Needle in the Hay Stack

Just over seven months ago, on a drizzly summer day, I took this photo. The setting was Hay-on-Wye – a tiny town nestled between the foreboding valleys of the Powys-Herefordshire border; Welsh by a wisp with part of the town situated in England and the other in the land of St David. The Hay Festival of Literature and Arts has been an annual celebration of all aspects of creativity since 1998 and has remained a fixed point in the British calendar since then – being descended on by droves of authors, journalists, poets, lecturers, actors, musicians, artists, school children and tourists in Whitsun week.

Hay itself is a sleepy place, albeit one with a wonderfully sprawling collection of second-hand book shops. In fact, on entering Hay you are greeted with a sign beholding “Hay-on-Wye – Town of Books”! The very fact that such a town can survive and that this festival of the Arts continues to grow year on year, attracting some of the greatest authors, poets, comedians and thinkers of the 21st century is surely uplifting in our current climate of library closures and bookshop decline – a topic I mused on over a year ago in my post “The demise of the local bookshop”.

Ironically, my bemusement at the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts being sponsored by The Telegraph (for some reason it tickled me at the time) morphed into excitement when I had the great pleasure of meeting Lisa Armstrong; Telegraph Fashion Editor, ex Times Fashion Editor and Vogue contributor. I had half an hour to kill between Michael Morpurgo’s glorious Annual Hay Library Lecture and David Bellos’ fascinating talk on language in translation, humorously entitled “Is that a fish in your ear?”, and having been alerted to the fact that Lisa had given her own talk earlier in the day I was off on a hunt to find her.

To put it into context, Lisa Armstrong’s Times Magazine columns accompanied my Saturday afternoon lunch for as long as I can remember; I’d even go as far as to say that she was one of the reasons I became so interested in fashion because of her ability to make it appear accessible to me, a thirteen, fourteen, fifteen year old schoolgirl. I arrived, a little out of breath I might add, at The Telegraph tent only to spy her chatting with a festival-going couple. I hovered, debating whether to pluck up the courage to introduce myself. In short: I did. She was lovely, gave me advice about becoming a journalist and complemented me on my black felt hat. I was a very happy girl. What’s more, she very kindly agreed to have a photo with me and even snapped me for The Telegraph’s festival style blog!

Experiencing Hay was, without doubt, a true highlight of my year. Sitting in a huge tent, my pen poised above my favourite RSC notebook and surrounded by other fellow Morpurgo devotees I felt inexplicably at home. Even more so when Michael, as I like to think of him, boomed;“Cutting library funding is the stupidest thing this government has ever done”, amid cheers and applause from the delighted audience. A phrase which has stayed with me ever since the festival came from his lips too: “Reading is the oxygen of enlightenment”. A metaphor so strong and so true it doesn’t even feel like it should be granted metaphor status.

My favourite quote from the festival came courtesy of Twitter; “Only at Hay-on-Wye would a talk on fonts be so popular it has to move venues twice”. There is something so honest and uplifting about that sentence which embodies this festival in the accolades it deserves. I can’t wait to be returning this year. If you’ve never been – go. I dare you.

Hay 2

Hay 2

Hay 3

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York

Type the phrase “best thing to come out of Yorkshire” into the Google search bar and press enter. In the space of 0.25 seconds, circa 24,000,000 results will be offered in return. York – it’s magnificent Minster included – is surely one of them, the city itself effervescing history from it’s cobbled streets. The brilliantly named “Shambles” street, which boasts overhanging buildings dating back to the 14th century was once known as was once known as “The Great Flesh Shambles”, probably from the Anglo-Saxon word “fleshammels” which literally means “shelves of flesh”, the word for the shelves that butchers used to display their meat. Absolutely fascinating.

A day trip to York is something I would recommend to anyone. The Minster is overwhelming both in terms of its size and ornate architecture. The Minster’s current project aims to restore the Great East Window which contains the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain, and was designed by a ‘grand master’ of glass art, John Thornton. According to the Minster website; “started in 1405 and completed in 1408, the main part of the window depicts the Apocalypse, and is recognised around the world as being some of the finest medieval stained glass still in existence”.

York itself is a labyrinth of shopping streets where upmarket names such as Mulberry and Jo Malone rub shoulders with independent fashion boutiques. Retail appears to be thriving in the city – the weekday of October half-term on which I visited could have been the Saturday before Christmas such was the sheer volume of shoppers (and plummeting temperature). The city lends itself to some wonderful photographic opportunities and I feel that my first shot captures the essence of my fleeting visit. A crowd of tourists – many of them International – gathered in silence, listening to a local guide explain the history of such a striking building – a fine example of masonry and craftsmanship.

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Shaken Not Stirred

Whishaw and Craig as Q and 007

Skyfall

If there’s one brand, one film franchise, one name even, that sums up the very best of British creativity and industry (and which holds no relation to anyone of a royal title or an olympian) it is Bond. James Bond. Oh the images are filling my mind and I’m making no attempt to close the flood gates; martinis, Aston Martins, sophisticated black suits. Femme fatales, incredible dresses, guns, blood, Judi Dench, gadgets, the unmistakable theme tune. Fast cars, crazy billionaires, sharks and the hairiest escapes known to man.

It is perhaps serendipitous that I first began writing this post weeks (alright, two and a bit weeks) before the amusement of the Queen’s film cameo at the opening ceremony, where Bond deservedly made the entrance of the century to the roars of 80,000 people. Serendipitous as I had the unplanned pleasure of attending The Barbican’s current exhibition “Designing 007: 50 Years Of Bond Style”. It was, quite easily, the very best I have ever attended.

It was one of those afternoons that wasn’t mapped out and jam-packed with events; my family and I were to see the double bill of the plays “South Downs” and “The Browning Version” at the Harold Pinter Theatre and then take it from there. On exiting someone suggested a leisurely stroll from the West End, down Fleet Street and up to EC2 would offer the perfect opportunity to walk off the false sense of tiredness that descends in the heat of the theatre. It was clearly meant to be as my brother, utilising the wonderful invention that is the mobile phone, booked tickets enough for the four of us as we stood outside the stage door and no sooner had the crowds descended to queue for cabs than we were marching off into the distance.

Now, I am a Bond fan in the way that one whiff of a royal engagement gives way to a nation of crown lovers. I’m not a hardcore Bond brainbox but I’ve always enjoyed the slick Britishness (now I’m really not making sense) of the films and delight in the intricacies of the costume design in particular. Having not watched anything Bond related for a considerable amount of time therefore, the section of my brain reserved for the very best things in life was immediately saturated with the world of espionage the moment I stepped through the double doors into the first stage of the exhibition.

The Barbican had clearly made use of someone trained in the art of creating a practical, memorable and ultimately enjoyable memorabilia exhibit fit for public consumption. The level of detail exercised across the entire display was so scrupulous that upon exiting the final of the three stages of the spectacle (which was held across three floors of The Barbican requiring tickets to be retained and stamped on entry into each new level) I glanced down at my ticket only to smile at the numbers “007”; made up of the three consecutive stamps I had received.

My personal favourite of the outfits on show was Eva Green’s glorious evening dress, worn for her role as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. In contrast, I was appalled to discover that the ragged black dress donned by Olga Kurylenko as Bond’s accomplice Camille Montes in Quantum of Solace was in fact couture Prada and worth several thousands of pounds! On that note, was I the only one underwhelmed by Sévérine, Skyfall’s obligatory Bond girl? Without giving too much away, I like to think that her character was written without any real solidity to enforce the strong theme of the character relationship between Bond and M. Judi Dench triumphed, as did Ben Whishaw as Q who shall be returning to grace our screens in series 2 of The Hour TONIGHT on BBC2 at 9pm. I thoroughly recommend both The Hour (series 1 of which I wrote about here) and Skyfall – both are rich in glamour, espionage and good old-fashioned wit.

Ben Whishaw as Q

Q

Patriotic Profits – Beneath the Pageantry

Wenlock and Mandeville – Official Ambassadors

What with the Olympics (apologies to anyone who saw that third word and was immediately inclined to cease reading this post) being shoved down our throats at every opportunity and by everyone from the BBC to politicians to clothing brands, it’s getting a little tiring being told very matter of factly that London 2012 will “define what it is to be British”. In fact, many people would agree that spending an unimaginable amount of money on hosting what is effectively a dragged out international sport’s day in a country which can’t remember a time when employment was high or the word “austerity” didn’t feature at least once in every news broadcast isn’t quite the way we would wish to symbolise the nation.

This is in no way a slur on the athletes taking part – the courageous men and women striving for sporting excellence in front of an audience of millions – it is a plea for those who aim to profit as much as possible from the games to consider whether exploiting the Olympics by disguising their many “official” products as patriotism or, ultimately, “britishness” is actually aiding the country in the long run. Sure, in the short-term it’ll boost the economy; let’s hope so anyway given the unthinkable sums spent on the venues and organisation (and no I’ve no idea where we’ve sourced that cash from either). However, wouldn’t we prefer the lasting legacy from the most incredible show on earth to be a sporting one?

Don’t we want generations to remember the cheers, the excitement, the exhilaration, the resolution on the faces of athletes before a final, the pain of losing, the glory of being the best in the world? Rather that than the outcry over McDonald’s being a major sponsor or the ridiculousness of having a one-eyed stuffed toy that resembles a Cyclops for a mascot?  Everyone knows that the defining moments of the Games will be created on the track, in the pool and anywhere else which lends itself as a sporting venue; why not’s let leave it to the competitors to create the hype?

The Bard Lives On

Ben Crick as Romeo

Ben Crick as Romeo

Outside of the English department, professing my enjoyment of Shakespeare in school is hardly likely to gain me any smiles of agreement; in fact I’d be lucky to get a nod of acknowledgement. It is with this in mind that I rejoiced (or rather, breathed a deep sigh of relief) upon seeing British students like myself immersing themselves in the infinite capabilities of the greatest writer the world has ever seen. Shakespeare: Off By Heart – a talent competition with a difference – corresponds with the BBC’s current focus on all aspects of Shakespeare’s life and works, rather sensationally titled Shakespeare Unlocked.

Whittled down from 2000 people aged between 13 and 15 throughout the nation, nine finalists were chosen to attend workshops at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon before appearing solo on stage and performing a well-versed soliloquy in front of several hundred people and three thespian judges. Jeremy Paxman hosted – an interesting choice as I can’t imagine anyone with the ability to unnerve young contestants any more than the man who berates swathes of intelligent under and post-graduates on University Challenge with put downs such as “No no no Corpus Christi you’re in the wrong century let alone decade” or similar such remarks. This choice was presumably intended to offer some gravitas to a relatively unadvertised BBC2 programme where the critics were three people you vaguely recognised from having seen on tv a few times.

As most people know, BBC2’s track record of, as Paxo put it, “X-Factor for intelligent people” programmes is pretty sparse and rightly so; we tend to leave that to BBC4. Due to this, the format of the show lacked any real sense of structure and although this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, their inexperience at behind the scenes, diary-like, “reality” tv footage showed, refreshing as it may have been. Clips of the patronisingly described “children” undergoing voice and acting coaching were dispersed between video of the actual performances and portraits of the 9 and their backgrounds. If I were to be critical I’d say that this didn’t help viewers to sustain a real sense of watching the action continuously in the theatre as the audience would have done, though on the whole this didn’t detract from the show’s overall message or impact.

There were some real characters among the chosen few and all showed a real enthusiasm for the literary gospel they were proclaiming the words of. My favourite, however, had to be Ben. Aged 15, he delivered the famous balcony scene monologue of Romeo and Juliet with suitable exaggeration and aplomb, despite the fact that he didn’t care much for the character of Romeo – deeming him naive to become besotted with Juliet so swiftly. He used his inner thoughts to his advantage by portraying Romeo almost comically and capturing the attention of the audience on all three sides. I was sorry that he didn’t make it through to the final three – each charged with the task of performing Hamlet’s daunting “To be, or not to be” speech – though from the wallpaper of his room being made up of rosettes from local drama festivals and as a member of the NYT (National Youth Theatre) I’m sure he’ll go far.

For anyone who missed it I offer you my sincere apologies as it is no longer on i-player (they definitely need to extend the one week limit to two at least), however I am able to point you in the direction of a couple of other reviews which will fill in the gaps for you and hopefully make you feel like you’ve watched it through alertly, twice. Here’s what The Telegraph,  The Times and Sunshine Tomorrow had to say. I’d be very interested to know your views if you did manage to catch it first time around and hopefully it will be repeated soon for those who didn’t.

Shakespeare and his plays may often seem another world away – and sometimes they are – but his comedies and tragedies speak reams about human nature and even today stand up against the most respected of writings as works that define literature. Last year, I studied Macbeth and loved every minute of it. It’s alternative title for the superstitious, The Scottish Play, doesn’t do it justice. The challenge of understanding what appears to be a different language altogether is directly proportional to the levels of satisfaction felt on revelling in the richness of the words once understood. If nothing else, it’s certainly the only incentive I’ve ever had to wield a carving knife around the kitchen, proclaiming wide-eyed and as if possessed “Is this a dagger I see before me?”

We are the Youth of Today

Teenagers from Badminton School in Bristol, Lucy Warden, Sam Crumpton and Maddie Sunter celebrate in the rain

It’s late August. The last remnants if the summer are swept away in a scourge of last year’s games kit and M&S have been promoting “back to school” buys for at least three months. But something else is about to happen; an air of tension and nervous excitement pulsing through the brick work and vibrating around the gates of schools and colleges across the country. When the public examination results are finally revealed and the predictable, posed photographs of jumping girls in flowery summer dresses (though read this for an interesting take on the politics of results day pictures) literally leap out at you from the front page of The Times, spare a thought for those same teenagers who will have their achievements waved away like a swarm of irritable flies by the time the following day’s news drops through the letterbox.

“A-Level results are up in Britain by an overall figure of 5%” announces the Radio 4 newsreader, whilst the pompous proprietors of educational supplements will mock these findings incredulously with a chortle of “oh well they’re surely making the exams easier then!”. Why this incomprehensible need to put a negative slant on the painstaking hours of work and revision from so many students across the country? As someone who is on the brink of sitting the first in a long line of external exams this summer I find it ridiculous that the significant measure of time and effort allocated to what I have been educated to believe are some of the most important exams I will ever take has the frightening potential of being blown out of the water by someone at News International who decides it’s about time the youth of today were on the receiving end of some criticism for a change.

Sadly, it’s not the only item on life’s agenda we’re ever reprimanded about. All too often, sweeping statements are made about the attitude of the under-twenty generation, be it a lack of interest in current affairs or our supposed appreciation of all things rebellious and anti the establishment. Unfortunately, more often than not it is the people who issue such generalisations whom are guilty of shunning the very portion of society they complain about. This manner of discrimination I find indescribable, though I am not short of examples and none so obvious as when we are paying passengers on public transport. If I had a pound for very time I’d been refused a child ticket whilst still legally a child, or had the details of my ticket unnecessarily scrutinised by an officious employee of the GMPTE I’d have been wealthy enough to avoid the aforementioned people by chartering my own private jet for even the most local of journeys.

I can still vividly remember,  although the memory isn’t so much tinged with anger as it is saturated, being publicly humiliated when boarding a bus into my nearest town. I was fourteen years old at the time and after cheerily greeting the driver I politely asked for a return child ticket to my destination. After receiving the most obvious once-over, the driver sneeringly told me to “pull the other one love” as he blatantly believed me to be lying about my age. I wasn’t trying to scrounge the saving of a measly 47p or whatever it is by saying I was younger than sixteen; I was younger than sixteen! I do apologise if my smart appearance suggested that I might actually be an ambassador for the polite and educated contingent of Britain’s youth population. Or rather, I don’t apologise one bit.

The Nature Of Change

I don’t particularly like flowers. Or rather, I like looking at them but I would never go out to buy plant seeds and make painstaking attempts to grow my own. I admire beautifully-kept gardens but am not one to relish the process of striding towards unruly bushes with trowel and secateurs in hand. I don’t know whether this aversion to getting my hands dirty and spending hours bent double sifting soil will remain with me forever, although perhaps there is a connection between age and willingness to devote time, money and effort to making your immediate surroundings flowery and bright or calm and tranquil. There is, however, something undeniably rejuvenating and wholesome about fresh flowers – be they wild or lovingly greenhouse-grown.

One aspect of greenery that must be universally acknowledged is it’s comparisons to other examples of new ventures, beginnings and ultimately – life. I once read a newspaper article which shunned the traditionally January-made New Year’s resolutions, suggesting instead that there would be something like a 60% better chance of them being kept if made in March or April, when Spring was well under-way. The claim for this apparently lay in the belief that the season offered an altogether more optimistic outlook on life due to factors such as there being longer hours of daylight, (supposedly) warmer weather and a more abundant sense of positivity throughout the land as opposed to the bleak oppressiveness of dark January mornings.

In the interest of becoming a more-rounded individual, I myself have invested in this period of  “change”. I remember writing a post on the theme of “transition” last August in which I outline my feelings about the fruitful promise any type of change can bring. I even coloured the page with one of the most memorable posters from President Obama’s 2008 election campaign – the now ubiquitous “change” image. Watching his inauguration live on television whilst eating my tea in my school uniform I was inspired by his speech; by his clear direction and determination. We all experience change whether it is something we covet or not – but it is those who embrace it who believe in its goodness.

Personal changes are often the catalyst for making a new beginning or starting a positive stretch. For example, I had an appointment at my hairdresser’s on Saturday and when I arrived I told my stylist that I wanted curly hair (it’s currently short and straight). She said “no problem” and within an hour I exited the salon happy, my face framed with curled locks. Of course it looked perfect for the rest of the day but proved somewhat difficult to emulate the day after and the day after that. When Monday came I arrived in school with a version not completely dissimilar from the style I donned at the weekend but it was considerably less well-curled. It’s a significant change for me, although to borrow a scientific process it is a “reversible change”.

It only takes a comb through with water and my hair is poker straight once more, as it is today because I couldn’t summon the energy to wake up twenty minutes early to painstakingly create twenty-something curls. It’s still change though; having a new style I can adopt whenever I fancy, to be made permanent in June when it’s chemically waved. The term “waved” is apparently the new “permed”; to invoke fewer shudders as people cast their minds back to painful memories of 80s ringlets gone wrong. However vain it may sound, this will mark the beginning of a long and (hopefully) enjoyable summer for me, which is why this kind of transformation is as important in my mind to global changes we experiences as nations or continents. Shouldn’t we all be advocates of change?

The photographs were taken on a coastal walk over Easter. 

White Heat: A Tangled Web Of Revolt

1960s: L-R Jack, Charlotte, Lilly, Alan, Jay, Orla, Victor

White Heat: a piece of original British drama starring seven young actors; six of them relatively unknown and emerging from obscurity in one of the finest adaptations the BBC has produced in recent History. Spanning five decades – each of the six episodes set several years on from the previous part and with appropriate costumes, props and hairstyles to reinforce this – the series follows the trials and tribulations of seven students who have descended on London to begin their undergraduate degree courses, all aged eighteen and from an assortment of different backgrounds.

There’s Charlotte – finely acted by Claire Foy (of Little Dorrit and Upstairs Downstairs fame) who leads the gallant band of fine young thespians (both acting and character-wise) – a resolute middle-class girl from Buckinghamshire, eager to experience the freedom the Big Smoke has to offer, whom embraces the sixties as if it were up for auction to another century and revels in the liberty it affords her. There’s a particularly memorable scene in one of the early episodes in which Charlie (as she quickly becomes  known to the gang) has a stand-off with her father on the steps outside the flat after he interrupts her New Years Eve party. He showers her with insults ranging from jibes about the shortness of her dress to his disgust at her new-found smoking habit.

A deep-rooted theme of the six-part drama is women’s rights – a cause which Charlotte and fellow feminist and flatmate Lilly (Myanna Buring) campaign for in their own thrilling way by covering adverts (and sometimes people) with stickers proclaiming “this man degrades women” before being chased away by the police. Lilly, an art student, is forced to endure a battle with her none-too-impressed parents who look unfavourably on her chosen career path and would instead prefer her to return to Yorkshire to work in her auntie’s shop. She also faces personal crises with catastrophic consequences both for her and the remaining six, although these disasters are somewhat softened by the presence of Alan (Lee Ingleby), who adores her from the very first time the seven sit down for dinner in the flat.

Of all the themes White Heat encapsulates in the total six hours of its existence, it is those of feminism and rights which grabbed me most and made me sit up and listen. It is strange to see women such as Lilly and Charlotte fighting for their reproductive liberty and egalitarianism when, for many countries in the western world today, abortion is available practically on demand. It is unfathomable, at least to me, why some people (and this includes men as well) don’t use their vote after the dedication of so many lives to the cause resulted in forced feeding, imprisonment and even death. Although this thread is a little off topic, if White Heat had been set at the turn of the 20th century I can guarantee the chief aim for the female characters would have been Votes For Women.

If you’re interested in reading an actual review I can heartily recommend this article from The Guardian which presents a perhaps more balanced perspective of White Heat. All six episodes are available on iPlayer until Thursday and if you want to read up on the characters before watching you can visit the BBC’s White Heat Homepage. One final push required to beat you into viewing submission? I can reveal that all seven students are played by not one but two actors. Episode one actually begins in 2012 when the gang regroup after the death of one of them requires the flat to be cleared and sold, with the older Charlotte being played by stalwart of British acting Juliet Stevenson and Lilly by the equally formidable Lindsay Duncan. They’re performances alone make White Heat worthy of a viewing, however sceptical that viewer may be. Let me know what you think.

1970s: L-R: Jack, Alan, Charlotte, Victor, Lilly, Orla, Jay

Primavera, Printemps, Spring

It isn’t often I play the part of a tourist in my own region, but today has been one such day. Sometimes it’s revitalising to get out there and appreciate where you live, wherever you are. This post was supposed to be a debate on gender stereotypes, entitled “Pink for a girl, blue for a boy”, due to the array of contrasting pink and blue in the outfit featured above, but after reading Libby’s post Spring Light I felt it far more apt to talk of my first experiences of the Spring of 2012.

Today I have witnessed the opening of beautiful daffodils, experienced the sheer pleasure of feeling the sun on my skin, seen children running and playing as the golden light glints off their hair and truly enjoyed the beginning of this season. For me, Spring symbolises new life, new ventures and optimism for the future. I hope the sun has shone down on you today and that this glorious and unexpected weather lasts. It reminds me of last April – that month of the most anticipated wedding of the decade – when we were graced with blue skies and warm, breezy days. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that this isn’t just a ‘spell’  and holds out until the Diamond Jubilee. I’ll be celebrating twice as enthusiastically if it does!

Outfit snapshots:

  • Navy blouse = Charity shop
  • Scarf clip = Church Fair (this is the sister piece of the brooch seen here from the 1950s collection!)
  • Shorts = Forever 21
  • Tights = Next
  • Shoes = Clarks (can be seen in more detail here and here)
  • Hairband = New Look

The Emerald Isle – St Patrick’s Day

When I think of Ireland, the images conjured up in my head are a jumble of memories, maps, photos, Visit Ireland adverts and downright stereotypes. My perceptions of the Emerald Isle are, for the most part, extremely positive. There’s the lilting accent, the beautiful coastline, the luscious greenery, the myths and legends, the craic (humour) and the dancing. It only takes one attendance at a Céilidh or a single viewing of the interval display of the première of Riverdance at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest held in Dublin to feel yourself being gravitated across the Irish Sea.

It has always struck me that Ireland is an island steeped in traditions and superstition. Be it kissing the blarney stone for luck or wearing a shamrock there is a sense of being guided by supernatural beings. The breathtaking landscapes, the majority of which lie unchanged and unpopulated, only add to the natural beauty and mystery of the place, whilst its villages, towns and cities have produced some of the most notable writers, actors and musicians known to all.

Kenneth Branagh, Michael Fassbender, Sir Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, Enya, Sinead O’Connor, The Corrs, Westlife, Ronan Keating, Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Maeve Binchy, Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, C S Lewis, William Yeats, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde are just a few which “spring to mind”. Whilst doing background research for this post I also discovered that revered milliner Philip Treacy is also Irish which surely garners respect for the country.

Images of mythical creatures often associated with Ireland such as leprechauns can be found gracing the sashes of brownie packs across the world, whilst writers such as J K Rowling have brought them to life on the printed page. Her descriptions of the Irish supporters at the fictitious Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire erecting tents bedecked with shamrocks and waving orange, white and green flags for all they were worth has stayed with me as it always seemed an accurate description of Irish, well, togetherness. It is sad that this is juxtaposed by events such as the recent bombings in Londonderry, especially as the city has been named Uk City of Culture for 2013. We can only hope that peaceful solutions can be found to existing conflicts and that the future of Ireland as a nation is a bright one.

Outfit snapshots:

  • Green nail polish = Barry M
  • Ring = Charity shop
  • Shirt = H&M
  • Cardigan = Charity shop
  • Belt = Dorothy Perkins
  • Necklace = Present
  • Beret = Present