, , , , , ,

There's Light at the End of the Tunnel.

I'm writing this in advance of exam week, so by the time you read this I will be in the process of wading through a mire of timed essays and visuals, finishing up on Friday. This post is a little reminder to myself to keep my chin up and think about what lies on the other side of Finals. Here's a list of the summery things that are keeping me going this week.

The big chill (out).
I'm really looking forward to feeling like I'm not wasting time when I enjoy a lie in, watch TV or films, spend time with family/friends/A, or sit down with a book. I always love the feeling, post-exams, of not having any work to do at all. This time will be extra special. No exams ever again! Heaven. 

This is a big one for me. There's a couple of Amazon brown boxes sitting beguilingly in the corner of my room, waiting to be ripped open this weekend, which I have renamed 'Bookmas'. (Yep.) These tempting packages contain such literary gems as Donna Tartt's The Secret History, Hugh Howey's Dust and Sarah Lotz's The Three. I'm dying to read them. I was also lucky enough to win a Kindle through a competition hosted by the lovely Lucy at Fashion Me Now a couple of weeks ago and I can't wait to get it set up and get downloading. 

Re-acquainting myself with the kitchen.
It might sound a bit silly, but I really can't wait to start experimenting with recipes again. My cooking of late has been of 'the faster the better' school of thought, and I've lined up some fun recipes from other blogs to try. In particular I want to try and find some that my family will enjoy, as I don't cook dinner for them very often!

May Week. 
I've probably gone on about this before, but this is the biggest event in the Cambridge student's social calendar. The first thing to note is that paradoxically it's actually in June. Traditional names die hard, and May Week is completely built on tradition. The week entails a proliferation of extravagant black-tie balls, lots of dress envy, an endless supply of Pimms and strawberries at garden parties, and seeing the sun come up over college spires (the photo at the top was sunrise at Clare College May Ball in 2012). Yes, the Daily Mail absolutely lap it up when they manage to snap pictures of inebriated 'privileged' students stumbling home in the early hours of the morning, but it really is a lovely way to celebrate finishing a hard year's of work. As the old adage goes: Keep Calm And Think Of May Week. 

Getting my theatre fix. 
June is going to be theatre-centric for me. I'm going to see In The Heights at Southwark Playhouse next week. It's had incredible reviews from The Stage, Time Out and more, and looks set for a West End transfer. A knows a couple of the guys in the production team, so we're pretty sure it's going to be our cup of tea! Then I'm hoping to go and see the Footlights here in Cam before graduation. And on that note...

A's Birthday. 
A's been fantastically supportive all through the pre-exam period, cooking me lots of tasty meals and most importantly helping me to stay sane. I've got a few tricks up my sleeve for his birthday in June. 

Leaving the Bubble for pastures new. 
I've called Cambridge home for four long years, and at the end of next month I'll finally be graduating. I will probably cry, though whether my tears will be ones of sorrow or relief is currently undetermined. Then I'll be moving back to London to start The Great Job Internship Hunt. I feel like I'm ready for this next stage of my life, however hard it may be. 

We're all going on a summer holiday.
Well, A and I are, anyway! It'll be our second holiday after going to Oslo in January. This time we'll be going to Paris, just before Bastille Day! It's one of my favourite cities, and I can't wait to introduce A to it. I'll obviously take him to some of the touristy spots, like the Tuileries, Eiffel Tower, Louvre and possibly Versailles. If you can think of any lesser-known or hidden gems in Paris, such as a brilliant little café, museum or green space you've happened across there, please comment below - I'd love to hear your tips!

See you all on the other side!

Follow me on Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | Wordpress for more adventuresome fun!

, , , ,

Producing Student Theatre

I'm really close to the university finish line now, and am feeling reluctantly nostalgic about my time here. So I thought I'd write a post about my main student activity at Cambridge, which was producing theatre. I'm hoping it might convince a few other uni students and future freshers to get involved in student theatre - and encourage the rest of us to go to the theatre when we can!

Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the first show I produced.
How did I get into producing?
In second year, on a complete whim, I signed up to help assistant stage manage the Cambridge University Opera Society's Mainshow, Die Fledermaus (where I met A, actually!) As an 'ASM' I was essentially a company skivvy, hauling bits of set on and off stage, sourcing props, queuing them for the actors backstage. In one of my duties I ended up helping the producer a little with tasks such as exit flyering shows and coming up with publicity ideas. In the first term of third year I assistant stage managed another show (a fantastic musical called The Last Five Years). This convinced me that producing, not stage managing, was the route I wanted to go down. I just wanted to be the one bossing other people around - and be in charge of the money! The next term I worked on the Opera Mainshow again as assistant producer and publicist and then produced three other shows! It was a lot of work, but it meant I was able to learn really quickly. I went on to produce one show in exam term, and then two incredibly successful operas in the two terms that followed in fourth year - the most successful that the university had seen in a good two years. Here's a Tumblr post I wrote just before the opening night of my last show, Mozart's Don Giovanni.

A scene from Act One of The Magic Flute.
Erm...what does producing entail again?
Does the idea of producing immediately conjure up the musical The Producers, and Leo Bloom's (Matthew Broderick) song 'I Wanna Be A Producer'? It's not quite as glamorous as Leo imagined - unless you get to Cameron Mackintosh level of course! I did a short interview for The Cambridge Student about producing opera back in February, but in a nutshell, a producer does anything and everything that needs doing! For Don Giovanni, my most ambitious project, I controlled the show's finances (with a budget of roughly £12k), managed a company of 80 people, organised production team applications and interviews as well as casting, planned publicity and marketing to get tickets sold, liaised with professional production companies to sort our lighting and set, helped to paint and build said set, commissioned and oversaw the poster and programme designs, proofread and edited the programme content, organised a launch party for free and then ran the box office for five performances during show week. *catches breath* So...a fair amount. I felt during Don G that the role was actually more like a job than an extra-curricular, possibly tantamount to a part-time job in a theatre company. Of course, as a student, you can take on as much as you feel you are able to. Some producers are much more relaxed or spread the workload among several different producers. It's worth bearing in mind that my experience was a bit different (and stressful!) too, because the Oxbridge terms are very short and packed.

What types of shows did you most enjoy working on?
My favourites were always musicals and opera. I grew up playing classical instruments, and so it feels really familiar and natural to work with musical forms of theatre. I particularly loved opera because it feels like a really elevated art form, made for the Royal Opera House - and yet you can equally find it in the back of a pub, like the work A does with OperaUpClose at the King's Head. I also found that the singers we worked with were just stupendous - all with incredible performing histories, and I imagine I'll be seeing some of them on the West End or in Covent Garden one day. And then musicals are just undeniably fun. It takes so much talent to be able to act, sing and dance. I'm much more inclined to sit quietly behind the scenes, pulling the strings!

With the main production team of Don Giovanni at our launch party.
What are the benefits of producing or working in student theatre?
You get to make a lot of friends! Theatre is filled with a real range of people - directors, musicians in the pit band, stage managers who sort out everything during the performances, actors, technical wizards who make the lighting and sound happen. Then in terms of producing specifically, I'd say it helped to hone my admin skills hugely. I wasn't particularly organised before I got into producing. That is, I scraped by, but producing a giant show requires a slightly Draconian approach to self-administration. I've talked about just how many jobs I had to do during Don Giovanni, and it was a challenge to balance those with a full-time degree, especially in the term before finals! But when the project that you've essentially been running part-time comes to fruition, and the set and lights go up and the show opens, it feels fantastic. Even better if you get good reviews - Don Giovanni got five stars from The Tab! We also got lots of people coming up to us at the box office saying how much they'd enjoyed it after the show, Facebook posts and tweets. And that's really the best reward for all the work.

An incredibly blurred photo of me on stage for the final bows of Don Giovanni. (Thank you, proud father, for getting this snap on your iPhone!)
How should I go about starting out in student theatre?
There are usually tons of drama-related societies at university - get involved by checking out what yours has to offer at the freshers' fair or by asking around. I always regret not starting in first year! Once you're on the mailing lists you can start applying for roles. It doesn't matter what route you take as an in. Like I said, I started out as an assistant stage manager, and went into producing from there. Most people who are experienced will be happy to answer any questions you've got, so if you're interested, go for it! You'll never know if theatre is for you unless you try it :)

The company of The Magic Flute (November 2013).
I hope you found this post interesting! It's probably what I devoted the most time to while at Cambridge, and something I couldn't do this term (being on the brink of finals and all that). Once you know what goes on behind the scenes you can never go to the theatre and see shows in the same way again...!

Follow me on Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | Wordpress for more adventuresome fun!

, ,

Finals Motivation

I know there's a lot of bloggers out there who, like me, are gearing up for finals. After 17+ years in full-time education and battling our way through five or six consecutive years of important summer exams, freedom is finally on the horizon. But there's some pesky obstacles we've got to get past first...

My final university exams start in just 12 days and to be frank, I'm scared s**tless senseless. Yes, I've taken uni-level exams three times before, but for the first time, this set counts towards my final grade. It's especially stressful because at my university they have a lovely tradition of putting everyone's exam grades up in the centre of town, so anyone can go and look up your results. This has my body and mind going a bit crazy. Here's just a few of my exam symptoms:
  • A sudden bout of insomnia which means I've been listening to all the 'Sleep' playlists on Spotify. In the morning, I discover the imprints of my fingernails in my palms - little souvenirs from a fitful sleep of tooth-grinding and fist-clenching.
  • Abnormal social media behaviour: My Twitter is littered with numerous obscure art historical bits and pieces as well as tweets that betray my slow descent into revision madness. Oh, and I've quit Facebook for the first time in 7 years. Possibly indefinitely.
  • I resemble a mole. I have a puffy face from lack of sleep, squint whenever I come into contact with daylight (rare) and spend the bulk of my time in a cave crafted from highlighters, practice essays, and tears.
Guys, finals are not pretty. Unsurprisingly. My face is physical proof of this. So, fellow final-taking ladies and gents out there, this post is a final push for you to make the most of these last few days and do the best you possibly can. (Ok, it's a push for me too).

Let's do this!

All images from Pinterest.

Have you been through finals? I'd love to know how you coped with them! It's so good to know that there's light on the other side of all this.

Follow me on Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | Wordpress for more adventuresome fun!

, ,

Met Gala 2014: My Favourite Looks

On Monday night, the world's most famous and beautiful rubbed shoulders at the annual Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Belonging to the lowly ranks of the hoi polloi, I was very content to perve over the photos of the fantastic dresses the next day. Especially when the tickets for the ball were selling at $25, 000 a pop (whaaaa?!?) Without further ado, here's my six favourite dresses from the evening!

Karen Elson in Zac Posen
This look is just so beautiful on Karen. I reckon that this style of classic gown just can't be beaten on the red carpet. She looks princessy in the good way, à la Grace Kelly, and that pleated fabric looks buttery soft.

Beyoncé in Givenchy Couture and a Philip Treacy veil
All hail Queen Bey. A huge improvement on her look last year, this outfit is dramatic and cinematic but not too overblown. With the addition of the facial veil, I feel like this is a combo a fabulous Italian widow would happily espouse.

Anne Hathaway in Calvin Klein Collection
I adore this twist on the classic red evening dress! The cut under the arms and across the midriff is beautiful, and I especially love the slit up the front, which adds a little edge without veering into trashy territory. One of my dresses for the balls in May Week has a similar feature, and I'm hoping I can rock it as well as Anne does!

Blake Lively in Gucci Première
I had a serious girl crush on Blake when she played Serena in Gossip Girl (xoxo) and it appears that this slight obsession is enduring into my twenties. I can't get over how amazing she and Ryan Reynolds look together. With her curled blonde hair and red lips added to this bombshell dress, this is classic Hollywood glamour at its best.

Lupita Nyong'o in Prada
Wondering how this dress has gone down among the fashion columns this week. I personally think that Lupita pulls it off with panache - the green really pops against her skin tone (love the matching detail on her shoes). Meanwhile, the dress itself is so fun and kinetic, like a carnivalesque flapper, and I'd say it suits her animated personality down to a tee.

Rachel McAdams in Ralph Lauren Collection
And lastly, sweet Rachel McAdams, who can do no wrong in my eyes. She's come so far since Mean Girls (still can't believe it's celebrated its 10th anniversary - this makes me officially old!) and I think that with this dress and her relaxed hair, McAdams is the epitome of understated elegance. Her gown is like a pale pink rose - not crying out for attention, but detailed and beautiful enough to make me pause to admire it.

The consensus from my picks? Three out of six nude coloured dresses, two cray-cray dramatic ones, and one daring red dress! Perhaps I need to invest in a nude ballgown for my next black-tie event...

What dresses were you lusting after from the Met Gala?

Follow me on Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | Wordpress for more adventuresome fun!

, , , ,

A Sparkling Birthday (With Added Dinosaurs).

At the weekend, I took a night off from studying. It culminated in sparklers on top of a hill and dinosaur stories in a blanket. Not too shabby for a revision break, eh?

 We were celebrating Anna's 22nd birthday, and started with dinner. I admit I wasn't too jazzed about this...forget stumbling across an affordable little foodie gem in Cambridge, it's chains all the way here (though I'm always pleased with Côte and Byron!) Despite my misgivings, I was quite happy overall with Anna's restaurant choice, Giraffe. My falafel and halloumi burger was good, and I loved my sweet potato fries. Must learn to make them!

The giraffe stirrers in our drinks were a nice kitschy touch too.

One of Anna's guests had a knack for origami and crafted this 'Annasaurus' for her!

I met Anna in my first week at Cambridge. During first year we took a trip to Florence to brush up our Italian and bonded over a love of gelato and visiting obscure galleries.

I loooove these lobster earrings. So quirky, I've never seen anything like them!

After dinner we headed up Castle Mound for Anna's birthday tradition: surprise fireworks orchestrated by her boyfriend Richard!

These fireworks were called 'Satan's Polar Battle' (yes, for real). So badass.

Richard whipped out a packet of sparklers after the main event, to everyone's delight...

In our early dating days, A and I climbed up Castle Mound together. I'd had a lot of post-exam cava and the world was a bit fuzzy, so we just lay in the grass on the top of the hill and looked at the clouds. It was a perfect summer day. For that reason, I get a bit sentimental when we climb the hill together, even nearly two years later, and couldn't resist a photo!

Then A got sparkler-happy. Can you read his name? :)

Mini outfit photo with my gorgeous gal Im. Doesn't she have the most amazing shiny waterfall of hair? Also, detailed tops, bright blue jeans and black jackets are clearly the way to go for casual birthday gatherings! My top is from Topshop, my trusty leather jacket is Urban Outfitters (similar here) and my jeans are from ACNE

After fireworks we moseyed back to Anna's room for homemade strawberry vanilla smoothies and to play a few games. 

Check out Anna's earring collection. Isn't it wonderful? Note to self to buy or make a good jewellery holder! Also, I love Anna's flower arrangements. Reminds me of a spa sanctuary - these floating blooms make me feel so holistic and calm!

Once we had our smoothies, we cocooned ourselves in blankets and started playing a storytelling game (don't think I've played one in years). We wove a ripping yarn about an Irish Brontosaurus with a penchant for composing limericks. The limerick that won the dino the most success went like this:

There once was a young brontosaurus,
Whose memory for words was quite porous.
'Oh don't be absurd, it's only a word.'
So he gave up and used a thesaurus.

(Limerick by A, of course. Who else would come up with those rhymes?)

Our storytelling was interspersed with balloon fights, which I won't post here because things got a wee bit rowdy. Though balloon violence is definitely the only acceptable form of violence, don't you agree?

We unearthed the One Ring among Anna's endless gewgaws and A got a bit excited.

Here he is doing his best preciousssss Gollum impression, which I can barely look at without bursting out laughing.

I reckon the best nights end with a Lord of the Rings impersonation.

How was your Bank Holiday weekend?

Follow me on Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram | Wordpress for more adventuresome fun!