“I was twenty years old and at large in a perfect world” – a fortnight in Europe, August 2016

Wednesday 3 August

Hallo! I am in Cologne. I arrived here but three hours ago and all it has done so far is rain. I have been looking for a cafe to sit in to shelter from it, the first: I got some lunch but didn’t stay there long enough to benefit from worthwhile rain protection, the second: The waitress served me coffee in a paper cup and said “Ciao”, which I took as a farewell (my multilingual skills aren’t great but good enough to understand such a gesture). I’m so glad I took an umbrella as a last-minute thought, otherwise I doubt the fatigue mixed with sogginess would’ve put me in the best mood.

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People are friendly and chatty here but don’t speak much English, leaving me, a solo soggy English girl just going ‘Ack! Ack! Ack!’ as a response until they get the hint. Although it’s wet, it’s warm. I’m sure the first few days of travelling alone aren’t the easiest anyway.

14:30

I’ve found somewhere to collect my thoughts: In God’s House. Cologne’s cathedral (Köln Dom) is beautifully serene bar the low hum of yakking tourists and epilepsy-inducing camera flashes going off every few seconds. I can’t help but feel it’s fairly similar in majesty to Peterborough Cathedral (I know right, you can take the girl out of Peterborough…)

I might go to Amsterdam tomorrow. Well, chuck a stoner girl into Germany for a day and she’ll always find a way out. The train’s only a couple of hours away and it’ll be nice to get away from the rain – although it complements Gothic architecture beautifully. Right now I’m going to do a few laps of this cathedral, maybe get a coffee and something sweet and head to an art gallery before it closes. Then I plan to go back to my hostel, shower, incinerate this sweat-stinked top and go out for a huge plate of spaghetti.

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Caffe Greco, Renato Guttaso, 1976 (Museum Ludwig, Cologne)

Thursday 4 August

Fuck it, I went to Amsterdam! How could I not really, being so close (kind of), and it being so easy. Not only can you smoke weed here, you can have someone pre-roll your joints for you, which is important for a stoner girl – who’s always had a designated joint-rolling mate around her – on her first solo trip to Europe. I was into Cologne (kind of) but I’d done the free thing – the cathedral – and I somehow still managed to spend €60, so I got me the hell out of there and on the first train to Amsterdam (well, not the very first, I treated myself to a decent 10-hour sleep to rid myself of first-day fatigue). Amsterdam is full of smiley English boys walking slowly along the canals with pizza boxes.

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(cont.)

Wow, Amsterdam truly is the best city on Earth. Coming here a second time has only proved that. I was a bit worried that certain memories here would remind me too much of my ex-boyfriend (we holidayed here last August), and it has at times, but in a really nice way. It fills me with a smug sort of feeling of a girl having travelled and being able to point out street corners where she’s been kissed. I’m so so glad I came here. I’ve had such a nice day in a city planned in heaven. I’m yet to go anywhere else that tops it, except maybe Rome. I’m happy to leave a place filled with happy people, happy in the knowledge that I got to spend eight and a half hours there today.

Friday 5 August

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It has rained since I got to Munich, there’s something about Germany, hey! It took around 13 hours to get here from Amsterdam, which in hindsight was a total ordeal, but at the time I suppose I didn’t really know what lay ahead of me so I just plodded on.

 

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Sunday 7 August

I haven’t written for a few days because every time I go to write I get chatting to someone. This hostel in Vienna is perfect, as is Vienna (although everything is shut on Sunday/Monday). I can’t believe I’m halfway through already. I’m going to walk for a bit and write some more later. I want to document what I’ve done and who I’ve met so far because I’ve drank approximately 25,000 litres of beer in the past week and I’m struggling to remember already. I didn’t write anything in Munich, but Munich = good. Pub crawls and 3am walks with American boys.

(cont.)

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Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna

I’m sitting outside the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. It is baking hot, the sky is as blue as this pen [see below] and the building is totally beautiful. I’m going to see two more places today – I’ll pick them out on the map, even though I could melt in the heat. All I’ve been doing is napping and drinking. Drinking litres upon litres of beer and getting no bad hangovers because it’s a 24/7 thing. 

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I hung out with a group of volunteers who work at the hostel yesterday. We left at around 2pm (lazy, dreamy Sunday – on Vienna time) and walked slowly through the city looking for cheap apple strudel for a French girl who left later that day and really wanted to try some before she left (EDIT: She was disappointed). We dipped our feet in the fountain at Karlsplatz for an hour or so and then headed to the Wien Museum which is free on a Sunday, don’tcha know.

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Ferninand Kruis, Wien Neuer Markt, 1914 (at the Wien Museum)

After I nearly bust an eyeball after not having a cigarette for about two hours (those Camels can have a certain hold over the Smoker-on-Holiday) we finally found some apple strudel, got some beer and walked down to Stephensplatz. God, this sounds like a Young Adult novel doesn’t it? I’m really having the best time. We came back to the hostel in the evening and met some terribly nice people and drank a terrible amount of beer. Fell in love with a Brazilian guy, too (EDIT: Still a bit heart-eyes for that night).

It seems that all I do in Vienna is walk a lot and do nothing a lot, in equal measures. It suits me though. When I’m in London I like to go to museums but I haven’t been to one yet (possibly because they’ve all been closed). In Munich too, I didn’t go to a single museum. I went to an art gallery in Cologne, which was great actually, but I didn’t go to one in Amsterdam either because apparently you can smoke weed there. I want to in Berlin though; I think they’d be hard to avoid in Berlin.

18:45

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I just napped for half an hour; a restful little cat nap. I feel so free and happy.

8am-9am: Get up/pack/shower

9am-10am: Breakfast/check out

10am-2pm: Explore more of Vienna

2pm-4pm: Cook lunch at hostel

5pm: Catch train to Prague

19:45

It’s funny documenting the time of writing as you realise just how much can happen in a hour. Just as I was writing the above list, there was this hot young couple sitting over the way from me, all intertwined and smooching and generally looking Hollywood-worthy. I would’ve got a little jealous, but they seriously looked way too good together to incite envy – the sun was shining, and here were two hot young things smooching around in Vienna. I felt weirdly enthusiastic about it: Young love’s poster couple, right here in front of me. I put my shoes on, got up and thought maybe I might want a boyfriend again soon, say, within the next 45 years or so, when this guy approaches me and asks me on a date. He was all: “Hey, I’ve been watching you from over there and wanted to come and talk to you”, ending in an only-slightly awkward exchange of broken English and phone numbers. I was kind of baffled by it as I’d just woken up from a very deep nap and people don’t really do that since Tinder happened, and I haven’t shaved my legs for a week (but then he probably couldn’t see that from wherever he was stalking me. Also, he was French, so whatever). Maybe I’ll go and see him tonight, being my last night in Vienna and all. I’ve finally got out of my sun-induced comatose with a huge black coffee, and I feel very, very happy to be here. This feels like my kind of city.

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Tuesday 9 August

Was just speaking to an Australian guy in my dorm who’s been backpacking for six billion years or something. He tried to convince me to go on a walking tour with him, but I was all like, “Actually, I was thinking about going to Forever 21 today” (I didn’t actually say this, but c’mon, dude. I’m a slow walker. And I want to go shopping! Whatever! It’s my holiday!)

Friday 12 August

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There is a god. I’ve somehow managed to bag the only seat on this train without a reservation. That’s four and a half hours of uninterrupted sitting. My kind of holiday. I’m a bit baffled as to my luck with this. Everyone standing up’s looking at me like I’ve performed a magic trick right here on the carriage, and in a way, I have. I’ve not had to reserve any trains yet – this is my last of the trip – although most of them have been near-empty. This one’s come from Budapest and is going all the way to Hamburg, somewhere I would have loved to have gone if time allowed, so it’s picked up ALL the Europeans along the way, tourists or no.

I had the nicest time in Prague. I thought it was going to be a huge party place that revolved around nighttime but there was so much to learn about during the day – so much recent history. It’s also one of the prettiest cities I’ve ever been to. The beer’s cheap, too.

The hostel wasn’t too sociable though, in fact, it was a little stark, but I was lucky enough to meet a girl on the first morning when the shower water was cold and I asked her for help. We then hung out for 48 hours straight – we didn’t share aforementioned shower, mind – but we had a great, great time.

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I’m staying in two hostels in Berlin – it’s a really long story, but basically I’ve figured out that when you’re travelling alone the type of hostel you stay in can make or break a city, and I had a bad feeling about the one I’d initially booked. The new hostel’s called Heart of Gold, so I have Neil Young looking over me if anything. It has a kitchen, which is important, as I’m cruelly broke (EDIT: Didn’t use the kitchen once). I had loads of Czech money left over that I couldn’t convert into Euros for some reason so I just bought loads of snacks for the train. AND I got a seat! Hey hey!

Saturday 13 August

I’ve already checked into my second Berlin hostel and I’m so glad I did. The first felt a little like a Travelodge; full of Brits on Snapchat in the bar. I met this amazing guy last night from Jordan who’s been travelling alone for more than two and a half years. He wasn’t annoying about it though, the opposite – a really fascinating person with a particularly kindred soul. I only wanted to have one beer last night and thought I’d hit the jackpot with an atmosphere-lacking hostel, alas, we started talking and I ended up having seven or eight beers and going out for falafel at 2am. I’m really feeling it this morning though. I knew I needed to rest last night and I feel totally exhausted today. Berlin is so beautiful but it’s so big, I don’t even know where to start. I guess you just start somewhere. It’s Saturday so it’s busy – like a Saturday in London – so naturally things are a little harder.

(cont.)

It’s so hot and I seriously considered throwing myself into the Spree when I decided to follow the crowds t’ward the Brandenburg Gate. There was a huge protest down the Unter der Linden for the legalisation of marijuana. Literally thousands of people smoking weed down a street just metres from what was referred to as a ‘death strip’ only 27 years ago when the Wall was up.

I’m going to walk again. I’m currently sitting at the Holocaust Memorial, loads of big blocks like this in a whole square:

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Police keep having to stop kids from climbing all over them, which you wouldn’t think they’d have to do – being a Holocaust memorial – but kids are kids and it’s the summer holidays. Today started shakily but has turned into the most gorgeous day. Tomorrow I’m going to do a walking tour and then find a flea market. On Monday I think I’ll go to the zoo.

Tuesday 16 August

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Victory Column, Berlin, 15/08/16

Today’s one of those horribly discombobulating days where you have to catch a flight at 6pm, thinking you’ve given yourself a whole extra day to enjoy a city, whereas all you’ve done is give yourself a day of anxiously checking your watch every five minutes to make sure you haven’t taken an involuntary nap.

I’ve had the most wonderful few days in Berlin. What an amazing edge this city has to it; not any one thing at all, but rather a city of contrast and a feeling that it’s on the brink of something special.

I’d definitely come back here again and check out more of the nightlife. If I were here with some close friends I probably would have; they could have lent me some money as I am truly stone-cold broke now. Also, I’m not madly into techno unless I’m up to my eyeballs in something illegal. I was happy instead to buy bottled beer from the shop and stroll around dark corners of Berlin with a boy from Barcelona. What a perfect three-day relationship we had, arguments and all. We were together quite intensively for a few days, and I was almost glad to be back alone and having a solo travel experience once again when he left for Amsterdam.

14:45

I’m waiting for my train to the airport with the heaviest of hearts. I wish I were going anywhere but home. I’ve truly had the most wonderful fortnight, filled with positivity and curiousity – I’d do anything to be getting on a train to Hamburg now, just one more hostel, one more stop. Berlin has so much to offer a visitor and I am 100% going to save up to do this again next year. Maybe the States, but then again, I’m not quite done with Lady Europa yet. I’d want to do it for longer – a month at the very least – and although I’d be happy to go with a companion, I think what I’ve really found over the past two weeks is just how fun it is to do these things alone.

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Screenshot 2016-08-22 at 22.03.46 - EditedI can heartily recommend reading Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There if you’re into the Continent, a book I swallowed up in four hours on a train to Wales a few months ago which convinced me to go to Europe in the first place. Amazon link is here.

 

 

Pre-nups and preludes – an intro to a review of Bat for Lashes’ The Bride – 10/7/16

I tend to only write about albums I really love, because, quite frankly, I feel it is worth my time to do so. When I get to a time in my life where I have a spare hot second in the day to write reviews upon reviews upon reviews, only then will I critique things that don’t quench my musical thirst at first – but only then. Anyway, I’ve loved Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan since I was a bat-wing-jumper-wearing, bright-red-hair-donning, teenage witch, so I was already excited about this album from its point of announcement.

It was therefore paramount that I caught her set at Glastonbury last weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much, which is strange because she played at 4pm on Sunday and I’m quite sure I’d only had around five ciders by then. Having five ciders on any other Sunday would make one very drunk, but somehow by Glastonbury’s standards, it seems almost crude to admit not remembering a set after five ciders. All I clearly remember from her set is the dress she wore, which made her look like a dead movie star, and the Virgin Mary iconography on display during ‘Sunday Love’, because: Catholic guilt.

I remember crying during ‘Laura’, a well-known, mass-heartstring-pulling single off her last record, The Haunted Man, because the last time I heard her perform that same song was at Latitude Festival in 2013, where she was playing it live for the first time. In attendance was my friend Rosie, and tears were shed as NK sang it – there are few songs quite so pure-sounding as Laura. It really got to me at Glastonbury because I’d had five ciders that day, it was raining, and the song has been a safety blanket over the past few years, which have been turbulent at times, and eventful at best. Anyway, there I was sobbing, wimpering at this song, when this woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was alright.

“Yes!”, I said. “It’s just this music. I am in love with this music. I am crying!”

“Yes”, she replied, looking kinda pissed off. “I know. They’re my favourite band too” – as if to say, “Can you please stop drunkenly mewling in front of me, I like this band better than you”, which I can only contest with, being so moved by this set to the point of howling on my knees in the mud, while my friend bopped along to ELO 400 metres away.  
Anyway, it’s fair to say that the general consensus of reviews for this record is that it is an excellent one, perhaps one of the best of the year, so my fangirl-influenced adjectives aren’t unjustifiably hyperbolic. 

Read my review of it by clicking the word here: Here.

Good morning, happy campers!: A weekend in Pilton at the end of June – 8/7/16

It’s taken me ages to write this, as every time I’m like – I’ve had a coffee, I can do this! – it’s not long before I need to take a nap. I went straight back to work after the Pilton Pop Festival, which is a rookie error, although being technically no longer a rookie and, rather, a four-timer, I should know better. I’ve slept a bit though now. I’ve had a few heart-wrenching nightmares over the last few nights that suggest that I’m settling back into the anxieties of everyday life, but for a week post-Glastonbury, I really was on top of the world. So, please forgive the disjointed nature of this post; it was written in fragments over a week or so. However, I think it’s a slight improvement on the last Glasto-themed blog post I wrote in 2013, although the sentiment is the same.  The first paragraph was written last Wednesday, in a heady head of euphoria, that I haven’t the heart to edit:

I can’t write much about stuff cause I’m so blissfully peaceful. I got back from Glastonbury two days ago. I feel like everything is on its right axis and things are so beautifully in sync together, in harmony, at one. The zen has come from five days of total, dedicated positivity – only enhanced by the tricky weather conditions that you couldn’t complain about, because if you felt inclined, you’d be complaining for around 120 hours, and no-one wants to hang out with that girl who complains about mud for 120 hours.

Every year, of the four years I’ve been lucky enough to go, my favourite day is probably Thursday, when you awake after an exhausting day of trudging way too much stuff through thigh-high mud (or in sunnier years, bake in the heat while carrying six suitcases/bags and one trolley, while wearing a fur coat) and wake up to the view from your tent. There’s something about waking up and already being outside, isn’t there? Like, hey I made it out the house today! Good morning, happy campers!

This year we camped high on a hill with views of (l-r): the Pyramid Stage, the Park, Arcadia and Glastonbury Tor. On the Thursday morning, we fizzed along with our Strongbow at the anticipation of the next four days while sitting on our camping chairs, listening to AC/DC on my friend’s broken tape player at a slightly slower speed to how it should be. F-o-r t-h-o-s-e a-b-o-u-t t-o r-o-c-k, w-e s-a-l-u-t-e y-o-u! Little did we know at the time, this would set the pace for the rest of the weekend.

The mud, if you haven’t heard already, was thigh-affirming, and a personal highlight of mine was seeing the words TAKE YOUR TIME scrolling across the LED displays dotted around the site. I’m a bit notorious within my friendship group for walking at my own pace, that is to say, very, very slowly. I just like to take my time! I have short, Italian legs! Let me walk, when I want and how I want. So, the mud was a blessing in the way it slowed everyone down to my normal pace. Thank you, mud gods.

Since I was last at the farm, it’s been a ‘Heck of a Year’, well, perhaps no more so than usual, but still a heck o’ a one at best. Everything’s been on fast forward, a lot has changed and burnout has felt like a permanent state of being most weeks. However, for the first time in months, time seemed to go blissfully slowly for the most part of the weekend: The Benefits of Opting Out of Taking Speed (In the Daytime).

Upon return from the yearly pilgrimage to Pilton, one gets back to stuff splayed all over the internet about the ‘Glastonbury Blues’, which for Coldplay fans is the actual ‘Glastonbury Blues’, but for everyone else is just ‘a comedown’.

(Just kidding, I love Coldplay fans. I didn’t see their set but only because I saw them the week before at Wembley Stadium, so I can’t really talk. Although it was a free ticket. And I was there ironically, obviously. And I clearly didn’t cry at The Scientist. It’s all a very long story.)

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It was a strange weekend in the sense that it was the Brexit-y type of weekend, something no-one really expected, but then it happened, and everyone was kind of like, ‘oh’. I got back to the tent on Friday morning at around 6am and my neighbour was sitting on his chair listening to a little radio.

“Have we?”

“Yeah. Looks like it.”

“Oh”.

We smoked a fag together and went to bed separately. It was weird. We then all woke up to the news that David Cameron had resigned. Then Henry and I decided to stop Googling stuff and got some breakfast together. We went to get bacon rolls, but then got hash brown envy of someone ahead of us in the queue so opted for a Full English. We had a nap later that day, separately. Then we got on with it. There’s a great Pitchfork article about the vibe of that day. You can read it here.

My personal musical highlights (for it is, indeed, a music festival) were Rokia Traore and Underworld (Friday); Last Shadow Puppets and Tame Impala (Saturday); Bat for Lashes and LCD Soundsystem (Sunday). I didn’t go to the south-east corner at all this year, which I kind of regret, but I simply forgot to, so I was probably having a good enough time somewhere else. One night I was captured by some Liverpudlians during a Prince/Bowie tribute in a tent and hung around with them until the morning. They called me Penny Lane all night (from the film Almost Famous), due to my fur coat and my movie-star Kate Hudson looks. If you know me, you already know this, but if you don’t know me, know this: Being as huge a Beatles fan as I am, having three Scousers calling me Penny Lane all night is a dream I never even knew was a dream come true.

I spent a good chunk of Saturday night gyrating, alone, to David Bowie songs that were playing out of the speakers at the Wine Bar stall near the Other Stage. Gyrating cause 1) Bowie, 2) A dance move where you can keep your feet firmly in the mud and circle your hips, aggressively, while clutching a plastic bottle full of whiskey.

Later that night, I was sitting in the Silver Hayes area, drinking a curdled organic juice I’d just spent £5 on (ME: Vodka! Now! WORKER: Oh no, we don’t sell alcohol. Just organic juice. ME: Well, what goes good with vodka, HUH?), when I spoke to a man on a bench who was SERIOUSLY pissed off about his campervan. Basically, because of the travesty of the mud this year, many of the campervans had to be moved to a different site in the nearby village of Shepton Mallet, and the only way they could get back to have a decent night’s sleep was via a shuttle bus service that left at 1am, so he couldn’t do any of the nighttime stuff. I guess this was a down side of the Mud Gods’ presence.

Anyway, he started mumbling something about getting some money back – to be fair to the guy, it was Saturday night, it’d been a long few days – but then his eyes lit up as he told me to go to the Green Fields the day after to see the Buddhist monks destroy the sand mandala they’d been creating over the weekend. I’ve been transfixed by the concept of sand mandalas since I heard about them in an RE lesson at school; the idea of spending days making something but resisting attachment to it, accepting that things change and evolve and having the strength to let all of that hard work go.

I didn’t go to see it, I’m not even sure if it actually happened, but the man spoke of it with such enthusiasm: “It’s like this festival!”, he said.

“I like to catch this every year if I can because it mirrors what this festival is for me. Something temporary. A fantastic few days, but packed up the week after. Back to the farm for a year” – and then gestured to the whole of the Silver Hayes area, which looked so far detached from a farm – excluding the mud – but rather a place where people could dance to shit Techno Haus Musik, drink pints of vodka doused in organic juice and moan about shuttle bus services, all in equal measure. It was then that my heart was flushed with joy for everyone and everything, namely the litterpickers and the Eavis’ and my friends, who were somewhere else; this guy and his friends, who were somewhere else, etc.

He was right, and after that, I didn’t feel so bad about it being over the day after next. I went on to have one of the best Sundays ever, actually, which is for a different blog post entirely, but then again, is probably best kept to my journal, as to not unsettle my mother, sensitive internet types and future employers. It was a good day, because it was a day like any other, but better, and shared with beautiful strangers. Here’s to festival feelings all year round. 

All love, glitter, mud and shit,

T.A.L x

“if I loved myself, would I take it the wrong way?”: Things I’ve been going and doing – 13/09/015

Roiling clouds of superheated ash surge from Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines National Geographic | December 1992
Roiling clouds of superheated ash surge from Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines
National Geographic | December 1992

I thought I’d write something today because of the sound and cohesive nature of my mind that’s been serving me well lately, which has felt totally magnificent as I’ve felt very capable of doing things for once. For a good few weeks there, a long run for any 19-year-old, I was doing things pretty well and not freaking out about much – which sounds like a huge NBD – but for someone who’s a long-term nail biter, or dealing with undiagnosed bouts of anxiety, feeling a-OK is such a blessing. It’s nice to surf that wave of feeling good for as long as you can.

Of course, as soon as I began to contemplate how well things have been going, it only filled me with impending doom, which is actually a medical condition linked to anxiety.

“Hey man, how you doing?”

“Yeah, not too bad really, although I’ve got a serious feeling of impending doom right now.”

So sudden, and so unwelcome. Although the thing with panic attacks is the fact they take you so much by surprise, yet feel so certain, like – ah, I knew this must’ve been coming.

Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be about impending doom, it just got in the way (by its very nature)

I’ve been very busy over the last few months, something I feel very lucky to have been. I’ve laid my hat in in London (several times), Amsterdam, Brighton and Dorset for End of the Road festival – something I had planned to write about when I got my photos processed – but the photos ended up being so shitty I almost feel like the time is up in terms of doing a huge write-up on it. I have one photo of Girlpool, but being a film camera, it is doubly exposed with a picture of my friend’s clay model of a rollerskate. Which looks actually very cool and I might send it to them as a suggestion for their next album cover.

Girlpool were very very good – I love to see musicians where I can be like, WOW, I love your work and I can so easily learn those chords and get my mate to play the bassline. It’s nice having bands you admire to be very easy to emulate (not putting down their talent, by any means) – but rather inspiring you to pick up a guitar and make music, too.

We also saw Tame Impala, St. Etienne (who played the WHOLE of Foxbase Alpha – gee, whizz) Laura Marling, Alvvays (another guitar band that I can play along with!) and Fat White Family (among others).

We also went to Amsterdam for the week a couple of weeks ago.  As said in my previous post, I reverted back to journal writing during the holiday and it was nice to be away from technology for a bit. I am literally a person that takes social media detoxes! I don’t think I’m ready to accept that.

While away, I continued my ‘supremely enjoyable’ run of writing and wrote two or three times a day.

31 August 2015

“It’s our last day here in the city today. Jack says ‘hi’. We were so lucky with the weather and now it’s raining. Raining hard, the kind of rain you get in Paris, but more stoned. This holiday has been beyond wonderful. Amsterdam is so chill, though, like I know that’s such a cliched thing to say, but it’s true. Generally looking forward to things at the moment, feel very positive about the future.

Hanging around this city has the same atmosphere of being at a festival, but with no real pressure to see any bands, and a less likely possibility to stumble upon a Fatboy Slim set (unless, of course, he is holidaying as Norman Cook). I feel good about writing, and almost content about the fact I can be doing this for my whole life. It feels very satisfying. Not even to make money, but in the more basic sense, i.e I will have the ability to write as long as I have a pen, something to write on, and am not crippled with the inevitable arthritis that runs in my family.”

That ending almost reads like a line from Morrissey’s Autobiography.

Write again soon!

T.A.L x

Let your hair down this festival season! (Or shave it off, whatever, no one cares)

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It has been in magazines since probably FEBRUARY.

“Get ready for festival season! This boho dress will have you partying until the early hours. Ted Baker, £250.”

For three months have I endured reading heartbreaking stuff about festival fashion. Festival beauty looks. Top tips for festivals. It makes me feel all weird, like laughing at something cause you thing it’s a joke, then receiving serious looks from french-brainded, bindi-stuck, chiffon-clad girls.

Such propaganda! It’s like these brands are trying to sell yet more shit to us on our (just above) minimum wages, with this promise that you’ll look like Kate Moss or Kendall Jenner (who was recently heralded as a ‘bad girl’ as she stuck her middle finger to a camera during Tyler the Creator at COACHELLA!) Rock n roll!

What’s weird about this pseudo-advertising is that, luckily, it’s not like this at all. Not at British festivals anyway.  

In fact, some of the most stylish things I’ve seen at a festival include a mother dressed as Princess Leia holding her baby dressed as Yoda, a man in his pants and thigh high white leather boots listening to Bon Iver, of all things, and a man with his arms straight up in the air at the Stone Circle for like two WHOLE days, as he thought he was a milk bottle and didn’t want to toppled over (okay, I only heard about that one but still – if that’s not style, I don’t know what is.)

So here it is! I’ve milled over these ‘tips’ for the last three minutes and have deemed them worthy enough to be included in this (not so) extensive list.

1) Don’t wear white  

This is more of a tip for general life. I don’t even think I will be able to wear white on my wedding day, since I hear there is usually cake, and a lot of wine.  In an unintentional slip last week, I bought a gorgeous white knitted dress (think Stevie Nicks) intended for Glastonbury, and then proceeded spill Diet Coke on it as I took it out the bag to look at it. Just don’t wear white.

2) Wear white

Or better, do, and wear your stains with pride.  My favourite ever Belle and Sebastian top has cider, wine, and beer stains down it, and I proudly wear it – telling disinterested people the Stories Behind the Stains, like they’re tattoos I got whilst travelling around the world or whatever. Be true to who you are. Without you, stains would know no life.

3) Break up with make up

Now I can’t reallly comment on this as I don’t really have a make up routine, bag, etc – but surely it’s a ballache putting make up on in a field right? Surely it is putting it on every day, right? (Stay with me.)

My usual argument to this is – there are no mirrors at these places – because if there were, people would find a way to do coke off them. You’re not even gonna see yourself all weekend – which makes the first mirror look at home even funnier! (Usual scream at the sunburnt, muddy-faced stranger looking back at you, with tiny eyes and huge pupils.)

Here’s something you could try out for the weekend. Come get us, boys! (NB: You won’t be able to get this off for weeks, so prepare yourself for shifty looks at work, as you swivel around on your chair scrolling through Facebook photos, deep into the comedown.)

Tara’s Beauty Look for Festival Season:

You will need:

1)Moisturiser with SPF (​You can usually get this from your Mum’s drawer)

2) Glitter (​A quid from Poundland. Or someone else will have it. Do it on budget and ask at the next tent. What? That’s like a quarter of a pint!)

1.Mix whole bottle of glitter with tub of moisturiser.

2.Apply twice daily.

Et voila!

Mucky-faced with the dirtiest nails under them acrilix
Mucky-faced with the dirtiest nails under them acrilix

4) Snap happy

Not wearing make up is a suggestion that is often met with the response of people saying – but photos! I need to look good in the photos! Which is true, you have to look great in the photos.

Ways to looks great in the photos:

1)Do a Kendall Jenner and flip em one, girls. That way people will think you don’t care about your sweat patches, mascara-face and cider stains. It’s like we’re at Coachella!

2)Pull the most hideous faces possible, so you can be like “Haha! God, I guess I don’t look great when I pull such ugly faces! (as opposed to) “Haha! God, I must have been reeaaallly drunk in that one!” Make them ALL look bad. BE BAD.

3)Alternatively do just get so drunk you think the flash of the camera is a lightning bolt, and you’re the resurrection of Ziggy Stardust, who is a fictional character anyway, so maybe you’re just a recycled idea, and [continue this way of thinking, ideally with joint in hand – much more functional than a clutch bag, or whatever shit they’re trying to sell us in magazines]

There are solutions to all the problems if you sit and think about them guys. The best one’s will always be the candid ones, anyway – that one of you putting your welly on or pissing in a bottle. Or doing both. Ah, 15 days.

4) Factor 5,000,000

Now, here’s where I’m gonna assume the role of ‘Mum’, but sun cream is so important at places like this – it’s well worth preventing sunburn/stroke (much easier to prevent than trenchfoot, which we’ll come to later.) As glorious at that whole day of sunshine might seem, being all crispy, drunk AND sunburnt is total hell and makes you convert to drinking water over cider, and will make you say terrible things like “How about we all just chill here for a while and watch Ben Howard?”

Your friends will be literally horrified by this severely out-of-character behaviour and will consequently rush to the FRANK water stand to get your free water bottle filled up.

Then you, all sunstroked and floaty: “Is this vodka? I need vodka.”

Passing out from sunstroke is like failing your driving test for parking up on yellow lines – there are way cooler ways to do it.

5) Soak up the D. The vitamin D

Because after all, if we get sunshine, heaven is on Earth – and you’re already in.

6) Stuck in the mud

You’re going to get trenchfoot. Don’t Google it, but you will get it. With 15 days to go, it is worth booking an appointment with your GP now for when you get home.

Welcome to the silly season! Go forth and PLAY.
Welcome to the silly season, baby! Now ignore all my tips and just go PLAY. 

“Keep those eyes wide” : First impressions of Laura Marling’s ‘Short Movie’

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Artwork for Laura Marling’s new release, Short Movie

Hello, there! Hope you are well, anonymous internet presence. Since my last post, I have begun a ‘proper’ editorial job and am training with a lovely group of journalists, working for a trade publication. This means I have a bit more money in the pot; I can finally start listening to music again! It’s not that I’m completely opposed to the free distribution of file sharing/music online, I’m just not tech-savvy enough. Sad, I know. I’m like your dad. Although I lie, the following record was sent to me by a very generous music journo in the business, whom shall not be named lest I get stuck in a sticky legal situation. Thanks for reading! – T.A.L x


It’s important background information for you to know how big a fan I am of Laura Marling before you start reading.

I was sent the download file for her newly-released album, Short Movie, last week – and had to restrain from listening to it for three whole days – lest my heart couldn’t cope with how good it could be (last week was full of numerous pulled heartstrings.) ((NB: Not to be confused with hamstrings, having not exercised since 2013.))

Laura Marling’s music was solely responsible for the reason I begged my dad to get me a guitar for my 13th birthday. Up until now, the cheap-ish acoustic-electric model has sufficed, emulating (attempting) her style and learning all of her earlier, folkier sounding stuff, dedicating evenings after school, to record, re-record, film and then NEVER show to the world. Carpe diem! Rock n roll!

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On this album, we begin to hear a more plugged-in, electric direction, on tracks such as False Hope and Don’t Let Me Bring You Down along with some wonderfully placed microphone synth effects on the opener, Warrior. I’m a total sucker for an opening track – something I’ve pretty much disclosed to everyone I’ve ever met – and this opener totally sucks me in (ha ha, writing!)

Warrior hooks me in with its confident minor chords and fantastically year 8 angst-sounding introductory lyrics:

“I stumble some way on, licking my sores,
Tasting the memory of pain I have endured
Wondering where am I to go?”

I wrote the opening track of an album called ‘Hard to be Human’ when I was 12, with a lyric of MINE  I distinctively remember as:

“The nights are not getting any brighter,
To face you life you have to be a fighter
And I guess that you always knew that,
It’s hard work to be human”

 ALMOST on the same level, RIGHT?!

Anyway, I digress.

 Track 2, False Hope, is Laura Marling really sounding like herself – and as a long-term fan – this makes me fist pump and feel an immense sense of pride in someone only a fan who’s-never-met-the-person gets. Ironically, the lyric “Is it still okay that I don’t know how to be at all?” leaves me flabbergasted, as I have never heard a song about uncertainty sound quite so certain.

The third track, I Feel Your Love, demonstrates the intricate, guitar picking style that she’s become well-known for, further mastering her skill as both a gifted musician and songwriter. Is this sounding like the most biased piece of writing ever? I tried to write this last night but had to go to bed with a flannel on my forehand because:

LM

“She’s just everything.”

The track ‘Strange’ has Laura RAPPING (almost) which sounds really fresh and feels very inspired by her time spent in LA. There’s something a little Kimya Dawson about the spoken-wordiness of it all, The Moldy Peaches being a band I’ve read she’s felt influenced by. The open chord sounds she reverts back to in this song hint back at her third album, A Creature I Don’t Know, which took a lot from Joni Mitchell, whom I love, too.

For me, Don’t Let Me Bring You Down is a huge stand-out track, for no other reason other than: I just keep playing it.

“Are you really not anybody until somebody knows your name?” – how wonderfully concise yet right on the spot.

This song has made me bookmark electric guitars on eBay, with lots of 7th chords and blissful Sunday-appropriate progressions. Five years later, I’m still buying my guitars based on where Laura Marling is musically.

Gurdjieff’s Daughter, track 8, is a song that I can imagine a band like Belle & Sebastian covering. There’s something about the wide, orchestral sound that would suit Stuart Murdoch’s voice perfectly, combined with a cheesy fade out at the end. Still very much sounding like her, but a very pleasing shift in direction.

Track 9, “sending shivers down my spine” is Divine, and is divine (ha ha, writing!) Being raised on early-mid Beatles, my head swoons at any seventh chord, especially in a love song: “You’re fine – I’m yours and you’re mine.”

All in all, the real sentiment of this album is summed up on ‘How Can I’ with: “I’m taking more risks now / I’m stepping out of line / I’m putting up my fists now, until I get what’s mine.” She also sings on the track about “going back east where I belong” which makes me feel like pinpointing her directly and welcoming her back with my very own open arms, right into British festival season that’s approaching at a very exciting pace. I look forward to seeing her at this year’s End of the Road, my third time at the Dorset festival, where I’m sure she’ll bliss me the hell out and I’ll feel particularly lucky to be alive for an hour amidst yurts and frozen yoghurt tents.

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Short Movie is a total success; I’d give it 4.5/5 for its confidence and ability to both empower and reveal vulnerability all at once – something Laura has become expert at – as heard in her past 4 albums. She said in an interview recently that as a teenager she was often branded as ‘elfin’, ‘innocent’ and ‘good for her age’ – but this record proves she is, oh, SO, much more than that. SO much. Can she be my sister? I’ve always wanted a sister.

If anything, this review shows that I can sneak the word ‘flabbergasted’ into a piece of writing, (no mean feat, I assure you!) – my first ‘proper’ music review – one of which I hope will be the first of many.

10/9/2014

Last night my best friend told me I should write something, so I scowled at her (on Skype), doing my best Skype scowl, and was like, ugh, tsch, writing!!?! No way! Then just before bed I picked up a pen and wrote a letter to my dog, as it would have been his birthday next week. *clears throat*

We knew something was up when we didn’t have to turn the Tesco advert off before it got to the ‘DING!’ at the end. The scramble to get to the remote, to mute or change the channel before ‘DING!’ and then chaos, shouting, slamming doors. We were going to write a complaint letter, so shrill and distressing was the noise. Then, a few years ago, you just stopped doing it. We thought maybe they’d changed the frequency, but then again, we didn’t really think much of it at the time.

I realise now that you’ve gone how much you meant to me and my family. First, there is my mother. She often looked at you disapprovingly, but I think you knew that she (within her caring nature) – would always be the first to realise if you were sick, and couldn’t bear to see you in pain. She was the bravest to make the choice, in the end.

My brother loved you, right from the day he met you. You were his, after all. My parents got you because my brother never got on with your sort before. You probably didn’t know that.  And now, the sighs when he catches a glimpse of my phone wallpaper. Oh. He probably cried the most.

For my dad: you really were the world. You were for all of us, obviously, but you two would hang out all the time. Then he started lying to us, and you must have seen it all unravel; (this one is partly your fault, you were always the indoors sort.) We still fed you at 6 o’clock every evening, regardless of everything else losing it’s structure. I’m sorry he kept you awake at night, you must have been very sleepy after your long evening walk.

As for me, well. I am writing you this letter. Is that enough? People would laugh but I’ve often had long conversations with you about boys, fall-outs, how my day went. We didn’t ever speak about the v-e-t, and in some ways now, I wish we had. I wish I’d let you know before how nice it would be to have so many people looking after you, right until your last little steps, and those who had never met you before could always see how much joy you brought into our lives.

It started with the indigestion, which, laughably and often was cured with a Rennie- an absurd idea from my mum that my friends would always laugh at. You developed a limp, dragging around all those secrets. You got slow and tired and drowsy, so I’d nap beside you.

Maybe we can have a real Christmas tree this year, as you won’t piss underneath it.

During an insignificant July evening this year, we sat around our kitchen table and had a chat. I can’t remember if you were in the room. A few days after, Dad moved out: so I went out drinking too much, my brother locked himself away in his room, you were unnoticed and lonely, Mum kept trying to keep everyone going, and your organs began to fail.

I loved you the most the last day I saw you. You were in your little box at the clinic, and when we came to say goodbye, you stood up for us all. Not much, I know, but you hadn’t stood up for a week, and your kidneys were working at 10%. You stood up for us, and licked my hand. We all cried, sharing the same tissue. It was strange, everything that had happened in the past month, the affair, the break-up, living in two houses, trying to give everyone equal attention; yet here we were, as a family, crying over the loss of our little white dog. Thank you for that. As much as I want you as my pup forever, you brought my family together for the final time. I don’t think you could cope with us not as we were. I am sorry for that, but I equally couldn’t bear for you to have all that tension and deceit take its toll on your old bones.

I’m glad they changed the Tesco ad. I don’t think I could bear the silence that would follow.