Saturday, 29 November 2014

And so she woke the sleeping maiden with a kiss: 'The Book Corner'.

Welcome *drumroll* to the first ever post from 'The Salty Sea Book Corner'. As I'm studying Creative Writing now, I thought it would be great to feature that aspect of my life on the blog, in particular some of my favourite stories. It was probably this book that influenced me most to start sharing stories with you, because this is a book that has confronted the preconceived notions of "Prince rescues Princess" that we are all so familiar with in fantasy, and given it the middle finger. In the most delicate and British way possible. 
But stop right there. Don't think you know what's going to happen yet... 

Before I dive right into talking about this story, I just want to introduce you to my "Book Nook". It's not quite as cool as the nifty masterpieces of art that you find on pinterest. I live in an attic in student accommodation so my creative freedom is limited. What I've created is a pile of cushions and blankets in an alcove where I can sit and read books (because I prefer sitting on the floor rather than in chairs) and it's pretty dang comfy. In fact, I could easily sleep there (although I find it ridiculously easy to fall asleep anywhere that isn't the place I'm supposed to be sleeping). 

Most of my books are now spread out over various relatives houses in Cornwall, stuffed in attics and bookcases. I've only brought a few of my favourites with me to Bath but I'm always adding to the collection with great finds from Mr B's emporium of reading delights, or the second hand bookshop in the Guildhall Markets.
This is my current reading pile. I wonder if you could guess who my favourite author is? (Or my favourite series)

Most often, I read books outdoors. In parks, at the beach or by the river. When I worked at the restaurant, I would walk down to the weir in my break and sit on the bench there and get lost in the pages of a story.
That would always make that day a little more worthwhile and helped me escape the madness that is a double shift on a Bath Rugby day. 

RIGHT. Let's talk about 'The Sleeper And The Spindle'. It's most probable that I'm going to let slip a few spoilers but I'll avoid the big ones if I can. It's written by the splendiferous Neil Gaiman, one of Britain's best loved recent fantasy authors and is well known for Coraline, Stardust, The Sandman series (as well as my personal favourite; The Graveyard Book).
Now it's interesting, in my current 'Short Stories' module we are studying 'Revisions and Re-workings of classic mythology and fairy tales'. As you can probably guess from the name;'The Sleeper And The Spindle' is indeed a re-vision of a classic fairy story. Can you guess which one? 
Well, I have to inform you that you'd only be partially right. Gaiman has done something a little different. He's created a mash up of a few various fairy tales and twisted them in his delightful and curious style (Yes, we are familiar with Shrek and I'm sure he's not the first to create cameos of different beloved characters) but I promise you this is something utterly unique and skillfully approached. 

 The first thing that gets me about this book before I even open it, is the presentation. Another reason I added my name to the reserve list at Mr B's is because not only was I intrigued by the promise of "Princess on Princess action",but this book is another collaboration between both my favourite author and illustrator; Chris Riddell. My most favourite series ever are 'The Edge Chronicles' are bursting with Riddell's quirky and frankly terrifying illustrations of curious beasties and horrifying monsters. He had also illustrated 'The Graveyard Book' which I adored, and so I was beside myself with excitement when I saw the cover of this.

The introduction to the world with an incredible picture of the map was reminiscent of 'The Edge' and I found myself teetering on the edge of my seat, ready to plunge myself into the world.

The story begins describing an unpassable mountain that not even the crows care to fly over. Not your usual 'Once upon a time'. We are then quickly transported to the castle of an unnamed queen. Many of the characters in this story you will discover are unnamed, but there is a reason for this that I shall let you discover yourselves. It's not often that our protagonist is a queen, especially one so unhappy at the prospect of marrying her king, settling down to rule the kingdom and bear children. No, in fact this queen is positively dreading her impending wedding and the loss of her 'freedoms' and 'potential of adventure'. When the Dwarves come back from their journey with tales of an approaching plague, the queen jumps at the chance for a possibly perilous journey. Does she really have her kingdoms best interests at heart? or is her impulsive decision driven by her fear of inevitable matrimony? Well, what do you think?
There are rumors among the lands, of a sleeping plague. It's spreading like disease and those captured fall into a living death. Wait a moment, this is beginning to sound a little like fantastical zombiism... oh, crap.
The comatose and cobweb covered victims are rising up, and they appear to be pretty hostile. Since when has there been zombies in a fairy tale? Neil Gaiman, NOW you've really got my attention.
The Queen must not only fight the zombies (Sorry, I mean Sleepers) but the plague itself. Fortunately, we are told that she already has experience with enchanted sleep and this gives her that little bit of extra resistance as well as her band of trusty and brave dwarves who are ready to pinch her awake should her eye lids begin to droop.
Eventually, we reach the castle surrounded by a forest of thorns (yes, we know who dwells here) but I shall leave you here for fear of revealing too much. If you think you know what's going to happen, I have to solemnly inform you that you are very wrong. Gaiman begins here to lull us into a false sense of security, letting us believe we know where this tale is going as we enjoy what we believe is an updated retelling of 'Sleeping Beauty'. But don't underestimate him. He's a genius of imagination and cleverly twists and turns the plot at a jaw dropping moment where you feel winded in the chest and find yourself shouting out 'NO FRIGGING WAY'.
I shall leave all details of the plot there, dear readers and urge you to read this wonderful fairy tale for yourselves.

I think one of the defining moments of this story, is the kiss between the Queen and the young sleeping maiden. We are finally beginning to create a world with an acceptance for every sexuality, and even though we've got hell of a long way to go... seeing powerful moments like these in fairy tales,that are going to be enjoyed by children and young adults is just the beginning. Finally, fairy tales aren't telling us that 'perfection and happy endings is finding yourself a nice man to settle down with in a castle'. It's not even saying anything about love. I wish I could tell you that this was a lesbian love story, and that the Queen and the maiden married and lived happily ever after, but sadly that is not the case. The outcome, is actually something equally  exciting and a little different. 
I suppose you could consider it as having a touch of feminism in it's themes. Snow White, as it transpires is 
a "sassy, strong, independent  individual who doesn't need no man, to define her". I think it's telling us that "it's okay to not get married". You don't need to bear children and be cared for by a man to be 'complete'.
A woman can be brave, valiant and strong and save another woman with a passionate kiss. It's not just a prince that can rouse a sleeping princess.You don't even need a happy ending. Or indeed an ending at all. The prospect of adventure, excitement and perilous quests is not one reserved for men anymore. We live in an age where we (as women) have alot more freedom and for the first time, fairy tales are beginning to encourage us to embrace it and grab it by the balls (or boobs). And for the first time, fairy tales are encouraging us to go out and rescue those damn damsels ourselves. 
Snow White discovers with us at the end of the novel, that there is a great big world out there full of adventure and potential for us. She (like us) shrugs off the responsibility and expectations of being a stay-at-home queen/wife and heads off into the sunset with her friends. Finally, those little girls and boys can be comfortable in themselves. Not feel the pressure of gender conventions and the ideas that girls should be dainty and rescued and guys should wield swords and defeat dragons. I'm really excited to see a world emerging where little girls are learning to shoot arrows, make dresses, sword fight and adventure and guys are happy to do those exact same things and even play with barbies if they want. I think also Disney is finally cottoning on, with its recent releases such as 'Brave' and 'Frozen' it seems the 'Nouveau Fairy Tale' is going exciting places, and taking our future generations with it. 

 I would love to hear about any fairy tales you know of/or have written that are a little different and challenge the norm.
Happy reading and writing Jelly beans ♥

ps. Those of you that have read 'Sleeper and the Spindle' with recognise my inaccuracy with the title of this post: "Princess on Princess action". Technically it should be "Queen on ***** action". My justification is that I didn't want to reveal the great plot twist of the story, and it was an article advertising the book pre-release of a similar name that hooked me into buying the book. I hope you can forgive me. xo


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday at the Markets

There's a charming and old disused train station just off the center of Bath near the park that has been cleverly reworked into a community space. Every Saturday there's a morning farmers market that takes place and on a Sunday, depending on the week you could find anything from a vintage fashion event, an antiques fair or an artisan market!
George and myself, have been rather put out at the sad passing of my cars clutch which means we couldn't get out to the car-boots like we had hoped... however it did remind us that there are some beautiful and fun events to be had, just a stroll into the city itself. This particular artisan market was a little more special than the usual for there were brass bands playing Christmas carols all day. I've finally accepted that Christmas is well on its way and braved a few trips out to the shops to get some gifts. Sadly, the shops have been obscenely crammed with frenzied Christmas shoppers fueled on mince pies desperate to beat anyone aside and well... I'm just not that competitive where shopping's involved. If I could order everything off the internet and have it delivered to my house complete with the nostalgic feeling of browsing merry boutiques adorned with festive decorations, twinkling fairy lights and Christmas carols then I would. But alas, Amazon has not figured out how to bottle, post and charge for nostalgia so until then I shall have to fight the crowds in order to soak up that magic that you get from late night shopping and drifting around the stalls with a steaming cup of mulled wine in hand.

I love how this lady is multitasking. She's running her stall AND crocheting her next product! What a whizz. I'm also very much in love with that crochet round pillow in those amazing colours lurking on the bottom right there ...

These Corsages are just AMAZE. (Lisa from HappyHomemade, have you SEEN these?!) the colours are vibrant and wonderful and they're so tastefully done.

Charming little pin cushion jars! Maybe one day I'll be better at sewing and then I can have pretty things like these littering my bedroom.

Do those stools remind anyone else from school science class? Only ours were normally grey or red and much less floral :(

Take note George Sanger! I LOVE THESE CANDLES. They came in Sea Breeze smell although I'm not convinced it's a genuine bottled scent? I'm also a bit dubious of Yankees latest 'Angels Wings' fragrance. Mr Yankee has evidently met and Angel and replicated the smell of his wings for his candle company. However, putting my whining aside, what's not to love about candles in teacups? It's like a free prize at the end!

We broke the mince pies seal of the year with some gluten free treats from Beth's Bake stand. Neither of us are actually gluten intolerant but so many yummies are gluten free these days. My latest fave is polenta based snacks. I feel like a sneaky non meat-eater that's hogging all the quorn :P

I would really love to try my hand at needle felting! Mr Reindeer is a handsome fellow.

We kick started our festive spirit officially with the first mulled cider of the season. I live for this stuff (not that I'm an alcoholic) but it's possibly my favourite thing about winter and the build up to Christmas. After Christmas, it mysteriously vanishes even though the weather is bitter cold and dreary. Personally, I can never suss out quite why end of Christmas = end of mulled wine/cider. I think I'm going to stock up my cupboards with rekordelig and mulled spice bags to help me cope with the January blues.

The Bath brew house, on James Street opposite the markets is the place to be on a Sunday afternoon. The atmosphere inside is just what you need on a winters day. The decor is tasteful but not overdone, with subtle novelties like up-cycled beer keg stools and thrift shop tea pots. I was surprised by their large range of beverages and even though the food menu is small, I have eaten here before and can assure you the meals are pretty spiffy and portions generous. My eyes popped out my head when a half roast chicken drifted past. I'm a bit cautious of roast dinners in the city as so far they've all been a bit on the small and disappointing side but I think we'll definitely come back  for a roast next time. Especially seeing as Sundays they provide free live acoustic music which was  mellow and relaxing.

George is learning card tricks. He's expanding his circus hobbies and pursuing the life of a magician just in case being a primary school teacher doesn't quite work out.

mmm. Cider.

Keep an eye out for markets in your local area! if you're stuck for Christmas shopping ideas they are the perfect place to start. Nothing is quite as unique and quirky as a hand crafted item from a local artisan plus the atmosphere is always a boost to get you in the zone for the festive period.

I'd love to hear how you guys are getting into the Christmas mood.

Merry November Jelly Beans


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

OOTD: Dust & Roses

Happy Wednesday everybody! Welcome to the first ever "serious" Salty Sea Blog post about style! 
When I started this blog, it was nothing more than an online scrap book of haph-hazard photographs of me and my friends camping or day-tripping. It's gradually grown to include some of my photography projects, and even a compilation of "Places to go" but it's never been anything particularly organised and structured.
Well, this post sees the beginning of my journey of adapting The Salty Sea blog into a lifestyle blog and today, George and I had fun playing with the "record" function on my camera as we've decided to make a jump into Vlogging together! (So keep an eye on youtube peeps!) 

Today's post, we ventured out into the beautiful streets of Bath to make the most of the sunshine. This evening they're switching on Bath's Christmas lights so George and I escaped the town as quick as possible when we learned what was going on. It's early November, I haven't quite got past Halloween and Bonfire night yet so I'm not ready for Christmas! I am in denial, I refuse to accept the giant conical tree that has manifested by the train station. 
Bath is a beautiful city to be in during the Autumn and Winter, and everyone loves to wrap up warm and bang on about their knitwear and nobody is more passionate about banging on about knitwear than I. Sarah Jane Porteus, queen of the wool. 

Currently, I'm having a bit of a 'pink' moment. Normally I'm crazy about yellows, oranges and blues but I came across this lacy skater dress the other day on in the midst of my pink binge and it went straight in the cart. It was a super bargain at £15 and I've worn it at every opportunity I can. (Including class) 

I also discovered Rose tea today! We popped into the little cafe on Pultney bridge (Which we normally avoid since it's an absolute tourist spawning box) but it was empty and quite frankly I was sold when I saw on the door that they were selling BBQ Pulled pork baps. It was a done jobbie. We bagged ourselves a seat by the window with a view over the wier and indulged in pink tea, macaroons and hog roast. #livingthedream 

 What I love about skater dresses is how they are pretty versatile. I like to consider how much wear I'm gonna get out of something when I buy it, (This mentality comes from spending too much time around guys)
and I figured that this particular find is something that can be dressed down with tights and boots and worn casually, or as a pretty frock to a party or weddings. I'm guilty of wearing boots 3 seasons a year with everything I can, and Fatface has brought out a great range of military and country style ones this season!

This is my little Narwhal ring Henry, George bought him for me last Christmas on Etsy and he was handmade in Oregon, USA. I absolutely LOVE Narwhals, I am ridiculously obsessed and so Henry deserved his own little feature.

Right. Knitwear. Now we're talking! My collection is stupidly enormous, and 90% of it, I am proud to inform you is HOMEMADE. Yes, you heard me... Homemade. I have THE most awesome Nan in the world. She's not the kind of Nan that you expect though, she's as mad as a hatter (Said Nan dragged me kicking and screaming on the Rock and Roller Coaster at Disney Paris when I was 10) and she likes a casual willy joke when she's had too much wine. BUT, true to being a Nan, she knits her loving granddaughter the most lovely clothes because I'm poor. And Knitwear is hip now right?
Casual footnote: I would just like to throw it out there that I've been wearing knitwear before it was hip ;)

One thing I really want to big up in the Salty Sea Blog is "Homemade Clothes". Personally, I'm about as talented as a kangaroo when it comes to making clothes, but I'm going to learn! and share this journey with you. I'll also be featuring guest posts from my crafty genius fellow blogger Lisa at "Happyhomemade" and sharing some favourite knits from the "Nan-made-with-love" section that's coming soon!
I love the concept of being able to create your own style from scratch and design what you want to wear so I'm mega excited to start learning to make clothes :)

Below, is my "bespoke" Fairisle Cardigan (Nan-made-with-love) with little wooden buttons that I chose myself. The pattern I believe  is Sirdar and still in circulation, and the wool is also Sirdar Double knit Fairisle effect. (Genius invention)

Another cheeky appearance from my Nan-made-with-love theme, is my favourite Red Aran Scarf. 
It's snuggly warm and was made out of spare wool from a matching red jumper. 

Boots: Fatface   Coat: Apricot  Dress:  Gloves: Accessorize  Tights: Newlook 
Cardigan & Scarf: C.O Nan-made-with-love

Well, Thank you for reading my first ever personal style post! I can't wait to edit the little vlog snippet that George and I made (It's very awkward and giggly I'm afraid) and be sure to share your feedback! 
It look's like Autumn is slowly deserting us, but let's cross our fingers for snow! 
Happy Blogging lovely people 

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