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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Free Travel Photographer of the year exhibition in the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington

Yesterday was hot HOT and awesome sunbathing weather, so I wont tell you about what I did then, well, there's not much to say....I'll tell you about what I did the day before that...

I went to the Travel Photographer of the year exhibition in the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington. Its free (that's why I went!!), and it features photo's taken by both professional and non-professional photographers... of all ages - I was really impressed by the winner of the child's 15-18 category who has captured horses beautifully.

There were lots of different categories and one called ‘cultures and traditions’ which was won by Sergey Anisimov who had taken a really gross picture of a skull of a reindeer in the snow. Eww, but really good.

There was one image that stood out for me, and as I wondered over I had to breath 'wow' under my breath - it was of children and adults sitting on top of a fast moving train - you can tell its fast moving because the lush greenery surrounding the train and framing the image perfectly is blurred with the colors smudging into each other. The children directly in front of the photographer are looking into the lens, they are not posing - just holding on to the roof for their lives!!! What everyone is wearing adds amazing vibrant color to the photo. 90% of photos taken could have a better or the same effect if taken in black and white - but this is in that tiny 10% of fantastic color photos.

I know that there will be four days of ticketed photography talks and workshops with speakers such as Gavin Gough, Colin Prior and Steve Bloom (July 17, 24, 27 and 28; £25-£150), but there are other, free :D, small talks on multiple times every day. For example, the one I went to explained how a camera works. And I learnt why pirates cover one eye with a patch - no, its not because every single one of them had had one of their eyes gouged out (as I had previously thought); its because as they jumped below deck, into the dark damp living quarters on another ship to commandeer it, they swapped the patch over to the other eye which wasn't accustomed to the dark, and the one that was (because it is obviously dark under a patch) would aid them in fighting the ships residents!!

The exhibition  is on until September 2013.

Friday, 12 July 2013

A flavor of London.... some of the snaps I snapped whilst walking around Westminster (London)

The view from outside Gabriel's Warf (southbank)
The Globe Theater
A shiny cafe that was attracting
both people and magpies
Millennium Bridge
The shard - London's newest
and tallest building

The golden hind - docked on the Thames

London Bridge
Tower of London and the city

 After crossing London bridge....

Looking up at St.Pauls

Trafalgar Square
(Please note: an effect was added for added effect)
Big Ben
(Please note: I put an effect on this photo... it is not really that majestic)

London Eye

Monday, 8 July 2013

No, its not over just because I crossed the line.....

... in 29 mins and 19 seconds to be exact, on one of the first hot days of British summer 2013.  I had just completed the Epsom 5k for Race For Life Cancer Research. My eyes were set ahead on a bottle of water, which I glugged down in about 30 seconds, followed by another 2!! I made my way back through a crowed of pink spectators cheering on the runners - ''Jog on Cancer'' ''Watch out Cancer... We're coming to get you''!!! - to our designated meeting place and plonked myself down on the ground. It had only been 5k but that was enough in this heat!!

Looking slightly crazed at the end!!
We had arrived a few hours earlier (I was running as part of my boarding house group) in our minibus. We had parked up, and got our numbers (mine was 20033) and positioned ourselves around the front of the stage where a man appeared to get us all moving and warmed up for the run. Then the event manager appeared and taught us all the 'race4life' dance which we then proceeded to do. We then were divided into 3 groups; the 'runners', the 'joggers' and the 'walkers' . I positioned myself at the back of the runners/the front of the joggers - this was my first fundraising run and I had no idea about the standard!! The horn blew and we were off - racing for life!! My friend disappeared off into the distance and I gradually moved away from the group. The course was quite tricky -uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill, then up hill again!!!
Yep - there's the top

The atmosphere was what can best be described as happy!! There were huge cheer's from the spectators, children running around, runners smiling as they crossed the line, on by one. Of course there were the promotional people from companies giving away free drinks etc who added to the good atmosphere.. Every one was dressed in pink - some had T-shirts with slogans; some had dressed up their dogs!! Including my house staff - one of which was wearing exactly the same top as me!! :/ slightly awkward, but oh well!! Another even had its on doggy baby grow :/

Dressed up smartly for Race4Life!!
The 'doggy-grow'!!

After we had all completed the race we decided to stay a bit longer in the sunshine - it was really nice and at 2 hours and 20 minuets the final 'racer' crossed the line - we all lined the path and cheered!! 

I would strongly recommend entering in a race for life event next time, no matter what your ability or background. Its well worth the day out and the money goes to such a good cause... ''as we race for life... others fight for life''..... 

Flags flying high for Race For Life

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Limbo in London Southbank

When you come out of Waterloo station, and go through the tunnel and up the stairs, turn left. You will see a really cute beer garden with fairy lights and happy people, if you walk through it you will notice the entrance of a large red and white circus tent. Coming from this tent is the smell of low hanging smoke and an inviting glow. If you enter this tent, you can watch a show called Limbo.

Once inside, you take your seat around a surprisingly small stage set in the middle of the tent. That glow noticed from outside is the only source of light and it comes from light bulbs hanging down above this stage.

The show begins. It starts off quiet weirdly - and the contortionist guy freaks me out and I can't watch - I'm wondering what I've got myself into. But then my opinion completely changes. The acts come on, one by one, athlete after athlete, entertainer after entertainer. There's a guy I named 'money man' who seems to display the limits of human strength with some gymnastics on top of some iron bars. He could dance too, and did a wonderful performance with another 2 men. There was a French man as well who did an act climbing and falling (!!) down a pole, a woman who breathed fire and another woman who was an awesome tap dancer!!

I really enjoyed it!! I found it inspiring. This group of young entertainers traveling the world, having fun, doing what they love to an awe-struck audience. And as I walked out the tent, I couldn't help wondering what it would be like to join them - I remembered back to my IGCSE results day - where I did surprisingly well and my dreams of joining the circus and riding round on the backs of horses with feathers on their heads was shunted by the burden of higher education.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Dave's Deli; why are my job interviews always so unfortunate!!!?? Last time I gave away a baby.

I wake up. I have an English lit. exam in 1 hour. I have not read the book. (I think its the Odyssey or something). This is so stressful. 2 of my old school friends call (who I haven't thought about in ages) to ask me about something to do with the book.

My alarm goes off. This turns out to be my dream - I don't even take English lit and I have read the Odyssey. But I do now have exactly 1 hour until I'm due at the 'job trial' at Dave's Deli- this is basically trying out for a waitress job there by spending one day working. I spend some time changing tops, grab some breakfast them run for the bus. I make it just in time and take this as a good sign. I make my way upstairs to the back and eat my breakfast up there like a tramp. I change bus, I brush my hair and tie it up in a pony tail. I do not look good, its way too early (its like 8:20 am). I put concealer on to try to cover up the sun-glass tan lines I unfortunately acquired yesterday I use my phone, so I have no idea how it looks. (Luckily I found out later that its fine!! :D )

People are strange - one man on the bus is loudly telling someone on the phone a lot about his personal life with unnecessary details like the fact that he'd missed a call from someone... because he had been in the bath. Maybe its because I'm British, but why would you say that!!? Anyway... the bus stops right outside the Deli, I am surprisingly 10 minuets early and I have to admit: I did wonder to take a walk around the block but I decided not to.

The Deli is brown and friendly looking. It has a variety of healthy looking pastries and cakes in the window, it is quiet for the minuet, but that is because it is 8:50 am, on a Tuesday. I introduce myself and the rather hostile waiter introduces himself back with a name that I couldn't even hear. He was very small with cat eyes and he gets me to make a coffee, which goes disastrously wrong because basically, the thing is, how are you supposed to get experience without experience!! In other words; you learn to make coffee but using those machines that are only in coffee shops, you can only use those if you work there, they don't give you a job unless you can already use them, so how are you supposed to learn without going out and purchasing one of your own!!???

Anyway- my initial reaction was that it was a total disaster, I was struggling with the coffee, and it seemed the waiter I was shadowing hated my guts for some reason, even though he had never met before and had no reason (but it turned out that he was just having a bad day, and hated England and couldn't wait to go back to Italy. I think he quiet liked me in the end). I also met Dave - who was quite a scary individual; he was big, very big, with little piggy blue eyes. He was the sort of person that you could sit in silence with and it not to be awkward. You could get used to him but his withdrawal was quiet scary - he was basically the opposite of friendly. And another reason why he was scary is because he spoke really quietly and rarely and came out with things like this to the waiter ''you cant keep fucking up the till like that - thats another 60p'' and to the chef ''do you know how to cut a fucking lemon!? This is how to cut a fucking lemon!!!'', so yeah, joyful bundle of fun, although later he told me he hadn't taken a day off in 3 years because things didn't function without him - and it did look like they would!! So I guess that would drive you crazy!!

There was also the problem that I couldn't seem to hear anyone. It wasn't that the Deli was extremely loud, and it wasn't an issue of their accents. I was just that they were speaking very quietly, and didn't turn up their volume in response to my increasing ''Sorry, can you repeat that''s or ''huh!? What did you say??''s. It got really annoying after a while so I quit trying to understand and just did my own thing. That also got annoying because when I didn't do something they had supposedly 'asked me to' they got impatient, which was unfair, especially as I was being really helpful and he was just asking me to do the crap jobs that he couldn't be bothered to do.

The chef was SO STRANGE and also scary - but in a different way. Dave seemed to be controlled and that's where he was so scary, but this guy! This guy seemed to have some screws loose. I did sympathize with Dave when he showed him how to cut a lemon, because he was cutting it in an absolutely absurd way. He kept asking me my name, and where I was from, over an over, until I stared giving him different names and places every time. Then I had to show HIM how to use the dishwasher which was not difficult (shut it and push the on button) plus, he worked there, so he should have known. He annoyed me too, with his slowness and in-ability to read simple words like 'chicken salad' and then his inability to make them properly/at all.

But I got into it and overall it pretty good fun and I am a pretty good waitress, and its a pretty easy job when you don't have to make coffee's. Plus the toilet was cool even though the lock didn't work! Oh yeah!!! I told the waiter I was going to the toilet and he said the lock didn't work so he would hold the door... I was like WTFFFFFFF!!!! and tried to pee as fast as possible!! That was strange. But yeah, the toilet was cool because inside the toilet seat were the words ''if you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be sweet and wipe the seat''... which is chuckle worthy.

The first people I waited on were 2 men. One didn't appear to want to be there, and one really did who kept asking me things about the food on the menu that I had no idea about. He was a young entrepreneur in the property market and was telling the guy that looked like he'd like to be somewhere else about his new business plan - and what he looked for whilst visiting houses - such as the walls. And at that; he began to dramatically spread his arms all over the walls of the Deli, feeling them, smelling them, and dramatically deducting that they were old walls, but had new wall paper on them, and if he were to buy the Deli he would put in new walls, because for some reason that would make a huge difference. The other guy looked mortified. Poor him.

Then I waited on a couple on a laptop. They stayed there about 4-5 hours in total!! It seemed they were moving in together and were looking for a house. Awww, how nice. An elderly couple that also stayed for about 4 hours because it was raining, and they didn't want to walk to their car. When I asked them where it was parked, they said ''just around the corner''. Just saying - they weren't that old or crippled in any way.

I had an 'interview' at the end, which was more like a chat with Dave about holidays and other non-Deli related stuff, but we basically figured out pretty quickly that I got the job - but because I go to school I couldn't work the hours he wanted (9-4 on weekdays), so that was awkward, but oh well at least I got the offer!!! :D I hope I have better luck with my next job interview... my last one was not good either... I'll tell you about it briefly;

It was for Gilly Hicks. I had been in the store a few days earlier and the manager had asked me to come back for a group interview with a few other girls my age (turns out they were not my age, but around 4 years older!!). So I was making my way to that and I saw a baby wondering aimlessly down the middle of a deserted road. I knew immediately that it was lost. So I tried to help her find her parents by playing fun games like 'hide and seek: where are mummy and daddy hiding' and, 'where does little baby live', but the baby did not even say 1 word to me, so she was making me late, so I gave her to 2 fat friendly Portuguese guys I came across chatting in one mans doorway. I told them to call the police, and started to walk away. I regretted that instantly. She started trying to come after me and started crying holding out her arms in my direction. I should have stayed with her, but I didn't. And to this day I really regret that, its one of my biggest regrets in life actually - maybe my biggest, because it was so irresponsible!! But luckily I think she was re-united with her family as there was nothing in the news or any posters around!! :/ Anyway I spent the whole interview worrying about the poor thing and couldn't really engage in the enthusiastic-ness of the interview, which seemed pretty pointless, for example, we all had to go around and say ''hi, welcome to Gilly Hicks'' in a very cheerful way - everyone said it the same and it was stupid compared with re-uniting a child with its mother. Plus I forgot my national insurance number which they wanted RIGHT THEN and without it they  legally can't hire you. So I didn't get the job by a long-shot.
But that next time I see a lost baby- I have vowed to re-unite it with its parents.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The great Gatsby and Gnocchi (I cant even say that.)

Right. Lets just first of all say that I, Laura, am embarrassingly, painfully, yet satisfyingly burnt after 2 days of London sunshine. This is firstly embarrassing as I’m now red and I have a job interview tomorrow morning, but even if I didn’t, its still embarrassing because you might have to go out in public and then people might see you and think ‘’LOL, look a white person went into the sun for a couple of minuets and couldn’t handle it’’, which is so not the case. I can handle sun! But no one could handle 2 full days of sun after being deprived of it for more than half a year. Plus  its also very embarrassing to think of the awkward tan lines that I will have created for myself (short and trainer lines *horror* !!!). Secondly it is painful because my skin cells have been roasted by the harmful UV rays of the sun. Need I say more to back that point up!? And lastly, it is strangely satisfying as a sun burn is always the result of a nice day, and you know that its going to turn into a nice tan. Plus in London, you feel like ‘’Oh good I’m burnt. That means I’ve made the most out of the sun or this month as its going to rain solidly from now until July’’ (which it is – according to BBC weather).

But anyway, aside from that, I watched The Great Gatsby in the cinema. Its about a guy: Nick, who moves to NYC in the hope of earning himself the life of the rich and successful, like his cousin Daisy who married a very rich man; Tom, who Nick went to Yale with. Well anyway, Nick moves next to the invisible, party-throwing, millionaire; Gatsby. Whom very few have seen, and even fewer actually know. But what is his motive behind throwing all these parties? And what else happens in the movie? Well of course I know, but you have to watch the movie to find out :D . Its a film about love and money. And I think the main moral of the story is that money can’t buy you love, which is the one thing that would make the slightly crazed Gatsby happy. So basically its just another take on the saying ‘’money cant buy you happiness’’, which I disagree with, but anyway, really good movie, I  recommend it... go see it! Especially if you are a Leonardo DiCaprio fan (because he is Gatsby), like meeee!!
I am a HUGE fan!! I used to think that he was just one of those lucky actors who got to play a role in a majorly successful film, made their big break into the industry and then continue with their crap acting career just because they were now them, and were wanted in people’s films so more people would watch that film because it had a household name actor in it. (If that even makes sense). So anyway I thought DiCaprio was one of those, but actually he’s really not. He’s reallyyy good!! Like Jonny Depp (who I also LOVE), he can play loads of different types of roles and does them all so well. That seems such a crap explanation, but how would you describe a really good actor or actress!? Its hard! There’s just something about them that makes them really special!! Well yes, that thing is called talent,  but acting talent is hard to put into words or define!!

Then I went to Carluccio's which is a really nice Italian restaurant serving really nice Italian food. 
The one we went to was on the river side which added to the relaxed friendly atmosphere  of the restaurant. The entry has a little deli in it where you can sample little bits of bread in Italian 
olive oil and buy or brows fresh, but expensive, Italian produce such as different types of pasta and oils. We sat at a wooden table with candles and our orders were taken by charming Italian men, the whole atmosphere was really chilled and everyone inside seemed to be having a great time!  I ate gnocchi al gorgonzola (Fresh potato gnocchi with a gorgonzola (a type of cheese) and spinach) which tasted really good, and was also really filling. I would describe it as a more relaxed version of Strada or Preto... does that sound good!?

Bin Bag Fashion!!!

Animal Day
So we had a week at the end of last term called ‘RAG week’. This was where everyday 6th form had to dress up as a different theme... for example one day was pyjama day, animal day, celebrity day, etc. Well, Friday’s theme was ‘Rags’.  As soon as I heard this I wanted to come in a bin bag. I told my friend, and he was not as exited as me actually. He said ‘’How are you supposed to look good wearing a bin bag!!??’’ (Just imagine his face. It was not pretty.) I must admit, I did get a little bit defensive that he was lashing my idea to pieces, and went ‘’GOD!! Its not always about looking good!’’ and stormed off in a huff, vowing myself to yes, now look good as well as have fun.
So... I came up with a few designs... as you can see me modelling them like a pro in the photos. I was happy with them all, but there was one problem; I had made them on me, if you know what I mean. So then I had to cut them off me. And of course that meant they were ruined. Obviously. (why did I even write that!!?? :/ ) Anyway, this meant that I had to wake up early for school the next day, *horror*, and make one on myself.
Now, I’m not a particularly morning person so if I’m honest, it was not as good as it could have been. For example, as I tried to focus through my practically closed eyes, I didn’t realise that I had cut the hemline extremely short. I didn’t even realise this until after I came back from breakfast (I go to a boarding school you see, so I always have to rush in the mornings to get my ass out of bed and into the dining hall before they lock it and deprive me of food). Well when I came back from breakfast I realised this and was slightly embarrassed, but due to my many designs the night before I had only left myself with one bin bag – that I was now wearing. I thought *oh dear, embarrassing, awkward, live with it* and set off to class.
I managed to make it through the day alright. It was a bit cold – I was especially freezing but that’s just me, because I’m always cold, well at least here in England. L I only had one incident of one idiot trying to rip it off. The twat just sort of lunged and grabbed it and then was like ‘’what would you do if it ripped it off’’. And I was like ‘’well your not going to. So get off. Now.’’ And he was like ‘’Are you wearing shorts underneath’’(In a completely doofus voice). I was like *CRAP-shorts!! Completely forgot!!* ‘’No – I didn’t expect any need to’’. By this time he’d let go, and did a huge Cheshire cat grin at me and lumbered off. Typical. But other than that all was good!

RAG-day, me in bin bag, and this tramp that I just met!! ;)
Oh and then I got nominated for the award of the best dressed girl. There were 4 of us. And I had made an effort all week, and I had got into every theme, and looked like a prat on some occasions (for example, when we did a blind drop - where your blindfolded in a mini-bus and dropped somewhere and have to make your way back to school using a map – which me and my friend won by quite a long way!! Dont really know how... - and I was dressed as an incredible), and looked good on some occasions... like... today?? Anyway, the winner was decided by a game of musical chairs -.- On the first round, the music stopped just as I was next to a chair, so I got through without any effort. But on the second round, again, the music stopped as I was right next to a chair, but one of the other girls –from yr13 – pushed me out the way. I didn’t feel like the award was worth enough to fight for (ESPECIALLY not with this girl), nor did I want ANY possibility of ripping my dress, so I just sort of let her sink her bottom onto my chair. She ended up winning... even though she didn’t deserve it at all!! But you know, good on her!! – if you want something, no matter how small, you have to flight for it (in relativity though)!!

'Blind drop' still with our incredible masks :D