Google Art #DiscoveryFriday

My beautiful man text me the other day in a frenzy saying ‘Google Deep Dream Generator’. I did so, uploaded an image and what I got was a whole new way of seeing what my lens has captured. They art is all about perception, that when people look at the clouds they see different things, psychologists do the same with ink blotch tests, and some people can’t make out constellations where was others see them straight away.

That is what Deep Dream Generator offers you, a chance to see what you haven’t seen before in images that you have captured yourself! So here are some samples of what I made on the website.

Please click the photos to see them bigger and compare!

I already love all my travelling photos as they let me revisit the places I have seen, but in this sample of my time in Mozambique – read all about it here – I now see these dream like fantasies that I can’t un-see and I love how artistic they are. I love how a simple images have become such a dreamlike reality.

I urge you to try it! Click here to visit the Deep Dream Generator.

Happy reading, writing and dream generating!

 

 

Advertisements

Chess: in concert #TheatreReview

Thursday 14th of April 2016, I had the pleasure of watching Chess, in concert, a production by my favourite – I am very biased! – Amateur Dramatics Group, The Hitchin Thespians

Chess is a musical with music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus from Abba and lyrics by Tim Rice, which is set in the cold war era and comments on the political status of USA and Russia during that time through the parallel of a chess tournament. Historically the musical was a huge success in the West End where it played for 3 years, opening on 1986. No major attempts at reviving the musical have been made, but it continues to be one of the most relevant musical placing 7th in BBC Radio 2’s “Number One Essential Musicals” list, demonstrating its strength as a piece.

The Thespians, an operatic amateur dramatics society that has been around for over 100 years and decided to tackle this incredible piece but in a concert version. I loved every second but have to be analytical of a few things that theatrically did not work.

The space at Woodside hall where the thespians perform is rectangular, usually the stage is located at one of the narrower ends of the stage but this time they decided to go for a long stage and long seating. This allowed them to add the members of choir either side of the central stage. However, this caused a huge unbalance in the sound where audiences on either side could only really hear the choir directly infront of them. Audience members sat in the central area were welcomed with a fantastic wall of sound however.

Performances were excellent from the main cast, as usual the pool of talent in the society oozes and they never cease to impress. The band again was incredible, giving the sound of a full orchestra and musical band with just two pianos and a drum set. Overall for an amateur production, with limited space and flexibility they tackled their issues head on and tried to make it work as best as possible. Still a completely enjoyable performance and I think that for any growing theatre producer, actor, practitioner, director etc it is important to see as many productions that can show you the type of challenges that you can encounter. However, it is s much fun to come up with alternatives to make it work. So if you don’t come and watch the Hitchin Thespians, go watch your own local theatre group, to watch some incredible untapped talent and to learn more about the basics of the beautiful thing that is theatre and live performance.

The Hungarian Parliament #Budapest

The Hungarian Parliament is one of the most stunning and architecturally breath taking buildings. The sheer details both in the exterior and interior of the building make it a truly magnificent landmark and it is time I share some of its history with you.

In 1873 Budapest was born, as a unity of 3 cities that reside in the banks of the Danube. To celebrate this momentous occasion the Hungarian parliament decided to launch a competition to build a new building that represented the sovereignty of the nation. Imre Steindl emerged victorious from this competition and the new Parliament began construction soon after.

The building which is of renaissance revival style, is a symmetrical façade with a central dome that features in its perfect centre, the Holy Crown of Hungary. The Holy Crown of Hungary is the only crown that has EVER been used by the entire monarchy of Hungary. For this reason it is heavily protected and you are not allowed to stand closer than 2 metres from the glass case around it or take photos. there are two guards that stand either side of the glass case and move their swords every 5 minutes. Every 15 minutes they do a full circle around the crown and say a few words and move their swords once more. Guards are changed every hour. We were told by the guide that it a pleasure and honour for them to protect the crown… I wish she had seen the look on the guards’ faces. However, it is beautiful and the room it is in, the central point of the entire building, holds statues of each monarch of the Hungarian monarchy before.

20160326_154239

Other fun facts about this phenomenal grand building, are that almost every column and wall is decorated with real gold leaves from around 3 metres and above. They have used around 40 kg of gold to cover the columns and leaves in the thinnest and most delicate sheets of gold.

The Parliament was built on Pest side of the river to show the strength and unity of the newly formed and established republican structure of the government in contrast to the monarchy which is demonstrated by the castle on Buda side.

I would definitely encourage everyone to visit. It is one of the priciest monuments to visit, but the experience is well worth the 4000FT. It is so fascinating to see the room in which the debates are held and the grandeur of it all, and yet it is somewhat simple at the same time and therefore a familiar sight. I was often conflicted between feeling amazed and feeling as if this was a place I knew really well. Steindl’s simple structure for the building also makes it easy to navigate and keep your bearings, whilst admiring the intricate decoration and extravagance. A must see.

Happy reading, writing and travelling!

The Jewish Quarter #Budapest

Hungary is one of those countries that is truly steeped in history. It has been a larger and smaller territory, part of the Ottoman empire, ruler as the Austro-Hungarian empire. It has accepted different cultures but has also many times rejected the idea of multiple cultures and beliefs.

The Jews have a long history in the country that is now known as Hungary, and generally as a religious group, have been the targets of segregation and aggression in so many societies. They are, in my opinion, one of the strongest and most enduring religious groups in history, having survived so much suffering.

In Hungary, some records pre-date 895AD. Some examples of their discrimination in Hungary include the decree that stated every Jew should wear a piece of red cloth, a law that was passed during the reign of Kind Ladislaus IV (1272 to 1290). During the black death (1349) they were expelled from the country. They have been burnt at the stake (1490 – 1516) and during the reign of Queen Maria Theresa (1740 to 1780) the Jews were expelled from Buda, which is considered the more affluent side of the Danube river which crosses the now amalgamated capital Budapest. In much more recent years, during the last years of the World War II, over 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed, mainly through deportation to Nazi-German extermination camps.

We are no strangers to the sad and painful parts of Jewish history, most of learning of it mostly from WWII. However, after all this suffering, the Jews are now living and have budding lives in Hungary, mostly concentrated in Budapest. Knowing all their history and suffrage in the country made it all more fascinating for me to be able to spend some time at the Jewish Quarter and learn a bit more about their religion.

The fronts of the synagogues are absolutely breath taking and colourful buildings. Many recent synagogues are built in Moorish Revival, which is a sort of art nouveau and gothic mix, which is extremely colourful and almost exotic.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Great Synagogue inside. One of the things that I found fascinating was that they choose to feature the star of David as much as possible. The Great Synagogue, in Dohany Street, has the star featured so frequently, from the stain glass windows, the floor tiles, candelabras to the cross bars on their gates and fence. It is completely mesmerising, that it is such a clean building, so simple but at the same time looks so grand. The bimah is the table from which the Torah, the holy book of Judaism is read. The altar, if you will, is one of the most stunning centres and focal points I have ever seen and I absolutely love the 3D Star of David that hangs above it.

I found the building overall much more inviting and soothing than a church or cathedral in a way, because inspite of the Jewish community having suffered so much pain, their culture feels no need to cover their walls with images of the pain they have endured. It is just a simple faith that inspires simple living and acceptance. A truly welcoming building and beautiful insight into another culture. I would totally advise you all to visit at least one of the synagogues and either go for a walk around the Jewish Quarter or take one of the tours that run from the Great Synagogue.

Happy reading, writing and travelling!

 

Travelling when you have to save!

I am so excited as you all know I am currently organising and booking up loads of tours to go on a 3 month trip across Central and South America. This has been a dream of mine for a long time, and the wheels are finally set in motion and it is happening at the very end of 2015, precisely the 31st of December when I embark on a New Year’s flight to a new world. All of my excitement was shared with you back in February when my request for a sabbatical at work was accepted – read about it here! However, now the reality of this entire adventure has dawned on me, and as I usually lead quite an adventurous and somewhat expensive life due to my constant need to experience culture, things have had to change a little bit.

This is a sacrifice I am not sad about making, I know that 10 months of hard work and saving are going to pay off by giving me one of the most enriching experiences of my life, but yet other things happen in life with which you also have to engage and accommodate your finances for. Here is the issue with saving for travelling when you already have travel to pay for. At the very start of the year I had already organised my trip to Budapest – which you are currently following on the blog – and my city break to Krakow which is coming in May. Then I can’t help it if friends of mine get engaged and decide to tie the knot in Norway, obviously this is going to be another trip! Unbeknownst to me this entire time that the sabbatical request was going to be approved! But as with everything in life, things come with expenses. On top of that we all have rent to pay, bills, cars to maintain, our mouths to feed and sometimes family’s and general things that pop out of nowhere so where does all this money come from?!

Do not think I am here to give you any form of advice, I am not. This is my first time attempting to save this ridiculous an amount of money in a short space of time to invest it all in one thing. This is a learning curve for me and it is something I want to share with all of you in the hopes that you will answer some questions as well, such as, HOW DO YOU DO IT?!

Here is my simple plan of cut offs and keeps for my monthly pay to cover all my travel expenses:

CUT OFFS

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Bags
  • Unnecessary weekly date nights
  • Cinema – yes we all stream films accept it
  • Books
  • Concerts and festivals – sad reality but the trip outweighs my need to go to festivals this year! Save it for 2017
  • Unnecessary food – like cakes, who needs cake!
  • Weekend trips and hotels for no apparent reason other than I can
  • Theatre trips – this hurts my feelings

KEEPS

  • Petrol
  • Daily food
  • Rent
  • Car maintenance stuff – like insurance, need to be safe and legal
  • Gym
  • Bills
  • Phone Contract
  • Any replacement items or stuff that I will need for the trip, like lightweight hiking boots/shoes

I for one have decided I do not want to pay for my trip out of my savings, the 3 month sabbatical will be completely funded from my monthly pay check leaving my savings ready for when I want to move out – yes I pay rent to my parents. And this has been a fascinating exercise of control, because I am quite a lavish gift giver, and as I said I usually indulge in quite a few cultural events. However if I want to be able to go on another 2 trips this year – Krakow and Norway to go – and still be able to pay off my 3 month travelling adventure by October, something has to give. I feel it is only fair that I give up, or temporarily abstain myself from weekends of unnecessary but pleasurable experiences to give way to three months of a once in a lifetime experience.

Everyone I know has told me this is a solid move and good decision, as I will return from abroad prepared to turn 25 and really take my life by its reigns. Before a house, marriage, kids and a serious career come to play, I will get to experience something that many will have done and many will want to do. It is my time. I am hoping my endeavours to save will prove fruitful and successful but who knows.

My question and search for any advice continues, so tell me dear travelling community, how do you do it?

How do you travel while saving for future travels? How do you save so much money in so little time?

Happy reading, writing and travelling!