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Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Monday, 9 March 2015

Details from our study

minimalist clutter interior

After spending ages thinking, "the house has to be totally finished before I show it to anyone", I've finally decided that life is too short. Our study isn't finished yet - I still don't have a chair, and we've not hung our posters and prints yet, but I've managed to make the shelves look rather lovely and I'm allowing myself a moment to feel accomplished, even if I've not actually completed the task at hand yet.

I've been busy building my online portfolio of writing and I'm far from finished with that either. I live and breathe the internet and I know that my dream job involves a magnificent melange of the written word and the interwebs, but I do sometimes wonder if the internet is just broadening the scope for self-loathing among 'milennials'. With every meaningful connection made comes dozens of hours spent looking at all of the talented people achieving enviable things all over the globe. In some distant past, each individual had a smaller world to conquer. I remember feeling like a big fish in a small pond, once upon a dream.

If you're interested in any of the things I've been writing, you could check out this article I wrote about the representation of periods in the media. It's got a kick-ass punderful headline too. You should also look at my BuzzFeed article in which I imagine the stereotypical high school teen movie as if it were set in the United Kingdom. In addition to this, I'm in the process of launching an exciting creative writing project for myself. More on this in time, my petals. That wasn't meant to sound quite as creepy as it did.

notebook collection
japanese ink ikea drawers
study cat literary feline

If it wasn't obvious already from the content of my blog, I am pretty sure that these details from my office space will give you some insight into my main interests - writing, photography and my own cat. There's something about this office space that is nostalgic for my study spaces at university, and I'm really excited that I'm going to be getting back into studying Hebrew very soon. Even though 'you learn something new every day' by osmosis, I still find it incredibly important to actively seek out knowledge.

I'll sign off for now - let me know if you enjoyed my articles! I hope you're having a good day, that your tea is still warm, and that you've got something you're looking forward to telling someone somewhere.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Where are you?!

winter misery

This is a fair question, to be honest. I've gone from being extremely active in the blogging community to being practically inactive, in the space of a couple of months. It started out because we had to leave our flat to stay with my parents in law for a bit, and they had the slowest internet connection I've experienced since 2002. But somewhere along the way, I lost my blogging mojo. It's not that I don't love blogging, it's just that I've lost my confidence a bit.

Not being able to participate as actively as I'd like meant that my views started to decline, and coupled with the fact that a blog post that would ordinarily take a few hours to write was taking a whole evening, I started to feel as though blogging was more stressful than enjoyable. We've moved into our beautiful flat now, but instead of it being the magical haven of internet connectivity that I was dreaming about, we've been plagued with problem after problem, and are currently having to use a wireless 3G dongle thing, that cuts out every few minutes until mid February (we're told). It makes responding to comments very difficult, and makes long and creative posts nearly impossible right now.

Having access to social media is both a blessing and a curse really, because on the one hand, I can stay connected with all of my beautiful, funny and intelligent blogger friends, but on the other hand, I can see that you're all posting excellent content that I can't really look at properly, and I can't contribute to discussions and chats either! Moan whinge whine etc etc.

So this is just a really quick post (hoping it actually posts this time!) to let you know that I appreciate you guys all sticking around over the last few months while my posting has been unbelievably sporadic. To reward you, here are some lovely lists that make very quick and easy reading:

Things I've purchased recently
- Picture frames for our staircase picture wall.
- A neon-pink slanket from Amazon (this was Dan, not me... just for the record)
- A new mini set of watercolours as I lost my old set in the move (something always goes missing)
- Furniture wax (is this what adulthood feels like??!)

Things I've eaten recently
- An amazing malaysian curry from a little place near my work
- Supermarket sushi
- Lots of popchips (I swear they sprinkle them with crack or something, they are so addictive!)

Things on my mind
- My job interview on Friday (for another job at my current workplace).
- The mushroom growing out of our stairs. Grim. Also getting fixed on Friday thank GOODNESS.
- Creating something that 'matters'/Trying to be 'relevant'/Wanting to be 'influential'...

That will be all for now, as it's time for bed and the internet keeps cutting out. I really do enjoy reading your comments and your tweets and I appreciate your presence in my life, however peripheral it may be! I'll get my mojo back soon. I bet it'll coincide with getting my internet connection back, eh?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Music in my blood

Vintage cool Dad

I spent a lot of my childhood sitting around in recording studios, peering at my Dad through the glass separating the sound engineers and producers from the musicians. As my Dad and his band hefted amps and instruments out of vans and into venues, I’d carry big round coils of leads and cables, one over each arm. I had my own pair of earplugs that I’d wear as I sat in the wings at my Dad’s concerts, and a pair of earmuffs to wear over the top because it was still too loud.

vintage rock band photo

My toybox was full of maracas, castanets, tambourines and penny whistles – I had my own tiny tape recorder, and I’d make up songs and pretend radio shows which I’d then record onto cassettes. (which weren’t old-skool at the time, if that gives my age away at all…)

So even though I was never pushed, I think my parents were delighted when it transpired that I could hold a tune, and they were happy to scrape money together to pay for me to learn the violin when I asked for lessons at about seven years of age.

While it turned out that the violin was not for me, my background in music meant that I picked up the piano really quickly, and managed to achieve grade 8 in both classical singing and oboe by the time I left secondary school. I took part in youth orchestras, wind ensembles and choirs as well as writing and performing lots of music with my friends for fun during my teenage years.

Despite not being a Christian, I had a choral scholarship at university and sang with my college chapel choir several times a week. I was so immersed in the world of classical and contemporary music in my formative years that once I reached adulthood and was released into the world like a bewildered baby bird, thrust from the nest of rigorous education, I felt a huge sense of loss.

It was around this time that after a long break from the ‘music scene’, my Dad found his way back into music and started to approach people with whom he’d made music before, as well as new friends he’d met since he moved to France. Inspired by him, I sought out some new musical friends too, and found my incredibly talented friend Robin, with whom I’ve been singing ever since. My Dad and his friends have managed to create an album which I can only really describe as a shape-shifter. To those who haven’t heard his music since the early days of The Perfect Disaster (the band for which he is most known), this new album will seem delicate and understated, in contrast with the gritty rock riffs from ‘back in the day’. For people who are coming to his music for the first time, I imagine the album sounds brooding and eclectic, new and nostalgic all at once. When I listen to the album, I hear the culmination of a thousand melodies, plucked and perfected throughout my childhood; I hear the zip closing on the front of a tent and the soft sound of my Dad singing by the fire outside; I hear the rain beating down on the roof of the deserted and dilapidated mill where my Dad lives now… I can also hear my own voice, since I was lucky enough to sing backing vocals on a lot of the tracks. I am very proud of my Dad for coming back to music and for being brave enough to release another album after so long, and he constantly inspires me to be more creative and make more music myself.

dad and daughter musical duo
Let's just ignore how short my dress is in this photo... I know it probably wasn't completely appropriate for a father-daughter outing, but meh...

So I know it’s probably too early to be thinking about New Year’s resolutions, but next year, I’m going to be making a lot more music. It’s been decided. This year has been The Year of the Flat. Next year is a brand new chance to be more me. Which means more music! Saying it here means that you guys all have to hold me accountable!

If you want to listen to the music I make with my friend Robin, click here, and if you want to listen to my Dad’s new album, a beautiful, moody-folky album (including lots of wailing from me), then click here. It would make my Dad very, very happy indeed.

P.S. Here's a video of my Dad and his old band, in the olden days (the 80s) being very rock'n'roll...


Monday, 27 October 2014

On being three dimensional

black and white glasses

Maybe it came from reading too many Enid Blyton school stories as a child, but I spent a large portion of my pre-teen and adolescent years worrying that I hadn't found 'my thing'. Each of the girls at Malory Towers had a special talent or trait for which they were known and which marked them out as distinctive and special. As far as I could see, I didn't have one of those at all. I longed to be 'the musical genius' or 'the beautiful one', and every year before the school year began, I'd make list after list of the traits I'd adopt and the way I would be this year. Time after time, I'd fail to become the two-dimensional character I longed to be, as my own human, multifaceted self could not be suppressed. Part of the problem of course, was that I had so many 'things'. I was musical, I was academic, I was energetic, I was sociable, I was a clown... And I could never decide which one I wanted to be the most. I had to pick one didn't I? Teen magazines were constantly encouraging us to pigeonhole ourselves with flow-charts and quizzes. What 'type' of girl are you?

Looking back, I am saddened to remember the anguish I put myself through as I tried to puzzle out what 'my thing' could be, and as I'd punish myself for failing to fit into whatever arbitrary category I'd chosen to strive for each time. What saddens me even more though, is that I am still prone to this way of thinking, even now as an adult. There are so many things I still want to be, even though the adult world appears to be the ever-narrowing of fields and the closing of doors. Even within the blogging world, we're told to choose a niche for ourselves if we want any chance of becoming successful. Are you a beauty blogger? Are you a fashion blogger? Are you a food blogger? Do you travel enough to really call yourself a travel blogger?

I've become really interested in how we form our identities, during the process of trying to accept myself as a three dimensional individual. Identity is so heavily attached to the idea of 'belonging', and we draw near to those who like what we like, and who do what we do, our identities like magnets. I like to hang out with people who have similar political ideologies as me, and I love the feeling when I meet someone who has read my favourite book or enjoyed my favourite song. It's important to bond with people who are similar to us, but of course there are dangers attached to marking others out as 'different'. Especially if there is a value judgement attached to that assumption.

"Be yourself" is a common thing that adults say to teenagers and young people. While I see what the phrase is trying to say, I have always found it to be vastly naive and incredibly damaging. How on earth can a teenage girl be expected to 'be herself' when she's expected to be so many things all at once, and she doesn't even really know who/what "herself" is? "Be yourself" sounds so absolute, so concrete... as though "yourself" is a fixed concept that can be distilled, put into a glass vial and held up to the light. I wholeheartedly reject that concept, although I am its victim as much as anyone else.

So before this post becomes any more of an essay of existential nonsense, here's a list. If you can figure out who I "am", then do let me know, because I'm almost a quarter of a century old, and I haven't figured it out yet! I'm all of these... I'm none of these... I'm so much more than any of these...

I am

A writer - a diarist - a musician - a feminist - creative - nostalgic - contemplative - anxious - energetic - lethargic - melancholy - vulgar - a redhead - short sighted - fair-skinned - a digital native - a blogger - a wife - a cat-lover - a woman - a Cambridge University graduate - an ex-teacher - shorter than average - green-eyed - half-Australian - an older sister - a tea-drinker - accident prone - self-doubting - magical - an individual with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome - comedic - sociable - a foodie - whimsical - sensible - sensitive - a daughter - a travel obsessive...

So those were just a few of my thoughts. Normal posting shall resume during the week - there's a twee-as-hell banana loaf recipe coming up, so don't worry, guys. I've not completely lost it. Yet.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Collector or hoarder?

cabinet of curiosities

I've been an avid collector of things for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, we moved house a lot, but one constant in my life was a little cabinet not unlike the one above, full of my favourite odds and ends. Many of the little items on those tiny shelves are the same as they've always been, but over the years, I've added to my collection as I've acquired little trinkets here and there.

Most people my age have left a lot of their stuff at their parents' house. All of their childhood bits and bobs remain in their adolescent bedrooms, or packed into boxes in the attic. At least, that's how it is with most of the people I know. All of their old schoolwork, their certificates, perhaps some old clothes... It's all tucked away at their parents' house, out of sight. Because both of my parents live abroad, I've ended up with the majority of my childhood things. Practically every single thing I've ever owned. Or at least that's how it feels when I'm trying to heft the boxes into vans to drive them up and down the country.

So at what point does keeping things become unhealthy? I've always kept a diary and I am a very nostalgic person - I love looking back on what I thought or said or did a long time ago. That's why all of my embarrassing old blog posts are still around for your delectation. I did spout some tosh back then. I probably still do, come to think of it. Moving house has given me the chance to get rid of a lot of old things that I never look at any more, such as an old set of computer speakers, or a jumper with an un-fixable hole in the armpit. There are plenty of things that I can't throw away though, like birthday cards from old friends, a note passed to me in class twelve years ago, a painting by one of my pupils when I was (very briefly) a teacher... I treasure these material possessions, not because they're worth any money but because I get such joy from looking at them and from re-finding them after they've been packed away for a long time.

Obviously there are limits - I mean, I'm not keeping things for the sake of owning EVERYTHING, or because I am scared to throw things away. I'll let you into a little secret - in Dan's childhood bedroom, on top of one of his bookshelves, is a chocolate Easter egg that his grandparents bought him when he was three years old. I'm pretty sure that my own personal hoarding boundary is much more acceptable than 23 year old chocolate... I try to make sure that I am being reasonable about the things that I keep. And my next project is to make sure that all of these things that I own are packed and stored in such a way that they are easily findable and take up the least space possible. And when I'm feeling guilty about having so much stuff, I need to remember that most people my age have a lot of stuff, it's just that half of it is at their parents' houses!

Do you keep everything? Or do you prefer the minimalist approach? What's your most treasured childhood possession?

1. A heart shaped tin with some of my milk teeth in it. // 2. A mysterious Virgin Mary that nobody remembers buying. It is covered in glitter and appeared in our house many years ago with no explanation. // 3. An Eiffel tower model given to me for free by a street vendor in Paris who made me cry when he showed me a sexually explicit monkey toy when I was eleven. // 4. A porcelain fairy that I bought with pocket money on a trip to Devon as a child. // 5. A really small German dictionary given to me by Robin. // 6. Another Virgin Mary, this time one I bought with pocket money on a holiday to Greece, when I was obsessed with Catholic shrines as a child. I feel I should point out, my family is not Christian! // 7. A small tin with the carnation my dad wore in his lapel on the day he married my mum. // 8. Wooden Tortoise, China Koala. // 9. A pebble from Brighton beach with a naturally formed hole in the shape of a 'C' for 'Candy'. // 10. Venetian glass dreidel, tacky 80s crucifix, and my graduation pin from Cambridge University. // 11. A picture of me as a wee babby. // 12. A tiny classical vase, full of whiskers shed by the cat over the last few years. // 13. Glass snail. // 14. The wheel I carried around in my pocket for a year as a teenager. As mentioned on my About Me page! // 15. Painted banksia seed pods, sent to me from Australia by my Aunty when I was little. // 16. Various nostalgic Champagne corks. // 17. A toy Morris Minor car that my Dad gave me when I was a child. He used to own a real-size one of these cars, before I was born. // 18. Tiny horseshoes for good luck!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

2013 is going to be my year.

goals for 2013

It's no secret that 2012 was a difficult year for me. I've struggled with my health; with a career path I didn't enjoy; and subsequently with unemployment. For this reason and many others, I am determined to make 2013 different. I'm going to share a few things I'm looking forward to this year, as well as some personal goals, because I'm more likely to accomplish them if everyone on the internet knows about them! (At least, that's the aim!) Don't worry though, I'll sprinkle this post heavily, with photos
of Hemingway playing in the snow.

ginger cat in the snow

What's coming up in 2013?

- More employment - I've got a temporary job until March, but I need to find something more!
- More MUSIC! There's going to be plenty of musical activity this year.
- I'm getting married in July!
- Then of course there's the honeymoon! I love to travel
- Hopefully, we'll be moving house! Another chance to nest!


snow kitten

My Goals for 2013

- Turn this blog project into something I'm really proud of.
- Do something creative every day.
- Do something for my fitness every day.
- Experiment with a new recipe every week.

goofy cat
Oh, and to finish, here's a picture of Hemingway being super excited about the snow... Perhaps TOO excited there, Hemity!
Thankyou for reading about my goals for 2013. What are you looking forward to this year?

Saturday, 7 July 2012

On my mind...

Just a collection of things on my mind recently:

- Our wedding. We've found a venue that we really, really want, and so I am starting to sense the beginnings of a Bridezilla within...watch this space!
- The fact that our adsense account got suspended. This has been a real spanner in the works of this blog, and I am hoping to get it all sorted out soon so I can get things back on track.
- Cleaning the flat: the blocked plughole edition. I think that I must moult more than the average human, as our plugs get blocked so quickly with all my hair! Our pipes are especially small, which doesn't help!
- Employment and lifegoals. I have an interview with a tutoring agency next Friday. I am looking forward to it although I am pretty nervous too. I really need to start earning some money soon.
- The blog. This one relates to the previous point about lifegoals really. I have purchased a domain name, and I am going to start to build a business involving writing, proof-reading, tutoring, and hopefully blogging. Things have got off to a shaky start, but these are things that I really want to do; I am determined to get back on the horse/wagon/thing-people-get-on.
- Travel. This is one of my biggest passions, and I miss being on an aeroplane more than I'd care to admit! I hope that one day I will be able to travel for work. Until then, I have a miniature trip to Paris coming up in August, followed by a visit to the 'rents in Brittany. I can't wait.

So those are a few things that have dominated my thoughts in the last few days. I am busy designing my website and at some point will be able to unveil it to you.