Sunday, 22 September 2019

Project 365: III


15/365 - Sunday 15 September: I got my signed Playbill from Moulin Rouge! professionally framed ♥♥♥ The frame was custom made as Playbills are awkward dimensions, and it's all sealed up at the back so it's safe and sound. I'm just so, so happy with it as it's so important to me as it represents so much and was signed by one of my favourite actors, and now I can display it with pride on my shelf and take it traveling with me and know it won't ever get damaged. You can see my little New York snow globe in front of it too!

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Penny lane is in my ears and in my eyes

I went into Liverpool last week for the day for no particular reason. Sometimes I think it's fun to just go somewhere with no purpose in mind, and just go with the flow and see what happens when you're there. I've visited Liverpool before, back in 2016 I think? I used to be really into vintage and the whole 1960s thing back then and mostly did all of The Beatles sightseeing there is to do. It's weird to think that I feel like a completely different person to that version of myself as I've grown so much since then, but I remember really liking Liverpool back then and that hasn't changed at least. It's got a good vibe, and the people seem really nice. I couldn't resist popping by some of the Beatles landmarks again and it was really fun seeing it all (and I was really impressed with myself for remembering my way around and not needing any GPS! I'm usually not to good at directions)


Sunday, 15 September 2019

Project 365: II


10/365 - Sunday 8 September: All of the animals were out in the lane. Autumn is the time of year I'm most grateful to live in the countryside.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

You'll float too

I often find myself wanting to write about films that I've seen as movies are something I really love a lot and are a pretty important part of my life, but I get put off of writing about them as I've always felt like the expectation is a review with proper analysis, and I'm ..... not like that. And because I'm not very good at analytical thinking, I end up feeling like I'm not allowed to talk about things I've liked because I don't have anything deep or insightful to say about it. But I also know that that's really dumb, I don't have to analyze something to death or pick up on minute themes and details to have a movie mean something to me personally, and if I want to gush about a movie I've enjoyed then why not? So that's exactly what I want to do more of on my blog, and share about movies I've enjoyed from time to time. And I definitely want to share about It: Chapter 2, partly because I wrote about the first one, and also because it's been such a highly anticipated film for me (I know it's been highly anticipated for people generally, but I don't care about those people).

I've been a fan of Stephen King for more of my life than I haven't by this point. I was in my final years of secondary school when I picked up Carrie, purely because it was on sale and I'd recently seen the film and so was intrigued. I didn't actually rate Carrie very much, I don't remember why as I haven't read it since, but I quickly picked up The Shining as it was another film I'd seen (I've been a fan of horror and ghoulies my whole life - as a kid I favored Goosebumps and Shivers books above all else, and I was pretty young when I moved on to proper horror movies. Most teens use their fake ID to buy alcohol, I used mine to buy R rated horror movies) and I loved The Shining, so much so that it ruined the movie for me. I've read the majority of King's books by now (except The Dark Tower as I'm intimidated by the size of it!) and It has always stood out as one of my all time favourites. I was always disappointed that it hadn't really had a film version - there is a mini series starring Tim Curry as Pennywise, but it's made for TV and desperately feels it, in the days long before TV shows had serious money pumped into them.



I loved the first installment of It (which you can read about here) and even back then was immediately eager for part 2. I'm also really glad that they split this into two movies - usually I'd roll my eyes at Hollywood milking a franchise, but It is a vast brick of a novel and I think a big part of why the mini-series failed is because it's too convoluted, switching back and forth between the main characters as kids and adults and telling their stories simultaneously. It works in a book that's split up by chapters and headings, and by splitting the film into two halves it's the best way of getting that across without confusing the plot.

Overall both movies are really accurate to the novel - there are deviations from the plot, and the ending of Chapter 2 was completely re-written (with constant jabs at King throughout the script for not being able to write a decent ending, with even King himself getting in on it with a cameo) but there's not a lot from the book that I really missed as most of the key elements were there, and those that weren't I could tell why they were omitted.

The biggest thing that I did really miss was I felt the movie could of done a better job of delving in to the insidious influence that Pennywise holds over Derry. In the novel there are several instances throughout the history of the town where really awful, terrible actions have been carried out by the residents, and it's all because of Pennywise feeding off of people's fear and hatred. The two main events caused by Pennywise are The Black Spot, a club frequented by African Americans that becomes the site of a racist massacre, and the homophobic murder of Adrian Mellon. The Black Spot is briefly glossed over in the first movie, easy to miss entirely if you're not looking for it. Chapter 2 opens with the murder of Adrian Mellon which plays out exactly as it does in the novel, but unlike the novel there's never any reason for the scene being there and it just comes across as gratuitous violence. Derry is supposed to represent everything wrong and hateful in American society, a haunted town with Pennywise orchestrating and feeding off of every negative event. And the movie completely misses the mark on that aspect, and simply tells a coming of age story with Pennywise targeting a few specific kids - their own personal nightmare, rather than society's.

Chapter 2 also wasn't as scary as the first movie. Although I love horror, I'm also a big weenie and deliberately saw an early showing of It so that I wouldn't have to go to bed straight after and feel scared, but for this movie I just wasn't scared at all. The worst scene for me was with Beverly in her old home, but I found most of the scares were ruined with really obvious CGI, which was a shame as I remember thinking how seamless the CGI was in the first movie. I appreciate that CGI is hugely necessary in a movie like this and don't mind it being used generally, but it was at the point where it interfered with Bill Skarsgård's performance and made him feel less threatening. And my final moan is with Harry Bowers, a plot line that just didn't really go anywhere or seem necessary and I wish he'd been used to better effect.

Overall I really loved it though! I think they did a great job of adapting it to the screen, which is a bigger task than most give credit for as adaptations that stay too close to the novel usually suck as it's a different medium, but at the same time you've got to keep the original fans happy. The casting was phenomenal, the adult cast really did look like the kids grown up and at no point did I wonder who was supposed to be who. I really loved their chemistry and the dynamic between the older and younger versions, everyone was perfect and personally I thought the humour was great. Richie and Eddie were my favourite, and I loved the angle given to their relationship in the closing scenes.

I can't wait until it's released on DVD and I can watch the two movies back to back as I think that's how they'll play best. Chapter 2 probably doesn't stand up as a movie in it's own right, like you couldn't just see that one and understand what's going on, but I also feel like the clue is in the name with it being called 'Chapter 2' and there's no reason for it be a stand alone movie. I only mention it as I know that's been a bit of an overall complaint, but I don't see how it's a criticism myself.

I guess I did end up getting a little more analytical in this entry than I expected, but it's only because I know the source material so well! I'm looking forward to writing more about film and reflecting on the things I'm watching in a more personal way.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Project 365

I've been messing around with my domain name, I hope everything's working OK! Anyway, I've wanted to try my hand at doing a 365 project for years, and have dabbled with smaller term photo a days now and then but have never been able to commit to a full 365 as a full year has always felt too much commitment. But after coming back from New York I felt really inspired to give it a go, and I know it's not the typical time to start something like this but I also think surely there's no wrong time either? You just gotta do it when you feel like it or you never will.

I guess part of why I felt inspired to start this after coming home from New York is obviously I was documenting a lot when I was there, so it already started a bit of that habit in me. Also I feel like this is a year I'm going to want to remember, and I've learnt from looking back on the photo a day posts I have done that it's my favourite way of documenting because they're full of the smaller day to day memories, so are special as they're more personal. Also I simply want to get used to using my camera more, to get more comfortable carrying it everywhere and taking photos in public, and to also get used to taking photos on manual. I've had a DSLR for about 10 years, and I'm ashamed to say I've only ever used it on Auto and still don't understand all of the different settings, so I figure it's a great chance to learn all of that. Especially as I find myself relying on my point and shoot camera more and more as that's how I use my DSLR anyway, and I'm often unimpressed with the colours and so feel a need to cover them in filters. And I just really love seeing other peoples 365s so why not do my own!



001: Friday 30 August - Sorting through my New York memories, and creating a sketchbook spread of my tickets in my sketchbook.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

New York, Part II

I was in New York for five full days, and so was able to see four shows while I was there (although three different ones, as I saw Moulin Rouge twice!) The first show I saw after arriving was Wicked which is my favourite musical. I'm a bit of an Oz nerd in general and really love the original L Frank Baum books, and I really love where Wicked has taken these characters and developed them (including the novel by Gregory Maguire, although I confess I've only read the first one as Elphaba and Fiyero aren't in the others...)

Wicked Gershwin Theater
Wicked Gershwin Theater

I was really glad I picked Wicked first as it felt kind of comforting and allowed me to ease in to the differences between Broadway and the West End. It also felt really special seeing my favourite musical in the theatre where it originally opened and as such the original production, or as close to. My first impression of the differences between Broadway and London was mostly just the sheer scale of the theatres themselves. London's theatres are obviously really old buildings, and because of this they're really small and can be really uncomfortable to sit in. The Apollo Victoria where Wicked is played is one of the largest theatres, and yet it's probably about half the size of the Gershwin. I was sitting third row from the stage in the orchestra/stalls and could stretch my legs out in front of me and had plenty of elbow room and it felt like a real novelty. What I do like about the Apollo Victoria though is that it's all green - the carpet, the chairs, it's all green because it's Wicked, and I was mildly disappointed that the Gershwin didn't go to that level of extra. Also from outside the Gershwin is pretty underwhelming - compare that to that, you know?

I was really happy to see that the London production is almost an exact replica. I don't know what I was expecting, but the only differences where things I already knew about. There were some really minor costume differences (Fiyero's collar on his green suit, Madame Morrible's bustle, really minor stuff that only a fanatic would notice), and obviously some minor staging differences just as the Gershwin is so much bigger. In Defying Gravity Elphaba and Glinda come up from a trap door which makes it feel more obvious that they're in an attic, and after Elphaba's levitating spell the broomstick rises up through the stage - I always expected this to be a better effect than London where it floats through the air from the wings, but it just looked like someone lifted it out of a trapdoor and was kind of underwhelming. The one thing I really did like about Broadway was Fiyero's entrance. In London Avaric pulls him in on a cart, whereas on Broadway Avaric is riding the Sawhorse, which probably seems like a small difference but it's pretty huge as it's a reference to Baum and foreshadows Fiyero becoming the Scarecrow and is just a really nice nod to the original Oz lore (and makes Avaric look more like a chauffeur than a man servant).

Frozen The Musical
Frozen The Musical Frozen The Musical

The other show I saw was Frozen, which is a Disney film that really means the world to me and simply calling it 'my favourite movie' sounds too lame for how strongly I feel about it. I never expected to have the opportunity to see this show when it opened, so you can imagine how excited I was!

The set design was really amazing, there was so much detailing in the wood carving around the stage and I loved how the lighting effects made it look like it had been frozen. So much of the design, both stage and costume, was inspired by traditional Norwegian and Sámi designs and I really love the whole vibe it gave the show. Because it's such high fantasy it gives it a grounded sense of realism. The Northern Lights were before the show, and Oaken's Store was during intermission. I sat first row of the mezzanine, right in the centre, which felt perfect as I was close enough to get the detail but far enough away to appreciate all of the lighting and staging effects, of which there are A LOT to create Elsa's powers.

Frozen The Musical

Although I hadn't seen Frozen on stage before, I'm very familiar with the soundtrack as I listen to it more than the movie version (is it some kind of blasphemy to admit I perfer Caissie Levy to Idina Menzel? 😬) and it was such a buzz getting to see something that I know so well and hold so dear to me unfurl on stage in a new but familiar way. When Vuelie started, and for most of Let The Sun Shine On and Do You Want To Build A Snowman? I was actually crying because I just love Frozen so much and hearing and seeing it live just completely overwhelmed me.

Caissie Levy wasn't on that night and Elsa was performed by the understudy Charissa Hogeland. Her Elsa was very timid and soft spoken and it suited her perfectly (she also looked perfect in the costume, which I know isn't super important but I believed she was Elsa). Otherwise it was the regularly billed cast, and it was a real thrill seeing Patti Murin as Anna - she seems so much like Anna in real life and is so perfectly cast. From what I've seen of pictures and videos I wasn't sure how I felt about Olaf and Sven - they work as puppets, and it mostly looks kind of dumb, but I have to say actually seeing it on stage it totally works. Olaf was really endearing and Ryann Redmond completely disappeared, I kept trying to watch her but my eyes kept drifting to the snowman she was operating.

My only gripes were with Kristoff and Hans, which is a shame as I'd had high hopes from listening to their additional songs on the soundtrack that they'd been better developed (and I must add that my disappointment had nothing to do with the actors who were both amazing, but the way the characters have been written for the stage). The reason why the characters in the movie are so popular is because they're so complex and realistic for it. Kristoff is kind of an asshole to Anna when he first meets her and really doesn't care about her plight - and when you consider that he's a indigenous Sámi man who's been ostracized his whole life, why would he? Him gradually learning to care for Anna is his main character development, and so it just felt really out of character in the musical for him to almost force Anna into accepting his help, and they just tried too hard to make him the typical 'Prince-Charming, look-how-helpful-I-am-there's-nothing-bad-about me' character and so he lacked any depth and didn't really develop as a result. He was just boring.

And then there's Hans. Prince Hans, along with Elsa, is my favourite character from Frozen. He is one of the most intriguing yet cheaply used characters Disney have ever created, which is a big part of why he's so polarising to audiences. I could write a whole essay on how complex a character Hans is due to him being morally grey, a victim of abuse, and Elsa's one true equal. I love the song's they've given Hans in the musical which I think is what got me so hopeful he'd had a better treatment than the movie gave him, and I fully accept that there's many subtleties that can be provided in film that just won't come across on stage and so things need to be stripped back. I get that. BUT HE HAD NO GLOVES. I know how absurd that sounds, but it was the first thing I noticed when his character came out on stage. Gloves are HUGE symbolism in Frozen, Elsa is forced to wear them to conceal her powers and true feelings, it's Anna removing her glove that causes her to freak out and freeze Arendelle, and she removes her final glove as she's liberated in Let It Go. All of these details are still in the stage show!! It's still important symbolism!! So why isn't Hans wearing his freaking gloves??? He is the only character other than Elsa to wear gloves, and the only time he removes one is when he reveals his true intentions to Anna and thus shows his true self like Elsa does earlier in the story. His gloves are a major part of the story!! Of his character development!!! Also his lines are so rushed. It's clearly the direction, but during the reveal scene he barely draws breath between saying "True loves kiss!" and "Oh Anna, if only there was someone who loved you" and then he just launches into his spiel unfurling his whole plan, and it's just like, do you wanna let the audience take a moment to let any of this sink in?? Also his coat bothered me too. It's basically the same as the Arendelle guards, just with extra cape layers to single him out from the ensemble. In the movie he wears his own coat in his own colours with his own insignia, which marks him as the outlier. It just felt really lazy from the costume department and direction, and it hurt a lot as he's a character that means so much to me. He deserves better, and it was such a letdown as his additional songs are so awesome. I must stress that it was an amazing show though! The whole cast were fantastic, and if you're not as emotionally invested into the characters as I am I'm sure you won't even understand what I'm upset about.


And the things I collected!

Thursday, 29 August 2019

New York, Part I

Last week I was in New York, which even now feels like a surreal sentence to say and now I'm home it half feels like it was all a dream. I've always wanted to visit New York and see a show on Broadway. I don't know if I've got a 'bucket list' per se, but it's just always been a life goal of mine. I've been a fan of musical theatre for most of my life, since I saw the Oliver! revival on the West End as part of a school trip when I was 7 years old. I grew up just outside London and each year my school would trek into the city centre for a matinee performance, a privilege which I took for granted. I was probably about 16 when it went from being something I casually enjoyed to something I was passionate about, and I had wanted to make it my career but life had other plans (which looking back I'm thankful for as I prefer just being a fan, it keeps the magic alive).

I regularly travel into London to see shows, and of course New York has always seemed like the bigger, brighter option. Last November I decided that I'd had enough dreaming and wanted to put things into action. Moulin Rouge had premiered for a limited run in Boston earlier that year, and I was really excited at the prospect of it being adapted to the stage as it's always been one of my favourite movies, and it was starring some of my favourite American theatre actors such as Aaron Tveit as Christian. I had already felt a little envious watching everything unfold second hand through my computer screen, and decided to turn those negative feelings into something positive. I promised myself that when Moulin Rouge opened on Broadway, I'd be there and would see it with it's original cast. It didn't have a date at that time so I still had the comfort of it feeling a way off. For about a week anyway, and then the dates were announced and panic set in! I realised that I was going to have to buy a ticket on a random date and hope that I could scramble together a trip around it. And that's basically what I did, buying bits of the trip as and when I could afford it and hoping it would all come together. And I did it!

Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical

I still can't describe the feeling of actually walking down West 45th St and seeing the Al Hirschfeld up ahead and everything I've worked for and the emotional journey I've been on to get that point and the sheer surrealness of I'M ACTUALLY HERE, THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. Seeing Aaron Tveit walk on stage and know that this is actually him, and he looks exactly like he does on my screen but he's real and standing less than 2 metres in front of me was like an out of body experience. I got a face full of confetti from Danny Burstein's cane twice, I got to look up and see Karen Olivo descending from the heavens on her swing, it was all just so amazing and I was just sat there in awe throughout most of the show letting it all wash over me.

So, was it perfect? No. As a fan of the film it fell a bit flat in some areas and I didn't like parts of the soundtrack, but as for the overall experience of the show it's the best I've ever had just for what it meant to me to be there. And it's only after thinking on it afterwards that I realised bits I didn't like so much, I didn't care when I was actually watching it as it didn't matter.

I was nervous about the soundtrack as I knew they'd updated it to include more modern songs, and I was worried that might ruin it. In my view the reason the original movie works so well is because it uses mostly old songs it doesn't date it even though it was released 18 years ago. The new songs did work a lot better into the soundtrack than I expected, but I guess only time will tell how well it will age and how relevant it will still be in 20 years. The set was absolutely stunning, there was so much detail in all of it and you can tell it's a really lavish production with a ton of money being pumped into it. The entire cast were amazing, I loved how the ensemble stalked the stage at the beginning before the show opened and sitting second row in the orchestra made it feel almost foreboding. And because it is so different from the movie it definitely makes it it's own thing and worth seeing so there is definitely that in it's favour.

Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical

I'd heard horror stories of the stage door, but as I was front of the orchestra I got out quickly and beat the crowds. The cast were fairly quick to come out after the show, and Aaron was actually the first. He doesn't allow photos as it would take too long to get through everybody, which I was a little thankful for really as it meant you could enjoy your time with him without everyone sticking cameras in his face. I gave him my artwork which I was super shy about as no one else was giving anyone anything, but he was really complimentary and he was very gracious and kind. I met a few more from the ensemble cast too, but quite honestly I was just on a high that I'd actually met my favourite actor and he was just as nice as he seems.

Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical
Moulin Rouge The Musical

Because Moulin Rouge was so important to me and I had so many hopes pinned on it, I saw it twice. I knew the first time I'd just be in awe of the whole adaptation, and so the second time around I could take in the details as I knew what to expect. I also sat further back in the orchestra, so I was still close enough to be absorbed into everything but far enough away that I could take in the whole stage this time. I love being close to the stage as it feels so intimate and I get truly lost in it and entirely forget the whole audience behind me, but there's definitely a benefit to being further away too so I liked having both experiences.



And obviously I had to buy a few things to remember it by!

I did see other shows that I'll write about in another post, but as Moulin Rouge was so important to me and my whole reason for going to New York, and special as I met my favourite actor, I wanted to give it it's own post. It also made me think about how I'd like to incorporate more of this kind of thing into my life. I don't want this to be a once in a lifetime experience that's now in my past, I want to be this happy again, I want to make the effort to travel to see my favourite performers instead of wishing they'd come to me. And if that means cutting back in other areas and traveling long distances for just a day or two, then I think it will be worth it. Hopefully I can make the opportunity happen again!

Monday, 22 July 2019

The emotion it was electric, and the stars they all aligned

I ended up breaking my self imposed 'no theatre until NYC' rule and went to see Wicked on Saturday as several members of the cast were leaving. I wasn't originally going to go to their final show, but decided last minute that I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by and bought a ticket literally the day before.

I've grown really attached to this cast, and have seen them 6 times in total over the past 10 months. They're the cast I've seen whilst I truly fell in love with Wicked, and a lot of their portrayals are no doubt tangled up in my own interpretations of the characters themselves. Wicked and the world of Oz in general have really helped me to find my way out of a dark spot and rediscover myself and my interests, and this cast has been a big part of that journey. Back in September of last year I'd been reveling in the Wicked OBC and L Frank Baum's original novels, and although I'd seen Wicked 8 years before, back then I wasn't really a fan of it and couldn't remember much. I hadn't been to the theatre in years when I decided to go again and it felt like finding my way home. And it was this cast, and I can't thank them enough. Wicked is something that came into my life just when I needed it most, and this cast change feels almost like the end of a chapter. Not of Wicked of course, I can't imagine that, but I guess of that period of my life and the changes that are about to come.



As my booking was so last minute there weren't many seats left to choose from, so I was sat further back in the stalls than usual but it was quite nice actually. I definitely prefer being up near the front, it's just so immersive you completely forget about everyone else in the theatre and there are so many small details you just can't see further back. People kept going to the toilet and the ushers were wandering round and it was all a bit distracting this time, but I liked that I got to fully appreciate details in the set and lighting design that I usually don't notice from up close. Like the Time Dragon, I never realised that he moved so much throughout the show, I was only aware of him being used at the beginning of each act before. And a lot of things were clearer from further away, like the tornado and Dorothy's house flying past, details I was aware of but are much blurrier up close and make much more sense from a distance.

The best part of it though was definitely the atmosphere from the audience. We're generally a bit reserved in this country so I wasn't expecting much, but people were really wooping and there was thunderous applause at the end of basically every song and for Glinda and Elphaba's entrances. It really made it special and I was so glad to be there and get to experience it all first hand, it was definitely a show like no other. They also gave speeches at the end, and it was difficult not to tear up along with them, it was all just really emotional.



I was hoping to stage door and took my programme and a Sharpie with me for the occasion. I've never stage doored before due to anxiety so I really wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm really glad I did it. It was crazy busy as everyone had the same idea, and I was second row back so didn't want to bother too many people asking for photos as it was difficult. Sophie (Glinda) was kind enough to take one high enough to get me in it, and by the time Alice (Elphaba) came along people were leaving after they'd met her so it spaced out a little and I was able to get a nice shot. And it wasn't anywhere as awkward as I'd feared, it was literally just saying hello, asking to sign, I loved your performance, thank you, etc, it was so fast paced there wasn't even time for much else. So if like me you've always been too scared, don't be, there's honestly nothing to it and everyone was so lovely!




I'm so glad I made the last minute decision to go and didn't miss this experience! And the next time I see Wicked will be at the Gershwin Theatre in New York where the show first opened, which just feels so surreal to me right now!

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

'Ah, but there are three hundred and sixty four unbirthdays!'



It was my birthday last week, and I made myself a dress for the occasion from some Frozen fabric I had lying around. I spent the day down in London with my mum, and as I usually only go to London to go to the theatre it felt kind of weird not seeing anything, but my mum vehemently hates musical theatre and I'm on a self imposed ban as I'm seeing so much in New York next month. So we had a nice chill day and walked around the main city centre looking in various shops (clocking up 10 miles on my fitbit), and then had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe which I'd actually never been to before despite seeing them everywhere. We went to the one in Piccadilly, and the waitress told us that that particular restaurant had only opened 3 days before which was a funny coincidence as we were clueless. My last birthday was such an event with me seeing Roger Waters that this year was bound to feel low key in comparison, but it was still a really nice day.




I recieved some lovely things through the post yesterday, don't you love it when all of your parcels arrive on the same day? It felt like my birthday all over again! I ordered a couple of dresses from Chinese site Taobao, a site I hadn't used it years and felt terribly rusty with, but my shopping service made the process a breeze and I definitely recommend them. The beautiful butterfly collared dress has been on my wishlist for over a year and I finally succumbed, but who can blame me. And I've been after these limited edition Frozen dolls for an age as they usually sell for crazy money. But my patience was rewarded, and now I have both sets of Elsa and Hans! My two favourite characters, I just adore how they look together on my shelf.


Sunday, 7 July 2019

Eden Camp

Last week I visited Eden Camp, a WWII museum based in a genuine Prisoner of War camp that was used to hold German and Italian soldiers. I'd been to Eden Camp once before about 15 years ago with my family - my brother was into all things military, and as we were driving past anyway my parents thought it a great idea. At the time I couldn't think of anything more boring, but it captivated me and I'd been wanting to revisit ever since and so finally made the journey up to North Yorkshire.

Eden Camp
Eden Camp Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp

What makes Eden Camp so special is how immersive it is with it's interactive reconstructions that even smell like the period - you'll turn the corner and be hit with a strong whiff of coke coal or carbolic soap. It goes into these kind of details that you wouldn't expect, and shows the war as something human and illustrating what it was like for the everyday person rather than as something detached which is how I usually look at it - troops off fighting in Europe. It's a stark reminder that people back then didn't have that luxury of switching off from it, it impacted every aspect of their lives. There's even air raid sirens randomly going off throughout the day, warning you of a constant threat. It made me feel really proud of my country, of the unity, of everyone pulling together and making the best of things. And it made me a little sad too, as I can't imagine people being so selfless nowadays.

Eden Camp mostly focuses on how the war affected Britain, but there was a small exhibition detailing the effects further afield and an area dedicated to the Shoah (the preferred term by Jewish people as the word 'Holocaust' means a religious sacrifice, not mass murder. This is a good article). It was a really powerful exhibition that I found quite distressing, and at first I thought it a bit small as to me it's always felt like the biggest part of the war. But as the museum is focused on Britain and never shies away from the horrors and deep fears of what was happening around the globe, on reflection I felt that had the balance just right.

Eden Camp Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp
Eden Camp

I couldn't help but notice that everything was high quality - all of the foods were packaged in tins and paper and card boxes, all of the clothes were natural fabrics, even the cotton bobbins were made of wood. You could tell the clothes were better quality than they are now (and I've been dealing in vintage for enough years to know this as a solid fact). You had to buy clothes with your rationing tokens as clothing and fabrics were rationed as well as food (fun fact: British people were the healthiest they've ever been during rationing, go figure) and there were only enough rationing tokens for one outfit per person per year. Gosh, can you imagine that nowadays?? I'm not one for fast fashion and haven't been for years and I reckon because of that I buy less than most, but even so I can't imagine! It really made me think about how unnecessary and consumerist driven we are nowadays. I loved peeking into the reconstructions of peoples living spaces and seeing open brickwork in their home, their mismatched furniture, their minimal decorative aspects. I can't even imagine owning so little. I wouldn't necessarily want to exist like that, and I think it's important to remember that these people didn't choose that life but were forced due to necessity, but it does inspire me to waste less and think about my purchases, and just try and continue being more purposeful like I've been trying to already.

The war has never been a topic of interest to me before, as I said I always found it boring as it just brought to mind the tedium of my stepdad watching The Great Escape every single Christmas. This museum really brought it to life for me and I couldn't stop thinking about it all week after.
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