Greece: Ruins [Post #5]

This post is a rather quick one, about the images from when me and Rick went to shoot at a Mycenaean bridge. I’ve mentioned this bridge in previous posts. You will probably recall an image of this place in the first post Greece: Vintage [Post #1] and then a picture of me, being a tourist in front of this bridge in the post Greece: Tourist [Post #4]. We went back to this bridge at the beginning of one of the days we were shooting.

In these images, the bridge is still there, so I guess they aren’t really ruins, like the title of this post would have you believe. But I do think that Greece: Ruins sounds a lot more exciting than Greece: Bridge. I’m sure you agree, so my apologies if the title of this post misled you a little! I just like the titles to sound catchy. Especially since I’ve limited myself to one word. That’s my justification anyway. I’m an artist, I can get away with it.

We only had time to get a few quick pictures because it is a popular spot, and fairly near to a main road. But we got the images down to some pretty good  and speedy team work and I really love them. It’s amazing what you can achieve in just a few minutes!

These images are really lovely and if I were lucky enough to be somewhere like Greece working again, I’d love to do more work with beautiful places like this, left behind by the Mycenaeans (maybe a fine art shoot in a location similar to the one in Greece: Fashion [Post #2]) . And do something with Ancient Greek ruins too. That would be really cool and would suit my style of modelling I think. Seeing these images has given me more ideas of the potential a country like Greece has for this sort of work. It really is an amazing country… I’m getting off topic here. Dreaming about possible future shoots when I set out to discuss a past shoot. I’m easily distracted.

Anyway, I’m sure you just want to see the images now, so I’ll get on with it. The way I’ve set this post up is pretty exciting, even though there aren’t many images to show you. I received both colour and black and white versions of these images from Rick. I’m going to post both versions of each image so you can decide which you like best. For me, I think it’s always going to be black and white. There’s something about it.


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So what’s the consensus? I’ll be honest, I particularly like black and white images anyway. It’s very rare that given the choice, I would choose colour. Black and white photography just really works for the sort of modelling that I do, so I usually prefer it.

With these images, the first three poses are more classical in their style, so I think these work best in black and white. The last two are posed a lot more naturally, so I think I’d veer towards colour on those two.

That’s just my opinion, though. I’d love to hear what you think works best and which one is your favourite. My favourite is the second one, in black and white.


 

Greece: Tourist [Post #4]

Get ready for another pointless post, jam-packed with selfies! I’m not even kidding. This one’s about my trip in general. I thought some people might be interested, so here we are. It’s quite a long one, so if you’re staying, you might want to grab a cup of tea or something and settle in.


Travelling to meet people I’ve only ever conversed with online is part of my job. It’s normal for me. Photographers message me online, we discuss a shoot, then get in in the diary. It’s all done online and it’s rare that I even speak to a photographer on the phone before I work with them. Then I travel, usually by train, on the appointed date, at the appointed time…. To meet someone I’ve never met before. It’s not weird for me. It’s just my job. And I really seem to have perfected the art of finding a person on a busy train station platform when I have absolutely no idea what they look like. It’s a skill developed through the weirdness of my job. But that’s irrelevant… Moving on…

Travelling out of the country to meet someone I’d not met before, was kinda weird. I have to admit, I felt like a bit of a badass for doing it. I’d talked to Rick a lot online before I flew out there and of course, I’d checked he wasn’t a crazy axe murderer or serial killer. He seemed legit from his online profile, and appeared to be exactly who he said he was. But it still took a certain level of bravery to say yes and just go. I don’t think many people would have. But I did.


This is me at Manchester airport, and then me sitting on the plane… My first time flying alone (and I’ve never really flown a whole lot in my life anyway!!)

The ‘Welcome to Greece’ sign as I got off the plane, and then a picture of me when I finally arrived at what would be my home for the next week!


My first day in Greece did not involve any modelling. The weather was a bit cloudy (Rick prefers bright sunlight for his work) and because of the travelling, Rick thought it would be a good idea to just explore and relax a bit. Which is what we did.

I learnt so much about Greek history and culture that first day, I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am. I love learning, so having someone who has a degree in archaeology talk to me about ancient civilisations as we walked around those sites was simply amazing.

We did a lot of sightseeing that day. We visited the Mycenaean bridge on the way to Epidavros, a Mycenaean necropolis in Dendra and walked up to a Mycenaean citadel in Midea (the views from there are amazing… I made sure to take lots of pictures). Then in the afternoon, we went to an old disused train station where we came across some old, rusted trains. We spent a little while there while both me and Rick, captivated by the strangeness of the huge machines forgotten amongst all of the greenery, took lots of photographs. I will be posting more of my own photography from my trip to Greece at some point. It was an incredible day, my mind full of lots of new facts and information. It was great!

We also went to Nafplio on my first day in Greece, so that I could go to the market and get food. Being vegan, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to find much to eat in Greece. But I needn’t have worried. The market in Nafplio was such an amazing place. You could get an array of different fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, dried beans, herbs, spices, olives…. And everything was so cheap compared to markets in England. It was vegan heaven, like a rainbow of yummy food, stretching out as far as you could see… Needless to say, I didn’t go hungry while I was in Greece!

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Me as a tourist, standing in front of a 3,500 year old bridge built by the Mycenaeans. It was amazing to walk here, imagining the people who built it such a long time ago… We came back to this bridge a few days later for me to model there. You might recognise it from one of the images in the post Greece: Vintage [Post #1].

A selfie with the views from the top of the Mycenaean citadel in the background and then a selfie of me at the disused train station (notice the Jaret Reddick hoodie for anyone who’s reading this and understands what this means… ❤ )

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A Mycenaean tomb at Dendra

 

The steps up to the Mycenaean citadel at Midea and the view from the top, just after you go through what is left of the gate. The view was spectacular!

 

One of the abandoned trains we saw at the disused railway, a picture of me doing something weird with my feet, and then a picture of the back of one of the trains, showing the graffiti there.


The next day was my first day of modelling where Rick drove me to Methana. I talked a little about my time there in my post Greece: Fashion [Post #2]. I got to see more Mycenaean ruins (and model with them as my background) as me and Rick started to create the art that was the whole reason I was there!

Later, we visited a Mycenaean citadel, with a Hellenistic addition to it… And then drove up a volcano! It was amazing. And there were goats. It is important to mention the goats. They were really really cute.

Two selfies of me on this lovely warm day in Greece, rocking the new sunglasses because my old faithful ones died, just before I was supposed to fly out to Greece. These ones are okay… But I miss my old sunnies!!!

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The remains of what I think Rick told me was a Mycenaean village (he will email me after reading this to let me know if I’ve remembered wrong!) I love that you can still see where the walls of the houses would have been so you could see how big the rooms were. I also saw things like evidence of where columns would have gone, and spaces for cooking or storage pots too. I was turning into a little archaeologist! It was amazing.

A view of the sun light hitting one of the hills on Methana as the sun set and then a photograph of the sun setting as viewed from a volcano! I believe that the land you can see the sun setting behind is actually pretty close to where I was staying in Epidavros. Conversely, you can see Methana from the apartment I was staying in.


The next morning, I took a little walk down to the beach that is just a few minutes away from Rick’s apartment. I made friends with a beautiful ginger cat there. Except for me and Ginger, there was nobody else around. It was so quiet and peaceful, it was almost like my own private beach! Plus, the views were amazing. Luckily, I bought my camera and had a quick photo shoot with my new furry friend before heading back the apartment.

That day, me and Rick visited several olive groves to get some shots (you will see these shots in future posts, I promise!) and one of them had an old Mycenaean road running through it!

Then that evening, we ventured into Epidavros, the village where I was staying. On the way, Rick showed me several really interesting historical sites. Honestly, everywhere you look in Greece, there is something beautiful to see, or some old history to rediscover. It is a magical country.

A selfie of me on the beach in the morning and a selfie of me walking to the olive grove with the Mycenaean road running through it!

 

Another amazing sunset-in-Greece picture. This times by ruins instead of a volcano. Then a picture of my Greek coffee 🙂


The following day it was raining. Just my luck, I know. So we decided that we weren’t going to shoot that day… Instead, after a fairly lazy morning spent reading while Rick got some things sorted out (which was good after all the walking and exploring!), Rick took me to the museum in Nafplio. It was incredible seeing all of the things that had been found by archeologists in the exact places that I’d spent the last few days visiting and exploring. That was a really, really cool experience!

We then spent the afternoon exploring Nafplio after we had been to the museum. Rick had lots of things to show me. I was very lucky to have had such a knowledgable tour guide! There were lots of lovely views from the higher points of the city, and the buildings were all so beautiful. I took many photographs on my own camera, it would have been rude not to, being in such a beautiful place.

Oh, and the cats. The cute, adorable, cats and kittens were everywhere in the city. I wanted to take them all home, but obviously, couldn’t… So I settled for taking lots and lots of photographs of them instead!

I bought some komboloi (Greek worry beads) while I was here too, as well as getting small gifts for my family. It was a lovely day of being a tourist and enjoying the country I was in.

A beautiful dog, napping outside the museum and then a view of the sea from a pretty little outlook. You can’t even tell it had been raining earlier that day at all! It was quite amusing to see the Greek people all bundled up  because the temperature had dropped a few degrees. I was perfectly warm enough in my hoodie, while they were in heavy coats, hats and scarves… It would have been considered a lovely warm day in England!


On the Sunday, we went to the Sanctuary of Asklepios in Epidavros. This is probably my favourite place in the world. It was sunny and warm, and hardly anyone around… Rick showed me all the exciting things to see at this archaeological site. He took me around the site a different way to the way most people go. I preferred his way.

I could see the ruins becoming more and more well formed as Rick told me about the Ancient Greeks and the Romans and the myths and legends surrounding the area and the Gods and Goddesses associated with it. I was enthralled. It really was like a dream… But real. I was really there, walking where so many people have been walking for so long. It was magical.

We ended up in the Ancient Greek theatre. It was mind blowing. I studied classical civilisations in my GCSE and I’d always wanted to visit an ancient Greek theatre (one of those things that captures a young mind, I guess). And now I can say I’ve really seen one. Not only seen, but stood where the actors will have stood. Walked across where the orchestra will have been… And sat where countless people throughout history and from all over the world have sat. If that isn’t amazing, then I don’t know what is.

We sat there for a while, enjoying the sun, making friends with a cat, and watching the tourists stand in the centre of the theatre and shout up to ask if we could hear them (you really can, by the way). I also took the opportunity to get some touristy shots as well as doing some of my own photography… Because how could I visit somewhere so utterly amazing and not get those tourist photos??

Selfies in the Sancturary of Asklepois in Epidavros. The first one was just in courtyard. I included it here because my the-sun-is-in-my-eyes-I-can’t-help-but-squint face made me giggle. In the second shot, you can see some of what’s left of the sanctuary built by the ancient Greeks.

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Here, Rick got a shot of my photographing the ruins of the sanctuary. I have no idea how I can stand like that without falling over, but clearly, it’s helping me to hold my camera steady. Weird.

A selfie as I walked around the grounds of the sanctuary and a selfie with my new friend at the theatre!

A selfie taken from the theatre. You can see how huge it is, you can totally see why it blew me away! And then a shot of my feet (why, oh why do I keep doing this?) on the steps of the theatre.

Two more shots taken by Rick of me with the theatre in the background. You can see how absolutely breathtaking it is!

Okay two more pictures of the theatre, then I promise I’m done with them! One where you can see my feline friend in shot too, and one where you can see the height of the theatre behind me. It’s an amazing place. I really love it there.


My last full day in Greece, wasn’t good weather, unfortunately so I didn’t get to model outdoors any more after my time spend modelling in the olive groves after visiting the Sanctuary of Asklepios on the previous day. On my final day, we wandered into Epidavros again and then took some shots in the apartment using the natural light coming in from the window. They were really really lovely shots, so I didn’t mind not having chance to model outside again!


It was an early start to get to the airport as it’s a long drive and my plane was pretty early in the morning… So I reluctantly left the amazing country that is Greece to come back to Manchester, where my dad was waiting at the airport to drive me home back to Stoke-on-Trent. Modelling in Greece was an amazing experience, and Rick has even invited me back again! I enjoyed every moment of my time in Greece, and I learnt so much! It was lovely, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have experienced the things I did in my week there.

A photograph of me at Athens airport, and then me in my seat on the plane ready to go home!

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A photograph of the window of the plane just as I landed back in England. It seems that whenever I go away to somewhere warm, it’s always raining when I come home as if it’s saying, ‘welcome back, Misuzu… I bet you’ve missed the rain!’


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my time in Greece. I really did have a wonderful experience, I learnt so much and saw some truly amazing things. I can’t wait to visit Greece again!


 

Greece: Rock [Post #3]


So, in my last post, I mentioned about finding the big rock and just having to climb up it. Most photographers who’ve worked with me before are not surprised in the slightest (they’re sat there thinking, yep, that sounds about right). I feel like I should mention here that I’m really quite clumsy (and anyone who’s spent any length of time with me is recalling at least one occasion where I’ve completely stacked it for no reason at all, while being completely sober). So I guess for some people, me climbing rocks isn’t such a good thing. They worry! But for me, it is a good thing. I like to climb. I love my job because I can climb trees, big rocks, whatever, and it’s not considered ‘weird’, it’s considered ‘getting the shot’. It’s great!

Anyway, so there we were, me and Rick, it was a lovely day in an olive grove, taking photographs… And suddenly there is a huge boulder sticking out of the ground. Two seconds later, I’m up there and voila. We have these lovely images. It’s fun being me.

The first shot in this post will seem familiar to anyone who’s been reading these posts so far. That’s because you’ve seen it before. It’s the exact same image in Greece: Fashion [Post #2]. The rest are new though, I promise.

After the shot you’ve already seen, there is a fairly classic art nude shot, followed by two more implied shots. I really like these because of the heavy shadows cast by the leaves of the surrounding olive trees and the strong sunlight. They cast a pattern on my body that almost looks like an outfit, like I belong in nature (probably because I do, I always feel at home when I’m working surrounded by nature). I think that strong shadows can really forge a connection between model and surroundings. This interaction plays an important part of why I love these images so much, and why I gave this rock its very own blog post, despite there only being five images in total!

[Here, I am talking about photographs 2, 3 & 4]

Finally, the last image is one of my favourites from the whole trip. It is a black and white edit of me curled up on the rock. When you look at it for the first time, it takes a moment for you to notice there is a model in the shot too. I like shots like that. Images that make you look more closely, or double-take to see things you didn’t pick up on before. I think that this is because the image is in black and white, so the contrast of my tanned skin colour against the paler colour of the rock isn’t as noticeable… It’s almost like my body becomes an extension of the rock. Integrated into nature.

Am I getting too weird? Okay, I’ll just let you look at the pictures…


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I hope you liked these images. It’s just a  quick post to appreciate how awesome it is when you unexpectedly find a big rock! (I’m such a loser, I know!)


 

Greece: Fashion [Post #2]

So time for a bit of rambling on about my time in Greece. If you aren’t interested, feel free to just scroll down to the images!


So the first day of my trip was spent exploring. I like exploring. I took lots of photographs, but I didn’t model at all that day (I will go into more detail about non-modelling related things from my trip in the post Greece: Tourist [Post #4] which will be posted soon if you’re interested at all).

My first day modelling in Greece, was actually my second day there. It was probably the nicest weather for the duration of my time there, too. Not that the weather was bad the rest of the time, (apart from the day that it stormed so we stayed inside all morning and visited a museum in the afternoon!) but it was particularly lovely on my first proper day there.

We drove onto Methana, which is a volcanic peninsula. We drove past the thermal springs as we arrived, and I could smell the sulphur coming from the  baths. These baths have amazing healing properties, if you can stand the smell. I for one, didn’t mind it too much, but we were only driving past… I wonder if I would feel differently if I was surrounded by it more. Anyway, Methana is famous for these thermal springs and that sulphuric smell.

We drove along the seafront, which was very very quiet due to it being out of tourist season. In the car, we continued up an incline until we came to a beautiful place that would be our first location for me to model in. It was an olive grove, surrounded by Mycenaean ruins. It was a truly amazing and beautiful place (I’m pretty sure I said that about every single place I went to in Greece…).

In this location, there were remnants of walls built around 1,500 BC. How amazing is that? I bet those people had no idea that 3,500 years later, there would be a girl from England using their walls as a scene for a bit of model photography…

Anyway, so that’s where me and Rick (Garden of the Muses) got our first images together, the ones that make up the bulk of this post. They consisted of fashion shots in a simple white dress, using the beautiful remains of a civilisation that existed over 3,000 years ago as the setting.

[This refers to photographs 1-6]

We then went on to get some more images here using the olive trees surrounding the Mycenaean ruins, but they are for future posts. We then drove on, to work in a Mycenaean citadel, with a Hellenistic watch tower built on top (the first picture in the previous blog post was taken right on top of that watch tower!), again surrounded by beautiful olive trees which we used for our location for the second part of the day, the images from which are to come in future posts. This is where we finished our shooting for the day. But the adventure wasn’t over.

You can actually drive up the volcano of Methana, which we did! We timed it perfectly as we were at the top of the volcano just as the sun was setting. It was such an amazing experience and a beautiful sight… I took some photographs with my own camera of the amazing scene, and watched the sun disappear. It was magical.

There are 32 craters if I remember rightly, but the last eruption was in 230 BC, with a submarine eruption in 1700 (according to Wikipedia).


The last few images on this page, are in the same simple outfit, but taken a few days later in an olive grove closer to where I was staying. It was probably the second nicest weather I had during my stay, now I think about it…

Anyway, we got a few fashion shots around the olive trees we were using as our location for that day, and we came across a huge boulder in the middle of all of the olive trees! So of course, I had to climb up it and get some shots there too. there is a post dedicated to this rock in Greece: Rock [Post #3]

[This refers to photographs 7-9]


Anyway, here are the images. They are just simple fashion shots, but I really like them. I feel like I look like I could be Greek in these! I love the way my skin colour compliments the ruins of the walls that surround me. I feel like I really belong amongst those ruins. Okay, so it probably would have been even better if I was there 3, 500 years ago, but you can’t have everything.

What do you think? Do you reckon I could be mistaken for being Greek? A lot of the locals must have thought so because they tried to speak to me in Greek quite often (I don’t know any Greek), which was a bit awkward.

The guy I was sitting next to on the plane to Greece tried to talk to me in Greek. When I said I was English and didn’t speak any Greek, he said to me, “Are you sure you’re not Greek? I think you’re Greek. You look Greek. No, you’re definitely Greek!” I guess I didn’t need to be part of that conversation!


Usually when you work with a photographer for the first time, the images you get in the first part of your shoot are never the best… Because you’re still getting used to how each other works, as everybody works differently. Sometimes, it takes a little while to get into the swing of how this model-photographer interaction works with different people.

But these images seem to contradict that, as me and Rick seemed to get amazing images right from the start.


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I hope you like these images. Number 6 is my favourite. Comment below and let me know which one you like best!


 

Greece: Vintage [Post #1]

So this is the first of a series of blog posts dedicated to my trip to Greece in November 2017.

They are going to go as follows (and I will add links as they get published):

Greece: Vintage [Post #1]

Greece: Fashion [Post #2]

Greece: Rock [Post #3]

Greece: Tourist [Post #4]

Greece: Ruins [Post #5]

Greece: Classical [Post #6]

Greece: Abstract [Post #7]

Greece: Debate [Post #8]

I’m excited to write about my trip and share some of the work I did there with you.


Basically, this series of blog posts is being written because I was lucky enough to get to work for a whole week in Greece. I was invited there by a fantastic photographer called Rick, who goes by the name Garden of the Muses for his photography work. He took me to some amazing places and I saw so many wonderful things. I’m not surprised that the photographs from the trip are all so good! You can access his website by clicking here if you’re interested in seeing more of his work.


When I was looking through the images Rick sent me (while I was back in cold, rainy England!), I saw that he had edited several of the images with a particular style. They really jumped out at me. I think it gives the images a certain timeless quality that I can’t really explain. I decided they would form a great little group of images for my first blog post, to introduce the sort of work we did.

I’ll be honest, some of the poses in the images I’m about to show you are a little clumsy for my tastes (well, I can’t nail it every time can I?). I probably wouldn’t have liked some of these images if they had been edited differently (and by differently, I guess I mean, in a more average kind of way). But they seem to really work in this style for some reason and I’m not sure why. It just goes to show that editing really does make a difference to the image.

[The poses I am talking about  here relate to photographs 3, 4 & 10 in particular]

There are also a few images in this post that are included in future blog posts, just edited differently (by differently, I mean black and white). These images in black and white are among my favourite images from my time in Greece. I feel like those same images in this particular editing style makes them into something else, and I like them for a whole different reason. I’m not even sure if that paragraph reads well, so I hope you understand what I’m getting at. Basically just that these images in this style are awesome. Those same images are even better in black and white and you’ll see those in other blog posts. I think that makes a bit more sense. Maybe. Moving on…

[Here, I am talking about photographs 2, 7, 8 & 9 in particular]

It’s amazing how something simple can change your opinion of a photograph. That’s why I decided to give these images a post of their own. I’m not going to say much else in this post. I’ll shut up and let the photographs speak for themselves.


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I hope that you like these shots as much as I do. There’s just something about these images in this editing style that makes them so different. I can’t explain it, and I’m probably making a mess of trying to explain it. Let me know in the comments which ones are your favourites! If I had to pick just one, I think it would be number 9!


 

Bookworm


So I said in my last post that I would write up a list of all 57 of the books I read in 2017. I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these and what you thought of them. I also love getting recommendations of books, so feel free to get in touch if you’ve read anything particularly good lately!

I’m just going to write the titles of the books I’ve read, followed by the author in italics. They are listed in the order in which I read them (hence, the silly amount of Christmas themed ones towards the end…)


  1. 2am at the Cat’s Pajamas, Marie-Helene Bertino
  2. The Host, Stephanie Meyer
  3. A Pocket Full of Murder, R.J.Anderson
  4. The Boy Who Kicked Pigs, Tom Baker
  5. Grief is the Thing with Feathers, Max Porter
  6. Three Martini Lunch, Suzanne Rindell
  7. I Know This Much is True, Wally Lamb
  8. The Earth Hums in B-Flat, Mari Strachan
  9. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo
  10. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Graphic Novel Volume 3
  11. Song of Willow Frost, Jamie Ford
  12. Poor Unfortunate Soul, Serena Valentino
  13. Girl Singer, Rosemary Clooney
  14. Still Alice, Lisa Genova
  15. Unspeakable, Abbie Rushton
  16. Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Crossover Graphic Novel
  17. I See You, Clare Mackintosh
  18. Ink and Bone, Rachel Cain
  19. The Photograph, Penelope Lively
  20. 13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher
  21. Wayfaring Strangers, James Lee Burke
  22. The Girls, Emma Cline
  23. The Year of the Rat, Clare Furniss
  24. How Not to Disappear, Clare Furniss
  25. Woman of the Dead, Bernhard Aichner
  26. Red Hill, Jamie McGuire
  27. The Legend of Podkin One-Ear, Kieran Larwood
  28. Sleeping Giants, Sylvian Neuval
  29. Dead Man’s Blues, Ray Celestin
  30. Die of Shame, Mark Billingham
  31. Killer Move, Michael Marshall
  32. Love, Love Me Do, Mark Haysom
  33. Master of Shadows, Neil Oliver
  34. Pax, Sarah Pennypacker
  35. Moon Over Soho, Ben Aaronovitch
  36. Wonder, R.J. Palacio
  37. The Incorruptibles, John Hornor Jacobs
  38. The Dry, Jane Harper
  39. That Part Was True, Deborah McKinlay
  40. When God Was a Rabbit, Sarah Winman
  41. Freaks, Kieran Larwood
  42. The Death House, Sarah Pinborough
  43. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend
  44. Rhyming Rings, David Gemmell
  45. The Windvale Sprites, Mackenzie Crook
  46. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Graphic Novel Volume 4
  47. Ghostbusters/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Crossover Graphic Novel
  48. Doll Bones, Holly Black
  49. Fearless, Tim Lott
  50. The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend
  51. Christmas Around the Village Green, Dot May Dunn
  52. Little Sister, Isabel Ashdown
  53. Coming Home… For Christmas, Patricia Scanlan
  54. The Christmas Train, David Baldacci
  55. Mistletoe on 34th Street, Lisa Dickenson
  56. Snowed in for Christmas, Claire Sandy
  57. A Gift to Remember, Melissa Hill

So there we go. The 57 books I read in 2017. An utterly pointless post in many ways, but if even one person finds a book they enjoy because of it, then it was worth me taking the time to post this 🙂

Happy reading in 2018!


 

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!

 


Hello everyone. I hope 2018 has been kind to you so far. Last year, I said I was going to blog more. I didn’t. There’s one 2017 resolution that didn’t happen. But never mind. If at first you don’t succeed, try again… Or whatever it was that person said. Good advice. So here we are, 2018 (it just has to be the perfect year as it starts on a Monday. It’s just beautiful!). I’m actually going to blog more this year. You can hold me to that.

 

I wanted to write a bit about my achievements of 2017 and my plans for 2018… This post will be about gratitude for last year and intention setting for this year. I don’t expect you to read all of this really, you can just wait for some of the ones I’ll be posting later this month which will hopefully be less rambly. Hopefully. This post is more for me than anything.


I think 2017 was a good year. I achieved so much and did so many things. Plus, 2016 was just so shit for pretty much everyone that 2017 probably seemed awesome by default… Amirite? 😉

 

But seriously, 2017 was great for me. I have the best job in the world (at least I think so), so many exciting things happen because of my job and doing what I love (like getting the chance to go to Greece for example!), but I don’t just mean that 2017 was good for my work, although it was. I mean that 2017 was good for me. I did things I didn’t think I’d be able to do. I did things I can really be proud of. I had fun and explored new places. It was a really awesome feeling as 2017 drew to a close and I was writing down what I was grateful for. When I’d finished, I felt a little overwhelmed at how awesome a year it had been. And it’s given me a bit of drive to make 2018 even better.

 

I didn’t feel like 2017 was all that great when I was living it day to day. It felt average at best. But the power of looking back at all the things I did was a really amazing experience for me. If you didn’t write a list of things you’re grateful for that happened in 2017, I strongly recommend doing it. At first you’ll be staring at a blank piece of paper, but then you’ll think of one thing and then another, and another and before you know it, you’ve written a whole list of things. It’s magical.


My 2017 Gratitude List

The first thing I want to write about is the number of books I read this year. At the beginning of 2017, I set myself a goal of one book a week. So by the end of 2017, I will have read 52 books. I achieved my goal and actually ended up on 57 as the total number of books I read in 2017. I think that’s awesome. I love reading so much. I read a variety of books, mostly fiction, but some YA fiction, some graphic novels and a couple of non-fiction books too. I’m going to list them in a separate blog post, in case anyone else is as much of a bookworm as me and wanted to inspiration on things to read. I’m always happy to receive book recommendations, by the way, so feel free to comment with your favourite book or ones you’ve read recently and loved. I read pretty much everything! So even if I didn’t blog like I’d planned in 2017, I achieved my reading goal! That’s something to be proud of.


In 2017, I finally got to spend a weekend away with my best friend, Katie. We stayed in London and went to see Mamma Mia! onstage at the Novello theatre. Then we got very very drunk and spent the next day hungover in a fancy hotel eating vegan pizza from Zizzi and watching Come Dine With Me on TV. Literally the stuff dreams are made of. It might seem a weird thing to say I’m grateful for in 2017, but let me point out that me and Katie live very far apart and hardly ever get to actually see each other. So that weekend really rocked, and I’m very very grateful for that experience. Thank you 2017 (and thank you, Katie!)!

Me and Katie before leaving the hotel, and in the lift on the way out of the hotel, on our way to see Mamma Mia!

Me and Katie queueing outside the Novello theatre and then seated in the theatre, waiting for the performance to start (there was lots of giggling and girlish squeals!)

Me hungover, snuggled in the hotel room, eating vegan pizza from Zizzi in the hope of curing the hangover, and watching Come Dine With Me on TV, while snuggled in the hotel bath robe and slippers!


I taught a yoga and meditation class to children in 2017. My mum works with kids, she’s always been a teacher. She asked me about whether meditation and yoga could help some of her students. We talked about it and decided that I should go in to talk to the head teacher and the deputy head teacher about it. So I did. I mentioned wanting to do my yoga teacher training at some point because teaching yoga is something I’d love to be able to do (eventually). And before I knew it, this idea had snowballed into me teaching a 30 minute yoga and meditation class to two separate groups of children. Well, that escalated quickly.

I. Was. Terrified.

I was so scared. I’m very passionate about yoga and meditation and the benefits of those things, so often find myself talking to people about them… but to actually try to impart that knowledge to a group of children in a way they can understand and connect with, who will all be looking right at me the whole time, expecting me to know all of the answers to all of those awkward weird questions that children ask… *shudders*

I’ve never been one to enjoy public speaking. I’m actually quite shy and quiet and don’t like being the centre of attention. So this was scary for me. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. All of the kids were lovely, I had fun and they had fun, and I got a really positive reaction from them. It was a fantastic experience. Another win for 2017, I overcame a fear and it all went well.

Two yoga themed self portraits I took at the beginning of 2017.


Another thing that was really exciting for me in 2017 was going on holiday with Katie in August. I don’t really like warm weather when it hits England (I spend the whole time it’s here [all 24 hours of it, usually] complaining that it’s too hot to do anything and wishing for winter, and then when it’s winter, I spend the whole time huddled up in duvets with hot water bottles, grumpy because it’s too cold all the time, wishing for summer…)

Anyway, so me and Katie had decided to go to Portugal for a few days. It’s really hot in Portugal in summer. It wasn’t until I was packing that I realised how much of a stupid idea this was. In May, when me and Katie were in London, it was really really hot (anyone else remember that crazy hot weather we had in May??? It was ridiculous…) and we both spent the whole time complaining that we hated warm weather… I was failing to see the logic behind us deciding to go to a hot country in the height of summer, but we did.

And it was actually amazing. The heat is different to the two days of summer we get in England and it was lovely. We spent time in the pool, on the river beach, sunbathing by the pool, sunbathing on the veranda… Basically lots and lots of sunbathing. It isn’t usually my thing, but apparently it was for the time I was in Portugal. I was like a reptile, basking in the sun at every opportunity. Then in the evenings, we got to go in the local village and attend their festas. We were staying in a tiny village, away from anything even remotely touristic so we got to experience real, rural Portuguese culture. The festa was lovely. There was music, dancing and wine. Everybody knew everybody. It was beautiful to watch and amazing to be part of. I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to experience a different culture without all all of the touristic influence. Thank you 2017 for the experience of another culture. And thank you to Marilyn and David (Katie’s aunt and uncle) who let us stay with them and showed us around.

Me having a selfie with my favourite boy before I left for the airport, and a photograph of me outside my front door, all packed ready to go! (I’m a loser, I’m aware of that fact!)

Me and Katie on the shuttle bus into the airport (looking very tired as it was about 4am, and then us sitting on the plane, being very excited and discussing whether or not is is okay to order prosecco at 5am, if you’re on an aeroplane (in case you’re wondering, we ordered the prosecco).

Pool selfies are mandatory on holidays that involve pools. As are the weird faces, so don’t judge!

Me and Katie enjoying the river beach in Coja. It was amazing and such a lovely day for it. The sun was hot, and the water was cool. Perfection.

There were lots and lots of selfies. I’ve limited it to just a few as I’m sure you’re sick of seeing my face by now, but I’d like to mention that these sunglasses died just before I was supposed to go to Greece so I had to buy new ones that aren’t as lovely. R.I.P favourite sunnies 😦

Pool selfie, followed by a photograph of me nearly drowning because I’m trying to read in the pool… Followed by a slightly more dignified picture of me afterwards (There was a more flattering version of that last picture, where I don’t have such a dorky look on my face, but I thought this one was more fun!)

Me and Katie in the car on our way to the airport to go home. It was some ungodly hour in the morning, hence the darkness. Me on the plane, listening to either Bowling for Soup or the soundtrack to Mamma Mia. I can’t remember which. Then a picture from just after we landed back in England. It was raining. I don’t know who that guy is in the background.

While I was in Portugal, I appear to have taken lots of photographs of my legs. If anyone can explain why I might have done this, I’d be very grateful. I have no idea.


In September, I spent some time in London. I was there to go to the Wanderlust 108m festival which is described as a mindful triathlon. Basically, it was a 5k walk or run, followed by yoga, followed by a meditation. I bought my ticket as soon as I heard about it. One ticket. I’d be going by myself. It was the first time I’d be going to something like that alone. Usually there would be friends, or family to go along, or I’d just drag the boyfriend begrudgingly along with me. But that wasn’t an option this time (worst. boyfriend. ever… just kidding). Basically, if I wanted to go, I’d be going alone. So I did.

A couple of months after booking my ticket, I found out that just two days before the Wanderlust festival, the lead singer of my favourite band was going to be performing a solo acoustic tour in London (Jaret Reddick form Bowling for Soup, in case you’re interested). That was fate. So I bought a ticket to that too. One ticket. I went by myself.

Going to things alone is actually really empowering, if a little scary. 2017; giving Misuzu the confidence to do what she wants to, even if she has to go it alone. I’m very proud of myself for dong it. Again, it might not seem like a big deal to you, but believe me when I tell you, this was a huge deal for me. And it was a nice adventure.

A picture of my ticket to see Jaret, and a selfie of me waiting outside in the rain before the doors were opened.

A selfie of me with my extortionately expensive Jack Daniels and Coke (London prices are crazy!) And a selfie of me post-gig, back at my hostel, wearing the hoodie I bought from the gig. It says ‘Jaret Reddick might be my dad’ on the back.

The day between the gig and the Wanderlust festival, I decided to have a wander around Camden. While I was there, I stumbled across this palace. I had my lunch there and it was AMAZING. I got back to the hostel and in the end decided to go back to Camden to find this place again for dinner. It really is that good.


Anyway, so the Wanderlust festival kicks off with a 5k walk or run. I was convinced I’d be walking it, if I managed to finish it at all. I’d tried to start to train myself to run a couple of months before the festival but as usually happens whenever I try to pick up a running habit; I did it for about a week and then stopped. I just can’t seem to keep a running practice. I’m not really sure why…

But anyway, I attended the Wanderlust festival as I’d planned. By myself. Prepared to walk the 5k to kick of the mindful triathlon… And for some magical reason, I ran the 5k. Okay, I walked some of it, but I ran more than I walked, which was an important distinction for me. And I did it in just under 40 minutes (which, I think is pretty good!). I’d been aiming for an hour so do it in less than 40 minutes felt really really great. I felt soooooo happy and energised when I finished the run (rather than exhausted as I’d anticipated)… I was really proud of myself.

I did something I didn’t think I had it in me to do. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard (and very sweaty) and took an awful lot of perseverance… But I did it. So 2017 saw Misuzu running 5k!

A selfie of me shortly after I arrived at Wanderlust. I got there early so I got a great spot for my yoga mat. And then there is a picture of the stage (I was the front row, right behind the mats that were set up for the volunteers… Arriving early has its benefits!)

A pre-5k selfie with all the other people waiting to start the run, and the Wanderlust starting line. A screen shot of my phone just after I finished the 5k! And a lovely, post-run selfie, covered in sweat but very very happy!

A funny selfie just before the yoga started. The sun decide to come out, making me all squinty… But it was glorious doing yoga in the sunshine, with thousands of other people! And then a picture of the yummy vegan food I got there.


Finally, in 2017 I got my first opportunity to work abroad as a model. I was invited to Greece by a photographer, Rick who goes by the name of Garden of the Muses. At the beginning of November, I spent a week in Greece with Rick in the Peloponnese region. I learnt so much about Greek history and culture, as well as working with Rick to get some amazing images. I’m hoping to go back this year at some point as I’m sure the images me and Rick will produce will just keep getting better and better each time. So, 2017 taught me to say ‘yes’ to opportunities as they arise. By saying yes, you might be taking a risk, but good things can come from taking risks.

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A selfie of me in the Theatre of Epidavros at the Sanctuary of Asklepios with the new friend I made! (There are more selfies and silly snaps from Greece but I think I’ve overstayed my welcome a little with them in this post, so I’ll save those for another post!)

Oh, and here are the new sunglasses.They’re just not as good!


My parents moved out of the house I grew up this year, which gave me the chance to go through all of the things from my childhood ( I had taken up a large space in their loft when I ‘moved out’ after university). It was great to see evidence of the adult I became, emerging from all of my childhood items. And lots of lovely, embarrassing photographs too. That’s always lots of fun!

An old photograph of me and my little brother camping, two school photographss from middle school and a framed picture of me as a super cute baby (clearly, I was supposed to grow up to be a model, since I’ve been doing it since I was tiny!)


I’m grateful for all that Matthew has done for me this year. He had continued to support my work and helped me to feel confident in putting myself out there. It’s very easy to miss feeling gratitude for the people and things that are always there, so I wanted to make sure I included this here.

Thank you for all of the lovely things we have celebrated this year, like Mardi Gras, birthdays and of course, Christmas (Christmas especially, we did so many lovely, festive things!).

Thank you for getting me 26 presents on my birthday in July because I jokingly said a few months before that you had to get me 26 presents because I’m turning 26.

Thank you for agreeing to have Halloween a bit early because I was flying out on the 31st.

Thank you for taking me to see the My Little Pony movie and not even being embarrassed by the fact that I wore my Fluttershy t-shirt.

Thank you for always being there waiting with a glass of red wine whenever I get back late from a shoot. You have no idea how amazing this is.

Thank you for wearing the scarf I made you.

Thank you for all of the little surprises that arrive in the post, like Rosemary Clooney CDs and Adrian Mole books.

A family portrait I took of us on Mardi Gras, and a selfie we took when we bought our pumpkins for carving in October.

Me and Matt when we went to see a Bon Jovi triute band in July, The Hoosiers at the beginning of October and then when we went to see the My Little Pony movie at the end of October.

The bunny shaped Easter egg Matthew got for me, a photograph of our pumpkins (Matt’s is the one on the left, mine is the one on the right) and our lovely little Christmas tree, Antonio (yes, we name our Christmas tree every year!)

My 26 birthday presents, and a photograph of me enjoying a G&T on my birthday 🙂

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Matthew wearing the scarf I made for him.


Finally, I’m grateful to Yorick for being awesome every single day. I love you buddy.

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My beautiful baby from a shoot I did with him at the beginning of 2017.

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Yorick being all spooky on Halloween!


My Goals for 2018

So I’m just going to write down a few things here that I want to achieve this year. Some are more personal, and some are more to do with my modelling work. If I post it on the internet, then I have to try twice as hard to achieve them. That’s how it works, right?

Anyway, here goes:

  • Blog more (first post of 2018, check!)
  • Plan more modelling tours, including Scotland and Ireland (because I’ve wanted to do that since I first started modelling!)
  • Go back to work in Greece again, if Rick will have me!
  • Put more effort into my own photography.
  • Read at least 52 books this year too. Because only good things can come from reading more.

There, it’s on the internet now, so I have to try extra hard. Accountability. It works wonders 😛


So, thank you for reading this. If you stuck with it until the end, I’m grateful (and somewhat astounded). You’re probably bored to tears by this point… I’m sorry. But I needed to write this post for myself. It’ll be something I can look back on in December 2018 and see how far I’ve come and whether or not I managed to achieve all the things I listed here. It will be interesting, I think.


My trip to Greece is what I will be writing several blog posts about during the course of this month, to showcase the work me and Rick did. It is work that I feel deserves attention. So after this rambly, kinda self-centred post there are some really great images ready to be published on my little piece of the internet. So keep an eye out. You won’t be disappointed. Don’t let this post put you off!