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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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.

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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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Small Corner of Europe

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2013
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2011
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2010

 

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2009

Something that is really prominent about my childhood memories are the holidays to France. From when I can remember France has been a major part of my growing up from day trips to Calais, to weekends in Paris. It wasn’t until I was 7 or 8 that we started holidays in French cottages, or Gites, that is a big part of my life and now my parents’ lives. The first place I can fully remember was next to a big Château in the Southern regions of France. I can’t remember the exact location but remember watching the Hoopoes chatting to each other on the power lines. I remember the house being a pile of unsorted rooms, with a porch that should have been a room but the wall just wasn’t there, being open to sun, but protected from the rain. The bedrooms were corridors to reach other rooms which I associate with the traditional “french vibe”. Obviously this was a 7-8 year old creating and reinforcing stereotypes in her head but nonetheless I did and still do love the French culture.

Our holidays took us around France and I have fond memories of cycling around Mount Ventou, Provence’s fields of lavender and seas of sunflowers, La Rochelle’s stunning blues of the sea and Île Noirmoutier, Hidden monasteries in dense forests, to name but a few. Each place had it’s only character that added to my Continental fascination as well as adding to my French vocabulary. (If somehow Mrs Tominey is reading this, I can conjugate Etre and Avoir now….)

 I could go on and on – probably write a book on my french holidays growing up and the shenanigans my family and I got up to, but thats not what I’m meaning to write about today. (You can see from the very questionable pictures above, I didn’t take many photos back then and the quality isn’t great…)

Save the images of cobbled streets, small narrow roads aligned with shops, cafés and bakeries. Think of the squares that open out that are hemmed in by restaurants and cafes, the square littered with small market stands, and artisans selling their profession. For me this is the artisan quarter of Paris by Montmartre. This is where I remember eating chips with my Mum, throwing them up in the air for small sparrows to catch, overlooking the city sprawled out below. Or the copious times my Mother and I visited Bruges, huddled up in winter in the main square with a hot chocolate, after walking around the many wooden stalls of the Christmas market. It’s very old buildings and street ways that don’t particularly make much sense but brought together is my traditional view of Europe.

Keep that image we will get back to it. 

If you have ever visited America, its very quick to understand that their perception of old is not in the same realm as European old. In Europe we have towns dating back thousands of years with buildings dating back hundreds. I grew up in a house originally built in the 17th century. European old is old old. American old is 1800s, maybe 1700s at a push. We can’t mock them for this, as technically speaking, they are Europeans too. And although we don’t see the exact copy of continent to continent, there is still small corners of Europe.

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Even after being told by friends, I did not believe that there would be anything like my small French towns in North America, and well I was proved wrong. You can see influences in certain buildings, as I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting to find myself transported back across the Atlantic to a weird combination of French and Germanic streets and squares. Montreal did this.

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Being so far from “home” it did make me feel a bit homesick for my childhood holidays with my family. Additionally it made me realise how much stress my parents must be under in their big move to Normandy fulltime. It’s funny how much memories can make you realise your future. Studying the past does help the present. (Something like that…)

Back to Montreal!
I only had the pleasure to visit the place for a day, and that was enough for me. (Nothing to do with falling over on Mount Royal in the morning…) The mash up of old and new just made it a bit crazy for my European brain, and to fully appreciate the place I would definitely need more time and more confidence in my french. (I’ll come to that in a later post I am sure.) 

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From super modern metropolis, with colourful walls, high rises and concrete, to just round the corner that takes you back to Europe. Pretty strange for me, but it’s just another one of those places that makes you stop and think.

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In my last post I talked about Places I will Miss – the small bits of England that I know aren’t going anywhere but I hold dear to me, mainly due to fond memories and friends. If anything moving somewhere else is just going to expand my feelings and memories and urge me to go to places, I as a small person would never have thought about outside the confines of Europe. That is exciting.

I will always have a fond place for my french holidays with my parents and I hope I can continue the French tradition, especially in helping with the final move to Normandy. Fingers crossed, this time next year I’ll have more French fancies to share!

Thanks for reading and have a Great Day.

If you feel like it, leave a comment about your favourite childhood holiday/memories as I would love to hear from you! 

Welsh Riviera

I love and hate having friends across the world, some closer to home than others, but always there to visit and talk to. North Wales is no exception to this rule, seeing as recently I’ve almost hopped over the border to England. This trip took me right onto the North Coast to Rhyl and Llandudno.

 
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To say I had a Rhylly good time would be an understatement as betwixt the majority of elderly and unruly youths, the Welsh Riviera really is a great place to visit. Luckily, We had the warm weather, mediterranean blue skies and beautiful sea. The couple of days were filled with window shopping, retail therapy and just aimless walking and chatting, the kind of thing you need with good friends and a pretty looking place.

However how lovely Llandudno is, it isn’t for those who have a fast pace of life. For one, the speed of the place and the people is around 2mph. The place is catered to this speed, and the accompanying age of life, so is not necessarily a place that is “up and coming” for the young adult, graduate or anyone with ambition. To be trapped in this Purgatory, much like my time serving at Aberystwyth University, would be ideal during the summer season with plenty of work being offered, to save for the inevitable escape, but throughout the winter and colder months, to be trapped in the icy grip of this place would be a total disaster.

 

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So many opportune photo moments here from taking symmetrical images to please my aesthetic eye, to getting the long seascapes that I’ve grown to love and hate with my time living on the coast. Another thing about Llandudno is that it boasts colour. All the details of the town seem somewhat French, with iron railings, weird parking habits and the flow of rooftop to rooftop. The pier is a remarkable blue and white, blending perfectly with the mediterranean sky, sultry sea and airy clouds so even on an overcast day, the two punctual colours stand out.

 

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Down the coast is the town of Rhyl, currently under a lot of rebuilding, the potential seen in this place is remarkable. The flats of the sands reach out to the handful of wind turbines on the sea that make a remarkable sight. Unlike the usual reaction of “wind turbines ruin the landscape” they add to the flat seascape in a way I’m not sure I understand. The roads are lined with terraces, all the same yet unique with the odd change of colour of doors, windows and windowsills, throwing a sense of colour to the beige. The promenade in Rhyl is a great walk, really showing off the Northern coastline of Wales and perfect to do on a sunny or rainy day.

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After my negativity towards the place, I do encourage people to visit this coast line for a few days. It shows the vast beauty and contrast Wales can offer from the Old Victorian holiday resorts to the green and blue rolling hills and seas, castle ruins and winding roads in a small area. As well as doing good crepes at Fortes, damn they were good.

Have a great day and thanks for the read!

 

Links to my sites:

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Aber-geddon: Rugby 7s

My fourth and final Rugby 7s as a University student. Time flies and it’s quite hard to believe that I’ve come this far in terms of photography and getting back into sports!
From 2013 Rugby 7s in Aberystwyth, equipped with a 450d, a tamron 70-300mm lens and no proper grasp on sports photography to 2017, with a canon 6d and canon 7dii equipped with a 70-200m f/2.8 lens and a 25-105mm f/4.0 lens. My technique, understanding and equipment have brought me into a whole new level of photography and looking back at Rugby 7s makes me nostalgic, thankful and slightly embarrassed of my photographic and sporty origins.

From working with the Archery “Hawkeyes” to Tarannau’s “Squirtle Squad” and “7UP”, it’s been a laugh.

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Progress is beautiful and I recommend everyone to reflect on how far they have come. If you are having a bad day, know that you are better than last year’s you, even better than 2 year ago you, and a completely new level from 3 and 4 year ago you. Yet there is still more work to be done as every opportunity is another learning experience to capture. Push boundaries, and if you feel its not working go back to basics. A wise friend of mine who has coached me with photography and my life reminds me how far I’ve come and not to worry. We all need that friend.

Anyway onto the actual weekend of Aber 7s 2017….

Promising to be not as windy or rainy as the previous years have been, this Aber 7s brought together students, locals and ex-students from across the country and in some cases, the world.
After Squirtle Squad’s triumph last year of actually winning something, this year was full of determination to maintain silverware. Alas, it was not to be. After being unstoppable on the Saturday, the team’s momentum diminished by Sunday.
Usually, I masquerade as a photographer, but my final year I decided to have a go at playing. I had been training on and off and a good understanding of the game due to past experience watching and documenting 7s and 15s rugby. Coupled with my stupidly fearlessness and simple disregard for me being breakable, who could deny me for trying.
Unfortunately, I got tackled quite hard in a game meaning I had to continue as a spectator – for the best really, but hey I played rugby 7s! (and loved it)

Anyway Thanks for the read – I’ll update my sporting ventures soon after I’ve properly moved!

Have a great day!

 

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

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website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

 

 

Escape

It’s a common theme, my adventurous trips to get away from it all. Yet, I can not stress the importance of taking a step back from intense work life to enjoy the world and life we are given. As the last couple of months has been a series of heavy deadlines mixed with a series of unfortunate events, getting away from it all was needed.

Although this time we didn’t exactly travel far, where we did go was a completely different world, yet being a small meandering drive up the coast.

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I don’t know if there are many others like me, but I am definitely an over-thinker and immerse myself so deeply in my head that I need to have a break to just take a step back from me and hit the refresh button.
Luckily for me, Wales have these little pockets of gold that take you to an entirely different world, that makes you think; wow, I live in this world.

Anyway onto where we went…. Tucked up on the North West coast are a number of small beach towns and honey pots including Barmouth, Harlech, Criccieth and Portmeirion. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, Portmeirion is the real life Welsh Rivendell. Winding paths take you up down around and through the cliffside and down the coast, across small gardens and around ornate towers and buildings. What really makes this place unique however is the vibrancy and contrast of colours, detailed frescoes and intricate architecture.

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Even on an overcast day the colours lift dampened spirits. The town also boasts a wealth of flora, from palms and ferns, to colourful rhododendron bordering the stairs snaking around the cliffs.
What made this day exceptionally nice was the ability to just sit and watch the world go by. No need to do anything or think of anything just sit and enjoy what is in front of you.

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I hope you can all afford an hour or two to just sit and not worry.

Thanks for reading and have an amazing Summer!

TBT: Toronto

This post is a throwback to my time in toronto written in 2015… enjoy!

“Urban sprawl” is a predictable description for the bulk of major cities whether you go around the globe. The vivacious undertone that the description should possessive is snuffed out by the disdained manor the two words are delivered with.

Toronto can be described as such, with its clusters of lustrous skyscrapers, stonework hotels and spires dusting its unique skyline.  With its heady mix of new and old, Toronto possesses an entirely new perspective of the metropolis. With the original metropolis, New York, being a mere 2 hour flight away, Toronto gives you the tall buildings, the traffic, the bustle of the city, yet on a smaller scale. The history of the place is intertwined with the Canadian passion for sports, economic growth and reverence for beer.

Travelling from the airport you can see the faded buildings in the distance with the CN tower proudly in the forefront, reminding you that it used to be the tallest building in the world.  Winding your way through the busy grid system, hemmed in by the towering windows, a sensation of nervous demeanour and excitement collide. The streets are lined with impressive sculptures and a variety of coffee houses and offices reminding you the hustle and bustle of life.

The hotel we happened to stay in doubled with university of Toronto accommodation, providing the standard canteen breakfast and common room facilities of fridge and microwave. The room was large with all needed facilities, a functioning bathroom and a tiny balcony to let in the city air. From the 23rd floor you could see as far as the great lake Ontario, and surrounding tree line, just escaping the shadow of the CN tower.

As a visitor to the country of Canada, it is a must that you sample the wonders that is their favorite coffee chain, Tim Horton’s. Placed almost as regularly as Starbucks on the active streets, Tim’s are simple yet effective. Distinct from its main competitor, it doesn’t host boards on boards of specialty lattes and cappuccinos, with Italian roots, it has simple filter coffee with any addition you require, without the faff of adding milk and sugar yourself. To enjoy this coffee to the max, it is advised that you have a light snack or in Tim’s case, a sugary treat in the form of a doughnut. The assortment of doughnuts on sale outdoes any other coffee shop and all are a small doughy drop of heaven.

For only staying a day and a half within the city, touristic musts and local lovelies had to be balanced. The ROM, (Royal Ontario Museum) boasts three floors of extensive history from dinosaurs, Chinese dynasties to modern day, with its current feature being the disastrous Pompeii, aptly named “Rompeii.” After a quick stroll round the luxury shops, seeing the haute couture, it was downtown to a bar. Drinks are expensive in Toronto with a lager going for around $7-8 a pint and wine being on par for Norwegian prices. However the food was good and the company was better.

For our full day, we were whisked downtown in search for fame and fortune in the form of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Both being avid hockey fans, the Hall was greatly to our liking meeting the late greats and of course having a picture of the one and only Stanley cup. Saying that, there are actually two of them, but one being so fragile dating back to the late 1800s, that a second was made to house the names of the new winners in the seasons to come.

To escape the unpredictable weather and to sate our grumbling stomachs, the answer beckoned itself in the form of a sports bar. Hoops.  The interior of the bar was kept out of darkness by a few themed lights and at least 100 TV screens, so that everywhere you looked, a sport could be seen in process.  The place was set out consisted of an open tabled area, the bar and booths. The bar boasted an impressive 25 beers on tap, and an even bigger arsenal of assorted liquor bottles behind the bar. The food came in an unexpected normal sized portion, nothing too extreme in both respects.  Being fed and watered, we continued on our way to our next destination.

Keeping on the downtown theme we returned to pass by the CN tower in a Toronto torrent, getting pretty much soaked to the skin, to find ourselves at the old roundhouse in search for the perfect component to any good hockey match. A Beer. The roundhouse is home to three establishments, the railway museum of Canada with its assorted trains out the front, Lyons and Steam Whistle Brewery. The brewery gives out a few samples to whoever wants and a 45-minute tour for 3 different tariffs depending on what you would like to receive at the end.  When touring round the facility, you are handed an ice-cold bottle of beer, to enjoy that brewing process that extra bit more.  The Pilsner is brewed in the tiniest brewery I’ve seen but bottles and cans an impressed 8.5 million liters a year.  This is an impressive feat for any brewery.

Continuing on the brewing theme, we travel uptown about 3km to the distillery district where most of the other beers in Toronto are made. Following the premise from yesterday, some food, some beer, some laughs were held in the restaurant of the mill street brewpub.

Upon leaving the pub, the district with its old style architecture, cobbled streets and wooden window frames was lit up with a canopy of bulb lights, framed by gas-powered streetlights leading you to the end of its magical pretense and back to the reality of modern day.

Weight off my Chest

Not going to lie, I do like to write a strongly worded letter and email every so often. More than often I am ignored or replied to along the lines off “I don’t appreciate the aggressive nature of your writing” or “No need for such aggressive vocabulary.” Although I find that highly offensive to begin with as the language I use is generally just a little more eloquent than usual. Using the odd latin based synonym, just throws in a bit of eccentric spice. Like having a Nando’s peri peri sauce on your meal deal “just ham” sandwich.

All the above is relevant to a recent and not so recent email that I sent to the BUCS head office on some of their rules and regulations, in particular Equestrian events.

 

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This is me, photographer, Briony-Molly on a horse. This is the first time in around a year, wearing a collection of people’s horsey gear as at last second I was told I would be competing in place of one of the A Team at Anglesey. Just to clarify, I didn’t mind getting on a horse to ride a dressage test, (and I agreed to it as I had the correct memberships and what not.)

The reason I stepped in as there is a new weight limit at the riding centre, the team was not previously made aware about. The previous year the same team member rode the horses of the riding centre in a BUCS competition without issue without being confronted that they were too heavy to ride. Hence the confusion. How is it that a trained experienced rider isn’t allowed to ride if they are slightly over the weight limit in comparison to a rider who has questionable balance and no training for years be a viable alternative?

I’ve done my research. I’ve poured through the forums and websites and twitter arguments about the correct weight for riding a horse, and of course it does depend on the breed and size and work the horse does. There are the consistent appearance of figures that horses can carry (maximum) between 15-20% of their body weight, the horses that do more jumping and running work alike to racehorses obviously having a lower weight limit than say a 17hh cob that does a bit of flat work and a bit of jumping. However, if a rider is well balanced and has plenty of experience then the weight limit may be exasperated as the horse has less uneven pressure and erratic potato sack movements of an inexperienced rider in the saddle.

True heavy built horses look being and strong and are often regarded as the “weight carriers” but they still only have one back. If a heavy horse standing of 17hh or taller does happen to have an overweight rider of 20+ stone who is not experienced, sits badly and ends up being a dead weight on one point of the horse this would damage the horse’s back in the long term. That is an extreme case. But usually there is leeway when factoring height, weight and experience so not to say to an experienced rider slightly over the limit that they travelled 3 hours to competition not to be able to ride due to their weight.

In this instance I hadn’t sat on a horse for over a year, or competed in dressage since first year, (and thats a while back) getting back into the saddle to do a dressage test with an hours preparation isn’t the safest or smartest thing to do…

My complaint to BUCS if they ever actually read this or open my emails, is that it should be a policy for riding schools to proliferate their weight restrictions to the teams that would be coming so if there is an issue its before the competition. Secondly, riding centres should be addressed of the potential riders of the team before hand – it will stop with the faff of paperwork and also make it easier for them to source appropriate horses for the riders. Thirdly, on another note, BUCS, sort out your Equestrian scoring! It makes little sense and is highly complex for this sort of competition. Maybe take note from BHS, BSJ and BD. They seem to be a little more in tune with the horsing world.

Let this be so I can continue being a photographer and not a surprise reserve!

Shout out to Aberystwyth University Equestrian teams for letting me join them round Wales in competitions taking pics and holding things!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

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website: https://www.brionymolly.photography

Varsity 2017

As with most other universities across the U.K. Aberystwyth engages with their rivals Bangor in annual sports-day-esque event known as Varsity. Each Uni bi-annually hosts the competition, seeing the likes of sports and societies alike to put forward their best and brightest to win the beloved silverware. This year Aberystwyth hosted the competition inviting around 50 sports clubs to the Aberystwyth area to compete over a week.
As an avid sports photographer of course I wouldn’t miss this opportunity to run about, or in my case walk briskly, with my camera to get all the sports on my cards.

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Saturday I managed to get solid pictures of American Football, Lacrosse, Rugby and Football. A good mix and an enjoyable selection. This is my personal experience.

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What irritates me most however about Varsity is the the sideline “Banter.” There is a line between a joke and a couple of jeers on the other side and then full out discrimination. Last year Aber was faced with Bangor students throwing carrots and bananas at a rugby player and reports of many racial and homophobic slurs also agitated the Aber sides. This year after being told relentlessly to keep it civil, the banter from Aber has been a lot more tame than last year with British insults like “Bangor uses tea bags twice” replacing the more aggressive attacks.
However the retaliation from Bangor on the sidelines especially from their ladies lacrosse was vile towards the players and spectators, especially shouted through a megaphone.

Personally I heard someone from the other uni telling Aber students to “go kill yourselves” as we are at a sh*t university. A little harsh and non-understanding when the sole cause of our and their varsity kits is to a foundation Stephan Socks after a student who unfortunately did not have the support in mental health issues and tragically took his own life last year. This type of behaviour is more than despicable and personally I expected better than that from Students who are supposedly adults aged 18+. This kind of behaviour I expect from teenagers in high school or online. Disgusted. Not only this but fights broke out both on and off the rugby pitch, to be expected in the sport, but the blood was definitely boiling between the Universities.

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This is why I didn’t compete myself in Archery, as in previous years I’ve felt intimidated in the wrong way. Intimidation in sports is a usual concept, the side is larger than you, better than you; its all the norm in competitions, it’s a normal feeling. Being intimidated by aggression is not. I’d much rather blackout away from the world with my camera to get action shots than be apart of an aggressive crowd or be engaging in an uneasy match.

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All this being said I did enjoy my time at Varsity, as amongst the idiots in the crowd there are still humans that are there for their team, there to watch a good game,console with the losing side and celebrate with the victors. This was apparent in both Aber and Bangor sides alike, and I must say that I’m not saying all the spectators from Bangor were out to hurl insults and discriminate. Bangors overall victory in sports is disheartening for Aber, but our victories in Rugby makes us a proud Welsh University.

Shout out to Aber mens LAX and Tarannau for being superstar teams this last season. It’s been a pleasure taking pics for you!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Links to my sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brionymollyphoto/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brionymollyphoto/

website: https://www.brionymolly.photography