Sunday, 27 November 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I've had a rather busy week - Advent (the four weeks before Christmas) has arrived and with it the traditional German Christmas markets. Christmas alone may make being in Germany completely worth it - I don't think any country does the twinkly-ness and good cheer of the holidays quite so well as here. I'll be showing pictures from the markets as I visit them (two so far, oh so many more to go...), but perhaps what I'm most excited by is my very first Christmas tree which I bought for my flat. Growing up my family didn't really celebrate Christmas so I never really got to do the whole decorating thing. But look how adorable this is! All I need now is a viewing of Love Actually and the Christmas spirit shall officially be upon me.



Sunday, 20 November 2011

This is small town music, this is big town music

I've liked this song for a while but recently stumbled across this alternative music video for it. Being in Germany means half of the content on YouTube won't work, which normally has me snarling at my laptop screen, but this time it's kind of worked out in my favour. Isn't it lovely? I love the concept of trying to record the sound of bubbles, sparklers, the song of a shell and happiness with your friends :)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.

About a month ago Germany had the Herbstferien, or Autumn holidays. Because schools over here start so early in the year, compared to England at least, they also have a large Autumn holiday as well as a break over Christmas in order to break up the school year. Which meant that when my friends at home had barely been back at university for a week, I was off having a glorious two week break. I ended up spending a week of it doing absolutely nothing, and by absolutely nothing I mean absolutely nothing - sleeping in late, making stacks of pancakes and eating them in bed and watching the usual ridiculous amounts of television. Before you all take utter pity on me for my boring and lazy lifestyle, I did take the opportunity to spend the second half of the holidays interrailing around Germany with three other girls. We went all the way across the country in an epic eight-hour train ride to Dresden, which was cold, raining and rather dreary, but which also boasted some of the most beautiful architecture I'd seen since being in Germany. It's a sad fact that a lot of Germany was destroyed during the Second World War, which makes it unlike any other country I've ever been to - there's barely anything authentically old anywhere. Even though a lot of what we saw in Dresden was rebuilt copies of what had existed before, it was so well done that it still looked wonderful. As well as Dresden we also popped down to Munich, which was a gorgeous city I wished I could have spent much much more time in, and Lake Constance which was just breathtaking. Here are some of the snaps I took :)

Monday, 14 November 2011

It would be nice if something made sense for a change

I have to do a presentation next week in the German course I'm taking on my favourite book. Even though I thought it may rather bore the rest of the class, most of whom aren't English and all of whom seem like rather serious grown-ups (I'm still not one. Ask me again in ten years.), I chose Alice in Wonderland, because I could talk about it for hours in English, so hopefully I can ramble on for ten minutes in German. Anyway, one of my favourite things about the books isn't in fact the story itself, however good that may be. Rather, I think it's what has captivated generations of children before me - the wonderfully charming illustrations by John Tenniel. These days there are so many editions of the Alice books that it's hard to find these original illustrations, but they remain by far my favourite. Tenniel takes all of the quirky, bizarre and beautiful things that Carroll writes about and transforms them into captivating art, so full of details lovingly drawn. I don't think I could ever get tired of looking at them. It's amazing how a series of simple line drawings have become so firmly ingrained in our culture, but personally I don't think the world would be the same without Alice, and Alice wouldn't have been the same without Tenniel. Just lovely.

The lion and the unicorn
Were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn
All around the town

Some gave them white bread
And some gave them brown
Some gave them plum cake
And drummed them out of town

Friday, 11 November 2011

I get this feeling I'm in motion, a sudden sense of liberty

I've wanted to do outfit posts for a long while but I've always been surrounded by people and just too self-conscious to make it work. I now have a huge apartment to myself and loads of spare time, so I'm gonna start fiddling around and seeing if I can make it work.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

I always get interested in girls who aren't right for me

Isn't this a great homage to A Bout de Souffle? I love how effortless and intimate it looks.

Photography: Martyna Galla

Monday, 7 November 2011

I want you, I need you, I love you

Isn't this the most perfect trailer you've seen in a long time? Absolutely cannot wait to watch the whole film!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

For God's sake, kiss the girl

Have had a lovely week made up of travelling around my state of Rheinland Pfalz (photos coming soon!), skyping friends back home (have currently been talking to six of my Oxford gang for over three hours) and watching Scrubs in German. I spent last weekend visiting another language assistant and we spent almost an entire day companionably drinking tea, listening to the radio and solving crossword puzzles. Although things are nowhere near as fun or exciting as last year, it is making me appreciate the smaller things in life - cooking and cosy days in watching TV, making book lists and taking walks.

Anyway, I wanted to introduce you to the tunes that have been dominating my Spotify playlist recently. Have you guys heard of Alex Day and Charlie McDonnell? They're two English guys in their early twenties who have become incredibly well known in the world of the web for their incredibly funny and quirky Youtube vlogs. I'm not particularly interested in video blogs as a rule as I find them rather awkward, but these two are just very charming and witty. Also Alex Reads Twilight is the best thing ever ever ever. Anyway, the two of them - as well as doing their own independent music work - are in a band called Chameleon Circuit. Which sings songs about Doctor Who. Um. So yeah, it's beyond levels of acceptable nerdiness but to be honest I think this is a good thing. Being away from Oxford makes me realise what a geek I really am and how much I love it. Also there's something so lovely about music at such an independent and almost homemade level - it feels like so much more care and effort has gone into it. So yeah, here are some of my favourite songs of the last couple of weeks.

- Heart on My Sleeve, Alex Day, Soup Sessions: Acoustic
- Kiss the Girl, Chameleon Circuit, Still Got Legs
- Missing You, Alex Day, The World is Mine
- Duet With Myself, Charlie McDonnell, This is Me

(how utterly adorable?)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

It's consolation. All literature is consolation.

the history boys

Scripps: Oh Pos, with your spaniel heart. It will pass.
Posner: Yes, it's a phase. Who says I want it to pass? But the pain, the *pain*.
Scripps: Hector would say it's the only education worth having.
Posner: Yes. I just wish there were marks for it.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Come little children, I'll take thee away

When I was little my family and I had a little Hallowe'en tradition. We were never allowed to go out trick or treating - my parents just didn't approve - but my dad would get a pumpkin and help us carve it, we would get scary themed treats from Marks and Spencers (my favourites were ghost-shaped sweets and a chocolate skeleton jigsaw), and we'd have a huge picnic in front of the TV and watch scary movies. And by scary I mean what 8 year-old me found scary - Indiana Jones, Jason and the Argonauts and my particular favourite: Hocus Pocus. And by some wonderful chance yesterday evening I was messing around on youtube when I discovered the full movie online and rewatched it. And it was awesome.

The film tells the story of an eventful Hallowe'en night in the lives of Max and Danni Dennison, brother and sister who have recently been made to move from LA to the tiny and spooky town of Salem. When forced to take his little sister out trick or treating, Max breaks into an abandoned house said to have belonged to three evil witches and lights the Black Flame Candle in an attempt to impress his crush, Allison. Rather, he ends up unwittingly awakening said Sanderson Sisters and unleashing them upon the town of Salem and its children, whose life essence the witches must steal in order to stay immortal. It's pretty standard fare as far as a family Hallowe'en film goes, but what makes it such a great film is the energy, warmth and humour that goes into it. There are some great performances, particularly from Bette Midler as the villain of the piece - shrill, bad-tempered and with incredible dead-pan comic timing. Omri Katz (whatever happened to him?!) is also great as Max, playing the typical teenager without the usual dreaded angst and anger. The whole film pans out very tongue-in-cheek, complete with talking black cat, over-the-top costumes and a friendly zombie, but it's this that makes it so fresh and amusing, as opposed to try-hard and awkward. Plus it's just so cult and nostalgic, and such a comforting slice of childhood - like rewatching a Disney film after decades have passed. Although I did find aspects of it a little weird - I used to have the hugest crush on Max when I was little and now he looks like a child. God I hate growing up.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Home, let me come home, home is wherever I'm with you

So I'm in Germany now. I've actually been here since mid-September but I'm slightly ashamed to say I've been sunk too deep in a pit of lethargy and depression to muster the energy to write. It's bizarre, things are the complete opposite of the last two years: I actually have bucket loads of spare time and practically nothing to do, but I find this so tragic that I often spend whole days not moving from my bed or desk, watching whole seasons of TV shows in one go. Seriously, it's almost impressive. I'm trying desperately to snap out of this though, as I'm kind of slowly going mad, so here we go.

Germany's actually all right. I'm a language assistant at a secondary school, which means I go in four mornings a week for a few hours and help out in English classes. At first I absolutely hated it, I can be rather shy and being faced with classloads of scary teenagers filled me with dread every single morning. I'm getting more into it now though, I have a few favourite classes where the kids are amusing, enthusiastic and sweet, and while I would never do it for a permanent career, I quite like the sensation of teaching, albeit in my signature laidback manner. The teachers at the school are lovely too: the staffroom is quite big so it's very easy to get lost but I have a mentor teacher who keeps an eye on me, invites me round to hers for tea and generally keeps my spirits up, and I'm slowly getting to know other teachers too. I've also been blessed with an angelic landlady - she lives below me and is an absolute babe. I've christened her Oma #2 and she comes up every week to help me clean my flat, bakes me cakes, reads through all official letters I get to check all is OK and takes me out sometimes to markets. Seriously love her. I've also gone travelling a couple of times, including a week long interrailing trip around South Germany which I shall tell about later. I have more travels planned (if ever I get paid...) which should be exciting. Really the only problem is the isolation - it's a small town and very hard to meet people, and I just miss Oxford and my friends so much. Still, I'm trying positive thinking from now, so hopefully it'll all work out! Anywho, below are a couple of snaps I took of towns nearby where I live. Pretty, hey?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Awaken then

I've just returned from watching the newest version of of Jane Eyre at the cinema - the first showing on the first day of its release, God I'm keen. I utterly adore the book by Charlotte Bronte, I really like both Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender and I thought the trailer looked stunning. All in all I went into the cinema with high expectations, fully hoping to like it, but also very wary.

Now, the story of Jane Eyre is surely familiar to all, but for those who have been living beneath an unliterary rock for the past century or so, Jane Eyre is the story of a young downtrodden woman who takes a post as governess at the foreboding Thornfield Hall. There she meets her master Mr Rochester and falls in love, little knowing he is hiding a terrible secret...a marvel when it was first released, Jane Eyre is still to this day remarkable for its strong themes of feminine independence, passionate love and scandal. It is however an intensely complex novel to pack into one film, and I think it is the way this adaptation deals with that that I found the most interesting (and ironically what my mother, who came with me and is if anything an even greater fan than me, disapproved of the most). Knowing that every plot point could not possibly be fitted into the film, the director (Cary Fukunaga) seems to have instead chosen to concentrate on certain details and aspects of the story, in particular Jane's character and the choices and obstacles she is faced with throughout her life. This can be frustrating sometimes, as certain beloved scenes are missed out which otherwise contribute to the story of Mr Rochester or the romance between them, and indeed the film does have a certain rushed shortened quality to it which is a shame, however overall it manages to strike a deep chord and fully explore the character of Jane Eyre. Wasikowska plays a strong, grave, independent Jane, who although lacking in slight playfulness, is deeply passionate and a sympathetic character. Mr Rochester as portrayed by Michael Fassbender is a Byronic, tortured and passionate soul, and although again the sarcastic witty side to Mr Rochester is lacking, Fassbender plays him with such depth and character that it's impossible not to fall in love. And indeed this is the crux of the matter - this adaptation is very different to previous ones because it does not try to stick too closely to the book, rather it is far darker, Gothic, brooding and romantic. Although very well written, it is the silences and the visual side of the performances and cinematography that matter just as much. Perhaps unusual in a period drama, which usually features a lot of talking, but this raw, physical adaptation is perfect in its own way. Beautifully made and arresting to watch - with a gorgeous score by Dario Marianelli who just keeps winning my undying love - this may not be the most loyal adaptation and may not even be my favourite (I do have great love for the BBC version) but it is certainly wonderful in its own right.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

You can't take the sky from me


: I'm trying to put this as delicately as I do I know you won't kill me in my sleep?

Mal: You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed.
Simon: Are you always this sentimental?
Mal: I had a good day.
Simon: You had the Alliance on you, criminals and savages... half the people on the ship have been shot or wounded including yourself, and you're harboring known fugitives.
Mal: We're still flying.
Simon: That's not much.
Mal: It's enough.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Oh, Calamity!

Although nowadays my parents are fairly impatient with my choice in movies, I do actually owe my current film taste to them. Unlike some kids, I wasn't brought up on a diet of Americanised, hyper-coloured and pointless cartoons - naturally I watched Disney films like any kid, but we all know that's different - rather, I remember watching almost grown-up and classic films from a young age. The Clash of the Titans has been a favourite of mine since I was eight, and I was utterly obsessed with the 1938 version of Robin Hood. It's probably one of the reasons that I don't now shy away from a movie just 'cos it's "old" - it's that quality in fact which I adore.

One such film which I adored - and still do - is the 1953 musical Calamity Jane. It belongs to a series of films made at the time, such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or Annie Get Your Gun: chirpy and colourful Wild West musicals which were just so fun and charming to watch. As far as I'm concerned, Calamity Jane is one of the most underrated yet most wonderful of all of these. It tells the adventures of Calamity Jane, a young woman living in the Wild West who has firmly integrated herself in the male-orientated society by, well, pretty much becoming one. Slightly clumsy, quick tempered and impetuous, Calamity Jane is a simply wonderful character - played gloriously by Doris Day who somehow, despite her gorgeous face and voice, manages to pull off tomboy exceptionally well. Her relationship with Wild Bill Hickok (Howard Keel) is beautifully portrayed - the chemistry between them is just stunning, and in both their humorous and tender moments they are just perfect together; he being so tall and she so tiny, they are just an adorable couple. The songs too are wonderful, wittily written and full of energy and the cinematography is bright and sweeping, like any good film of the 50s. Altogether this film is a treat, and if you haven't been lucky enough as me to experience it since your childhood, well, what are you waiting for?!