Sunday, 15 January 2012

All I need is a Train Ticket - and a Time Machine









Many my age might see a gap year as release from the extensive time spent controlled by term dates and exams. Thus I have friends who want to travel to America, Australia and India. The basic requirement is to be somewhere - anywhere - other. I wonder how many pupils, during an interminable Geography lesson on rainfall levels in Brazil, have found themselves studying those laminated World maps that curl on a wall or display board. The pastel coloured countries, adorned with names and black circles showing faraway cities where millions of people work and sleep and eat and laugh and argue, appear hugely more exciting than the basics of learning about hill-sheep farming. In Britain at least, years seven to nine (roughly from the age of eleven to fourteen) are a ripe time for cultivating such imagination – because not much really happens in the curriculum.

Modern travel makes adventure-based wishes easy and relatively straightforward (if one discounts airline-associated stress and working to save up for the ticket). Desire is in part stimulated by some kind of nagging feeling that there are bigger, better things if a border is crossed or a new continent plunged into. It’s no surprise that the idea of travel or working abroad is popular with teenagers. We’ve spent, on average, fourteen years following strict rules that often have little resemblance to the way the rest of life works… My educational trajectory was one in which I adored my village primary school (where we had the grand total of forty pupils – all of us tearing around the playground playing ‘tag’ or ‘stuck in the mud’); was fairly dissatisfied in all but a few inspirationally taught subjects at my state secondary (that was judged ‘unsatisfactory’ by Ofsted in my penultimate year); then landed finally at my state sixth form college. Here the considerable pressures and commitments are tempered by passionate teachers and subjects of genuine interest. Right now, with exams in the next two days, coupled with a nationwide education system geared towards tightly timed essays that tick all the right boxes (as opposed to promoting an actual interest in knowledge and learning) I have been left wanting to escape. Just a flight of fancy as the chill of January and relentless study becomes undeniable.

I’ve read classic travel books (specifically Laurie Lee and Patrick Leigh Fermor), watched films set against dizzying vistas and, like many before me, fantasized about the goings-on beyond the cold seas of this small country. However, my notion of travel was – and still is - largely romantic; primarily informed by literature and tales from previous decades. I tend to imagine Orient Express style sleeper trains that will deliver me to the Onion domes of a Moscow inhabited by the characters of Anna Karenina or members of the Ballet Russes – rather than RyanAir and fractious hours bickering with family members when the plane is delayed. I want to travel with monogrammed trunks rather than an ugly (but ultimately practical) suitcase, or alternately rely on the kindness of strangers while wandering through Europe. Such ideas are now just wisps of smoke – pretty to look at, but quite impossible to grab hold of and physically experience.

Travel has been globalised. At first glance, this appears completely positive. And to some extent it is – I doubt that without technological advances my family would have managed to visit my grandma in the glacial expanses of Alaska, or enjoyed the kind of European week-long holidays that are possible. I am of course grateful for these advantages, but there is still a tinge of another feeling – not exactly sadness, but a kind of longing for something never experienced, something that existed seventy or eighty years previously. Wherever travel takes us now, there are invariably the drooping arches of a McDonalds – with Ibiza going as far as to provide a giant facsimile of the British high street on a Saturday night.
My notion of a journey imagines total immersion in another culture. Does that still exist? When I was complaining to a friend about my desire to go around the world in 80 days (but with the aid of a time machine), she suggested that one just had to search further afield. Is this the case? Is it still possible to emulate the kind of voyages that great writers and adventurers embarked on? Or has technology not only removed some of the challenge, but some of the spirit of such a trip? Maybe it's the curse of the human race to assume that anything other than our immediate experience is going to be better – whether this means another county, or in my case, another time.

In a homage to a Russia that has probably never actually existed (apart from in folk stories), here is an outfit with embroidery and large skirts aplenty. The stunning blazer is Moschino, formerly owned by and then given to me by my fabulous Fairy Godmother (along with the hair clip), and I added a vintage taffeta skirt that once belonged to my mum – she bought it from a jumble sale. The tights are actually two separate pairs, with the adjoining legs tied together and tucked out of sight, while the shoes were from a charity shop. 

Also, I was immensely pleased to be told that I have been long-listed for the Company Style Bloggers awards (and so happy to see so many of my blogging friends in the different categories listed too!) If you enjoy my blog then you can vote for me - or for whoever your favourites are - here

55 comments:

Georgia said...

Love your outfit! Your hair is amazing!

sacramento said...

This is definitely the best ensemble I have seen you wearing. The skirt, the jacket the two colours tights, and that fabulous jacket= PERFECTION.
YOU ALWAYS BLEND SO BEAUTIFULLY WITH NATURE.
When I was little I used to dream of living in Englad. I imagined that I was walking in the fog on my way to school,ahhhhhhhhhhhh
( sigh) that was magic.
As soon as I could, I spent time in England, tought in a Grammar school for a year, married there and had two English daughters.

AVY said...

That's a very cool outfit.

/ Avy
http://mymotherfuckedmickjagger.blogspot.com

Natalie Suarez said...

i love that color on you! so amazing! xx

natalieoffduty.blogspot.com

Frances Davison said...

Beautifully written, as usual. Thinking of the little work I have done on the history of Russian fashions, you're not so far off as you might think. Even just as an homage, you're right to emphasise the beautiful embroidery of the Moschino (I love that it's sort of a high fashion echo of homespun beauty). Throughout history Russian dress places great emphasis on the adornment and embroidery of dress for both men and women (like on a 'sorochka').

And as for travel, I have every faith that there are still places you could go to completely lose yourself (if not yourself, then your at least notions) and plunge into something incredible.

Frances x

Rosa Fay said...

Really wonderful stuff! That colour on that outfit - and the outfit itself - is beautiful!

Kate said...

That jacket is incredible, and your hair looks stunning! I hope all your exams go well. I haven't gotten to your stage in exams yet but I do understand some of the pressure and the desparate need to escape from it all for a while.

I like to think that there are some places untouched by the modern world. I've been to places that do seem to come from a different period of time, such as the duomos in Italy and the markets in Morocco, however those are often spoilt slightly by someone illegally trying to sell you sunglasses or people talking loudly on their mobiles.

This post reminds me of the movie Midnight in Paris that came out late last year, when he travels back to the 1920s to everything he wished for but then the people in that time wanted to go back to the time they wished for.

Beautiful outfit and beautiful writing!
www.styleisalwaysfashionable.blogspot.com

styleeast said...

The light in these photos is so perfect! Especially that third photo where it falls across your face. You make a good point about travel, it's so accessible which is a good thing, but you wonder if that leaves anything undiscovered. Speaking as someone who hasn't visited many countries, I still think there's lots of personal discovery still open to us. And Russia is top of my list!

Congrats on the Company nomination...will you be coming to London for the awards ceremony? Hope so! x

Closet Fashionista said...

It's so true! Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and then travel the world...it really isn't the same now. Though I still long to travel. I got my first taste of real traveling this past summer and am dying to do it again! But I don't know if I'll ever get the chance. I need to win the lottery and take a year off work ;)
Ooh how exciting! Off to vote for you :)
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Leah said...

Traveling is really what you make it. If you want to see a culture for what it really is then get away from the tourist traps and go and take a walk around, talk to people, maybe even research the culture before entering the country so that you have an understanding of the kind of things you want to see and experience. Stories and literature always exaggerate. We are apt to think of far of places being superior to those that we live in, but the truth is that every culture has it's redundancies and idiosyncrasies, but if we take an interest in learning a culture for what it truly is, then we learn to appreciate it for what it is and not what we want it to be.

This was a really good post! Looks like we share a passion for travel!

Shophopper said...

Ah, the vulgarisation of travel. I understand what you mean: when people in the 19th century travelled, they travelled for months, stayed for weeks in one place and were immersed in local culture. How grand! The way we do things now is completely different, of course. We pick a destination and try to see everything in one week. It's a sad way of travelling - stressful, really. I often see it here in Belgium: Americans and Asians staying for a few days, attempting to visit every single tourist attraction possible. One day to see Brussels and Antwerp, one day to visit Brugge (god, boring) and off they go to Amsterdam or Paris. Every single noteworthy view is seen through the lens of a camera only, because god forbid they couldn't show their relatives every single place they'd visited. I was in Venice last November and couldn't help but pity the poor things getting stuck in a Gondola, being dragged into overpriced tourist restaurants and paying way too much for a dusty but centrally located hotel.

Travel should be about time and authenticity. I do think there are still authentic places closer to home, albeit not as untouched as you (and I with you) would like it. I was lucky enough to live in Prague for a month two years ago. I took a Czech course in the mornings and wandered around the city in the afternoon. It was incredibly easy to stay out of the way of hordes of tourists, and still discovered unworldly beauty in quieter parts of the city. When I'm settled down a little, I'm determined to keep on travelling this way. 4 weeks, one location, plenty of time. This schoolyear is more about snippets: the past few months carried me to Bologna, Venice, London, Oxford and Liverpool. In the next few months I'll find myself in Paris, Bologna, Rome, the Lake District and (hopefully) Romania. All budget travels - but what we lack in style, we make up in originality!

Katrina said...

This is probably my most favorite set of photographs. The scenery, in which you blend in beautifully - reminds me of a fairy tale, or the Secret Garden at least. Mary who came from the exciting world of India, nonetheless found interesting adventures in England. I too wish for the olden days when it comes to travelling. It was certainly more romantic as you point it out, and a lot less polluting (I am a very environmentally conscious person after all). And I do especially miss the suitcases, lined with patches from all over the world. Also, a gentleman to carry those said suitcases would be quite nice too.

>'.'<

Sofie Marie said...

The two tights idea is quite wonderful,though maybe slightly impractical.
I enjoyed your writings(I have a feverish passion to travel,most likely instilled by my parents,and definatley do not understand those that travel without embracing different cultures).Though I do think most teenagers romanticise all aspects of life that they cannot grasp.
Sofie

the nyanzi report said...

the last two pictures are just incredible.

Kelly-Marie said...

You took the words right out of my mouth. I have the exact same nostalgic, romantic view of travelling and sadly I think only a time machine would do it. Or a lottery win so that I could actually afford to go on the Orient Express. ;) I travelled to India and visited a palace that had been untouched and kept exactly as it had been left in the early 1930's. Places like that keep my dreams alive.
I always look forward to your blog posts not only because you are a beauty yourself and I love your writing but also because the scenery in your pictures always takes my breath away.

The Fancy Teacup said...

Your outfit is very lovely and bears much resemblance to beautiful folklore. x

www.TheFancyTeacup.com

The Lady Nerd said...

Your face reflects the sun so well. I know it's an odd thing to note, but it's something I don't oft' see.

I very much feel the same about travel. I felt suffocated in my suburban American cage, especially while in school. Although I went for many reasons, I launched out to the other side of the world for my own set of travels.

Althought it was an English-speaking country it was definitely an immersive experience! There were some similarities, but so many differences that every day was new and exciting. It's a sad thing to never travel, but I think it's even sadder to have traveled the world, then get stuck back in a work-riddled cage to make ends meet when your heart yearns to travel the world. Tis my current predicament.

Oh trains, that's one my list of things to do one of these days. Ride a true passenger train in a vintage outfit with monogrammed trunks. Even if it's just once. Sadly, I have no idea where one would do that.

But I definitely agree that there's been a drawback to the globalisation of travel. Suddenly foreign cultures don't hold as much allure as when they were not easily reached. I have fond memories of listening for hours to the missionaries who'd come to my church when I was a kid - from Japan, Bolivia, and Russia. I was sponge for their stories and was downright giddy to receive any token of the country they witnessed in. But now, I can get those same token at the local supermarket or Target/Walmart. To me, it cheapens the the whole experience.

The Lady Nerd said...

I think money and time are the two primary factors in this change. 1)Travel is hugely expensive. So while I'd love to spend weeks even a month or two traveling Europe, it's just not possible. It's a massive amount of money.

2) Though I think even more than money is time (though time IS money). Everything is very quick these days. People don't have time to read, time to simply sit and talk. There is work to be done! Facebook to update! Blogs to write! (Not that any of these are wrong. Just that society has placed a fast-paced clock on these things.)

I know here in America, it's very very hard to ask off of any sort of job for more than a week, which makes traveling a whirlwind, a rush to experience without the time to truly soak it all in. It's a sad state of affairs.

Oh dear, you got me going now Roz. :P

Page Song said...

so so pretty!! it reminds me of alice in wonderland :)
page

Laura Gerencser said...

Those two tone tights are very nice:) Love the pics as always!

Julie said...

I loved your text! What you say is true, but it still is about what you make out of your experiences. Your can take a plane, live in an expensive hotel, visit all these popular places, all the other people are visiting. Or you can do this trip by yourself and experience it the way you want to. There is no need to visit famous tourist attractions, no need to go to mcdonald's, the real cultural scene lies behind that. Everywhere you go you can have an adventurous experience, if you just take a look behind the curtains, meet people from the country you are visiting and just do the things they do. why not taking a small bad with the things you need most and just travel. take a bus somewhere, take the train, it takes longer, but that actually is travelling - to be on the road, train, whatever. I have to admit I have never done something likely before, but it is my dream as well!
travelling is the greatest thing in this world <3

Jo said...

You suit that shade of pink so perfectly! <3 <3 <3 This look kind of reminds me of a matador - and I love it!

x
Lost in the Haze: Fashion Blog

Sara said...

Nice photos and really cool outfit, you look great, I love your skirt, what a great color combination and that jacket is so nice, the perfect touch to the outfit also you are really beautiful and your shoes rock! You have an awesome blog by the way and I am a new follower! Hope you will like my blog and follow back!
Also make sure to enter my 100$ giftcard giveaway to spend at Shopbop.

Pop Culture&Fashion Magic

krystalleee said...

Considering that travelling is one of my greatest loves, I just felt compelled to comment.

I come from the Asian continent, which is often romanticised by people from other continents (Americas, Europe, etc.) as an exotic destination. Funny how we feel otherwise. On the contrary, it is common for us to romanticise about going to Europe or America. Sometimes, we just don't appreciate what we have right under our noses. Traveling to Russia or Thailand might sound more appealing, but consider the little towns and villages around you too. The Scottish highlands? Belfast, perhaps?

It's true; cultural immersion has been tainted by globalised travel. But like Shophopper posted above, in order to immerse into the culture, one has to dig deeper. Beyond the tourist attractions, a true blue traveler hunts down the neighbourhood bakery only the locals are privy to instead of the overarching McDonalds round the corner. In fact, the McDonalds around the world will let you in on the city's culture too if you are willing to look carefully. The whole of Rome has only 2 McDonalds outlets. China sells crocodile meat in their McDonalds. No beef burgers are available in India's McDonalds. What gives?

Regarding time travel, I would recommend you to watch 'Midnight in Paris'. It isn't exactly a movie to shout about in my opinion, but it offers brilliant food for thought. :)

Cheers, Ros!

lucia m said...

BEAUTIFUL!


www.aroundlucia.com
www.aroundlucia.com

eighteenthofmay said...

Amazing pictures- I am so jealous of your bone structure!

Say :)
eighteenthofmay.blogspot.com

Celynne said...

I love that you chose to wear two colours of tights. Didn't it feel odd with the other legs tucked away though, lumpy like that? You look lovely :) I want to travel so badly, but I've barely been anywhere. The few times I've left my province, I spent most of my time in someone basement so eh.

100%soie said...

these colours are perfect together !!! you are so lovely, I just love your style !

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

I've definitely benefited from the globalisation of travel (that and two passports) but I do see the negatives. A friend of mine once said you should have to pass a test to go to Florence, it's such a disaster of tourism. Obviously that's a concept rife with snobbery, but there is such a thing as too much travel/tourism.

I do think it's a mistake to romanticise the journeys made in the past however. Think of all the Great British tours... essentially just rich people on display in Italy traipsing through some galleries but interacting entirely with other English people--not to different from the expat community in Barcelona today, for example. And then there's the discomfort we no longer have to endure. Yes, Ryanair is a royal nuisance, but consider travelling by stagecoach (the Orient Express would have been out of my equivalent budget, I think).

Anyway, beautiful beautiful beautiful pictures! I've been on a major Russian inspiration kick as of late. : )

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Breathtaking images, particularly the one by the huge green door overgrown with vines. These are exactly my romantic images of England from storybooks before I embarked on my own journey!

I have loved travelling since childhood, but the two trips indelibly imprinted in my mind are the ones that evoked this romantic idea of the Orient Express. One was in Turkey, for 3 weeks in a car with my husband, exploring ancient ruins (most of them without a single tourist to mar our enjoyment) and driving through the Taurus Mountains with nearly an empty tank, miraculously making it to a small village where we were fed and entertained by villagers who spoke no english but sang us songs on their rustic instruments. The other was another 3 week driving trip through Morocco. We had "gone up" in the world by then and stayed in lovelier accommodations, but the feeling of being Indiana Jones warily treading the souks or wandering in Berber mountains at dusk was still an incomparable feeling! (I apologize for these essays that seem to escape from my keyboard ...)

Congratulations on being on the list! Very well-deserved! xxx

Zorian said...

Beautiful photos.
I just want to book a reservation to Shangri-La, as in the movie Lost Horizon. I always thought it would be a good idea.

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Oh you are a joy Roz, that jacket is utterly gobsmackingly gorgeous and the tights with that skirt!!!! Oh and I voted for you hon:)) xo

lola said...

love the photography on your blog , beautiful, inspiring, xx

Jessica said...

I love this, its like something from a magazine. The colors are great :)

http://chicgeekblogger.blogspot.com/

Please take a minute to look at my trunkshow;

http://iouproject.com/tsh/jessica-karen/

Tara said...

Stunning photography and yet another brilliant post, Roz! Well done for getting longlisted for the Company Blog Awards - you definitely deserve a mention.
I'm so glad to have found Clothes, Cameras, Coffee as it is now - after following its growth over the past year - undoubtedly one of my favourite blogs!
Best wishes,
Tara

adrielleroyale said...

Love that blazer!! Great outfit and description of the travel itch ;)

alexandratherese said...

I empathise with how you're feeling Rosalind - I too am currently in the middle of exams and there is little time for anything but cramming formulas into my brain and pacing up and down reciting facts to an empty room. Escapism is what we all need at times like these - I've been finding mind in books and have actually managed to read two novels in the past week alone as it's the only thing I've been doing when not revising! Am currently reading Evelyn Waugh's 'A Handful Of Dust' and enjoying it immensely - I thoroughly recommend it.

The Orient Express sounds like a fantastic way to travel - complete with a porter pushing a pile of trunks and myself dressed in furs, hat and gloves and carrying a vanity case. Oh to daydream! Lovely Russian look you've created here - I especially like the ingenuity of the two-tone tights; I've done that before, the whole tying them together out of sight thing, and I only wish that more different coloured tights were actually being stocked in shops!

Interesting what you've said about globalisation - it does indeed feel like nowhere is "too far" away for a person to have gone on holiday or exceptionally distant or exotic. I suppose when one can be in, say, the east coast of the US in seven hours time the distant seems pretty trivial.

Lovely post - will have to leave it there though, I have an exam tomorrow!

Alexandra xx

Lydia said...

I love to travel by train. I also have a bit of a romanticized view of travel from previous decades-- riding the train today never has quite the same affect as I want it to have. I love the two-tone tights!! I totally see Russia in this outfit-- like the little nesting dolls.

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

I think this is one of your best outfits! Additionally, the soft pink hued makeup is very complimentary. Just lovely!

I remember that feeling of having no time for anything apart from studies and exams. In the US, the gap year concept didn't exist, and still doesn't, to my knowledge. A gap year seems a good idea, though, provided one can travel, continuing that learning process but in a different way, outside of traditional academia - learning through experience. :)

I will pop over to Company Style Bloggers and vote for you!

Laura (White Winters) said...

Congratulations on the nomination! I really like that second picture.

Laura
whitewinters.blogspot.com

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

That pink hair flower is beautiful! =)

pinkchampagnefashion.blogspot.com

Lady M said...

Fabulously written piece - got me dreaming of far off lands.
Good luck in the Company awards

LadyM
http://www.ladympresents.co.uk

San said...

Wonderful series as always. I totally love the light and everything of the second picture, it's like a fairytale world.

Greetings from rainy Leipzig. I wonder if the weather gods have mixed up the location, this is Germany and not Britain... There should be snow and not rain.

Eesh said...

I am so in love with this post, it's ridiculous! I love your hair, outfit & scenery. *sigh* so whimsical!

Will definitely vote for you :)

Le grenier de Mlle said...

Love your outfit ♥

Charlotte Beecham said...

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It features my recently launched scarf line 'charlotte & lisa' with hoods, fur etc, i think its really suiting to your style!

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SymbioticLife said...

I understand what you mean about the desire for the time machine. I have a travel bug that is constantly nibbling on me. When I was 21, I had the luxury of taking a road trip by myself across America from California to North Carolina and back to California. I went through the middle on my way out and through the South on my way back. It took me a 6 month period and I stayed with family or friends along the way. I stopped when I was inspired. I saw parts of the infamous Route 66, the Grand Canyon, Indian reservations, historical ghost towns where stories of American history were re-enacted, and abandoned mining towns that now only house independent artists and a Casino. The list just goes on and on. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. Don't lose hope. It's still out there should we seek it out. Good luck with your exams!

Shervin's World said...

YOUR PHOTOS R SO CAPTIVATING! i just love ur blog!!

wwww.shervinsworld.com

Glam Fashionista said...

Great jacket and skirt. Lovely blog, if you want visit my blog and let me know if you want to follow and I will follow back.

The Fashion Scan said...

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isa telaraƱa said...

Fantastic the shocks, the door and the swing.
...Luck!!!

Fashionistable said...

I love the concept of a train ticket and a time machine. I have lived away from my original home for many years now and feel more and more that London is my spiritual home. Having spent time in Miami and just coming back from Amsterdam I realise that actually the grass is greenist at home. Having said that I do love to travel, there are so many more places I need to see. Beautiful look and light for your shots today. Xxxx

awishisarainbow said...

I love this outfit :) And have done a similar thing with tights in the past....always a talking point!!

As for travel, I would like to think there is the opportunity for 'real' travel still...it just takes a slightly different form. Ok, we don't take trunks with us, but there are so many chances to stay with families in far flung places...en-famile is definitely the only way to see the real country. I went to stay with a friend in Moscow a couple of years ago, and although there was McDonalds and tourist attractions, I got to see where the locals shopped and ate, I was welcomed into Russian homes and travelled the way they travel. Maybe not as romantic as bumping into Anna Karenina, but still not quite as globalised.

chiikalivelovelaugh said...

wow gorgeous and the first photo is my fav.
http://chiikalivelovelaugh.blogspot.com/
thanks for sharing

Natalie Anne Bourn said...

These photographs are beautiful, I completely understand the want for a Vivienne Westwood jacket too! (maybe one day) xx