A Post of Vanity

This post is something that’s a few miles out of my comfort zone. Despite the title, I don’t consider myself a vain person; it’s true that I always take pride and care in my appearance, but I think that’s down to self-consciousness and fear of being ridiculed rather than pure vanity. And I hate having my picture taken– in photographs, I always feel I could look better. Plus, I hate to pose while feeling that everyone is looking at me.

I don’t have the greatest confidence in my outward appearance, and I know that in our ugly modern world many people feel the same way about themselves. That’s a shame, but I suppose it’s a battle we all have to face. And with this post, I’m facing it. As I looked through all my photos from London, I found myself either scrutinizing or quickly skipping over every picture which I appeared in; and that’s not a very nice way to be! So here are a bunch of photos of me in London– I was proud and delighted to be there, and not even qualms about how I appear should cheapen that!

Me St James

Revelling in the sunshine at St. James’s Park… how amusing that I am as white as the swans beside me…

Me The Dove

London Pride and an incredible burger at The Dove in Hammersmith… and I managed to eat it all!!

Me The Belfast

Peering up at the 6″ aft guns of the HMS Belfast

London 2015 Adair 854

 

Looking a bit windswept and dishevelled is a requisite when touring a ship moored in the Thames

Me The Orangery

Feeling posh at The Orangery at Kensington Palace… their afternoon tea was such a delightful experience!

 

 

 

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An English Evening

Since moving to our current address in 2006, my mum and I in particular have become quite active within our church. I was raised in one denomination or another from childhood, but now I’ve found a permanent home at a local Anglican church. Over the past year, we’ve put on a series of International-themed dinners; and the latest one (occurring a few weeks ago) was an English one!

Ever since we started our International Dinner series, I was eagerly awaiting this dinner. English food is the most comforting stuff in the world, and I was very excited to see what we could do with this dinner. Also, I’m always in charge of these dinners’ decor; so it was an appealing task to festoon the church hall with all manner of English decorations!

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We cut up plastic tablecloths and laid them out like the St. George’s Cross on every table. The vases were filled with faux roses (inspired by the Tudor rose), and topped off with England’s Royal Banner

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Our vicar collects international flags, and always supplies the appropriate one for our dinners

Our international dinners always feature plenty of travel posters– these were my mum’s idea, and they really give a beautiful, nostalgic feel to the surroundings. It’s always nice to see diners get up and peruse the posters before or after the meal.

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Although I was in England a week before, seeing these alluring posters made me want to go back at once…

We also like to include some sort of informative and fun activities for the patrons of these dinners; for example, at our Italian Dinner last year we had photos of famous Italians, and the idea was to guess their names and occupations. At our English Dinner, we had photos of well-known landmarks for people to guess at.

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Recognisable landmarks from all over England were pictured

But of course, the stand-out feature was the food! The very English menu consisted of steak and ale pie, mash and gravy, mushy peas, and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Everything was homemade– my mum was absolutely tireless in rolling pastry and making puddings in the week leading up to the dinner!!

English Dinner 003

I could have been sitting in a pub instead of a church hall with food like this!

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Sticky toffee pud is one of my favourite desserts, and we had people asking for the recipe to this one!

All in all, it was a delightful English evening; and it was also a successful fundraiser for our church! Now I’m just disappointed that we’ve already had an English dinner in our international series– I’d love to host another one quite soon, but I fear that our congregation may have had their fill of mushy peas for the time being!

Beachy Dreams…

I will admit, the beach is not one of my favourite places. I despise the feeling of sand sticking to me, and being wet usually means being cold as well. And it doesn’t help that my hair takes almost a full day to dry after swimming! However, I’m not a Scrooge when it comes to the beach– and actually, I’m looking forward to my first trip there now that it’s unofficially summer! The following Polyvore set is something I’d love to wear to the beach; it’s functional, classic, and beautifully ’40s-inspired!Beachy Dreams...
A cute and feminine halter-neck swimsuit sets the tone for this vintage-look outfit, and contrasts wonderfully with the more rustic aura of the straw tote bag and woven leather sandals. Pearl earrings and a very fetching Hermes scarf lend the polished look that every ’40s outfit needs, and the final touch of round vintage sunglasses is ideal for a day at the beach. If only I had an outfit like this one to wear, I’d be at the beach in a heartbeat!!

Memorials of London: Part Two

Today I’ll share with you all the war memorials I saw on the second half of my recent trip to London- I hope you enjoyed the first half of this series, because this is more of the same yet different at the same time! One of my favourite areas of London is Kensington, but I’m ashamed to say that I never even noticed the first memorial in this post before. Located in front of St. Mary Abbots church at the corner of Kensington High and Kensington Church streets, there’s a dignified and beautiful stone memorial. It seems to have been initially built in honour of the men of Kensington killed in World War I; but as we now know, WWI was not the war to end all wars, and mention of World War II was added to the memorial later.

 

London 2015 Adair 383

This memorial seemed to have an aura of tranquility about it, even amidst the chaos of the high street

KHS Wreaths

As with nearly all the memorials I saw in London, this one still had a number of wreaths laid on it. As it should!

Another very compelling memorial (of sorts) was found on the HMS Belfast– in her sailing days, the Belfast was part of the Arctic convoys which kept the Soviet Union well-supplied during the war. These convoy routes were fraught with U-boats, fog, ice, and general danger; and they were important to the Soviet war effort. However, there seems to be a sad lack of recognition for both the military and merchant participation in these convoys. That lack fortunately doesn’t extend to the Belfast though, and there was a nice bilingual plaque onboard commemorating a project which was dedicated to the memory of all those who contributed to the Arctic convoys.

Belfast Last Witness

The HMS Belfast is a fitting last witness to this “heroic struggle”

Later on, upon crossing the Millennium Bridge, I saw another memorial which remembered another oft-forgotten side of the war. It was a memorial to the firefighters who died in the line of duty as they fought to contain the fiery aftermath of German bombing raids.

Blitz Memorial

Tucked in beside a building and nearly in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral, this memorial could be easy to miss– but I’m glad I noticed it!

Blitz Memorial

I’d never even thought of the contributions made by firefighters during the Blitz, but they were certainly essential

Taking the bus in London is always a good idea– it might not be quicker than the Tube, but it’s a lot less crowded (usually); plus one gets to actually see things other than one’s fellow travellers. And taking the bus down Whitehall turned out to be a very wise choice for me, since I passed the Monument to the Women of World War II. I had no idea this memorial existed; but it resonated with me since if I had lived in wartime England, I would have had one of the jobs represented on the monument.

WWII Women Memorial

This is a relatively new memorial, only unveiled in 2005. I’m glad that the undeniable contribution of women in WWII has been recognized!

The final memorial I saw was also previously unknown to me, and it was hardly a unique or showy one. But it was everything I think a war memorial should be: dignified, understated, and proud. It was a simple stone cross in the middle of Sloane Square, and it truly seemed to anchor the square and all the surroundings. That’s a very moving metaphor to me, since war memorials honour the sacrifices upon which our free and prosperous societies are built.

Sloane Sq Memorial

Sometimes the simplest memorials are the most beautiful. This one reminds me of the unadorned crosses which mark the graves of so many thousands in war cemeteries across the world.

V for Victory

Today is VE Day to most people in the West, but because I’m so interested in the Eastern Front I tend to think of May 9 as Victory Day. This is always a special day for me; because it’s the day that saw an end to the struggle of a great nation in World War II. The Soviet Union suffered some of WWII’s largest and most inhumane losses, and the original Victory Day 70 years ago was the reward for the Soviet people’s fortitude and tenacity throughout this horrendous time. So much horror occurred on the Eastern Front from 1941 to 1945– you can click on these links to find out more about Operation Barbarossa and the Eastern Front! V for Victory
V for Victory by adairjacobs on Polyvore
This Polyvore set commemorates this 70th Victory Day by mirroring what female Red Army soldiers wore during the Great Patriotic War; and by adding a few more frivolous touches in the spirit of celebration! A simple blue skirt and and olive drab jacket were worn by many a soldier, but the pussy bow blouse adds a more fashionable feel to the utilitarian separates. A leather satchel and black leather boots are unfussy additions; and the pilotka sidecap was a wartime staple that remains popular even today among those attending Russia’s Victory Day celebrations. Intricate gemstone earrings reflect the mood of celebration, while also bringing to mind the folk crafts and iconography of Russian culture. Finally, blood red nail polish is fashionable and appropriate for the era– but more importantly, through its colour it symbolizes the immense sacrifices which ensured that there was a Victory Day in the end. I hope that this outfit befits an occasion as joyful, momentous, and poignant as this 70th Victory Day.

Memorials of London: Part One

Wherever I go, I never want to miss a war memorial. Even in Canada, almost every community has one; and in England, war memorials are even more prevalent. So as I travelled around London last month, I kept my eyes open for anything commemorating a war- and I was not disappointed! The following is a collection of photographs of all the memorials seen on the first half of my trip; and Part Two will follow before long!

Greenwich Memorial

It was shocking to think that 20,000 men were buried in the lush green grounds around us at Greenwich

Holborn Memorial

A memorial to the Royal Fusiliers, on High Holborn

St Bart's Memorial

Located at St. Bartholomew’s gatehouse near Smithfield Market, this memorial commemorated casualties of WWI

St Bart's

A surprisingly pristine wreath was still lying near the memorial

Parliament Memorial

Parliament Street’s stately memorial to the glorious dead

Canadian Memorial

The Canadian War Memorial in Green Park was something I was really looking forward to seeing, and it was wonderful in person.

Green Park Memorial

An amazing collection of wreaths adorned the gazebo that’s part of a memorial at the edge of Green Park

Green Park Memorial

Flanking the gazebo were two stone slabs; one commemorating the campaigns of World War One…

Green Park Memorial

… and the other focusing on the Second World War’s campaigns.

These memorials, although often tucked away in corners or set alongside busy streets, seemed to still be appreciated as they should be. They all had wreaths or flowers laid nearby, and as I was taking pictures of them I saw many people pause to observe them as well. I was so happy to see that these memorials are continuing to help us remember, and they made my vacation all the more meaningful.