2010 was probably the most difficult, yet expansive year of my life. It was a year full of highlights, lowlights, personal advancements and setbacks, beautiful moments and amazing (and multiple) travel experiences. Reflecting on the past year, I've come to recognize each of these instances as valuable life experiences and lesson. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am (or who I am) today.
Also, I've come to realize how important it is for me to have stress-reduced lifestyle. At moments throughout the year, I found myself caught up in very stressful situations and moments. Ideally, I like to have the time to balance myself through proper health, nutrition, fitness, and rest. More and more, I realize the interconnectedness between mind, body, and soul and how these factors can be influenced by our surroundings, as well as the foods we choose to eat.
Here is a summary of some of the many incredible moments I experienced this past year, some raw food and vegan related, others more directed towards life, living, health and well-being (this list will also give you some insight into my 'other life' outside of Barefoot and Frolicking). Check them out in a mostly chronological order:
1. Meeting Barbara Hulanicki, January.
I first blogged about my meeting with Barbara Hulanicki, the proprietor of the famous British boutique and department store, Biba, back in January. This was an absolute thrill for me - I have been a huge admirer of her work (clothing and interior design) for many years, and have even researched her resonance in popular culture (more on that later). Not only did I receive Barbara's autograph, but I also had my picture taken with her; granted, the worst photo of me ever, but still - it is of me and Barbara! For more on Barbara, I highly recommend checking out the film Beyond Biba (2010).
2. University of London-Birkbeck College, April.
Some of you may know of my previous and current dalliances with academia. This past April, I had the amazing opportunity to present a conference paper related to my current Master of Arts research interests (Swinging London, youth culture, and 1960s British cinema) for the "Re-Living Disaster" Graduate Conference, held at the University of London-Birkbeck college in London, UK over two days at the end of April. I presented a paper discussing the 1970 film Performance (starring Anita Pallenberg and Mick Jagger!) and had the most wonderful conference experience with graduate students from schools in Germany, Spain, the UK, and Canada. For more on the conference, you can visit the Reliving Disaster blog, as well as a conference report in Scope, an online journal of film and tv studies.
3. Swinging London revisited, May.
While in the UK for the conference, I had the opportunity to stay with some wonderful members of my extended family. I hadn't been to England in over 10 years, so this visit was a long time overdue. I have always loved and adored England, specifically London. There is just something about the city and it's varied history that I find so familiar to me (no wonder my thesis focuses on Swinging London!). During my stay, I was able to research the many different sites and locations associated with Swinging London in relation to my own research on the subject. Constructing a map of these long forgotten sites, I felt like a veritable 'London' spy, unearthing the spaces and places of Swinging London - a budding cultural historian's dream come true!
One day after the conference, I took tea in Carnaby Street and perused the now pedestrianized district, which still has some interesting shops, and has retained a sense of history about its heyday as a symbol of youth fashion and culture in the 1960s. I just love this parody of Carnaby Street from one of the film's I've researched, Smashing Time (1967). After re-watching an Austin Powers film over Christmas, I've noticed the similarities in how Carnaby Street is represented and reconstructed in various films.
I pranced around the original Biba locations (the one on Church Street, Kensington, pictured above during my visit in 2010 and 1966). Each time I retraced an original boutique location, I saw my research come to life before my eyes. It was so thrilling to run through the streets of Kensington trying to relocate the Biba spaces.
I also sought out the original location of the Granny Takes a Trip boutique (my photo from 2010 and its original appearance 1967 (above). This boutique is located at the World's End, and interesting tip at the end of the King's Road. Check out this video for more information about this once magical place.
A stone's throw from Carnaby Street is the original location of The Beatles Apple Office in Savile Row, Mayfair, home of the group's infamous roof-top gig in 1969. Standing at the foot of the building, I imagined what that fateful day must have sounded like, with the streets full of radiating music. I had already walked across Abbey Road and visited the neighboring Abbey Road Studios, on a previous visit 11 years ago, so I let the one remain in memory.
Perhaps one of the more visceral experiences on my trip occurred during my visit to Maryon Park, a small space in Woolwich, which is also featured extensively in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow up (1966), another film I've been researching. This visit was undoubtedly one of the strangest experiences of my life (must have been the odd vibes I carried with me from the original film). Check out the link for the final scene featuring the tennis court (can you hear the tennis ball?). The park still features a sense of ominous uncertainty, and this is one of my all-time favorite film endings - dig that ambiguity.
4. Liverpool, May.
As if my trip to the UK wasn't already complete, I visited my dear friend Kit who is studying all things historical in Devon, and we embarked on a two day excursion to Liverpool. From the time I was a young girl, listening to Beatles songs ad infinitum on my record player (that's right, vinyl), I have dreamed of visiting The Beatles hometown. The music of The Beatles and John Lennon have played a major role in my life, inspiring my ideas and perceptions of art and popular music.
In short, Liverpool was quite the experience - a city both encumbered with the legacy of the group, but also enhanced by the various sites immortalized in song. Our first stop was The Cavern, the original home to The Beatles live musical performances, literally a stones throw from our hotel. Since reconstructed, part of the original cellar club remains.
Embarking on a Magical Mystery Tour (literally, a bus tour in the city) we were able to visit not only Strawberry Field (the site of a now non-existent Salvation Army home), but also drive through Penny Lane's famous roundabout under "blue suburban skies." We also had the chance to see John Lennon's childhood home, Mendips, which was a major moment for me, as well as the childhood homes of Paul, George, and Ringo.
My trip to England and experiences there will forever be with me - they hold a very special place in my heart, and I will never forget the kindness of those I stayed with. Stay tuned for my upcoming post, "Barefoot and Frolicking: A Year in Review Part 2"; in this post, there will be more of a focus on raw foods, teaching, learning, life, growing!