Last-Minute Xmas Playlist

Monday, 22 December 2014

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! 
1.) 'Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)' by LAURA MARLING
2.) 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' by SHE & HIM
3.) 'God Only Knows' by THE BEACH BOYS
4.) 'Santa Baby' by DANIELA ANDRADE
5.) 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' by ELLA FITZGERALD
6.) 'Sleigh Ride' by FUN
7.) 'Real Love' by REGINA SPEKTOR
8.) 'Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)' by ARCADE FIRE
9.) 'Christmas Cookies' by G. LOVE
10.) 'Ringing the Changes' by THE MISERABLE RICH
11.) 'Don't Shoot Me Santa' by THE KILLERS
12.) 'I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm' by KAY STARR
13.) 'What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?' THE HEAD & THE HEART
14.) 'Avalanche' by HANDSOME AND GRETEL
15.) 'Frosty the Snowman' by ZEE AVI
16.) 'Christmas Must Be Tonight' by BAHAMAS
17.) 'My Favorite Things' by POMPLAMOOSE
18.) 'White Winter Hymnal' by FLEET FOXES
19.) 'Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree' by SHE & HIM 
20.) 'Winter Wonderland/ Don't Worry Be Happy' by PENTATONIX

Have a merry Yuletide and see you all in 2015!  I know the blog's been rather dormant lately, but I'll relaunch it in the New Year with lots of fresh content, so look forward to that! As always, here's the Spotify playlist: Last-Minute Xmas Playlist. And click here for the YouTube one. 

Snapshots of Summer

Monday, 6 October 2014




A few weeks ago, I launched a project called 'Snapshots of Summer', which invited you all to send in polaroids of your summer - or more specifically, ones which captured a memorable moment. So here is that!
                                    
                                                                                                   ⎯                      
                    
                                                                 VANESSA, FROM PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA


Gulf Islands, British Columbia, Canada

Gulf Islands, British Columbia, Canada

Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California, USA 
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA


⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯

CAROLINE, 22, FROM LYON, FRANCE


September Playlist ♫

Monday, 29 September 2014

1.) '21st Century Heartbeat' by LUKE SITAL-SINGH

2.) 'Wide Awake' by JOSH RECORD

3.) 'Hero' by FAMILY OF THE YEAR

4.) 'Give A Little Love' by NOAH AND THE WHALE

5.) 'I Want You' by SAINT RAYMOND

6.) 'Do You Believe in Magic' by THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL

7.) 'Senegal Fast-Food' by AMADOU & MARIAM

8.) 'As Luck Would Have It' by TOM ROSENTHAL

9.) 'Throw Me A Line' by HUDSON TAYLOR

10.) 'Entertainment' by PHOENIX


Here's a slightly very belated September playlist to get you feeling cosy and autumnal. And if you don't have Spotify, here's a YouTube one. I hope you've had a good month - mine's being a little crazy as I've moved to university!        


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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage

Monday, 1 September 2014

'Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage' is the latest masterpiece - sorry, novel - by widely worshipped Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Though only published this August in the UK and North America, the novel was released in Japan to critical acclaim last year, where it sold a million copies in its first month.


If you're not yet familiar with Murakami's work, why not, and let me fill you in. Born in 1949 in Kyoto, Haruki Murakami is a contemporary Japanese novelist whose work has been translated into 50 or so languages. That all? No, actually: he's also dipped his toes in a bit of non-fiction and translated a number of English-language works into Japanese ('The Catcher in The Rye' and 'The Great Gatsby', among others). Anything else? Afraid so: he's something of a recurrent favourite for the Nobel Prize in literature. Oh! and nearly forgot to mention: he also runs a marathon a year. He's 65. 

The man is no big deal or anything. 

'Colourless Tsukuru and his Years of Pilgrimage' is his latest endeavour. It recounts twenty or so years in the life of Tsukuru Tazaki, who, at 36, is pleasant but melancholic and mostly friendless. Tsukuru loses all zest for life when, in college, his four closest friends abruptly cut all ties with him. He doesn't live the next decade so much as survive it; living each day on autopilot, and spending a good deal of his time dwelling on death. Then, when he meets a woman named Sara, his life swiftly takes a turn for the better.
His signature

It's a tale of friendship, nostalgia and never quite fitting in, and it lingers long after turning the final page. While many of Murakami's novels are scattered with the supernatural, 'Colourless Tsukuru' is grounded in the real world. And believe me: Murakami makes the mundane magical.

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Snapshots of Summer // A Collaboration Project

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Hello! Today I have something slightly different to offer. With the end of summer now sadly in sight, holidays had, and memories made, I'd like to invite you to join me in a collaboration project: Snapshots of Summer. The summer has swept by at the blink of an eye so it now seems time to reflect on these past few months. 






If you'd like to take part in this collaboration, here's what you need to do:

                                                                                                 -------------------

1.) Send a scanned polaroid picture capturing any moment of your summer so far, to celobean@gmail.com. Scans are ideal, but a high-quality photo of the polaroid would also do.

2.) Let me know where the photo was taken. If you would like to give some more context to the moment captured on camera, please do so!

3.) Let me know what your name is, and where you are from. If you would like to, please share your Twitter/ Instagram name too.

4.) If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, feel free to send in a Snapshot of Winter - the more participants and the wider the range of experiences shared, the greater the project!

                                                                                                 -------------------

I hope this project will help immortalise your very own summer, but also display a whole host of people's experiences all over the world.

I've felt a bit uncomfortable that this blog is so one-sided so hopefully with such collabs, it'll become more interactive - and a platform for you to share your instant photography!

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Shakespeare & Company

Monday, 18 August 2014

shakespeare and company polaroid

shakespeare and company polaroid
37 Rue de la Bucherie, 75005 Paris
Shakespeare & Company is a charming English-language bookshop bang in the centre of Paris, and just round the corner from Notre Dame. A feeding ground for bookish tourists today, it was once a hotspot for such writers as James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway. It's still host to important literary events and signings: Zadie Smith casually dropped by the store during my stay in Paris. Oh, and Shakespeare & Co, if you're reading this - hello! - and please consider me as a future employee of your shop. I have made it my life's ambition to work for you - then, and only then will I die happy. (No pressure).

Photography is sadly forbidden inside the shop so I'll have do my best to bring it to life in words.
 Inside is a warren of narrow corridors, piled high to the ceiling with new and vintage books. Climb an even narrower staircase and you'll reach the top floor - where it will be confirmed to you that heaven is a place on earth. Scattered alongside crammed bookshelves are cosy, cushioned nooks to relax and read in. Expect to find the odd customer tapping hurriedly at a typewriter: tapping out what, I don't know, but the few typewriters lying around are certainly put to good use. Customers are also encouraged to play a piano which lies in a corner of the store and is, unsurprisingly, suitably atmospheric.

If you don't make it your life goal to work at Shakespeare & Company, do us all a favour and at the very least, visit.

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August Playlist ♫

Friday, 8 August 2014

polaroid of flowers
1.) 'Barbara Ann' by THE BEACH BOYS

2.) 'Cassy-O' by GEORGE EZRA

3.) 'Where Did The Love Go' by BIPOLAR SUNSHINE

4.) 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' by THE BLUES BROTHERS

5.) 'You Make My Dreams' by DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES

6.)  'Better Days' by EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROES

7.) 'She's Got You High' by MUMM-RA

8.) 'I Saw You Blink' by STORNOWAY

9.) 'Boom Clap' by Charli XCX

10.) 'In A Perfect World' by THE SAM CHASE

Hi there! Welcome to the fifth instalment in a series of monthly music playlists. This one's perfect for roadtripping, InterRailing, and sweating profusely on public transport while longing for adventure.

As always, here's the Spotify playlist. And here's the Youtube one.

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The Kyoto Garden

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Polaroid of japanese garden
Tucked away in the woods of Holland Park, lies the Kyoto Garden, built in 1992 as a London-Kyoto collaboration project. Providing a bitesize pocket of Japan and a much-needed oasis from London’s hustle and bustle, the Kyoto Garden is your new best friend. It’s always there, gives you space to think, and lends an ear when needed most (sure, it’s a tad unresponsive, but listen it does). If you have yet to find your happy place, then this is surely it.

Sprinklers keep the very green grass very green while periodically drenching unsuspecting tourists, the poor sods too busy gawping at the Koi fish to notice an oncoming tidal wave (this definitely did not happen to me). The sprawling fish-pond backs onto a beautiful waterfall, crossable by a tiny footbridge, and particularly pretty in the soft evening light. Oh, and peacocks. Expect lots of broody peacocks.

My summer’s been spent pouring over Japan guidebooks, lusting over pictures of Tokyo, and putting aside pennies, with aim to - eventually - make it there. Problem: getting to Japan is not cheap. But while my coppers accumulate, the Kyoto Garden provides a very decent substitute; while it can’t quite fill that Far Eastern-shaped void in my heart, it can at least quench my immediate thirst for all things Japanese.

Honestly, it’s just a really great place to eat sushi, take a few (kawaii) selfies, and kid yourself and your friends that you’re on a mini-break in Tokyo. 


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48 Hours in Paris

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

On the last weekend in June, I jumped on a train, crossed the channel, and found myself with 48 hours to spend in Paris. If you want to see a whole city in just a weekend, you can. Sort of.
I spent the first night in the Quartier Latin which is bang in the middle of the city and borders the Seine, and the second with friends in a sleepy, leafy suburb, Neuilly. The great thing about Paris is that the centre - unlike London - is relatively compact: you can reach pretty much anywhere by foot, so long as your calves allow.


                         

I hadn't been to Paris for years, so it was great to see it again in the flesh. Sure, it's beautiful, but it's all too often seen through rose-tinted glasses; imagined as the site for quirky rom-coms, and, as the official Ville de L'Amour, the official breeding ground for romance (though around Valentine's Day, a breeding ground, it literally is).

Scrape off the sugar-coat, and the truth is that it smells a bit and that Parisians are pretty unfriendly. Mere stereotypes? Afraid not. Forget customer service: here, doing one's job is doing you a massive favour. Ask 'So sorry to bother you, but could you, possibly, please, perhaps direct me to the Champs-Elysees?' and expect sighing, eye-rolling, and grunting. And consider yourself lucky to be paid attention to. Spoilt brat.
                                                        








                            
                                 
On the first night, I met up for a drink with my good friend Camille, a real living, breathing, and actually very pleasant Parisian! I was swiftly led away from a tourist trap to a street which ran its parallel: equally pretty, but without the buskers' renditions of 'La Vie En Rose'. I know it's hardly rocket science, but it takes spending time with a local to remind you that Paris isn't just a quaint picture-perfect cobble-stone town but a working city with genuine -gasp!- inhabitants. Seems obvious, but the rom-coms suggest otherwise.



                      

We weren't so lucky with the weather and it poured for much of the weekend. But maybe this was a blessing in disguise, as Paris somehow suits rain. The grey-roofed buildings and outdoor cafes become all the more charming and atmospheric, and it may just be me but Parisians look even more effortlessly cool, umbrella-clad. Yes, it could just be the novelty of being in a foreign city, but trust me, Paris suits rain better. Anyway, we took refuge in a buzzing and Belgian fish restaurant called 'Leon de Bruxelles': the place to go to sate your fishy needs.
       





                                                                            
No city comes very close to London in my eyes, but Paris, manners and smell aside, was lovely. I'll be back.

   
                                                                 

July Playlist ♫

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

1.) '40 Day Dream' by EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS

2.) 'Let Me In' by GROUPLOVE

3.) 'With A Girl Like You' by THE TROGGS

4.) 'CPR/ Claws Pt. 2' by TYPHOON

5.) '5 Years Time' by NOAH AND THE WHALE

6.) 'West Coast' by LANA DEL REY

7.) 'Simple As This' by JAKE BUGG

8.) 'Beach Baby' by BON IVER

9.) 'Photograph' by ED SHEERAN

10.) 'East Harlem' by BEIRUT

Welcome to the fourth instalment in a series of monthly music playlists. These 10 songs currently convey summer for me, so I hope they have similar effect on you! As always, here's the Spotify playlist. And here's the YouTube one. Enjoy!

Pastel: A Photoset

Saturday, 21 June 2014

I have a bit of a fetish for all things pastel. So yesterday,  I went out on a mission to photograph pastel colours around my neighbourhood. I would challenge you all to do something similar: it forces you to see the world through a sort of selective filter and before you know it, you're noticing colours, textures, and even massive buildings which had been there for years but always passed you by. It's somewhat sad that it takes a project like this to make you look up from that iPhone, sway from that everyday route, and take those damn blinkers off - but it's a start.

                         


                         

On Memories

Friday, 13 June 2014

Today's post is inspired by filmmaker Will Darbyshire's recent and brilliant YouTube video on 'Memories' (click here to watch it!). Now, memory is a funny thing.

 It's 2014 and our brains are saturated with hundreds of digital images on the daily. And social media hardly helps. On Facebook, we're tagged in such a volume of photos it can be hard to separate the meaningful from the mundane. Many, we'd rather forget. Meanwhile, Instagram serves as something of a showreel - or rather, highlights reel - of our lives. These photos, with endless filters, come closer to choreographed constructions than memories of something that has truly happened. 

Maybe it takes something physical - a song, a scent, a printed photograph - to really provoke a memory. Something you can touch, smell, hear. I don't doubt that digital images hold the power to do the same, but to me at least, they merely float - to little effect - in cyberspace. I think it takes a physical attack on the senses to provoke real feeling: from bittersweet nostalgia to nausea. That song you at one point played to death now only haunts.

 Polaroid of picnic                    Polaroid of burgers

I'd encourage you all to gather and treasure not only digital souvenirs, but physical ones. Not only will you be able to embrace (or burn) them at will, but they'll later serve as snapshots of memories. Polaroids do just that: they capture us at our most authentic but least glamourous, with that enormous-red-pimple-on-your-chin-you'd-rather-hide. To me, a momento can only really be physical.

Frankly, I'd rather my grandchildren rummaged through a box of my old polaroids than scoured the Web for my MySpace profile (oh god imagine that?!). Only time will tell of course. In the meantime, I'll be sure to save some memories.                                  

polaroid
Mum takes a roadside power-nap during long drive to Italy. 
Polaroid
Incompetent swimmers, Summer 2012
polaroid
Cheesy. Summer 2012.
polaroid
Just last week at a Hudson Taylor gig, June 2014.
polaroid
Last day of school, May 2013.
polaroid of oxford
The Bodleian Library, Oxford, February 2012.
polaroid
My Italian class back at school, May 2013.

June Playlist ♫

Saturday, 7 June 2014

1.) 'For The Time Being' by EDIE BRICKELL

2.) 'Unbelievers' by VAMPIRE WEEKEND

3.) 'Holly' by HUDSON TAYLOR

4.) 'Don't Wanna Dance' by MØ

5.) 'Surfin' USA' by THE BEACH BOYS

6.) 'New Slang' by THE SHINS

7.) 'Heartbeats' by  JOSE GONSALEZ

8.) 'Far Away' by THOMAS J. SPEIGHT

9.) 'Nerve' by HALF MOON RUN

10.) 'Sweet Disarray' by DAN CROLL


Welcome to the third instalment in a series of monthly music playlists. Listen to all this either on the Spotify playlist below or here on YouTube. Enjoy - and happy June!

The Magic of Wes Anderson

Monday, 2 June 2014

Flo in all her glory!
'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is Wes Anderson's latest masterpiece. It's a feast for the eyes and a really decent line-up of famous faces: Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Saiorse Ronan, and - yes, you guessed it - Bill Murray. 

I went to see the film on opening weekend with fellow Wes-worshipper and friend Flo. And I was not disappointed!

'The Grand Budapest Hotel' recounts the life and times of the hotel's concierge, Gustave H, in the fictional republic of Zubrowska. M. Gustave manages to be similtaneously camp and a casanova, while his lobby boy, Zero, is at once humourless and oozing charisma. The film is made a whole lot sweeter by Alexandre Desplat's predictably brilliant orchestral soundtrack.

It differs from Anderson's previous works in that it's the first and only to be set in Europe. This made a change in terms of both aesthetics and tone: the leafy suburbia of 'Rushmore' makes way for European-looking cobbled streets, while Anderson's characteristic dry, American humour is replaced by a laugh-out-loud near-British wit. 

Oh, and if you have yet to see Anderson's previous gem, go watch 'Moonrise Kingdom'. Now? Yup, right now. Get off that backside.

It brings to life the coming of age tale of Sam Shakusky and Suzy Bishop – two gloriously odd 12 year olds who fall in love and run away into New England’s wildernesses. With parents, a scout troop, and Bruce Willis’ depressive cop in hot pursuit, Sam and Suzy survive on their own by combining their still childlike imagination with an adult resourcefulness (“I forgot my comb but I’ll use my fingers”).

Sure, Anderson's films are something of an acquired taste, but shrugging them off as style over substance? That, I won't take. They're worlds of their own, inhabited by people similar to us but with deadpan delivery and superior taste in interior design. Ultimately, Wes Anderson's films have as much heart as you do.

I saw 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' at the lovely Gate Cinema in Notting Hill

What's the Point Of It?

Monday, 12 May 2014

Polaroid of balloons, Martin Creed exhibition
Looking a tad goofy.
Last week, I went to the Southbank Hayward Gallery to catch the tail-end of Martin Creed's latest modern art exhibition 'What's The Point Of It?'. I confess that I went in pretty much blind, by no means a connoisseur of modern art, and without even having heard of Martin Creed. What I had heard was that there was a room full - and I mean packed - with balloons. I was sold. And I expect this is what drew 99% of people there.   

Half The Air In A Given Space', an exhibit in which precisely half the air in the room is contained in balloons, stole the show. Now I'm almost inevitably claustrophobic in small spaces and big crowds but, strangely, didn't feel the slightest bit uncomfortable in a room full of 7,000 balloons. Once inside, we became childlike, completely uninhibited and so very mildly insane: think tipsy, suited-, grown men invading a bouncy castle after hours.


Polaroid of Martin Creed's exhibition
But then maybe modern art is made to pass me by. Creed's 1,000-strong wall of poster paint stamped broccoli (yes) was impressive in its scale and eccentricity but I just can't help but draw the line at a tiny lump of blu-tac stuck to the wall: hardly a feat of great craftmanship or of imagination. On the other hand, to those who say 'I could've done that', well, you didn't. Slight irritation at the fact that Martin Creed so smoothly anticipates and deflects potential criticism, or anyone asking the inevitable 'What's the Point Of It?', by naming his exhibition just that. It's a bit like agreeing to interview but then smugly answering every question with 'You tell me'. Helpful!

What I will say is that the exhibition was whimsical, fun, and fantastically feel-good. Ultimately, asking the age-old 'What's The Point Of It?' is... slightly besides the point.

polaroid of modern art
Broccoli. Obviously.
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