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A Period of Transition

We're in a period of transition from Summer to Autumn. The days are cooler but not yet under the rule of Winter's bitter clasps. The nights are longer but you can still come home in the light. As we undergo the routine metamorphosis of the weather, our wardrobes change too. It's that blissful yet short window in London where you can live in jeans and a t-shirt. You can start to put away your Summer dresses and slowly bring out the jackets, the trousers, the cardigans but the big coat is not needed. I love it. 

I shot this outfit in New York over the Summer but I think it remains resonant in this golden window for getting dressed. The blue linen trousers I found in a charity shop last year and they are the easiest thing to style (but not the easiest thing to iron). The other piece to highlight is my white Supergas which I've worn pretty much every day since I bought them in July; the perfect transitional shoe.  

A Farewell to Remember

Let me paint a picture for you. Around twenty five 17 and 18 year-olds are sat on a train from Edinburgh. They are all exhausted from performing at Edinburgh Fringe for a week. Sleepily, they discuss what is next, for this train journey is much more than returning home to London. When they arrive at Kings Cross, each will take a new path in life. When Lily returns, she will start looking for a job. Honor is already headed to the US, where she will be living for the next four years. Lally and the rest in Lower Sixth, will return and embark on a final year of school. For me, I will move out, if only to the other side of London where I'm going to university.  

When we got off the train and said goodbye, it was a much more profound than a standard farewell.  For many of us, it was goodbye to the life we have led for the last 13 years. Goodbye to school, goodbye to childhood. Onto a new chapter and adult life. Getting off that train was the final act together of a long play – a drama, a comedy, a musical, a genuine coming-of-age story. We walked off to the diverging paths that our lives will take. 

The moment felt even more acute having spent two weeks together almost 24x7.  If you've ever travelled with a group of people, you'll know that it is a bonding experience like no other. Maybe you went interrailing as a teenager, were working as a journalist on a campaign trail, or in my case, decided to put on a musical - Made in Dagenham - at Edinburgh Fringe, with a very short preparation time. Just over a week to learn the songs, the lines, the dance routines. And this very short time period overlapped with A-level results day.

The weeks leading up to Edinburgh were thick with feelings of all kinds: excitement about the show; fear for results day; fear for the path of the future; confusion about leaving school behind. When the results day did roll around, us Upper-Sixth hardly had time to process. For some that meant a clipped celebration and for others that meant a frantic mass of phone calls to universities in-between rehearsals. 

Edinburgh itself was also intense. The show was a massive hit and exceeded all our expectations. We had astonishingly large and consistent audiences for Fringe - full houses at almost every performance - and if you check out our reviews, people loved it. We lived together - eight of us in a room - we performed together, we ate and drank together, saw shows together. The strongest friendships can be forged over a shared experience, and when you experience a new world along with the intensity of performing – having just gone through the roller-coaster of A-levels and result day, with all it entailed – the intensity level is off the charts.

On our final night, the whole cast climbed up Arthur's Seat at sunset. The clarity of the sky, the striking flashes of red of our matching cast T-shirts, the sympathetic smile Lally gave me when I thought I was going to die (just a little afraid of heights), the orange tint of the moon, the fireworks in the distance. Just like parting ways at Kings Cross, it is a potent visual that will exist in my memory forever. A final moment of togetherness. 

 I had a conversation with a cast member in Edinburgh about the power of music and memory. We talked about how crazy it was that a song could preserve a highly-specific feeling and that playing it was the only way to replicate that time in your life. He said to me that there were some songs he just couldn't listen to. I knew the feeling. The beauty of doing a musical is that it facilitates that experience whether you like it or not. When I listen to the Made In Dagenham soundtrack, I will not only think about the story of the show - the unity of women demanding equal pay in 1968 - but also what it meant for me at that specific time - the unity of me and my school friends before our lives changed forever.  

Made In Dagenham at Edinburgh Fringe - COME SEE OUR SHOW

To say I've had a busy Summer is an understatement. I had a week in France, flew home, flew to New York 12 hours after arriving in London. I flew home again, went to Oxford to see my brother graduate (congrats bro!), then a day later went to Lisbon with some friends. I arrived back in London a week later at 1am and the same morning I began rehearsals for the musical I'm currently performing in at Edinburgh Fringe festival. It's been hectic but amazing and I have many stories to share once the madness stops. During all of this I was anxiously waiting for my A-level results and for my next steps to become clear. I'm delighted to announce that after a really tough year I finally know where I'm going to uni and couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. 

I'm now at Fringe performing and with two brilliant shows already under our belt, we are smashing it! Our show is Made in Dagenham the musical. Never heard of it? Here's an extract from our ticket site:

'Could there be a more relevant show for our society? A shocking 50 years after the workers’ strike at the Ford Dagenham plant, women are still fighting for equal pay and conditions. This uplifting musical version of the famous film tells the story of Rita O’Grady and her fellow workers who took on and beat their bosses. A funny and heart-warming show that makes an unassailable case for justice and human rights.'

I was last at Fringe two years ago watching my brother perform and it's been great to experience it from the other side. The city is buzzing, there are shows in practically every building ranging from stand-up to circuses. 

So come see Made in Dagenham! You can follow us on Instagram to keep up with the show and BUY TICKETS HERE!


An Ode to New York City (And The Future)

I visited New York in April of last year with the primary reason of visiting East Coast colleges. I fell in love with one of them, and for the next 10 months or so, put everything I had into being offered a place. 

I didn't get in.  

I hinted at turbulent times in some of my blog posts, including The Waiting Game and Riding the Wave but I was too devastated to write about my rejection. I don't want to go into it even now, despite having several months of processing. As someone who defines herself by high ambitions and determination, it was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through. I understand that in the grand scheme of things, I'm incredibly lucky that this is my biggest problem. There are many people who face much more serious issues on a daily basis. But as one of my dear friends often reminds me, the hardest thing you're dealing with in your world is still the hardest thing for you. It was my hardest thing and it hurt. A lot. 

Four months later, I'm still not entirely over it but things are looking up. 

I have two great universities in the UK, either of which, results permitting, will be a great next step for me. They have outstanding reputations and I know they'll set me up for life. And importantly, my number one aspiration - of ultimately living and working in New York City - remains as strong as ever. I just need to find another path to get there.

I returned to New York a couple of weeks ago. The trip was a gift from my father to demonstrate to me that New York is still there. New York remains my goal and an attainable one. And my trip proved that and exceeded all of my expectations. 

I talk a lot about my love for the city. I'll go on with starry eyes about its energy, its passion, its drive; how each characteristic aligns with who I am and want to be. But during this most recent trip, I experienced more 'New York magic' than ever before. 

One of my favourite artists today is Chloe Wise. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of art to see the Obsession exhibit which showed Klimt, Shiele and Picasso - whose work I have studied and admired - and who did I run into? Chloe Wise. I introduced myself and she was very gracious. It was charming to speak with her. What are the chances of meeting one of your favourite artists while looking at the exhibition of another group of your favourite artists?

Earlier this year I sought advice from a New York based writer/blogger who wrote back a considered and enormously helpful view of the world. I was invited to a fashion launch in New York and got to meet her face-to-face. It was wonderful and she was warm and friendly and it was great to be able to personally thank her. She introduced me to another girl the event who just happened to run the musical theatre society at the English university I am likely to attend. Once more, what are the chances?

I met many people with amazing stories, from the Harvard boy who lived uptown and was in the first ever graduating class in his high school to a waiter who lived through the Taliban in Afghanistan and came to the US via Iran and Russia.

I was walking through Times Square with my brother who was only in in town for 36 hours at midday. Fighting through the throngs of tourists, he bumped into one of his friends from university who he is performing with at Edinburgh Fringe in a couple of weeks. Jack probably only knew one person in the city of eight million people and they ran into each other in the busiest part of the city, at the busiest time of day. What are the chances?

I stayed in Soho and just wandering the streets downtown I recognised all sorts of people from theatre, film, Instagram. Every corner was a scene from a movie.

I arrived at JFK for my flight back to London feeling slightly down as though my magic was about to run out. As I approached the check-in desk, I glanced up and standing in front of me was one of my favourite actresses of all time. She looked at me and gave me a warm smile. I was immediately transported to the images of her in the teen drama I worshipped and grew up with. I smiled back. A small polite sign of recognition and another little piece of New York magic.

Stripes in Soho

I was in London for almost exactly 12 hours after I returned from the South of France before flying to New York City. Going from the quiet and sunny French fields to the heart of downtown New York was a major change of scenery. In terms of a two week Summer break, I definitely got the best of both worlds.

One of my favourite things about New York is that each time I go there it feels different. I'm fortunate that I've been able to visit several times growing up, so each time I return with new interests and new ideas about the world. The city is, of course, also ever-changing. What is the main factor of its permanently fresh feel, however, is that each time I stay somewhere different. For example, in the last couple of years I visited once with a group of art students where we stayed uptown in the YMCA, another at a midtown hotel with my family, and this time, downtown in a Soho loft with my Dad. 

While its a small island, a few streets in New York City will take you somewhere that has an entirely different vibe. This was my first trip where I've spent most of my time downtown, which I really fell in love with. Soho had an effervescent atmosphere while still possessing a neighbourhood feel. There were few tourists, it was bursting with energy and being in an apartment made it really feel like I was living there. I would happily move there tomorrow. 

Gorge D'Heric: A Slice of French Paradise

If you're following me on Instagram then you'll know I've spent the past week in a beautiful part of the South of France. I have many stories from my trip to tell, and will be doing so over the next week. Today I'm sharing the story of the stunning Gorge D'Heric.

Embedded in a large wildlife park in the Languedoc region is a slice of French paradise. Mountains stretch into the sky, littered with green and running throughout it all is clear water. The natural rock formations create pools, waterfalls, streams - it almost seems like a Garden of Eden, something too perfect to be part of everyday life.

As we climbed the road searching for a good spot, I couldn't help express my awe. I think the family I was with (who live there - more on them later) found it comical. It was so normal to them, a regular summer day trip. But coming from almost a year of being tuned into London life, I couldn't be happier to be somewhere so natural, so peaceful.