Fowl Play

23 Jun

Apologies, Apologies, this blog has once again been woefully neglected! As ever, life caught up with me and this blog got sidelined a little (a lot) but I’m back with the full force of summer upon me and as such I intend to blog more and less randomly.

With that said, I’m going to get the past out of my system and I’m going to start out with an entirely random (if much more lighthearted) post, a post about birds.

I go to a University with an intense amount of waterfowl, so many in fact that in this season you can’t move 10 metres before encountering a rather angry bird. I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered a situation like this, but if you haven’t I assure you that goose fear is not irrational. These *evil* creatures attack at the slightest offence (such as walking past them) and you’ll see countless students walking completely out of their way to avoid them and desperately trying to not to make eye contact, which is difficult when a 2ft tall goose is trying to initiate a staring contest.

Canadian Geese plus spawn...

Canadian Geese plus spawn…

The only upside to this chaos, is babies…babies everywhere. Whilst geese may have dinosaur-like offspring, I’ve yet to come across a duckling that hasn’t brought forth a girly squeal from my lips. A few weeks back I almost became the adoptive mother to twelve ducklings scared away by the sound of a car, running to huddle at my feet before their real mother angrily quacked them away. My brief thoughts of becoming a parent to ducklings and all the fun we could have together shattered very swiftly.

Black Swans, same height as my EYES when standing...

Black Swans, same height as my EYES when standing…

Tonight on the way to a birthday party I once again envisioned this future…forget cat lady, I think I may end up as a duck lady…Despite the fact I was majorly late, and despite the fact I was hanging around, looking fairly dodgy, on a bridge, I couldn’t help but follow the plight of a poor little baby bird (a coot I believe…) squeaking away on the open lake. It was only until I saw an adult bird (which I really hope was its parent or, failing that, a bird with my own inclination to adoption within different species) that I did depart it but it was begrudgingly and I still feel pretty awful about leaving it out there without knowing it actually was safe. Maybe this is a sign of my emotional state, maybe about my empathetic nature or maybe I’m too far gone after a horrific term of exams and stress that I can’t think straight anymore. This post is definitely proof of one of them and I sincerely hope its not the latter – in which case I apologise profusely for my mental state.

The worrying part is, at this rate, it is not hard to picture a future of wrapping up any children of my own in cotton wool and bubble wrap and never letting them leave my sight, at least not until they can swim (a lá baby bird) and fight off foxes and ravens.

Over the past few years I’ve become heavily acquainted with birds, if this post doesn’t already prove that, and it is this time of year that at once fills me with dread and also makes my insides feel all warm and fuzzy…and broody. I’m already despairing about moving back home for the summer where the wildlife consists off pissed-off pigeons and violent seagulls with asbos.

So, words from the wise… run away from charging geese, stick around near ducklings (and particularly those who are trying to emancipate themselves or are looking like they are particularly in trouble) and at the end of the day, if you ever think this deep knowledge of the lives of birds is worrying, just think, there’s definitely a pub quiz question out there where it’ll come into use. And that’ll be me getting out more too.

Something’s Changed

20 Jan

I have been very fortunate in my life that by the age of 21 years, I have never lost a significant member of my family. Of course there have been pets, and not to disregard them, but yesterday my Grandad passed away at the age of 75.

I’m not sure what is the correct way to deal with this, and being 300 miles from home and amidst a busy University term doesn’t exactly lend itself to making the situation easier. We were close, closer when I was younger and when I saw him everyday. It was quick, a shock and unexpected for all. I’m emotionally struggling and clearly need time to breathe, release and accept the situation. I can’t help feeling like the outside world is reflecting my emotions.

Image

18/01/13 – taken by myself.

The world that was is now shrouded underneath impenetrable ice and heavy snow. I know it is the world that will be again; the trees and plants still live underneath, they just can’t be as they were right now. Sometimes the harsh reality knocks them down, sometimes it wipes them out, but almost always they merely hibernate and come back fighting in the spring. Until the sun is warmer they won’t be completely free of the elements weighing them down and, like them, I know I am a hibernation away from returning to the life I knew, although it will be one which will have altered significantly. In literature they call this connection between emotions and the weather ‘pathetic fallacy’ and in literature we are taught to make these connections, so perhaps I’m going a little mad or perhaps I need some time away from the books. Perhaps, instead, I should embrace this connection and when the snow melts and the ground thaws, I should take that as my cue to continue with the life I know he had hoped I would lead.

Same Old Jokes

1 Jan

It’s been an age since I last wrote, it definitely was last year…It’s only 16 hours into 2013 and that jokes already unfunny, doesn’t bode well!

I’ve had a marvelously unexciting holiday period, unfortunately this was mainly due to a routine operation I had that left me with a few complications to deal with, one of which left me unable to eat much solid food and so Christmas dinner, i.e. that one dinner of the year where you are allowed to stuff your face, eat things that really shouldn’t go together, that one day we in my family look forward to for a good portion of the year. I may be the only person who has significantly lost weight over the past few weeks rather than put it on,

This next year has a lot to bring in terms of milestones and highlights, travel wise I’m particularly excited about visiting New York City for the second time and making one of my dreams come true by Trekking the Great Wall of China – something I very much need to prepare for physically. I’m also fundraising for the glorious Make-a-Wish Foundation with the trek, so a lot of hard work needs to go into that too.

Big things ahead, anyway, best get back to the books – perhaps succeeding at my degree should be my number one resolution…

U.G.G.L.Y. – You ‘aint got no alibi…

12 Nov

I haven’t been around for a little while and I’m sorry about that. There’s been some stuff going on and some things that I probably need to talk about, or just get off my chest. But here is neither the time or place.

So, instead I am going to explore an issue almost universal to the westernised world. Something that is questioned on a daily basis, one of life’s great unquantifiable mysteries, perhaps. Yes my friends, I am talking about the wearing of UGG boots.

Today was an average day in England, it rained quite a bit. I’m not adding to the stereotype of the perceived British weather, it’s just true. But what did I see this morning, as I stomped into campus with my thick (heavy-duty) and WEATHER-PROOF boots and umbrella? Around a dozen girls wearing the infamous Uggs and drenching their own feet. One girl was mercilessly standing in a relatively deep puddle and I spent a good while of my journey questioning the point. Now she was going to have freezing cold, drenched feet all day. I mean I know they’re comfortable, but so are socks and they are the worst kind of ‘footwear’ to choose on a clearly rainy day. It’s not like she hasn’t had the precedent of the previous month of RAIN or anything to prepare for today’s clothing choice. Her Uggs were about as good as if I’d chosen a paper umbrella instead of a plastic one.

The UGG Specimen, no known genus. Note the rubber bottom and fully material upper (i.e., not waterproof in any sense).

Clearly it was a long walk onto campus but, regardless, does anyone know why people still wear what are simply slippers masquerading as shoes outdoors? It’s telling that in the boots native Australia they are worn as slippers and nothing else. I know they’re chilled-out down under, but surely they must be onto something, right?

Anyway, just had to air my complete lack at comprehension of these ‘shoes’ (and their hefty pricetag) and I wondered if anyone else shared my concerns over the fate of cold toes everywhere.

And kudos to those who also appreciated awful 90s music and noticed the title – thought it was apt.

 

A moment of magic

16 Sep

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to visit Palma Cathedral (Catêdral de la Seu) on the island of Majorca, Spain. I went into the Cathedral alone just before midday and although I had read about what happens to the stained-glass windows at this time, I had completely forgotten until I entered the main chapel and saw this.

Catedral de la Seu, Palma, Majorca.

Convieniently, my camera chose this exact moment to start playing up and suddenly couldn’t take clear photos despite never ever having this problem before. I won’t pretend to know enough about cameras to know why or how, but if anyone finds themselves reading this that may know please do tell me as if I can save my little camera (a Panasonic DMC-TZ6) I really want to…it has served me very well and I can’t help but feel slightly to blame (The Exif details for this picture are here if this helps… http://www.flickr.com/photos/65411282@N04/7993043929/meta/in/photostream).

Anyway, perhaps due to my camera breaking down in the focus department or perhaps just due to the beauty of that building in that moment, how I felt there is something that I just cannot forget. It’s a moment I preserved and set down in memory, a feeling of peace and real tranquilty, a feeling that I didn’t really ever think could be encountered inside a building. It’s a feeling I have associated with being on a beach, listening to the waves crash and fall, or sitting in a meadow without a care in the world. But there I was inside on a 36 degree day, in a dark building surrounded by pillars and walls coloured by multi-coloured light and I felt truly peaceful.

Looks as if it were painted.

I am one of those people who likes to photograph and capture every moment, so I can cherish and never forget them. I can still see the image, I can still hold the memory. I’m a massive lover of old buildings in general, but ‘painted’ by the windows like this, it was just pure magic for me and fortunately, for now at least, the memory hasn’t faded.

 

 

 

Today,

6 Sep

Today’s number is 8.

I made THESE BEAUTIES!

I’ll admit they’re lacking a certain Sesame Street charm, and a few of them look like dodgy rip-offs of my beloved Elmo and Cookie Monster who featured so heavily in my childhood. Who am I kidding, my teens were pretty full of them too. As a joke my parents bought me a Tickle-Me Elmo for my sixteenth birthday. Best. Present. Ever.

So my little love affair with these two happy faces finally made its way into cake form, a form I hope to improve upon but for a first attempt I am quite content. I used white chocolate buttons and milk chocolate chips for the eyes, red butter icing applied with a fork for Elmo and pre-packed icing in a tube for Cookie Monster. Elmo also features a orange skittle nose and a chocolate chip mouth whilst Cookie Monster is aptly stuffing his ‘face’ with half a cookie. This attempt did give me ideas for next time at least – it would be just as easy to buy pre-made cakes or muffins and I’d buy chocolate ones to give the mouths some depth. Sounding all thoughtful here, but I really do find baking and cooking to be really relaxing and if anyone else wants a piece of this then I thought I’d let you know just how easy this was to make and do!

To ebook or not to ebook.

5 Sep

Something that has made me happy lately has been the price of paperbacks. I know this is a selfish, and perhaps pathetic joy to have, but as a lover of books and reading and as an English Student this is happy, happy news to me! Not to say I don’t buy the majority of my books second-hand anyway (thank you Amazon Marketplace!), but its nice to be able to pick up something that isn’t for a reading list but is an interesting read or the latest must have book (looking at you, 50 shades) for under £4.

I am not naive enough to realise that this doesn’t signal the beginning of the end for my beloved books in print. I don’t own a kindle, although the word yet does attach itself to the end of that claim quite easily. I do admire how accessible they make literature, how anything you want to read is just one click away. Stories are, after all, intended to be told and read and this easy to access element within ebooks and ebook readers does promote reading. It’s like when Penguin and Wordsworth publishing houses brought out their £1.50-£2 paperbacks of classics which were cheap because they weren’t a great quality copy. They contained the words I wanted to read, I couldn’t care less about their presentation. (Actually, that’s not strictly true… look how amazing these look!)

Look how pretty they are…so pretty I had to make a ‘Penguin’ moodboard…

With the loss of a large profit margin and price for the consumer, I ate up these books (not literally, don’t worry) and read a lot more widely and freely that I would have had I had to send five times the price on an individual book. Ebooks have this same quality, particularly when thinking about old ‘books’ that are within the public domain, and hence free, as the rights to their intellectual property have expired.

Another consideration in the decision to ebook or not is the impact on the industry. For someone considering a career in publishing, this downfall of printed material will change that industry, not hugely in terms of publicity but as with most elements of media and sales now, it’ll all move to the ever accessible internet and marketing through that medium.

I do love to hold a copy of a title in my hands, that new (or old) book smell and for practical study reasons, you can’t beat a hard copy of a text. But as the new age welcomes in ebooks and texts in a digital format, I suppose we better move with them. MP3s have become my favourite way to listen to music. No hassle with a CD player and storage, all in one place and I can take it all with me. You could easily say the same about books, but perhaps my little love affair with them will, in a few years time, make me into the contemporary equivalent of that person who still listens to vinyl on their record player. After all, if all books were to become virtual texts rather than tangible objects, we’d have rather empty bookshelves and bookcases, or even book-stairs.

If I miss out on owning one of these due to the rise of ebooks and fall of paperbacks I will not be very pleased.