided through the story by the animation: the backdrop forever moving, we see the characters running through town whilst the actor run’s on the spot. Outfit’s and furniture change in a flash, and bugs run off pictures as if it’s all happening in our own living room.

The animation is impressive, without a doubt. It takes a lot of work to create any animation that’s 90 minutes long, especially anything decent. The story is amusing, and thought-provoking – if occasionally a little predictable, and repetitive. What make’s the show spectacular however is the acting, and the precision with which all of their movements are timed to the live music, AND the animation. Despite their slight ridiculousness, we relate to Robert, Anna, Grandma easily. We warm to them, as they are portrayed with such an endearing simplicity, and they are so wholly believable as people.

The music is catchy, and funny, and overall the show works. There are so many layers to the production, all individually brilliant, but when they come together they transform the theatre, and transport us into another land. A land where Golem rules the show, and the simplicity of eating breakfast, knitting, working, or rehearsing with a punk rock band in your basement all get lost to the corporations. Scarily relevant at a time where Google has begun controlling our taxi rides – our location’s to an extent. What is the next step? And where will it end?

#Artyproject – Final Stages

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Ok before I start, if you aren’t aware of the #artyproject it’s probably a good idea to catch up on my previous post’s or this may all be very confusing! (Intro Inspiration/ Playlist

Progress

Sooo, is it just me or has time been slipping away from us? Because, last I checked I’d only just sent Maryam the email about joining the Arty Project and now the deadline is just two weeks ago. Scary stuff eh? When I had a little reminder off our Whatsapp group of just exactly how long I had left to go I had a little panic, and decided I ought to get my act together.

So, I made a kind of mini-storyboard thing (again, excuse my terrible drawing – feel free to laugh!) And I have chosen a location, music, and basically come up with the whole idea. I don’t want to give anything away at this stage so I won’t start describing it to you all. But I know what’s going to happen when, what I’m going to be wearing, and basically how it’s all (hopefully) going to piece together. The idea behind the film, I mentioned before, is how we are all the same underneath our skin. We are all made of the same blood, bones, muscles and our beauty comes from the function of our body!

What’s left! 

 Now you might be thinking ‘Oh great, Milli, sounds like you are basically there with the whole thing – why do you even need this update just post the film now!’ Well….that is thing, now all I have left to do is film it. But it’s kind of the biggest part of it, and I’ve never really filmed anything properly before so we will have to hope it goes well.

I’m going to put a day aside sometime over the next two weeks, enlist the help of a camera-handy friend and hope I can get it filmed – and edited before the June 4th deadline. If anyone has any advice at this stage it would be much appreciated! I have no idea how long it takes to edit a film like this, but I imagine to get it to what I’m picturing in my head – probably a little while! So I look forward to spending a lot of dark evenings at my desk in the coming weeks!

Time goes by…

I’m going to try my hardest to get it done before the deadline, so I don’t let you all down, but if I come across even a tiny bump in the road, I think it might be quite a tall order. But rest assured I am working on it, and there will be a final film up here to show you before the end of June (fingers crossed!)

Wish me luck!

P.s here are the links to the other lovely ladies involved here! Some beautiful work going, across lots of different genres so be sure to give them a read!

Vicky / Zoe / Uli / Clara / Maryam / Sarah / Danielle / Manny / Emma / Annabel/ Jho

A Summer Reading List

Bookshelf

I’ve taken up reading. I’ve never been a big reader and normally, once I start a book I’ll either finish it in a day, or not ever. But recently, I’ve made a few additions to my bookshelf, which if I’m wholly honest has never grown much past my university reading list. These additions have come in various shapes, sizes and forms of literature, but each and every one has contributed to my life in someway quite dramatically, and I thought I ought to share the love.

A grown-up picture book…

Firstly, there’s this beautiful hard-back specimen. The exhibition book from Savage Beauty at the V&A (find my review here). I fell in love as soon as I peaked inside, and before I’d even stepped foot in the exhibition. The photography is beautiful, and there is a perfect mix of exhibition images, catwalk shows, behind the scenes shots of McQueen himself, and some of the images that inspired his work in the first place. It was a little pricey, but it’s a coffee table book that could last a life-time, and always be a great conversation starter, even amongst those who aren’t into fashion.

Happy bank holiday mon-yay! #coffee #biscuits #book #bankholidaymonday

How to Build a Girl…

Next up, we have Caitlin Moran’s novel ‘How to build a girl’. I have loved reading this. So much so, that I’ve found myself not minding when my plans get cancelled, or my train is delayed – as it means I can tuck myself in bed early, or have an extra ten minutes with Johana and her family on the train.

The book is rude, funny, boundary-pushing and relatable to probably most women out there. I may not have grown up in Wolverhampton, walked around wearing a Top Hat, or found myself sleeping in a rockstar’s hotel bath at sixteen, but Caitlin Moran is a genius lady, and somehow makes you feel like you have. If you haven’t read this yet, and you want something that can make you cringe, cry, and look like a fool laughing out loud on the train then I would recommend this to you highly!

Paris

The Paris Collection 

I am planning to spend a week in Paris this summer, and have been trying to brush up on my french. I picked up this beautiful phrasebook in Anthropologie – I must admit – mainly for the pretty cover. I have been trying though, and having these book’s staring at me reminding me of my trip makes me push myself to revise. I also picked up the Spanish version (again, pretty.) but learning two languages at once is a bit much for anyone I think.

Everyman (again)

I HAD to pick up a copy of the Carol Ann Duffy Everyman script as soon as it was available. I will avoid gushing anymore at the absolute poetic genius of this play-text, as I already did that quite a lot in my review of the play (here). But it’s poignant, poetic, funny and swear-y, and I think it’s rather good.

For next time…

Now, The Guest Cat I haven’t actually read yet! But I’ve heard a lot of good things (plus – book about cat? yes, please!). This is going to be my next read. Has anyone read it already? I’d love to know your thoughts on it, or any of the others!