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Oscars Behind the Scenes

After the fashion, I love seeing the BTS antics of the Oscars. Celebs and their camera phones never fail to amuse me, but mostly I’m just really drawn to candid photography.

Firstly, there’s the Oscar selfie that has been all over twitter, because of course, with Ellen Degeneres as host, the night was going to consist of about 75% Ellen antics. Such as group selfies, ordering pizza, and dressing as Glinda the good witch.

Best selfie ever? Ellen DeGeneres took a moment out from hosting duties to grab this selfie with some of her favourite celebrities

Making them jealous: Ireland will be the envy of her friends after being smooched by hunk Pharrell Williams

The really Wilde show: She seemed to have a great time posing up with Olivia and her fiance Jason Sudeikis

How is Olivia Wilde so beautiful as to look great even when awkwardly posing is such a shoulder-jerking, bump-squashing, heel-teetering way?

Starting Rumers: Willis made sure she gave her fans a thrill by posting this 'sneak peek' pic of her dress

Exit stage right: Emma Roberts and Joseph Gordon Levitt did not have far to run if they had a panic attack backstage

At least she won't get slated: Her Fashion Police star daughter Kelly would know better than to poke fun at Sharon Osbourne's outfit

I am in love with Sharon Osbourne’s Oscar outfit.

Heidi Klum

Kelly Osbourne

In the dark: Jamie Foxx stood backstage before presenting the Oscar for best original score

Speaking of teen idols: Zac Efron looked handsome as ever in his black suit as he waited to present backstage

Winner all around: Jennifer, Cate, Matthew and Daniel got together backstage

Photo bomb: Benedict Cumberbatch jumped high and pulled a face as U2 posed for a photo op on the red carpet ahead of their touching Oscars performance of Ordinary Love

I laughed way too much at Mr Cumberbatch’s photobomb, I must admit. So much, it hurts. Am I supposed to refer to it as a Cumberstitch? I don’t know, I’ve just noticed that it’s common when talking about Mr C to add literally any and every relevant word of the conversation to ‘Cumber’.

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Wanderer

Christmas has found Italy!

I’m feeling all Christmassy!

So I spent a couple of days in Naples after meeting the lovely Davide in Rome, who was kind enough to offer me and my friend a place to stay. I’ve visited Naples once before, very briefly in order to meet Pompeii, and frankly, I didn’t like it. It’s noisy, smelly, dirty, the people are often pretty rough around the edges (Davide being the exception there!)

In fact, one thing that I noticed pretty much about Neapolitan guys on this visit, is that they are often questionable in one of two ways: either they seem like pretty dodgy, probably belong in the Mafia kind of guys. The kind of guys who you cross the street to avoid because they can’t help but same some ridiculous comment towards every girl they see. Or, they’re questionable as in.. you just can’t tell if they’re straight or gay. Guys are very comfortable around other guys; cuddling (yes, as in, in bed in the evening while discussing their day with everyone else in the room), holding hands, taking a bite from each other’s rum baba’s (not a euphemism – a rum baba is a cake. Google it, it’s delicious!), and so I think, ok, gay, nothing wrong with that, it’s just a shame because they’re both cute… and then one of their girlfriends arrive, and the guy will give her a kiss while still holding hands with his friend. And this is perfectly normal. Ok, different cultures and blah blah blah, but… I for one found it confusing. And more than once I’d meet a guy and say ‘oh, so this is your boyfriend’ and be met with ‘no, he’s just my friend/cousin/neighbour who I hardly know’.

My bad.

Moving on from the Mafia and confusing sexuality of Neapolitan men… Italy is getting ready for Christmas!

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Naples is famous for it’s Christmas streets or presepe: San Gregorio Armeno, which sells nothing but Christmas decorations and Nativity sets all year round. Lord knows how they can afford to sell Christmas decor all year round, but they manage, somehow. Tourism? Do people flock to Naples in June to decorate their tree just because they can? Who knows.

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They really know how to make a nativity set! Really elaborate miniature houses – towns, even – made from wood, twigs, moss, beautifully crafted. And then there is such a range of figurines and items to fill them with! I saw figurines of bakers, butchers, seamstresses – every profession you can think of (well, every “old-fashioned” profession, so no photographers or tech-wizards, unfortunately) with little motors so that they move their little plastic pies back and forth in and out of the LED oven, or constantly ironing the same dress, or hacking at the same lump of plastic meat.. or whatever.

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Not being one to think much about the religious side of Christmas, needless to say that no, I haven’t bought myself a twigs-and-moss nativity, and there are not little motor run, palm-sized bakers working through the night on the same pie in my suitcase. They’re cute to look at, but definitely not for me. I have, however, started a cute little Christmas tradition; collecting Christmas decorations from around the world. Obviously it’s a collection limited to my winter travels – unless I can find more cities with year-round Christmas markets like Naples – but I think it’s pretty cute to have a tree decorated with memories. Nothing cheesy though, no ‘Rome 2013’ baubles, so I’ll have to make a note in my travel journals as to which were bought where for when I’m old and forgetful.

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Oh, and I ran into someone who was clearly a celebrity (screaming girls, lines of people having their photo taken with him), but I had no idea who he is… clearly his fame hasn’t reached the UK!

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So Naples wasn’t all about Christmas markets, of course. FYI, if you want to try the best pizza in Naples, go to Sorbillo on Via Tribunali. Best. Pizza. Ever. I recommend both the margherita and diavolo (me and a friend of mine shared so that we had half of each – delish!) I’ve already mentioned baba cake, which is basically rum-soaked cake, also delicious but can be a bit sickly after a while… or I found so at least, but everyone else cleared their plates and asked for seconds! There’s also sfogliatella, which I have to refer to as ‘that one, please *point*’ because I just can’t pronounce it to save my life. Sfogliatella comes in two forms; frolla (smooth) and ricca (curly), and basically it’s a sweet pastry. Layers and layers of pastry – to me, it looks like a sea shell! – with a ricotta filling, or most commonly at least. A must try!

And… despite the noise, insane traffic, dodgy reputation, piles of rubbish and general Naples-ish ways of the city.. it can still be so beautiful.

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And then what did I find on returning to Rome? Christmas!!
As ever when I arrive in Rome, even if I was there just a few days ago, I head straight to Piazza Navona, my absolute favourite spot in the city. So imagine my excitement when I round the corner and see this scene!

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The words ‘giddy’ and ‘schoolgirl’ spring to mind.

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They were in the middle of setting up while I was walking around, but I did spy some familiar-looking twigs-and-moss nativity sets lurking in the back of a lorry. No mechanical villagers yet though!

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I’ve been told that Christmas celebrations don’t officially begin until 8th December, on which the Feast of the Immaculate Conception takes place. That’s Mary’s conception, not Jesus’.. apparently the ‘immaculate’ part of of the tradition is because she never sinned.. or something like that. But anyway, so me and my friend will be heading back to Piazza Navona to see the finished market, decorations and celebrations next week. I’m. So. Excited.

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Wanderer

Joie de Vivre… Part Six!

Finally, my last post!
Madrid
 
Maybe it’s because right now I don’t exactly feel 100%, but I feel like I have run out of things to say.. about everything. I can’t say I am really a fan of Madrid, I found everyone rude and unwelcoming, but then I’ve heard so many good things about Madrid – and Spain as a whole, most of my friends adore it there, I can’t help but feel like I must have just been unlucky… maybe I’ll go back one day and see if I feel differently about it.
However, I did find myself some beautiful parks, and the Palace is incredible! I swear I spent about three hours (actually judging my what my travel journal says I think it was five minutes but I remember it being more like three hours) just sitting on the steps outside the palace listening to someone playing the guitar (it seems a lot of my clearest/fondest memories seem to involve music, usually someone just there, casually busking away), staring at the palace.
 
Porto
 
Porto, another place that now has my heart ♥
When I arrived in Porto, I was completely exhausted – I think I was finally feeling the toll of the past five weeks, moving around so much, walking pretty much none stop (I don’t know what is wrong with me, even when my feet are bleeding I find it really difficult to sit still for more than a few minutes) from generally around 8am-midnight on very little sleep – though I loved every moment of it, by the way!
I love Porto mostly because it is so rugged and rough around the edges, and I don’t mean ‘rough’ as in it’s a rough area, though I’m sure there are parts of Porto that are, just like there are in every city, but it had the ‘crumbling but still beautiful’ feel to it, like Venice. While I was there, one of my hosts mentioned to me that 70% of the houses in Porto are derelict, and after that I couldn’t help but notice them everywhere, it’s really sad.
 
Maybe one day I will start renovating properties in Porto 😉
Another reason to love Porto: Five euro music festivals! I have absolutely no idea what they were singing about most of the time, but still, it was an amazing two nights. And I was able to go home to a nice warm bed at the end of the night, rather than camp out in a muddy field like my friends back home were at Leeds at the time.
Mostly I loved Porto because the people I stayed with were just so incredibly lovely. Phelgo especially is a sweetheart and they all made me feel so welcome… I have to go back and visit ASAP… I’ll add it to the list!
 Maybe if thinking wasn’t such a challenge right now this post would be better. Maybe I’ll re-write it when I feel myself again and find the time, but as my lovely friends keep asking to see ‘the last batch’, so voila 😉

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Joie de Vivre… Part Five!

Barcelona
 
Barcelona is a funny sort of place. It’s just everything all at once: it’s beautiful and yet ugly, everyone is friendly and yet… not so friendly, the food looks great but then it doesn’t actually taste particularly great, and, what I found strangest of all, it has a way of being full of life and equally just… dead. It simultaneously puts me in one of my happy, ‘desperate to absorb every ounce of energy, emotiona and passion that this city has to offer me’ traveller moods and yet make me eager to pack up and move onto the next city.. bore me even. I couldn’t quite get my head around Barcelona.
Still… there were a few little spots that completely captured my heart. I loved sitting in the little park behind Sagrada Familia just as the sun was setting:
I loved it because despite being right in the heart of the city, it was just so quiet and still.
I also love Park Guell. It’s so incredibly beautiful! I loved that there was music everywhere; you walk around one corner and stumble across someone playing the violin, you walk further down that path and just as the sound of the violin has faded, you find someone playing the piano, walk further still and there’s someone playing an instrument that I don’t even recognize!
I love how every inch of the park has been carefully thought out and designed and yet it manages to look wild as well. The whole park is just art. I could live there, I could build myself on of my floaty, drapey fabric tents and live right there among the flowers – I could decorate my tent with flowers and blend right in!
Bordeaux
 
Every single photograph that I took while in Bordeaux was, in my opinion, perfect; the lighting, the colours, just everything. It was just perfect, and I have added it to my ‘to live in’ list, which is getting so long that I think I’ll have to start working my way through it the moment I finish university! After all, it’s only going to keep on growing longer the more I travel! It already looks something like this from this trip alone!
  1. Rome
  2. Venice
  3. Florence
  4. Cinque Terre (I think either Riomaggiore, or, because it’s amazing for cliff diving, Manarola)
  5. Prague
  6. Zurich
  7. Paris
  8. Bordeaux
  9. Montpellier
  10. Porto
It was quite tricky getting to Bordeaux from Barcelona, what with cancelled trains etc. The original plan was to go from Paris to Bordeaux, to Montpellier, then to Barcelona.. but as I’d had to spend an extra day in Paris, I decided to skip Bordeaux… only to then decide while in Barcelona that no, I really want to see Bordeaux now, and so I turned around!
Still, with two connecting trains, I was also able to spend a few hours in Toulouse and Narbonne, both of which I would have missed out on otherwise:
When I finally arrived in Bordeaux, it was past midnight. Until about 10 or 11pm I’d had no idea where I would be staying that night, and people kept looking at my strangely as I sat in Toulouse and laughed because I again imagined how much my friends back in Derby would be panicking if in that situation, and yet I felt completely relaxed.
Luckily, a photographer friend of mine, Jonathan, and his girlfriend Pauline were kind enough to let me sleep at Jonathan’s home for the night, and Pauline was even lovely enough to show me around the city the next day. Thank you again!
 
We ate the most amazing meal of my life and a quaint little restaurant, with local wine of course, we laughed at the broken machinery of France and just at everything really, and I think this was actually one of the best days of my whole trip. I’m completely in love with Bordeaux.
Also, I wouldn’t have visited Bordeaux at all had one of my friends not recommended it to me when I first mentioned this little adventure of mine months and months ago, so thank you for that 😉
I especially love this photograph (if i say so myself!):
I definitely need to hurry up and get back to Bordeaux ASAP! Firstly because I wasn’t lucky enough to see the lovely Oce while I was there, so I need to go back and see her, secondly because I’d like to see Jonathan and Pauline again, thirdly because I need to taste more of the amazing food and wine, and finally, simply because I am in love.
I also need to visit Toulouse properly, for more than a few hours. At least I already have someone to host me there (or at least I will once he himself flies home from Derby), and no doubt I’ll be flying over to visit soon enough.
I’m itching to use my passport again already.

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Joie de Vivre.. Part Four….

Zurich
 
I didn’t plan to go to Zurich. It just sort of happened. There I was, admiring the beautiful views from the window of the Milan-Paris train (seriously I recommend that everyone travel by train from Milan to Paris at some point in their lives, it’s amazingly, spectacularly, jaw-droppingly beautiful!) and we were passing through Zurich, and I just thought.. I’ll get off here, just for a few hours.
So glad that I did!
One of the first things that I saw was hundreds and hundreds of people just floating – not even swimming – floating down the river on inflatable green and yellow butterflies. I don’t know why, or what it was about, but I did gather that it’s an annual thing so I have decided, that is how I want to celebrate when I leave university next summer! With all of my friends of course! I saw two genius girls using orange armbands to hold a bottle of wine – definitely a plan for next year!
I only had time to spend about four hours in Zurich, and for most of that time I was either exploring the biggest, most amazing antique fair I have ever seen, (if only I was a millionaire, I’d have bought everything in sight), or just sitting on the jetty, dangling my feet into the lake, as it was ridiculously hot).
I need to get my bum back to Zurich and explore it properly. ASAP.
Paris
 
J’adore Paris ♥
As long as I don’t look too closely (and spend as little time in Gare de Lyon station as possible, as it’s filthy and has a serious cockroach problem) I love Paris. I have always loved Paris and so as much as I had to drag my bum out of Italy, I think Paris is about the only place that for me could come close in winning my heart.
I love that everyone kept mistaking me for being ‘a true Parisian’. I love the French language, I love the art, the culture, the history…. I love how friendly everyone is, despite their reputation for being rude and.. Parisian…
Or at least I loved how friendly everyone was, until I realised rather late in the day that it might have had something to do with my black top being very see through, and I had decided to go bra-less… oops.
So, I crossed many ‘must see’s from my Bucket List while in Paris: Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Moulin Rouge, the Louve (more specifically the Mona Lisa), etc etc… but I also went here:
My inner child is still buzzing – I’ve only waited twenty years and I’ll admit, mock me all you like, I was the biggest kid there! Though I only met Mickey Mouse and Jack Sparrow. Oh and of course I saw the parades. Still… not a fan of this whole ‘character meeting points’ system – I was looking forward to seeing all of the characters just casually strolling around.. my inner child was a little disappointed. That’s the best part after all, right?
 Anyway…….
Montpellier (and various little surrounding lakes and villages)
 
I have fallen in love with Montpellier. As well as Rome, Venice, Florence, Paris, Bordeaux, Porto… the list goes on and on… but seriously, I love Montpellier. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait to develop my many many rolls of film before I can see any of my photographs from Montpellier itself.. I have just one for now:
My first evening there, after a lovely long walk around the city with my lovely host Mallory, just as we were walking back to his apartment, we happened to walk past this lovely group of people: (I’ve just realised that I use the word lovely far too often, but there’s really no other word to describe the lovely people I have crossed paths with and places that I have stumbled across). We perched ourselves on a ledge for a while and listened to them sing about coffee and life. There was an old woman listening from her balcony a few floors above us and a couple sitting in the doorway across the street from us. I love that about Europe – in England, people hang around the streets, and everyone else peers suspiciously at them from their windows, wondering if they’re out to cause trouble, but in so many of the countries I visited, neighbours chat to each other while sitting in their doorways or on their tiny balconys. It’s so similar but so different.
The next morning, Mallory showed me around the area surrounding Montpellier. He took me to a tiny village full of winding streets where people hang clay sunflowers on their doors to ward off evil spirits. It was exactly how I picture ‘Southern France’, it felt familiar almost to the point of deja vu.
We picnicked by the river and went for a swim, and we laughed at everything; the teenage boys posing and wading through the water like they were male models staring in a perfume ad, my tan-lines, which were pretty horrendous at the time, my failed attempts to swim against the current, the man who hesitated for ages on top of the largest rock trying to decide whether or not to jump as all of his friends had, only to finally do so while cupping his ‘special pebbles’. I spent what felt like hours just perched on the same slippery rock watching fish swim around my feet.
By the time we had reached this lake, I was exhausted. I had already been struggling to keep my eyes open in the car as we drove from river to lake. I dozed on the damp towels while Mallory went for another swim, only to return two minutes later complaining that there was ‘water plants’.
Eventually, the mosquitoes drove us away, and so we went back to Mallory’s apartment and gorged ourselves on crab, salad and blackberries.
I miss it.
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