The Neighbourhood of a Genius

For as long as I can remember, my grandparents have had an embroidered picture of a flower in their kitchen, with a quote underneath: A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Although I’ve seen those words every time I sit at their kitchen  table, I didn’t always know the source of the words. But now, having an interest in poetry and in the Romantic period in general, I do– those words hail from the mind of John Keats, one of the English language’s greatest poets.

Now that I know Keats’s work, I deeply appreciate it. He is one of my favourite poets, and I especially appreciate the sense of fruitlessness yet emotional intensity in his work. I can be dramatic; so the tragedy of his life (which spills over into his work) resonates with me. Keats suffered from bouts of depression, and since I have always felt things deeply I can feel the emotion in his poems. My favourite poem is 1818’s When I have Fears that I may Cease to Be— this poem is so poignant when one considers that Keats did in fact die young.

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Keats wrote much of his poetry at this house in Hampstead, which I visited this past April.

On my latest trip to London, I was determined to do things more unusual than the standard tourist attractions. So visiting Keats House was the perfect thing! Although visitors can go inside the house, my mum and I just walked around outside in the beautiful, if small, grounds. Fittingly, there were several people sitting outside, each with a book in their hands.

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The rear facade of Keats House. Keats lived here during the beginning of his sadly doomed engagement to Fanny Brawne.

It was amazing to be walking the grounds where Keats walked, and where he perhaps sat on the grass and wrote poetry– but I also appreciated Keats House for its architecture. I love the symmetry and purpose of Georgian buildings, and Keats House really is striking. Set against the lush green grass and the gnarly, still-bare trees, it was absolutely beautiful.

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The front door of Keats House, known in his day as Wentworth Place

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A small plaque remembers Keats

The neighbourhood surrounding Keats House is also lovely. Hampstead Heath is only five minutes away, and the area is hilly and historic. It has a quieter, more village-y feel than much of London, but there is still no shortage of things going on!

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A road not far from Keats House

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A picturesque square and pub near Hampstead Heath rail station

I can see why Keats spent some of his most productive years in this area. Being in such a beautiful setting, and being near to Fanny Brawne must have given him such inspiration. I look forward to one day returning to Keats House– this time with a pencil and paper, so perhaps I can create something amazing in the same way he did.

 

 

The Loveliness of London

My dad and brother are currently enjoying a week-long trip to London, and are making a point of touring all the best pubs and military museums. Needless to say, I am jealous! But I’ve been trying to combat this jealousy by enjoying some British delights of my own at home– I’ve been drinking lots of tea, eating way too many chips, and watching  a few hours of British telly almost every night. It’s nothing like actually being there, but it helps. So with my mind on London, I figured this would be the perfect time to revisit some of the reasons I miss and love this great city so much! All photos are from my most recent trip to London (in April of 2015) and I do hope you enjoy them.

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London has some amazing river views, like this one of St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Thames is the very heart of England’s capital

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London is full of fabulous cars, thanks to its general affluence, history, and reasonable climate. I never see cars as unusual as this vintage Bentley in Canada

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Even small supermarkets offer great food. On my last night in London I enjoyed Kentish ale, a butter chicken sandwich, and crisps

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Whispers of World War II are all around London. This scene is from the Churchill War Rooms beneath Whitehall

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The age of London is incredible. This hatter’s shop dates from 1676

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Highgate Cemetery was one of the most memorable places I’ve visited anywhere in the world. It’s one of London’s most unique attractions

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In London, one can get (relatively) close to royalty. These are the stables in the Royal Mews, which house Her Majesty’s carriage horses

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London’s green spaces and gardens are superb, considering it’s such a metropolis. This lovely water garden is at Kensington Palace

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London wouldn’t be London without its pubs.

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Every pub has a story, and each one is unique despite the fact that many are now controlled by breweries and offer set menus. 

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Pub grub and the friendly pub atmosphere are sorely missed when I’m back in Canada. Although many establishments try, there’s nothing that comes close to an authentic pub around here.

A Thankful Weekend

As a very talented worrier, I find that it’s important to consciously stay thankful for the positive things in life. Although I hope I’m not a negative person, things can overwhelm me and I often become very anxious when surrounded by change or uncertainty. There are many ways in which I try to stay thankful– I pray a lot, and every night before bed I write down all the things I’m grateful for that day. Also I try to live in the moment and enjoy things instead of worrying about them. It’s challenging for me, but I think I’m getting better. Of course, Thanksgiving fell last weekend and was the “official” day for being thankful. With this post, I wanted to share some photos of my Thanksgiving weekend while also detailing the greatest blessings in my life!

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I love the dramatic colours of autumn, and incorporated them into my Thanksgiving centrepiece

Over Thanksgiving I was surrounded by my family and dearest friends, which was wonderful. I’m naturally a private and reserved person and I don’t have dozens of friends, but that just means I hold those whom I do know all the more closely. Being homeschooled by a stay-at-home mum, I’ve spent an awful lot of time with my family, and I’m extremely attached to them. As for friends, I’m spoiled– whether it’s random notes left for me at work, kind words and commiseration when I’m having a stressful day, an unexpected ride to a restaurant on my lunch break, or unwavering support and advice through all of life’s painful challenges, my friends always surprise me. I am deeply blessed to have all these amazing and unique people in my life!

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I must say, I’m always grateful to have a pint of London Pride!!

Most of my time now is spent at the Barrie Mitsubishi dealership; and although it’s becoming increasingly stressful and busy at work, I am really glad to have this job. It came about so unexpectedly and it honestly has done wonders for not only my bank account but also my skills and confidence. Now that I spend my days interacting with new people, lifting 18” tyres, and cleaning cars to a high standard, I have much more confidence in my physical abilities as well as myself as a person. Working at Mitsubishi has had such an effect on me, and it’s a shame that this effect can’t really be put into words or measured with numbers!

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Goose was on the menu– I’m fortunate to live in a country where food is varied and plentiful

Of course, I am so grateful for the usual things like food, warmth, and shelter. But I’m also blessed to be able to pursue awesome activities such as ice hockey, writing, and travelling. There are so many leisure activities which millions of people around the world would count as luxuries and would simply not have the means to pursue.

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This Thanksgiving I was brave (or resigned) enough to eat some swede– and I actually enjoyed it!

Being British, both in citizenship and in personal identity, is also a great blessing and a huge source of pride for me. I’m so glad that my dad is a Londoner and that I’ve been able to visit Britain so many times. I can’t believe sometimes that I’m actually part of the greatest culture in the world– Great Britain is a model of success for many nations, and British culture has an unmistakeable appeal worldwide. It’s a privilege to be a Brit, and although one can’t help where one is born, I’m grateful that I’m British!

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My dog Crumpet tucking in healthily to his portion of goose. He is a true Jacobs and loves his food!

Crumpet is something I’m thankful for every single day. It’s such a delight to see a happy jumping dog at the door after a long day at work, and Crumpet has such a sweet personality. Actually he’s quite a miscreant at times, but even when he steals my socks or shreds the contents of my Kleenex box, I can’t help but love him.

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My mum makes the best apple crisp ever. It’s a perfect way to celebrate the occasion of Thanksgiving!

There are so many things I have to be thankful for. Even on miserable days when I feel hopeless and upset, I can always think of a few blessings to record before bed in my little book of blessings– even if they’re as seemingly trivial and omnipresent as sunshine or my driver’s license! This post is late for Thanksgiving, but I believe that the point of Thanksgiving is to mark something we should be doing all the time. I know I have to– being grateful doesn’t even have to align with a religion or belief system, it’s just a positive way to live life. Consciously being grateful has certainly helped me to enjoy myself more and make more out of my life!

Austenesque

Last week I did something I hadn’t done in over a decade– which is quite significant, since I’m only two decades old. In a real throwback to my childhood, I watched the 1995 TV adaption of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice! When I was very young, my family would begin watching the series and then more often than not would end up watching most of the six episodes in one go. I found Austen’s world enthralling back then, and this time round I felt exactly the same! I love the social etiquette and intricacy of the class system of the Regency and Georgian periods; and Austen’s clever observations and vivacious characters have always appealed to me as well. The fashions of this era weren’t too bad either– and they inspired my latest Polyvore creation.Austenesque

 

Austenesque by adairjacobs on Polyvore
An Austenesque outfit created on Polyvore is never going to be truly authentic, but at least I believe mine looks reasonably decent. An Empire waisted dress is a requisite, and this one is appropriate due to its intricate workmanship and pale colour. A bold bolero jacket adds drama (which I love when it comes to fashion), and this is tempered by the unobtrusive pumps and gorgeous gemstone jewellery. Nude nail polish and a dove grey clutch finish this lovely look which alludes to an era without overdoing it.

Remembering the Few

There was much fanfare across the pond a few weeks ago over the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and rightly so… various memorial services were well-documented and I kept seeing photos and accounts of them online. Of course, this made me wish I could be back in England to take part in them and mark this special occasion in the place where it happened! But my city of Barrie, although small and relatively unconnected to events of the Battle of Britain, marked the anniversary with a parade which I was only too glad to attend.

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A pipe band opened the parade– I used to be terrified of bagpipes when I was little, but they are such a part of military tradition!

On the negative side, the parade was poorly advertised and there was a small turnout. Still, main street was shut for the parade and there were some members of the public in attendance. Plus the weather was beautiful!

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I was happy to see some veterans in the parade. Nowadays these are the few

Since the crowds were sparse, I was able to stand right near the road and I had a good few of everything. First came the pipe band, then veterans, then serving members of the Canadian Forces, and then cadets. It was encouraging to see so many successors of those brave young men who defended the skies over Britain in 1940.

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The Canadian flag passes in front of RCAF members at attention

During the parade there were two minutes of silence, a laying of wreaths, and a singing of anthems– it was fitting indeed that we sang both O Canada and God Save the Queen. Although I got the feeling that my London-born father and I were the only ones present who were actually singing the latter!

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A view of the parade’s closing moments

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Barrie’s war memorial, which served as the epicentre of the event

Remembrance Day is still a month away, but this parade day felt similarly sombre and reverent. And even though Barrie is about twenty minutes away from a very historic military base, there aren’t a lot of military events around here– that made this one all the more special. It was wonderful to see the Battle of Britain commemorated; a battle which occurred so far away and so long ago!

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A veteran stands near the wreaths and memorial honouring his fallen comrades 

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When this memorial was built, Barrie was only a town; but although it’s grown and changed, the city of Barrie still remembers the sacrifices of long ago.