Sunday, 29 December 2013

Year End



I'm going to be kind of sad to say goodbye to 2013 as overall it's been a good year - highlights being a spontaneous trip to New York, and getting to go to the launch of an anthology my story is in at Foyle's in London. It's going to be hard to top that in 2014, but I'll give it a good go!

Following the tradition of my 'Year End' posts here's some of my favourite films/TV shows and books of 2013: (These are getting harder to remember - I think I need to start keeping a film and book journal!)

Books: (Actually once I got into writing this I could have gone on forever, so I've had to be very selective...)

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
This YA book is part of the Chemical Garden Trilogy. I have to admit I was initially drawn to this book because of the beautiful cover (it really is a gorgeous cover!!) My cover judgement paid off as it turned out to be one of the best YA books I've ever read. Loved the writing, the plot and the characters. It's set in a creepy genetically advanced world where males only live to tweny five, and females to twenty. Sixteen year old Rhine is kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriage in order to keep the population ticking over. It brought up really interesting questions about freedom and genetics and love. Like many trilogies I think it would have been stronger if the author had tried to contain the story to one book.

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder
This is one of my sister in law's favourite books and I'm glad she passed it my way as it's probably one I wouldn't have picked out in a crowd. It's a historical fantasy book, set in a fictional land where Yelena escapes execution in exhange for becoming the 'Commander's' food taster (which means she has to be trained in being able to detect multiple poisons). I loved Yelena's character - a really strong female protagonist and Valek is the perfect hero; understated, kind of moody, strong and the right kind of sensitive.

Slated by Teri Terry
I was first alerted to this YA book through my facebook feed when a friend posted a link to the cover and blurb, as she knows the author (So, people, take note: facebook does work to promote your friends' books!) This is a kind of sci-fi thriller romance, where 16 year old Kyla has been 'Slated'. Her memory and personality have been wiped clean and she has been placed with a family she doesn't know to start a new life after claims she was a terrorist. It's a great idea and full of enough intrigue and mystery to keep you turning the pages (this is another trilogy so unfortunately the first one only scrapes the surface with answers). Looking forward to reading the next one!

Midwinter Masquerade by Romy Gemmell
Have to mention this one as it's one of my Mum's (many) books published this year, and it's also dedicated to me (which was a lovely surprise when I started to read it!). Set in Midwinter in the Scottish countryside it makes a perfect wintery read. I enjoyed the contrast between the widowed Lenora's romantic turmoil for a past love, and the more whimsical escapades of the younger Annabelle. Some great escapist romance! (and for more escapist romance you should also check out The Aphrodite Touch)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I'm only half way through this (because it was a Christmas present), and unless it goes dramatically downhill for the last half, (which I'm sure it won't!) this has to go on my favourites list for this year. The subject should be really depressing: a blossoming romance between a girl with terminal cancer, and a boy she meets at cancer support group, but the humour and honesty is so spot on that it's a weirdly uplifting story (though I'm getting my hankies ready for the end...)


Films:
Take this Waltz 
An indie romance starring Michelle Williams (who does the indie stuff so well), Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby. It got some bad reviews (it's a 2011 film) but I thought it was great.  The writer/director (Sarah Polley) turned what could have been another will they/won't they story into something much more, and effectively captured the restlessness we all experience; that feeling that there's something missing, something more out there...and when Michelle Williams' character gets the 'more' you can see the dawning that maybe it's not another person that will truly make you happy. The fairground scene (played out twice in different ways) is just perfect.

The Place Beyond The Pines
Ryan Golsing doing what he does best: understated broody emotion (with a bit of sexy thrown in). He plays a motorcyle racer and when he discovers he has a son, is so desperate to provide for him, becomes involved in bank robberies. This brings a cop, played by Bradley Cooper, into his life and the focus of the second half of the film then shifts to him. The story is unsettling and big on the emotional punches. I just sat staring at the screen for few moments afer it ended, and cried at several bits throughout (it doesn't really take much to make me cry at films though!)

Catching Fire (the second of the Hunger Games films)
Loved the Hunger Games books and love the Hunger Games films. I'm so glad they cast Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss as she portrays her understated strength so well. (If you ask me, it's this role she deserves the oscar for as I really did not see the big deal about Silver Linings Playbook). They've captured the colourful world of 'The Capital' and the horror of the games in perfect detail. And Donald Sutherland is amazing as President Snow.

Argo
I just watched this over Christmas and it deserves a mention as I nearly bit all my nails off in the tense closing scenes. What made this more amazing was the fact it was based on a true story. Ben Affleck was impressive as the CIA agent attempting to rescue 6 Americans from Tehran, under the guise of a Hollywood film production team. He gave such an understated performance (are you seeing the trend that I am all for the 'understated' powerful actors?) and displayed some top notch directing.

The Paradise Lost documentaries 
A friend alerted me to the distrurbing true case of 'The West Memphis Three'; a tragic story of miscarriage of justice. The documentaries cover the1993 West Memphis trials in which three teenagers were accused of murdering three eight-year-old boys. All three teenagers were found guilty with Echols being sentenced to death. The documentaries and later investigations throw up all sorts of inconsistencies, fabrications and inconclusive 'evidence' which will have you really worrying about the so called 'justice' system. The documentaries caught the eye of really high profile stars such as Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder who joined the relentless campaigning for the boys' release. I started with the most recent documentary 'West of Memphis' and started to work my way back through the older ones. Compelling and disturbing viewing!


TV

Girls 
I had to wait for the box sets of this TV series due to not having Sky Atlantic. In a way I'm glad I got the box sets as once you start watching, you want to keep watching. Written and directed by Lena Dunham, the series was in all the papers when it first came out, being touted as the new 'Sex and the City'. This is a total inaccuracy. What they should have billed it as, was the REAL Sex and the City as it's the most honest piece of TV I've ever seen. Lena Dunham is refreshingly normal looking, and isn't ashamed to show off her less than perfect body in numerous nude scenes. There are no flattering lighting/camera angles in this show and the females are kind of crazy and neurotic but ultimately endearing. The men are depressingly real too, so really you should show this to your teenage daughters so a) They become more comfortable with their perfectly imperfect bodies and b) They don't build up too high romantic expectations about men/relationships/sex/initial life after graduation. This series really deserves a whole blog post of its own.

Eerie Indiana 
Had to include this! I was lucky enough to recieve the box set for my Christmas (thanks Lorna) and I am loving re-visiting this totally off the wall tv series from my childhood. Not yet reached the episodes featuring the weird grey haired kid (who I had a massive crush on). If you've never seen this, your life will forever remain incomplete.


Okay, I think that's about me done for now. Wishing you all much happiness and great things for 2014. And wishing myself a multi million bestseller. The more times I say/write it the more likely it is to become truth...



*Footnote - meant to include the Mortal Instruments film in my list. An amazing adaptation (better than the book as the actors were so good in their parts)












Monday, 2 December 2013

Inspiration

Paris ~ streets of inspiration


November, where did you go? That's my excuse for not posting last month - it simply disappeared too quickly. I know a few writers read this and I'm curious to know; where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

I read a good article in the November issue of Writing magazine titled 'Ten inspiring ideas to try instead of NaNoWriMo'. In this, the author Ben Hatch suggested keeping a diary for a month, writing about something that's happened to you, or recording real events and conversations. He suggested writing for 45 minutes every day. I've not managed quite that extent of writing in my 'diary' but I've found it a really useful tool to record thoughts, ideas, and unusual conversations or things I've seen. Ideas for stories have sometimes formed half way through recording thoughts and observations from my day, and I'm sure many more will appear when I read back through the diary. I'm not going to stick to just a month, but will keep going with it until I fill the notebook. It's also a good use for one of the many lovely notebooks I've been given as gifts from friends/family!

Something else which I find is bringing inspiration is Pinterest, not necessarily for writing - some boards I've come across are sparking lots of art ideas. It was thanks to my Mum that I joined up to this and have had fun creating my own 'boards', though I could easily spend way too much time on it so have to limit myself! It's amazing the quirky images and products you can find when you search under certain subjects. When I was putting together my 'All Things Alice in Wonderland' board I came across one titled 'Worn any good books lately' which features hundreds of clothes and jewellery inspired by famous literature. Love it!
Click  http://www.pinterest.com/vikkigemmell/boards/ to see my boards

Last month I went to the Lighthouse in Glasgow to check out their current exhibitions and came across one titled '365 drawings later' by an artist called Anna Gibb. She recorded her whole year in sketches and it featured lots of images from her travels across Europe and America. I love this idea as her sketches pulled out little details that would be difficult to capture on camera, and think it would make a really interesting sketchbook diary. I've come across a few blogs lately where people have captured weekends or days in photos and I also like that idea! Maybe some projects to experiment with next year...


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Ten Photos

A '50 Thing' task I've been working on for a while is number 8 on my list  'Explore your neighbourhood in 10 photographs'. I live in a town called Paisley, which doesn't have the best of reputations. Over the years I've discovered the beauty of the town, which I hope will be reflected in some of these photographs.

Arts Centre
I love the Arts Centre building, a converted church (The Old Laigh Kirk), with graveyard still intact. I used to go to life drawing classes here and have also been to gigs/plays/dance performances at this arts venue. It's a great little place and one which I should make more use of. I used to also love the Haunt Bar upstairs, which sadly is no longer there...



Thomas Coats Church

Thomas Coats Church has got to be one of my favourite buildings ever - such amazing gothic architecture. The more I look at it, the more intricate detail I notice, and I really want to just sit for a whole day sketching parts of it. My Postgrad graduation ceremony was held here. I don't think I fully appreciated the beauty of the building back then.

Paisley Abbey














Paisley Abbey is another amazing building, so it deserves to be showcased in 4 photos. I've been to a service in here and it was amazing sitting listening to an organ playing in a building like this, with sunlight streaming through the stain glass windows. I love the corridor you walk along to lead into the main part of the building (If you turn right it takes you into the little gift shop and cafe). The year a medieval festival took place in the town there were lots of stalls outside the Abbey and I think an alchemist type stall was set up inside (I vaguely remember an old man holding something up in a jar...). Another year when the Witch Trial Reenactments Day took place, a woman dressed in old clothes told old witch stories in a corner of the Abbey (mainly to a group of children, plus me and two friends!).

Park
The Fountain Park is a great little green haven for me. On many a sunny day I have sat under a tree reading a book. Just outside the park is a cherry blossom tree - I always love seeing that in bloom, particulary because it signifies my favourite season, Spring. I took this photo a few weeks ago, just before the trees in the park turned to yellow and red.





Old Bedroom
Sma' Shot Cottages

A couple of months ago I visited the Sma' Shot Cottages for the first time. The cottages at the front were used by Weavers, and this part of the building was originally built in the 1740s. When you walk through the gardens you are taken to cottages 100 years on, which were used by Mill workers. Volunteers act as tour guides, explaining the history and little details of the times as they show you round the rooms. I was told that a woman who was a member of the Old Paisley society made sure the cottages were restored in order to preserve an important part of Paisley's history. The attention to detail in all of the rooms is amazing, with old hair pins laid out on dressers and button up boots by the beds. It truly felt like stepping back in time and is well worth a visit. There's also a nice tea room and shop.

I'll end this blog post with one of my favourite photos that I took about three years ago now, early one morning when it had been snowing heavily overnight, just as the sun was rising...Who knew my little town could be so pretty...



Sunday, 29 September 2013

Possibility




I've just realised it's nearly the end of September and I've yet to write a blog post this month. So, returning to an old aid of inspiration, I put my MP3 player on random, choosing to use the song it stops at as a theme... The song I landed on was 'Possibility' by Lykke Li.

And that got me to thinking, is it ever really possible to 'live in the moment', completely in the moment, without thoughts of the past or the future, clouding our judgement, or expectations?

I don't think I'm particularly good at 'living in the moment', though the older I get, the more I appreciate simpler things, which kind of controls your expectations. I'm quite fond of the word 'possibility' as it holds a certain exciting sense of anticipation... But if you believe the buddhists, true happiness is found if you learn to live in the present moment, without dwelling on the past, or worrying about the future.

That got me to thinking some more, and I came to the conclusion that I probably am happiest when I get totally lost in a moment. This can happen when I'm engrossed in artwork, writing, watching an enjoyable film, listening to music, and most powerful - when engaged in conversation with someone who truly engages me - that sensation where the rest of the room disappears and you're only aware that you're experiencing the sensation if someone tries to cut in on your conversation.
To me, those are the times where I know I'm truly living in the moment and it's a good feeling.

This weekend I watched a couple of interesting documentaries about the West Memphis Three (a brief summary: this is a famous case where three teenage boys were convicted of murdering three young boys, based on a lot of flimsy circumstancial evidence). I don't want to go into too much detail about the case, as that would take a whole other blog post, but I really liked this quote, which Eddie Vedder from Pear Jam (who supported the accused), read from Damien Echols' (the one sentenced to life) journal:

'There's no such thing as time.
There's no such thing as the past, it only exists in the memory.
There's no such thing as the future, it's only in our imagination.
If our watches were truly accurate the only thing they would ever say, is now.'


I'm going to end with an extract from T.S Elliot's 'Four Quartets' as I really like the last line:

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope,
for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.
And wait without love.  For love would be love,
of the wrong thing. 
Yet there is faith.
But the faith and the hope and the love, are all in the waiting.
And the darkness shall be the light
and the stillness the dancing. 
                                             T.S. Elliot





Sunday, 18 August 2013

Challenging my creativity

Underwater (V.Gemmell)




I've been working my way through a couple of more tasks on my '50 Things' list this weekend. Number 7 on my list reads, 'After watching Andrew Thomas Huang's Solipsist, challenge your creativity.'

Solipsist is a short, 10 minute film, which can be found on the artist/film maker's website. You can see it here:


It demonstrates amazing film making; so creative and inventive. I absolutely love the last 3 minutes or so, where the colours explode. Huang's website also features a 'making of' extract and a couple of interesting music videos. The Sigur Ros one is especially worth a watch, mainly because his visuals really suit their haunting sound towards the end.

I noticed at the start of Solipsist that the females had paint on their hands so that got me to thinking about how I'd wanted to paint a picture consisting mainly of a blend of colours for a while, ( I really love Darren Waterston's work - he does dreamy colour canvasses very well), and how using my hand to create a base of colour might be interesting. The results are in photos below: 

Painted hand
The base by hand (literally)
















Rubbing the paint across the canvas using the palm of my hand was a messy and freeing experience but I have to say I enjoyed building up the colour and texture more when I swapped to brushes. The end result, Underwater, is at the top of the page.

And this is what it looks like with an Instagram filter on it, to intensify the colour:

With instagram filter



I've got an idea for a photograph too, but that one requires a lot of tea light candles and a companion to ensure I don't set my local park on fire. I'll keep you posted on that one...


Monday, 12 August 2013

Up a mountain



 
View from near the top
Views from the top of Dumgoyne
A while back I blogged about receiving a list of ’50 things to do this year’ from a complete stranger somewhere in the world. I thought it was time to start focusing on it again or I’m never going to complete everything before the year’s up. So this weekend I ticked off number 39, (I’m not going through the list in order – I’m not that far on with it!!), and ‘went on a mountain hike’. Even although I live in Scotland, where there are plenty of mountains/hills, I’ve never been up a proper big hill – no matter how many times friends/family have tried to persuade me otherwise. For about ten years I’ve stubbornly refused, saying I’m happy enough just enjoying the views from their photographs. So haha, stranger from somewhere in the world – you’ve finally broken me and introduced me to a new experience, which was the whole point of this 50 task thing really... 

I have to confess I went to a lot of bother questioning which hill I could get away with calling a small mountain in order to complete this task. Dumgoyne, on the edge of the Campsies, fitted the bill for me as some online blurb refers to it as a ‘mini mountain’, and a seasoned hill walker (accidentally I think) referred to it as a mountain. According to Wikipedia Dumgoyne is 1,402 feet - a reasonable enough challenge for my first attempt (see that use of ‘first’ attempt – my subconscious is already telling me to get back up another, bigger one).

So off I set with an experienced hill walking friend in tow, who mocked my rubbish hill walking (sorry mountain walking) attire – ie. jeans (they were stretchhhhy) and no waterproof (it was sunny when I left my flat). The walk up to Dumgoyne is very pleasant; up a winding path, past a few farm houses and through a field with weird and wonderful trees, up over a fence and stream...then the real walk began.

Dumgoyne is a rather steep climb. I was grateful for the worn ‘footholds’ imprinted into the hillside, as there were a few moments where it would have been easier to slide backwards, than move forwards. One of my favourite things about being up high was being able to see which towns in the distance the rain was falling on; it formed blankets of mist, curling down from the clouds, and it spurred me on to walk faster . ‘Get to the top before the rain reaches us’, was my half beat mantra. The rain caught me before I got to the top of course, probably at the steepest point of the climb, (the part of the climb where I was a bit out of breath and wondering why people did this for fun). It was a horrible drizzly rain that seeped into my jersey hooded top. Seasoned hill walkers probably saw me coming a mile off, wondering what the hell I was wearing and why I was half clinging, half walking up the mountain at this point.

But then I got over the steepest point, and the top (the end!) came into sight and I turned to look at the view behind me and it felt good, clambering up this mountain, with only miles of trees, lochs, fields and clouds in the distance. Reaching the top felt even better- as I climbed the last steps I was rewarded with a hauntingly beautiful image of mist surrounding the hills to my right. Here’s a photo of me at the top to prove I really did complete the walk!
Me at the top


I was stupid enough to think that getting up Dumgoyne would be the hardest part, but actually getting down was more difficult, due to the steep drop. I did that thing of half sitting, clinging onto grass, attempting to slide down some of the way on my bum etc, to avoid falling head over heels and rolling all the way back down to the car. My ankles bent at such strange angles it reminded me a bit of a painful snowboarding experience from years back.

Once I was upright again at a decent angle, the walk became pleasant once more. I’d half joked earlier to my walking companion, “Ha, can you imagine mountain biking down a hill like this?” and couldn’t believe it when we passed two teenage boys on their way up, carrying bikes. 

They smiled hello and I stared at them. “You’re not seriously going to cycle back down are you?” I said, like I was their mother.  “Yes,” They scoffed. Haha, stupid me-of course. Enjoy your suicide mission, boys. We didn’t stick around to find out if they made it. How they even managed to keep balance to carry their bikes up there I don’t know...

So one of my favourite parts of the day, I have to confess, was going to a great little cafe afterwards and drinking this amazing chocolate milkshake.Yum!
Milkshake

One mission complete, only another oh, 40 odd to go...

Monday, 5 August 2013

Barcelona

Casa Batllo
La Pedrera

Sagrada Familia

This is turning into a bit of a travel blog of late, but one of the fun parts of having a blog is being able to re-live enjoyable trips through constructing posts such as this! Last month myself and a work bud headed off to Barcelona for 5 nights where we sampled lots of tasty food, cocktails, sunshine and a little bit of culture... This was my fourth trip to Barcelona, (all brief encounters), and I never tire of this vibrant city. There's something special about the mix of art/culture, beach life, and general buzz which makes this place indefinable.

During past trips I'd visited the spectacular Gaudi buildings (Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, Sagrada Familia) and was happy enough to snap the exteriors this time without venturing inside. Taking the tour bus one morning provided interesting angles to capture photos of these buildings. I personally wish they would just stop adding to Sagrada Familia and leave it an unfinished building as I always feel the scaffolding/cranes detract from the breathtaking architecture. I attempted to zoom in on some of the detail and cropped out the construction work!
We hopped off the bus at the Park Guell stop as this Park is a must see for anyone visting the city and we got some tasty pasta salads for lunch in the restaurant there.
Parc Guell


El Bosc de les Fades
On this trip we came across some quirky places; topping this list was the amazing bar, El Bosc de les Fades. I'd read about this online, then someone later told me that it was a must see, with the chance of witnessing a lightning storm in the bar...The bar is beside the Wax Museum (Musue de Cera), just off La Ramblas. The exterior of Museu de Cera is worth a look itself  (spectacular architecture with superman poised to fly off the top of the roof.)
Fairy Cave
Stepping inside El Bosc de les Fades is like stepping into another world; with lantern lights strung between the branches of fake trees, a fairy cave hidden around a corner- complete with a wax work of a fairy crouched beneath a waterfall. To the rear of the bar we stepped through a curtained door, walking into what looked a Brothers Grimm vision of a child's bedroom. The photos capture more than my words ever could! There was also a 'haunted mirror' hanging on the wall where an image of a tudor man would fade in and out of view and a flickering chandelier. Unfortunately there were no lightning storms during our visit.

Weird bedroom











Our hotel (the amazing Barcelona Catedral ) was situated in the Barri Gotic area, just across from the beautiful Barcelona Cathedral (hence the name of the hotel...). I love this part of the city - it's full of little winding streets with quirky shops, gothic architecture and lots of great cafes/restaurants and bars are within walking distance. A highlight of our hotel was the spectacular roof top pool - very welcome after walking around in the sweltering heat!! Below are some photos of this area.




We found the quirkiest sweet shop ever just a few minutes from our hotel called Happy Pills. It was a tiny sparkling white shop, with rows and rows of sweets laid out like pills as if it was a sugar themed medical centre! It was great - such a simple, yet unique idea. The sweets tasted great too. Here's a snap of the interior below:
Happy Pills
One of my favourite bars we visited was called First Bar, a very small and funky place, situated down a side street off Las Ramblas. The walls were plastered with drawings and notes scribbled onto post-it notes by customers from all around the world. The owner made me the most amazing frozen Strawberry Daiquiri. Cocktails in Spain can be dangerous as they free pour their measures - the younger guy who made my second Daiquiri looked like he poured in half a bottle of rum...yum!
Here's a photo of a skeleton hanging above my stool in the bar and our post it note added to their wall...













Barcelona is very hot in July, although the breeze from the sea takes the edge off a bit. A couple of afternoons we couldn't face the long walk from the beach back to our part of town so we hopped onto the handy Rickshaw 'tours' which are offered along the port side. A guy pedals behind whilst you sit in a carriage at the front - it's a quick and fun way to save yourself from a long, sweltering walk. One of our rickshaw 'drivers' was a very friendly man from Venice, who was eager to tell us lots about Barcelona during our 15 minute journey (I think I caught about 20% of what he actually said!) Here's a photo of us on the Rickshaw, after our beach trip:

Ah, Barcelona! Already I want to return...

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

End of an Era



A few months ago I heard the sad news that Cafe Cosmo at the Glasgow Film Theatre was shutting down, to be replaced by a new Cinema 3. Unaware of the actual construction date, I was too late a few weeks ago to have a last drink there, arriving to find doors boarded up and the cafe gone forever.

Cafe Cosmo holds lots of good memories for me. I worked there for over three years during, (and a bit after), my student days and I couldn’t have asked for a more fascinating place to work really, when I think back on it. When I try to recall memories from that era (thirteen years ago- eeek), it feels like a lifetime ago, almost like I dreamt up all of the weird and wonderful characters who frequented the bar (and that was just the staff). 
I worked alongside some really great people – there was always a mix of creative individuals on the staff; media/film students, art students, english students, artists, writers, musicians, actors...Having so many creative people working together in such close quarters made for some interesting conversations and nights out. One of my favourite parts of working in the cafe/bar was getting to chat to all the staff from across the cinema when they came in on their tea breaks (and if they were really lucky I’d make them a cheese toastie).

We had nicknames for a lot of the regular customers, like the Russian Prostitute and Mr Beige. One old guy used to come in a bit worse for wear, sometimes drunk, sometimes playing a guitar. Other times he’d come in, hair slicked back, glasses on, notebook poised, saying he was an artist and penned portraits of us that Picasso would be proud of.
I served a lot of famous and not so famous people from the media during my time there; I was usually oblivious to a lot of them, (it took me a year to recognise Peter Mullan - he was always very friendly and unassuming). I was sadly never working a shift when Ewan McGregor dropped by, but his Mum did help me clear tables after a function for one of his films. 
I remember having to serve at the premiere of Late Night Shopping (a cool little indie film) looking ridiculous in an extra large promotional T-Shirt (as the promoters had kindly not sent any smaller ones).

There were quite a few stories about the bar being haunted (and the cinema in general) during my time working there. A common 'haunting' was bar staff hearing their name being called - this happened to me twice, once when I was by myself and it sounded really loud in my ear. A customer also experienced this- coming up to me one evening, asking if I'd been calling his name. He came back to me later, hesitantly saying he wasn't crazy, but he had a 'gift' and told me there was a young girl haunting the bar - she apparentely 'told' him she felt she'd died too young! 
I can only imagine what you might experience when Cinema 3 arrives – possibly the icy fingers of the ghost girl creeping up your neck, wondering why you're sitting where her bar used to be...

Au revoir Cafe Cosmo, you will be missed.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

New York Part 3 ~ Greenwich Village



 * I've also done an update on My Creative Corner page of the blog - with some new photos *
Washington Square Park

I didn't intend to leave such a long gap before posting my third and final instalment of my New York trip- so here it is at last!
Seeing as I went on a two hour walking trip of Greenwich Village (and because it's such a cool part of the city) I thought it deserved a seperate post. The photo above was my first view of this area of town, Washington Square Park, which was particularly lovely in the sunshine. It's a great park to sit in and people watch.

We went on the walking tour later in the week when it was raining and quite cold (this was also the day we did the 2 hour bike tour round Central Park - both were pre-booked so it was just unfortunate that they fell on the one rainy day of the trip. But we're Scots, so we could handle it...) If you're ever in NY I highly recommend checking out the Free Walking Tour website (The expectation is you will tip generously and you will want to as it's really informative!). You can choose which part of the city interests you most then book in a slot and you meet your tour guide at a set time/place.
Our guide was great and really knew her stuff. She gave us a fascinating run-down of the history of Greenwich Village- the locals here fought to keep out the large sky scrapers dominating downtown (and it's all the prettier because of that).


The Village is now dominated by celebrities, probably because they're the only ones who can afford the accommodation (which is now into the millions!) The hazy photo above is the swanky private court where Benedict Cumberbatch lives (the guide said she saw him moving in during one of her tours - just my luck it wasn't our tour!).

A lot of artists and writers used to live around this part of town. She showed us where Edgar Allan Poe used to live (and the medical centre he attended). His house was converted into a school and people fought to keep part of the original wall so that it wouldn't be completely lost.
We walked past the famous Minetta Tavern (below), which was in the Beatnik part of the Village. Writers such as Ginsberg and Kerouac used to hang out here. There's a sense of stepping back in time walking around this part of town. If I return to New York I think I'd like to spend more time here, sitting in one of the famous bars.


Another great little building was The Cherry Lane Theatre (below). Our guide told us Barbara Streisand started her career here, starting off working behind the scenes for years, before getting her lucky break. It would have been great to see a play here. It still attracts big names.



She also showed us the last wooden house to exist in New York (below) and also the building which was used as the exterior shot for Friends (the one on the right, below). One important stop for me (which we returned to on our last day) was the famous Magnolia Bakery (made famous thanks to Sex and the City!). I'd heard it does the most amazing cup cakes and I was not disappointed - the frosting on top of the cake was so soft it was like eating ice cream. A perfect last treat before leaving the city:) Ah New York, I love you.

Wooden House

                                                            







              
Friends Building