Tuesday 30 November 2010
Monday 29 November 2010
Sunday 28 November 2010
Saturday 27 November 2010
And as we gear up for Christmas, the multitude of sequins, diamantes, crystals and embellishments dazzling shops makes me liable to frenzied fits of glee. This year, the situation has become so acute that my friends are refusing to accompany me Christmas shopping unless I promise to calm down and be less of an embarrassment. I doubt I’ll be able to. Just look at these absolute gems (see what I did there?!):
Each row, from top to bottom:
Premium Cream Drop Waist Embellished Tunic
60's Sequin A-line Skirt
Nude Mesh Gem Embellished Leggings
Diamante Paisley Lace Bra
Snow Queen Maxi Dress
Knitted Winter White Crystal Slouchy Top
Limited Edition Cream Fringe Beaded Midi Dress
Premium Sequin Shimmy Skirt
Tiered Diamante Maxi Dress
Versus Oversize Gem Embellished Pumps
Diamante Ruch Bandeau Dress
Gem Covered Knicker Shorts
It’s not just Topshop that is offering copious amounts of glittery goodies that really do make my heart go all fluttery (their ‘Snow Queen’ collection being a particular case in point). Pretty much everywhere seems to be embracing embellishment with aplomb. How to protect your eyes from bedazzlement? With some equally dazzling Bvlgari diamante sunglasses, of course!
Ahhhh soooo preeeeettyyyyy ♥
Friday 26 November 2010
I do, however, subscribe to Vogue.com newsletters. I realise this also makes me a somewhat hypocritical slave to fashion, with its comparable wealth of advertising and freaks of nature, but we can agree to disagree on that one.
Last week, this love-hate relationship between the two was strangely reconciled in my daily fashion update courtesy of Vogue’s emails. The website ran a feature on Cheryl Cole’s dresses, and I suddenly discovered a somewhat arbitrary interest for the show based on Chezza’s sartorial choices. Man do I have some wardrobe envy for that girl. Here are a few of my favourites:
On the other end of the extreme, woah there! WHAT ON EARTH was her hairstylist thinking here? It's like Princess Leia gone horrendously wrong. Either that, or some furry creature has decided to nest itself in her barnet. Yikes.
Looking back over my favourites, they're all long gowns as opposed to the thigh-skimming specimens Cheryl favoured in her Girls Aloud days. Call me conservative, but (above example excepted) these are so much more elegant. Looking beautiful isn't always about showing the most amount of leg. Sometimes you can let the dress do the talking.
Thursday 25 November 2010
A FRESH START
2, 4, 6, 8…such a sequence would, in the Cambridge environment, probably generate numerous mathematical formulae, musical measures, rhythmic constructions or genetic formulations.
In this atmosphere of academia, where hard-nosed intellect reigns supreme, the last thing one would ascribe to this series would be something as frivolous as cheerleading.
After all, isn’t cheerleading is the quintessential pastime of American high-school dumb blondes, where foolish chanting and ridiculous dancing are flaunted in an inane attempt to impress mindless jocks? Surely Cambridge undergraduates, hand-picked for their first-rate intelligence, have far better things to do with their time than ponce about with pom-poms?
Apparently not. For a number of years now, a daring faction of radical students has been meeting twice a week to engage in such audacious activities. Their membership has been growing at an alarming rate and, if their success in recent competitions is anything to go by, they are a force to be reckoned with. They call themselves the Cambridge Cougars, and they can be found on the prowl at several sporting events in the city, ready to pounce on their innocent, unassuming prey.
Perhaps it was their infectious smiles, their boundless energy or their dazzling outfits, but within days of joining the University, I too had joined the dark side. Before I could even “Give you a ‘Why’” I was throwing High Vs, jumping herkies, catching cradles and donning spankies as part of the Cambridge University cheerleading squad. It was, like, totally awesome.
But any prior assumptions I had of cheerleading being an undemanding, lightweight activity were immediately backflipped away. I was plunged into high-impact stunts, tumbles and dance sequences that demanded infinite reserves of energy and unlimited stores of strength. I was placed in a stunt team in which one false move meant the collapse of our unsettlingly trustful ‘flyer’. And when I asked about the pom poms, I was met with the sardonic reply, “Real cheerleaders don’t use pom poms.”
What, then, had I let myself in for? An hour into my first training session, having been expected to produce multiple jumps, hold complicated balances and display unnatural flexibility, I realised that cheerleading is anything but the sport of hysterical teenage girls. It requires absolute commitment and dedication, and maximum levels of fitness coupled with spirit and determination. Being a cheerleader is hard work – but I love it.
So, boys, next time you ogle at the group of girls supporting your team from the sidelines, remember that cheerleaders are more than just eye candy. It might look like we’re flaunting our skills, but a huge amount of work has gone into that performance – we’ve just perfected the art of making it look effortless.
Monday 22 November 2010
I suppose I should have asked him where he parks his great glass elevator in Cambridge, or if the oompa loompas can be relied on to keep the factory in check whilst he focuses on his studies, but he was so shy (and I was so overwhelmed…) that I developed an inopportune case of Stickjaw and settled for a humble shake of his hand instead.
Nevertheless, I think my golden ticket to making a slightly less embarrassing impression might well have arrived – in the form of a ball (and no, not a gumball of Violet Bauregard-style thrills, but a ball of splendiferous music and dancing and all sorts of other fantabulous high-jinks to get excited about). Next week, Fitzwilliam College is holding its winter ball, and the theme is…Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!!! I can hardly contain my excitement. My goal for this week (other than finding the time to complete three extended essays and trying to understand the obscure German used to describe Faust’s encounters with devilish poodles) is undoubtedly to ask him to be my date. It WILL happen, I’m convinced of it. After all, as Verruca Salt’s ticket-procuring methods proved, when there’s a will, there’s a way.
Date sorted, however, I still need to consider my outfit. Googling confectionery-related attire led me to an impossibly cute website called Rachel Riley that certainly fulfilled the frothy, sugary, Verruca Salt-style criteria I was after. The clothing line is absolutely adorable and there are even some candy-inspired outfits that wouldn’t go amiss in a ‘choc’-full utopia:
Tuesday 16 November 2010
Anyway, my reflections on Narnia, coupled with the fact that it really is perishing cold here now, got me thinking about fur coats. And to my surprise, that firm favourite of ours, good old Marks and Sparks, has a remarkably good selection this season, with the added bonus of being startlingly un-grannyish in its design. Just make sure you’re not tempted to pair their coats with a slightly less stylish pair of their lace stockings…
Per Una Speziale Faux Fur Crinkle Jacket, £75
Per Una Speziale Abstract Print Faux Fur Coat, £89.50
Wasn't it Edmund that had a penchant for Turkish delight? Ooooh I could really do with some of that right now.
Monday 15 November 2010
THIS BEAST OF A BUG
It’s 8am on a Tuesday morning, and as I grope around trying to silence my alarm clock, the all-too familiar aftermath of a freshers’ night out begins to set in.
As I prise open my eyes, drag myself out of bed and open the curtains, I suddenly realise: I didn’t even go out last night. Why, then, am I feeling so horrendous? A strong dose of Olbas Oil eventually brings me to consciousness: this isn’t a hangover. This is freshers’ flu.
Everyone’s heard stories about it, and everyone knows that it’ll catch them someday. But despite that, I’d embarked on student life convinced that it wouldn’t get me. Oh, how wrong I was.
Fighting the urge to retreat back into bed, wrap myself up in my duvet and wallow in self-pity, I eventually drag myself to my morning lecture, where it is evident that this beast of a bug has claimed several other victims. The study of In Memoriam is paired with a constant commentary of sniffing and spluttering, and I leave wondering if a similar elegy might soon be written for me.
Nevertheless, bolstered by a double dose of Sudafed and armed with a jumbo pack of man-size Kleenex, I soldier on, determined to make it to my afternoon supervision. Despite a short cycle ride inducing a near-lethal coughing fit and my voice sounding like a misplaced baritone, by the end of the day, buzzing on caffeine-enhanced Lemsip Max, I’m beginning to feel a little better.
Perhaps, then, it wasn’t the horror of flu that had overcome me. Maybe it was the inevitable consequence of my room’s prehistoric central heating system? Could it be that the slightly suspect out-of-date milk I’ve been pouring on my cereal each morning was the cause of my stomach’s unease? Off to bed I go, confident that, come morning, I’ll be back to my former self.
Alas, my hopes are in vain. I wake up – or rather, the piercing sunlight steals through a crack in my curtains and thrusts itself upon me in cruel derision – feeling like death incarnate. The already unbearable pounding in my head is intensified by a rapidly amplifying drone of ESSAY-DEADLINE-LOOMING that no amount of Beechams’ All-in-One can quell. There’s nothing for it but to go for it head(ache)-on and work through the pain.
Three boxes of tissues, six strips of Strepsils and a pot of vapour rub later, the essay is finished and the grim feelings of wretchedness are miraculously beginning to ease. Over the next few days I gradually regain the use of my sluggish limbs, my voice makes a welcome return to its natural register, and the capacity for nasal inhalation is blissfully restored.
I venture out of my hibernation nest and into the lecture site, and as the days pass, the chorus of coughing gradually subsides, and the atmosphere of contagion lingers with a somewhat subdued sense of doom. That is, until the heating in the lecture block breaks down…
Tuesday 9 November 2010
A somewhat sweet-talking phone call to my mother later, and I had managed to cajole her into driving my bike all the way up to Cambridge (which, from the south-west of England, is no mean feat). Oh mummy dearest, how I love you.
However, there was a flaw in my plan: I hadn’t actually ridden my bike since long before the throes of teenage sloth had set in, and neither myself nor my bike were in a fit state to take to the road.
Regrettably, his realisation was the result of a number of unfortunate incidents. Attempting to balance overloaded Sainsbury’s bags on my handlebars as I struggled uphill, the wind blowing leaves and all sorts of other debris in my face, was an utterly futile exercise. I eventually gave up and, red-faced with exhaustion, pushed my bike back to college.
The immense physical exertion of my early morning cycling excursions to the lecture block also seemed to highlight my sheer lack of fitness, until I realised that my tyres were utterly worn out and needed replacing. (Not that that meant I was actually physically fit to ride a bicycle – you must be joking.)
Tyres fixed, I now needed a basket to carry the massive load of books to and from lectures. I soon realised that there are definite categories of cyclist – there are the preppy (*cough*wealthy*cough*) types who serenely glide along on their Pashleys, their Jack Wills hoodies safely stowed away in wicker baskets. Then you’ve got the Mathmos/Natscis/Engineers who have gazillion-speed gear functions and all sorts of other contraptions that power them along at breakneck speeds. And then there those others of us, who, like me, strap their heads into ridiculously uncool helmets and cling to the handlebars for dear life while we try to manoeuvre the maze of traffic lights and roundabouts along the way.
And there are all sorts of other things to consider as well. Wardrobe considerations are absolutely essential if the embarrassment of cycling in a skirt and heels is to be avoided. Ungloved hands are liable to freeze to handlebars on cold days. And if you don’t have a lock, then woe betide you.
I think (dare I say it) that I might finally be getting the hang of this cycling business. However, I don’t pretend to be one of the elite few who elegantly glide along looking completely calm and collected. I think I’m destined to forever be the one desperately pedalling to keep up with the rest of the crowd. Nevertheless, we can but admire those who manage to look a little more poised on their journeys:
Monday 8 November 2010
I must dash off now as my hugely riveting essay on streams of consciousness in Mrs. Dalloway needs some last-minute remedial work. Sorry peeps. I will post something more substantial soon, but in the meantime here are some pretty pictures taken by Tim Walker, one of my favourite photographers:
Ah, I feel like I've been transported to a beautiful fairytale... Until I look up, that is, and the harsh light of my desk lamp reminds me that I am very much sat within the confines of my cold, cramped student room with a mountain of Virginia Woolf criticism by my side that I really ought to be wading my way through.
(Incidentally, I'm pretty sure that the model in the last picture above goes to Cambridge. I could be imagining things, but I have my suspicions that I spotted her once or twice on my lecture site. Very exciting. And for that matter, Lily Cole (picture 5) most definitely DOES go to Cambridge and I have seen her with my very own eyes. Doubly exciting!)
Right, I WILL go now. Woolf's howling at me to get back to work (oh ha ha ha). A bientot, mes petits choux!