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November 25, 2011

Hello there. This is a photo summary of what I’ve been up to the last couple of months, other than considering my impending doom. Third year brings with it, not only the joys of having to write 10,000 interesting words that will probably determine how well I do in my degree, but also the growing realisation that I need to like, get a job soon. A grown up job. It’s a little bit terrifying. On one hand I want to  work hard so that I can get a good final grade, on the other I want to enjoy myself while its societally acceptable. Also, I’m 21 soon. In short, I’m not the biggest fan of third year.
Over to the pictures:

Went on an adventure to the New Forest, its such a lovely place//Thought this tree looked evil// Ended our day in this brilliantly named pub, with some cider and a ploughman’s lunch. Perfect.

Made a rainbow cake for my housemate’s 21st// Rather pleased with it// Went to a tearoom in Southampton, had the biggest sandwich EVER// Fireworks at Crystal Palace.

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A Creature I Don’t Know

October 28, 2011

I think I have expressed my love of Laura Marling before, but I don’t think I’ve ever written a post purely about her. This is now to be amended. Her third album, A Creature I Don’t Know was released a few weeks ago and as expected, it did not disappoint. Her music is maturing as she does and this album shows yet another clear development in her sound and songwriting style. Everything she does flows as a  logical progression. Basically I love it, but I expected nothing less.

It is therefore with great excitement that I approached Winchester Cathedral last Saturday. For Laura’s tour of this album is hitting cathedrals around the country and my lovely Mumma had got tickets for us and my sister for the Winchester date, as early birthday presents for the both of us. The cathedral was beautiful, I’ve admired it from the outside a few times, but never actually been inside. It apparently boasts the longest nave in Europe and houses the bodies of Jane Austen and King Kanute. It also doesn’t have much by way of a spire, but I’ll let it off.

After taking our pew and laughing at the sweet but god-awfully-rah girls behind us,  The Leisure Society took to the stage (well, I say stage, it was more of a sectioned off area in front of the rood screen). I have their first album lurking in the confines of my laptop, so it was nice to be familiar with some their songs already. They warmed up for Laura nicely, fitting  well into the cathedral setting and they did a smashing cover of Erasure’s ‘Respect’ which made me and my sister giggle as its her karoake song of choice.  I shall be listening to them more as a result.

Then came the wait for the Laura, in which I bought a t shirt and laughed some more at the Rah girls, who perhaps should have reconsidered their topics of conversation, seeing as we were in a place of worship (neither I nor my mother wish to know who fingered your mate…)

When Laura arrived she launched straight into the delicate ‘I Was Just A Card’, which immediately showcased her beautiful voice as it drifted in to the corners of the cathedral. From there she zigzagged through ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ along with a couple of songs from each of her previous albums and a couple of new songs. The band were excellent, filling the space with sound without overpowering Laura’s vocals. However she was at her best when alone on the stage with her guitar, the rawness of songs such as ‘Night after Night’ and ‘Failure’ brilliantly juxtaposed against the lavish backdrop of the cathedral. The band returned for the last section of the set and the night ended with ‘All My Rage’, that voice soaring to the vaults.

Laura herself was as charming as ever, I’ve seen her tour all three of her albums and she has become more confident each time. She is the first to point out that she’s better at music than chat, but her shy ‘hello’ and ritual explanation that they ‘aren’t cool enough to do encores’ are endearing rather than feeling like a brush off. In saying little she grasps the audience more than perhaps a more verbose contemporary could.

I shall stop gushing now, every time I see Laura I am left in awe and this was no different. This hasn’t been a gig filled year for me, but they have definitely been quality over quantity.

Last of the Summer Wine.

September 30, 2011

Summer is drawing to an end, although it is going out with one last burst of life, the weather today was beautiful. As a student, my ‘summer’ lasts a good three months and since I prefer Autumn anyway, the end is quite welcome. That said, this summer has been pretty enjoyable and I have tried to make the most of the free time I’ve had the last few weeks. One day about a month ago I felt like an adventure, so I summoned a friend and we decided to go and explore one of the parks that my town has to offer. We’re pretty lucky in that, for a reasonably large town, there are huge expanses of green space and woodland in the middle, where you can escape and pretend you’re in the country, even though there is a main road or a television studio not all that far away.

We decided on Vinters Valley, a nature reserve which is sandwiched between two housing estates and next to the M20. Not the most obvious place for a haven for wildlife, but it is one of the most peaceful places I know. It is the remains of a country estate, parts of which are now said housing estates and the motorway but a large section, including the lake and some woodland have been left untouched by urbanisation. What’s left is a wonderful place to explore, relax and watch the world go by.

One of the main things I love about Vinters Valley is that it has a very eery quality about it. I can never quite put my finger on it, the light falls through the trees in strange ways and although you are never too far from houses or a main road, it’s easy to feel completely isolated. My mum says that it’s the type of place where you might come across people in 18th Century clothing and not be entirely certain that they were in costume. Although I love going there, it’s not the sort of place I’d go by myself.

I’m all for embracing your local area, there can be some beautiful places on your doorstep, even in cities, it’s just a case of looking. Here are a couple of pictures I took, I’m fascinated by trees at the moment, especially with how the light falls through the distorted branches.

Do You Remember the First Time?

September 10, 2011

Way back in November I mentioned that I had got tickets for my sister and I to go and see Pulp at Wireless festival. It was the cause of great excitement. Shortly after this I agreed to go on holiday to Magaluf with my uni friends and somehow forgot that there was a very important date in July that should have been avoided. This was the cause of many a tear and a tantrum. I tried to devise so many plans that would let me do both things without letting anyone down or losing a big chunk of money. Eventually, I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t meant to be, I would have to hope that Pulp decided to tour again some other time, maybe in another ten years.

Come July 3rd, I was thankfully not in Magaluf but Bulgaria, although that was little consolation. Although I enjoyed the holiday as a whole, I wasn’t in the best of spirits that day. I wanted to be in a field with my big sister, dancing and singing my heart out to a band I love. Not backhanding moths and being scolded by Bulgarians for not eating their food.

However.

On the way home from the airport on my return, my mother casually mentioned that after the Hyde Park gig Pulp had announced that they would be doing a small tour of indoor venues, including Brixton academy. Due to the wonders of O2 priority booking, my sister had managed to procure two tickets. Would I like to go?

Well yes actually I would.

So, last Wednesday night, that’s what I did. Headed up to Brixton a little earlier than necessary so I could have dinner with my sister beforehand, at Satay Bar, where I had a duck dish, which I really enjoyed. I would recommend this place, good inexpensive food. As it was happy hour I also had a Raspberry and Ginger Caipirinha, I love a good cocktail and this was that.

After that we ambled over to Brixton Academy. It’s my favourite venue, partly because you can see its history as a theatre from the balconies and details around the stage area and partly because it has a decent slope to the stalls area which gives my short self more chance of being able to see. The support act was Baxter Dury (son of Ian Dury of the Blockheads) who was…alright. Not overly offensive but nothing special. I think when your favourite thing about a set is the neon sign spelling out the acts name, something was lacking.

After Baxter had finished came the agonising wait for Pulp to come on. I spent 45 minutes wondering WHY they had put up a mesh curtain, which I now realise most other people in the room probably knew as they had seen one of the festival gigs. Still, I liked the mystery. When they finally came on, following a slightly too drawn out message sequence on said mesh curtain, they were stunning. Although they started ,as I believe they have done at all their gigs in this run, with Do You Remember The First Time?, the set differed a bit from the festival favourites, which because I like that kind of thing, made it feel even more special. Richard Hawley was on hand to provide the guitar on Lipgloss and Wickerman and there were some early tracks, such as Countdown that admittedly I didn’t actually know. (This has been rectified, my Dad fished out his copy of Countdown 1992-1983, the compilation that showcases the Early Years of Pulp. I love my Dad). They listened to audience demand and dropped Live Bed Show in favour of Underwear, which I am so grateful for as it’s almost my favourite song of theirs. The only addition I would have welcomed would have been ‘A Little Soul’ because it is my absolute favourite, but then I can’t have everything. The atmosphere was brilliant, a room full of people who were genuinely excited to see this band and this band only, something that can be hard to find at festivals.


 

And there was Jarvis. I know that Pulp are a group but if you look back into their history, others have come and gone but one constant has remained. It has always been Jarvis’ band. It’s amazing how a middle-aged man from Sheffield, who looks increasingly like a 70’s librarian (actually he’s looking increasingly like my dad, a librarian, circa 1975, shaggy hair, beard, cuban heels…) can still be, to me at least, the epitome of cool. He is the definitive frontman of his generation. At Brixton he was an impressive ball of energy, thrusting and point-flicking around the stage, pausing only momentarily to catch his breath and de steam his glasses before moving on to the next classic song. It was a fantastic reunion show and one of the best gigs I have been to. It’s going to take a lot to top.

Here Jarvis is at Reading festival, giving Julian Casablancas a master-class in how to be a performer.

Return.

August 31, 2011

Sooo, that was a longer break than I intended.  Shockingly I’ve been busy.  It’s actually quite nice. Interesting. Anyhow, here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been up to:

  •  I’ve been to Tenerife, as I mentioned in my last post, which was just lovely. We chilled by the pool, had cocktails and generally remembered why it is we’re all still friends after 7 years of secondary school, more for some of us.


[the view sunbathing by the pool// beach sculpture//cat chillin’ in a flower pot// amazing ice cream: kinder bueno and raspberry] 

  • Popped back to Southampton for a couple of days to see my boy, he went to France for 6 weeks with uni so we haven’t had a lot of time together this summer.
  • Went on another holiday to Bulgaria, this time with friends from uni. We were originally supposed to be going to Magaluf, which I’m still not entirely sure how I got talked into. However, due to various cock ups, we ended up in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria. The same sort of holiday really, but I like to think sliiightly more classy than Maga. There was a lot of drinking and a lot of moths. Apart from some truly awful food, I surprised myself by actually quite enjoying it.

[Most of the pictures from Bulgaria are not suitable for general viewing, but this is the beach…]

  • Straight after Bulgaria I started work. That was about 7 weeks ago and I have now finished, wanted a bit of time to myself before I move back to Southampton next week. Although I’m not really sure what to do with myself until uni starts, I have got used to the routine of working everyday. I’m really pleased I’ve finally got something to put on my CV and getting paid every week felt so good. Apart from the obvious personal achievement of actually having a job, I’m especially proud of myself for getting over my fear of talking on the phone. Due to lack of staff, answering the phone became one of my main jobs and I got used to it muck quicker than I thought, I stopped blushing every time I picked up after about the first morning…
  • When not working, I’ve spent time seeing my lovely friends, having multiple dinners/lunches/coffees, going along to one friend’s allotment to pick veg for a dinner party that we hosted, having drinks and giggling a lot.
All in all, a busy bee, by my standards anyway. I’ve done a lot outside my comfort zone this summer and feel a lot better for it. Looking forward to my final year of uni, although I cannot believe the previous two years have gone so quickly. That’s all for today, hoping to be back tomorrow to talk about what I’m doing tonight. It’s something I am very excited about…

Holiday (Part 1).

June 18, 2011

Meant to do a slightly more extensive post about this, but it’s crept up on me and now I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m heading off for a week in Tenerife with my best friends. I haven’t been on a proper ‘sea, sand, sun’ holiday out of Britain in years, so this is quite different for me.  I’m mostly going to be trying to not be burnt to a crisp (never has the term English Rose been so appropriate), whilst reading a stack of books and listening to songs like this:

Reflections.

June 16, 2011

In January I set myself some goals. As we are almost exactly half way through the year I thought it would probably be a good time to reflect on what I have achieved, what I haven’t quite managed and what challenges I can set myself for the latter half of the year.

First things first, the goals I have reached:

  • Expand my baking/cooking repertoire: I’ve baked quite a few different things this year, including some old favourites such as cupcakes and cookies but with slightly different recipes, as well as venturing into things such as these cinnamon buns which are completely out of my usual comfort zone. I still have plenty of baking inspiration stored in my head so I plan to continue with this over the summer. As mentioned in a previous post, this year I have discovered that I like quite a few more foods than I thought I did. As a result, my cooking has become a lot more varied. This makes me happy. Never thought I’d be looking forward to making a lentil and feta salad but somehow, I am.
  • Get a job: Now, I don’t think I can adequately explain just how proud of myself I am, or why this is such a big deal, so you’ll just have to trust me. Starting the 11th July I will be working pretty much full time until September, doing Admin. No it’s not glamourous and I probably will get sick of it BUT its a job. I will be earning my own money. It’s the same place I went for work experience last year but this year circumstances have miraculously come together so that their current temp is leaving. Which means I can be paid and will have something substantial to put on my CV. With a proper reference. Sorry, I’m rambling but I’m so pleased. There is a touch of nepotism at work here and the people there already know me which makes it easier, but baby steps. It’s better for me this way and can only help build my confidence.
Works in Progress:
  • Be healthier: I wasn’t quite sure whether to put this as achieved or not, but having thought about it, there are a couple of things I still want to tick off. It’s not really something that can be achieved entirely, I won’t suddenly declare myself as healthy as I can be, but I know there are some little things I can still improve on. I definitely have a better attitude to food and I think my diet is pretty good for a student. I feel a lot healthier all round, physically and mentally, which is a very good thing. I think I have cut back the amount of sugar I eat to some extent but that still needs a bit of work. I’ve been exercising a little more but I haven’t got properly back into running, which is something I really want to do. I also don’t think I drink enough water at all, but I think that will change once I’m sat in an office all day. Trips to the watercooler become a novelty if memory serves correctly.
Must try harder:
  • Write more: I have made an effort to blog more, but things kept getting in the way. I have a plan to work on this though, more about that in a bit. Similarly with writing for the uni paper, I kept having too much work on when writers meetings were announced. Hopefully something that I can work round next year. Although I will be writing a dissertation…
  • Work harder academically: The least said about this the better. I physically cannot write an essay less than 48hours before the deadline. And revision was just awful. Really must try harder.
So, a mixed bag. I am proud of what I have achieved (once again, I have a JOB) but I’m aware that with a little more commitment I could do a lot more. It’s not like these things are over ambitious and they are all things that I know will make me happier if I do achieve them. With that in mind, here are my goals for the rest of the year:
  • Drink more water: Pretty simple really, aiming for the 1.5litres a day- yay hydration!
  • Develop an exercise routine: In preparation for my upcoming holidays I have been trying to stick with the 30 day Shred workout. Trying being the operative word there. I think that combined with some regular running and riding every couple of weeks I could create a nice routine to keep me a little fitter and healthier.
  • Get a part time job in Southampton: More job experience can only have a good effect on my job prospects after uni and a bit of extra money in term time would be good.
  • Work out a daily routine and stick to it: This probably seems vague (and obvious), but if I’m going to be working, exercising and whateverelse-ing I’ll need some structure. I’m hoping that I will get a bit more uni work done this way as well. Going to be careful not to get too stuck with a routine though, I know I have a tendency to get anxious when I have to deviate from a plan. However that is not a reason not to make them.
  • Don’t worry, be happy: I worry too much. I think I’ve made some progress with this so far this year,  so I need to carry on believing I can do things and just go for it.
Right, I’m sick of talking about myself now, so I will bid you adieu.