A Sunday in the park is probably the epitome of relaxation and restoration for a week ahead. As I’ve touched on here before, Greenwich is one of my favourite places all year around. It will always have such a special place in my heart and I just love it. The pavilion is the perfect place to duck into for some tea and chips -not your typical Sunday lunch but so so good!
March is always a really busy month for meant this past march was no different. I have a lot of loved ones who have birthdays in march along with Mother’s day too, but this year I also had my Graduation and I had also decided to treat two of my favourite people; my mom and my godmother, to a trip to Sketch for afternoon tea in The Gallery.
The Gallery used to be that iconic pink velvet room that was an instagrammer’s heaven and so you’d see it strewn across there on the regs. More iconic though, are the toilets. A unisex toilet, full of individual pods and overlooked by a multicoloured, glass-panelled ceiling; which makes you feel like you’re in a psychedelic dream. There was a moment when I thought my pod was going to take me off to the spaceship waiting for me.
Sketch was such a cool experience. The decor was so quirky and whimsical, it felt so playful and you can’t help but feel happy in a place like that. The ambience was lovely too. The Gallery had recently been refurbished by Yinka Shonibare, who has transformed it into a yellow dream with African-inspired art pieces. I had never seen the synonymous pink in person however my mom and godmother had and said the yellow was such easier and calmer on the eyes; which I can attest to. The yellow felt so calming and mellow. They do have a diorama in the foyer of what the gallery looked like when it was pink which is great too. What added to the experience was also the string trio who came out and did sets. They did so many great renditions whilst we were there but my favourites were Skyfall, Golden Brown, Shut up and dance with me, and so many others.
I took so many photos whilst I was at Sketch and while they haven’t graced my instagram page just yet, I couldn’t resist not sharing them here too.
I can’t wait to visit sketch again. I have already told bearded boyfriend that we need to go there together because I know he’ll get a kick out of the decor. I also know a good friend of mine will love it there so I may have to take her when her birthday rolls around.
It was towards the end of 2020 that I watched Schitt’s Creek and got into it in a BIG way. I binged it like it was my form of oxygen and fell in love with everything about it. Fast forward to the latter half of last year, I noticed that there was a hardback, coffee-table style book being released in October and I immediately squealed with joy whilst also sending a link to my boyfriend. He took the hint and I received it for Christmas which I was so over the moon with.
This book was beautifully curated. It had everything from interviews with the cast and crew members to photography of behind the scenes and the sets, to illustrations and fan art to even letters the show has received from their loving, supportive fans. It’s honestly a must-have for any Schitts Creek fan!
You’re so cool. You just stand your solid ground, refusing to be anything but you.
Moira Rose (to Stevie Budd)
The first section of the book is comprised of a collection of pieces of writing on each character, written by the actors who play that character (so Annie Murphy writes about Alexis Rose); which I enjoyed reading so much. All of the writing in this book was amazing but reading the amount of thought that went into becoming these characters was really quite fascinating. There was also part of this section that introduced the town of Schitt’s Creek, or more so the sets, as a character too. The amount of thought that went into every single detail about the sets, even those that were seemingly small and insignificant, was just astounding to me. There were also interviews with the crew members throughout, discussing their reasoning for certain backdrops and decisions they made that turned out to be iconic for the show. For me that’s the decor of the Rosebud Motel, that blue/teal accent wall gets my diy heart aflutter.
The rest of the book was broken down into seasons, touching on certain episodes while going into more depth with others. They didn’t touch on every single episode but I’m pretty sure they got all the iconic ones and even some of the ones I found to be more underrated. These sections were comprised of breakdowns of the episodes and scenes, including original scripts, behind the scenes facts and photography. I think the interviews included were probably my favourite written parts of the book. Reading the dynamic between certain actors, or the actors and crew members, really made me realise why Schitt’s Creek turned out in the amazing way that it has. They just got everything SO right.
Out of the episode breakdowns, I’d say I enjoyed the one with Patrick coming out to his parents the most. It was lovely to read about the process of creating that episode, and reading how delicate and thoughtful they wanted to be while approaching it. Other’s I enjoyed were The Hike and reading about the origins of those four gold rings, and then also the creation of ‘Building the Show Within a Show‘ (Cabaret). I also loved reading the behind the scenes details about ‘the’ dress and the chaos surrounding that, as well as how they created the iconic Papal-inspired look.
I can’t forget also that all the above mentioned was littered with illustrations and fan art on all facets of Schitt’s Creek. I don’t want to spoil it all but I can’t help but list some below:
The book titles of Schitt’s Creek, and who they’re read by throughout; think Stevie sitting at her desk (really nice little Easter eggs I try to catch now when I rewatch).
Moriacabulary: all those great little words she comes out with, like bébé, Podunk, pettifogging, and jabberwocky (which happens to be my favourite poem so I really love that they used this word).
A breakdown of the Jazzagals performances.
The complete collection of Moira’s wigs – in beautiful watercolour illustrations.
The world according to David Rose – what is correct and incorrect.
The complete looks of Moira Rose – we’re talking every single look. That’s a lot of black and white!
A world map of ‘The Adventures of Alexis Rose’, with numbered locations and her one-liner references to them (just as hilarious in writing as on the screen).
David Roses complete collection of knits… amazing how they all fit in that custom built wooden trunk that Mutt built him.
I’m sure there’s so much more I missed but this book was just well and truly gorgeous to me. I absolutely loved it and cannot recommend it enough to fellow Schitt’s Creek fans (also if they wanna be friends with me and have long-winded discussions about it, hit me up!).
Also, if you are a fan and you haven’t noticed (highly unlikely) there’s a documentary-styled show on Netflix under the same title as this book, Best Wishes, Warmest Regards, which also goes through the making of the show but in quite an intimate, moving way. I could’ve cried at multiple times throughout it so I’d recommend that also.
Let me know what you thought of this book, and the documentary too.
After six years of studying and two years of Covid – I graduated! It’s hard to really put into words how I feel about my graduation. It was a long, emotional day at the Barbican Centre in London but it was so worth it and felt like a real feather being placed in my cap. It’s quite an overwhelming range of emotions that I’ve felt – especially given that so much of my degree I achieved studying at night or sitting up in my bed. Even though, I can’t quite put how I feel into words right now, I still wanted to share some photos here.
You often hear people say ‘Life doesn’t give you what you can’t handle’. Other people say you are sent things to try and toughen you, ready for future trials – that’s a scary thought. As Kelly Clarkson so eloquently put it ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, is probably the one I resonate with the most.
Chronic illness has taught me a lot in our eleven years of courtship. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface with everything it has taught me but I wanted to share a few things that come to mind; especially as, in my opinion chronic illness has made me into a far better person.
What has chronic illness taught me?
Stillness & Peace
Oftentimes, I look like a completely healthy and functional human being however there are a few people who have learnt to see through the mask I so often put on and I feel as though I have also learnt this skill. I have learnt to remain still and calm in the face of adversity. I have learnt to stop and observe my surroundings, to listen -to truly listen. Theres often no need for any input at all. People usually just need a friendly face and a listening ear for their woes.
My life was going down a specific road but in retrospect I realise that I weren’t truly living. I learnt to live for the little things -the warmth of a first morning tea, the way the dogs get so excited greeting me in the morning, the first sign of spring and the feeling of the suns warmth on your skin. There are so many things that I absolutely love that my boyfriend and family find bizarre. In those moments I have to remind myself that they have their health which means the mundane things I so deeply appreciate aren’t so special for them.
Chronic illness is a brutal motherf*cker but whether it be at the will of a higher power or that little voice in your head telling you that you can do it, you find a way forward; through the weaker, darker moments. We fight on, often with great hardship. We find a way because we know our voices still matter and we can still contribute something to this world. We don’t sit and dwell on our sufferings. We either allow it to control us or learn from experience and find ways to try to control it; or at least live with it.
There is so many variations of pain that can be felt – emotional, physical, relationships, financial, mental, etc and its so hard, near enough impossible not to be shaken by such intense pain. Your life completely changes and with that brings so much pain; however a benefit, is you also come across this immense, iron-like strength. Physically I struggle every second of every day but my mentality and spirit feels Herculean.
Empathy & Compassion
When you have felt the depths of despair and felt so helpless, like you’re drowning in a dark abyss you’ll never navigate your way out of you can’t help but feel empathy for others who have also experienced something similar. With great adversity and discomfort comes an understanding that is often more authentic given your own trials. You learns ways to recognise and support others in a way that is genuine and warm.
Before my illness, I was laser-focused on a set path which was incredibly different to how my life is now. Yes, no one ever thinks they will be ill but my purpose and identity has completely changed. I was constantly chasing a career, monetary goals, the perfect body, and so many other generic life goals. Now I live for moments of joy with my animals, family, and friends. Moments outside, feeling the sun on my skin and breathing fresh air.
Acceptance, Self-love and Self-care
I will always be gut-punched by the realisation that my life is not how I envisioned. It usually happens at milestones like birthdays, specials occasions like graduations, weddings, etc. From having a chronic illness and so much of my life being drastically changed, I realise many of my worries before were trivial. I face a whole other set of challenges which have helped me accept other elements of my life. I celebrate the small accomplishments I achieve in my daily life. I have learnt to look after myself and to accept defeat. To treat my body kindly when I don’t manage even the smallest of tasks. Being chronically ill has forced me to prioritise myself and my wellbeing in a way that I never would have had to before. So many of us get stuck in the rat-race and end up becoming burnt out. By practising some self-care and tending to our own needs, we become so much better at helping ourselves in the long run and others around us too.
I could write about chronic illness for so long but I won’t -I’ll refrain this time around. Today, the 12th May is M.E. awareness day which I why I felt so compelled to share this post today. So often I read posts about M.E. which are so great at educating people about it and other chronic illnesses but I didn’t want to go down that route. Instead, I wanted to share the positives that have come with my chronic health conditions. I will just say though, I will be spending this Sunday having my own dairy-free and gluten-free tea party for Blue Sunday, and if you don’t know what that is I highly recommend you head on over here and have a read of what it is and how it came to be.
Life has been beyond hectic lately. I’m sure come October time I will go into more detail on my life lately and what the past year has brought about for me, but for now I’m looking for every and any distractions available to me. I’m so grateful for anything light I can seek a little solace in and as usual always think of instantly sending it to all my loved ones. Naturally, they usually don’t ‘get it’ and most the time just get outright annoyed with my pestering and don’t bother looking (yeah, I’m looking at you bearded boyfriend). To that end, I like to turn it out to you guys and hopefully you’ll find something you like too.
–this post As a knitter myself, this was really entertaining and on-point for me. It had some more serious points which I think are really on the mark but it also hit some humorous notes which I really enjoyed.
–This video of Never Fear Truth Art by Johnny Depp, with him discussing it in a very raw, candid way is soooo inspiring. I have always loved him as an actor but watching him in interviews is so telling of who he is behind all the characters he portrays. He’s such a natural creative and really quite a beautiful soul I think. We all know he’s been put through the ringer lately so watching and seeing him in this capacity is really quite beautiful. I also loved this short clip too, of him discussing his long friendship with Tim Burton.
-After reading Best Wishes, Warmest Regards I went on a bit of a tangent and listened to so many podcasts that Dan Levy appeared on, one of which was David Tennant Does a Podcast With…. While there haven’t been any new episodes with guests since late 2020, I’ve been absolutely loving going back through the episodes and listening here and there. Obviously I loved the Dan Levy one but I’ve also really enjoyed the Catherine Tate, Olivia Colman, and Jim Parsons episodes too. I think Olivia Colman is such a delightful person and so enjoyed listening to her bond with David Tennant.
-writing… getting back into a routine of writing daily has really helped my mental health. Whether it be journalling or using prompts, or even just writing morning pages or a stream of consciousness; it has helped me a lot and I have found so much comfort in that recently. I’m hoping it’s something I can maintain as time goes on. My life is becoming increasingly chaotic so I think it’s something I’d really find helpful to continue as part of my everyday routine.
-I’ve always loved the content that Vogue’s Youtube channel churn out but I especially love their Inside Home… videos. I loved their Hamish Bowles one, he’s such a fascinating character to me and I love how maximalist his home is. It’s a true representation of such a full, colourful life. I also really enjoyed the ones they did on Karl Lagerfeld’s French home and Iman & David Bowie’s one too. What I love also is how they highlight sentimental objects in their home and the stories behind them, which is quite special.
-I loved this article-rant about people-pleasing on the Frankie magazine website. Frankie is one of my absolute favourites and I love all the writers, photographers, contributors, etc. It’s just such a beautifully curated publication. I also adore their penchant for all things colourful and crafty, often with a touch of whimsy -like these charming felt frogs (honestly I’ve swooned over these guys so much since discovering them through Frankie) and these really cool knits. I have a digital subscription to Frankie magazine and as you can tell, love everything about them but do check out their website too. They always have such great, uplifting content that can always bring a smile to ones face!
I should probably wrap it up there or this could grow a bit too long.
West Cemetery was ridiculously beautiful (to me). It’s hailed as one of the most romantic and atmospheric cemeteries in Europe. Opened in 1839, it is the third of the private cemeteries in London but incredibly different to what it would’ve originally looked like back then. It’s set upon Highgate Hill, and was said to be on level with the dome of St Pauls Cathedral as well as having beautiful views of the metropolis. Originally it was more like a manicured garden, with pristine lawns and bushes for friends and relatives to visit their loved ones final resting place, and enjoy the light and airy space. Today it is much different.
Today Highgate West Cemetery is a combination of architecture, sculptures, and nature all thrown together; in what might be labelled a tangled mess. If you’ve already read my post on the East Cemetery then you’ll know that it was very much taken over by nature, even having some pathways blocked off due to safety concerns. West Cemetery is exactly the same buton steroids!
The best way to structure this is probably to take you through it how we did; which was on a tour. We went around with our tour guide and about twelve other like-minded folk, all eager to know more about this magnificent place. The first thing she told us about was the history of cemeteries. You never really stop to think about how things so mundane as a cemetery came to be so it was a really shocker to find out that the concept of cemeteries came from the overcrowded and unsanitary Anglican churchyards of the 1820’s. Bodies would often be buried and then later exhumed, about six weeks later to be dismembered and tossed aside to make room for the next batch of burials. This would often attract wild dogs who would do further damage to the remains, and our tour guide said that even women wouldn’t dare go through the churchyard because the scenes there were often quite disturbing.
As the introduction of cemeteries came into play so too did the Victorians fear of bodysnatchers, which heralded the walled cemetery gardens. Highgate went a step further though. Not only did they have tall brick walls and cast-iron railings but the cemetery was also patrolled around the clock by retired soldiers and dogs to further ease the fears of future dwellers and their loved ones.
The tour begins at the entrance, the Gatehouse. The architect of the site Stephen Geary designed the gothic gatehouse to cater to everybody, with two chapels within the same building. It has one chapel at one end for Anglicans with the other, on the opposite end for Dissenters. As you come through the gatehouse, you walk on into the courtyard; a beautiful open space, large enough for a horse-drawn carriage to fully turn around. It’s also framed one side by a colonnade for visitors to sit and admire the gothic exterior of the gatehouse which, while it’s experienced some decay is pretty much the same today as it was originally.
There are many footpaths to begin your walk around the cemetery but our tour began by going up the stair well from the colonnade. Again designed by Gerry in a dramatic way so you are literally leaving the land of the living and ascending up to those who have passed – which has a bit of a poetically, beguiling feeling for me; and that’s before you even take the view into consideration. When we went the trees still had their leaves so there were areas that were fully canopied and almost jungle-like. It created that dark, gloomy aesthetic that really emphasised the beauty of the cemetery.
As our tour began, our guide talked us through things such as the different types of memorials such as vaults, sarcophagi, common graves, etc, but also the different symbols and sculptures that adorned these memorials, and what they meant. There are far too many to mention here but two of the most popular symbols were the sculpted Urns (with draped fabric to show grief and mourning) and the singular column (deliberately broken to show a life cut short). Another popular thing I noticed were the use of vaults so families could remain together in death. The vault of the Blount family really made me chuckle. I’m sure their use of carving the word ‘Entrance‘ on the front was for practicalities sake and for future masons to help their family members join the clan but I couldn’t help but be a bit tickled by this; and wonder if there was an exit sign marked on the inside too.
Another story I loved hearing about was the Rossetti family vault. Dante Gabriel Rossetti buried his muse, model and later wife Elizabeth Siddal with a notebook containing some of his unpublished poetry, only to decide he wanted it back several years later. He was then granted permission from the Home Secretary and a group of his friends went to disinter Siddal, and retrieve it for him one evening while he waited at home. I found this so fascinating but also quite eerie. At the time that we visited Highgate Cemetery, I was reading through a collection of Christmas Poetry and kept coming across poems by Christina Rossetti. She just so happens to be the sister of Dante and also buried along with Siddal in this vault; as well as other members of the Rossetti family.
The thing I loved the most was just how much thought was given to these resting places. Yes, they’re incredibly lavish and imposing monuments but the details really made it so much more personal. For example, as we passed a mausoleum of a Victorian admiral our tour guide asked if we noticed anything odd about the railings on its perimeter. I’m not going to lie, I felt a little stupid having not noticed it when someone else pointed out that the vertical railings were actually made to look like canons: signalling his esteemed career.
Other personal touches were easier to notice by passers-by, purely because of their dominance in stature – along with their association to the dweller. George Wombwell, known for his travelling menagerie, has a chest tomb guarded by a sculpture of his sleeping lion Nero; who was said to be so docile that a toddler could ride him. (side note: our tour guide told us that Nero’s statue was still in it’s original state of pure white marble in the late 60s, but through air pollution and climate change its since been degraded to a grotty, textured stone sculpture. Still magnificent but a bit of an alarming fact).
Another cool chest tomb was that of Thomas Sayers, a hugely popular bare-knuckle fighter; think boxer with absolutely no rules. He was such a well-known sporting hero of the day, with even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert often asked to be kept updated as to how his matches were going. Regardless of all his adoring fans, even those in high places, he still said his most loyal companion was that of his beloved bull-mastiff Lion; who also has a place on his memorial, with a life-sized sculpture protecting him even in death. I never knew this name, like so many others we heard whilst there but I really need to learn more about these people – they’re so so fascinating.
One of the reasons why so many have visited Highgate Cemetery is it’s more well-known architectural features like Egyptian Avenue. Entering an archway flanked by carved columns and tall obelisks, it leads to a dark solemn passageway. Originally a tunnel, although the roof has since fallen through from age, a canopy of entangled trees has formed a makeshift cover overhead. The avenue houses eight private vaults. All of which can hold up to twelve coffins but none have been used to that capacity, and they all have a heavy cast-iron door to seal them. While our tour guide said they weren’t particularly popular given the Victorians didn’t like the sunless and sombre location of the vaults, they still seemed to be a prized resting spot as some vaults even bare the occupants living address. It’s almost as-though they’re advertising how well off they have been in both their life and death.
Circle of Lebanon
This is like the crown jewel of Highgate -or the Mayfair if Highgate was a monopoly board as our guide stated. It’s what people go to see and it’s the location used for programmes/films like Fantastic Beasts. It’s described as the heart of the West Cemetery and the architecture is so so beautiful. From Egyptian Avenue you enter the Circle which is a bit like a circular a trench, with vaults on the inside and outside of the way. The earth that forms the inner circle once held a huge cedar tree, believed to be over a hundred years old before the land was even used as a cemetery. This has recently been removed, and replaced by a new sapling, due to age and potential danger. There are twenty chambers built into the earth of the inner circle, all with cast-iron doors bearing a torch pointed downwards with a large flame still burning; symbolising life extinguished but the flame shows the continuation of the soul. These vaults proved so popular that sixteen were later built on the outer circle, facing in, which can hold fifteen coffins each. One of these vaults holds Radclyffe Hall, the poet & novelist, and her partner Mabel Veronica Batten. Hall is best-known for her novel The Well of Loneliness, which was put on trial and banned for it’s overt lesbian themes and championing lesbianism. She’s considered a trailblazer for this and still has fresh flowers laid for her by admirers today (in fact, I really wish I had thought to take some flowers with me).
The Beer Mausoleum
Sat on one of the highest spots of the grounds and overlooking the Lebanon Circle is one of the grandest, privately owned monuments in the cemetery. Erected by Julius Beer, he spent around three million in todays money building it for his daughter Ada, who died at the age of eight. She even features in the mausoleum, in the form of a life-sized white Carrera marble sculpture of herself being raised up by an angel; sculpted by Henry Hugh Armstead. It also holds a doomed ceiling with a gold mosaic, intricate carving details, and bronze doors. You can’t actually enter the mausoleum but there is a 360 tour online here which shows its’ stunning interiors in such high quality.
The Terrace Catacombs
Opposite the Beer Mausoleum is the gothic-styled catacombs. It houses 825 loculi (recesses) which can hold a coffin each. Most of them are sealed with a carved slab or an inspection window, but many have been damaged over the years so there are some exposed coffins. The catacombs are lit by glass sky lights dotted here and there, but for the most part it is incredibly dark and you definitely rely on your phone light to see where you’re stepping. What struck me was how beautiful some of the exposed coffins were. Of course there was a lot of rotting wood but the metal edging and almost embellished details were so intricate and quite honestly, pretty.
The stories we heard and the names we learnt about during our tour were truly my favourite part of the day. The Scottish surgeon Robert Liston was interred in the Terrace Catacombs and was known as ‘the fastest knife in the West End’. In an age where anaesthetic was not around, speed was key and this is where Liston excelled; being able to complete an amputation in under thirty seconds.
In between the more well-known areas I’ve just mentioned, our tour guide pointed out certain tombstones and talked us through more details and symbolism which while they are so interesting, I really can’t go into them all here. She also mentioned little facts and nuggets of information, like the Highgate Vampire. She did ask who already knew about it but I was far too embarrassed to raise my hand, knowing that I’d learnt about it in the trivia section of my Twilight Annual book circa 2008. You can read about the Highgate Vampire in this article by Vice or just go to Wikipedia page here, which is a bit shorter.
As we continued on, our tour guide told us about common graves and how they allowed people who weren’t related to be buried together. They’ve largely disappeared now with only a few still bearing their small wooden cross to indicate their presence. Our tour guide pointed out one which I found so deeply respectful. Having heard about so many ‘big’ names and stories of such celebrities of the Victorian era, it was really lovely to hear about the presence of those who didn’t bear the elaborate memorials but nonetheless, hadn’t been forgotten through time.
We finished our tour at Goldhammer Sepulchre; which is the first mausoleum built at Highgate Cemetery since 1930. It’s striking in its design and appearance, and overlooks the courtyard and colonnade; the perfect place to stop and take a breather before going back round to revisit certain points from the tour.
As our tour concluded, we made some new friends from our tour and followed them to see George Michaels grave; an unmarked plot next to his mother and sister. It was a bit anticlimactic after all the grandeur we had seen that day, but I could understand why they wouldn’t want anything ostentatious; or to attract a flood of people traipsing around an already fragile and decaying piece of land to adorn the grave of their idol. It just seemed somewhat a shame to not have a headstone, or even be mentioned on the tour.
Once we broke off from our new pals, we just had a stroll about the place. It was then that I truly noticed how nature has the upper hand in the cemetery. There was quite a bit of damage to a lot of the tombs and vaults we passed, with roots and vines growing every which way and ivy clinging to headstones or winding itself around sculptures. But there was also such a captivating element to it and I couldn’t help but let my thoughts become consumed by the appearance of it all. So many chest tombs and monuments had been damaged by nature but it also struck me that if you chopped away at those vines or roots, the monument might completely collapse and vanish. On the other hand, if you removed the manmade pieces the forms of nature would have nothing left to clutch onto. That created such an evocative atmosphere for me, the idea that nature has reclaimed, and really held together this parcel of land. In a time when no one was there to care of it, nature took charge and held it together; and did such a good job in the process that it became so intwined that now it can never be parted. I think there’s something quite poetic to that. The profusion of trees and ivy mixed with a sea of sarcophagi and majestic monuments has a magical charm to it, one I don’t think no amount of photos or words could do justice to.
Quick note on accessibility at Highgate Cemetery
The accessibility of the West Cemetery is a bit challenging, while there are many slopes they have quite a steady steepness to them in areas, as well as being uneven and a bit unsteady in parts too. There are two flights of stairs at the Circle of Lebanon which are part of the tour. You can avoid these by going back on yourself through Egyptian Avenue. The tour also begins with the stairs from the colonnade but again, you can avoid these by going an alternative way but I don’t know how easy this would be to link back up with the group if you were on a tour. Also, the terrain inside the catacombs is incredibly uneven and unstable, and it’s not helped by the darkness so I don’t know how much I’d recommend this part of the tour to a wheelchair user (unless you have a real fancy, off-road scooter/wheelchair) – my back aches just at the mere thought of it.
For those with walking aides I’d have to say that other than the colonnade that had a lot of seating, I only saw the odd fold up chair dotted here and there along walkways; which I’m not sure if they were there for visitors or for the gardeners/care takers of the site. We did find a bench along one of the pathways but it looked as though it was added to someones memorial rather than by the site, so we didn’t want to linger.
Like the East Cemetery, I would just like to mention that the West side was rescued from its derelict and neglected state by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery in the 1980s. The friends keep up all restoration and conservation on both the landscape and the decay of any sculptures or buildings too. They don’t receive a penny from the state but rather earn everything from their entrance and tour fees, as well as the rare burials that take place. They also welcome volunteers with open arms – which, let me tell you, I wish I lived nearby to be able to volunteer here!
I hope this isn’t too creepy or macabre of a post but I couldn’t help but share it here, especially as I enjoyed the day so so much. It was so off the beaten path in terms of ‘things to do in London‘ but I’m so glad we did it and I can’t wait to do more things like it in the future. We have actually already made a list of things we would like to do up and around London, a collection of places from Atlas Obscura and places we’ve heard mentioned; so stay tuned for those!
I’ve had a never-ending love for Greenwich Park for as long as I can remember. It’s so ingrained in my childhood and who I am, but Greenwich Park at this time of the year is something entirely different. The trees take on a whole new colour palette, an array of warm tones; browns, oranges, yellows, and fading greens. Often causing shimmering shadows of sunlight on the pavement and every so often you hear a rustling noise and have to watch out as two or three conkers come falling at your feet.
Everything just changes there in autumn. The Pavilion cafe is lit by the lowering sun, the planetarium and observatory scream all things dark academia against the dried leaves, the squirrels are friendlier -often grabbing a monkey nut or two to bury for winter. The air is crisp and cool but the sun still warm enough to enjoy a stroll, maybe even some people-watching which of course, where better to do it than in a park?
I would always tease my mom about her people-watching and her ability to conjure up stories about passers-by but as I get older I’m noticing more and more how fixed into my DNA it is. As I sat taking a break on a bench there, I couldn’t help but watch all the walks of life there. Groups passing along in worlds of their own, usually with one or two four-legged folk in tow. The passing commuter, seemingly talking to himself –yes, I know he has AirPods in but I still find it so funny to see someone chattering away to themselves, or to what I like to think is an imaginary friend. The elder couple out for a stroll after lunch and the students rushing off to their next lecture. All the mums, the pram club, out in full swing; bonding over the shared struggles of motherhood. And the school classes passing through with noisy chatter, a sea of green and grey uniform littered with colourful lunch bags and a handful of grown ups apologetically smiling as they go past. Then me – the girl perched on a bench, in the knitted pumpkin beanie hat, desperately scribbling musings down with the fear of missing a moment, a memory.
If I could freeze time at Greenwich Park, it would always be frozen and stand perfectly still at autumn.
**I’m sharing this purely to reminisce happier memories. If you’re struggling with or findingisolation hard than I wouldn’t recommend reading or looking at the pictures on this post; due to the fact that I do lust a little over our experience camping in Wales and the great outdoors in general. I apologise if this isn’t the content that you want to be consuming at the moment however, I just have been meaning to share my photos for awhile and this is the first chance that I have had. Enjoy!
Last summer, my boyfriend decided that it was time for us to take the next big step – investing in our first property… a tent. Maybe that’s a bit anti-climactic for you reading this but for us it was terribly exciting. The only problem was trying to then find a slot of time available in both our calendars to be able to get away and use it.
Although, I am chronically ill and very much reliant on those around me, I still try to do what I can. As any Spoonie knows, pushing our bodies is about the worst thing we can do however, we do sometimes fall prey to it and it inevitably comes back to bite us in the ass. I feel like that had been me for much of last year. Just about the time when I felt like I was getting my head above water, I thought I could do something and then bam -back to hibernation I had to go. And I won’t go into the details of my living arrangements here but after going through the motions of a nomadic lifestyle, along with the emotions that come with that I was beyond ready to get away.
Me and the Bearded Boyfriend toyed around with a lot of different areas to take the new tent to but we quickly decided to head back to Brecon Beacons, Wales. Somewhere that is both familiar to us and somewhere we both love. So, late August we played Tetris: Car Edition and set off for Grawen Farm.
Grawen is a quaint little farm (not sure if it’s still working) that is in a great location, being just down the road from Merthyr Tydfil and Brecon but also in the shadow of Pen Y Fan, which makes it the perfect place to pitch a tent. The farm has showers and toilets open all hours, a plethora of helpful info for visits (including those ever-important takeout numbers) as well as the friendly folks who run it. It is quite honestly the perfect place to recharge.
It’s the best thing about camping, the remoteness of it, the rawness of living, the lack of any m!ndfucks
Bearded Boyfriend, 09.07.17
One of the things that I love about camping is how grounding it is. In the fast-paced world that we live in, it is so easy to get caught up with and influenced by insignificant things. When I go camping, or not even camping but to the Brecon Beacons in general, my phone stops working, human contact becomes few and far between and through this I’m reminded of what truly matters. It reminds me of the small, inconsequential things that add to the quality of my life regardless of how silly they sound. Like going to bed in a warm and safe place. The first sip of tea in the morning and the pleasure of reading a book without being disturbed by notification sounds or the worries that I could be spending my time doing something else. Being re-introduced to the art of conversation, along with bickering and then cracking up laughing at each-other. The pleasures of driving around aimlessly until we come across a pub to eat at. Randomly pulling over to explore something we’ve only just noticed or to simply pause and take in the view. It’s pure bliss.
Camping will always hold a certain magic for me and, while I can’t wait to explore new places, I know the Brecon Beacons will have a place close to our hearts.
I started self-isolating mid March due to pre-existing health conditions and while I am used to spending a lot of time at home because of my health, I think there’s something very different about not being able to leave your home because of an epidemic than just simply from chronic health conditions. Because of just how much time I spend at home already, I have a variety of go-to’s which always work however, this obviously isn’t the usual circumstances. Since being in isolation I have found some new features that I’ve come to rely on through this time and wanted to outline a few of the specifics below incase they can help you.
First of all, how can I not mention Emma Hills isolation vlogs. When it comes to hauls and content such as that on YouTube I’m not interested, but certain peoples vlogs I eat up so quick! Emma Hill is one of these people. I love her vlogs as it is but there is something so raw and interesting about vlogs at the moment, when we’re all in the same boat and struggling to pass the time away. In this sort of situation people true colours come out and I think there’s something really refreshing about connecting that way. Not with sponsorships or plugging social media handles but just connecting with one another in a way that encourages and helps people through these days… the 5B’s help a hell of a lot too!
Another person who’s youtube content I have really been loving right now is Kate La Vie. Her weekly vlog vids are always welcome with open arms in my subscription box; and miraculously, she’s someone I can handle hauls with. Her home is an endless source of inspiration and she just radiates such a positivity about her, even on those days when you can tell she’s maybe having not so great a time, she still seems to have an upbeat energy to her. I also love the content on her blog too.
I always love seeing Orion Carloto’s instagram content. Her sartorial aesthetic is so satisfyingly pleasing that it makes my heart flutter a little bit (is that sad to say?). Her Youtube content is great too, although few and far between. But what has really helped lately is her book Flux. Flux is a short book of poetry in a variety of approaches including hand-written notes and diary entries too. It’s so alluringly deep that you can’t help but keep turning the page. It also is a great starting point if you’re only just getting into poetry.
I think poetry in general is something that I have found myself feeling quite drawn to right now. I have been spending my evenings curling up with a book of poetry to try and divert my mind for the current state of the world. I find it so soothing to unwind with it and a tea before I go to bed, and if truth be told I don’t think I would be able to have an evening without it now. While I love reading in general, poetry has a lightness to it. The experience depends entirely on the reader. You can either analyse each stanza, reading between the lines for hidden meanings, or you can simply enjoy the musicality of the words chosen by the writer. My evening reading usually falls into the latter, deciding to enjoy the words, imagery and emotion that it gives me; which I find so helpful when trying to unwind.
And of course, in the state of affairs the world is facing right now, I found Alice Catherine’s post incredibly grounding for my anxious thoughts. I have always found solace in her posts, naturally gravitating to her words and advice but I found this post in particular extremely helpful.
I think that’s enough to mention for today, but no doubt a ton of other things will come to my mind later on so stay tuned for another post of this kind coming your way. Stay safe.