+ 5 Susan Sontag Quotes

It's been a few months since I finished reading As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, a collection of Susan Sontag's journals and notebooks from 1964 to 1980. I think I'm getting withdrawal symptoms from her unique perspective on life, and this, combined with the fact that it was her birthday two days ago compelled me to compile some of my favourite quotes of hers!


What I really wanted was every kind of life, and the writer’s life seemed the most inclusive
The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own

 A novel worth reading is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world

Do stuff. be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead

Existence is no more than the precarious attainment of relevance in an intensely mobile flux of past, present, and future

Today has been a bit of a lazy day for me as I'm on a business trip and am holed up in a hotel in a pretty boring area, and so I've spent most of the day browsing blogs, celebrity gossip and watching Netflix.

Just doing the research to pull these quotes together felt good - it is so rare in my downtime that I read content that truly makes me think and reflect... Going forwards I want to spend more time soaking up good ideas, and less time reading hair tutorials and browsing fashion blogger photos via Bloglovin :)


+ From Highbury to Highgate: Parkland Walk

From Highbury to Highgate; Parkland Walk (South)

Having lived in Highbury, North London for almost a year now, I'm still astonished by how little I know about the surrounding area. As part of my quest to use my time more wisely in 2015 (less couch potato time, more time exploring), I decided to spend my Sunday afternoon walking along the southern part of Parkland Walk Local Nature Reserve, from Finsbury Park to Highgate. We live just a few minutes' walk from Finsbury Park, which is where the southern part of the walk begins (Tired of London, Tired of Life have a handy map here).

THE ROUTE

1) As we live south of the park, we took a quick detour through it, past the flying rats (aka pigeons):

2) To get to the start of the trail we headed across the Oxford Road Gate from the north-western part of Finsbury Park:

3) Turn right and you'll see a sign, with the next stops listed as Upper Tollington Park, wih the walk ending at Highgate via Crouch Hill.
Route along Parkland Walk - South

4) Along the way towards Crouch Hill, it's basically mud, mud and more mud.... and some vibrant graffiti:

Graffiti along parkland walk

5) One of the best finds along the route was the former train platforms of Crouch End railway station. While the train station building has since been demolished, it was really surreal to walk through:
Abandoned railway platforms of Courch End railway station on Parkland Walk

6) Following from this awesome find, you'll see a plaque which tells you a bit more about the history of the park itself:
History of parkland walk

Once you've completed the walk, I would formally suggest a quick drink at the Boogaloo, or if you walk up Jacksons Lane you'll get to Highgate High Street where you can pop into the Duke's Head or the Angel Inn for a well-earned lunch! We'll definitely visit Parkland Walk again in the spring, and next time aim for Alexandra Palace :)


+ Things to Do in Paris - Weekend Break

Long weekend in Paris

Last week I had no plans for 2015, and yet now I have two works trips abroad booked and a Paris city break planned with my boyfriend. The trip I'm most looking forward to is Paris, of course! There's still over two months to go, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to plan where to stay, what to see and most importantly what to wear.

What to Wear

Miss Pandora (i.e. the queen of Lookbook) has a whole page dedicated to French chic - think sailor shirts, berets and red stockings!
Caroline de Maigret shows us that a Chanel bag is mandatory in Paris
Utilising the arms of your coat is very passé in Paris!
If in doubt - dress in red, white and blue!

What to See & Do

View of Ile de la Cité
View of Ile de la Cité
evening: latin quarter
Quartier Latin
Arc De Triomphe (Paris) in 1000 MegaPixels (Zoom in)
Arc de Triomphe is such an icon of Paris and I cannot wait to see this one evening!
Louvre at Night
Louvre
Le Canal Saint Martin
Le Canal Saint Martin
Rue Galande
Le caveau des oubliettes: A jazz bar set in a 12-century cave
Christmas Tree
Galeries Lafayette
  •  Catacombs: Twenty metres below ground are the remains of ~6million Parisians... I had no bloody idea anything like this existed! Because of the existence of this ossuary, Paris has very shallow foundations and that's why there are few tall buildings in the city.
  • Giverny Tour: Technically this is outside of Paris, but the chance to visit Monet's house and gardens is worth a shot, even if we are going in freezing-cold February!
  • Sandemans Tour: I went on a Sandemans tour in Berlin and it was absolutely phenomenal. They have a 3-hour free walking tour, and what's great is you can pay what you think the tour is worth.
  • I've found an amazing walking tour, both in podcast and map form. Even better, there's a 2-hour guided walking tour plus French wine tasting!
  • Le Petit Prince de Paris is meant to be a must-see and has plenty of 4/5* reviews on Trip Advisor
  • Pont des Arts: Don't forget your padlock!
  • Jardin du Luxembourg looks absolutely beautiful during the winter months, as seen in this blog post here.

 Where to Eat

medium
Le Relais de l’Entrecôte
Christmas Lights at Rue Cler, Paris, France
Rue Cler: This pedestrian street is home to a wide array of greengrocers, rotisseries, fromageries, delis and fishmongers. I cannot wait to try out L'Éclair, Tribeca and Le Café du Marché.
Berthillon ice cream cone
Berthillon apparently serves some of the best ice cream in Paris.
La Conserverie: Just look at this place!
  • Le Restaurant: This restaurant is hands-down one of the most beautiful restaurants I've laid eyes on (well, in photos online). I've booked a table for our Friday evening, hope it's all it's cracked up to be!
  • La pâtisserie des rêves
  • Angelina's Tearoom
  • Café de la Paix: A pricey but beautifully elegant Parisian institution
  • Falafel Valley (L’As du Fallafel): Apparently the best way to tell if you've found it is the inevitable massive queue outside!

 Where to Stay

  • Hotel Plaza Athenee: A Facebook friend reviewed this as 5stars... the only thing putting me off is the price tag!
  •  Hotel Empereur: You can request a room overlooking Les Invalides
  •  Hyatt Paris Madeleine: This is where we decided to book as there was a special 20% offer via Trivago. It's 5*, with a beautiful spa and views of the Eiffel Tower
  • Relais Christine: A hidden hotel in the Latin Quarter with a private flowered courtyard

Some other Resources

10 Things You Must See in Paris - Hopeful Wandering

City Guide to Paris by Eleanore Bridge (Le Blog De La Méchante)

The Five New Tenets of French Girl Style

Using Your Phone to See Paris in a Whole New Light

In the Footsteps of James Joyce, Paris

YTravel's blog post on Paris

Foodie Lover's Guide to Paris

Ten of the best bars in Paris

Top Paris Lookbook looks


+ 30 Books to Read Before 30

So last month I turned 28. Yep, in the grand scheme of things I'm still a spring chicken, but edging ever closer to the big Three-O has made me more conscious of all the things I could/should try to do in my twenties.

I'll be compiling '30 before 30' posts on various topics as I edge ever close to entering my fourth decade on earth! First up is a list of books to read before 30:

What I Know Now: Letters to my Younger SelfWomen from all walks of life write a letter to their younger selves. Some lovely advice such as the following:

“Notice some of the beauty around you.Partake in joy. And when you get the choice to watch on the sidelines or to dance, get out there and dance" - Lee Ann Womack
Leaves of Grass - Walt WhitmanI've only read Song of Myself so far, but love the following passage:

"My sun has his sun and round him obediently wheels /
He joins with his partners a group of superior circuit /
And greater sets follow, making specks of the greatest inside them."
The Second Sex - Simone de BeauvoirThis is a REALLY dense book and I will be surprised if I finish the first chapter before I hit 30! I know that this is a rite of passage and I'll definitely commit to finishing this one day.
Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
Currently reading this. I firmly believe this should be on everyone's reading list regardless of age, and if you don't believe me here's some reasons on why we should!
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - Raymond CarverI read this for a module at university, and it affected me more than nearly all the other books during my English Literature course. It's so raw, honest about relationships and for that reason everyone should read this in their twenties
Adulting - Kelly Williams Brown
Not read this yet but I'm a massive fan of Kelly's blog, for posts such as this.
The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret AtwoodMargaret Atwood's novels are compulsory reading for women (and men), not least because of their tendency to deal with harrowing, thought-provoking subject matters in such a way that anyone can read them.
The Bell Jar - Sylvia PlathFor me, this was a boring but must-read novel. Boring in the sense that the protagonist seemed to have nothing to live for. But again, that's why you should read it. The metaphor in the title, of being suffocated/trapped by depression is haunting and needs to be observed to have a greater understanding of humanity.
As Conscious Is Harnessed to Flesh - Susan SontagI love her free-flowing, personal phrase in this collection of intimate thoughts.
Nights at the Circus - Angela CarterTruly memorable, one-of-a-kind novel. Angela Carter's work is deeply original and I'd also recommend The Passion of New Eve for another wildely insane, memorable read!
The Mark on The Wall & Other Fiction- Virginia Woolf"Still, there’s no harm in putting a full stop to one’s disagreeable thoughts by looking at a mark on the wall.”
Wild - Cheryl StrayedI really enjoyed following Cheryl's fucked-up but cathartic journey into the desert.
Middlemarch - George Eliot“...it is in these acts called trivialities that the seeds of joy are forever wasted until men and women look round with haggard faces at the devastation their own waste has made and say the earth bears no harvest of sweetness—calling their denial knowledge."
Under My Skin - Doris LessingTo Read
Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas HardyI read this when I was a teenager and I still remember it clearly. “Tis because we be on a blighted star, and not a sound one, isn't it Tess?”"
Lady Chatterley’s Lover - DH Lawrence“A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.” Anything by DH Lawrence is a must-read in my book. I love his ability to describe human emotion with such beautiful prose.
Letters of Note - edited by Shaun UsherMy favourite letters include the NASA scientist writing to the nun, and John Steinback giving advice to his son about love; "And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away."
Freedom - Jonathan Franzen"But nothing disturbs the feeling of specialness like the presence of other human beings feeling identically special.”"
Burial Rites - Hannah KentSemi-historical novel depicting the unjust treatment of a young women in Iceland.
Diving into the Wreck - Adrienne RichAdrienne Rich is a hugely important poet whose poetry and essays raised questions about feminism, sexuality and modern-day life.
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie“If you don't understand, ask questions. If you're uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It's easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard. Here's to possibilities of friendship and connection and understanding.”
Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence“Night, in which everything was lost, went reaching out, beyond stars and sun. Stars and sun, a few bright grains, went spiraling round for terror, and holding each other in embrace, there in a darkness that outpassed them all, and left them tiny and daunted. So much, and himself, infinitesimal, at the core of nothingness, and yet not nothing.”
The Awakening - Kate ChopinTo Read
Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki MurakamiI love this book because it's wholly unlike anything I've ever read. It's on this list for precisely that reason.
Song of Solomon - Toni MorrisonWhether it's Song of Solomon, the Bluest Eye or Beloved, Toni Morrison is essential reading.
Delta of Venus - Anaïs NinTo Read
Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”
Eat Pray Love - Elizabeth GilbertStill haven't managed to finish this book, but I think it's a necessary read not least because it deals with the discontentment of a woman who "has it all".
Ghana Must Go - Taiye SelasiAlmost poetic debut novel from Taiye Selasi. Cannot wait to read more from her
Revolutionary Road - Richard YatesA thought-provoking read centring on the mundanity of domesticity. “Intelligent, thinking people could take things like this in their stride, just as they took the larger absurdities of deadly dull jobs in the city and deadly dull homes in the suburbs. Economic circumstances might force you to live in this environment, but the important thing was to keep from being contaminated. The important thing, always, was to remember who you were.”

 

 

 

 


+ Highbury Area Guide: Things to do in N5, London

It's been almost a year since we moved to the N5 area (between Highbury and Finsbury Park). In that time I've seen a few new businesses pop up and seriously think it's only a matter of time before it becomes the next up-and-coming London neighbourhood to watch.

What I love most about the area is that N5 has only a handful of chains and the majority of local businesses are one-off London gems. The N5 area is also super close to the hip and hippy Stoke Newington, and Clissold Park is just two minutes' walk away too. See below for my Highbury area guide:

Green Spaces: Within the grounds of Clissold Park is the impressive Clissold House, as well as a deer enclosure, butterfly dome (although it's currently devoid of butterflies), tennis courts, a skate park and two large lakes. Ok, it's absolutely pissing it down outside right now, but I firmly believe it's one of the best places to run in London when the sun is shining! What's also great about N5 is that you have Finsbury Park about ten minutes' walk up Blackstock Road, so there's no shortage of greenery, and absolutely no excuses for not heading out for a jog (of course, with exception of the rain)!

Brunch Heaven: Since we moved in, a couple of very on-trend cafés have opened up in the local area. On Blackstock Road is Frank's Canteen, which I've reviewed over at Yelp as well. As you can see from the photos below, the food is pretty extraordinary.

Also recently opened is the unique Fink's Salt and Sweet Deli. I walk past this place everyday and while they have a loyal lunch crowd (especially at weekends), it also welcomes a few local trendsetters in the evenings for some low-key glasses of wine.

Another fave of mine (which I don't have photos of yet) is the Blackstock Kitchen. We always go for the chicken & avocado sandwich and a tuna & sweetcorn toasted sarnie to share. Very friendly staff, a nice local feel and some space outside to enjoy the sun, whenever it comes out!

Furniture Shops: Gathering Moss is a beautifully kitted out shop featuring shelving units and bench tables made from reclaimed wood, trinkets, candles and general boho chicery. Ned and I actually found our much-loved bench table from this shop, and the shop staff actually delivered it to our flat within 30 minutes of purchasing! There's also a hidden-away furniture shop called Bennet & Brown which sells gorgeous pendant lamps, 20th-century trinkets and wooden furniture.

 Other Places to Try:

Primeur - This place was initially hard to book as you had to go in person days before you'd decided to eat there, but they now have a Twitter account to take bookings (@primeurbookings). I haven't been to this restaurant yet, but will definitely take advantage of this and book asap!

Garufa - An Argentine grill that does the best brunch, as per my Yelp review, and they've also recently started advertising Malbec Monday's where they offer all wine bottles at 50% off. I hate Mondays but love Malbec so need to give it a go.

Exeter Street Bakery - I spotted this when I walked north of Finsbury Park the other day, and the bread looks world-class!

 Cafe Vintage - The food varies in quality but even so I really appreciate having a quirky, multi-purpose business down the road. This non-chain cafe always has great seasonal window displays, nice coffee and the odd piece of clothing to buy too.

Seasons and Blossoms - Kaleidoscopic selection of organic fruit, veg and they even sell 'biodynamic' bananas! Will definitely go back again to try out their coffee.

La Fromagerie - They often have events, but of course the main draw of this place is their locally made cheese and wine selection.

For more info, you can see all my Yelp photos and reviews.