Yellow Tulips

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doodles 

Last weekend in Edinburgh, on the round curve of Victoria Street up in a high annex window above the sixth floor, I spied a very lovely old gentleman tending to vaseful of fresh yellow tulips. He was so contentedly framed by the blue wood frame — and utterly oblivious to our cold-noses and wind-swept faces as we craned up at him. Quentin Blake could have done something perfect about it.

Old Man 2

 

… But I gave it a dab hand anyway.

Charlotte xx

 

 

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The last of student life

ON STUDYING

It’s finally my last month of studying.

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Studying

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Four years, three universities, and thanks to British vs. Asian schedules,
a disproportionate amount of semesters.

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終於快要完成我的學歷~

加油吧。

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Charlotte xx

Chinese New Year Chat

CNY

Happy Chinese New Year!

Lent has begun, and so has the auspicious year of the Ram/Goat!

🐑🐑🐑🐑

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The turning 23 consolation party is over, as is the Valentine’s chocolate binge-ing cry-fest, and all I have left are several empty, depressingly essay-less Word documents and a flabby post Christmas body. Seems to me like this horrible mixture of Lent and CNY is as good a time as any to make some resolutions to knuckle down and to work hard.

Have a good year folks.

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Dinner Party / Food Coma

ON THE MENUTaiwanese Dinner Yum

Just yesterday I caught myself starting a sentence with the phrase:
“When I was a teenager…”

😱 Cue internal screaming.

It’s probably because last Friday I turned the kind-of gross age of twenty-three that this feels particularly terrifying. Turning twenty-three is not an achievement. I’m not a sassy, Taylor Swift twenty-two anymore, and I don’t really want to celebrate the fact that I am now closer to twenty-five than my wild (not) teenage years.

The good news is, turning a new leaf and beginning my twenty-third year on the planet seems as good a reason as any to celebrate with a little dinner party with my lovely flatmates. Seeing as I’ve been thinking of heading back to Taipei this year, and I Iove any excuse to eat unholy amounts of Taiwanese food, we had a Saturday night feast of some of the easiest and nommiest Taiwanese dishes that you can whack together with a wok, minimal culinary skill, and a whole load of sticky rice.

Dishes 1-6

Taiwanese Dishes

One // Sticky Korean Sushi Rice
Two // Soy Sauce & Shiitake Mushroom Chicken
Three // Mangetout & Ginger Seafood (Kingshrimp + Scallops)
Four // Taiwanese Tomato+Egg
Five // TW BBQ Sauce Vegetables
Six // Stir-fry Broccoli

 I felt very mature and grown-up kicking my old age off with a dinner party (even if we voluntarily opted to have wine and red Schloer instead of wine). If you wanna make something like this, my cooking time in total was around 1&1/2 – 2 hours for a group of five guests, but boy is the result i.e. a mountain of steaming, delicious food, so totally worth it. Needless to say, if you live in a flat with said dinner guests, its almost impossible not to get help drafted in from all quarters.

Thank God.

PUDDING

Taiwanese Sago

I had the time to whip up a classic, super-easy Taiwanese dessert in the shape of Coconut Sago and Sweet Potato soup. It just requires a saucepan and those three ingredients – plus a healthy dose of sugar – which, according to my flatmates, is an exotic approximation of English rice pudding…. Though, if I’m honest, it wasn’t a real hit with the English.

But, I absolutely love this stuff. I think it’s even better after a night to stew to a thick porridge consistency, and the sweet potato has a lighter taste. I grew up with the stuff; folks you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

And, yes, I did eat it again for breakfast.

Nom.

TWENTY-THREE

How does it feel?
Different, actually.

I can feel the heady, impending threat and freedom of graduation just around the corner (yes, I’m one of those multiple gap/study abroad year oldies).  I know that real life, in all its delicious unemployment and assignmentlessness, calls with the summer sunshine.

Yes, I’m gut-wrenchingly sad that I think I’ll finally have to stop pretending be a hip (haha), baby-faced early twenty-something with a student loan… But maybe that means I get to level-up to a trendy, cool encroaching-on-my-mid-twenties-something who gets on with their parents and relishes the thought of starting a career.

But, I guess you’ll just have to watch this space and see how it turns out.

In the meantime,

Where’s that leftover dessert?

Signature

Here Comes the Cold: AW Campaign Inspiration

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Puff Winter Parka Illustration

I’ve been in Shanghai for three weeks while late September blisters in the low thirties, but from Wujiaochang to Xiantiandi malls there’s a worrying trend decking the shelves, rails and mannequins: winter warms.

I’m talking tweed, heavy woollen jumpers and puffy parkas fit for the arctic – that promise to do nothing for my chubby cheeks. It’s hard to believe that the city who’s pavements were literally searing meat in high summer are about to plunge into the single digits and below, but the locals seems to think so, and I’m going by the old saying that it’s better to be prepared than look like an ice Popsicle… Or something along those lines.

We can thank the clever people in the design world for always being two seasons ahead of the rest of the world. In light of their forward thinking, I’m taking a quick nip around this years AW campaigns that were released this Spring to jog the old noodle for some parka palettes and insulating inspiration for the coming cold.

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MIU MIU

Photographers: Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin 
Models: 
Hind Sahli & Marina Nery; Adrianna Lima, Anne Verhert

MIU MIU AW 2013MIU MIU AW 2013

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So the shiny polyester-look puff coats may look daunting for any regularly sized person to pull off, but it’s also one of the biggest trends I’ve seen in the shops here in Shanghai. True, I’ve never spent a winter here, and have yet to see if these luminously painted items ever grace the streets (and if the ladies here have the chutzpah to do so), still – don’t knock what you don’t know! Certainly there’s a lot here in Miu Miu that’s prevalent across 2013’s AW campaigns: the below the knee hemline, long winter coats over short jackets, and the tendency towards traditional shapes and 1950s retro styles.

I adore the arts-scene background to this campaign, the girls high-ankle boots, chinched waist coats and neck-scarves are like the indulgent piece on a stage. Bringing back tights, and rich dark colours in one fell swoop.

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DKNY  

Photographer: Mikael Jansson
Model: Cara Delevigne

DKNY Cara Delevigne AW 2013DKNY Cara Delevigne AW 2013

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Who hasn’t seen the face of the goddess that is Cara Delevigne this year? Even those purposefully shunning the fashion world in some cave must have seen the dozens of campaigns this twenty year old wonder booked this year, not to mention the runways she’s been gracing of Fashion Weeks worldwide. Sigh…

It’s sepia warms for DKNY’s AW campaign. They’ve taken to the street trend and championed it full force for the winter, sticking to hipster chic (and big names) and stomping all over Urban Outfitters with the sheer expensiveness of what they can produce. From layered knits to concealed heel kickers, the practicality of the pieces get a big thumbs up here while I’m looking for winter inspiration. Thinking the dark olive and grey palletes are so versatile (I LOVE GREY), while chunky wool and leggings? What’s not to love?

The skateboard in this campaign does make me laugh though, I can only imagine someone seriously thinking: what’s more hipster than a skateboard in a fashion campaign? … I’m thinking maybe they should have tried a short board.

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ROBERTO CAVALLI

Photographer: Mario Testino

Roberto Cavalli AW 2013

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Roberto Cavalli’s AW campaign is so sharp it looks dangerous. From mixed sheen of leather and thick tweed, to the slick sweep of eyeliner their AW style is seriously cool. I’m thinking tweed has already made a huge come-back but it’s the jagged patterns, long coats and boy-cut lapels that are shaping up this winter. I love the ankle stopped trousers and boyish suits in Cavalli’s collection. Think the pleather is going to have to make an outing too…

There’s something I’ll always love about the blatantness of asian, african and white girls modelling together. Of course, I love seeing Asian girls modelling anything for big brands, considering how unrepresentented they are in the Fashion world. They sure are on the up.

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DOLCE & GABBANA

Photographer: Domenico Dolce
Models: Bianca Balti, Monica Bellucci, Kate King and Andreea Diaconu

Dolce and Gabbana AW 2013Dolce and Gabbana AW 2013

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Ah.

What is it about this campaign that makes it so beautiful?

There’s rich colours, laced and intricate patterns and the smart Oxford-meets-Spain style to the collection simply feels wonderful. There’s retro here, but it’s in a period-piece kind of feel, and true to form it’s reflected in the location of the shoot – not to mention the trimmed stubble male accessories in these shots.

The long winter length makes a re-appearance here, as well as a wider, high-scooped neck. It’s just shimmering with class, from the elegance of the updos, to the deep red lip. Tweed, of course makes it’s appearance, but I feel like a classy coat might take precedence over puff parka after this…

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GIVENCHY

Photographers: Mert & Marcus
Models:
Carine Roitfeld and Julia Restoin Roitfeld; Amanda Seyfried

Givenchy AW 2013

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Ow. The prints in the Givenchy AW campaign are just off hurting my eyes, but it’s so that I can’t look away. The Roitfield family’s mother/daughter combo of multi-clashing print is a little agonizing for the print-shy, but it’ certainly as beautiful as it is confusing.

By absolute contrast, Amanda Seyfried is looking a slouchy kind of hot (and yes, that’s totally possible) in a very clean interpretation of a London-esque grunge. From the baggy sweater to the plush frills and rose vs. bambi cartoon print, it’s a girl power trip that benefits from a striking dark lip and the blessing of black and white. It’s another move into a slightly androgynous, loose fitting look that seems to be echoed in the boy-cut long coats around these campaigns. And while you’re going to have hard work convincing this stubborn twenty something into any print, Givency, Amanda has me sold on some pretty grunge.

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MULBERRY

Photographer: Tim Walker
Model:
Cara Delevingne

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There’s so much to love about Tim Walker’s work with Mulberry; it’s put the designer on the map for me like nothing else possibly could have this year. I mean, Cara, owls and a little pretend tree? Who thinks up this kind of magic?!

Middle parting here is so chic, and the straight-lacedness of it all definitely fits the gorgeous coats in this feature. From the wonder open button and lapelled camel (which I have something shockingly similar of from Primark – £30 hush hush), to the off the shoulders black and clinical white pockets – there’s a classical palette of coats for every occasion. Button up collars, high necks and granddad collar, there’s an emphasis on layers and covering up here, and it comes across super slick as well as practical. There’s no cheeky short-skirt and wool tights+tall boots this winter…

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EMPORIO ARMANI

Photographer: Craig McDean

Models: Jacquelyn Jablonsky, Ruby Aldridge and Esther Heesc

Emporio Armani Jacquelyn Jablonski, Ruby Aldridge and Esther Heesch AW 2013Emporio Armani Jacquelyn Jablonski, Ruby Aldridge and Esther Heesch AW 2013Emporio Armani Jacquelyn Jablonski, Ruby Aldridge and Esther Heesch AW 2013

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There’s a reason there are three shots of Armani’s campaign to this post, and it’s 100% because there is just so much fashion inspiration, creation and beauty to appreciate for the coming season. From the period look, to the high class, and the elements of the totally steal-it-off-the-model-and-wear-right-now – I think these shots are absolutely to die for. As if this shoot wasn’t sensual enough, did you ever think it could be done with NO hair, ONLY hats, and MINIMAL skin?

I adore the pantaloon-esue billowing trousers which look oh so comfy, the lightness of the pale and pretty sweaters, the length to the trousers, skirts, and coats, the shimmer of brogues, and the deep, detailed prints. The work here is so classic, and high-fashion that it makes me shiver with how wearable and alive these 1930s reminiscent pieces are. If only I looked so good in a hat like that. Let alone a drop waist.

SO WHAT’S THE VERDICT?

I’m thinking of these things: long coats in above the knee with period-costume-esque loose but clean cut, thick knits, ankle-length skirts and trousers, printed grunge sweaters and fuffy jumpers, rich colours and pastels, (p)leather, concealed heels sneakers, messy updos and some drop earrings.

Hopefully you find some winter inspiration amongst this AW campaign round up! I know I’ve got some shopping ideas in mind…

Happy Shopping!

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Charlotte xx

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Year Abroad: You queue, I queue… We all queue

queuing

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If there’s just one thing that is vividly imprinted on my memory from the first week here at Fudan University, Shanghai, it’s that the administration, bureaucracy, moving into dorms, even at the local gargantuan Walmart, everything involves a lot of queuing. I mean, there’s queuing, and then there’s this kind of ‘snaking in looping circles for dizzying hours around a small space’-queuing.

Here’s the queuing break-down:

Day #1
Registering with accommodation
Getting my room key-card (x2)
Paying for compulsory China PingAn insurance
Dinner…

Day #2
Course registration,
Certifying my insurance,
Certifying my entrance letter,
Visa introduction letter,
Checking my application,
Date for physical examination
Walmart super queue…

Day #3
Physical Exam (x2)
Placement online test,
Applying for IC/Bank card

Day #4
Placement oral test

Day #5
Campus Ecard photo

Boy am I glad when the days of relentless and restless ‘have-I-got-my-documents’ queuing grinds to a happy halt towards the end of the week! It’s certainly a stressful set of hours to encounter upon reaching a new country, and I’m only put at ease when I finally get to the introductory exchange student talks and get all these crazy lines explained to me: there are nearly 24 billion people in Shanghai, be prepared to wait where ever you go. Logical. It’s the most calming words I’ve heard since I queued past immigration, and does a lot to ease the semi-frightened frustration of the introductory process.

The first week blows past like freshers week in a U.K. university: in a blur of stressed applications, endlessly checking what other people have done (“You’ve done what form??”), awkward queuing introductions ( The line “…Sure is a long queue,” gets old real quick) and the evening rush to do everything with every new person you meet.

More on the socialising later.

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WELCOME TO FUDAN UNIVERSITY

As expected in a city with a population of nearly 24 million, everything is done on a larger scale, from the enormous, tree-lined streets (I kid not) of the Handan campus where the foreign dormitories are situated, to the impressive, 35 floored, column-fronted Guanghua Twin Towers where the Chinese language classes take place, to the 15min bike journey from one side of campus to another – Fudan is mind-bogglingly large.

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I’m given a taste of reality of what I’m embarking on when all the foreign students are invited to the Fudan 2013 Foreign Students Welcome Ceremony, in the plush, red-seated, cool of the Guanghua auditorium. Each of the heads of office and two past students give welcome talks, and I’m suddenly overcome with the realisation that I’m studying here for a year.

Their Chinese speeches suddenly forces a lump into my throat; slap me for the soppy cliché, but the words really do radiate sincerity, and at the very least, are spoken at a comfortable pace for my still-struggling ears. For those of us whose Chinese is up to the challenge, it’s a wonderful set of talks, which loose some of their clarity and sense of genuine kindness in translation, and I can only image how daunting it sounds to the beginners in the audience…

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Fudan University International Student Opening Ceremony Welcome Ceremony

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We go through the laborious task of listening to (understandably) serious-toned school rules and visa control in varying degrees of English fluency, but by the end of the hour and a half we’re released, bursting over the daring, thick cream carpet and though the heavy doors towards our released schedules like crazed animals – no queuing whatsoever.

I’ve been placed in F3, in bands of Chinese language ranging from A-I with five classes a week: Listening (听力), Writing(寫作), Speaking(口语) Intensive Reading(精读) and Extensive Reading(泛读).

I’ve got this cute little timetable starting the next week:

20130917-095958.jpg

OH BOY! I am looking forward to four 8AM starts a week!

Wish me luck, folks. I’ll need it.

Charlotte xx

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