20th August 2014
Today’s post is going to be a little different. I’ve decided to share some of my favourite things from this summer, with a mix of music, TV, technology, clothes etc. so hopefully it’s not too dull of a first attempt. So, without further ado, here are my top 8 (in no particular order) summer essentials…
1. Orange Is The New Black; “It’s like the Hamptons, only horrible”
Everyone’s favourite new online TV series is first up in my summer essentials. There’s been a lot of hype about this show so I hopped onto Netflix and watched episode one. Then I watched episode two. Then maybe three. Then episode four. It’s safe to say I was hooked immediately, alongside the rest of the world.
For those who don’t know (where the heck have u been????), Orange Is the New Black follows central protagonist Piper Chapman in her sentence to a women’s federal Lichfield prison. Here, the unlikely criminal meets a whole host of enigmatic and bizarre characters, each with a story to tell. She even comes face to face with her ex-girlfriend, the one who got her into prison in the first place. Basically, shit goes down.
From an analytical sense, I am a media student after all, the show is a stroke of genius. The character development is absolutely phenomenal – each and every character is interesting and just as wacky as the next. There’s twist and turns every episode with the perfect mash-up of comedy and drama. Orange is the New Black deserves every bit of praise it has received, which, incidentally, is an awful lot of praise.
I can’t wait for the upcoming series and I’d totally recommend this unimpeachably hilarious show to anyone who’s debating watching it – just don’t watch it with your mum. My only complaint is the introductory song to every episode which – although catchy – goes on for approximately 6 hours.
2. Ed Sheeran – x (Multiply)
One of my favourite albums of the year so far, Ed Sheeran’s x (multiply) has been on repeat non-stop. Bypassing everyone’s high expectations, Ed has proven his talent with another fantastic album. Due to his recent global success, I did worry that Ed’s sophomore album would be rushed or shrouded by stupid dubstep remixes but he has definitely proved his (few) critics wrong.
Every track is well written – there isn’t the obligatory ‘song I always skip’ which is a rarity. Each song tells a story – quite predominantly about an unfaithful ex-girlfriend. My personal favourites include Bloodstream, I’m A Mess, Thinking Out Loud and Afire Love.
Even the album’s title is clever. I assume it’s meant as a double entendre; though Ed Shizzle insists ‘x’ is meant to be read as ‘multiply’, I also can’t help but feel it could be read ‘ex-girlfriend’ - considering it's hardly esoteric that’s what most of the tracks resonate.
3. Instax Fujifilm Polaroid Camera Machine The Third (or something like that, anyway)
My parents bought me this camera back in June as a reward for all the hours of hard work I put in to my exams. It was my weapon of choice on my trip to Croatia and is one of my most treasured possessions. The pictures you get are just beautiful and it’s kind of exciting not knowing how it will come out. With all the ultra-high definition images we’re exposed to on a daily basis with advanced technology, it’s quite refreshing to see this type of photograph.
Film for the camera isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s definitely worth it if you know what you’re doing. I’ve learnt that you have to be very patient and meticulous when taking the photos and I’ll be posting a ‘how to’ tutorial soon. (Speaking from the future, this blog post is now HERE)
4. Funky Swimming Shorts
DISCLAIMER: I’ll start by being totally honest – I know nothing about fashion and I am potentially the most unfashionable person ever. Enjoy.
One of my best friends held a party to celebrate the beginning of summer with a Hawaiian theme. Having never been to Hawaii, I decided to go with a ‘beach’ idea (courtesy of a quick Google search) and set out to find some funky swimming shorts to wear. Topman had helpfully just unveiled their new ‘tropical range’ and I found this lovely pair of shorts for a discounted price of £18 from £30 in a special first-day sale. They have a palm leaves style pattern with loads of different colours and I wore them with a plain white t-shirt (and the extravagent hight-street accessory of an inflatable banana) to tone it down a little.
5. Glasses de Sun (that’s sunglasses to those who don’t speak foreign)
I’d been looking for a nice pair of sunglasses for a while but to no avail when I came across these in River Island. This is the kind of style I like but usually they’re absolutely massive or extremely expensive so I was delighted to find that this pair were only £10 and fitted perfectly.
These were mainly essential while I was in Croatia considering it’s been raining back in Blighty ever since I got home but still deserving of this highly prestigious list.
6. Smooth as Spinach
I probably haven’t mentioned (I have) but my mum (formally known as birth giver) makes the best smoothies. We bought a blender at the beginning of the year and we’ve been making loads of healthy smoothies and milkshakes ever since. My mum developed her own little recipe for green smoothies with spinach, mango, pineapple and banana which sounds absolutely gross but looks and tastes amazing.
They’re really refreshing – particularly on hot days – but also fun to make and prepare. Other personal favourites include mixed berry smoothies and raspberry milkshake.
7. Summer Library
Over the summer I read the following…
Nineteen Eighty Four // George Orwell – Really interesting, massive cultural impact, especially phenomenal upon realisation it was written in the 40s, politically stimulating.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time // Mark Haddon – Long title, very easy read, cleverly written through the mind of a naïve child, page-turner, funny, complicated maths I did not appreciate.
Elephants On Acid // Alex Boese – Hilarious, ridiculous, non-fiction, bizarre scientific experiments, some really interesting discoveries in regards to humans senses, restored my faith in the weirdness of science, made science almost interesting.
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared // Jonas Johansson – Ridiculously long title, utterly bizarre storyline, interesting historical references, hilarious.
Looking for Alaska // John Green – Easy page-turner, funny but sad in various places, great characters, odd concept quite distant from actual school life.
Dracula // Bram Stoker – Absolutely brilliant, horror genre at its best, massive cultural impact, best descriptive writing I’ve read, inspiring, just utterly amazing.
My favourite music this summer has been on repeat non-stop. Youtuber and my actual best friend Troye Sivan* recently released the lead single ‘Happy Little Pill’ from his EP ‘TRXYE’. There was a lot of buzz about the single on the interwebs so I checked it out on Spotify and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. The song emanates a really melancholic vibe which I love and it’s extremely hard to avoid singing along. Update: I've now heard the rest of TRXYE and oH MY GOD *I met him once
Most of the songs in my summer playlists have been courtesy of one of my favourite bands, alt-J. Their new album ‘This Is All Yours’ drops on September 22nd and I seriously cannot wait. In the build up to the album, three singles have been released so far and each one is fantastic. ‘Hunger of the Pine’ is really different and features a bizarre Miley Cyrus sample which should never work but so does. My personal favourite, the infectious ‘Left Hand Free’, has a more guitar-edge to it while ‘Every Other Freckle’ is more representative of their previous works. I admire how different every song is and I’m so excited to see them live with my best friend for the second time in September.
Other music I’ve been listening to religiously includes Sam Smith’s ‘I’m Not the Only One’ – a really catchy song about infidelity with some really powerful lyrics – and Milky Chance’s album ‘Sadnecessary’ (namely the songs ‘Stolen Dance’ and 'Feathery') – a really relaxing LP with beautifully crafted lyrics and production.
So those are my essential items for summer! Other notable things that happened in the month of August...
- I went on holiday to Croatia
- Finally got my GCSE results for the three I took a year early (two A*s and a B!)
- I saw Arsenal qualify for the Champions League at The Emirates Stadium
- I spent a weekend in London (Camden, Chelsea, Oxford Street etc)
- This blog was created and prepared for launch day (and I panicked a lot)
Thanks for reading, perhaps this will become a monthly shindig? Tell me below! Until next time, bye!
By Jack Edwards
Summer Essentials 2014