on the topic of making overly specific playlists;

I’ll get right out and say it: I have an addiction to making playlists on Spotify. What was that, you say? Say it louder for the rest of the class? I have an addiction to making playlists on Spotify.

I’m not exaggerating. I’ve made at least 40 unique ones. I’m not sure if I can successfully put the reasons into words, but there’s something inherently exciting about curating the perfect playlist that sums up exactly the right feeling. Some of them are created with extremely specific moods in mind, but you don’t have to be in that situation to enjoy them.

One of my recent favourites, ‘hyde park’, is created to capture the feeling of a summertime picnic that I’ve had with friends at the park of the same name. But of course, I don’t have to be at that park, or having a picnic to enjoy it. It’s an all-seasons playlist.

A wander along Hyde Park’s Serpentine river

After making that, I realised that I might as well continue with the extremely geographically specific playlists. And so there’s ‘piccadilly circus’, which is based off the blinding lights and general touristy chaos of the billboards in central London. London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and I like to think that this playlist exemplifies the heart of the tourist world with a diverse selection of music from all genres and eras. But much like the tourist hotspot that it’s based off, it doesn’t stray too far from the more popular sounds. There’s still some classic London associated acts included, like the Pet Shop Boys and Yazoo. But London has a lot of less obvious things to offer, and so does this playlist.

Sometimes they aren’t as deep as that. Sometimes I’m just in the mood to listen to some chilled out music by awesome female musicians, so I’ll put on the playlist that serves that very purpose. It’s got everything from Françoise Hardy to Solange, who are both awesome performers in their respective eras and genres.

I’ve got a playlist that showcases my favourite indie and alternative music that’s come from New Zealand over the years. There’s some really amazing local indie acts out there, but they were always forgotten by most other playlist. As good as they are, Crowded House grace literally every single playlist of New Zealander performers, and it’s a nice change to include some lesser known artists in the show!

Wellington’s Cuba Street, arguably the creative heart of the country.

And who can forget the throwback playlists, which are arguably one of the most fun type to make. Hey, I’m only human. I’m not ashamed to admit that I definitely have a few of these. I’ve got a playlist full of turn of the century party hits, most of which were probably played at my primary school discos. And who can forget my emo phase? Fall Out Boy and You Me At Six definitely deserve their own playlist. I don’t always add a playlist image, but if I come across a behind the scenes photo from the iconic ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ music video, then its just asking to be made the cover image for that particular playlist.

I think I’ve always been obsessed with listening to music, and I can still fondly remember excitedly burning CDs off Windows Media Player, and insisting that my dad play them in the car when he dropped me off at primary school. Since I starting using Spotify a year ago, a whole new world of music has been opened up, and I’m loving it.

Music taste is such a fantastic, subjective thing, because even two people who both solely listen to the Top 40 radio will still have a slightly different taste in music. Or in my case, I listen to a lot of what my parents listen to, but not everyone does that. A lot of my friends listen to metal music too, but I’m not that bothered about these genres. But I could just as easily be. I’ve always been fascinated by finding out what other people listen to, and you can see why, when it provides such an insight into one’s unique personality.

Record stores in Camden, North London

One of the great things about the internet is that I can be inspired by the music collections of others, and then go on to create my own curated selections of music. Is that an adequate excuse to spend literally hours picking the perfect songs for a playlist? I like to think so.

I also have a joke playlist dedicated to only music about public transportation.

Advertisements

christchurch, march 15th

I feel sick. I can’t stop thinking about the horrific event that has struck my country. This kind of thing never happens in New Zealand, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Yesterday I kept on bursting into random bouts of tears, probably because of the sheer shock of how horrible it is. Even when we had the London Bridge or Finsbury Park terrorist attacks just down the road from me I wasn’t affected this much.

Sure, we’ve had natural disasters. Christchurch itself was heavily affected by brutal earthquakes less than a decade ago, and I still remember watching the news for hours, staring in disbelief at the rubble. But somehow this small act is far scarier. Because an earthquake is just the earth at work, and growing up in New Zealand, earthquake drills are just part of the package. New Zealand has not had a mass shooting for nearly 30 years, and after that one, they strengthened gun control laws to the point that no one thought it could happen again. The last time we had a massacre on this scale was during a prison camp riot in WW2.

And the worst part is now that the initial shock has passed, we can now see that it wasn’t as out of the blue as everyone initially thought.

“But at least we aren’t as bad as the rest of the world.”

For probably several years now, I’ve been complaining about our media, and how our papers tend to take sensationalist quotes out of context (NZ Herald and Stuff.co.nz are notable examples), fuelling the flame of ignorance. But what did I do about that? I just switched to reading smaller Radio NZ and the Spinoff instead, telling myself that “at least not all of our papers are like that”. Many people I know did the same as me and boycotted the bigger papers, but we never did anything more than complain to each other.

The comment sections on these media sites are vile, and racism and sexism runs rife, even directed towards our own native Māori culture, despite the fact that at least 15% of our population identify as Māori. Usually I try to avoid reading the comments, but sometimes I find myself idly scrolling. When I find the token single comment that isn’t horrible, I mentally pat myself on the back, and think to myself “at least everyone isn’t like that”. Māori were relatively well off compared to other parts of the British empire, and although casual racism still runs rampant, it’s getting better. My grandparent’s generation were beaten at school for speaking Te Reo, but now there are waiting lists for every language learning class across the country. Although our battles are still important and need to be fought, “at least we aren’t racist like America”.

Less than a day before the terrorist attack, there was news that a government MP of the Green Party was assaulted unprovoked on the streets, for no discernible reason. The man in question was thankfully alright, save for some bruising, but it was still horrible to hear that even New Zealand politics had become so decisive as to inspire violent action. “But at least the local politics aren’t as bad as the situation overseas”.

I’m undeniably affected and concerned by UK and US politics at the moment, but I could always rely on New Zealand politics to be relatively balanced and egalitarian. Even when we had the National party in power for nearly a decade, although I disliked many of their somewhat right-wing policies, on a global scale they were still quite centrist. I grew up in the wake of the financial crisis, so even the negatives of that government like high GP fees and expensive groceries seemed normal to me. But that was small fish, compared to what was going on with the UK and US.

Whenever I’ve heard about a mass shooting in the past, while my initial thought has always been sympathy for the victims, my second is “thank god that wouldn’t happen in New Zealand, our gun laws are too strict”. It was something I, and I think most of the country, took for granted.

Yesterday I found out that our gun laws weren’t as thorough as I thought they were. Yes, you need to go through strict mental and criminal checks before gaining a gun license. But you don’t need to register each individual weapon that you own, which is a concerning loophole. You can’t own a semi-automatic or automatic without extra checks, but although the man who committed these attacks wasn’t technically allowed to have a semi-automatic, he simply bought a regular gun legally, and modified it afterwards.

Growing up in a small town, I knew countless people who came from families who hunted, or were farmers, and who had a gun or two in their house. I heard occasional mentions of the licensing process they had to go through, which I understood to be rigorous. It seemed safe enough, and it’s not like anyone ever had to worry about mass shootings before. I’d say that level of knowledge was pretty common. I mean, no one ever had a reason to think about them until now.

I’m proud that less than 24 hours after, our prime minister pledged to change our laws, and ban semi-automatic guns entirely. That kind of decisive action is what makes me proud to have Jacinda as our prime minister. But this time, I know that I can’t just focus on the positives of this ruling. This terrorist had not been on any terror watchlists prior to committing this crime, which is extremely concerning. Will that change with the new laws?

And even so soon after the attack, people in the comments of these articles are complaining that the government is taking more rights from them, and what about needing firearms for protection? Protection from who? It’s disgusting, and I thought this kind of discourse was just limited to redneck Americans. I can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist in Aotearoa anymore.

This morning I read an article that was an interview with a man who was praying in the mosque where it happened. He lost childhood friends in the crossfire, and my heart breaks for normal people like him. Some of the victims in the crossfire weren’t even old enough to read. One victim tried to wrestle a gun from the attacker, but he and his son were killed anyway. One woman could have escaped, but she was shot as she tried to look for her husband inside. People who had moved to New Zealand hoping for a better future.

Friday, the 15th of March 2019 has become one of the darkest days in the history of New Zealand. I’m too young to remember 9/11, but I think I know how people felt now. Maybe we can learn from this. I’m certainly starting to see New Zealand for what it is, which is a country that may be friendly, quirky and small, but also tarnished with racism, one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world, and a dangerous ‘she’ll be right’ culture that leads us to turn a blind eye to any threats, just because it hasn’t happened in our country before.

Friday also proved to be a pivotal day in the fight to save our climate, with tens of thousands of young people striking in cities all over the world. And it yielded results too, even if they were overshadowed by tragedy. The leader of the UN has announced that they’re calling a UN Summit on the climate, inspired by the passionate actions of the strikers on that day.

This is a strange time to be coming of age in. There’s so much happening in the world right now, and I sometimes feel like it’s all hopeless. But we have to believe that we can make a change, because what’s the point otherwise? Kia kaha, Aotearoa.

some of my favourite london cáfes

As a young millennial, I am almost contractually obliged to spend half of my income in coffee shops, and I am not ashamed to say so! I rarely eat out a proper restaurants, but I quite enjoy the experience of just chilling for a while in a cosy environment with a hot drink in hand. Bonus points if it’s an independent one! One of my favourite things about London is that there is a coffee shop for everyone, and there is no shortage of unique places to visit!

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it’s just a few of my favourite places that I’ve found around the city, in no particular order.

  • Yumchaa // Shoreditch
    This shop smells delicious. Yumchaa sells a wide selection of unique teas, and the blends give this cafe an amazing, subtle scent as soon as you walk through the door. Home to one of the best hot chocolates I’ve had in the city! The drink is modest, and there are no fancy marshmallows or whipped cream, but by god, is it good. I absolutely love the decor in here as well; as us millennials like to say, the mismatched combination of antique and retro items is very much my ‘aesthetic’.
    137 Brick Lane // E1 6SB
    IMG_5424.jpg
  • Waterstones Cafe // Greenwich
    For all of these book lovers out there! I love to come here and try and snag one of the window seats, where you can just stare straight out onto the brightly painted houses opposite and bustle of the street below. Plus, it’s located in a bookstore, and what’s not to love about that?
    51 Greenwich Church Street // SE10 9BL
    IMG_2555.jpg
  • Harvest E8 // Dalston
    This place is home to a small organic grocery store as well, and opens late. What’s not to love? There’s always a wide variety of interesting people in here, with some working on their laptops, and some just friends chatting. There are wide windows, so it’s pretty fun to people watch on the busy high street outdoors too. The food selection is amazing too, with most of it being vegetarian or vegan friendly!
    130 Kingsland High Street // E8 2NS
  • Euphorium Bakery // Hampstead Heath
    I discovered this place by accident, after being caught by a sudden downpour in Hampstead Heath park. Soaked wet, but still not quite ready to head home, I decided to retire to the first place I could find. Right outside Hampstead Heath overground station, this place seems unassuming from the outside, but when you go inside, it opens up into a surprisingly large rustic interior. And, as the name suggests, it has an excellent bakery selection. Seriously, the strawberry tart I had was to die for!
    45 South End Road // NW3 2QB
    IMG_5517.jpg
  • H. J. Aris // Dalston
    Yet another place located in the borough of Hackney (what can I say, Hackney is full of hipsters), this one is special in that it is also home to an antique store.
    11 Dalston Lane // E8 2LX
    IMG_0887

So there you have it. A selection of some of my favourite places around the city. I won’t even attempt to claim to be a café connoisseur – that would be a gross exaggeration – but I found a lot of enjoyment of these cosy places, and I hope you will too, if you ever make it to the areas!

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

an ode to brutalist beauty

The emergence of Brutalism in the ruins of post-war Britain is one of the most fascinating parts of modern design. The name suits it; brutalist architecture knows what it is and doesn’t care if you like it or not. Done wrongly, it can look rather depressing. Think of 60s era council flats with dirty, water stained concrete. However, done correctly, it can be powerful, unassuming, and beautiful, all at the same time.

IMG_0369

The other day, I had the pleasure of wandering around the Barbican, a massive complex of buildings in central London. I was meeting some friends nearby in Old Street, and the route I found on Citymapper told me to walk from Barbican station. I never really visit this side of the city, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

IMG_0346

It’s impossible for the Barbican to not catch your eye. It’s there, blocking the horizon in its brutal, brutalist way, as soon as you exit the station. I had time to burn before meeting my friends, and my curiosity was piqued. I decided to enter this cavernous sprawl, one so important as to lend its name to its very own train station.

IMG_0362As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by grey; lots of grey. Massive concrete monoliths rose forebodingly into the skyline, and balconies bedecked with small potted plants greeted my eyes in every direction I looked. It was stark, unapologetic and in-your-face. It was beautiful.

IMG_0371

In a way, it’s even more true to the nature of the concept of a building than anything. Brutalism doesn’t pretend to be anything else, to integrate into the environment around it, because that’s impossible. There’s no paint or glossy facades, it just is. It’s simply a building, built for and by humans.

If you were describe an ideal building on paper, it would not be a brutalist one. It’s too easy to enjoy bright, smooth surfaces and big windows, but then again, that’s what we’re conditioned to like in a way.

Bold, unapologetic, and undeniably urban; people are quick to dismiss brutalism, but it’s just another type of beauty.

sounds for september – a playlist

The leaves are starting their journeys away from from the trees, my outfits are now incorporating multiple layers again, and I’ve already forgotten what it’s like to not have a just-in-case umbrella with me.  Summer is well and truly over. As always, I find myself wistful, but also kind of excited about the departure of the summer months.  There’s something inherently cosy about the colder months, and I know that I’m not the only one to feel this way, judging by the millions of ‘autumn vibes’ posts I see all over the internet.

dscf6467
New Zealand winter; it looks the same as summer, just colder.

Last year I experienced my first autumn/winter in the northern hemisphere, and I’ve gotta say, I finally understand what all of the fuss is about. In New Zealand just about every tree is evergreen, so you’ll generally find that winter is just as green and luscious as summer is! Where I was from, temperatures never got too cold either (daytime temperatures were never below 7° on average), so you’d look like a muppet if you busted out the treble layered outfits and heavy scarves like you do here. However, since moving here, I’ve gotten to stamp through burnt orange and brown leaves on the ground (and the subsequent brown plant-matter sludge when people fail to sweep them up) and bundle up tight in cosy knitted clothes. It’s still not too cold during the days, but I’m definitely feeling the chills when I finish work in the evenings.

I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll be complaining about the cold, but for now, I’ll enjoy the season while it lasts. I’m looking forwards to revisiting the London parks in all of their  multicoloured glory. Of course, one of the bonuses of having an early sunset means that I can watch the sunset before I even start work at night! See, this time of year isn’t so bad.

img_0096
Regent’s Park, November 2016. My first proper autumn.

Anyway, here’s eight songs which, to me, represent these cooler and slower autumn vibes, but still manage to capture the last upbeat dregs of sunshine as well.

img_0724

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1232708975/playlist/3aT3aB2Tvl35DFQ5bpa0fT