Dust

We never really spoke much as kids, Kevin and I. I have a feeling our parents knew each other quite well, as african families do, but we led quite separate lives. Our relationship thereafter was quite facebook, you know the sort, you get to know them through the updates that filter onto your wall, maybe exchange the occasional ‘like’ or witty comment. I talked to him quite recently actually, his interest in graphic design led him to app creation, and his illustrations were great. He asked to feature some of my work and we chatted for a while. And now he’s gone.

A double arrest in ICU is all it took to take him from feeling under the weather to pushing up daisies. Twenty four hours. It’s staggering how fast it all took place, and really made me think hard about how transient our lives are, like flowers, here for now and gone in an instant.

Another friend of mine, Richard, died recently, but that didn’t help me escape the deep uneasiness of Kevin’s departure; he was my age, people that young aren’t supposed to die, but they do. I guess it just hit really close to home. We do live life thinking we’re invincible, at least implicitly, and if you don’t believe this, just ask, what would you do if this was your last day? Why isn’t every day like that? We all live assuming we’ll get to see tomorrow, all the while, God may have very different plans.

Rest in peace, brother.

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WEC Film test

A local (not really sure I can use that term in central London) camera store had some new film in stock and was looking for people to test it out, making a little scavenger hunt! The premise was you enter the film store, pick your roll from a dark box and shoot everything on the list before 4:30. I tested the Revolog Volvox.

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It was a really interesting film, with random acid like green dots distributed randomly within each shot

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The film itself was brilliant, but the sheer randomness of the dots did catch me unawares! They are more visible in the darker areas of the picture

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Some worked out quite nicely! I do think shot in the dark, the volvox would really come to life. There were 36 exposures, and I’m used to being sparing with 24, so I was definitely more frugal than I should have been with shooting. This left several unexposed frames, which, arguably, look better than all the rest!

It was quite a fun overall, it’s rare that you get let loose with free developing costs! However, due to the sheer oddness of the film, I doubt I’ll be much of a contender for first place in the hunt!

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The Lakes

It had been a really long week. We’ve been assigned our first essay, 1500 words on the effect of public-private partnerships. This doesn’t sound like much, but I haven’t written at length for a very long time, so whilst I’m fully aware of the molehill I’m making into a mountain, it’s still flipping hard to climb! It was, therefore, with a sense of dejection I boarded the train back home to celebrate my dad’s birthday.

Don’t get me wrong, I was really excited to see my family, but it was intermingled with the knowledge that I would have to constantly duck out to read another paper here and add a few extra words there. No such thing happened this weekend. Instead, We were surprised with a trip into the Lake District!

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We aren’t a very walk-y family, but given where we were, it would be a crime not to go out and explore a little. The first morning was spent climbing up to Orrest Head, which, following the horrific rain the night before, wasn’t without its challenges, but the views of Lake Windermere were remarkable!

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This cute little guy followed us for the last leg!

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The lake itself is also stunning, we spent most of the afternoon on it, guided by a delightfully Liverpudlian captain. The weather took a turn for the better (rare in The North), resulting in a wonderful day overall!

One of my favourite things about going away with the family is that they pay for everything! I never really appreciated this small fact until I became a student and appreciated the value of a free lunch! We went to Pasty Presto, home of the “world’s best pasty” for lunch, but did’t order one, although I kind of wish I did! However, I did have my first white hot chocolate, which was an odd and marshmallow-like affair. Their regular hot chocolate was nothing to write home about, but this was a different beast entirely. It’s definitely a lot sweeter than most, but doesn’t quite have the sickly taste you get with over sweet milk chocolate. It doesn’t really taste like white chocolate either, more like a really sweet cream, which was nice, but I wouldn’t have it all the time.

More delightful reasons to love The North.

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The best camera is the one you have with you

I felt, and still do, that despite the many lovely benefits iOS7 afforded my ageing phone, it destroyed the camera. Something about the subtle pressures to conform to constantly taking square pictures, really dealt a blow to the form factor and overall experience. That, coupled with the whole new world of SLR photography that opened up to me a few years ago, meant that I pretty much never used my iPhone to take pictures. Recently, however, inspired by my friend Erin’s blog, and the removal of a horrendously scratched screen protector, I’ve rekindled my old love.

The best camera is the one you have with you. It might not be able to do everything that my SLR can do; it’s slow, simple and eats battery like nothing else, but camera equipment is also large and cumbersome, Its never with me all the time, but opportunities never cease! Wonderful little apps like vsco really make the iPhone’s camera a powerful little thing. Filters to make instagram cry and a simple but extensive range of editing features, at a great price of £0.00, what’s not to love?!

@the_lifeofbry 

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WPC – Signs

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As seen on – Brick Lane

Check out more entries here

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Too much of a good thing!

Ok, maybe not quite, had a lot of hot chocolate recently!

I decided to try and get more involved in photography society stuff, as I have a bit more time, and today they had a fantastic alternative to the alcohol-sodden classic, the caffeine crawl. One of the stops was Fork, a beautiful little deli on Tavistock. Sadly, despite its amazing selection of breads, pastries and all things wonderful, their hot chocolate was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted.

At £2.6, you would expect at least a good quality powdered chocolate with milk, I mean, even McDonalds gets that much right and it’s a fraction of the price. No, whatever it was they served in the bespoke recycled cup was the result of two pumps of syrup and probably some milk. It was thin, weak, and unappetising in every possible way. All in all, I highly doubt I will ever return

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How could something so beautiful create something so vile?!

Another stop was on the Store street espresso. I’m learning to love Bloomsbury in a whole different way, behind the clean cut exterior found north of the Central Line, there are some fun little corners!

After the fork debacle, this was a welcome delight; real chocolate! I do feel like it’s (more of a) waste of money buying to go, as a big part of this is having somewhere to hang out and abuse WiFi privileges, but it was rather lovely.

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Earlier this week, I did find my favourite coffee shop so far; La Gourmandina. This year, I’m studying around Russell Square, and have lectures in Great Ormond St. Hospital. Next to it, is a fantastic little road called Lamb’s Conduit St, where I found this gem during lunch. The service was amazing, the store itself is like a small tardis, and the chocolate was divine. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing more than dark chocolate and double cream, but they found a way of making it a drink and not just molten goo. It was absolutely fantastic.

I guess I’m not sleeping tonight!

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Testing faith

The weekend marked the end of Freshers’ week here at UCL. We put on loads of events, and the response has been pretty amazing, despite many setbacks! In fact, the sheer number of people has been one of our biggest (literally) problems!

On Thursday, we had an open house event with around 15 confirmed guests. When the bus arrived with freshers from the quadrangle, numbers were breaking fifty, way more than could fit in Mark’s tiny living room and roof terrace! We had to walk over to my friend’s considerably larger flat, which was a shame, because the view was ace!

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The same story could be told of the welcome fair. We were stuck in a corner between the Chocolate Society and the Comedy Club, which was great as we got fed and had some good banter! Unfortunately, it was a boiling hot logistical nightmare as we tried to get sign ups. Despite the hordes of freebie-seeking freshers, however, we managed to get a huge number of people interested, with more emailing in saying they’d like to join but couldn’t attend – amazing!

Today, I had my faith tested in a massive way. As I mentioned earlier, we’d been surprised at the overwhelming number of people keen to get stuck in, and so the room that we fought to get booked, was definitely going to be too small. The union has been undergoing huge renovations, as a result of which, space is extremely limited; they don’t even have space for lectures! This means clubs and societies fall to the bottom of the room-booking pecking order.

Lots of emails had been shot at the union, frantically trying to determine what room we had so we could tell everyone where to go. By around twelve, we still didn’t know, and were really at a loss as to what we could really do but watch our efforts slowly unravel. However, God really pulled through. At around three, we got a surprise email saying everything was confirmed, despite someone calling beforehand and them telling us we couldn’t have it as someone else had booked. This was literally amazing!

What followed was probably, in my opinion, one of the best meetings we’ve had in a long while. We packed out the larger room, people were stood up on the sides because we didn’t have enough chairs, there were loads of people hanging about afterwards, chatting, talking, and loads more at the bar, carrying on this great time of fellowship.

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Amazing.

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My Achilles Heel

You’re walking down the high street and you spot it in the corner of your eye. Despite having been there countless times and knowing pretty much every single item in the store (as they tend to be quite small), you wander in anyway, stoking the flames of your guilty pleasure. Shelf upon glorious shelf stacked with things you’ve never seen before, and hitherto never knew you needed on your already cluttered bedroom desk. Welcome to my Achilles heel, the art shop.

Photo credit - Manchester's Finest

Photo credit – Manchester’s Finest

Magma, a small chain of art and graphic design shops, have a branch in my home town which I visit almost religiously every time I’m in the area, a habit which fills me with guilt as I saunter around the tiny room, perusing the oddities knowing full well I could never justify buying.

Now people do this a lot in places like the Apple Store or Harrods, heck, they’re pretty much tourist attractions in their own right, but window shopping in tiny stores just feels wrong. The moment you enter, you’re greeted by an enthusiastic man in flannel and skinny jeans who is genuinely happy to chat with you about how cool their business card design is or why you should pick Moleskine over Paperblanks, a man who you cheerily wave goodbye to as you walk out having not spent a penny, despite all your good intentions. I prefer stores like Paperchase as they’re slightly more impersonal, allowing you to dream about at all the things you could have in your dorm room, with less emotional investment.

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Yesterday, my friend Lorraine introduced me to, what could potentially be the undoing of every good financial decision thus far - Fred Aldous. Three stories pile high with art supplies, books and gifts; heaven. In the basement, they also have a photography studio which you can rent out for £15 an hour, fully supplied with studio lights, soft boxes and macs.  We spent a considerable amount of time in there, needless to say!

God only knows how much will be spent here if I ever own my own house

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WPC – Humanity

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“Special days”  were when all the program staff took a day off, and were bereft of any structure or routine, having to make do and entertain the kids for an entire day. Normally we do big all camp activities such as cops and robbers or the olympics. Rain puts a stop to all that, resulting in restless little packets of near-infinite energy confined in small sheltered spaces. Chaos. The rain got so bad we couldn’t even forecast an end, and so we had to make do. Luckily, we have a DVD player on the hill, and so we used that to solicit their good behaviour. It worked.

One good thing about hot countries is that the rain is amazing in its extremes. On this particular day, it almost flooded the cabins with that little river that’s visible in the photograph. It was unbelievably intense, and beautifully warm. So we stood outside and soaked it all up.

A wonderfully simple pleasure.

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Check out the rest of this week’s entries, here 

Nooks and crannies

When I was making my choices on where to go for university, I really tried hard to move away from Manchester. It helped that UoM didn’t do the type of course I thought I wanted, but really, I didn’t want to stay in Manchester.

Part of it must have been because I’d never really wandered anywhere past the Arndale shopping mall, full of the same old shops. Maybe if I had seen the Manchester that I know now, things would have been different. Leaving definitely makes you appreciate home.


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I met up with a few friends from college and we had a hankering for good food. Terrace is quite literally a hole in the wall next to Teacup, one of my favourite coffee shops in the Northern Quarter. Nothing outside tells you what it is except the door into a corridor leading through to the other side of the street.

Inside, it’s dark, filled with odd bits of furniture and low hanging lights, definitely my kind of place! The food was good, although the burger a little on the small side. It was cooked to perfection and the fries weren’t bad either!
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We then found this place Hannah mentioned called Twenty Twenty two. You’d miss it if you weren’t looking, heck, I missed it when I was looking. It’s in this tiny little alley off Dale st. The place is huge, and through the back there are four table tennis tables. Some may see it as a gimmick, but I absolutely love it, adds a new (top)spin to chilling out at your local!. We paid for half an hour but because it was dead, we played for well over an hour.

DSC_0027 DSC_0032A camp buddy was over in manchester and discovered this wonderful place called Almost famous burger. The burgers pile high with cheese, onion rings, bacon, everything your mind can think of. It’s the only place I’ve ever been to where the fries are pretty much a main on their own, drizzled with cheese, bacon, onions and chilli. Then the desserts, goodness me. Visit.

Manchester, you’re great.

 

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