Bonjour Strasbourg!

P3311796.JPGAh, Strasbourg; I visited it for the first time in my life about a month ago, and well and truly fell for the beauty of it. I can’t say whether it was the bright timber houses or the overall fairytale-esque feel of the place, but I fell for it.

The reason I went to Strasbourg was actually a rather cool one: I had been one of a few students who got chosen from my school after sitting for an entry test to go on the Euroscola trip. This meant that we were going to not only visit the European Parliament but alsP3311776.JPGo sit in the MEPs’ seats and have our own plenary session.

The first day in Strasbourg practically consisted solely of travelling, but the second day was packed with action. Once hopping off the tram at our stop we stood gazing at the beautiful EU Parliament building. It was massive, I can tell you that!

Our morning session lasted a few hours and during that time we had the chance to ask Michael Crammer, an MEP who was talking to us on a video call, some questions. I had prepared one beforehand and despite feeling as if I lacked the confidence to speak in front of some 570 people, knew that I would kick myself afterwards for losing the oppurtunity. In short, I was chosen to pose a question and with all the courage I could muster, stood up and spoke into the microphone on my desk.

If you have been following my blog for some time you may have probably noticed that I often write about our right to a freedom of expression (no surprise, really. I write a blog after all!) – if you have, you may have a hunch of what I asked Michael Crammer 😉  In simple terms, I asked him what the EU’s position is about libel suits and garnishee orders being used to bully and intimidate journalists, as is currently happening in Malta. He replied that for nearly thirty years he was “deemed an idiot” in Germany for strongly opposing nuclear power, and now here we are in 2017, working towards using renewable energy sources whilst trying to phase out nuclear power (a great ‘who’s laughing now’ moment, right?). His point was that freedom of speech is important because it helps bring change and limiting it is

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Timber houses in Petite France – this area practically screamed “Beauty and the Beast”

intolerable.

You have no idea how glorious it felt being addressed to personally about such a matter in the EU Parliament – I’ll never forget that feeling.

On our third day in Strasbourg, we visited the Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe. We then walked through the city centre and one of the main roads, and if we turned at a 90 degree angle to our left we would have realised that we were standing beneath the great, gigantic intricately designed work of art that is the gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. None of the dozen photographs I took of it can do it justice – it was so, so breath-taking. The view from the top was just as wonderful, if not more so – I can clarify this because we walked up the 300-something steps within the turrets. It was so unreal that it was as if one were looking down at an unrolled map or a little wooden model of Strasbourg.

P3301607.JPG
The Parliament
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Inside the hemicycle
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Poster at the Court of Human Rights
17760260_708632759316128_2135458236_n
Addressing Crammer in front of the hemicycle
20170401_093331.jpg
Street book fair (situated in the perfect place: close to the cathedral)
P3311792.JPG
Descending the turret

P3311777.JPG



And before I forget:

My shared Instagram page is picking up! We’ve been adding plenty of new photographs to it these past few days.

So if you’d like to check out our snaps, see the link below:

https://www.instagram.com/amycoramegan/

Be sure to have a look through our portfolio on Shutterstock, too:

https://www.shutterstock.com/g/Amy+Cora+Megan



As always, thanks for stopping by!

signature

Songs To Repel The Studying Blues

If you’re anything like me, you find sitting at a desk in front of an avalanche of revision notes really daunting if the room is dead quiet. That’s precisely why I am a firm believer of creating playlists brimming with songs to listen to through my earplugs whilst I’m 2016-12-29 09.51.10.pngrevising.

Below is a list of some of my favourites (in no particular order):

1 ) Fast Car by Tracy Chapman

2) Everything by Michael Buble  (literally everything – I love his ‘jazz’ voice)

3) La Vie En Rose covered by Louis Armstrong

4) Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits

– It’s really catchy. I sometimes find myself singing along to it when I’m supposed to be reading Iago’s soliloquys…

5) Tiny Dancer by Elton John

6) Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton

7) City of Stars from La La Land (sung by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone)

– It has an old feel to it, which I love. The Fools Who Dream is another gorgeous one, as is Mia and Sebastian’s Theme (also tracks in the film).

8) Watching the Wheels by John Lennon

9) Wonderwall by Oasis

10) Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters by Elton John

– “If I knew the tunes I might join in”.

11) When You’re Smiling by Louis Armstrong

 – “Stop that sighin’, be happy again”.

12) I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair) by Sandi Thom

– This song can be so relatable sometimes.

13) Feelin’ So Good by The Archies

14) Our Last Summer by ABBA

– Although I usually listen to the version sung by Colin Firth in the film Mamma Mia! .

15) Hello Dolly by Louis Armstrong

– ‘Cause it never gets old.

16) Hey Jude by The Beatles

– ” Naa, naa, na NA NA NAAA

NAA NAA NA NA

HEY JUDE “

My playlist is ever-growing and ever-changing, but those are the songs that remain pretty much permanent.

Oh, one last thing:

If it makes your revision easier to handle, just extinguish the sound of silence with The Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel)    😉

Sorry, I couldn’t not write that.

It’s just too punny.

Will write again soon (and I promise not to add such corny puns),

Meg

 

 

Freedom of Expression and Other Frowned Upon Things

 


With so much happening in the world it is impossible to stay put and keep quiet about things. When Trump was running for presidency I could not resist expressing how I felt about it – even more so when he actually won the election. It was a moment many people had been dreading worldwide, and there is proof of this in all the videos of worldwide protests on the day of his inauguration.

I cannot count the number of times I have painted a detailed picture of what Trump truly is and have been attacked for it. I do of course understand that people share different opinions and I accept that – can you imagine what would happen if everyone thought the same way? – but is it right that we should be insulted for sharing our own personal view on things?

Of course it isn’t.

You would think that in the age of virtual reality and artificial intelligence people would have grown out of it, but then again perhaps not.

In this day and age you would think that sexism should be on the verge of dying out, but when you see how women and girls are frowned upon or viciously attacked both verbally and physically for expressing their opinion you realise just how far we are from that. Look at Malala Yousafzai: she peacefully protested in favour of girls having the right to an education and refused to remain silent when the Taliban took control of her home, the Swat Valley. Since many men believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and not at school getting an education, the Taliban shot her in 2012 on a school bus. She has made a miraculous recovery and is still campaigning for everybody’s right to an education, especially all of those girls who are denied it.

When I wrote about how I felt on Trump’s inauguration day on social media my post was once again flooded with arguments; more than usual, in fact. I wrote exactly what I felt in my heart and what I am sure many felt as well: my disbelief at how eight years ago we were all gathered around our televisions watching Barack Obama’s inauguration (history in the making)  and now we were watching a sexist, racist narcissist with his finger hovering over the nuclear weapon button take his place.

I cannot say I was not expecting people to argue with me (and believe me they did) but you know that they have gone way too far when they begin to insult you, calling you an “idiot” and an “imbecile” just because you dared to write against what they believe is the key to America being made great again. I hope they realise that a) America will only be made worse and b) the world will be affected and not just the US.

The boy who called me an “imbecile” said that I haven’t got any arguments and am simply just calling Trump names.

Well, we all know what Trump thinks of women:

  • In 1991, Trump spoke to a magazine about the media: “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [they] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
  •  In 1992, Trump said that German gold-medal winning Olympic ice skater Katarina Witt was “wonderful looking while on the ice but up close and personal she could only be described as attractive if you like a woman with a bad complexion who is built like a linebacker”.
  • And who could forget his “locker room banter”?

As for racist: “I think the guy is lazy,” Trump said of a black employee, according to John O’Donnell, a former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. “And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

And when it comes to narcissist, well, Trump is the definition of the word.

The point I am trying to make however is not really about Trump at all; it is about how we (especially women, young women and girls) are continuously stripped of our right to freedom of speech. Many reading this might say that it was merely just a bunch of ridiculous comments on social media and that I am overreacting, but it is a shame that things like this happen all the time and are not given a second thought.

Everything appears to most as less harmful when it happens online, when the perpetrator is hidden behind their screen. Some of the comments on my more recent Trump related posts were written by people who have practically never even spoken to me in real life despite us seeing each other around nearly everyday. I know better than to give them the pleasure by answering them back.


So to all the people out there who have ever been attacked for expressing their opinion:

Do not stop doing so. Your opinion counts just as anyone else’s and it is golden. After all, our generation will be in charge of the world one day and we are going to have to speak out if we disagree with what the “experts” are doing. Just like Michelle Obama said, “when they go low, we go high”.

Make your voice heard, it’s worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

= Postcards =

Postcard (n.) – a card for sending a message by post without an envelope, typically having a photograph or other illustration on one side.

The earliest picture postcard was posted in London to the writer Theodore Hook in 1840. The illustration on this card was hand-painted, and it bore a penny black stamp (the world’s first adhesive postage stamp). Hook probably created and posted this card to himself as a practical joke on the postal service, since the illustration was in actual fact a caricature of workers in the post office. As amusing as this might have been for him at the time, he would have most likely been far from laughing had he known that in 2002 his postcard would sell for a record £31,750.

A postcard is the one thing you are guaranteed to see at almost every shop – nothing peculiar there. What is actually peculiar is that, despite them being an icon and a vital part of any holiday, they aren’t often bought, let alone sent.

In the past (pre-social media days) it was much more common for people to be seen making a beeline for the postcard stand outside a shop and spending some minutes examining each one, turning the rotating stand t-01tourism_jpg.jpg(to the annoyance of the ones on the other side of it). Postcards bought and stamps collected, a good half hour or so would then be spent reclined on a deck chair on a sandy beach, 26d44b2444d1c7ef699181939654410e.jpgsoaking up the Sicilian summer sunshine, or perhaps lounging on a sofa in the reception of a luxurious hotel in the middle of Prague – either way, a whole lot of postcard writing would be done. Little sketches of the day’s many enchanting and peculiar sights would be nestled between the short recounts on the few lines provided. Addresses jotted down, stamps licked and pasted, foreheads wiped from a hard time of writing (in the case of there being a large number of expectant people waiting to receive a postcard) and your postcards would be ready to be sent.

Besides sending postcards, it is a joy to receive them. It was quite a surprise when I’d ad12d6aac2f40f49a5a7373fb3a45a0e.jpgreceived postcards which had been posted weeks before from a country nestled halfway around the world.

I’m not saying that people do not send postcards at all anymore; many still do. It’s just that with so many people’s lives revolving around social media today we sometimes tend to forget that a tangible memory – a private one –  can be much more special than one posted on your online profile. Also, don’t get me wrong; sometimes it’s much more convenient to share your holiday memories online rather than by sending them by post.

All the same postcards should not die out. No amount of online albums could replace a precious personal collection of postcards.

Hope you enjoyed this post, although I must say that it’s a dozen times the length of an actual postcard! (Good thing it’s titled ‘Postcards‘ as a plural, huh?)

See you again soon,

Meg   🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The Glory of Old Films

 

Hello readers!

Some of you were no doubt around in the time when black-and-white films were the only kind available (i.e. ones in colour didn’t yet exist).

We’re now living in the age of special effects; films mostly being completely constructed ET_Moon.jpgout of computer-generated images. Most modern films are fantastic. Films like E.T. (released in 1982; not that modern, but I use ‘modern’ to describe films made in the computer age) could not have been created without a few special effects done on computer; the bicycle scene is what comes to mind when I think of this film.

Other films like Star Wars, Harry Potter and – much more recently – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are all crazily imaginative films. They are all full of the most amazing mythical beasts, space ships (in Star Wars‘ case) and magical happenings, mostly thanks to special effects edited into the shots. So how were black-and-white films so creative and captivating without all of that?thumbnail_20160811_181131

The Dance Routines (and perfect dance partners)

Think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: their dance routines were legendary and brought even the dullest ballroom to life with their jazzy tap steps. Their outfits also helped with the ‘no colour’ effect, though. Fred always wore a black suit with white trimmings to reflect the light and Ginger’s dresses often contained a dark colour and a lighter one rather than one solid colour, just like in the drawing I did of them opposite.

The Musical Numbers

Singin’ In The Rain is another great example, although I must admit that the only part of the film I’ve watched is the short scene when Gene Kelly is dancing (and singing) in a downpour, using his umbrella as a prop rather than as a shelter. There never will be another musical number in film that measures up with it, I’m untitledsure.

The Humour

I’ve been meaning to watch Roman Holiday for ages, and only watched it recently. It’s a black-and-white film, but as with Fred and Ginger films, it’s full of life and humour. Watching Hepburn’s character jump excitedly onto a Vespa and running amuck through the streets of Rome (knocking over a view street vendors in the process) was one of the film’s best bits. The film is living proof that Rome – not Paris –  is the most romantic city in the world.   Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn on the film’s  iconic Vespa motorcycle, drawn by me. ⇓thumbnail_20160817_183752

 

Old films are usually brimming with witty lines; A Hard Day’s Night (1964) certainly is. Most of the film was apparently unscripted, meaning that The Beatles used their quick wit to come up with jokes and comebacks on the spot.

Fun Fact: The opening scene (when the song starts to play) showing The Beatles being chased by dozens of screaming fans wbdbf9cdc09ec879f119dd489f68592fe.jpgas completely unscripted.

 

 

 

The Film Plot

Sometimes films can be stereotypical. It’s the kind of films with original plots full of sudden changes and a turn of events that really captivate you. A case in point would be 4abb781b3764ca0e0e79ab2c49f498a1.jpgRolf Gruber from The Sound of Music: he appears at first as a charming Austrian fellow whom Liesl Van Trapp is in love with, but later reveals himself as a Nazi and betrays the Van Trapp family – ‘nough said.

 

There are far too many glorious films to write about, so I’ll stop here.

 

Until next time, then.

Meg 

 

 

 

 

 

‘*’* Happy New Year *’*’

To all my dear readers,

I can’t tell you how happy and grateful I am that you’ve carried on reading my blog ever since I started it up in the first week of February this year. Thank you so much!

Since I am not very good at writing lengthy end-of-year posts, I’d just like to finish by wishing you all a wonderfully happy new year. So here it is:

*Cue the fireworks*

>>>>>  HAPPY  NEW  YEAR! <<<<<

I’ll be writing again soon .

Meg  🙂