Clickable Adventures #3

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Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? My weekend is going to be awash with Mother's Day preparations - cutting flowers, sorting out cute pastries, making cards - and welcoming my sister home from her term at Edinburgh! Here's a few fun links to ease you into the weekend.

Wes Anderson Palettes Tumblr. So I went to see The Grand Budapest Hotel last Sunday. It's my favourite film so far this year (trust me, go and see it!) and now I'm obsessing over Wes Anderson's amazing film designs. The man's eye for composition and colour combinations is unparalleled, and celebrated here.

A recipe for crustless broccoli and cheddar quiche. Would love to make this with blue cheese!

The world of Mary Blair. I'd like to buy some of these concept designs as prints. 

The smallest sandcastles ever! Microscopic sandcastles drawn on individual grains of sand. 

Not Another BillI've been eyeing up monthly subscription boxes, like Glossybox or Birchbox, but this isn't your everyday box - past 'presents' have included cute washi tape, boar-hair shaving brushes and pocket sundials. This'd be great as a present for the person who has everything.

Art history hairstyles! This article counts as revision, right? 

Have a beautiful weekend!

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Finalist Beauty Survival Kit

I think it's fair to say that while writing my dissertation, I haven't remained a bastion of beauty and mental stability. 

I'm more of a gibbering wreck to be quite honest.

I'm sure there's a lot of other finalists and summer exam candidates out there who are feeling much the same. (In fact, I know there are - I walked into the British Library earlier this week and it was absolutely crammed with grey-faced fellow students). The four products in this post are the little artillery that I bust out whenever my skin, or my head, needs a little bit of chill time. Warning: this post is extremely Origins-heavy. This is partially because there are two Origins shops in Cambridge, and partially because I love Origins! 

  • Origins Peace of Mind (£13). This one's technically not a beauty product, as it's from Origins' Sensory Therapy range, but it's still a favourite. You pump a little bit on to your finger and massage it into your earlobes, behind your ears and into the back of your neck. Then breathe deeply and relax. Perhaps it's a placebo effect, but the cool pepperminty smell really does seem to calm me down. 

  • Aesop Protective Lip Balm (£13). I've often got cracked lips during the lead up to exams, as I tend to bite them nervously, or avoid moisturising them because I get terrible stress ulcers on the insides of my lips. Living the glamorous life. This really helps to soothe them - it's a super-strong enriching formula, and also has UVA/UVB filters to protect lips from the sun. 

  • Origins Dr. Weil Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief (£48). Right, so this lotion is expensive, but it's extremely effective (as you'd expect at that price!) It helps to calm down redness and breakouts as well as making skin more resilient for the future. One to pop on the birthday or Christmas wishlist. 

  • Origins Out of Trouble skin mask (£22, but £19.80 at House of Fraser right now!). I've been quite lucky with my skin since I entered my twenties, but during the exam period my skin regresses to adolescence and tends to flare up occasionally. This mask helps fight blemishes but is also quite therapeutic - it feels nice to smooth on after cleansing and is cool and tingly, with camphor and salicylic acid. Ten minutes later you can wash it off with warm water. Sometimes I apply a blob of it straight on to a problem area at night time and wash it off the next morning or just before going to sleep, which seems to work quite well. 

Do you have any salvation-worthy products that you break out in busy or stressful periods?

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Mini Adventures #3

I write this huddled by the stove in my living room. Spring has sprung, but unfortunately London has once again been seized by an arctic grip. Yep - after last week's joyous declaration of shedding my outer layers, I'm back in the oversized jumpers and cable-knit leggings again.

When it's nippy outside, I tend to do two things. One: anything that allows me to wrap up and not have to move very much, like watching films/TV/theatre. Two: Eat until I've created a whole new layer of blubber to keep me warm.

You shouldn't be too surprised by the things I've enjoyed doing this week then!

1) A few trips to the theatre that - gasp - weren't opera-related! I saw Sondheim's wonderful Into the Woods at the ADC Theatre in Cambridge, then 1984 at the Almeida on Tuesday. I thought 1984 was just jawdroppingly good - I loved the use of set and effects, and can't quite get Winston's Room 101 treatment out of my head five days later. 1984 is sold out at the Almeida (though you can get tickets by queuing up in the morning), and will be transferring to the Playhouse Theatre on the West End from April til July. I highly recommend seeing it!

2) Making Lottie's Little Kitchen's Malteser Tiffins. Ironically, I'm not sure I actually put enough Maltesers in them, but A still gobbled them all up :)

3) Returning home to London to see all the daffodils poking their heads out at me!

4) An early Easter present from Jess - a chocolate dinosaur, which I've nicknamed Pod, 'cause he's a super cute sauropod! (I geek out over palaeontology, sorry not sorry.)

5) My post-term book-fest. I had a good old peruse of some chick-lit, reading Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook and Sophie Kinsella's Wedding Night. The former caused me to cry a lot, while the Kinsella was a lovely way to turn off my brain for a bit. Then I absolutely demolished the first of Hugh Howey's Silo trilogy, Wool - and wrote my thoughts about it in my book blog.

6) Eating my way across London. The picture above is a memorial to a delectable chunk of truffle pecorino I picked up from Selfridges last night that unfortunately did not survive breakfast. It's now in my belly, but I will think of it fondly forever. I also polished off a saddle of lamb with celeriac mash at Le Mercury on Upper St, Bone Daddies' Sweet 3 Miso Ramen, a double cake and tea at Peyton and Byrne in the British Library, and the veggie burger at Byron. *Rubs stomach happily*

So I'll be topping this food and culture heavy week off with a trip to the cinema tonight! I'm going to see The Grand Budapest Hotel - I can't wait, I've heard such great things!

What have you been up to this week?

Clickable Adventures #2

Happy Friday, everyone! :) As I mentioned yesterday, this week has been a serious one for procrastination. Have a look at what I've been buzzing over on my trusty MacBook!

Still from Out of Sight
An adorable animation about a little blind girl who discovers her own ways of seeing. I think this should be compulsory viewing - it made me feel so grateful for a faculty I tend to take for granted. 

The Strand Books Tumblr. Meaningful quotes and things found in books. I love.

Maps made out of food. I love how Britain (and the Republic of Ireland) is made out of biscuits...

A pen that can write 1.7m a day for seven years. I could be 29 by the time I'm done with this bad boy.

How to make your own chia pudding. Super excited to try this - I'm addicted to the chia pudding at Le Pain Quotidien!

10 tips for growing a kitchen garden. Can't wait to have my own little green space!

Tips for looking photo-ready. Must remember these to avoid looking too rodent-esque in photos.

The most beautifully clear waters in the world. Oh, and 80% of these waters feature on white, sandy beaches in the tropics. See? It's impossible to avoid wanderlust when links like this insist on smacking me in my pallid face.

Have a beautiful weekend!

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Finalist Wanderlust

This post is a late night appeal to anyone who's ever been in a finalist's shoes. Have you ever had this feeling? Here's how it goes: I'm all hunched over my laptop, scrolling through Twitter and Bloglovin' desperately, trying to think of anything that might possibly distract me from the fact that I have a dreaded dissertation supervision in less than 12 hours. I've made a flying visit back to uni for this tutorial, but mark my words, I'll be fleeing back to London as quick as my ankle boots can take me straight after!

I think I've worked out a cure for this restlessness and lack of concentration. A holiday. My mind is inevitably escaping from Cambridge and the beckoning exam term to focus on memories of lovely places I've been lucky enough to visit in the past few years. Since I'm not able to join my family in Bali this Easter, I've decided to get these thoughts down in a post in the hope that my brain will finally be able to get back to Manet! 

Without further ado, here's my 5 top holiday destinations from places I've travelled to in the last 5 years! 

1) Japan (2010). We went to Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto, and I became even more of a Japanophile than I had been previously. At the time I absolutely adored Tokyo, but I think that I'd appreciate the elegance and tranquillity of the latter two locations if I went back. I'd love to visit with A one day to show him the ryokans and hot springs in Hakone, and explore Hokkaido and Osaka too. 

2) Cambodia (2011). This was the first holiday I brought an SLR on, so I went a bit mad taking photos. Here's Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap just before a storm. I prefer the food in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, but Cambodia is fantastic for exploring because it only opened up to tourism relatively recently, after the terrible civil war of the 90s. So there's tons of ruined temples to adventure around and most villages are still characterised by dirt tracks and chickens running around squawking. Definitely one to check out if you've been to other, more Westernised South East Asian countries. I'd love to come back here to visit Phnom Penh, which I didn't have a chance to see. 

3) Florence, Italy (2011). Undoubtedly just one of my favourite places in the world. I went there twice in 2011 and fell completely in love with the place. In this picture I'm sitting with two of my best friends, on the steps of Santa Maria del Fiore, enjoying Grom (notorious for being the best ice-cream place in Florence). Life is sweet indeed. Favourite bits of Florence include the Boboli Gardens, the Uffizi, and a wonderful little osteria down a back street on the south bank which serves spectacular meals for 2 euros a pop. I'm going to have to go back there soon and blog about it for sure...

4) Sardinia (2013). A perfect little holiday in Alghero, an unspoilt stretch of the island, in which I ate a lot of lobster pasta and vitello ragù. The island is also dotted with magnificently beautiful Nuragic ruins, like the one in this little cove, which had the bluest water I've ever splashed around in. Would 100% come back with a little family. *Goes misty-eyed*

5) Oslo, Norway (2014). My first trip abroad with A! We packed as much as we could into five days, and all on a super-tight budget, cooking Scandinavian-style meals from the local supermarkets and only eating out once, and staying in a rented apartment (Airbnb, I love you.) We visited all the open-air museums on the Bygdøy peninsula, including the Viking Ship museum, which was awesome - the Horrible Histories nerdy kid in me came right out to play! Another highlight of the trip was our visit to the Opera House, which is designed to look like an iceberg in the Oslo fjord - it'd be great to sunbathe on in the summer! It even snowed while we were there, veiling the city in frosty white powder. So beautiful. I didn't think Norway would be particularly romantic, but oh boy, was I wrong...

I'd love to know: What do you think of my top 5? Have you been to any of these places? And what's on your wanderlust list? I've got lots of places on mine I'd like to share with you soon :)

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Walking along the River

So I finally left my housebound cocoon of dissertation activity on Sunday and went for a little wander in and around Cambridge! It was the perfect day for it - sunshiny and warm, the kind of Sunday that just makes you feel happy inside.

A and I stopped off at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology on our way down to the river to have a peek at the curiosities in their cabinets.

There were some very scary Mexican Day of the Dead figurines, but these ones were almost cute and so colourful!

We skipped out of the museum after having an explore of the Fijian exhibits and strolled down to the river. Classic Cambridge - the banks were packed with tourists. No chance of a little patch of grass to sunbathe on, so A and I strolled further down river.

There were ducks a plenty on the river, looking extremely twitterpated. 'Tis the season.

We were a tiny bit twitterpated too. Or maybe I was just so enthralled by the prospect of oxygen and actual sunlight (after having been cooped up in my dark little kitchen all week) that, after I fell in love with this little brook, we managed to walk all the way down the river without taking any pictures at all!

The walk to Grantchester takes a good hour from the city centre, so when we arrived in the village, it was high time for lunch! A and I were already dead set on lunch at a little regular of ours, The Green Man. It's a beautiful little medieval pub with great food and a lovely outside area which is just made for sunny days like these. It's also just a stone's throw away from the entrance to the village after the Meadows so grumpy little females with hungry bellies can be fed quickly! Not like me at all.

We both opted for standard pub fare. A plumped for a burger with Monterey Jack cheese and bacon, complete with fries, onion rings and salad. I might have nicked a couple of his fries.

I went for a perfectly cooked cod and chips with tartar sauce and mushy peas. And ate every last little bite. Loved how they came on a bed of newspaper - almost like the good old days when chippies used to wrap fish and chips up in that day's papers!

After lunch, we ambled back through Newnham village to reach the river, buying a few cups of tea off some enterprising children who'd set up a mini tea and lemonade stall in their front garden! It was starting to get chilly by mid-afternoon. Cleverly I'd forgotten that it was March, so had got my legs out rather prematurely - and optimistically - so a cup of tea was exactly what I needed.

Back near Cambridge, we went to check out some local buildings on the riverfront and I had a little moment gazing out at the willows by the water.

If I were a poet, I'd have dug my notebook out there and then for sure.

A and the puffy-eyed finalist.

When summer is here, and exams are but a distant, if horrifying memory, you can bet I'll be gallivanting all over the place without a care in the world! Bring on June!

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Mini Adventures #2

The last week of term has flown by. I took a trip to London to see my boyfriend's show (he's musical directing Dido and Aeneas, at the King's Head in Islington), and ate a lot of food! Here's my favourite bits from the past week in pictures.

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1) Seeing Spike Jonze's film Her at the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge. I thought it was chillingly close to our reality, in which you get on the Tube and everyone's gazing down at mini screens. I'm sure that one day, operating systems like Siri could become so much more to us tech-dependent humans. 

2) The arrival of spring! I can finally go out without having to Eskimo up with a bajillion layers.  (I was so excited to not have to wear a jumper last week that selfies happened). Warmer, brighter days definitely make for a happier Tamsin!

3) Popping into the exhibition Georgians Revealed at the British Library for my course on British painting from the 18th to the mid-19th century. There was a giant map of London on the floor, so I was instantly pleased. It's sadly closed now, but the British Library is always worth a visit, especially the permanent Treasures of the British Library exhibition - you can see all sorts of things from a death warrant signed by Elizabeth I, to illuminated medieval manuscripts and hand-written scores by composers like Handel and Mozart. 

4) Grabbing a bite to eat at Fork Deli Patisserie in Bloomsbury before the exhibition. It's a hipster's paradise - all filament bulbs and painted wood. Meals are certainly pricey but delicious - Alex had salmon with a beetroot and kale salad, while I had a caprese, which was lovely, but tiny. So of course I had to fill up on raspberry nata tarts for pudding. Of course. 

5) Having my first taste of Five Guys on Upper St! My verdict - excellent chips (cooked in peanut oil, and especially tasty with their special spicy powder) and high quality burgers, but ultimately a revved-up, more expensive version of McDonald's. 

6) Coming back to Cambridge to a lovely house barbecue to make the most of the good weather. We feasted on more burgers, corn on the cob and spare ribs. I certainly wasn't hungry this weekend...

7)  Finally getting round to having my hair cut, after about 9 months (I know. I'm ashamed of myself) at Stilo in Cambridge. It's so much healthier and lighter now. Need to go to the hairdresser's more regularly for sure!

8) Finishing Umberto Eco's The Name of The Rose! Read my thoughts on it on my new biblio-centric Wordpress, Lignin and Petrichor

I'd love to know what you've been up to this week! And if anyone has any tips on things to do over the Easter break in London (culture, foodie spots, books to read), please share them! I'm so excited to go home for a bit :)


Clickable Adventures #1

Helen Oyeyemi, by Kate Gavino of Last Night's Reading.

The Internet turned 25 years old this week! Here's a handful of links I've loved over the past few days to celebrate the 'Net's birthday.

A little wooden automaton that mimics the effect of a raindrop hitting water. Mesmerising. 

The descent of a camera. Super trippy. Can't quite tell if it's real or not...

Yoga with Mandy Ingber that'll make you happy. Fitsugar's 10-minute workouts are joyous, and perfect for lazy girls like me. 

Cards that magically bloom into flowers when planted, from the wonderful Oh Happy Day. Wouldn't these be sweet as wedding favours?

Last Night's Reading. Quotes combined with sketched portraits from readings, by Kate Gavino. Makes me wish I could draw!

Happy Friday everyone - what do you have in store this weekend? I might take a little trip into one of our neighbouring villages on Sunday if the weather holds out :)

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We're all mad here.

Let me introduce you to the bane of my life. It's nightmarish. A constant source of guilt. An insurmountable mountain of Himalayan proportions that I haven't even begun to chip away at. This monster is my dissertation - a 9000 word thesis worth 28% of my final grade, which I'm writing on  the paintings of Édouard Manet, widely credited as the father of modern art. 

Lent Term has just ended, so I'm spending the bulk of my time holed up in libraries, clutching books which may or may not help me in my quest for knowledge, generally looking desperate and ungroomed. Cutting to the chase, I haven't got a lot of time to embark on adventures at the moment (though when I get a moment I want to tell you all about my foodie weekend in London!) For now, though, I just wanted to share the best book title I found while digging through the stacks of the University Library for Manet-related texts yesterday.

Yep guys, you read that correctly. Rebel in a frock coat. 


Nope, I can't take Manet seriously any more either.

Soooooooo. My sense of humour may have become a little skewed since I started spending all my time with books. Or perhaps mild insanity is symptomatic of Oxbridge/University life. Ah well... *Dives back into sea of books*

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Murray Edwards Turns 60!

I'd like to tell you a little about where I'm studying today.

So I'm in my fourth year at the University of Cambridge. It's renowned worldwide for its beautiful colleges, dominated by gorgeous medieval courts, quads with 'Keep Off The Grass' signs, stony spires and picturesque bridges over the River Cam.

But let's just get one thing straight. I am not at one of these so-called 'beautiful colleges'.

My college, Murray Edwards (formerly New Hall) was founded in 1954 on the Backs, on Silver Street, moving site to northern Cambridge in the 60s. Its architecture is very of its time; it sits proudly on Castle Hill in all its Brutalist, concrete-loving glory. There are no elaborate finials or elegant stone arches to be found here.

Murray Edwards is also notorious for one other thing: it's not a mixed sex college. It's girls only, and this has led its students gaining the dual, paradoxical reputation of either being 'too prudish' to apply to a mixed college, or alternatively, a group of sex-starved females who pounce on the opposite sex the minute they're liberated from their oestrogen-laced surroundings, earning the college the nickname 'Hurry Bedwards'. Yep. You can imagine the sort of revved-up teenage males who come up with this kind of stuff.

I'll admit that all this has led to a fair bit of angst on my part in the past, especially on entering the university and being made to not feel 'good enough' for Cambridge. Other students and porters at the more well-known colleges can be, and indeed have been, very insulting about my college to my face, often coming close to what might be termed as bullying. See this Tab article for an example of the 'humorous' elitism students at the modern colleges face on a regular basis. The sad thing is, we're expected to laugh it off or grow a thick skin when faced with college-related jibes, but the fact that my emotional response to these comes disturbingly close to how I feel when confronted with racist or sexist 'jokes' tells me that this is something that the University needs to address.

Despite all this, I'd like to make it clear that I am very fond of my college, supposed shortcomings or not. My tutors and directors of studies there have always been extremely supportive to me, while the atmosphere is really friendly and tightly-knit, probably closer to a non-Oxbridge hall of residence. Last week was its 60th birthday, which happily coincided with International Women's Day. To celebrate, we were treated to a host of talks from intimidatingly successful alums, followed by formal. Formal is a Cambridge tradition in which you dress up, don gowns (which I eschewed for this particular formal in favour of a leather jacket out of laziness rather than rebellion) and sit down for a three-course silver service meal.

Upon entering the Dome, where we have our regular meals and formals, we were greeted with the soft peals of an Indonesian gamelan orchestra.

We waited patiently for grace, then had our starter - tuna wrapped in tempura-fried nori, with a cucumber and rocket salad.

I was sitting opposite Sana, my housemate and fellow Murray Edwards undergrad.

We were seated next to some grads and alumnae and got chatting about everything from opera to weddings. Then came the main - a tasty mutton curry with rice, and, slightly inexplicably, a giant slab of bread.

It was my first time dressing up nicely for quite a while, as I've been living pretty permanently in a uniform of jeans, t-shirts and pullovers all term! Perhaps that's what being a finalist does to you... My dress is from Topshop and my necklace is from Alex Monroe

I was in a giant rush during dessert because it was time to catch a train back to London, so I didn't manage to get snaps of that course (a beautifully creamy maracuja passion fruit tart with sorbet) but rest assured I gobbled it right down. In record time, too - probably about five seconds!

Thank you, Murray Edwards, for an excellent evening of food and thought-provoking discussion! I'm very proud to be a part of this college.

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Mini Adventures #1

At Cambridge we have a bizarre way of planning out our time.

Instead of doing Monday-Sunday weeks like the rest of the world, our weeks start on Thursdays.

Today marks the beginning of Week Eight, the last week of term (and therefore the end of my penultimate term ever - hooray!)

Here's ten snapshots from my iPhone that have put a smile on my face in the past fortnight.

1) I produced an opera, Mozart's Don Giovanni, at the end of February, set at the end of World War II. Here's our set designer Rob looking on admiringly as the lighting team fly one of the dirigibles!

2) Painting the Don Giovanni set on the Sidgwick site in the sunshine.

3) A shaggy haired Alex does his best model squint outside Andrew Northrop's Butchers, where we picked up our rack of lamb.

4) On our way back from the butcher's we discovered Mill Road Feast - a tri-monthly festival/farmer's market hybrid. Definitely going to drop by in June!

5) Caramel Snack-a-Jacks. I lived off these in show week and am still obsessed. Perfect for nibbling on absent-mindedly when you're doing an essay!

6) I saw this jumper in Topshop and fell in love with it immediately. It's a bit art historian-y, my favourite colour, and only £29!

7) Trinity College Cambridge in the sunshine.

8) Pancake Day selfies.

9) OCD housemates devising a new spice organisation system.

10) Getting stuck into Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose for World Book Day today!

Happy World Book Day everyone - hope you're all having fun being bookworms today too!