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Wednesday

Musings on Time

Lately I have been thinking about time.. actually time is something I have always been instinctively aware of, but every now and again its transient nature catches up with me and I really wonder what it really is and why we even observe it.  Here are few of my musings, interspersed between various pictures of clocks! 




If I look at the facts, time at its most fundamental is a measurement that helps us to keep track of change. It arose from the movement of the earth around the sun, the set number of rotations that explained changes in weather patterns, the distribution of light and the passing of the seasons. By its very nature time’s behaviour is cyclical and its passage repetitive, serving as a constant force of predictability. Clocks reflect such stability, the minute hand revolving twenty four times a day, eight thousand seven hundred and sixty times a year, or the pendulum that swings back and forth with mathematical precision. Historically people used many different methods to tell the time, including astronomical clocks and sundials, such was the importance of accuracy in even the most primitive of societies. Knowledge of time grounded people by providing a structure in an otherwise chaotic existence, allowing them to understand and navigate the rhythm of the natural world around them.


Time is more than simply a practical measurement however, it is a multifaceted concept that can be thought of in a multitude of ways. Scientists and philosophers alike have long spoken of the arrow of time, its distinct directionality whereby the past is visibly different from its current state and there can be no repetition or journey back between the two. We see this juxtaposition most clearly in the people and landscapes around us. Where once there was a green pasture, now there is a bustling city.Where now there is an adult, once there was an inquisitive child. Mysteriously it always seems to slow down when you are waiting for something or someone, and speed up when you are keen to cling to the present.



I realized that time exists because it is a finite resource that represents change and development. Without this quality, it would simply be an indistinguishable force in an endless world.  We only have to examine the seasons to see that we need their contrast to remind us to be aware of time’s passage, and to look forward to each period’s unique character. 

What we do with time has become something of an obsession in our modern era. We give numbers to it, we quantify ourselves, and divide our moments into digestible chunks. I don’t necessarily believe this is a negative social construction. I believe that by quantifying time we have allowed ourselves to become more aware of its passing, to seize the moments and enjoy them in every way we can. As I near the end of my university career, the concept of time is one that resonates with me quite profoundly. This period has been a significant chapter in my life and is now coming to a close, a locked door that I will only be able to access through distant memories. This is not a new experience, after all in my twenty three years I have left behind many homes and closed several chapters along the way. It is only when I am aware each stage is nearing their end that I feel a sharp sense of nostalgia and appreciation for having lived it at all. For though it may not continue, I treasure it because I lived it, because they were rich experiences that I alone could describe from my own unique viewpoint. 



































 I believe in appreciating the little things in life. Thinking about how each moment that passes cannot be grasped will induce depression, while instead learning to experience wonder while accepting their transience, is perhaps the greatest gift one can acquire. I have recently developed a newfound appreciation for the details in the fabric of everyday life, a laugh, a smile, the contrast between the colours in nature. I wanted to find a way to preserve such fleeting moments, and so I discovered photography.





































I have never ceased to be amazed by our ability to capture a moment physically, either on film or in a photograph, or even at the most primitive levels through descriptive text and oral traditions. It's clear that even cave painters wanted to leave an indelible mark, portraying a moment they had seen, an idea for the future, or a glimpse into their present.  In much the same way now, it's apparent that we are all desperate to leave an imprint of ourselves on earth, a way of showing what we saw, and thus proof of our very existence. What I love about photography is that it can capture bursts of life, an atmosphere or a feeling. It is perhaps one of the strongest methods of allowing us to retain a connection to the past. If we can momentarily divorce ourselves from our modernity and consider how absurd it is to be able to view something in the future that happened in the past, it truly astounds the mind. We are fortunate to have such links to the past so that we may understand our world, and indeed ourselves better. 

Time is an element that unites all cultures and all places. Though we may start our days and weeks and years at different moments, it is no less kind or harsh to those from distant lands. Indeed time is something that connects us through a shared recognition of its profound influence on our lives. However different we believe we are, the happiness and sadness that its passage brings has touched all of us in one way or another. 




































  I believe it is the relationships we cultivate that highlight time in the most profound way. We see their transition clearer than our own, our transition reflected in their faces. To place value on whom we share this resource with is a strong investment, for there is nothing greater than shared experience. 




Only once you have known loss, may you scrutinize time more intently. It might be the loss of an atmosphere, a state of mind, a fleeting moment, an object or sharply, the loss of a person. We mourn these passings, and we celebrate new life. We marvel at the ability for something to suddenly exist and then disappear, for something to appear when there was nothing there before. We create and we destroy, we alter and we develop. 




































I do not understand why some of us have more time than others, or why our hearts beat until they suddenly become silent. I do know that time is indeed a gift, a finite property that is perhaps the most malleable element in existence. Time is both a blessing and a curse, ultimately it is all about how we choose to view it and how we decide to spend it that really counts. Make of it what you will, for it is your canvas alone to paint. 

Tuesday

Butterflies


I love butterflies! I once had the misguided notion that I should get one as a large tattoo  on my hip (thankfully that never happened) but overall I have many happy childhood memories of chasing them around the farm or in my grandmother's garden, fascinated by their array of colours and sizes. It's amazing the way they emerge from a cocoon, something I was lucky enough to witness a few weeks back at the National History Museum in London. Much to my amazement the whole process happens so quickly, the cocoon shakes and suddenly splits and this wet crumpled colorful mess emerges, slowly drying off to become a smooth, intricate butterfly. Last July when I arrived in Provence after a long and bumpy car-ride from Lyon, the first thing I did was run down the street to the meadows to photograph all the amazing flowers. Here I couldn't help but notice the vast number of species that populated the area, a veritable feast for the eyes. Apparently the global number is set at 24,000 different species which is mind-boggling if you think about it.  I also discovered some crazy facts like how they taste with their feet, are cold blooded and possess long, tubular tongues. Here are some of the beauties I captured during the warmer weather.  



















Incredible creations aren't they? 

Monday

Sunday in Notting Hill

Our internet temporarily shut off last week, hence my temporary hiatus from blogging. It's amazing how much more productive I was without it however, which worried me slightly! It was nice to take a break and feel completely unconnected for awhile as sometimes I can easily waste away a perfectly wonderful day by starting in the morning writing emails, and boom, before I know it it's dark and the day is done, leaving me feeling really guilty.  This weekend I was reminded that life is made to be lived outdoors, particularly when the weather is as nice as it is now! It's already October, and yet yesterday felt like summer, albeit with the presence of a welcome Autumn breeze. I had a quick breakfast and in the process somehow managed to convince the guys in the flat to come on a charity-shop tour of Notting Hill with the conviction that the wealthier the area, the more treasures to be found!  This proved to be somewhat true, with the boys scoring some fancy shirts  and my find of a sadly too-small pair of Acne jeans. I must say London is absolutely brilliant for vintage and second hand stores, I've decided to almost exclusively trawl them frequently from now on, as I'm far too poor to pay full price and love the thrill of the hunt. Just last week I found a giant black hat, which the boys think looks ridiculous on me, but I love anyway.  



Notting hill is such a fun place to spend a Sunday, if you're ever in town. I like to wander down portobello road and find all the little quirky side streets and market stalls in the hopes of unearthing hidden treasures. Without fail you will find at least ten different people dressed cooler than you could ever imagine, pretty good street performers and a brilliant atmosphere. I love that if you want to buy almost anything, no matter how whimsical the desire, you'll probably find it at portobello market.  It's probably a good thing I'm a struggling recent graduate, otherwise I might buy everything and become one of those hoarders you see on tv. Westbourne Grove is another lovely part, a little pocket full of fancy boutiques and full to the brim with cool places to have brunch. 

After wandering around Aldwych market where they have a tasty selection of international street food stalls, we decided to head to the local bakery and grab some gorgeous looking rainbow cake. It's definitely delicious, but explosively sweet. In hindsight, when it comes to cake, appearances matter but it's the filling that really counts. James bought a mirror from a charming antique store and then we headed home through Holland Park, one of (in my opinion) the best parks in London.  Hyde Park is brilliant but it's mostly homogenous in its landscaping whereas in Holland park one minute you're in a football field, the next in a Japanese inspired garden, the next in a forest or a maze of roses. It almost reminds me of Alice and Wonderland! We played frisbee for a little bit and then headed home to whip up a curry which wasn't much to look at but tasted delicious! All in all, a great Sunday outdoors. Hopefully I'll remember not to let the Internet distract me too much in future.. 

            As we tired of charity shop madness we came across a beautiful cadillac adorned with flowers on its front fender .. perhaps waiting patiently to escort a bridal party? 
Check out this psychadellic door! If only I could live there... 

The one, the only... Portobello Market! 
Found myself a rainbow painted chair. So tempted... 
  A giant teapot hanging from a shopfront certainly gets your attention! 
Some vintage books perhaps? Some fantastic stories just waiting to be heard.. 
Broaches, rings, earrings galore, from the completely tacky to retro, ethnic, and if you're lucky, classic pieces. 
         It's true that you can actually find anything. I fell in love with a full set of flowery china! 
Colorful flags and windmills dotted the outdoor seating area, making for a cheerful spectacle.
There was lots of great street food, but I couldn't take my eyes off the sinfully delicious dutch pancakes!
I've always adored Volkswagen camper vans and this orange beauty was being cleverly used as a drinks van! 
Rainbow cake you beauty! This might sound strange, but blue was easily the best part.
Look at this stunning light through the trees! I seriously need to organize a forest camping trip soon. 
James played model for me amongst the flowersSpeaking of flowers, check out this orange globe-like creation? Amazing.
      We happened upon a ferocious game of giant chess between two brothers
And finally as we passed through the end of the park, these rose bushes positively glowed  in the evening light..

Thursday

Uppsala


 

Uppsala you beauty, I will miss you so much! Thank you for all the fantastic memories you gave me, introducing me to some crazy wonderful people, and reminding me again of how brilliant it is to live in Sweden. Uppsala if you haven't heard of it already, is a tiny little city near Stockholm where I spent last year doing my masters.  It's technically a city but really is a small university town with a big heart, its atmosphere dominated by a visible youthful exuberance. 
For me, places are extremely important. Everywhere I have ever lived is profoundly imprinted in my mind with a deep sentimental significance, whether I like it or not. The saying 'the people make the place' is often true, but the place itself will always have a unique atmosphere that is hard to replicate elsewhere. Uppsala possesses one that I will always treasure. 

I was briefly there to hand in my thesis last week and now I'm back in London,  unsure of the next time i'll be back to visit. This is actually the very first September I will not be returning to education and it's certainly a bittersweet feeling.  I found myself surrounded by initiation ceremonies, study-groups, new students excitedly chatting about their first weeks. It's a wonderful time of year and I was definitely sad not to be part of it this time round. I'll miss the coffeehouses, the tiny streets, the swedish berries, the long, deep winter and the short, but exciting spring. I'll miss the dinner parties with mismatched plates and looking out at the snow falling,  but most of all, i'll miss my dear friends who are still amidst the magic of it all.  Below are some autumnal moments from my stay.. 

Dimi rests by the river, stylish as ever in his trademark checkered shirt. 

Making soft and spicy kanelbullar at Lena's apartment 

     A view down the Fyrisån river in Uppsala, a favourite spot of ours to spend lazy afternoons

Picking out my breakfast berries at a street stall

     An evening walk on my favourite bridge, looking at recent love locks..

       I happened upon a trail of painted tin flower-pots that led down the street. 

Two cheerful sunflowers face the morning sun in the botanical gardens

     As I headed out for a late afternoon walk, I spotted a romantic scene, a couple gazing into eachothers eyes, rowing down the river. 
 Christa looking fabulous as usual, cracking jokes and telling stories over dinner

The front of the highly symmetrical and picturesque main University building

Walaa glowing in the evening light as our friends joked around in the playground

Laura giggling during the aftermath of one of our dinner parties, a classic rough and tumble with the gang. 
Ozge waiting on a train at midnight, happy as can be 

Gorgeous afternoon light illuminating the plants in the botanical gardens.