The Importance of Colour Harmony

Elegance, style and balance. When looking at a well designed piece, whether it is a logo, a website or a painting, we are absorbed by the colours. In designing, picking colours for a piece is not necessarily just about what the designer thinks looks good. Countless amounts of research have shown that people can be affected with exposure to colours, whether its a behavioural or emotional. It takes around 90 seconds for an individual to make a subconscious judgement on an item or person, and 60-80% of the judgement is made up by the colours the subject is perceiving.

To really understand colour harmony, you need to look at the basics of colour theory. I remember back in High School when I took Art GCSE we looked at certain colour properties especially the colour wheel and saturation. Anyone who has had art classes or studied design already know the principles behind colour properties and in particular, the colour wheel.

Initially formed in the 1660s by Issac Newton, the colour wheel is built of the primary, secondary and tertiary colours, in a pragmatic way.

Print

This colour wheel shows shades pastels, midtones and brights as well as the pragmatic order of colour. It can easily be split into different colour schematics from simple monotone, warm and cold and complementary.

It’s easier to separate the colours into temperature and saturation to describe their psychological effects so here are some of the emotions portrayed:

Hot – Aggressive and attention grabbing. Normally seen on news based websites, check out BBC, CNN, Reuters etc. They all lean towards warmer colours, whether it is is their logos or web design. 

Warm – Softer reds, oranges and yellows are more welcoming to us. Warmer tones are associated with inviting and welcoming designs, usually accent colours in waiting areas.

Cool– Purples, softer blues and greens give a meditative effect. Usually brings us back to nature with the association of relaxing flowers such as lavender.

Cold – Blues are associated with ice, water and freshness. Think a combination of blue, turquoise and green. Most associated with freshness these colours are often used in packaging for laundry detergent and air fresheners.

Pastels – Used to reflect the white space they are in. Often offices or hospitals will be painted in pastel shades to make the space look larger and more refreshing.

Pale – These colours are tints with a lot of white giving a faded effect. We often associate these colours with youth and innocence. Think to products for young children such as baby clothing and products. These colours are often associated with femininity too, most female products being pastel shades.

Brights – Usually the Primary colours or bold brights of secondary colours, think the use of these combinations by artists such as Mondrian or Andy Warhol. These are attention-grabbers and great for stand out products and websites.

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Now we have the basis of temperatures, it also good to know the break-down of individual colours:

Red relates to energetic, passionate, action, ambition, love, anger, aggressive and determination. In some Asian cultures the colour red is lucky. In India it is seen as the colour of purity.

Orange  relates to adventurous, social, communicative, optimistic, enthusiasm, falsity, superficial and pessimism. It is perceived as a sacred colour in many cultures, as well as eternal happiness.

Yellow relates to cheerfulness, fun, good-humored, confidence, originality, creativity, challenging, academic , wisdom, judgmental, impatient, impulsive, spiteful, cowardly and deceitful. In the middle east, yellow represents happiness and good fortune.

Green – relates to growth and vitality, renewal and restoration, self-reliance, nature, balance, possessive and materialistic, indifferent, envious, selfish, greedy, inconsiderate and calm. In western cultures it is also perceived as lucky, whereas in Indonesia it is a forbidden colour. In the middle east, green represents youth, fertility and wealth.

Blue – relates to loyalty, trust, reliability, responsibility, conservatism, caring, contemplation, peaceful, depressed, passive, superstitious, predictable, aloof and frigid. It also promotes healing and safeguarding from evil in a lot of cultures.

Purple – relates to individual, creative and inventive, psychic and intuitive, humanitarian, mystery, fantasy, royalty, cynicism, arrogance, fraudulence.  Purple has traditionally been associated with royalty and with that wealth. In Brazil and Thailand, purple is associated with mourning and honouring the dead. 

Pink – relates to romantic love, compassion and understanding, nurturing, romance, warmth, hope, calming, sweetness, naiveté, femininity, physically weak, over-emotional, over-cautious.

Brown – represents the down-to-earth, wholesome, practical, approachable, friendly, stable, structured, supportive, comforting, reliable, protective, dull, boring, frugal, materialistic, lack of humor, lack of sophistication, predictable and cheap.

Black – relates to comfort, strong, contained, formal, sophisticated, seductive, mysterious, pessimistic, secretive and withholding, conservative, serious and powerful. It represents masculinity in some African cultures and represents rebirth and mourning in the middle east.

White – represents innocence, purity, cleanliness, equality, complete, simplicity, immaculate, self-sufficient, pristine, terile, stark, fastidious, empty, isolated, cautious, plain, distant and unimaginative. Western cultures the colour white symbolizes purity,  peace, and cleanliness. But in Asian cultures, such as China and Korea, white represents death, mourning, and bad luck, and is traditionally worn at funerals.

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Let’s move onto the basic colour schematics. These aren’t necessarily all the colour schematics there are, just the most frequently used ones with examples.

Monochromatic

One colour on the wheel with multiple shade gradients from dark to light.

Screenshot 2019-02-09 at 16.23.43

 

Primary

The primary colours: yellow, blue and red.

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Secondary

The secondary colours: green, purple and orange.

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Complementary

Directly opposite each other on the colour wheel. Red and Green, Blue and Orange, Yellow and Purple.

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Achromatic

No saturation just shades.

Screenshot 2019-02-09 at 16.35.15

Analogous

Any three hues next to each other on the colour wheel.

Screenshot 2019-02-09 at 16.25.57

 

References/further reading:

Research on psychology and colour theory:
https://www.colorcom.com/research/why-color-matters

Useful colour scheme tool:
https://color.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/

Why I Love Pigeons (And You Should Too!)

Lets make things a little lighter after that last post… With a pigeon post!

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look at this one’s eyeliner

For centuries, countries have aligned themselves with animals in attempt to capture the essence of the animals nature and characteristics to reflect what their country brings to the table. Animals such as the Lion and the Tiger give off the air of predatory pride, other countries choose indigenous species such as the Ganges River Dolphin or the humble Dugong. America may have the Bald Eagle screeching freedom, but the U.K. has the humble Pigeon cooing for empty fish and chip wrappers.

Do not underestimate the mighty power of the pigeon with its long, deep history and long-standing significance. Reader; you may disagree with my writing, but hopefully after you’ve read my post today you’ll have a better understanding about why myself amongst others believe that pigeons are great.

There are literally hundreds, nay, thousands of pigeon breeds. The common mangy pigeon we see strewn about towns and cities are actually a branch of  Rock Pigeons or Rock Doves. We all are accustomed to the mixed bag vermin birds that scatter the world with their silly demeanour and discernible agenda, nevertheless pigeons exist as a comrade to us. So keep with me, I promise this is more exciting than not.

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Reliable Communications

Being the first bird domesticated, the pigeon has been used as a way of communication for centuries. Most notably, the pigeon seems to have a homing device in it’s brain meaning that they can return to a place even when they have been displaced for thousands of miles.

Pigeon post was indeed a form of communication, dating back to the Roman era with pigeons littering popular postal history up until the 20th century. If you have heard of pigeon post, most notably you would have heard about the usage of the birds during wartime, as the use of the birds were indeed a significant advantage in passing secret messages efficiently. (There are many reasons for this, mainly due to the lack of a human delivery component and that pigeons, to our knowledge, can not read.) 

The start of using pigeons as a general use of war communications starts back in the late 19th century during the Franco-Prussian war. After the Prussians destroyed usual form of communication for the French, being wired telegraph, the pigeon stepped in. While under siege the pigeon delivered messages of all importance outside to as far as Tours, a 240km trek for the birds. Pretty nifty little fellas!

Their war time service does not end in 1871, these birds were frequent flyers in both the world wars. Often shot at, the pigeons were mostly undeterred by gunfire often showing up at their designated destination, and in some cases saving many lives. Some famous pigeons include Cher Ami, who received the Croix de Guerre for her outgoing performance at Verdun. She is among the 32 pigeons ever to receive medals for valour and bravery during warfare.

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Cher Ami, the recipient of the Croix de Guerre. Isn’t she majestic?

Pigeons were also responsible for some of the first aerial photography in the First World War. Pigeon post, especially the use of war pigeons was terminated in 1957 after the dwindling numbers of homing pigeons after the war. I could go on and on about how pigeons saved us on many occasions during wartime, but I feel like that would not be too great.

 

Pigeons are biblical.

Well Doves are, and they are technically pigeons. Obviously the go to here for Dove’s role in the Bible is in Genesis, with Noah’s Ark. Noah sends forward a dove on numerous occasions after the punishing rainfall to find land, and hopefully the recession of the flood waters.

“And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: and he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, till the waters were dried from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned to him into the ark; for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in to him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth was an olive-leaf plucked off: So Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. ”
Genesis 8:6 – 8:11

Pretty important, but they aren’t just a religious aspect for Christianity. In Sikhism, high priest and warrior Guru Gobind Singh was known for his affiliation with rock doves and so feeding pigeons is not uncommon in commemorating him. Some religious groups, specifically in south central Asia, believe that when someone dies, their soul is carried by a bird, and in most cases pigeons there for flocks of pigeons around temples are fed in the effort to care for ex-loved ones. Another reason to care for these birds; they could be watching over you in a way that’s not just in awe of your sausage roll.

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Emotional

Believing pigeons have emotions is down to the individual, but I see no reason for birds in general not to have emotion. In exhibiting certain behaviours, it is pretty clear (to me) that they do indeed have emotion. Whether it’s pigeons preening each other, sharing food and resources in a pigeon-y friendship or traceable traits such as elevated heart rate and muscle tension when it comes to fear; pigeons display many different traits that can coincide with emotion. Much like us humans do. However, behaviour traits can be linked to emotion, they don’t always prove that emotion is present. So I leave it up to you to make a decision on whether you think these funny little birds can love.

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They aren’t that stupid.

Yes, they bob around and walk in circles and seem to have no regard for personal space but there is reason for all these inpigeonous traits. There have been studies, the most recent in 2017, stating that pigeons are more aware than space and time than we first imagined. Studies at Oxford university have shown that pigeons share the development of generation to generation cultural development, but instead of means such as behavioural development, efficiency of their nature has improved making them more dynamic in navigation, flight and intelligence.

There are published papers on this topic which talk more in depth about animal behaviours and pigeons with more scientific fact and figures than I can conjure – and I’ll probably leave it to them as well – that are floating about out there. Here is a great example!

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Recognisable and Relatable

I don’t know about you, but when I’m off galavanting around the planet I do get homesick from time to time. Maybe this is where my love of pigeons stems from. There is something nice about feeding birds, especially pigeons. The nice thing about feeding pigeons is that it can be done all over the word. Every continent possess the pigeon so being able to have a cloud of grey swarm over bird seed is a sight familiar to most major cities, and for that I am grateful for pigeons. Thanks birds for keeping me a little more sane.

 


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How Perfectionism caused my OCD

I know I haven’t been an active blogger recently and there has been a big reason why. And I am going to share it, as I feel like it’s something other people have faced or are facing. This has been one of the hardest posts I have written and rewritten; please be nice and sorry for my absence!

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Perfectionism.

The ability to not accept a standard less than perfection.

A personality trait that is often characterized by a person’s strive for flawlessness. Along with the setting of high performance standards and often accompanied by highly critical self-evaluations.

The ultimate problem with perfection is that no matter how hard you try, 9 times out of 10 It is completely unobtainable. True, you can be the best at something, but that does not equate to perfection. So, having any issue with perfectionism ultimately creates the paradox of striving to be perfect but in doing so you become imperfect.

I was diagnosed with Perfectionism and OCD in my final year of university. At first, I did not take it that seriously; until I developed anxiety like symptoms and subsequently developed habits to try and counter them.

“Perfection is the enemy of the good”
– Voltaire

The Lead Up

Before all this happened, I did have trouble with my self-esteem and confidence, as a consequence for being horrendously ill with a plethora of infections. I don’t want to delve into the heavy details on it now as it’s a good few months of my life I wish to forget, but the illnesses lead to some pretty nasty scars that I still have two years on. Over the summer of 2016 when this happened, I also struggled with trying to make myself less of the ill mess that I was and back to some form of attractiveness – something that is so stupid now I reflect on it. One of my main forms of income was with a Brand Ambassador company, I won’t mention the name, that were meticulous about appearance. The uniform included red lipstick, perfect hair, manicured nails and at least 2-inch heels. I was informed that as I did not upkeep my blonde hair regularly, I would have trouble finding gigs with them when I had roots showing, so I dyed my hair brunette. The jobs were not fantastic, it was mainly standing outside stores handing out flyers and encouraging customers to come into the store. But it paid very well for what it was, and quite frankly that summer I needed the money.

This was not the first not good enough feedback I got that summer. I was constantly reminded of this every time I caught my reflection. This took a negative turn on my opinion of myself, especially my appearance. When I had my blonde hair I had more confidence with myself and who I was, after being so very sick; so embracing the brunette change did not happen easily. Along with this change I convinced myself I needed to lose a lot of weight as I started to see myself as a fat dumpy girl with boring brown hair. No one would want that. I did start to miss days of eating and when I did eat it was once a day. I replaced food with coffee, anxiety for exhaustion day in day out. I started to sleep for only a few hours and night and wake up every day at 5am full of anxious energy. It was not good. I hit my lowest weight and dress size that summer, being 114lbs (52kg).

You can imagine my self-esteem and self-confidence was shattered. 

 

Returning to Uni

I had to make the decision of going back to university to complete my degree, or abandon it completely. At this point, I was already £40,000 in debt to student loans, most of my peers had graduated and I had no faith in myself.  I would be going back completely fresh. It sounds awesome now I look back at it, but unfortunately back then, I saw it that I was a failure in comparison to my peers. I would be the laughing stock for taking extra time to get that little piece of paper. I would be alone.

Registering to continue my studies meant I had to go with all the new first years to the main hall to manually register my courses and attendance. Something that I was definitely not ready for. I remember being so anxious that I ran up and down the stairs in the Arts Centre twelve times before going and registering. But I did it and I was going back to study.

Luckily, due to my involvement in clubs and societies, I did know a few people still knocking about at university, and actually made friends. I started to worry about having anxiety when I started to stop making myself run upstairs twelve times or clapping each hand twelve times. I caught myself doing it when in lectures when I missed something or during archery practise when I forgot part of my form. It was not the greatest of moments for me.

This vice was not sufficient for my written work. I found myself rewriting paragraphs in essay’s multiple times, and this perfection notion grew and grew until I just deleted the whole essay and started from scratch. Over and over. This would add hours onto my library sessions taking them to the small hours of the morning. I was overworking myself to the point I made myself have a sit-down talk to my personal tutor. I told him about the rewriting and the anxiety and I was referred to a university counsellor and was made to see a doctor.

“Imperfection and perfection go so hand in hand, and our dark and our light are so intertwined, that by trying to push the darkness or the so-called negative aspects of our life to the side… we are preventing ourselves from the fullness of life.”
– Jeff Bridges

Counselling

People say that talking is the best therapy, and I concur with this, just not with my first counsellor. The doctor I initially saw before Counsellor No.1 offered me medication for anxiety, in which I refused as I didn’t want to be taking any more pills. The doctor diagnosed me with a perfectionism-based OCD and referred me to No.1. Before this, I have had no interaction of experience with counselling, but was definitely not ready for the first few sessions. The very first thing the counsellor said to me, after knowing had issues with perfectionism and my image, was “You can never be perfect”. That was that. I disregarded everything he said afterwards as he clearly did not understand. He also asked weird questions about my family that had no relevance to the matter at hand which gave me good reason to just stop the counselling right there.
Instead I saw a counsellor from the university who got me to talk about situations that made me anxious and just confront them without using my vices and see what happened. Seemed completely insane to me. How can I just walk into a building I’ve never been to before without counting to 12 in my head? The craziest of notions, but I started doing that and also taking elevators to avoid the whole running up and down stairs issue. After a while it got a bit better, until I had an incident with my roommate. (Another topic that I will write about in a different blog post). I rewrote the 14000 words 12 times. But that has been the last thing I’ve rewritten 12 times.

Counselling didn’t help with the concept of my body image now that was something I needed to fix on my own accord and not by over or under eating. (Again thats something I will cover more on in a different post.)

 

The Positives

Not everything about the perfectionism was doom and gloom and here’s a quick summary of the best bits:

  • I got some of my best marks
  • Archery PBs were constantly broken
  • I cared less about my appearance *
  • Cleaning and organisation are arguably on point
  • Anxiety changed to confidence through perseverance
  • I moved country!
  • I can work in guest services everyday and not flounder

*I say this as a positive, but I did go up to 178lbs… so maybe too less caring.

 

 And now?

Well it’s now been almost 2 years that I was told of my perfectionism and OCD, and well some things are better. I don’t do the stair thing nearly as much and can happily go into new buildings without hesitation. Of course some days are worse than others. That is just how the cookie crumbles for me.

 

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Wow that was really hard to write as I have not told many people about this or the diagnosis and said it was anxiety as that seems to be more prevalent and accepted in society. Having perfectionism is a positive curse for me as it has led me to flourish and achieve my dreams while counting to twelve alot….

Please feel free to comment, like share or even ask me anything about this. I’m putting myself out there so you don’t have to.

 

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7 Easy Rules of Photography Composition

It’s been a while since I’ve written about photography and it is still one of the biggest parts of my life… so here are some of the things I have learnt over the past 8 years.
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Photography composition takes a beautiful photo and makes it great. It also makes you slow down the snapping and get you to think about the subject and also what you are trying to convey. After all, photography is a form of art, and a great work of art does indeed take time. That is part of the beauty of it.

1) Don’t Restrict Yourself to Landscape.

The only things that should ever be kept landscape is phone pictures and video. Then again these are just unspoken rules, but vines would have looked so much better if people just turned their phone 90 degrees to fill the screen.
Using a Vertical format for a landscape image does something magical to a subject.

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Aberystwyth Jetty, Ceredigion, UK – July 2016, Canon 6D 70-200mm f/2.8
In Landscape photography it is expected that you deliver landscape shots. However, to make your photography have an impact, there needs to be an element of the unexpected.
Additionally, a vertical frame gives you a taller area to deal with the foreground and the background. This really got me with seascapes, especially as sunset as it meant that I could pull down the colours of the sky and pull up the colours of the sea to create this balanced equinox of blue sky, blue sea melded with the sun’s evening display.

2) Lines!

 Lines are hands down my favourite thing to photograph. If you look at works by Rodchenko and the way he use lines in his black and white photographs, you may too be converted to the line life.
ALEXANDER RODCHENKO 1930
Aleksander Rodchenko 1930
Straight lines can be beautiful, but don’t limit yourself there! Try to find a converging point, get lower to the ground and take the risk of getting a bit dusty for a shot. Or just try out several framings for a certain line. Find a line that makes your eyes follow into the depth of your image.
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Adriana, Byward Locks, Ottawa – Canon 6D 50mm f/1.8
HardKnott Roman Fort
HardKnott Fort, Cumbria, August 2017 – Lumix G7 (standard kit lens)
A good way to start with lines is to find a good building and play around with the lines against the sky or finding the lines within the building itself and take many many photos of different compositions to see for yourself what works best for you. Back in 2011 I did this in a Sainsbury’s Carpark in the UK and found some crazy shapes and lines I didn’t think I could find in a carpark!

3) Patterns & Symmetry

We are drawn to balance. This is what makes patterns and symmetry so powerful in any form of art, whether it is written word, traditional art, photography or even music. Patterns can be found in anything from manmade materials such as fences, buildings and pathways or naturally occurring such as plants, landscape and skylines.

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Llandudno

In this example of the pier in Llandudno the use of leading lines only emphasises the symmetry of the pier. What makes me really happy about this photo is the colour palette of muted blue and grey that balances the symmetrical properties. (Of course this is just an individual opinion and some may not like the balance and colours of this image, but of course art is individual and the artist does indeed know best 90% of the time.

4) Negative Space

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Le Mont Saint Micheal, France – Canon 6D, 18-40mm f/4.0

Negative space can be anything from a plain blue sky to a low aperture mush of colour. It is space that is not filled. We want to focus on a single subject the majority of time so use this to your advantage. Arguably you can use patterns as a negative space element, so long as it does not detract from the main visual, you’re good.

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Lake Windemere, UK – Canon 6D 24-105mm f/4.0
Don’t be afraid to use backgrounds as well like block colours, walls, floor for negative space with a subject. Also filling the frame with the subject/object can also have an effect much the same as negative space.

5) Natural Frames

Let things get in the way once in a while. Sometimes not having a “clear shot” is more interesting. While trawling the internet for examples of frame shots its always pictures of people in doorways and windows and I feel thats not a natural frame. Sure it looks cool and creates a frame in the photo, but it is not the kinda image that challenges the artist to get.

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Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port, UK – Canon 6D 50mm f/1.8

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Lake Windemere, UK, Canon 6D 24-105mm f/4.0

6) Focus Focus Focus

Where is the focus at? Are you concentrating on something close up or far away, and if so what levels of depth does your potential subject have? In this instance, take off the auto focus on your lens and really get in tune with what you want to capture.

7) Make Mistakes

This may seem like a stupid point, but I can not implore how important it is to f*ck up once in a while. If you don’t then how do you know you have grown or improved? There needs to be the balance of amazing yourself at what you can do as well as having the ability to review your work and realise what you can do better or what needs to be improved on.

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Back in Black (and White)

One can not begin to explain how excited one is now the hellish cold of winter has thawed and the promise of summer is heating our frozen souls…. So why not celebrate with all the photoshoots around the beautiful city of Ottawa! I am very lucky to have a great model friend to join me on my escapades, so big thanks to Adriana for your stunning face and patience of a saint.

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Perhaps one of my favourite parts of the city now is just behind the Chateau, above the locks due to the big sky, the Gatineau hills in the background and of course the consistency of the lines and style.

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Something I wanted to try out was playing with a figure on stairs. After being constantly inspired by Rodchenko’s work from the age of 15, it is time for me to actually try it out for myself. In this case using the organic lines of my model in contrast to the consistent solid lines that are created with the architecture of the stairs.

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Another thing about spring and summer is the warmth of light and the depth of shadows that are created.

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PS-OTTAWA

Safe to say I’ll be using the lines the city has to offer a lot more this season, as there are so many opportunities I can not say no too.

Stay tuned for more!

Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #3

And so the saga continues. After being introduced to various aspects of coffee in Europe, see back to my Café and the Continent Post, I thought it may be good to share my thoughts on the Canada Coffee culture as its certainly…. different.
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Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #3 Canadian Coffee Culture

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So I can not say Briony anymore when it comes to ordering coffee at starbucks as no one can spell it so I go for Molly. Which isn’t always heard right…

Ordering Coffee – The Fast Food Coffee

(Not sure if this is just an anxiously awkward me thing or something others have faced as fearful foreigners.) 

Ordering coffee is a simple transaction. This statement has been challenging to me for a few months of being in Canada. Some uniquely Canadian thing, you can not escape from is the Double Double. What is a Double Double? It happens to be a coffee served with 2 cream and 2 sugar. Logical, if you understand the ordering system in this country. I wondered for a while why people would perpetually give me the funny look when I just wanted coffee.

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What I did not know is that in most places in Canada that do the coffee put the milk or cream and sugar in while they make it for you. This is madness. As someone who is used to getting the coffee and faffing about with sugar packets its completely mind blowing. More words to say at the cashier?! Outrageous. 
However, I understand the reasoning behind the order the sugar and milk; it does save the individual the faffing time… yet it is still a concept I need to get used to. And admittedly it does stop the days where you accidentally pour the sugar in the bin, and the paper into your coffee. This does happen more often than I would like to admit…

Roll Up the Rim Season

I mentioned this briefly in my previous post and I don’t understand the hype behind it. It’s all about the chance of winning – winning a doughnut, a coffee of a Honda Civic on a years lease. As I don’t understand it I asked my Canadian friends their thoughts…

“Roll up the rim is a Canadian classic, a Canadian pass time and overall a gamble to begin your day. Even though the coffee may be anywhere from weak coffee like water to week old cigarette butts juice the gamble of getting another coffee or pastry keeps us going.” – Mirre

I am like the wrong person to ask haha I hate Tim Horton’s! Even when I go and its roll up the rim I still get cold drinks. But I think people like it because it is cheap and good (I guess). And People love Roll up cause its like the chance to win on something you would probably buy anyway. It’s like if tampons came with a prize people would be like – This makes buying these more enjoyable hahaha – Maggie

I tried this phenomenon and did not win anything. Plus the whole concept of rim rolling is confusing and not easy to do if you haven’t heard of it before. Where is this hidden message? How do I unravel the secrets of the cup? One should not overthink these things.

The Rival $1 Coffee

So what I noticed while this whole rolling rim shenanigans is going on, across the road in McDonalds, there is a $1 coffee promotion. Coffee for $1. Thats basically 55p. Why would you go in for a roll lot of disappointment when you can have a large $1 coffee that actually tastes nice? Additionally you can collect the stickers on the cups so when the season is over you have copious amounts of free coffee. Thats a win win situation!

Cafeteria Coffee

I’m not sure if this is just an Algonquin College thing, but it kinda blew my mind. So there is a large variety of flavoured coffee. Not like vanilla lattes and caramel macchiatos… Nay, as in its flavoured coffee beans and that is something I’m not used to seeing regularly. I’m sure it exists elsewhere in the world but not as open as this.

coffee art
Some fancy coffee art from Bridgehead

*And finally*

French Vanilla

Why do we not have this back in the UK; and when we can get it, why is it so expensive?! I don’t know exactly what is in french vanilla, except for the vanilla of course, but it is pretty much a hot drink that rivals the godly status of hot chocolate on a cold rainy day. I suggest to anyone who like sweet things to go out of their way to try french vanilla as they will not be disappointed.

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I am an avid coffee drinker, and these weird Canadian coffee credentials seem to make the experience smoother and more enjoyable so I don’t think I can complain too much!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the nice weather before 6th winter comes!

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Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #1

Seriously been struggling with a writing block currently so forgive the ranty quality of the post!
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It’s now approaching the 6 months of living in Ottawa and I’ve started to get used to the vocabulary and the way things go but there are still things that continuously catch me off guard. I was initially planning on writing out one long blog post but I feel that some of the things that perturb me so need a whole post to themselves.

Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #1 – Toilets

AKA the Washroom. It feels wrong referring to it as anything other than the washroom now. So apart from the name, there are many things about the Canadian washroom that causes the “anxiewees”.
In the UKadia, the bathrooms vary in style but the general overall toilet is a cubicle of its own accord, sometimes being a small room that silences the rest of the world, or its at least a cubicle with almost total privacy.
In France, I don’t know if others have been warned about their public bathrooms, they have what my family refer to as “suicide loos” that often are just a porcelain hole in the ground you have to kinda stand and pray you don’t slip and fall into the poop filled hell that is through the dark gaping vortex below. Hence the aptly given connotation from the family.
I’ve even encountered the weird German toilets that are designed so you basically have to look at what you’ve created before it flushes, something that deserves a whole post of its own I’m sure, but this post unfortunately is not about German toilets today.
Enter the Canadian answer to the humble washroom….

The Name.

Bathroom, Toilet, WC, I can get behind those names for the place designated to the defecation. Washroom is one I am willing to get behind IF it was specifically a place for you to wash. Alas, it is where you do the business and the only washing that happens really is of the hands. There are no showers or baths or bidets, there are sinks and toilets. If it was a washroom then there would be more than a sink. It is a sink room with bonus toilets.

The Cubicle itself.

The doors are almost always shut, regardless of its vacancy status. This leads to the awkward creeping up and pushing on the doors, and praying people know how to lock doors if they are occupied. And if it so happens to be the most awkward of encounters of the door swinging lethargically open and displaying someone who is engrossed in their business, what do you do? What do you say? (I am aware this can happen in multiple scenarios across the pond but this has happened to me the most in Canada.)

On approaching the cubicles, the first thing I notice is the vast gap between bottom of the  door and floor. You can’t see anything but feet and what’s on the floor which is nice, but you also only want to see one pair of feet in the cubicle. Thankfully I’ve not been in the awkward situation when there has been that time where more than one pair has existed in one cubicle, but you never know.
This is not my only qualm with the doors. The second is the height of the doors. A good majority of the time I am taller than the doors. And with the, sides of the cubicle. I want to say I am bordering on the tall scale at 5ft9″ish (on a good day) and many of my friends here are much the same when it comes to vertical measurements… It makes things awkward in a way that you have to keep your eyes forward at all times, just in case you somehow make eye contact at the neighbouring cubicle.
Once you make it to the stage of being in the cubicle, locking the door and then getting ready to do the thing you do, there is one last weird thing about the doors that is consistent to ALL washrooms I have encountered. The centimetre gap on either side of the door. Why is it there?! Is it to make extra sure you will make awkward eye contact in the slit of the cubicle with the people outside? Is it to make you extra anxious about doing the do? As it did (I confess) make me so incredibly aware and embarrassed about the whole public bathroom thing, for at least a couple of months.

The Cleanliness.

Usually you enter a public washroom with a disdain as you know it is going to be a mess. There’s going to be some disgusting stuff and it’s something you have to accept. Every other time I’ve used the facilities there has been a cleaner there. There is always toilet paper and it’s pretty much always clean and I’m definitely okay with that. The sinks are spotless and the soap is never out. You don’t even have to flush most of the time as most of the places I’ve been to are automatic. So spot on Canada. 10/10.

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Honestly did not believe I could write almost 1000 words on bathrooms of all topics! Thanks for sticking with me this long and I hope to get more weird rantyness out there in the near future! As always, have an excellent day!

 

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Toronto in Blue

Over the weekend I went to Toronto for the weekend. Being a short 4ish hour drive form Ottawa, what’s not to lose?

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I’ve been trying to stylise my pictures for a unique look and the G7 lets me play with colour so much more than my Canon 6d. All the edits are made in Lightroom on RAW files and exported as Jpegs.

2 Months in

To be truthful it’s been very hard to put into words the transition of Europe to North America, so apologies for the delay, and enjoy this rambling read…
As a Brit moving to Canada didn’t seem that much of a move from the U.K. Oh how I was proven wrong. Of course the normal things of knowing that the British accent is loved were expected but a few things have thrown me slightly.

The best way to describe Ottawa is that someone has taken my memories of England and France and shifted them to the left a couple of inches. Pieces of Architecture from both cultures entwined with the modern city scape make living here easier than I expected.

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Language barriers

Unlike the conventional language barriers that are common in Europe, the Canadian Language barrier is more like a language hurdle that you can definitely have a laugh about. My usual experience with language barriers is with the complete inability to understand the noises someone is making. Over here it is as if someone wanted to make life more interesting and  just took a few words in the dictionary and switched the definitions and watch the chaos unfurl. As a Brit you could imagine my horror when I was told to come into work with no pants, as pants in Britain are underpants, not what the North Americans refer to as trousers. Again just small changes of words from mobile to cell, pavement to sidewalk and my favorite, courgette to zucchini. One of my favourite phrases of the UKadian night out that I definitely know not to ask is “Can I bum a fag?” This harmless whimsical slang of politely asking to borrow a smoke can be considered  as a bit unruly and may be seen as homophobic and not politically correct.  Many of my british english speaking friends also have encountered awkward language borders, a fun favorite is during classes; “Can I borrow a rubber?” which of course makes sense. a rubber to rub out your pencil. But alas, this does mean condom in the North Americas hence the perplexity and shock one receives from this statement.

“That’s a great British accent you have, how long have you been practicing?”
Oh my dear, if you didn’t figure out I was British from my accent I think we have an issue. My accent accentuates every little consonant to the extent that you may start to feel sorry for the letters being attacked and I have a habit of elision. However I have noticed something horrifying in the way I talk now that would make any elocution teacher shiver. My British Ts have digressed into Ds. (Send BBC Radio 4 care packages.)

But I notice some words I say are definitely different to the majority of people around me.(*Trigger Warning*)
Here is a list of words that I shall no longer say in fear of my own sanity, well being and integrity:

Aluminium
Vitamin
Schedule
Aubergine
Garage
Basil
Oregano
Corriander
Tuna
Yoghurt
Fillet
Route

One day we will be able to talk about you again.

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Shops, Pubs and Public Convenience

Shops are shops wherever you go, like you can buy your groceries in shops and markets all over the world and there is not much of  difference as the idea is ubiquitous. But lets look at our friend Ontario the province that I find myself in. Alcohol is not necessarily sold in supermarkets. There is no chance of going to the corner store to score yourself a bevvy. After living in Wales for the last 4ish years it is a bit of a surprise when you have to plan a trek to the local beer store or LCBO to buy the booze and not just pop down the road to replenish your liquor stocks. Okay, I see the pros for the government of monitoring alcoholism and things but also where is the equivalent meal for one deal you can get from M&S with microwave dauphinois potatoes and a bottle of prosecco?! I don’t think Canada has a M&S or Waitrose equivalent. (Why am I here again?!)

Lets move onto the purchasing of your groceries. I’m not sure If I am just an awkward or a rude person but in my experience of the Great British Shop, you don’t communicate unless its essential. This goes for retail and restaurants as well; there is no idle chatter. In my Canadian experience,  around 98% of the time, no matter the establishment, you’ll get someone saying “Hi” and engaging in conversation. *Panic stations* There is no way I would be prepared for this in the U.K. and usually would result in my abrupt walk away as it is an unspoken rule that this interaction is frowned upon in British society.

I would love to say Pubs are Pubs wherever you go. However, this would be a lie. Although, A bar is a bar wherever you go. If something claims to be a pub outside of Europe then I be prepared to have your idea of pub reformatted. Pubs are restaurants, and everything is on a tab. Pubs serve food always. And you usually pay at the table at the end of the night. And you tip. You tip a lot. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

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The City, The Town and Suburbia

I can’t really compare cities across the world only ones I’ve been to, so the majority European, the likes of London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Paris, Lyon, Caen, Geneva, Salzburg, Riga, Brussels, Eindhoven and many other European Cities, and of course a smattering of cities in North America. And there is definitely a stark contrast between European Cityscape and North American.
I can’t say I hate the differences as they are just that different.

North American cities and towns seem to operate on a grid system. This is super handy to navigate and get around. It makes sense. The roads don’t have weird windy one way systems that make you want to drive off a bridge or lead you to somewhere miles away from where you need to be. The newer towns and cities seem to understand that roadways and sidewalks need to be wider for the regulation of road and foot traffic so there isn’t fear of death. *cough oxford street*.
However. There is a significant road feature that I miss. The humble roundabout. Europeans love it, the Americans don’t know how to use it, the roundabout wins hearts and eases traffic. Okay the last one was a lie, lets look at Milton Keynes and Swindon here for killing the roundabout. Yes, the roundabout is not a feature commonly use in Canada and well, it’s not exactly needed as most interactions are one road crossing another, not a knotty mess of 6+ plus roads crossing each other that seems to be a recurring feature throughout the European countries.

Onto the Suburbs. The place for commuting? I’m not quite sure why suburbs exist and how they exist and quite frankly they frighten me. Subdivisions are like council house estates in the UKadia but they seem to lack the integrated public conveniences and park space, just a twisted residential lattice with shopping centres located around it. It is definitely something I have not come across before in the Europes and something I’m not keen on trying out. I think I’ve watched too many suburban horror films.

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That’s what I make of my moving experience so far – Thanks for the read, leave me a star, a comment or a share and I’ll repay the favour.

 

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9 Things Cheer Prepared me For in Life

So today I was thinking as a tower of menus almost hit me in the face, that I wasn’t too worried about the damage the leather bound menus would do to my face as cheerleading taught me that it’s okay to catch things with your face. And this got me thinking that cheerleading even though my spell as a cheerleader was brief, it equipped me with some peculiar  life skills….

  1. Lifting with a straight back
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    Yes we all hate the health and safety videos that are shown in certain working environments of the awkward people slowly picking up boxes with straight backs and the awful acting of how not to do, yet we still do it whatever way we chose?
    Well that all changed when you change the box for a person. Some boxes are heavy and well not really worth much so who cares if you look like a mess carrying a box? With people it’s a bit different and well, they rely on you and your proper technique to stay safe up in the air.  As well as not hurting yourself or causing a permanent injury. (Plus it works your thighs and bum out so thats a hidden bonus….)
  2. Teamwork makes the dreamwork
    “You are as strong as your weakest player”
    Well it’s true. If you have someone in your work environment who isn’t working as hard as the others or just isn’t as good at the job as others (it may even be you) You just have to learn to be patient or even share your knowledge and skills to make the team grow.
  3. Being hit in the face isn’t that bad
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    After a while it gets boring. Seriously after the first few times of using your face as a cushion for a falling person it does get a bit old.
  4. Catching falling objects is second nature
    Something thats not exactly a life skill but can get very handy at times.
  5. Positive energy
    Things are more exciting, more energised and just better with a shit eating grin on your face. I don’t know if its just me but being super happy and enthusiastic at the task at hand even if it is literally the worst job known to man, it makes it better.
  6. Wearing spanx no matter what your attire
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    Awkward in skirts or dresses? Just wear spanx. Or running shorts. They give all the confidence.
  7. You can do anything with time and practice
    Looking to get more flexible? Put in in time and effort and you can get a perfect split in 2 weeks. You can go from handstand to walkover with repetition. So in theory you can just keep practising something you want to do and you will get it. Just keep your eye on your goal and don’t underestimate yourself.
  8. F***ing up is okay
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    It’s part of learning. It’s bound to happen and if falling on your face isn’t a great way of learning, then trying not to let that happen again will surely make you stronger. If you don’t fail how do you know what winning truly feels like. That leads nicely to my next point.
  9. Winning isn’t everything
    Getting a nice shiny trophy is great, but personal goals are more attainable and more worth while. Make and break your own achievable goals as there is always someone who is going to be better than you. (I’m still working on this one as I am super competitive.)Thanks for the read, have an awesome day!Links to my sites:

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