Hokusai The Great Wave Exhibition, British Museum, London

Hokusai exhibition, London

The Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave exhibition at the British Museum is a spectacular affair of oriental art, colour and history. The exhibition illustrates the work of one of Japan’s most famed artists, Kasushika Hokusai.

Hokusai (1760-1849), lived and worked in Japan throughout his lifetime, producing some of his most famed artwork in his later life, a firm believer that with age would come artistic excellence.

During his 90 years, he produced a spectacular creative spectrum of beautiful art, including famed print collections, illustrated books and a variety of intricate paintings.

The Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave exhibition illustrates the last 30 years of the extraordinary artists life and showcases many of his masterpieces, including the celebrated Great Wave (an iconic highlight for many).

Hokusai The Great Wave Exhibition, British Museum, London

Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave exhibition

In his later life, Hokusai became to become influenced by European techniques and artforms, integrating this knowledge into developed art styles, perfectly illustrated throughout the exhibition.

Discover works depicting enchanting landscapes, wonderful portraits, vibrant communal scenes, mystical creatures and delicate illustrations of nature.

The exhibition is open until the 13th August, 2017 and offers a rare oppurtunity to see these great works collectively, as well as the oppurtunity to explore the context of influence for one of Japan’s most exceptional artists. I can highly recommend it for any fan of Japanese culture or art.

You can buy tickets to the event here for £12. For a sneak preview of the event, take a look here.

Are you a fan of Hokusai? Which piece of artwork is your favourite?

Stephanie xox

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A view of Prague Castle from the Vltava River, Prague

Prague: A long weekend of pastel coloured views and terracotta roofs

Prague has always fascinated me – pretty buildings, cultural attractions, and an affordable price tag, what more could a girl want from a city break? With all that in mind, a weekend in this scenic city was definitely on the cards, and Prague was the next destination myself and my boyfriend had planned to visit in Europe. Here is a 20 something’s guide to Prague:

Prepped for a long weekend, our mini adventure would begin after a nights sleep in our okay-ish hotel. The Hotel Colosseum was well located to attractions and to be honest, pretty cheap – I am not overly snobby when it comes to hotels, I literally sleep there. 

Old Town, Prague:

Our hotel was Less than five minutes from the celebrated Dancing House or ‘Fred and Ginger’ and this was to be our first stop. This deconstructivist style building features quirky architectural design and fascinates many in its placement amongst a myriad of Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance buildings, to name a few architectural styles found within Prague. We gave the Dancing House a quick glance and raced towards the UNESCO-listed Old Town – naturally.

Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town, Prague

Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town, Prague

Stepping into the Old Town in Prague is very charming, lined with ornate buildings, street food vendors and the grand Church of Our Lady before Týn and of course, the wonderful Astronomical Clock. Embellished with cobbled streets, Gothic churches and its array of architectural styles, the whole city is very romantic – our favourite start to the day being coffee together in the square each morning.

Astronomical Clock, Prague:

What did we love most about the quaint Old Town and its buzzing square? It would have to be the famed Astronomical Clock. Be sure to await the hourly procession for a truly lovely show, with rhythmic chimes and animated figures – we managed to miss it about eight times during our stay before finally seeing it.

Astronomical Clock and Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town, Prague

Astronomical Clock and Church of Our Lady before Týn, Old Town, Prague

Another cultural delight that mesmerised was the exquisite Gothic Church of our Lady on Tyn, a grand building, which dominated the Old Town skyline, its interior almost as astounding as its exterior. This divine and ornate church dates back to the 14th century.

LETENSKÉ SADY PARK, PRAGUE:

However,  there is another church that dominates the Prague cityscape, and that is St. Vitus Cathedral, a beautiful church within the mighty walls of the Prague castle compound. Uphill, we made our way through the lush Letenské sady park to the castle – there is so much green space in Prague, it is truly fabulous. 

A view on the descent towards Prague Castle, Prague

A view on the descent towards Prague Castle, Prague

Once you have made your way to the top of Letenské sady , ensure to stop a moment and appreciate the wonderful view of the city beneath you, it is so picturesque, a sea of pastel houses, terracotta roofs, and trams, separated by the delicate and winding Vltava river – it is a little bit magical to say the least. 

Prague castle, Prague:

As you enter, be sure to purchase a ticket for Prague Castle that includes all the attractions you desire to see. The handy thing about these tickets is they seemingly last two days, so no rushing around to catch everything in one visit before 4pm.

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague

ST. VITUS CATHEDRAL, PRAGUE:

For me, St. Vitus Cathedral was the focal point of the area, its dark exterior boldly contrasting against the smooth and light pastel walls surrounding it. Similar to all the other churches in Prague, the interior was sublime, truly beautiful for any fan of churches like myself.

Golden Lane, Prague:

After a rather disappointing venture into the castle’s interior, we had a bite to eat and wandered down towards Golden Lane, a collection of former and rather cosmopolitan looking homes of seamstresses, moviemakers, and herbalists that used to live within the castle grounds.

Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague

Golden Lane, Prague Castle, Prague

Charles Bridge, PRAGUE:

While in Prague, be sure to sample some Czech delicacies by indulging in some delicious street food. Local treats include trdelník (essentially a spiralised pastry with delicious fillings), as well as famed sausages and hams. Saying this, we were tempted more so by the Hard Rock Cafe in Prague, and had a wonderful Americanised meal. Whatever food you choose to carb overload on, be sure to make your way towards the exquisite Charles Bridge afterwards.

A view of Charles Bridge from the Vltava River, Prague

A view of Charles Bridge from the Vltava River, Prague

MALÁ STRANA, PRAGUE:

Strolling along the winding Vltava River it is almost impossible to miss the entrance to the grand Charles Bridge. It becomes an even more impressive affair as you cross it, adorned with religious statues along its ancient stone walls. The bridge connects the Old Town with the pastel coloured streets of the historic district of Malá Strana. It is like crossing into a fairytale, with many a wow moment.

The historic district of Malá Strana, Prague

The historic district of Malá Strana, Prague

John Lennon Wall, PRAGUE:

The backstreets of Malá Strana are amazing to wander, as you step off Charles Bridge you will discover an array of food vendors, cosy riverside views and sweet lock bridges in abundance. An interesting stop in the area, is the John Lennon Wall, a graffiti shine to the late Beatles singer and songwriter, adorned with some peculiar quotes and imagery  – It makes for an interesting picture, to say the least. 

The vibrant John Lennon Wall, Prague

The vibrant John Lennon Wall, Prague

Petřín Hill, PRAGUE:

Having already seen Prague Castle, we took the steep climb from Malá Strana, past the exquisite Baroque St. Nicholas Church, up to Petřín Hill to explore some more. There we discovered incredible views, old castle ruins and so many cute dogs we didn’t really want to leave. It really is nice to just step away from the city for a moment to stop and see it all. We decided against Petřín Tower, already having gained some incredible views from walking through the parks alone.

The view from Petřín Hill, Prague

The view from Petřín Hill, Prague

After all the walking and with a recommendation from a friend, we decided to celebrate one evening with a few quirky cocktails at AnonymouS Bar, a very tucked away establishment near the Old Town Square. This quirky bar sells some strong cocktails, doing so in a rather animated and exciting fashion – trust me on this one, try it out and try to get a glimpse of the secret menu.

After a whirlwind weekend, we had managed to walk about 30 miles (public transport really isn’t too necessary), see all the attractions we desired to, and had a truly amazing time. I would recommend Prague to anyone and would be more than happy to give some advice if needed!

Have you been to Prague? Where is the next European destination on your travel list?

Stephanie xox

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Instagram Algorithm

In this digital age, it has become apparent that using social media is a societal norm nowadays, with people in the UK spending around 1 hour and 40 minutes online daily.

Saying this, when it comes to a select few social media platforms some users find themselves rather perplexed by the use of hashtags (#) and their ultimate purpose.

Hashtags are extremely important to attract engagement to your posts, building both your traffic and audience. It is imperative to utilise hashtags in your posts as part of your social media strategy.

Instagram are about to make some serious changes to their algorithm so the need for engagement on your posts is now more important than ever. With over 400 million users and a massive looming change due to occur, what tactical changes do you need to make to the way you post to Instagram?

The algorithm change will place precedence on posts that Instagram deem you to be most interested in, bumping them up your news feed. It is all centered around engagement and is causing many to worry.

This is similar to that of its parent-company Facebook, which cleverly analyses its users behavior and presents its users with a curated and specifically targeted experience, providing tailored content in which they are most interested in.

This targeted and tailored content has been proven to enhance user experience by driving further engagement. Hence, subsidiary Instagram will face the same looming changes to their current operation, wave goodbye to the traditional chronological ordering.

In simple terms, continue to engage and then engage some more, with other users. This way, you are far more likely to appear at the top of the non-linear feed when the algorithm updates come to surface. The order of content will inevitably be affected, but the relevance will be drastically improved.  Be savvy and remain relevant, and your blog, brand and marketing should not be affected.

Engagement on social media comes in many forms, be it liking other users posts, commenting on pictures you adore, mentioning your friends via tags or following other quirky and fun users. It is determined by how you interact with your followers and the audience you draw to your posts via carefully crafted use of hashtags (among other things).

In using hashtags, you will always encourage further engagement by directing potential users to your profile. Therefore, it is imperative that you utilise them, in order to expand and grow your audience, otherwise your followers will remain pretty stagnant when the change does occur.

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So, what hashtags do you use? What are the most popular? It is pretty easy to check this on social media platforms, just a quick type in the Instagram search box will reveal the numbers.

However, going for the obvious ones may actually hinder you, there is far too much competition and your posts may in fact be overlooked. Do note that on Instagram particularly, you are limited to a maximum of thirty hashtags per post.

You have to find the hashtags that work with your content and note them down as you go along. For example, if you are a blogger in the UK, #ukbloggers (around 60,000 hits) may be of great use to you. It is a little more niche than the generic and heavily-used #fblogger, #bbloggers and #lblogger tags (although I am guilty of using those myself, oops).

If you are really dedicated to your research, then take a look at followers of your own with similar interests and posts, and replicate their hashtags. Utilise the correct hashtags and you will soon see your following across a variety of social media platforms grow. By categorising your posts, you make them far easier to find and people will soon recognise you for those types of posts.

Take a peek at the AdNews guide by James Towers to surviving ‘Instageddon’. He states that quality and not quantity should take preference. In reducing the frequency and being vigilant of your posts when necessary (predicted to be particularly important to brands with the upcoming change) you will learn to quickly adapt, focusing on fantastic and relevant posts, remember some consistency will be key.

To sum things up, use hashtags cleverly, understand those most relevant to your niche, present them with content they will inevitable engage with, and you should remain successful and on top with the new ranking-based Instagram algorithm change, deserving to rank higher in Instagram feeds. It works for Facebook, let’s hope it does for Instagram also.

What do you think of the Instagram algorithm change? What is your favoured social media platform?

Stephanie xox

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As a kid, everyone wants a pet. Be it a hamster, cat, dog or reluctantly accepting the utterly shoddy compromise of a goldfish (we have all been there).

Growing up, I managed the hamster, I convinced my mother with the cats (shout out to Jachibo, Princess and Rogue) and I even got the goldfish (goodbye to my sickly fairground win).

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My years of begging did not work when it came to a dog though. Oh, and I begged relentlessly. However, only when I secured full freedom, as a fully-fledged adult and graduate, did I get my little pug puppy.

Rudy (known frequently as little bork – he borks, not barks) came bouncing into my life with a bump. Make that numerous bumps, he is a floppy little thing for something so sturdy looking.

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As he has settled these last few months I have convinced myself that he is half whippet (or half something). Pugs are hyper, whatever may be said about the breed being lazy, I object wholly. My little munchkin has boundless energy and he needs long walks each day.

Pugs require a lot of time, love and affection. For all intents and purposes, they are lap dogs, and very needy of those closest to them. As I type, Rudy is leaping all over me with his toys and will continue to do so for the rest of the evening. It’s kind of like having a toddler.

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On that note, be aware. They can be stroppy and manipulative little things, proving to be rather smart indeed. They will try and catch you out if you give them the slightest opportunity and you will give them it often, no doubt about it.

True manipulation is seen whenever food is in the vicinity. Pugs need good quality food. The main reason for this? Other than the fact that you love them unconditionally? Well, it is certainly not pretty or pleasant fact, but, they fart. A lot. It isn’t nice, but it is the truth.

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Therefore, good food is a must, it maintains their weight, keeps them healthy and ensures the result of their bowel movements remain ‘consistent’ and a little nicer to deal with. You will thank me for the heads up.

Be wary that pugs are also greedy. This little fella has ravenously gobbled through my cats food more than once now (much to the distress of my boyfriend, I find it all pretty hilarious). Rudy has a special affinity towards eating moss too. Maybe it is the pug version of kale, perhaps he is simply trying to remain trim.

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Aside from the minor annoyances (like eating through our PS4 and laptop wires), pugs are quite possibly the best breed of dog in existence and head tilts will forever remain the cutest thing ever.

If you dream of having your own snorting, snoring and snuggly friend, then remain cautious that they are a lot of effort. You get out exactly what you put in when you choose to love something right. For further pug information, have a look here.

What is your pet like? Have you ever considered getting a pug?

Stephanie xox

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Every 90’s kid just screamed a little. Yes, Moschino (headed by Jeremy Scott) and The Powerpuff Girls (Cartoon Network) have collaborated as part of their spring/summer 2016 collection.

Moschino has successfully mixed high-end fashion with sugar, spice and everything nice. Not a hint of Chemical X in sight!

The Powerpuff Girls x Moschino collection launched in Los Angeles earlier this week featuring an array of adorably kick-ass clothing, leisure wear and accessories.

Emblazoned with images of cutesy Bubbles, sassy Blossom and boisterous Buttercup (everyone had a favourite), demonstrating pop-culture at its finest and igniting some serious nostalgia on the runway.

Some of the Powerpuff x Moschino collection is already available to shop on the Moschino website.

I am being truly optimistic in hoping I will get my hands on the green short dress. At £371, I would be so lucky.

Let’s face it, every 90’s girl and boy wanted to be a superhero after binge-watching this terrific trio and this collection is utterly fabulous.

What do you think of the Powerpuff x Moschino collaboration? What’s your favourite item in the collection?

Stephanie xox