Stonehenge Tour | English Heritage

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When you go to England, what’s the one tourist spot that everyone tells you to visit? Why, Stonehenge, of course! Last weekend I got the amazing opportunity to not only visit, but take an amazing tour of the stones with some other interns.

We took a coach bus from Embarkment station in London directly to Stonehenge where we proceeded to get on another bus from the coaching area to the stones.

We didn’t hit any rain, but it was quite cold when we arrived in the field! Luckily my Canadian roots prepared me well. Wearing three layers under my coat along with hat, gloves, and scarf, kept me bundled!

I’m glad I had a friend with me who who I could do impromptu photo ops with—the possibilities are endless with the beautiful backdrop.

We had a tour guide show us the best places to stand for pictures, and had a little help from the photographer she brought along. For information on tickets, check out English Heritage.

It’s always fun to spend 15 minutes trying to get the lining up just right so it looks like you are lifting or touching the stones! The poor tourists around us politely waiting to cross, while we urge them to go ahead, as we’ll ‘be a while’, were priceless.

There was something special about being so close to something so large and mysterious. Its complete isolation makes a powerful impact!

Have any of you ever been or want to go to Stonehenge?  Let me know what you think!

More photos:

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Buckingham Palace Adventures

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Victoria Memorial Statue

I was lucky enough to go to Buckingham Palace on the last day that it was open to the public before the Queen came back. The day that I went was also displaying many of her dresses as part of her 90th birthday celebrations.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but the rooms were breathtaking. the Royal Staircase was the most magical of them all.

There were paintings lining the walls, different sizes and frame types adding interest. They were all portraits of different important people, and the went all the way up to the arched ceiling which itself was engraved with beautiful angels.

I was also happy that it was sunny out when I went! Walking around the grounds behind Buckingham Palace with the sun shining was amazing. I didn’t want to leave!

Eventually I did, and made my way over to St. James Park which was right around the corner.

Did any of you get to do a tour of Buckingham Palace? What did you think? Please let me know!

More photos:

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Walking Back to the Tube
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Buckingham Palace’s Back Yard

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Into the Wild | Richmond Park

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This past Sunday I had the pleasure of visiting Richmond park for the afternoon. The scenery was beautiful and the chilly weather added to the fall feeling!

I had no idea how big this place was until I spent  a few hours walking around and only checked out about a quarter of the grounds.

What was even more surprising was the amount of deer! I loved getting up close in the woods to a family of them, taking pictures quietly so not to startle.

All that cold be heard was the casual dropping of chestnuts from the trees above, likely shaken off by the birds.

I made it to the centre of the park where there was a large pond and old benches around its circumference. It was a great place to rest, put on some gloves and get ready to make my way back as it was getting dark.

It was a great afternoon, and I recommend going if you have the chance. It’s a lovely break from the hectic city life in more central areas of London!

Have any of you ever been to Richmond Park? What did you think? Please let me know!

 

More photos:

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Chesnuts

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Windsor Castle in the Fall

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There’s nothing like spending the day in Windsor to freshen up your perspective on life. That’s where I found myself last Saturday with my intern group: the magical grounds surrounding Windsor Castle.

We started out by taking an express train from Paddington station—it was around 30 minutes before we were in Windsor which was quite fast!

We had a lovely tour guide who took us around the grounds and told us the history behind parts of the Castle’s exterior and interior.

You aren’t allowed taking pictures inside, but there were beautiful paintings lining the walls and in some rooms, the entire ceiling was a painting.

It reminded me of when I went to Buckingham Palace, and funnily enough, both then and during Windsor Castle were exhibits of the Queen’s wardrobe. It was neat! The dresses were different during both exhibitions.

Afterward, we checked out the areas around Windsor Castle. We went to Eaton College, saw some swans, had some ice cream and then made our way back to London.

The calmer atmosphere compared to Zone 1 in London was a joy to experience. Have any of you been to Windsor? What did you think? I’d love to hear!

More photos:

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Gargoyle attached to Eton College

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The oldest building left standing in Windsor

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The raised flag means the Queen is in!

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Windsor Library

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Easy (Like Sunday Morning) | Living in London

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Ahhh. One of the benefits of working a 9-5 job? Having Sundays off. Sweet, tiny victory as you wake up, sans alarm, to a beautiful late-morning sunshine—rare for London.

As I wake, I remember the things I planned to do for the day, and suddenly they seem like distant dreams. Waking up again several hours later, window cracked open, I can hear the music and laughing from outside.

I make a move towards my wardrobe, when I hear the sound of rain pattering down on the pavement, even though the sun is still at its peak.

London weather, eh?

Wearing a dress and rainboots, I embrace the day—heading off to an art fair at Regent’s park. Hundreds of exhibits (and photos) later, I leave satisfied with the creativity I’ve seen.

With Regent’s park just around the corner, I explore for the first time. There’s something tranquil about walking, crisp leaves crunching beneath your feet, as you make your way across the grounds.

The fountains and flowers were remarkably beautiful, and I’m glad I got to experience such a peaceful place.

Do any of you like to take liesurely strolls by yourself? Autumn is such an amazing season for exploration.

More photos:

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One Month In | London 2016

So much has happened over the past few weeks here in London! I’m happy to say that I’m no longer homesick and am in love with the city!

Summary: I now have several different friend groups, adults to talk to whom I’ve met through volunteering, designers to keep in touch with, tourist attractions checked off the bucket list and an excellent internship that’s progressing wonderfully!

—This is where I remember to breathe.

I distinctly remember the first night that changed everything:

Friday, September 16th: The Mary Martin London Fashion Show

This was the first event I decided to go to alone. Completely by myself, I went to this fashion show hosted at the Kensington Close Hotel, which was a stunning venue with glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.

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No. 41 inside the Kensington Close Hotel

Before this event, I questioned my ability to meet people on my own.

It’s true what they say about when you’re by yourself: you’re forced to talk to others! But just in case this plan failed, I did do a little prep work. I may have read articles on how to talk to people on the tube ride to the event.

They had a few good tips!

One article was How to Network When You’re an Introvert, which emphasized making connections online and not overthinking things.

So I posted in the Facebook event that if anyone was thinking of going to the show, but had no one to go with, I would be walking around with a camera taking pictures for my blog. This lead to a few direct messages from people attending the event.

Through my Google rendezvous, I also stumbled upon the concept of standing by the bar. People are always ordering drinks which requires waiting time! Genius.

So, after changing into my confidence-boosting heels in the washroom (where I briefly stumbled into two models and the designer herself), I stood by the bar and had my camera slung around my neck like the professional photographer that I am.

There was a small group of guys at the bar; I introduced myself to someone which was followed by many more introductions, and before I knew it, I had met a over a dozen people.

I never expected people to be so nice to me! The sense of feeling welcome was a great shock to how I thought people would be at fashion events. (Devil Wears Prada, anyone?) I took over one hundred photographs, yet the highlight was knowing I could be fine on my own.

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Marie Martin London 2016
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Two gentlemen in the centre, requesting an appearance on The Blog

So that was the first event of many! I met some amazing people from all over the world; it was a very exciting experience and an absolutely amazing show!

I have many more events to write about; I think I’ll try adding a ‘Fashion’ segment soon! Slightly more formal posts with tons of pictures (approved by the designers beforehand). Let me know if you think that’s a good idea!

Guess I should try to sleep now? 3 a.m. sure does come fast!

xx

To Making New Friends | London 2016

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My view from the Shard, London

I surprised myself over the past few days by putting in the extra effort to meet new people. I already have one group of interns here to hang out with, but I’ve always been the person with multiple friend groups—so it’s been hard over the past week and a half to adjust!

I had my first ‘couch surfing experience’ on Sunday. This is quite the cool app; it isn’t limited to people who are looking for a place to stay. The ‘events’ section allows you to see what’s going on near you, organized by other couchsurfers.

This is a place full of people who want to meet other travellers, or locals, and try new experiences! I went for a 8k run through Hyde park (my first time being there) with a super friendly guy who had been in London for six years already.

It’s a fresh perspective to hear stories from a local. We had a great time, I pet some swans—and got a bit of exercise in too!

On a different note, I also met up with a new group of girls the next evening. One girl coincidentally moved here the same day as me, is from Ottawa (like me) and is getting into a similar field that I want to pursue.

And this connection all began through me reading her blog a few months ago! So she organized a group hangout, with other new girls, and we met up in person for the first time at the Aqua Shard (the 32nd floor of the Shard).

After some photography sessions, we moved onward to another (less expensive) restaurant for fish and chips!

What a great past few days it’s been. I hope to be as busy as possible for the next little while! I’m always happiest with an full schedule.

Anyone else love meeting new people, but find it challenging to get things started? I’d love to hear! 

Sony a5000

Today marks the first day I am blogging on one of the days I set out to blog on! (Tuesdays and Thursdays). Time for the hard part of keeping up with it—anyone have tips to remain on schedule?

Anyway, a few days ago I ordered the Sony a5000 mirrorless camera from bestbuy.ca. I was mainly looking for a beginner’s professional camera—something that I could learn from and still take amazing pictures on my four-month trip abroad in Europe.

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Source: Saggiamente.com

The four main reasons I chose this camera:

  1. Its size – Compared to standard DSLRs, the Sony a5000 is much more sleek (at the loss of a view finder) and compact, making it ideal for travel photography
  2. The screen – Having a screen that flips up is great for selfie-type shots or vlogging
  3. The price – At CAD $479, I think it’s a great value from what I have researched and compared to other cameras
  4. The quality in low-lit situations – Based upon reviews, this little guy is quite the powerhouse in darkly lit environments (“Score!” says the night-owl.)

I’m really glad I chose this camera! I’ve never had my own camera before, and YouTubing how to put on a camera strap was just the beginning of all the fun to be had.

I also ordered a 55-210 lens for some flexibility, but for now, here are some pictures I just took in my garden with the kit-provided lens:

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Plans for 2016

Anyone who’s been keeping up with my posts since the beginning might notice that I’ve been quite absent over the past few months! Well, let me tell you, I’m back. I’ve been keeping myself very busy with working full-time, taking online social media courses, volunteering with my university’s alumni association as a Social Media Officer, and developing my Twitter profile. I am officially accepted into an internship program for public relations in London, England for the fall, and I have many exciting things planned over the next few months.

Let me start by out by outlining what I intend to do with this blogging platform:

  • Create fashion/beauty/lifestyle posts every Tuesday
  • Create travel posts every Thursday
  • Post occasional updates on anything else happening in my life (on Saturdays, perhaps?)

I have always possessed a particular aesthetic for images, products and scenery. I enjoy collecting and storing these things in a database, and different media networks allow me to do so. I have also always wanted to travel abroad, and I am greatly looking forward to getting this chance come September. I plan on posting any travel tips I come across, along with stunning photos that other travellers have taken along their own journeys.

I will be creating content by next week, so hopefully by February I am posting regularly! I also plan on developing my Pinterest account and my Instagram account. My Twitter page is devoted to fashion, beauty, media, and travel; essentially, it’s the micro-version of my ideas for this network. For my Instagram, I plan on fully committing to a white theme comprised of mostly fashion and beauty photography. I will provide links to them here when I feel they are worthy…

Lastly, I hope to use both this network and my others to get to know other bloggers interested in these same areas of focus. From social media to fashion and travel, there are endless avenues to pursue that are all equally beautiful and exciting.

Any beauty/fashion/lifestyle or travel bloggers out there have any tips? How did you start blogging? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Volunteering with House of PainT

So, it’s been a while since my last post, and that’s because I’ve been busy volunteering! It has been quite the experience. Working full-time and volunteering during my down-time has been tiring but enjoyable nonetheless. I still think it beats all the readings and assignments from school. One of the places I have been volunteering the past few weeks is called House of PainT. And yes, that ‘t’ is capitalized! They are an Urban Arts and Culture festival that runs in September with music performances, live art, and many other cool activities.

At first, I began by helping out with social media. This included creating possible tweets for Twitter, along with making lists for badge identification for all involved with the festival. I definitely found the social media aspect interesting; it’s crazy how much of an impact those little reminders you see in your feed have on things like fundraising and getting noticed by the right kinds of people. Much of what happens through these media networking sites requires precision with timing and appropriate tags/hashtags that are easily searchable.

Along with being in their office working on these tasks from my computer, I got to see how people outside of school actually do things. It may sound weird, but it’s quite exciting to see how people interact when they aren’t studying or talking about their classes. I really have no idea what life is like outside of school, and even my boss at work asks me what it’s like to finally be done since it’s been about 18 consecutive years of school with no break! And the past few months I haven’t really had an answer.

But now that I have an insanely busy schedule, I feel more productive than I did in school. Mainly because with volunteering, it seems like I am adding something to the community while meeting new people with similar interests to myself. And with my job in retail, I’m at least saving a lot of money for my future travels which will then benefit my career if I land an internship abroad. As much as there were good times during university, it didn’t feel like I was contributing enough.

There was first the fact of tuition that I paid out in full every semester with my own money (okay, and 25% of help from my parents and scholarships), which was a downer. Then there’s the strange feeling of completing assignment after assignment only to have it marked by someone who was also marking hundreds of very similar papers. It just didn’t feel distinctive enough for me. Those who I were involved with for House of PainT felt more interesting and exciting than the tedious life of the average university student.

Anyways, here are some pictures that I took from the event! There are a few that were taken from last year’s festival, which I personally find quite gorgeous. I’ll have to go back and see what the final version looks like from this year, as I have a lot of pictures that are in the midst of being painted. By the way, the graffiti writers were painting on a bridge underpass, it was the first place in my city that legally allowed graffiti, which was in 2003. Enjoy these pictures! I did edit them, my ancient 8MP iPhone 4s could only do so much.

On a side note, the new Communications Coordinator for the festival (who awesomely has the same name as me) had a lens that attached to her iPhone. How cool is that?! If anyone knows of great, but inexpensive, cameras for taking pictures, please leave a comment! So far I have been looking into the Canon PowerShot G7 X. Within the next year I would like to get a camera for travelling that could also be great for taking shots on the train from London to Paris and Switzerland.

Info for House of PainT:

Website: http://www.houseofpaint.ca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HouseofPainTFestival

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HouseOfPainT/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/houseofpaint

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ_96kV1v43zBgk2eE8YsAg

Instagram: https://instagram.com/houseofpaint/