On Storytelling: Poetry at St Paul’s Cathedral

I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling these past couple of weeks.

Such intense contemplations have most probably been sparked by a period of intense reading (induced by holidays and extended commutes), my day-to-day work and, most recently, a Monday night visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral to listen to some poetry.

Firstly, some context: I really do consider myself extremely lucky to have found myself a career which I truly love. As a profession, media often flies under the radar: it’s the industry you don’t know exists until you find yourself immersed within in. It’s fun, fast-paced and extremely indulgent. But as someone who spent my younger years contemplating political science and communications theory, running as far away from numbers and maths as I could, to find myself spending upwards of 8 hours a day buried in spreadsheets is a huge departure from my 17-year-old life goal to be editor of Vogue or the next J.K Rowling.

But this week, I’ve had a bit of an epiphany: turns out old storytelling habits die hard. I certainly don’t have the measured eloquence of the thoughtful and charming poets I had the pleasure of listening to earlier this week but storytelling still permeates most (if not all) aspects of my life. Most literally, this manifests in the form of this blog, my relatively new-found love of photography and my journal. However, it’s also present in the form of media strategies, endless emails, post campaign reporting and creative best practice presentations. Not to mention, the countless media buzzwords laden with ambiguity which have a pesky habit of tumbling out of my mouth daily.

So whilst it’s decidedly more data driven than I had anticipated and perhaps, on the surface, less culturally significant, it’s still something.

And though perhaps what I took most out of the poetry evening at St. Paul’s was probably off on more of a tangent than anticipated, a renewed appreciation for storytelling – even its most basic form – certainly doesn’t feel like a bad thing. 

st_pauls_cathedral_poetry

st_pauls_cathedral_poetry2

st_pauls_cathedral_poetry4

st_pauls_cathedral_poetry_

Lake District: Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top

As any traveller knows, there are few places in the world which present themselves as exactly as you imagine them. For me, New York City and Paris have always topped the list: I’ll never forget the first time I looked up at Manhattan’s skyscrapers or stumbled across The Eiffel Tower. There’s something really special about how equally magical and reassuring it can be for reality to coincide what’s in your imagination every so often.

Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, with its rolling hills, picturesque gardens and nostalgic imagery, is one of those places.

Since I first moved to the UK, the Lake District and Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm have been top of my list of destinations to visit. Having grown up with the tales of Peter, Jemima, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail’s antics (not to mention this TV series…), I’ve been itching to get up north to see what Miss. Potter found so inspiring.

After visiting it last Sunday, what can I say? Except now, I totally get it.

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-1

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-2

Walking through her house, seeing the very floorboards present in some of her books and reading her letters to friends describing her surroundings makes you feel close to the author (in a similar way as a visit to the British Library). The whole experience, quite frankly, will leave you wishing that you could have been Miss Potter’s friend.

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-11

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-10

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-8

Hill Top is obviously a stark contrast from London: the air is fresh and you’re surrounded by green in every direction (a characteristic of the Lake District in general). Wandering through the gardens, nestled in the hills of the English countryside, it’s hard not to feel relaxed as you keep a keen eye out for Peter and his friends.

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-7

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-7

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-3

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-5

beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-6 beatrix-potter-hill-top-farm-9

MissECalwell_AiraForceWaterfall_FeaturedImage

Lake District: Aira Force Waterfall

The Lake District is full of beautiful sights which only increase in natural beauty if it’s been a while since you’ve left the big smoke. That said, nothin’ beats a pretty waterfall. On my recent visit to the Lake District, we paid Aira Force waterfall (just by the rather stunning Ullswater) a quick visit.

aira-force-waterfall-lake-district

Though apparently quite a touristy sight, the waterfall is nestled amongst the trees and is relatively pleasant ‘hike’ up half a dozen flights of stairs. Thankfully, the path to the top is littered with sculptural art pieces and ‘fun’ facts about the different trees you’ll encounter along the way, increasing your nature chat exponentially (and who doesn’t need that?).

aira-force-waterfall

aira-force-waterfall-lake-district

The tea rooms are small but warm and welcoming – the gigantic scones, ladened with clotted cream were an absolute dream, fuelling us with the requisite energy for powering up those stairs.

aira-force-waterfall-lake-district

aira-force-waterfall-lake-district

aira-force-waterfall-lake-district

And once you get to the top, listening to the water crashing down on the rocks below surrounded by nothing by greenery, dreary old grey London certainly feels very, very far away.

aira-force-waterfall-lake-district

aira-force-waterfall-lake-district

miss-e-calwell-tate-modern

A Date with the Tate (Modern)

One of the things I love most about London is the plethora of galleries and museums. Not only does it make me feel like I’m perpetually on holidays, but I also feel like I’m doing my brain a favour with a bit of culture every now and then. So when I heard that a Georgia O’Keefe exhibition was coming to town, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally pay a visit to the Tate Modern.

The exhibition is fantastic: for any art aficionados, you’ll know how ahead of her time O’Keefe really was. Her emotive use of colour and movement (not to mention our shared love of flowers) makes her one of my favourites.

I’m no architecture expert, but the actual Tate Modern building is obviously incredible.  To find yourself in an empty concrete expanse feels like a real luxury (and increasing rarity) in this hectic and sometimes claustrophobic city.

 

tate-modern-london-1

tate-modern-london-2

tate-modern-london

tate-modern-london-3

tate-modern-london-4

TasteofLondon_MissECalwell

A Taste of Taste of London

If you like fine dining, fine food and fine company, Taste of London is really one of the best days out you can have in the city.

A foodie’s dream, the festival runs for a few days in Regents Park where all the city’s best restaurants assemble to allow you to get a ‘taste’ of their signature dishes.

To be honest, it’s actually quite a dangerous event: once you’ve whet your appetite with the delights of Duck & Waffle, or sampled the lovely lamb + mash on offer from Le Coq, you’re just going to find yourself wanting more. So for the record, you have been warned.

 

taste-of-london-vip

 

taste-of-london-2

 

taste-of-london-vip-2

 

taste-of-london-duck-and-waffle-1

 

taste-of-london-duck-and-waffle

 

taste-of-london-vip-1

 

taste-of-london-grey-goose

 

a-day-in-capri

10 Photos That Will Make You Want to Spend a Day in Capri

My recent trip to Italy was one of the most magical holidays I’ve ever had. There’s so much I love about the country and the Italian way of life. After falling in love with Venice, a day trip to Capri during our stay in Sorrento truly had me head over heels.

The island of Capri is an easy ferry/cruise from either Sorrento or Naples. It’s most famous for being the haunt of the rich and famous (like Jackie Kennedy) who frequented the island during their Italian sojourns. And whilst there’s no denying that the Island exudes money (private yacht anyone?) it’s still undeniably beautiful and quite charming.

To get to the town centre on foot, you have to navigate your way through the small, steep streets. Be warned – you will be walking uphill for a good twenty minutes so you probably don’t want to be doing this in the 40deg summer heat. In April, it was nothing a refreshing lemon slushy couldn’t fix.

Spend some time wandering the streets, past the luxury shops and five-star hotels, stop for some pizza and enjoy a glass of Rosé in the sunshine and trust me, you’ll never want to leave.

With the sun shining and the sea sparkling, grey little London felt very, very far away indeed during our all-too-brief visit. I left with a new pair of black cat eye sunglasses in an attempt to take a small morsel of the Capri glamour back to London with me.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here are 10 photos that will make you want to spend a day in Capri.

sorrento

sorrento-capri-italy

capri-italy

capri-italy-yacht

capri-city-centre-2

capri-city-centre-3

capri-city-centre

capri-pizza

capri

capri-italy-view

 

featuredimageliberty

Café Liberty

I like to think of Liberty as my true north – much like Daisy and Gatsby’s green light. For some, it’s just a shop (one full of exorbitantly priced goods) so this will sound a bit materialistic and pretentious. Regardless, for me it’s always represented more and my love for it, quite frankly, is unwavering.

The first time I ever visited London, I stayed at the YHA hostel down the road. I loved escaping the tiny room to spend hours wandering the store instead, admiring Liberty’s beautiful things and attention to detail. It’s a juxtaposition which pretty much sums up me and my philosophy on life and travel.

I think, though, what really sparked this obsession affection (aside from escaping hostel life) was how inherently joyous the store felt. For the years which followed this first London trip, these initial memories lingered and iconic images of Liberty were my persistent motivation for making my dreams of living the London Life a reality.

So when I moved here, of course Café Liberty obviously became one of my favourite places to indulge in an afternoon treat and cup of tea. To this day, it’s still my favourite happy place in this crazy city – not to mention, a fond reminder of how far I’ve come since my YHA days.

cafe-liberty-london

cafe-liberty-london

cafe-liberty-london

cafe-liberty-london

cafe-liberty-london

 

FEELING INSPIRED?

You can find Café Liberty on the 2nd floor of the store, just off Regent Street.

 

citysocialfeaturedimage

Dining in Tower 42: Jason Atherton’s City Social

I am many things but a self-proclaimed foodie certainly isn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong – I love food. And of course, I wouldn’t really be a true Melburnian if I didn’t appreciate fine dining and its associated culture. I’m also incredibly lucky to work in an industry where good food and good company is a core part of doing business.

That said, rarely do I feel the urge – or rather, the authority – to write or comment about my dining escapades. For Michelin starred City Social, however, I just can’t resist.

Located in East London, the restaurant is located on the 24th floor of Tower 42. Inside, the floor to ceiling windows just beg you to appreciate the view outside them. Informal half-moon booths facing the view provide an intimate yet awe-inspiring setting where you’ll find yourself seriously wondering if this is real life. I promise I’m not being over-dramatic.

 

city-social-view
 

The food was absolutely incredible – rich, thoughtful and entirely memorable. Kicking things off, I opted for the appropriately named drink, “Oh my gourd!” – a cocktail which somehow managed to simultaneously celebrate my love of puns and tequila. How could I resist?

Fondly dubbed a ‘potato-arian’ by my family, it will come as no surprise to them that one of my favourite meals in London had the vegetable firmly at its core, albeit in a classier fashion than your standard British fish and chips. I ordered gnocchi to start followed by a potato and caramelised onion terrine which makes my mouth water even as I write this days later. We shared the côte de bœuf between us before falling into a blissful food coma. 

 

city-social-gnocchi

city-social-starter

And then, dessert: the Apple tarte tartin with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I mean, there are no words to describe it (though ‘true love’ almost comes close).  And the cheese trolley – even Henry VIII would have been impressed by the decadence.

city-social-dessert
 

city-social-cheese-dessert
 

The sunset from the 24th floor was the perfect end to a perfect meal and I can’t express what a pleasure it was to spend a few hours here.

 

Sometimes, I really have to pinch myself #whataview #dreaming #london #expatlife @citysocial_t42

A post shared by Elizabeth Calwell (@missecalwell) on

 

FEELING INSPIRED?

My suggestion would be to reserve City Social for special occasions when you don’t have to rush and can fully enjoy the experience.

Find out more here.

HydeParkFeaturedImage

Hyde Park on a Boris Bike

Even after only a few days in London,  you start to notice that you can find these red cycles practically everywhere. And for only £2, they’re not only easy and accessible, but also dirt cheap to borrow for a short while. Personally, I’m not crazy brave enough to attempt to cycle on the streets of London, so exploring a large park area seemed like a good alternative.

borisbikehydepark

I picked up my cycle from Hyde Park Corner and then, somewhat awkwardly, was on my way. Not really having an idea where I was going and still yet to really have my London bearings, perhaps the most distracting part of the ride was trying to ignore the voices in my head screaming “You should be wearing a helmet!” – a compulsory component of bike riding in Melbourne.

Hyde Park is perhaps one of the most picturesque parks I’ve ever explored. Having previously only visited during the winter months, I was pleasantly welcomed by green as far as the eye could see. The paths for cycling are fairly flat and, thankfully, wide enough to give even the most rookie cycler plenty space to avoid the meandering pedestrians.
hyde-park-london

hyde-park-london

At the end of this little excursion, I still may not know why it’s called a Boris Bike, but I what I do know is that it’s a lovely way to take advantage of a beautiful Spring day in London.

For information on how, when and where to find a Boris Bike near you, our friends at TFL have all the answers.

london-eye-view

How to Play Tourist Around London

It’s been close to two months since I moved now, one month in my new job and a few weeks since I moved into my flat – it’s all happening! Despite all these milestones which indicate I’m fast on the road to calling myself a legit Londoner, I still feel like there’s a grace period where I am perfectly entitled to hover somewhere between wannabe local and complete foreigner; the extremity of my situation determined mostly my level of confidence for the day.

This bank holiday weekend I was joined by a partner in crime from high school and together we played tourist around town. Ground covered: Brunch down Portobello Rd (including a stroll through the crowded Saturday market), wishful window shopping down Kings Road, a stop at Covent Garden, tapas in Soho, a rotation ’round the London Eye, a river cruise down the Thames to visit to the Crown jewels at the Tower of London, finishing with much craved yum cha in Chinatown. A pretty solid London tourist weekend, not to mention excellent use of a long weekend, if I do say so myself.

MissECalwell_PortobelloRd MissECalwell_CarnabySt

MissECalwell_Tapas

MissECalwell_LondonEye

MissECalwell_TowerofLondon

Keen to replicate? Here’s some helpful places and tips to get you started:

Portobello Road – this was my second trip to the market and I enjoyed it a lot more than my first. As all sources will say, GO EARLY! We got the Tube to Ladbroke Grove and worked our way up the hill to Notting Hill Gate. The map found here will help you hone in on specific areas if you’re after something in particular.

Kings Road – I like to start at Sloane Square and slowly stroll down the street. When my feet get tired, or I’m out of ££ for the day, I jump on the bus and people watch from the top deck.

Tapas – We went to Dehesa and it was amazing.

London Eye – Go early and check the forecast. Buy tickets in advance. Be prepared for the fact that the wheel moves slow. You’re up there a while.

Dim Sum/Yum Cha – I’m pretty picky when it comes to Asian cuisine but this place we found via a quick Google did not disappoint when it came to satisfying our Yum Cha craving.