SLIDER

1 2 3 4

Daytrips from Leeds

20 December 2015

I love Leeds, I really do. Sometimes though, you need a little break from the hustle and bustle of the city (especially when it's condensed with Christmas shoppers). 

You don't need to travel far for a breath of fresh air. If you're looking for a December retreat, here's where to venture on a day trip:

1) Ilkley
  
My grandparents have lived in Ilkley for the past fifty years, so it holds a special place in my heart. You can see my post all about my Granny's house here - my favourite place in the world. Ilkley is roughly 25 minutes by train from Leeds, and about 45 minutes by bus. There's loads of things to do here! If it's sunny (maybe wait until summer) you can go swimming alfresco at the Ilkley Lido. If you're looking for shops, hit up The Grove and Church Street. Go for a walk through the Riverside Gardens and along the river. Go to Bettys for a cup of tea, or Bar T'at for a pint. Then drive up Cowpasture Road up towards the clouds to the Cow and Calf - a variety of beautiful, jutting rocks. While you're up there, on Ilkley moor bartat ('without a hat' if you didn't already know), you can enjoy the breeze and the breathtaking view.

2) Saltaire

Saltaire's only ten minutes from Leeds by train, and is an amazing change of scene. It's a Victorian model village built by mill owner Titus Salt in 1851 for his workers, away from the fumes of Bradford. Once you've arrived in Saltaire, head to Salts Mill and if it's still on (!) check out David Hockney's iPad Drawings exhibition. See colourful, wild strokes blend together into Yorkshire scenery. While there, go for food in Salts Diner. When finished, walk around! Walk across the river and around Roberts Park. It's beautiful! Be warned though, it's renowned for being extremely breezy so maybe wear an extra layer. Head to Rad Studio and buy some delightfully cool design-led items. Stop. Breathe. Absorb. Take in the beautiful architecture and the history steeped within this village. If you fancy a bevvy once you're done, Saltaire Brewery is down the road in Shipley. That's the good stuff.

3) York

I find myself in York quite often. I have friends who live there, and it's also halfway between Leeds and Northallerton meaning it's a perfect meeting point for me and my more Northern friends. Also, I just love it! If you're looking for a drink, go to Evil Eye for cocktails, go to Leeds Brewery's Eagle and Child for a pint, and go to Fossgate Social for the atmosphere. There's more and more bars opening all the time. While away the hours wandering by the river. Go into York Minster and then through The Shambles, through the Tudor streets, and feel like you're in a Dickensian book/ Diagon Alley! For a coffee, venture to Brew and Brownie for blue cups and beautifuul coffee beans. For food, head to Oscar's for a varied, cheap and delicious menu. Head to Stonegate Yard for fish and chips and an amazing setting. There's also Jorvik, the Viking museum, and York Dungeon for the quintessentially York experience!

4) Hebden Bridge


Hebden Bridge is just like any other West Yorkshire town, except- you know- loads of awesome artists moved there in the 60's and now it's super cool. Honestly, I feel like I'm in Brighton when I'm there. There's vegan restaurants, independent book shops, record stores. If you want to see a film, head to Hebden Bridge Picture House. For food, go to Shoulder of Mutton - I had the fish and chips, it came on a fish-shaped board, and was bloody great. If you have the time, go on a Boat Tour along the canal. Pop in all the shops. Feed the ducks. And when you've done all of that, get the number 596 bus up the hill to the quaint (and slightly spooky) Heptonstall. Up here, in the ground of the church, you can find Sylvia Plath's grave. You can also venture over to Haworth (Bronte country) on a bus from Hebden Bridge - get lost in the Wuthering Heights!


5) Wakefield

My final recommendation for a daytrip is somewhere I haven't been yet, so I'm a little unqualified to tell you all the places to go. BUT if you find yourself in Wakey (about a 15 minute train journey) take yourself to Hepworth Gallery, as pictured above. Also- when the weather's a little nicer - head to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, an open-air gallery.

-----------------------------

Do you have somewhere to add to this list? Do you have any restaurants/cafes/shops that are a must-visit in any of the above places? Let me know below!


LIFF29 - The Year of Womanhood

13 December 2015

Last month saw two weeks of cinematic glory come to our city: the 29th annual Leeds International Film Festival. I was lucky enough to see a great variety of wonderful films across the 15 days and 16 venues. Within the flicks I picked though, a theme began to arise...

So, Many. Badass. Women. I mean like wicked funny women, intelligent women, women with flaws and imperfections, women with stories to tell, women leading - complex, REAL women. I can't explain how refreshing it was. Moreover, these plots were explored through the intersectional lens of women of colour, trans women, queer women, etc. These films were so unlike so many of the plain old, same old DRAB movies that flood our picturehouses - films written by men, directed by men, and half-featuring cis women with perfect bodiez who don't say much and well, fight over men. In my opinion, this LIFF was the year of womanhood.
Saying this, I did also see some great male-centric cinema. To the Centre of the Earth  was an aesthetically beautiful documentary about an Argentian man with a devout faith in UFOs. The mountains in his back garden become Martian landscapes. We're then grounded in the earthly, through static shots of his children. The film was at times a little unbearably slow, but visually it was very enjoyable. I also loved the Everyman Cinema sofas.  
Another slightly mad film I watched was Noel Marshall's 1981 film Roar. Right, imagine this: a condo in Africa surrounded by water, housing one kooky animal researcher and over three hundred big cats. There is no specific plot to this frenzied picture, only a long series of run-ins and close encounters between real-life untrained actors and real-life lions, tigers and pumas. It's ALL real-life. Marshall plays the protagonist and his family are played by Marshall's actual family, including a young Melanie Griffiths (his IRL stepdaughter). I spent most of the movie with my hand over my gasping mouth. The whole premise is just plain nuts
Speaking of big cats - swathed in a fur coat, with lips of matte red, Carol (Cate Blanchett) saunters into the Manhattan department store with the prowess of a lioness. Lamb-like Therese (Rooney Mara) notices her at once. From behind her counter, she shoots meek glances at this vibrant vision lighting up the grey. How could she not be instantly enamoured? The title character of Todd Haynes' Carol is glamour. 


Based on Patricia Highsmith's famous novel The Price of Salt, written under a pseudonym, this film is as aesthetically, historically meticulous as Mad Men. Carol, the immaculate blonde beauty is deliberating over what to get her very young daughter for Christmas. Therese, a shop girl and fledgling photographer, recommends their new, state-of-the-art train set. Thus, their relationship is set in motion, a chain of events negotiated by movement - forwards, and also back - that propel the two together.  
In cheap motels and in the seats of cars, Carol and Therese steal away from the persistent and clueless men in their lives, and find warmth and comfort in each other's bodies. Freedom, it seems, can come from being on the move; it's finding one's own space, whether that's intertwined in a tiny bed in a dark room, or in a darkroom. 
Therese's short fringed hairstyle is undeniably similar to Carol's four-year-old daughter's, a connection further implemented through two dual scenes which feature close-ups of near-identical photos of Therese as a young child, and Carol's daughter Rindy. This makes sense. In many ways Carol acts as a maternal figure to Therese. She instructs her how to put on make-up, encouraging her to embrace her womanhood and to not deny her own identity and desires.

Though empowered in their moments together, the film also navigates the fragility of the 1950's queer space. Outside forces consistently attempt to quell the growing bond of the two closeted protagonists. Rindy is frequently used as a pawn by Carol's husband Harge (Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights fame) in his attempts to block her relationships and friendships with other women. Her custody rights will be revoked unless she continue the charade of their marriage, and seek 'help' from a psychotherapist for her 'affliction'. If anyone, he and the other males are the real villains of the film - not the central women.

Carol is a story of mutuality. In her relationship with Therese, Carol's different identities can merge; she can be a woman, a mother-figure and a lover. Therese is also her safe space. In Carol, Therese finds a muse and a way out of the humdrum of her previous life of numbness - an unleashing of her inner lioness. Though their onscreen love may not quite echo some of the famous aching couples of Hollywood's history, theirs is a symbiotic, nurturing relationship, in weakness and in strength.

It is interesting to compare this film to John Crowley's Brooklyn, the opening film of LIFF29, for which Nick Hornby wrote the script. Both provide an insight into life in consumerism and conformism driven 1950's New York. Saoirse Ronan plays Eilis, the image of adorable innocence, as she leaves behind her native Ireland for a 'better life' across the pond. Ronan is a revelation. We see the world as she sees it - exciting, fresh and doused in colour. We also (intensified by her talent) acutely feel the excruciating pain of her homesickness, as she struggles to adjust to the change. 

In these scenes, one can't help but hark back to one's own experiences. The universal feeling of a feverish, gut-wrenching longing for a person or a place. Now, though, with our generation so swamped in social media and a constant state of connected-ness, it's almost impossible to imagine what it must have been like to have your only contact with your family and friends be through the occasional phone-call, or letters which take weeks to reach you. To be so completely isolated from what you've left behind. Yet, through Ronan's Oscar-worthy performance, we can all empathise with Eilis.


  Just as she acclimatises to the 'New World,' she is thrust backwards when, by tragedy, she is forced to return home. Back in Ireland, she must truly decide between the old and the new. She must also choose between the two men in her life,  the innately charming, Italian-American Tony (played by Emory Cohen) and the handsome, simple living Jim Farrell (played by the ever-lovable Domnhall Gleeson). What will she decide? Though two men bat for her heart, Brooklyn ultimately is a female coming-of-age story, of a girl becoming a woman - finding herself within the caving walls of dislocation. 



In Paul Weitz's Grandma, Lily Tomlin stars as Elle, a lesbian poet and grandmother approached by her young granddaughter Sage (Electrick Children's Julia Garner) to help her obtain an abortion. The film explores the relationship between the three generations of women in their family. Elle has become estranged from her daughter, Sage's mother Judy; Sage is too scared to ask her Mum for the money (despite the fact Judy is a highly successful CEO) because of her uptight and snobbish personality. Thus, Sage and Elle begin a journey across Los Angeles to holla for the dollar. I really liked this film - I like how female-focused it is, and I liked the idea of Elle. However, I felt the flick could've REALLY done with being a lot more fleshed out. There were a lot of allusions to, and cameos of characters (Laverne Cox, whut) that didn't receive enough screen time to be interesting. Elle even starts to become a little caricature-esque towards the end. Equally, Sage is frankly pretty bland. This film is brimming with amazing women- I just wish we'd have had enough time to meet them properly.


Tangerine was one of my favourite films of the festival. Filmed on a micro-budget, and on iPhones (right?), this piece of cinema made me think of Harmony Korine's work, with its frenetic portrayal of the reality of an urban area. Written and directed by Sean S. Baker and Chris Bergoch, it feels like it's been aptly edited with an Instagram filter, and at times juxtaposes this modern aesthetic with orchestral music. It shouldn't work, but it does.

The main plot of the movie revolves around Alexandra and her best mate Sin-Dee Rella, sex workers who are both trans women of colour. It's Christmas Eve and Sin-Dee has just been released from a short stint in prison. She's also just been informed that her boy toy/ fiancé Chester, a Kevin Federline/ James Franco in Spring Breakers type fella, has cheated on her with a 'fish' - a cisgender woman. Thus begins her rampage to find Dinah, the 'fish' in question, and get justice. 

Tangerine predominantly stars real people from the community - it's almost like a docudrama, except it's funny. Among the darker elements of life portrayed in this dingy, neon part of L.A, the film is knowingly humorous, and even a little bit ridiculous. I thought it was a lot of fun. It's great in the fact, by casting actual trans women of colour in the roles of trans women of colour, we are seeing a side of womanhood we never get to see in mainstream cinema. Usually, any trans roles are filled by white Hollywood actors that almost always meet a gnarly end... Tangerine, on the other hand, finishes on an uplifting note. The conclusive scene, where Alexandra gives Sin-Dee her wig after a transphobic passerby ruins hers, is straight up beautiful. There's such a sense of camaraderie, of love, of womanhood.

What does it mean then to be a woman? It's such a wide question with an expansive, intricate set of answers. Each female, of course, contends with different levels of privilege - with different barriers. We look different, we think differently (politically, logically), we all are different. Yet, under the umbrella of womanhood, we are united.

Through independent film, stereotypes can be broken down, previously unheard stories can be told, and the business, that has been for so many years so exclusive, can include. In the terrain of cinema, the future is female

All in all, I had an amazing time at Leeds International Film Festival. To me, it was progressive, exciting and just a really great thing to have happen in Leeds. I got to see a whole host of other features too, which maybe I'll come back to in a future post. There were also a ton of films I'd have loved to see but sadly didn't get a chance to - namely audience favourite Liza and the Fox Fairy

For more information on all films shown in the festival, head to www.leedsfilm.com. I genuinely can't wait to see what next year's 30th installment has in store.



Leeds Fashion Initiative - The Launch

25 November 2015



Leeds is a very exciting place to be at the moment. Sat in Leeds City Museum tonight surrounded by industry professionals and proper dapper men & women, I couldn't help but feel the buzz of ambition, of creativity, of talent, of something special. 

We were all gathered to celebrate the launch of Leeds Fashion Initiative -- the brainchild of Lambert's Yard, with help from Regeneration Through the ArtsLeeds City Council, and London College of Fashion's Centre for Fashion Enterprise -- a project aimed to invigorate Leeds as a fashion destination, along with helping fledgling designers grow and fly through funding and business support. LFI also wants to re-establish our city as the hub of textiles manufacturing outside of London. 

After all, we are and have always been a place built on attire - just look at our cityscape, lined with historic mills. Cotton runs through our canal; fabric floods our streets. We have lost our way a little bit, but it looks like we're back on track. What a bloody clever, apt setting we were in, too.

The impressive array of designers featured in the fashion show included the likes of Anita Massarella, Christopher Raeburn, and Giles Deacon, alongside garments designed by Leeds College of Art graduates. We saw exquisite tailoring. We saw INSANE cheekbones. We saw coats, we saw colour, we saw incredible clothes.  

I recently read this thinkpiece by Mick McCann for Culture Vulture, in which he argues that Leeds as a city can only truly shine, and be recognised on a world stage, if it moves away from the sweet, green, all-encompassing label of Yorkshire. It needs to be ambitious; it needs to be bold; it needs to be Leeds, not defined by its location in West Yorkshire, which has potentially dulled a little of its vibrancy as a stand-alone metropolis. We are bigger than Manchester, and yet we have let Mister Manc run away with the press, the praise, and the progress of being heralded The Only City of The North for far too long. 

It's high time for Lady Leeds to take centre stage. Dressed impeccably, naturally. 

Sundaze #5

22 November 2015

Sunday is my favourite day of the week. A day to relax, to unwind, and to reflect. This week has been extremely hectic for me, in part because I've been running around madly catching as many Leeds International Film Festival showings as possible. I'll be posting my review of them all tomorrow! Aside from the sick flicks I've been lucky enough to view, there's a few other things I've been loving over the past seven days...

Here's a little run-down:

Pintura's Winter Blend gin - Leeds


On Tuesday evening I was fortunate enough to be invited to sample Leeds restaurant Pintura's brand new Winter Blend gin and festive food menu. The Basque country inspired kitchen and bar, who's name is Spanish for 'work of art,' opened in March 2015 and was recently awarded runner-up for best restaurant in the national Observer Food Monthly Awards 2015. Walking into the sleek glass building located behind the Trinity Centre, I was immediately impressed by the warm, festive feel of the place. Woo Christmas! (It's only five weeks away - not counting or anything). 

We headed down into the basement gin bar, and were greeted by a nice big glass of their Winter Blend gin and tonic. The seasonal bespoke gin, exclusive to Pintura, was created in the Ginstitute on London's Portobello Road by manager Matt Coates, who opted for a unique concoction of warm blend of spices, full of festive cinnamon and orange flavours. Before trying it, I was imagining Pumpkin Spice tones, so I was surprised by the subtle yet inherently Christmassy taste of the drink. I loved it.

The Christmas food menu, which is available from November 27th, is GLORIOUS. It includes parsnip croquettes with sage alioli, turkey escalope with romesco, festive meats and cheese with slow roast turkey fillet, iberico blot, and house smoked duck, as well as calamari, and pigs in Blanket chistorra sausages with bayonne ham and pickle ketchup. To satisfy a sweet tooth, there's baked Basque style cheesecake. Super dreamy. 

Patti Smith - M Train

On Monday, my friend and I boarded a train from Leeds to Hebden Bridge. The woolly green of West Yorkshire countryside floated past and then surrounded us. In a little independent bookshop I picked up a copy of Patti Smith's new book M Train. Over lunch, we flicked through the pages and read from a segment in which Patti makes the journey to our location to see Sylvia Plath's grave, which we had planned to do too. I'm a massive fan of Just Kids (as I mentioned in this post), and a huge fan of Patti's prose in general. She's the most beautiful wordsmith. Simply, she's had a life like no other. Yet in that moment, sipping pints and hopping on the Horse of Patti's memories, we felt a kind of kinship with our idol. It was magical.

Kalyan Presents x Beacons Metro

I've seen Kalyan a few times now. They're a collaborative Dub, Soul, Jazz and Rock infused Leeds music group, made up of eight musicians and two producers. They remind me a little of Fat Freddy's Drop, but sincerely they're one of the most unique bands I've seen in a long while. As well as lighting up the Leeds music scene with their own performances, they also curate their own Kalyan Presents nights at venues across the city, including Wharf Chambers and Belgrave Music Hall. Last night I caught their takeover of Headrow House as part of Beacons Metro, also featuring Portico and Boomerange Parlour, along with other bands, DJs and artists' installations. The atmosphere was electric, with devoted faces bopping their heads in a state of musical Nirvana. If you can, I'd highly recommend catching one of their shows. Listen to them here.

Rediscovered Photos of the 70s Hollywood Skate Scene

This i-D article featuring Hugh Holland's vivid photography brought a Lords of Dogtown kind of sunshine to my week. Boys and girls with their long hair, tube socks, and knee pads, soaking up the California rays with skateboards in place of cellphones. The ultimate homage to an Americana youth forgotten.  Check it out here.

Have a sweet week y'all x
#LIFF29 Leeds International Film Festival - Preview

#LIFF29 Leeds International Film Festival - Preview

8 November 2015

On Thursday night Leeds International Film Festival blazed into Leeds Town Hall, beginning its 29th annual two-week takeover of our city with the film adaptation of Colm Tobin's novel Brooklyn. It was beautiful, emotionally stirring, and a vivid shade of technicolor. It was just a smidgeon of what's to come in the 15 days of LIFF29. Spread out over 16 venues - including Hyde Park Picture House, the Vue in the Light, the Trinity CentreLeft BankLeeds Town HallLeeds College of MusicEveryman Cinema, and Belgrave Music Hall - the festival will screen over 300 films.

With so many amazing flicks, both British and international of all genres and themes, however can you decide? I thought I'd try to help.

My top 10 picks: 

1)  Short Film City
Throughout the festival

Slaves of the Rave

According to the LIFF website, the world's first short film was made in Leeds in 1888 by Louis le Prince. This year the film festival features over 150 short films from 97 countries. There'll be competitions, themed screenings, and special events. If your time is limited, get yourself to one of the illustrious Leeds cinemas and watch a selection of these!

Sneaky Experience Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

3 November 2015


(Source)

It's Halloween Eve eve. With tired eyes and rumbling bellies, my friends and I hop in the car and drive down to Kirkstall Abbey. I always find it a wonder that such a beautiful memento of history can co-exist so harmoniously with the nearby cinema complex, supermarket and streets and streets of terraced housing. We park across the street and stroll down into the darkness. Are we in for a trick or a treat? 

The reason we're gathered here, alongside witches and blood-drenched vampires in the cold, is for the opening night of Sneaky Experience's Halloween weekend - something I previewed previously in this post.

We turn the corner, further into the grand granite, and there out of the bleak blackness erupts an orange gleam of light.  Spooky songs play out of the hidden speakers. A bustling, buzzing  courtyard arises with food, drink, fire-breathers and so much more.






Because of being so starving, we stampede straight to the food stalls. There's an amazing array of places to grab grub. But we're won over by Artisan Toasties, essentially serving up posh grilled cheeses. Right up my street! I opt for the beef version - beef, caramelised onions, and cheese - with a side of Krueger fries. No, no razor blades in amongst the chips (thank god) just a whole lot of Cajun spice and Cajun Mayo. What an absolute treat. 




Once we've tucked in, it's time to be spooked! We follow the ghostly man who has been roaming around, a bell in one hand, inviting the masses to follow him into the interactive board game. I squeal instantly. Through the Abbey walls, using our phones as light, we find the first Gatekeeper. He stands proudly at the entrance, handing each team a dice to roll in order to proceed. He bids us farewell and off into the maze.

I won't reveal too much about our experience within the walls of the game, because to do so would eclipse a little of its magic, no? I will tell you though that we screamed at the top of our lungs, had to pretend to be zombies, had our hair stroked by a demon barber, and I had to tell a joke to Pennywise the clown. Bloody terrifying but exhilarating.

Also, this is the scariest face we could muster...



We make it out well and truly alive, yet with goopy hands (due to one of the challenges) we head back to the square, avoiding zombies en route like we're in some kind of Halloween themed video game. Then it's time to prepare for the film! As the firebreathers The SteelCats dance and blow flames around us, we wander over to the bar and buy a pumpkin full of Pimms. I'm not joking. Other beverages could be found inside blood plasmas. All the points for creativity! After buying our far-too-big pot of booze and fruit, we join the ever-increasing queue for the cinematic lair. 


It's funny how far special effects have come along, isn't it? Wes Craven's 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street - the film getting the Sneaky treatment - is definitely more camp than chilling. Freddy Krueger loses some of his malice somewhat due to the hilariously dated sequences of him transporting through a window, or evilly licking his lips. He's super creepy, but more in a straight up perv kinda way. Either way, I wouldn't want to meet him on a dark night, or in a dark Abbey.

Though my nose grows a little chilly, our setting can only be summed up in two words (well, one hyphenated): breath-taking. My sole complaint of the whole evening would be that it would've been nice had our seats not been left out in the roofless ruins before the screening as a soggy, soggy bottom ensued because of this. Nevertheless, even with the very tall man in front of me, everything was amazing. 

An incredibly young Johnny Depp in a cropped jersey that was reminiscent of a female club get-up was probably my FAVOURITE part. Along with everyone laughing in unison.

If you get a chance to head to the adventurous pop-up cinema that is Sneaky Experience, seriously don't miss it! It was truly one of the best evenings I've had in a while (minus the resulting sniffles). 

Catch sing along versions of your favourite Christmas films over the festive period, and The Shawshank Redemption and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in March 2016.


A Sneaky Halloween Experience - Preview

29 October 2015

Can anyone else not get over the fact that it’s almost NOVEMBER? I’m nostalgic already for those two glorious August days of 30-degree sunshine we had. Now, darkness sweeps in at 5pm. The amber leaves swill to create a blood orange hurricane. The skeletal trees hang along the canal. The city grows spooky as Halloween approaches.

This week the beautiful Kirkstall Abbey will transform into a ghoulish interactive outdoor cinema thanks to Sneaky Experience, the Leeds equivalent of Secret Cinema. There’ll be face-painting for the little’uns, special effects make-up, photobooths, creepy cocktails, food and drink stalls, fire performances, and plenty of opportunities to be spooked shitless.


Depending how brave you feel, upon arrival you can enter into the Sneaky Game Changer -- a live, interactive board game experience. Hidden within the ruins, 30 actors will be waiting to thrill and chill you as you move forward on the board. You'll need to overcome numerous scary challenges in order to escape out the other side.

The film fright-fest begins tonight with Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.  I don’t know about you, but I reckon I’ll be having scary dreams for days on end after watching Freddy Krueger’s terrifying tango with teenagers on the big-screen.



On Friday 30th October, step into Bates Motel to celebrate its 55th anniversary as Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho gets the outdoor treatment.


  
On All Hallows’ Eve, in the shadow of Sneaky Experience’s very own handmade 12 foot tall Wicker Man, Robin Hardy’s creepy flick of the same name will turn up the fear-factor.



American Werewolf in London will close out the weekend on Sunday 1st October. If you’re after a supernatural way to contend with your hangover, this could be perfect for you.



Halloween is a holiday that always sneaks up on me. Weeks before the big event plans of elaborate costumes roll into my head, before evaporating into eyeliner whiskers. At least this weekend I’ve got my outfit sorted – lots and lots of jumpers. We’re in for a cold, dark, Sneaky treat.

All photos taken from http://sneakyexperience.co.uk/







Why We All Need A Bit Of 'Wild'

12 October 2015

As I think is pretty evident from this blog, I’m enamoured with the countryside. Something about tall trees comforts me. My heart pounds with an urbanite rhythm, but the fresh, clean air of a riverside ramble will always be my favourite way to unwind.

A few weeks ago, in the midst of a bout of cabin fever, I watched Wild for the first time. Have you seen it? If you haven't, you've probably heard of it. It's a film in which Reese Witherspoon does a helluva lot of hiking. The movie's an adaptation of the insanely cool and amazing Cheryl Strayed's memoir of the same name, in which she walks the Pacific Crest Trail from California right up to Washington State. She's 26, and flies into the feat while recovering from the trauma of her Mother's death and the falling apart of her marriage, which have catalysed into a string of dangerous sexual dalliances and heroin use.  Did I mention that the PCT is roughly 1000 miles? And she did the whole thing SOLO?


I really love a good Wilderness film, TV show and/ or novel – anything that portrays a story of somebody leaving society behind and trekking into the unknown. Into the Wild. Kevin McCloud's Escape to the Wild is the perfect example of this, following British families as they shack up in obscure, isolated regions of the world. I know it’s obviously contrived, but the premise is intoxicating.

Why do we, as a modern audience, fangirl so fiercely over people pulling a WaldenI can’t help when I think of Wild to compare it to another film I love: its cinematic predecessor, 2007's Into the Wild.  Both are lifted from true accounts. Both follow a young voyager, 'breaking free' from civilisation on some sort of endurance-based quest for a catharsis in nature. In Into the WildChristopher McCandless (played amazingly by Emile Hersch) goes in search of the "ultimate freedom," instead of enslaving himself to a career post-graduation – much to the chagrin of his abusive, dysfunctional, stiff upper lipped parents. "Is there anybody out there?" Chris yowls into the barren whiteness of the Alaskan mountains. "Guess not!" He looks elated.


Maybe we love these films because in this day and age the idea of falling off the grid, of going out there and getting completely lost, seems a little impossible. Both Cheryl and Chris escape with no phone, no iPod, no Netflix (and no chilling). The Millennial idea of solitude is going for dinner by yourself, phone in hand, flicking continuously through emails and Instagramming the whole experience #solo #edgy. Those who have bid adieu to the daily grind and gallivanted to the far corners of the world still keep my Facebook feed afloat with envy-inducing snaps. We’ve become so reliant on technology that it’s a little terrifying.

Look at us: the Boomerang generation – a nation of young people either living at home with our parents, or in insanely expensive cramped flats, sometimes working two jobs to pay the bills. We’re still incredibly privileged, yet, in an age of increasingly bleak prospects, we CAN'T HELP but romanticise the notion of a life off the beaten path. A life untouched by personal branding, social media, CVs, and escalating Council Tax.

The expeditions in Wild and Into the Wild are not for the faint-hearted. Things do not end well for Chris, the golden wanderer. Cheryl fares better, yet her journey to self-discovery is not without its immensely perilous moments -- for all of her inherent freedom on the track, she's still vulnerable to human nature. 

For some, wrestling with the Wild provides them with strength in the fact that if they can survive the elements, they can survive anything. I don’t think I’ll be hiking a thousand miles anytime soon, but I feel there are certain things we can take away from these films, books, and stories. For one, sometimes it’s necessary to escape for a little while. Even if it’s taking a week off work and throwing oneself back into independence. Even if it's as simple as taking a phone-free weekend, or going for a walk in the park without a screen glued to your face. Even if it's watching Wild and feeling empowered in the knowledge that no matter how small you feel right now, there is a big, wide, wild world out there. 

© paperback thrones // a wellington based lifestyle, travel and culture blog • Theme by Maira G.