Year Abroad: Suzhou Sunshine!

OFF TO SUZHOU!
苏州

Shanghai Honqiao – Suzhou: 79¥

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to take a break and update on my travels here in China, but with the pesky Midterm Exams over I can finally take a look at the rainbow array of photos from my October trip to Suzhou!

With my 79RMB return ticket from Shanghai Hongqiao Station to Suzhou clutched in hand, our group of five make our way though the mid-National Week holiday masses to the train station.  Suzhou has been cheerfully sold to me as the ‘Venice of Shanghai’, and to add to my natural scepticism of such Chinese claims, there’s a scuffle of conjecture that it’s actually Shanghai’s other water town, ZhuJiaJiao. A quick (and exasperated) description edit later, we’re back on track: to one of Shanghai’s two Venices…

Snacks and drinks packed in my trusty rucksack and sunglasses at the ready.

Train to Suzhou, Shanghai Railway Station

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WATER TOWN

The Old area of Suzhou around 石路夜市场 ShiLu Nightmarket and its surrounding canals is a beautiful area of dainty Chinese bridges and street markets that sweep up out of the water in streets that weave alongside cloudy-watered, narrow canals. With it’s white and dark wood traditional buildings, cobbled streets and streams of red paper lanterns – the town Old Town sections are beautiful in the sun.

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Suzhou Canal Boats, China

Suzhou Streets

Suzhou Canal City

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TRADITION & THE TOWN

As we make our way from the East of Suzhou town through the backstreets to the West, we criss-cross through silent, thin streeted residential areas (stopping for the odd 1.50RMB Green Bean ice lolly sold through a front door) and bustling open squared Pagodas where embarrassed tourists pose in traditional Chinese clothing and awkward couples shuffle in suits for wedding photos.

We watch a man in his late 50s twist blobs of hot coloured sugar into beautifully delicate, edible animal shapes with some lickity spit and dubiously clean hands around the Temple of Mystery (which in itself is not that mysterious, and probably not worth the walk if the Temple is all you want to see…).

Comfortable shoes an absolute must.

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SUZHOU LUNCH

Lunch, one of my three favourite times of day, greets us in the form of the famous hundred-year old Zhū hóng miànguǎn 朱鸿面馆 as we battle with the locals stopping off between work shifts, wrinkled and fresh-faced alike who fold over their steaming noodle broth bowls and inhale their juicy lunch. I try the recommended salty pork and noodle soup 香辣排骨面, 14RMB and exact sighs of exasperation as I take pictures of the chilli sauce bowl.
That’s some mean chilli.

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COLOUR-MAD MARKETS

In a refreshing, zesty break form Shanghai’s concrete forest, Suzhou markets are packed bursting with colourful flowers, tea-shops and stalls around the Suzhou Watertown Hostel area (苏州浮生四季青年旅舍). Besides a treat for the snap-happy photographer (myself), it’s also a sensory delight for anyone who loves nibbling at sweet street-food snacks (also me) as their speciality steamed desserts, candied fruit and sugar stewed lotus root are light, yummy treats that should keep most children (and easily satisfied twenty-one year olds) happy.

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For a bit of formal history, and light culture we stop off at:

HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN
Adult 70RMB/Student 35RMB

Unfortunately, being peak holiday season, what we actually see is thousands of other tourists and energetic, flag-flailing guides, filing wildly and haphazardly in droves along the well-trimmed verges of the Humble Administrator (who certainly had a very big garden indeed). We become a garden highlight as we naively stop for a rest at this pagaoda, and are subjected to the flashes of Chinese tourists from all over the country.

We do however, pose for this little girl who solemnly asks in perfect English if we would mind her mum taking a photo of her with us.
Cute!

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As the sunlight sets over the Humble Administrator’s Bonsai’s we make for the end of our day-trip to Suzhou in a slightly mad dash back to the station after dinner. Taxi after taxi refuses to stop for the boys, who wave desperately at them. As the token Asian, I manage to hail one eventually (supporting our theory that some Taxi drivers are very suspicious of foreigners – actively avoiding picking them up) and we make it in time for our 40min train back home.

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Bonsai in the late afternoon, Suzhou

Good Bye, Suzhou!

It’s been a great day out, but I’ve got class in the morning.

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Charlotte xx

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Editorial England: Wild Dartmore

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A couple of months ago the editorial team of Razz My Berries Magazine handed over our reigns to a brilliant, fresh new committee of burgeoning writers, online whizzes and social butterflies. I packed my Razz experience into a proverbial box and sat, baking languidly in the summer sun, reminiscing the fashion, editing and beauty opportunities that had come my way over the past two years. And, as I sat, my phone suddenly buzzed, rather insistently, in my pocket – Toby Craddock, the Magazine’s new Editor wanted to know if I was free for the next creative shoot.
And out of the blue, the experience was not quite over at all.

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With the launch of the magazine, I can finally reveal some sneaky, behind-the-scenes shots of arguably the best editorial campaign Razz My Berries has yet seen: the Dartmore Collaboration.
Not that I could possibly be biased.

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Creative Editor: Wentworth Cecil-Gurney
Model: Joe Stewart, Jules Howe
Photographer: Nathan Dunovic
MUA & Dresser: Charlotte Black
MU/Lighting Assistant: Marianne Pilloux

On a sizzling Sunday in summer, the shoots Creative Editor, Wentworth Cecil-Gurney, along with some of the most fabulous props curtsey of the National Theatre London, veered into Exeter and collected out five-strong artistic team for the day.  I was make-up artist and on hand-dresser on a stunning day’s romp through the Dartmore hills where everything that could possibly happen, just happened.

I guess it’s appropriate to say here that I’m not the most spontaneous person in the world. In fact, the word rolls reluctantly over my tongue with a less-than-fair share of unease; I’ll readily admit that I have several traits of being an oldest child, and certain people may have muttered the words ‘control-freak’ in description of my person (at their own peril, of course). Luckily however, un-spontaneity aside, working in the creative world, and with many creative types, this particular trait, which I would rather refer to as being obsessively organised, has been (forcibly) tempered over the years by learning to quietly go with the flow. Definitely useful on a shoot like this.

 Having never met any of the team before, the artistic venture turned out to be one of the most strange, but utterly fantastic I’ve had yet: we sped wildly and we ran out of fuel spectacularly; we ate cream teas and drank pints, shared car-chat and car-silence; we chased ponies, dodged road-roaming cows and borrowed certain historical sites on creative licence, and enjoyed what absolute weirdness can happen in the rare English sun when six undergrads come together to make  and create a stylised shoot.

There’s nothing like the buzz on set when things flowing smoothly from one shot to another, practically glowing the in late afternoon sun. Spontaneity’s the name of the game when you’re working with a limited supply of make up in the wilderness, moving from one shot to another in a set, and shooting in natural lighting. We may have been six strangers (and one happy puppy) on meeting at 10AM, but on set, and in assuming our rightful roles, we could really feel things building; you can spend an afternoon as just people, travelling through the wilderness of Dartmore, but when business called we were suddenly and certainly, an editorial team. Photoshoot setting , tools in hand and perfect light, the Razz Magazine Dartmore Editorial was well and truly under way.

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Photography credits:Marianne Pilloux & Charlotte Black

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MAKE-UP

For this shoot, it was out with the lights and dressing rooms, and into the open nature as we worked on the grass to get Joe and Jules photo ready with my small box of tools and Jules’ own make-up.

Focusing on the skin in a puritanical/gothic, out of the 17th Century look for JULES, it was out with the bronzer and in the the pale foundation for her porcelain skin. Even the most perfect needs some protection against the glare of summer sun, especially in photographs – and summer shine is so not 17th Century. Foundation followed by a light, powder-based sculpting tone (try Cezanne, Japan) to accentuate the angles of her face, a sweep of a red based blusher and translucent finishing powder (try Bare Minerals Veil).  Wentworth was looking for a dark, purplish lip to match the dress, so a little improvising with a mixture of eyeshadow powder and lippy, and an all-over matt look was finished. A quick half-up, half-down do with a pinned square or reed knot (for you former Brownies and Scouts out there) and she was ready to be buckled into her plush velvet dress. Hot in the sun!

Personally, I think it’s always strange putting make-up on boys, and despite having done it on a regular basis working in the theatre with Exeter University Theatre Company, I still haven’t been able to shake the feeling that it’s a little exciting, if not lightly odd! I guess I’ve been putting it on myself since I could hold a lipstick (ruining several of my mum’s lipsticks in the bathroom, sorry mum), and I’ve got twenty odd years to catch up on when it comes to make-uping the lads. With JOE it was a non-shimmer bronzer to accentuate his bone structure, pencilling his eyebrows, and the mandatory sweep of mascara and liner. As rough and ready as we were going for, it got a little up close and personal with the tweezers as Wentworth asked for some eyebrow taming, so thankfully Marianne stepped in… Then it was off to hold the light reflectors and catch the afternoons rays!

Check out the Alternative Freshers Guide Campaign which features one of Photographer Nathan Dunovic’s shots!

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Razz My Berries Alternative Freshers Guide

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Look out for the next Razz My Berries Issue to see the shoot in full. If you’re lucky enough to in Exeter, the University campus shop stocks copies, or get in touch with the editors at razzmag@gmail.com.

Find out more about the Magazine on Twitter | Facebook | WordPress
And about our lovely Photographer’s clothing line at Tight-Threads.com

And until next time…

If these shots are anything to go by, it’s OK to be spontaneous.

(Sometimes.)

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Charlotte xx

She Interns: Snap-shot Round-Up!

Elevator shot and shoes!

Dress: H&M
Shoes: Clarks
Jacket: As before, Zara
Bag: As before Urban Outfitters

THE WORKING WEEK

It’s been a great week of being an office working girl; I’m sad to leave my little routine of secret power snacks, lovely lunch spots, and extra-efficient commuting times. But importantly, the lovely people, the gorgeous  office, the variety of work and the cheeky perks have built a picture of the real life ins-and-outs of the PR office world. Where I work and who with are now pretty high up on my dream job requirements. I suppose affirming my preference for writing tasks has been is pretty predictable, but learning new web systems, researching fashion trends  and today’s work of company information about brand ownership (L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and PPR = mind-blowing) and compiling art critic bloggers, have been right up there in educating my commercial and audience awareness.

So, as my intern experience comes to an end I thought I’d share some of my non-work time photos – to thank CMPR not only for the week of work, PR and office experience, but for introducing me to the Belfast working scene!

 

 

I was so sad to leave this week, as it’s been filling my pre-departure days with Belfast delight and I’ll have fond memories of my home town to remember as I jet off to my Year Abroad in China this Monday.

Thanks a million and I’m sure we’ll see each other again!

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