Long Weekend in Brighton

Brighton has long been a favourite destination for many due to its vibrant culture, quaint shops and beautiful shingled beach, so I was very excited when my partner surprised me with a long weekend trip there for my birthday. It’s safe to say that this gorgeous British seaside town did not disappoint.

We crammed a lot into our 3 days in Brighton, starting with a refreshing massage at Pretty People Salon after our long journey from Hertfordshire. Feeling revived and ready to explore, we poddled around the world-famous pier  and wandered along the stretch of beach on what was a gloriously sunny day. And of course, within seconds of stepping outside, a seagull planted a large turd upon my partners head. Just our luck!

22070492_1881991768483507_565463767_o

Chilling on Brighton beach

After this, we wandered over to Terre á Terre, a cosy Vegetarian restaurant that provides a stunning and utterly unique afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is one of my favourite treats, and I was pleasantly surprised  by the less-than- traditional spread we were offered! We were first presented with a savoury plate, in which the mini muffins with cream cheese and chutney were a personal favourite. This was followed by three generously plated tiers of sweet treats including the usual scones as well as extras such as sorbet, cake and a tasty mini alcoholic shake.

During our time in Brighton, we also visited the Sealife centre. Travelling by train the tickets are 2-for-1 which is a bargain so we excitedly headed in to admire the fish. We were particularly tickled by a massive grumpy- looking fish and the faces that rays have when they glide up against the glass! They also had turtles and sharks which were a good surprise.

Ashamedly, we probably spent most of our time in Brighton in the arcades trying (and failing) to win a souvenir due to my boyfriend’s intensely competitive nature. After shoving too many pennies into the machine at once and subsequently breaking it, we kept our heads down and ran away to the other arcade, where a worker took pity on us and gave us a water wiggly- a weird squishy toy that amuses us to this day.

22050739_1881991738483510_1609061223_o

Crispy Sweet Potato Cakes

For our final night in Brighton, we went to the immensely popular Food for Friends, another incredible vegetarian restaurant. I had very high expectations after reading reviews on Tripadvisor, and this restaurant truly ticked every box. In many restaurants, plant-based meals are unimaginative and rushed, but in Food for Friends, each dish has had care and thought put into it. We also had a reservation well in advance so we were given (in my opinion) the best table in the restaurant, something I would absolutely recommend. I had the Katsu sweet potato and king oyster mushroom curry and my partner had the sweet potato cakes, both were creative, delicious, and beautifully presented meals; and completely affordable, too. The perfect birthday meal.

If ever in doubt for somewhere to visit in the UK, I would absolutely recommend Brighton. Whilst London has a lot of things to see, Brighton is like a smaller, calmer version of London’s nicer areas. It’s easy to see why this seaside town is a special place to so many: it is diverse and welcoming, and has something for everyone- I can’t wait to visit it again soon.

 

 

Advertisements

Four Perfect Days: San Diego

For the final part of my birthday trip, I had the pleasure of visiting beautiful San Diego. A place like no other- everyone in San Diego was immensely welcoming, the weather was sunny, and every dog I saw was a cute puppy. It was like something out of a fairytale! We stayed in the iconic Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island, a lavish hotel that hosted the biggest stars of old Hollywood, and has certainly withstood the test of time.

Hotel Del 2017, and back then in Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like It Hot

The main reason that we traveled to San Diego was to fulfill my nerdy fantasy and attend San Diego Comic Con. This insane event draws in people from around the globe, and is the largest pop culture convention in the world. Stars from a host of television shows and film, from Marvel to Game of Thrones, gathered to meet fans and showcase exclusive content to attendees. As well as being a complete nerd-fest for film and TV fans, SDCC also had many other things to experience, as well as the latest technology, panels and photo-ops, and a vast marketplace-style floor with more merchandise than you could possibly imagine. We had a fantastic time seeing other people’s cosplays too, there were tonnes of awesome costumes and everyone loved showing them off! We were also lucky enough to see the cast of Game of Thrones AND The Walking Dead on the day we attended! The funny part is, after wrestling through hoards of people to even catch a glimpse of these stars, the next day while we were relaxing by the pool, who else but Andrew Lincoln (TWD) sat right by us on the sun loungers! We didn’t want to cause a fuss as he was probably recovering from the previous day’s mayhem, but this was such a surreal and unbelievable moment that sums up the crazy time we had in the States.

Other highlights of our time here were the USS Midway museum, which is an immense aircraft carrier that you can explore and learn about San Diego’s rich naval history: the free audio tour brings the experience to life and you even hear stories from the veterans who lived and served on this ship. The renowned San Diego Zoo was also absolutely incredible, and had many animals that I had never seen before, all housed in wonderful exhibits. My personal favourites were the pandas, they were super cuddly looking and really active, tumbling about in their enclosures! A special mention also goes out to the food in San Diego… Americans sure know how to eat: I must have had waffles every single day I was out there and discovered the delicacy known as whipped butter, ah-maaaz-ing!

I feel so lucky that I had such a wonderful time and I hope that one day that I can return here and spend even longer soaking up the sun on the pristine beaches and re-visiting all of these places.

giphy.gif

Viva Las Vegas!

Last week for my 21st birthday present, my dad took myself and my brother to the US. The first half of that trip was to the insanely vibrant city of Las Vegas; which is what I’ll be writing about today!

20139696_10155535519868200_3181099231766810984_n.jpg

The Chandelier Bar

I can quite safely say that Las Vegas is the most bizarre place I have ever visited. After our 12-hour flight, we were dropped off at our hotel; The Cosmopolitan. As soon as you enter this amazing hotel, it’s like being transported into a different world; we traversed through rows of revellers trying their luck at the slots, and eventually found ourselves at the extravagant Chandelier bar. From here we could find our way to our rooms… 58 floors up in the sky, overlooking the iconic Las Vegas strip. This is not a hotel for anyone who suffers from a fear of heights, looking out over our balcony would be enough to make anyone queasy.

3345356   After we were settled in, we decided to explore the hotels on the strip. Anywhere else in the world, this would seem like a boring activity, but in Vegas each hotel has something unique and amazing inside of it. My personal favourite was The Venetian which was decorated to imitate Italy inside; complete with lovely cobbled streets, canals, and gondola rides. The ceiling is painted to look like a beautiful sunset and feels so realistic that it’s easy to forget that you’re inside until you step outside into the Nevada sunshine. After exploring a few of the sights that Vegas had to offer in what felt like a trip around Europe I had myself a well-earned bubble bath overlooking the strip and then we treated ourselves to the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Wicked Spoon (which, by the way, is awesome.)

The next day we visited the super gross but really interesting “Real 20139669_10155535520238200_1750867495945826623_nBodies” exhibit. Whilst very morbid and not for the faint-hearted, “Real Bodies” was a unique and fascinating exhibit which showcased perfectly preserved bodies in different poses- stripped of their skin and sectioned in different ways so that you could see the inner workings of the body. As horrific as it sounds, it was really well done and beautifully displayed… Perhaps the only part that caught me off guard and made me shudder was a small room shielded by a curtain that contained an intact human skin on a hanger… Gross.

20046810_10155535519743200_4175306056498095281_n

Us and Teller!

In a lighter (and far less grotesque) evening activity we also went to see Penn and Teller. I do not wish to spoil anything for anyone planning to see them but their show is an absolute MUST- especially in their own theatre at the Rio! It is very traditional, old-school magic but it is flawlessly performed and utterly breathtaking. An added bonus is that they both meet every single fan after the show and are extremely humble and welcoming, they have time for every single audience member.

There is so much that we crammed into our days in Vegas that I fear this post would get too long if I included all of it! In short, Vegas surprised me in the best way possible, and whilst there are some seedy undertones, the glitz and glam of the place overwhelms this and there is so much to do that you could never possibly be bored. I would highly recommend it as there really is no other place on Earth like Las Vegas!

20108114_10155535520243200_9179361628870464061_n

Anything goes in Vegas

The Flipside of Twelfth Night: Feste

    In my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays, Twelfth Night, I am drawn to Feste’s character. He brings a level of darkness to a generally cheerful play that celebrates misrule and folly. I enjoy the fact that the very figure of misrule, the fool, is not a typically comic character. Instead, he is one of the few characters that seems serious, presenting a sobering world-view amidst the revelry in Twelfth Night.

Feste’s songs that are peppered throughout the play appear to be happy and add a festive musicality to the action. However, when one looks closer at the lyrics they appear to be deeply melancholic. Feste’s final song stands out to me the most as it features the lyric “the rain it raineth every day” (5.1.379). It is interesting how in a play where everyone is acting foolish, the only licensed fool recognises everything will revert back to normality after the Twelfth Night festival, and thus after the events of the play. The rain will continue “every day”, and is a reminder of Feste’s unchanging position. Whilst other characters are in constant flux, moving forward and progressing, Feste is the only character who remains unaffected by the events of the play. He is a figure of stability and serves to remind the audience that despite the festivities in the play, normal life continues after; rain and all.

The rain, too, is a symbol of sorrow and is reflective of the darker aspects of the play. It seems that through life, even when times seem happy on the surface, there will always be hardships that follow. For example, the audience is encouraged to side with characters such as Maria, Toby, and Andrew as they trick and subsequently imprison Malvolio. However, much like the way that the lyricism of Feste’s song masks its melancholic undertones, the playfulness of the more likeable characters masks the truly deplorable way that they treat Malvolio.

His perceptive ability stems from being removed from the class structure within the play, and yet still being confined to it. He is separate from the power struggles and main events of the play, able to comment on the characters as an outsider with insider knowledge. He seems free of boundaries, and yet he is confined to servitude. Despite the illusion of freedom, one must remember that at the heart of his role he is in fact a member of the lower class that is mocked and made to perform foolishly for the entertainment of the ruling class in order to make a living.

When looking at Feste in such a way, his ending in Act 5 Scene 1 should be taken into consideration. The stage directions bid farewell to all but Feste, and he is left to sing his closing song. As mentioned before, this song, despite the happy ending, seems tinged with melancholy, repeating the two lines “With hey ho the wind and the rain” and “The rain it raineth every day”. The final line of the song breaks this repetition and states “and we’ll strive to please you every day.” It seems that Feste’s character is revealing a discontent at his social standing role of pleasing others every day, as he seems to gain no pleasure for himself, being the only character unpaired and left on stage. I suppose, at least, that it is a small reconciliation that he is awarded the freedom to express himself in ways that Malvolio cannot.

The dark undercurrents of such a cheerful play are what make it so interesting. It is enjoyable to watch but clear to me that those that do not conform to the overarching values and ideologies of the ruling class are mocked and alienated like Malvolio, or completely “other” like Feste.

 

Side note: I’ll be travelling to the USA in the next few days, so expect some travel posts coming up!

The Absent Mother in Shelley’s Frankenstein

Motherlessness is at the heart of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It drives the character’s motivations and shapes the entire plot, as well as throwing into consideration the position of women in an alternate universe where they are no longer needed.

The removal of the woman’s role when creating life is a controversial subject even to a modern reader. The comparison of the Creature’s awakening to childbirth are frequent and occur throughout. Victor’s creation of the Creature itself is described as “days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue”, and again referred to as “painful labour”; far too obvious to be coincidental. In fact, in Chapter 4 alone, the word “labour” appears six times, as a precursor to the Creature’s birth in the following chapter. Considering that Victor is the sole parent of the Creature and the one to undergo “labour” dismantles the idea of the nuclear family and subverts any traditional familial expectations, particularly in the 19th Century, of what a family should consist of.

The significance of this is that through creating life without the inclusion of a woman, the primary function and biological need for a female is dismissed. The non-sexual method of reproduction that is described in Frankenstein illustrates the problematic nature of removing females from the equation. It demonstrates a dark dystopian universe in which mothers are no longer relevant, and females no longer possess their source of natural and cultural power. Women are therefore reduced to subordinate members of society in comparison to the males in the world of Frankenstein. Unlike the professional, well-travelled men in the story, women rarely exist outside of their domestic spheres and are barely relevant in the over-arching plot. They are dismissed in a society where men have full power and control, and can even reproduce on their own.

The context of this novel, too, makes these points all the more poignant. Mary Shelley’s own mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, died shortly after giving birth to her. This offers an explanation for the many allusions to absent mothers in Frankenstein, and a reason as to why the novel is so heavily focussed on the female’s role in birth and in their child’s life thereafter. Additionally, Mary Shelley herself experienced a great deal of loss in the lead-up to her creation of Frankenstein. Before the end of 1816, she had already given birth to, and lost, three children. One of these children was, rather hauntingly, called William: the name of the Creature’s first victim.

This supports the common idea that the lack of a female mother figure in Frankenstein is essentially the cause of all of the tragedy in the novel. Victor’s rejection of maternity is what creates this monstrous Creature and catalyses the death and destruction that follows. Frankenstein can be considered an exploration of birth and death, as well as highlighting the importance of the female role in society, and the impact that the lack of females, mothers in particular, would have.

 

The Cold War in The War of the Worlds

J J Hallam

Although written before the Cold War, HG Well’s The War of the Worlds is almost clairvoyant in the way it echoes the foundations of the tense conflict that took the earth to the brink of nuclear annihilation. The Cold War brought with it the same suspense that the Brits endured in War of the Worlds, only the world was threatened to be destroyed at the hands of men wielding nuclear power as oppose to a Martian invasion. One of the most interesting comparisons between the factual and fictional conflicts is the importance of information, and misinformation.

Partly what made the Cold War such a terrifying experience for the majority of civilians, was the harrowing silence. On both sides, the USA and the USSR, a silence descended as the iron curtain was drawn closed. In retaliation to this silence, both sides prepared for the worst. War. In The War of…

View original post 414 more words

Rome: 2 Days in the Eternal City

   I’m taking a quick break from literature-based blog posts to write about the reason for my WordPress absence; my trip to Rome! For my boyfriend’s 21st birthday I decided to treat us to a few days away in Rome; one of the most romantic and beautiful places I have ever seen. I’m going to include our highlights of Rome and hopefully our experiences will give anyone hoping to visit this incredible city some tips! (This will also probably end up being super long and rambling but I want to keep it as a sort-of diary so that I can look back and remember all of the things I loved about Rome… apologies in advance!)   

19403635_10211207733327299_1061978808_o

To squeeze the most out of our trip, we hopped straight off the plane, onto our transfer, and hunted down the Colosseum; number one on our list of attractions to visit in the city. I could hardly believe how absolutely gigantic it was: pictures do it no justice. The architecture was gorgeous and it you could feel the historical significance of the ruins as you walked around them. We went mid-week and bought our tickets online so it wasn’t too busy, but we decided to find a tour guide on our arrival- and whilst I’m sure some tour guides are very good, ours was super disorganized and rambled on about irrelevant things like how much he hated the Gladiator movie… Us, as well as most of the tour group, ended up sloping off to explore without him. If we were to visit again I think we would just wander around and read the informative signs on our own terms. 

   We had a quick explore of the Forum as it was included in our tickets, but decided half-way through to exit the site and grab some lunch as we were feeling peckish after our journey. Big mistake. A miscommunication on our E-Tickets suggested that we could re-enter the sites if we left, however this was not the case (!!!). Unfortunately this meant that we weren’t able to see the rest of the Forum or any of Palatine Hill, an absolute bummer but at least we got to eat some great Italian pasta. 

   On our way back to our hotel we decided to find the Trevi Fountain; it was an excruciatingly hot day and with all our bags still with us we were exhausted. However, I cannot stress enough how much the Trevi Fountain lifted my spirits: it is AMAZING! The sculptures are absolutely beautiful and the water was crystal clear; it is immensely busy but we were still able to find a seat next to the fountain to rest and toss a coin in to make a wish. We then headed back to our hotel, the wonderful Hotel Aurelius, to grab some dinner and rest up for the next day. 

19415955_10211207722127019_1926510767_n

Bioparco de Roma

   We woke up bright and early and took the Metro to the Borghese Gardens- a sprawling public park in Northern Rome that makes you forget you’re even in the city at all! Walking to the farthest point of these gardens, we reached “Bioparco de Roma”. At only 16 Euros per person, this is a fantastic zoo. It was huge and we easily spent a few hours there, and we were delighted to find many of our favourite animals- brown bears, seals, hippos, and my personal favourite… Guinea pigs! Hundreds of them! 

19441137_10211207719926964_422390578_n

Pietro’s Psyche

    After a poddle around the zoo, we visited the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, right next door and also found in the Borghese Gardens. The collection of artworks here is incredibly varied, and includes masterpieces by some of the most famous artists such as Klimt and Monet. The collection, unusually, was not displayed in chronological order. Following with their subtitle of “Time is Out of Joint”, the artworks were instead grouped by theme, regardless of their time period. This gave the gallery a unique feel and the way in which the artworks clashed and complimented one another but ultimately had the same purpose was really interesting and revealed new dimension to some pieces that may have been overlooked otherwise. We chose to visit this gallery over the Vatican Museums as it offered us an alternative to religious art, and we were not disappointed! 

19458412_10211207717166895_1236072353_n

    On oufinal day, we decided to visit the Pantheon. We arrived extremely early before the masses of tourists swarmed it and were left in complete awe. Once you walk into the building, you immediately feel the spiritual significance and all of the sculptures and lavish architecture give the site an atmosphere of considerable weight. It is truly jaw-dropping. Before travelling back to the Hotel to catch our hotel we had one last look at the Trevi Fountain and stopped for some delicious Ferrero Rocher, Nutella, and Tiramisu gelato… A perfect end to a perfect few days! 

    Side note for anyone interested…

   Our hotel can be found at http://aureliusartgalleryhotel.com/ and it is perfect!! Just outside of central Rome it is quiet, friendly and the restaurants nearby are inexpensive, authentically Italian and frequented by locals, a sign of how good they were! 

   Side side note… 

I need to get a better camera.