Sunday, 31 August 2014

Travel Photographer of the Year

The other day when I was bored after work, I decided to go and check out the Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition. My dad is a great photographer, and so I've grown up with an appreciation of a good photo, and since really getting into blogging and buying my first DSLR I've got pretty into it too. I also love travelling. As well as photography I inherited a wanderlust and incessant curiousity from my Dad, and read travel blogs and plan trips I can't afford to go on all the time. So I missioned it up to South Kensington and had a wander round. 

Overall, I was pretty disappointed by the exhibition. I love going round galleries and exhibitions so I was quite relaxed and happy, but I really felt it was a shame the way it had been done. The event organiser had clearly made the best of it with the suitcases and signs and tried to make it as good as possible, but the prints of the photos really let it down. The photographs on the website and the winners of the competition are absolutely stunning, and deserved better than the quality of print they got. The exhibition was free, but if the photos were blown up onto canvas with rich colours for a visual experience I would gladly have paid to see it. The prints were small and didn't make a visual impact in the space at all.

The exhibition got a huge amount of press coverage encouraging people to go but I just wish they'd done more with it to do justice to the incredible photographers. It was a nice whistlestop on the way home from work but I wouldn't write home about it. National Geographic, if you're listening, please sort it out!

I did buy a postcard and put it on the fridge. So I'm doing my bit.

Annabel xxx

Friday, 29 August 2014

Old Spitalfields Market

Bank Holiday Monday in London was horrible. It was absolutely pouring down and having recovered from SW4 I was desperate to get out of the house and do something. I decided to check out Old Spitalfields Market. I'd never been before, it was indoors and I saw that they had a dog pageant on which sounded funny. 

To escape from the misty, rainy outside I went to Las Iguanas for a Burrito and some deconstructed patatas bravas. The burrito was good..nice and fresh...but as Burritos are my favourite thing and I've tried a million of them it didn't quite make my 'amazing' list. I'd give it a 7/10. I should really make a London burrito hitlist post. The patatas bravas were reallly good. 

The dog show (or should I say 'Paw Pageant') was very amusing. I sat and dog-watched because it was so packed I didn't have a chance of getting near the stage. I'm not really a dog person but I have to confess I did really enjoy it and it was a nice owners were really laid back and the kids around were loving it!

After the show I stopped at La Patisserie Valerie for Earl Grey with flowers. So yummy and soothing on my still hungover stomach. I bought an amber ring at the market which is beautiful. I keep telling myself it has the beginning of Jurassic Park in it!

I wore a rainy day outfit..Topshop jeans, a Primark stripy tshirt, bag, collar and trench coat and Next wedge trainers. It flooded between the station and the market so I'm glad I wore proper shoes! I had major hair strops where my fringe is growing out and it was raining.

How did you spend your bank holiday? I hope the rain didn't ruin too much of your fun. Does anyone have any recommendations for bad weather activities for the colder London months to come?

Annabel xx

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Garnier Micellar Water Review

It's official. I have found the holy grail of all cleansers. Beauty waters are relatively new- Bioderma kicked off the trend and everyone went mental for it- but this one of the the first readily available drugstore waters in the UK (L'oreal do one too). By readily available, I usually mean 'Can I find it in Boots or Superdrug.

The premise behind cleansing water is to be super gentle. Whereas most make up removers and wipes are really harsh or don't work without scrubbing, cleansing waters basically dissolve your make up whilst feeling like water. Although it doesn't taste like water. Trust me on that. Don't drink it.

It comes in lovely chunky packaging with cute pink details and a huge size- one 400ml bottle claims to do up to 200 uses- and the lid is really good for dispensing just the right amount of product without going everywhere. I soak two cotton pads in the water, hold it over my closed eyes for a few seconds and then wipe away my eyemake up and the rest of my face. I LOVE this product. It shifts even the dreaded Benefit They're Real! which is notoriously difficult to get off, and leaves my face feeling fresh and soothed even if I've worn a lot of make up.

I've got super sensitive skin and it means no more sore rubbing with face wipes or residue from thick creams that break me out. It's an absolute holy grail product and an integral part of my new skincare routine. Even better....It's £4.99. Boots even have an offer at the moment making it £3.99.

Have any of you tried it?

Annabel xxx

Monday, 25 August 2014

25 Things I Don't Care About at 25

Ok, I feel like I need to preface this with a caveat. I am sensitive. I have days (doesn't everyone!) where breakfast is chocolate and it goes downhill from there. I have days where I doubt myself, fat days, bad hair days, stroppy days. Everyone does. But I have noticed that as I've got older, in general, there are a whole load of things I just don't care about any more.

Everyone always says that uni is the place where you change the most. I totally disagree. I think it's the years following uni, when you are in the real world and have to mature really quickly that you start to really shape who you are. Now I'm 25, in true Generation Y style (or am I a millennial? I think I'm a Y), I thought I would reflect on what has fallen off my radar almost completely.

1. What my parents think of my life choices. I am about to start my dream job and I never would've gone for it if I was paralysed by 'well, what will my parents think about this field? Will they be proud of me?'. I've realised that all parents (well, the good ones anyway!) just want their children to be happy. My grandparents think I do 'something on computers' because they just wouldn't understand. But they are delighted that I am happy and progressing and work hard. It's the same with everything really. Sometimes people will be shocked or saddened by your decisions, mainly out of fear and lack of understanding. But it is your life. So do what makes you happy!

2. How many friends I have. Back in the days of the 'Myspace top 8' (Remember that? Choosing was agonising!) I used to count my friends and try and work out if I was 'popular' or 'cool' or how close I was to these stupid ideals. Being honest and cutting people out who were not benefiting me was an amazing decision. I may not have a million friends, but I absolutely have the right ones and they are there for me no matter what. 

3. Staying in relationships that no longer make me happy. Break ups are hard. Change is hard. Really hard. But you know what's worse? Regret. If you know something isn't right, deep in your gut, then don't do it. 

4. Going to the Doctors. Every young woman goes through the first of each thing. The first time you go for an intimate exam you are so paranoid and nervous. Soon enough you don't care what you tell a doctor or what they see. And one of my best friends assures me those barriers come down even more after you have a baby!

5. How much money I earn* As long as I have enough to eat and pay rent. Life is about being happy. I can honestly say I don't care about status, or income, or any of that stuff as long as I have enough. And trust me, the people who fall into super high paying jobs in their twenties will be caught up by people who followed their passions later in life. 

6. The 'Fashion Rules'. I love fashion, I love reading up and looking at all the latest trends, but if something doesn't suit me, I won't wear it for the sake of being fashionable. Likewise, I don't care if something I love goes out of fashion, I'll wear it anyway.

7. How much I weigh. It is important to me to be healthy. If my jeans get really tight, I'll reign it in a little bit. If they get too loose, I'll ask myself what I'm stressed about and go for a burger. When I'm emotionally and physically healthy my weight is fairly stable, and I go by how I feel. It's just a number.

8. Being 'too smart'. When I was at school, I was badly bullied for being interested in classes and getting good grades. I remember lying and hiding my exam results to something lower so I wouldn't have to deal with it. Now, I won't let anyone dumb me down for their own comfort levels. So what, I have a good memory! I can't catch a ball or reverse my car. People are good at different things and I'm proud of what I've achieved.

9. Being 'too talkative'. I wish all little girls who were told they were 'bossy' would be told they have leadership skills. It wasn't until I entered the business world that I finally felt like I didn't have to bite my tongue or be called names for being loud and opinionated.

10. When I have kids, buy a house or get married. There isn't a timeline on happiness. I know one day I want to have children. Before my biological clock makes it risky. I know one day I want to get married. And I'd like to own my own house. But I don't care how old I am or what order I do them in. I like my life unplanned and spontaneous and happy.

11. Everything Cosmopolitan stands for. If you want to know how to please your partner in bed- shock horror- ask them. Don't read ridiculous Cosmo sex tips, because they're ridiculous things that most people- even the kinky ones- would be baffled by. Your entire worth as a woman is not dependent on 'what your crush thinks of you' or the 'latest lipgloss trends'. 

12. Pushing for the right contraception for me. Most women are afraid to talk to doctors (See number 4), but it is your body and your right to choose. Yes, even if they ask you to change everytime because it's expensive for the NHS.

13. Getting messy. I am happiest in a festival field, with wet hair and running make up and more than a bit of vodka spilled on my shorts. I do not care if I don't look attractive.
14. If what I like and don't like is 'cool'. I like some 'cool' things. I like some 'uncool' things. I really don't care. I like cooking, writing, partying, making things, and social media. I like tv shows more than films. I don't understand vine and I don't want to wear loom bands. 

15. Doing things on my own. I LOVE shopping on my own and going for coffee on my own. I like other people, and I love company sometimes, but I'm not worried about looking weird going somewhere alone. 

16. Family drama. I used to get so upset at family gatherings. You know what they're like. Now, I subscribe to the philosophy that if someone tells me they have a problem with something I've said or done, I will of course, probably very apologetically, address it. If they don't say anything, I'm not going to worry about it. 

17. Aspartame. I love diet coke. Always have, always will, and I am fed up of people telling me it is worse for me than normal coke. I just don't like normal coke. Seriously, go away and take your stupid furry-teeth hyper drink with you.

18. People living in the past. Childhood is hard. I get it. You are not responsible for whatever hardship you faced. But you are responsible for your emotional and physical health now. I totally totally understand that addressing and facing your issues is terrifying, but I have huge respect for people taking responsibility and working to be a better person as an adult.

19. Shaving everyday. It just takes so long and ahhhhhhh I just don't care. If I'm not getting my legs out and I don't look like a yeti just live and let live.

20. Staying in the same place. I have serious wanderlust. I never wanted to stay at home. As soon as I could I was out at uni and exploring the world. My list is huge and I don't intend to only see a corner of this beautiful planet.
21. The latest gadget. Can my phone text or whatsapp my friends? Does my tv work? Will my laptop let me write and work? That's it really. I don't have sky, I don't have a fancy stereo system and my phone is scratched even though I just got an upgrade. I don't have an ipod, or a band around my arm that records my entire body. I use my work laptop, and my housemate's tv. I only pay for a phone contract and netflix. Technology isn't important to me at all.

22. Always feeling safe. Life is scary as hell, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! It means your growing. There's that old cliché- life begins outside your comfort zone. It absolutely does.

23. Comparing myself to other people. Different people are just that, different. You don't know their journey or what they are like outside of facebook/instagram. Chances are it's not what you expect. There is no benefit to it and it will make you miserable. 

24. Overthinking my diet. Seriously, vegetarians, vegans, frutarians, raw, macrobiotic, organic..each to their own but it makes me stressed just thinking about it. I try not to eat processed crap and I try and make as many of my meals look like rainbows. But I always eat takeaway when I'm hungover. So what. I take photos of most of my meals and put them on instagram because I think if something looks pretty it is doing pretty things to my insides.

25. Getting old. I started using moisturiser the other day. And I'm strapped in for the ride.

Inspired by ThoughtCatalog and Words from Pinterest.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Southbank Festival of Love

This weekend the London rail network let me down. My intention was to go to Portobello road or Brick Lane and have a hunt through all the tat. However, when I got to the station the planned engineering works that are standard on a Sunday meant I couldn't really get there without a million changes and buses over an hour. So I decided to jump on the train to Waterloo and have a bit of a wander through Southwark and Blackfriars which were both absolutely empty...and then over the river to Southbank for their festival of Love. The Southbank centre always have different events and festivals on and it's always well worth a look at what's going on. The majority of it is free or just a small donation. 

The weather was reallly annoying! It was that transition weather where it started off freezing and raining and ended up windy and sunny. I was lucky I brought layers as it was chilly every time the sun went in. I wore my bargain £3 Primark skirt, which is a pleather copy of a £95 Topshop suede one, a plain black tee and a Primark fluffy cardi. It's lovely but it is shedding everywhere and I keep thinking it's a spider. I'm a bit afraid to wash it but I think I'm going to have to! My chunky boots and heart necklace are both Topshop from last winter that I dug back out again. 

The festival was based on the different words the Greeks have for love- from shared experiences to romantic love, they have different words for the way you feel about your friends, colleagues, family and partners. Which is quite handy actually. I might start telling my friends over whatsapp that I 'Philia' them (friendship love). But they would probably laugh at me and make a joke about how their 'Eros' (Erotic love) is unrequited. On a totally different note, I also had a pulled pork taco from Wahaca's street kitchen. 

I sat on the top deck of the Snog bus, people watching, with coconut frozen yoghurt with blackberries and raspberries. It was absolutely lovely, until I banged my head on the way back down. I'm 5'8.5'' in flats, so I was about 6'-6'1'' that day and I nearly knocked myself out. Tall people be careful!

After spending a while trying to capture the skateboarders I headed home, feeling a bit mushy from all the love stuff, and got into my pjs and ate Mcdonalds. I wonder if the ancient Greeks had a word for the love that you feel for your big mac while wearing slippers and watching Netflix? They should have one. I'll make one. I call it Macus, the total contentedness and unconditional love for your surroundings when you are being a massive slob.

Annabel xxx
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