About amberloui

Hello! My name's Amber. I'm 21 and have just graduated from university. I'm a hypochondriac, and get anxious in social situations. I have a tendency to say stupid stuff and I'm always losing things. On the plus side, I can talk about food for hours! Tumblr is my retreat, as is the cinema and writing. I also love to read and listen to music. A few other likes are hosting movie nights, thunderstorms, jumpers, Ricky Gervais, film directors, black forest hot chocolate, Simon and Garfunkel lyrics, second hand bookstores, brogues, diners, singing along to power ballads, Kathleen Edwards, Spaced, writing short stories and my bed, of course. My dream future would be to travel the world in a luxury camper van, although i'd still settle for a life like Carrie Bradshaw's any day.

Finding Dreamland

Stepping off the train into the Margate sunshine, I could see the skeletal bends of a ferris wheel amidst the skyline, its colourful carts like dangly limbs, waving in the distance.

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It took us an hour and 40 minutes to get here from London Victoria. Here being: Dreamland.

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The park had only been open for two weekends at the time so I was anticipating queues, but surprisingly, it was quite quiet. The longest queue was for the Dodgems (solo riders – what ya gonna do?) and after a quick glance, you could easily steal a siesta on the huge, pastel stripy deck chair in the entrance.

Dreamland first became Dreamland in 1920, when its scenic railway opened (which also just so happens to be the oldest roller coaster in the UK). The walk towards the entrance is decorated with walls lined in old black and white photos, taken throughout the park’s history. It’s easy to romanticise a place when you can picture men and women catching the train from London to spend a night at the ballroom, meeting lovers and then letting their cares drift away in the blinkering bulbs and stir of the sea air, mid-spin on The Twister.

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In the early 2000’s Dreamland began to decline in popularity, and by 2005 was handed over to Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company. Luckily, residents weren’t going to give up on such a special attraction that easily, and so petitioned to have it brought back to its former glory. And it worked, re-opening in June.

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The care and thought that has gone into this project is truly amazing. Every little detail of the park is magical, from the vintage arcade machines and low-lit roller disco, to the live band playing retro jams in the food court and doughnut cushion prizes (which I am still sore about not winning).

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While the exterior may seem pastel perfect, what I really loved about Dreamland was how the history of it has been kept alive. Many of the rides, if not all of them are originals to the park or date back to previous eras, having been restored to fulfil their destinies once again.

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You can read about the origins of each ride while waiting, which got me thinking about how truly amazing theme park rides are. Not only is the engineering just incredible, but also the designs. Whether the crazed charisma of an enlarged caterpillar coaster face, or the classic glittering gold of a carousel horse’s handle, it all goes towards creating this fantasy world, where for a few minutes you can just focus on the breeze against your cheeks and butterflies in your stomach.

Yet as you step outside onto the Margate promenade, you realise what a strange little place Dreamland is. This obnoxiously colourful paradise of fun and ice cream and nostalgia, sat awkwardly amidst the broken skyline of Margate.

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Dreamland has so wonderfully captured the atmosphere of escape, where you can disappear for a while into fun, into love, and into the past. Though the sky is the one reminder that nostalgia is just a feeling, and we’ll never quite capture the way Dreamland was before, and that’s ok. That was their Dreamland, this is ours.

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It Follows

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I love horror films, yet bizarrely, rarely watch any modern releases of the genre. I’ve become completely switched off from them, expecting another lazy plot that relies on cheap cliches with no originality behind them. Horror, in my experience, has become a genre that requires you to dig a little deeper to find the good, or at least intriguing stuff.

When I heard about It Follows though, I was excited. The plot sounded curious, recommendations were enthusiastically spooked, while the retro-style of the posters just made it look very cool. So last night, at last, I settled down with a mug of hot peppermint tea as the weather perfectly timed the rain, and pressed play.

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Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, It Follows is a hark back to 70’s and 80’s horror, with a synth-tastic score reminiscent of John Carpenter and a lazy, suburban setting where the only distractions are a large, leafy pool and old black and white movies playing in a dimly lit living room.

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David’s idea for the movie apparently originated from recurring dreams as a kid, in which he was being followed. That unanswerable, uncanny, ghoulish nausea in the pitt of your stomach after waking up from a really bad nightmare is the best way to describe the follower. We don’t know what it is, or where it’s come from. We only know that it can take various zombie-like forms, that it walks slowly to its prey, and the only way to get rid of it is to pass it on by sleeping with someone.

Oh, and there’s one other catch — that person you sleep with? They have to pass it on too, because if it kills them you’ll start being followed again. So you see, you’re never completely in the clear from this haunting presence. Once you’re part of the chain, it could be walking towards you at any moment.

Jay Height, played by Maika Monroe, is unluckily made the next link. After sleeping with her boyfriend, Hugh, she is rather un-romantically chloroformed and tied up in a car park, where Hugh explains to her the situation, and that whilst he is very sorry about doing this to her, the follower is her problem now.

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The style and direction of this movie was so refreshing to watch. Long, lingering shots, slow zoom-ins, lonesome locations and that soundtrack — this movie isn’t all about the jumps and easy scares. It uses instead the nostalgia of older movies to create a recognisable, yet oppressively creepy atmosphere that offers no relief from its spookiness.

I suppose my only frustration was the desire for answers. Where had this thing come from? Why was it following people after they’d had sex? What would it do if it ever reached the very first person it started with?! But on thinking about this more, I became content that this premise isn’t meant to be answered. I enjoyed the chill of such an idea as though it were a manifestation of anxiety; this emotion that you can’t quite pin down and so it remains scary.

Horror movies aren’t for everyone, but I still find it sad when I hear others say they actually hate the genre because, “it’s rubbish”. Horror movies can be creative, terrifying and stay with you throughout the long night’s sleep after watching it. It Follows proves this.

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PS Not one to watch if hoping to get lucky on a date night.

Rating: 4 stars

Battersea Booty

Hello!
It’s that time of year again where I go absolutely crazy for visiting car boot sales every Sunday (hence the thrift-heavy blog posts of late).

Since Thursday one of my best friends has been staying with us and so I booked two days off work to hang out. It’s been really fun! On Thursday we visited Spitafield’s antique market, on Friday we went to the Horniman Museum, Saturday we ambled about Covent Garden and got Chinese takeaway, then today we went to the Battersea car boot.

I’d been doing some research into the car boot sales nearest to Peckham and loved the sound of the Battersea one for two reasons:

1. It’s a large and very established car boot
2. It’s on in the afternoon

That second reason was what really won me over. I’m really not a morning person and in truth usually only make it to other car boots right before they close! This whole afternoon thing sounded like a dream to me.

After a short(ish) bus journey we found ourselves walking into a rather large queue of fellow car booters. Luckily the weather was lovely and the queue moved quickly, so it wasn’t too bad. You pay a 50p entrance fee and then the thrifting can begin.

The first thing I spotted was these vintage roller skates:

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I haven’t used roller skates since I was about eight but have been wanting to buy some for a while now. I love the idea of roller skating places this summer (though after my attempts outside the flat earlier, It’s going to take some practice!)

The next item I found was this beautiful 1970’s vintage dress:

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Dreamiest pattern ever?

My friend managed to find some great stuff too, including a large elephant throw and a £2 St. Michael jumper. While the Battersea booty definitely led us to some fruitful treasures, there were some downsides. Firstly, it’s more expensive than your average boot sale. Most items I enquired about were selling for £5 and above, which compared to Hook Road, where most things go for 50p upwards, seemed like quite a lot.

Secondly, it’s VERY busy. This is to be expected, but the narrow lanes meant my friend and I were sometimes trapped for a while trying to get through the crowds.

I’d still definitely recommend it for anyone looking to find some unique things on a Sunday afternoon. The area of Battersea nearby also has lots of cute little shops, including charity shops filled with bric a brac (heaven!) I made one more purchase on our way back, because, how could I leave this behind?!

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Have a lovely week everyone!
Amber xx

Hook Road Car Boot Sale

Hey hey,
I thought I’d finish off the Bank holiday with a quick little blog post about some of the vintage, kitschy treasures I found today at the Hook Road car boot sale.

My dad got married on Saturday, which was lovely, but I’ve felt in this permanent state of sleepiness lately. Life has been strangely busy for me and as an introverted, sloth-like soul who spends most of their time hibernating, I don’t think my body’s coping too well with having so many plans! I can’t really complain though, having spent yesterday recovering at my dads with my dog, boyfriend, cheese strings and cozy TV.

I also managed to persuade my dad to drive me to the Hook Road car boot sale this morning. He may grumble about the early start but I know that he quite enjoys perusing too! I haven’t been to very many other car boot sales, but the Hook Road one really is great. The atmosphere’s always bustling and friendly, with an ice cream van and lots of cute little dogs about (always a plus!)

Today’s car boot was the largest yet, stretching all the way to the very back of the field. An hour and a half, along with three bags of kitschy treasure later I headed back home. Here are some highlights of what I found:

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A little vintage poodle, which just so happens to match the lamp version I own. I love finding long lost sets of things!

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A set of vintage deer for just £1.

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This wally dog was sold to me by a man turning them into lamp bases. He told me about how he’d not got around to completing a lot of them so had ended up with a lot of ornaments with holes in their head! I loved his idea though so still bought one for £2 and am going to buy a vintage pleated lamp shade for it.

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It’s a little Fred Flour! He now has pride of place on the kitchen shelf, alongside all the cacti and my succulent.

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Of all my finds these are my favourite. The lady that sold them to me mentioned they used to be popular in the 70s as bedroom decor for little girls.

Is there a better way to end a lovely Bank holiday weekend than with a brilliant car boot haul? I don’t think so! I hope you all had lovely weekends too.
Now, I’m off to bed — g’night!
Amber xxx

My Kitschen

I live by the rule of, “if I need a thing I’m going to make it a cute thing.” cat Nowhere is this rule truer than with my kitchenwares. Forget the fact that I’m a rubbish cook and only have a tiny kitchen, a girl can still dream of one day opening her own diner by buying the kitschiest versions of every essential, right? Here are a handful of my favourites…. flamingo This pastel balloon patterned cocktail glass is part of a set that I found on Ebay. It’s pretty much the most adorable set ever and when I bought them I was totally visualising becoming a cocktail master, shaking up fancy concoctions at parties. bananas These banana plates are meant for banana splits. They’re another vintage Ebay purchase though I think the original make is called Carlton. I’m planning on using them for snacks mainly (and maybe an actual banana split at some point!) icecream Knowing I’m obsessed with ice cream, my mum sweetly bought me these little ice cream bowls, complete with teeny tiny spoons! babycham Next up: Babycham glasses! I think these are 1950s ones due to the style of the Babycham deer. Apologies for the grubby glass! babycham2 And here’s another picture, featuring my little Babycham figure. coffee Lastly, a Czechoslovakian pink coffee set! I found this in a dusty corner of an antiques store and managed to buy the coffee pot, 6 cups, 6 saucers and a sugar pot for £20. Bargain! Do you like collecting cute kitchenwares too?

Visiting Crystal Palace Park

Today we went to Crystal Palace Park (cue Jurassic Park theme tune).

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Visiting a park is a pretty ideal way to spend a sunny Saturday, but a park with dinosaurs?! How could it not be amazing?

Crystal Palace is about a twenty minute train journey from where we live. After grabbing a coffee and apricot pastry we were all set to go (even if I was slightly regretting wearing such a light dress — it was unexpectedly windy out!)

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The park is right next to the station, so after arriving we excitedly headed for the dinosaurs. Right after taking a picture with this dinosaur mural, that is…

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The park itself really was beautiful. Having read some more about it since getting home, I found out that the life-sized dinosaur models were built by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins and completed by 1854 (thanks Wikipedia!) These particular dinosaurs were newly discovered at the time.

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These weren’t the only sculptures built back in the 1800’s though…

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The above is called a megatherium! Also known as the largest ground sloth. I couldn’t get a better picture of it annoyingly, but like to think this back-of-head shot has more of a mysterious quality to it.

And then there was this majestic stag…

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… that was right beside a pedalo ticket office, which would have been great if we hadn’t forgotten to bring any cash with us :(. So instead we went for ice cream (which luckily did accept card AND had mint choc chip!)

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I couldn’t not photograph this creepy cute lil’ elephant ride outside the cafe too.

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Other strange sights seen include this headless statue…

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And a gorilla

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It was just so nice to be outside with a camera! I’m definitely planning on visiting this park again too, and if you’re in the south London area and looking for an unusual park to visit, this is the place to go.

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Thanks for reading — RAWR!

Stuff & things.

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Last month I went to see an exhibition at the Barbican Centre called, “Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector”. Each room was filled with bits and pieces, all so strange looking within the blank spaces. I felt as though I’d walked into a locked away part of each artist’s brain, the odd details of their worlds floating aimlessly in front of me.

As I let my eye’s dart from the dusty old witch puppet to vintage pinball machine to large horse statue in Hanne Darboven’s collection, it made my heart sore. I felt like if I could just stare at each object for long enough, I might understand all the mysteries behind it: Where had it come from? What era? What was it about that old Turkish shoe that Peter Blake loved? Would Andy Warhol and I have been friends because of our similar taste in cookie jars?

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…Then you’re brought back to reality. It’s just a thing. There’s no answers or connections to be found within the ceramic structures of a mouse figurine, or the fragile wooden frame of an old chair. It’s breakable. Disposable. Nothing, right?

But I can’t follow that argument through, because I too collect things. When I was younger it was car models and limited edition chocolate bars, while nowadays it’s patterned jumpers, Babycham merchandise and vintage figurines. These are more than just things to me. They’re the narratives people have given them, and will continue to give them. They’re the still portals to different minds and different times. They’re something to focus on in the midst of worry, stress and sadness, enabling you to curate and organise your own little microcosmic worlds.

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When I think about collecting, I also think of one of my favourite films, Ghost World, in which there is a character called Seymour. Struggling to make connections with other people, he’s turned to collecting objects from the past as a way to connect with life instead. In his case, he’s not happy. It’s something that’s completely taken over his life, creating even more of a barrier between him and others.

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One of the most interesting things I read at the Barbican's exhibition was that Andy Warhol's cookie jars had been mostly found in the bags he'd bought them in, sitting in the corners of his apartment untouched. This made me think about the negative side to it too; about the ways we all try to fill our lives with meaning through stuff, and how when that stuff becomes destructive to your life it's a trait that has to go.

And so maybe I'm romanticising collections when they're just clutter, or a distraction from facing life, but I can't give up the argument completely. Because whenever someone laughs at the ridiculous amount of ornaments I have or looks despondent and weirded out by it all, I do get a little concerned, but then snap myself out of it. Because you have to be confident in your choices and trust yourself. And because everyone needs to find the things that make them happy and different, and for me that's holding still these fragments of life that intrigue me.

I like to think the things I own aren't all just things, but will rather one day be a way for others to understand a little part of me, as distant and abstract as they may seem in the larger scheme of things.

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