A Year In Photos

I was inspired by photographer Olivia Bolles’ visual summation of her year for i-D and as imitation is the greatest form of flattery I also stole the idea. It has turned into a rather exhaustive summary of a strange year of flux; finishing university and not knowing quite what to do next.

Goodbye 2016, you were good to me if no one else.


I committed to culture and unemployment. I split my time between London and Bristol, I saw multiple plays a week, joined an orchestra, watched a lot of films, saw a lot of art, but mainly drank infinite coffees with infinite friends.


I began freelancing proper. I made a website and people started regularly paying me to take pictures: I shot my first editorial spread for The Rake magazine, I did a lot of headshots, and I began an (ongoing? unfinished?) photography series on tattoos.


Travel. A day in Paris, a road trip to Cornwall, 48 hours in a shepherd’s hut in Wales and a day in Ireland for a family funeral.


I felt like my entire life was spent on trains to and from Bristol (and one to and from Brussels).


I took the plunge and moved to the South West for an internship. I lived somewhere beautiful, I cycled to work, I read endlessly, I reconnected with my cameras, and the weather was flawless for an entire month.


I got lonely and I missed London. (Brexit happened.)


My internship ended and I promised myself a job-search-free summer. I photographed my first wedding and shot my first short film (in Frankfurt!) and went to my first Brainchild Festival.


The first film I ever worked on came out (it was bad). I summered in France and Buckinghamshire. I went to a lot of job interviews.


I started a job at the ICA and began commuting somewhere beautiful every morning to interview artists, photograph fashion shows and invite people for drinks in my workplace. (amongst other, less glamorous things.)


I spent a lot of time remembering how to get up before 9 every day. I bought Doc Martens and they changed my life. I became Company Photographer and Marketing Associate for Forward Arena, and helped sell out their transfer to the Arcola Theatre.


I perfected the art of the long weekend away in Manchester and then Florence and I poisoned myself with extreme amounts of booze at work and at play.


I joined a book club. I left a wedding party at 10pm. I went to the ballet. My partner moved in with meI visited Amsterdam and didn’t smoke any weed as I felt like I was coming down with something. The year ended and clearly so did my youth.

12 More Things…

… that I love about family Christmas in Amsterdam.

Except unlike two years ago this time my 12 things are all food-related. We all know that gluttony is the true meaning of Christmas.

  1. Warm crusty apple cake and Chocomelk from Café Winkel 43, eaten huddled outside six-to-a-bench with a 1:1 ratio of heavy whipped cream.
  2. A table creaking with cheeses lugged from York, from the lauded Comté to the maligned smoked goat. The apple of everyone’s eye is the cake of stilton, which we scrape onto Bath Ovals, smear across bread layered with crystallized salted butter, and melt into turkey stock for soup so rich it is served it only by the teacup.
  3. Christmas morning smoked salmon posted all the way from Scotland, with steaming peppery scrambled eggs, toasted loaves and a glass of bitty Bucksfizz.
  4. Brussel sprouts with outer leaves haphazardly peeled by the younger generation, with many sacrificed beneath kitchen cabinets in Brussel Sprout Basketball. Made palatable to the vegetable-averse by a favourable ratio of fried pancetta and flaked glazed chestnuts.
  5. My mother’s incomparable bread sauce. Dripped over turkey, mashed into crispy potatoes and furtively consumed by the teaspoon straight from the jug.
  6. Flaming brandy-soaked Christmas pud, moist and flavoursome and, best of all, microwavable.
  7. Spoonfuls of wibbly wobbly pink jelly with double cream and much debate over structural integrity. (Does it stay in the dish when you turn it upside down? How is the wobble to firmness ratio? Did you eat too many jelly pieces at the watering stage?)
  8. Tiny(ish) tumblers of Irish Bailies tinkling with arrow-shaped ice cubes and accompanied by thick peppermint creams and hard-won segments of Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
  9. Home-made pork pie with a thick, asymmetrical crust and ornamental pastry pig, filled with fistfuls of herbs and a generous amounts of jelly.
  10. A deep bowl of trifle with creamy custard from the Dutch dairy shop and a welcome upper crunch of crushed almonds – as well as a less welcome one at the bottom born from our impatience to wait long enough for the sponge lady fingers to soften in madeira. Gone within five ladlefuls.
  11. A Boxing Day dish of baked red peppers, swimming in oil and stuffed with a garlic clove each.
  12. Fruity Christmas cake cloaked in the softest whitest marzipan icing of any year yet.

Deux Heures À Paris

8219134830_91b27396b8_oI studied in Paris for four months when I was 19, because I am a cliche. I lived with my cousin in a fourth floor flat off the Rue de Rivoli that had no lift and no oven and no way near enough space for two people who were not romantically involved, (and I wrote a blog about it, because I am a cliche.) These days I regard Paris much like I regard my family: with a mixture of delight, fondness, and horror. And, much like my family, I find that I get on with it best when my exposure is limited to snatches of 24 hours or less. This weekend I had a brief afternoon window between my journey from London and my onward travel northwards, and I think this is probably the my favourite way to enjoy the city. A small taste. An amuse-bouche.

With only 2 hours between trains I elected to get the underground to the centre and walk as far as was bearable with a big cheap rucksack in city summer heat. The smell of the metro and its symphony of rattling stops and starts is oddly one of the most familiar things about Paris. So are the oppressive crowds of August that lie in wait at Citè; wading through swarms of ticket collectors and tourists trying to fit the station’s bulbous lines of lamps into a square format. (Resisting the temptation to get my iPhone out and do the same.) As soon as I emerge from underground, Paris always seems to swallow me whole, sucking me out into the sunshine and stuffing my ears with arguments and accordions and the shriek of seagulls. I begin my sweaty march towards the Île Saint-Louis, beneath Nôtre Dame’s gargoyles and alongside cafes bristling with Americans and Parisians, my boots already chalky white with Paris gravel. A woman in cream stilettos whizzes past on a vespa. I’ve already seen seven tiny dogs. Couples: everywhere. Pigeons: everywhere. There are more benches than a city realistically needs, and every welcome breeze is balanced by the smell of stale piss.

Acquire two scoops of sorbet at Berthillon, and find a patch of riverbank to sit on. I Instagram. The omnipresent smell of stale piss forces me to walk and lick. I meander along a radioactive Seine broken only by arching bridges white with seagulls, and boats of Asians in sunglasses. Branches dapple the water and the facades of apartments facing the river, and everywhere else is pale under the unforgiving glare of a cloudless sky. Comedic/tragic juxtapositions of couples whose make-or-break holiday to Paris is doing the former, and those whose is doing the latter: kissing like noone is watching, screaming like noone is listening. An old woman in red capri pants with a husband in tweed; an older woman wheeling a bike with panniers stuffed with bread; a still older woman in a silk neckerchief and a cloud of perfume and a chestful of amber beads. (Paris belongs to old women.) Away from the rippling shade and into the relentless sun. Shakespeare and Co. have opened a new cafe, and it looks like every cafe in London. Teenagers considering paying €15 for a secondhand paperback with a nostalgic cover. More selfie sticks than I can count. Someone with a Starbucks cup. I descend underground once more.

Much like my own city of London, I hold Paris both dear and in disgust. I sort of hate everything about it, and it sort of always feels like home. 


Bristol Bicycling

13117840_171120249953602_1967360697_nFor the past two months I have been working a 9-5:30 job in Bristol, and travelling in from Bath every morning. The impending end of my time in the South-West has made me reflect that the twice-daily cycle from Bristol station to my office that breaks up my commute may in fact be one of my favourite bits of the whole experience. If I’d started the job a month or two earlier I don’t think this section of my journey would be an enjoyable one – it’s not superb in current weather, and didn’t your mother ever tell you never to hang around by the river past dark? – but in early to mid summer this route along the towpath is a pretty dreamy place to start and end the working day.

Out the station, down temple way, round the corner through the underpass, swerve round the arsehole who walks in the middle of the cycle lane staring bikers down – seriously what is problem, it’s like he doesn’t fully appreciate that we’re single-handedly saving the planet. Past the wood recycling plant and its silent dirty pond encircled with building works and a lone tent. Down the alley with the lethal blind corner with no mirror. Past the two colleagues and possibly lovers who cycle beside each other down the alley between road and towpath; past the two lovers and possibly colleagues who are forced to relinquish grips on each other’s hands and move into single file to let me wheeze past (apologetically). Onto the towpath, ducking overgrown overhangings and the occasional slow and sleepy small bird. Past the Bristol Cats and Dogs Home – a hullabaloo in the morning and eerily quiet in the evening – and past the old woman on her racing bike in her whatever-the-weather sandals. Bike after bike after bike and then over the bridge and then the side road and then the main road and into the car park.

I much prefer the cycle back. A day of work behind me and no time pressure to speak of, the golden hour of 5:40 on a sunny day truly does the route justice – even if it means pursing my lips through clouds and clouds of evening midges that worm their way between the stitches of my cardigan and up my nose and my sleeves before evaporating again by the morning. The evening crowd is different; ties are looser, gaits are slower. Past the guy walking his stoic loping lurcher and occasionally his small blonde child. Past the middle-aged man in too much lycra who once stopped and chatted as we watched the panicked lone waddling of what I had assumed was a small fluffy dinosaur. (He asserted that it was a baby seagull.) Past the balding trudger with the silver earring and the leather shoes and the eternal can of Strongbow (either a homeless person with a strict daily schedule, or someone who just really hates their job.) Up the alley and past the silent dirty pond now populated by silent men with dirty fishing rods, and onwards to the station and to home.

I moved away from London to escape the daily grind of endless travel from door to door, but this cycle has in many ways defined my time in Bristol. I will miss it and the people with whom I share it when I leave.

We Are Afraid

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I spent this weekend in Brussels, against the advice of the Daily Mail and several of my friends. My cousin lives in the city and it was our chosen location for the annual family meet-up; we are scattered across Europe, and we weren’t going to miss a chance to get drunk and laugh/row hysterically.

The impact of last week’s attacks were obvious before even arriving in Belgium: an intense queue and security check to get onto the Thalys at Paris Nord, bags being scanned and grumpy businessmen being patted down by grumpier station staff. On arrival at Brussels-Midi half the station was closed, police tape wrapped around the building and army trucks and machine guns out the front in the rain. It felt like stepping into a city under siege. My mother was already there for a public health gala dinner, for which 50 of the 200 attendees had cancelled – “of course all the Americans pulled out straight away – the wets”. On my first night we went to a gig in the old town, and walked past La Bourse, with its forest of flags and attendant fireman checking the sea of candles don’t cause a catastrophe. The mood in the immediate vicinity was subdued and quiet, but on returning in daylight hours there were crowds lining the steps, musical performances, and a whole lot of police. I saw one Belgian old lady stop a group of them and tell them how reassured she was by their presence – though I’m not sure I felt the same way.

My cousin Alice works at the European Commission and on Friday we went to their end of week press briefing. Bar signs proclaiming “yellow level alert” there was very little changed since my last visit eight months ago. Security hasn’t visibly increased, despite the mountain of flowers and scribbled cards a 2 minute walk south outside Maelbeek metro. Alice heard the explosion – one of her colleagues was cycling past as the first victims began flooding out of the station, and at the beginning of the press briefing the spokesperson announced the funeral date for the EU commissioner who died. That was it though – the journalists’ questions were mainly focussed on the migrant legislation coming into force on Monday, there was a lot of sparring between spokespeople and journalists, and there was no mention of the attacks.

At brunch in a packed second floor restaurant Alice’s boyfriend was discussing a proposed right-wing march this weekend for which the police were already out in full force on Saturday. Hooligans from rural Belgium travelling in to “clean up Molenbeek”, Brussels’ alleged “hotbed of terrorism” to which several of the Paris and Brussels attackers had connections. “They don’t know what they’re doing. They have no idea about Brussels. There are 10 guns stashed away in Molenbeek for every one of those idiots.” On my journey to the station earlier today we paused in a traffic jam and my Uber driver pointed out a group of armed policemen in balaclavas assembling outside a flat, battering rams, machine guns and all. Twenty of them. “It’s terrible isn’t it?” he remarked, before changing the radio station and revving through an amber light.

It is this paradoxical combination of “business and usual” and simmering fear that struck me most about a city still reeling from violence. How soldiers armed to the teeth are around every corner, but we all still crammed into an unprotected hall on Thursday night to listen to Låpsley play some music. How half the metro system is closed and the whole thing shuts down at 7pm, but restaurants and bars are buzzing every evening. I remember very little about the 7/7 bombings in London, except the sense of it being a horrific and isolated attack – how we all got straight back on the tubes and the buses and everyone continued with their way of life, unashamed and unabashed. On the surface that is the way things are in Brussels, but I’m not so sure. The message across the media is one of defiance and not giving in to fear: we cannot change our behaviour in light of the perceived threat of possible death at the bistro, or on the commute, because then the terrorists win! We must go on with it all unchanged, as if death may not lurk in in every oversized rucksack on the metro.

Alice summarised it the most succinctly, I think:

“After Paris everyone said “we are not afraid”, and everyone is saying it now. But it’s just not true. Everyone is shit-scared.”


I wrote this on a flight back from Waterford Airport a few days ago. 

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Today I flew to a small town on the southeast coast of Ireland for six hours to attend a family funeral. I never met Great Aunt Nancy, my only memory of her being a cheery voice through the phone one Christmas. In fact, I’d never met any of my Irish great aunts or uncles or first cousins once removed.  Or indeed anyone else who would be in attendance. Nonetheless, representation is important in Catholicism, and my mum was anxious that someone fly my grandfather’s flag at his youngest sister’s funeral. So it was purely in my capacity as the only member of The English Relatives who could take a weekday off at 24 hours notice that I found myself in a small church in County Waterford at noon on a Wednesday, with a pocket full of old photographs and a head full of vague descriptions that might help me recognise someone who shared my bloodline. I’m not entirely sure what my expectations were.Was I expecting some kind of provincial religious set up from a Ken Loach film, with lilting accents and eleven aunts called Deirdre? Did I think I’d look into the eyes of a fellow mourner and see something of myself or my mother or my cousins in there?

In defence of my embarrassing cultural stereotyping, my first taste of Tramore would not have been out of place in the opening of an Anne Enright novel. I was picked up from the airport by  an ancient man armed with a sign reading “Alex Krooke”, as well as a flat cap and an indecipherable accent. On hearing that I was headed to a funeral in Tramore he exclaimed “ah – Mrs Twomey’s funeral? That’s not till noon, perhaps I should take you to her house?”, proceeding to reel off her home address. I declined in my English awkwardness, envisioning masses of weeping relatives around a dark and quiet bedroom, and elected instead to wander through the churchyard. Its hilltop perch is visible from the airport, with a persistent steeple that punctured the roofline throughout the winding coastal drive towards town, and I’m a girl who was raised on church exploration. Over half of all the gravestones there commemorated various members of the Power Family, from the early 19th century to the present day, and I squinted at inscriptions under the weak March sun as mourners began to arrive in their trickles and their droves. By the time I entered the church it was already over half full.

The funeral procession was vast – I would later learn that Great Auntie Nancy had 52 great grandchildren between the ages of 2 weeks to 17 – and the church rammed with more 60 to 70-something women than I’ve seen in one room since going to see Dirty Dancing The Musical. There was no order of service, and I didn’t know any of the prayers or the responses, but no one seemed to judge me for it; I sat back and enjoyed the smells and bells and singing both beautiful and not-so-beautiful. The crying was minimal and short-lived, limited to after Cousin Brendan’s moving opening speech – because what is to cry about for a woman who touched enough lives to pack the largest church in town. Who lived to 97 and died surrounded by enough children and grandchildren to fill out a football match and populate half the stands? We processed out into the sunshine and round the corner to pack the cemetery and do it all again.

I had been worried about hanging around the fringes, feeling so awkward that I would make excuses straight after the ceremony and scuttle back to the airport having ticked my familial duty box in all but the most perfunctory sense. Not so in this family; Nancy’s children and grandchildren welcomed me with open arms. I was treated to a walk through the town and along the beach by a second cousin who lives in Bristol. At the (alcohol-less) wake I was passed around he room to meet cousins scattered from Paris to Maastricht, and a smiley Finnish-Irish great grandbaby. I was invited to view and laugh as the first cousins all lined up for a full family photo. I have five first cousins, but Nancy’s grandchildren have 24 apiece. Someone I don’t think was related me drove me back down winding lanes to the two room airport where the terrifyingly small plane I flew in on waited untouched. 

I write this on my phone hurtling into a Luton sunset, and Tramore and the Twomeys and the Emerald Isle already feel like a universe away. I am very different from Nancy and my relatives living in Tramore, in everything from nationality to education, but events like that do make you reconsider just what is important in a life and in your aspirations. Great Auntie Nancy may have married at 16 and settled in a tiny town in western Ireland and never left, but her roots stretch across Europe to Australia and beyond and she was able to die in her home of 70 years cared for by an army of people who loved her both filially and amicably. She lives on in almost 100 direct descendants. My taxi driver knew who she was. I’m glad I got to carry the banner for Grandpa Maher today, because there amongst that family of myriad brothers and sisters and cousins and clans, it really did feel like blood may be thicker than water.

Restaurant Review: The Whiskey Jar

Last summer I travelled round the Deep South, interning for Morgan Murphy on this book. I wrote an extensive blog when I was there, as well as snapping a lot of pictures, and since the book is finally out I am publishing a few of them on here.

The Whiskey Jar

Charlottesville, Virginia

22107079086_e2098a4c2c_oMason jar cocktails and exposed brick walls mark this place out as a hipster haven from the get-go, and its sanded wooden tables and farm-to-table menu seal the deal. As does its edgy bearded owner, keen to tell us all about making his son’s baby food from scratch and their seasonal dessert changes. Sneer as I might, it is he who is laughing because this affected approach clearly works – The Whiskey Jar is just great. Located in a shady, pedestrianised walkway in the student town of Charlottesville, it rocks sun-drenched tables near its French windows and booths cloaked in shadow the further you advance into its depths. A well-stocked bar occupies a pleasing middle ground, and produces even pleasinger concoctions with a speciality in moonshine based delights. Yes, moonshine is marketed as a spirit in the south, and it’s great.

The food, however, may well surpass the alcohols on offer. We sat down to a smorgasbord of fancy yet wholesome dishes like one big hungry family whose father figure gets the first bite of everything before the kids fight over the remains. A glassy-eyed trout served whole with the bones looked amazing on the plate and the camera screen, and tasted even better. Stewed ochre and tomato soup, slightly spiced and perfectly warmed. And the greatest tomato sandwich I have ever consumed. I don’t even like tomatoes. This sandwich was out of this world, I cannot even describe it (some food critic I am). But the crowning glory of the whole meal was a cobbler that has taken resident baker Rachel Pennington three years to perfect, and disappeared within minutes of first taste. Filled with in-season peaches, bathed in vanilla ice-cream, and topped with a crust that was literally a giant cookie, I have never seen such aggressive fork-work on this trip before or since. That thing was phenomenal, and she was persuaded to share her closely guarded recipe so we can all take turns in failing to replicate it.

The staff at The Whiskey Jar are friendly if reserved, and one of them sports a fab little mason jar tat that graced Morgan’s Instagram (courtesy of your’s truly’s overactive iPhone). Owner Will was more than happy to point us towards the best bars in town – one of which is conveniently owned by him – and we spent the rest of the golden hour wandering through Charlottesville’s twee little shops and sipping margaritas. Very civilised.


Restaurant Review: Salt’s Artisan Market

Last summer I travelled round the Deep South, interning for Morgan Murphy on this book. I wrote an extensive blog when I was there, as well as snapping a lot of pictures, and since the book is finally out I’m going to publish a few of them on here.

Salt’s Artisan Market

Charlottesville, Virginia

19536122529_6c7984cf5c_oMorgan tells us that the internet barely ever produces good eating spots; he bases his schedule on hearsay and restauranteurs’ recommendations, and, less predictably, the advice of “air stewardesses and antiques dealers who always seem to know where to eat”. Salt’s was the result of a frantic morning web search following the eponymous owner of Big Al’s Seafood failing to call us back, so we rolled up to its crossroad location with few expectations and a car full of unsettled stomachs from Virginia’s winding country lanes. And how pleasantly surprised we were. Two steampunk city gals from the DC political scene headed rural, to convert an old gas station near Thomas Jefferson’s estate into a cafe that serves the most amazing chicken salad sandwich imaginable. The place is tiny and incredibly twee, all checked tablecloths and wildflowers in mason jars, but the people that run it are down-to-earth and friendly as can be. Picnic tables look out over Virginia’s rolling hills and vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see, and a cluster of oaks provides gloriously dappled shade away from the brutal American summer.

Humble beginnings meant that half the furniture was either inherited from Salt’s previous incarnation or donated by its patrons, from the sanded down candy cabinet that displays home-made sauces and snacks to the painted stools on the porch left over from a barn dance. A rocking chair under the creaking farm sign was pulled from the boot of someone’s car. A bench is in fact an old pew from the pretty red-roofed church opposite. And although the location and the vibe are of course half the deal in a good place to eat, it’s the amazing sandwiches that seal the deal here – if Oxford has taught me anything it’s that a good sandwich can be a delight and a pleasure, and Salt serves GOOD sandwiches. The best (and only) tofu sandwiches I’ve ever tasted, as well as plates of cheese and cold cuts and perfect little blackberries that are no doubt organic and handpicked blah blah. And the most amazing cranberry-stuffed dark chocolate that melted across our hands and faces in the least dignified way possible.

We loved the food, and everything about the place down to Barrett’s exquisite belt buckle made by her chef and co-owner – best friends? lesbian lovers? – and it was unsurprisingly filling up for the lunch rush as we snaked away towards Monticello. A lovely little find – even if it was from the internet.


An Evening in Queens

I went to NYC over the summer, and one afternoon a Californian friend dragged me all the way to Rockaway Beach to hang out with some sk8er bois. 

F1010032On a balmy Tuesday afternoon we embarked upon an epic journey to Rockaway, Queens, to see a pair of Lexi’s skater friends from her hometown in California. Spencer and Joey had been spending their holiday working at a smoothie bar on Rockaway beach, being drooled over by teenage girls on cruiser bikes and hanging out with the myriad other beautiful young people that had chosen a sunny summer in Queens over wherever they’re from, be it Hunt’s Point or Honduras. The boys were sharing a bedroom in a terraced house also occupied by a Californian skater with the most amazing shark tattoo, a deaf Brazilian masseuse, and a pair of beautiful South American best friends. They were living the dream. It may have taken us a marathon two and a half hours to get into Queens from Manhattan, but we were met with beers and buddies on a gloriously sunny beach so we didn’t mind too much.

Rockaway has gone through many incarnations. Spencer’s aunt, visiting for the day, told us that when she was younger the place was hip and cool and full of beautiful youth at the weekend – just as it is is now. In the thirty years in between a surge in immigration and poverty hit the neighbourhood hard, and we were told that streets we now casually strolled down in the dark would have been absolute no-gos a decade before; now the houses are full of a mix of young hipsters and foreigners alike here for the summer, and well-established families living alongside each other in harmony. Hipsters head in from Brooklyn and Broad Channel to spend their afternoons on the beach. Spencer and Joey’s house shared a backyard with a young Puerto Rican family and their ecstatic pitbull puppy, and across the street crowds of kids on razor scooters and skateboards were playing tag outside the social housing. It’s not all good news – most of the buildings along the waterfront are glitteringly new after the devastation of last winter’s storms, and graffiti tags over the sidewalk sported slogans like “We will rebuild. We will not give in.” The shadow of Hurricane Sandy still hangs heavy over Rockaway.

F1010034Their plasterboard house was full of surfboards and skateboards, paintings by its residents and vinyl on the walls. We piled into the tiny hallway only to be angrily shushed by Berenice storming out of her room covered in massage oil, and abashedly retreated behind a flimsy curtain entrance to the boys’ room to munch on vacuum-packed cinnamon cookies that Joey’s mum had shipped over from California. Spencer’s cousin owns a tiny organic cafe right next door, but we opted instead for Rockaway Taco, a surfer stall on the corner famed across the city for its excellent fare. I had a chorizo one. It was great. As we set off to walk their boss’s dogs, strays rescued from the garbage dumps of Puerto Rico, Spencer greeted almost everyone we passed on the few blocks towards the house. They are all invariably in their 20s, many foreign, and every single one incredibly attractive; Rockaway Beach seems to be the place to come to enjoy a summer of eternal fun, youth and beauty. And dogs. Everyone has one. The front yards of these rows of houses are invariably filled with Virgin Mary shrines and American flags, plastic pink flamingos and the occasional vegetable patch. We passed two community farms that host hog dinners and a rundown piano with flowers spilling out of the lid, all soundtracked by the omnipresent planes roaring overhead towards JFK. Two black cats picked their way across a vegetable patch and begrudgingly allowed themselves to be petted, descending into deafening hissing and a retreat behind a surfboard as our charges lolloped down the porch steps to nearly bowl us over. We walked them a few blocks and then ram them around a skate park by the water, before returning them to cat glares so we could head on to an evening’s cannnine-free entertainment.

More eating and more drinking at a Thai place on the waterfront, lit by twinkling fairy lights that swayed in a bracing wind from which we hid under Peruvian blankets. It was a lovely spot, flanked by houseboats that gently knock against the dock, and we were joined by all the housemates; Columbians and Puerto Ricans and Californians discussing university plans and leaving parties, and the unspoken undercurrent of how to continue a relationship with each party on a separate continent. We moved on with much laughter and skateboarding and screams of uncoming traffic to a house party for Peruvian New Year, in a garden rigged up with suspended table lamps and disco lights, another piano filled with flowers and a film projected onto a neighbouring wall. A cat sprawled at the entrance basking in the attention of countless party-goers, and a familiar smell filled the air (and our lungs). Everyone has to leave far too soon, and all we have time for before rattling back to Manhattan on  the A train is perhaps the most delicious beverage ever invented: a frozen Pina Colada from an Irish bar full of drunks.

Spencer has a true cliche tattooed on his forearm that we all laugh at, but it also seems bizarrely fitting for this summer town of carefree party people: Live Life. No Regrets.




Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 15.13.32At the moment most of my writing that isn’t related to 19th century French art is happening over on another social media page of mine, a site which I have been enjoying so much I thought I would share the fun. Bonjournal is a neat little traveloguing tool that exists as an app and a website, that I find the perfect medium for recording everything from short travels to daily diaries to reviews of the best places to eat in my area. I’ve been using it for nearly a year now, almost as long as it has been up and running, and watching it improve and expand into the smooth and sleek page it is today has been a real pleasure.

Bonjournal came to being through a perceived gap in the market from some creative-minded world travellers – the best genre of person, clearly – who describe the frustration with current media that led to Bonjournal on the site’s about page:

When we returned home and tried to share our travels with friends and family, we struggled to combine all our photos, notes, and maps into one coherent package. Mainstream apps like Facebook and Instagram were great for photos, but were not designed to tell a continuous story. What had been a long, seamless journey for us came across as piecemeal and disjointed.

The result of their process is a journaling tool that is “easy, beautiful and simple”, and combines all the features that a blogger and traveller could want in what is effectively an online diary. It has been a delight to communicate and share thoughts with its founder Dorothy Lin (who has a beautiful selection of journals herself), and I recently had my trip to Iceland featured on the site as well, which was a nice ego massage. As one of the earlier members I also get to participate in beta feature testing which I find very exciting, and participate in a community that though currently small, is one of the friendliest I have found online to date.

If you’re a traveller, a photographer or a journaller, I highly recommend giving Bonjournal a try. The mobile app is perfect for recording on the go – even without internet! – and the features are only getting smoother and better. It’s my favourite new platform, and do have a gander at my own page @alexkrook if you’re interested.