Charlotte's blog

Charlotte is currently a first year student at York St Johns University studying English Literature. 

York By Coast

Have you ever heard the old folk song Scarborough fair? It was one that was stuck in my head on repeat as well headed down to the station from my class exploring the ideas incorporated in orientalism with Sinhas Animals People. It tells of the prospect of a medieval festival which would occur on a yearly basis somewhere back in history. For a second day in a row though, more importantly, the sky was blue and temperature was quite mild. This was an unexpected bonus of the trip by far!
On the train out, it seemed odd that so much of the landscape around me could still be part of not only York, but also the Pennines. The Pennines that I know from the literature of Wainwright are those hills which I know well from my own hiking adventures. They are places of purple heather, shy sheep and surreal views. This part of the Pennines was so populous, with fields full of everything from shire horses to rabbits. It was an odd thing to see, but equally it made for quite an intriguing view throughout the short journey from York to Scarborough. One of the positives of living in York is being this close to such places, which would take much longer to get to from Manchester.
My first thoughts on this traditional seaside town was that it was quintessentially British. Everything from the train station to the beach itself. It made me strangely patriotic. The first place we headed towards was the old town, before hiking up to the remains of Scarborough castle. It's not yet tourist season so a lot of attractions such as these ones are closed. But all the same, it was quite something to take the trail along the castle walls and to look down at the sea below. I can just imagine the people who once lived there, to the extent where the rushing of the sound contained suggestions of past voices. The architecture itself is quite impressive - lo,e stone, I think, which means it has been awfully weathered by sea air to last so long. There is also a small church on the walk up to here which I thought resembled quite closely that from the Bronte parsonage. Upon further inspection it was a fairly pleasant surprise to find that Anne Bronte is buried here. Her grave placed by her sisters still stands, with a new plaque placed by the Bronte society due to a few errors made on the original (namely how old she was upon her death) 
Below the castle is the beach and the harbour which we explored for quite a while. It was my first time with my feet on sand since last summer when I went to Formby with my family. Yet despite the weather being much cloudier by this point, there was still a beauty to the place. One that is evident in the sheer number of people who still flock to the sea and sand. Most beautiful of all was the harbour. Walking past the boats on the dock, I found myself eating lunch and reading some Steinbeck with a light house behind me and the open sea a vast expanse before me. That openness, at remarkable space, seemed half way into a sunset even though it wasn't yet 13:00 in the afternoon. It reminded me so much of Cornwall, looking out at far off ships and listening to the noisy shriek of seagulls. Attempted to photograph it but nothing can really capture a moment like that other than being in it. 
Scarborough Sea - Copyright CLSS 2017
There was a lot of rush travel wise with every place. This often meant extremely steep hills which we had to rush up in order to get to buses or trains on time. The second place we headed too would have to be my favourite of all three we saw that day. It was hard to get to in a way because only specific buses at specific times go that way. But that means it has a rather special quality to it, which is preserved by the lack of people tourist wise. I am of course talking about Robin Hood's Bay. This little beach is at the bottom of a hill, amidst tightly knit rows of cottages with their own names. They even had their own small second hand bookshop and a cafe relatively like Chapter One in Manchester (books and cake) 
I'm not sure of the history of the place, but getting to see it has left me wanting to go out and learn more about it. The beach here was the last real beach I saw that day. It was less sandy and, as previously mentioned, touristy than Scarborough. But this made it more compelling to explore in many ways. Largely because of it being a large space seemingly completely full of rock pools. And cliffs too, piercing through the rapidly emerging fog as the cold began to set in. It was pleasant to while away time searching for the flicker of a tail or the sudden quick movement of a crab camouflaging itself against a rock. Rather childish in ways and yet it was nice to have a break from thinking for a short few minutes, and to just follow those flashes of life as they passed by. 
Robin Hood's Bay - Copright CLSS 2017
After what felt like a pause in time wandering through Robin Hood's Bay, we were soon back to rushing quickly to catch the bus to Whitby. It wasn't as long a journey, but by now the day was wearing down its adventurers and everyone was tired and quiet. The sun was fast setting upon arrival in Whitby. So the first place we headed was to the 199 steps leading to the ruins of Whitby Abbey. It wasn't open but it is such a colossal building that it can be seen from above the walls which surround it to protect it. Heading back down, I could see the rows of houses, the lighthouse,  the boats on the distant horizon and the street lights slowly smudging themselves into life. As far as the eye could see. 
Whitby - Copyright CLSS 2017
The day was a wonderful one. It meant getting to travel in the midst of so much work and proved a well needed break which I am really grateful to have had. Sometimes you do just need to get away from everything by literally getting onto a train and going somewhere else. After a hot dish of fish and chips (no seaside trip would be complete without them!) I headed to the train station under a starry sky. With a paper bag full of traditional sticks of rock for my friends and a heart which felt a little lighter about the doom and gloom of fast approaching deadlines. 
That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!
If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!

University: Semester 2, Week 4

Do you ever have those weird weeks where so much goes on that you can't keep up? This week was one of those weeks. Not that that it is a bad thing, in fact all of the things which have happened this week have been positive experiences I am sure to remember for quite a long while to come. They have also added to my yearly adventure list significantly, which means that this year is already off to a very good start. I still can't believe it has been exactly a whole year since I was at the open day for York St. John either! This revelation struck me when I walked through the old quad the other day and all of the snow drops were blooming in the spot I first saw them. Time passes so quickly - sometimes I wish to bottle it for a while so that I can re-enter it whenever I like.
The week began with the usual busy Monday. My lecture and seminar for reading texts 2 was focused largely on impressionism within the short story. In my mind, impressionism is a term which means to attempt to capture a first impression of something within a piece of artwork. Whilst, of course, Monet paintings and some Debussy might spring into your mind at the mention of this term, all they really do is capture an impression. For instance, Monet sketching that same cathedral from different angles at different times of day. Every single one is slightly different because of the lighting, the casting of shadows or even the weather. It is striking how we gather these impressions and often they are some of our most honest thoughts. I would very much like to live an impressionistic life - it seems a lovely way to live.

Discussing impressionism and modernity within literature also meant looking more specifically at two short stories. My favourite of the two to study was one from The Dubliners by James Joyce. This collection of short stories is one I devoured over the summer. I have a great passion for Irish literature which has been standing since I studied it at A level. The themes of identity, of loss/grief and of travel are some which are quite prevalent here. And they are poignantly written. Joyce asks big questions in a subtle way and every time you go back to his work, there is something new to learn because of this.

On Tuesday it was, of course, Valentines day. It was a lovely day because not only did I get to spend time with my friends here in York, but I also got to see my friend from London. Most importantly, and best of all, I got to see my boyfriend who was sweet enough to travel down for the day. He greeted me from my class with a smile and flowers - it can't really get much better than that! It was so much fun to spend time with all of us together (especially as there was cake involved) Going around York to show them all of the popular places or where we go on a day to day basis (Whether it be walking past the Minster or to the Amnesty book shop) made me realise that it is so easy to take a place for granted. Living in a beautiful city such as York can be something you become blind to when it is your daily eality. But on a day when you are happy and surrounded by those who love you and who make you feel more yourself, particularly when it's sunny, it is easy to redeem your love of a place by looking out at the world through their eyes.
I honestly don't think I have seen so much of York in quite a while. This week, despite continued hard work on my assignments and notes for class, it has seemed a partial break in which to re-enter my own world. A world in which I am not a metaphorical student hermit crab. I feel I have really gotten to live a day as a York resident who roams the streets looking for a nice new cafe to dine in or a market with lemons good enough to make lemonade with (speaking of Lemonade - Beyonce was amazing at the Grammy awards!) It was refreshing to feel a new experience in relation to a place I now thought I knew well - whilst it is comfortable enough a location for me to find my way around, there are still a lot of surprises and adventures in store I think.
On Wednesday, I had a very long day! It began with a lecture on the book which is claimed to be the great American novel. That being, of course, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Although a difficult book to get through at times, it often possesses several moments of startling observation from Steinbeck of the world around him. The lecturer that day spoke a lot about the input of Steinbeck's journalistic work (with it being ground work for the plot) and also about the mythological connotations which often come into play. There was one extremely intriguing idea presented in which this text was presented as a retelling of Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. 

Straight after the lecture, I headed to the train station to meet with Laura (the friend visiting for a few days I mentioned) as we were heading out to explore some of the coast together. More on this in a seperate post, as there is far too much to write about here! But basically we got the train to Scarborough, spent some time here and then got the bus to Robin Hood's Bay (my favourite place of the three that day) and finally to Whitby (which I really want to go back to in summer as it had amazing fish and chips and also I want to explore the abbey ruins there more!) Visiting all of that seaside made me both happy and nostalgic. As for Whitby, it just gives me an excuse to re-read Dracula.
Thursday, today, has also been quite a long day. Another busy one, but unexpectedly so. It began with a seminar playing further upon those ideas of gender within The Grapes of Wrath. After this I had an interview which you may or may not hear more of in the future depending on how things go! Either way, it was useful to have the interview experience, albeit quite stressful with the large amount of things going on at the moment. The rest of the day has been full of essay work, researching, musical practice and an orchestra rehearsal (which we got to play Shostakovich's second jazz waltz in whilst being conducted by a conductor with a broken arm... long story!) The most productive day this week, with tutorials, classes and trains to follow tomorrow.
As the week draws to a close, I cast my mind back across the days which felt both long and short simultaneously. And I'm grateful to have had such a nice week in the midst of deadline chaos. It is something to hold on to as my time becomes more consumed and the days feel a little shorter. All of this hard work will soon pay off!
That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!

Dealing With Stress

It's already that time of year again. The time when deadlines are nigh and the world seems to be a dark, grey, desolate place which can never again bear sunlight. But apart from moving to Spain, the best thing you can do is look for the bright side of the situation and focus in on the hard work. If you have ever the read the childrens book We're Going On A Bear Hunt you will know that the only way you can get through a tough situation is to be brave enough to go through it. Sometimes it can be scary, but if you hold in there and if you keep talking about it, sooner than you realise it will be summer again and the hard work for the year will all be done and dusted. Most importantly, all of the hard work will have been worth it. 
It's easy enough for me to say all of this from behind a computer screen. For me to type away at tips that might help, without sharing any of my own experiences. But I myself frequently suffer from getting stressed. In fact, too freuqently I find myself being stressed about not being stressed. It's one of the most annoying parts of being over-organised because, whilst you know you have a note book full of the resources you have discovered from your own research, you also know that when you look at the essay work you have done so far you cannot really tell whether or not it is improving. Because you work so frequently on it, you look only for the bad things and not for the good. So I guess my first tip would be one which I myself need to do more. This being identifying the good parts before then moving on to identify what needs to be altered/fixed. 
Secondly, in relation to panicking. Sometimes stress can tip over into the region of panic and that is never a good place to be. Especially alone! That is why it is important to keep talking about it. Most of the time it is as simple as calling up your best friend or your mum to have a long chat about life, because it can remind you that whilst your deadlines and exams are a stressful business to go about there are other things going on outside the library. And this can make things seem a little easier simply because it makes the task look smaller and less complex. Once you take away the fear from a situation, it's never quite as bad as you think. Fear has a funny way of making our brains turn something such as a spider into a giant man eating eight legged monster. The reality is we all have the capability if we are brave enough to pick up the metaphorical piece of paper and cup to take the arachnid outside out of our comfort zone. The moral being, in order to find your comfort zone you must be brave enough to go outside of it. This can mean that if stress gets too much and having a conversation with your family and friends isn't helping, you should approach the welfare team. It might seem hard to do, but you would be surprised how much it can help. 
You can begin dealing with stress before, after and during the stressful period of time. To begin dealing with stress before it arrives, find the date of the deadlines that you need to be working towards. Do this as close to the beginning of the year as possible and then place it above your desk (or somewhere nearby) so that it is an everpresent reminder. If it is always around you then it will simply be a known fact, not something which will come as a shock or a surprise. You can begin planning around this (organising notebooks, notes and so on) so that you are as prepared as can be. In terms of afterwards, I guess the term would be De-stressing. For instance, after my English literature A level exam I went straight back to re-reading Macbeth. My brain was in overdrive and for some reason just wanted to carry on revising instead of going out for ice cream like I usually would. In this situation my adbice is to just put down the book, go outside and go for a walk. Do something which takes your mind off the thing which is stressful. Soon you will forget all together, and there is no need to worry about it until results day comes around. 
If you find yourself in the depths of the seventh layer of stress then follow the previous tips. Those being: 1. Be brave enough to keep working hard through it 2. Keep asking the necessary questions 3. Do as much work as possible 4. Keep as organised as you can 5. Talk about! Keep those communication waves open.
On a final note in relation to stress, find the perfect balance. Hard work does not mean (unlike Hermione Granger might think) working constantly. If you do that then all that will happen is you find yourself burning out and unable to concentrate. It's a horrible place to be so avoid getting there at all costs - it is not worth it! Finding a balance means going to your classes, working hard in your individual time (researching, reading and just generally being interested in what you are working on) and then setting aside time to talk to those you care about, to exercise, to eat, to get enough sleep and to just do something fun every once in a while. Take it from me, I give you full license to go crazy and read the chapter of a book that isn't on the reading list or go to the cinema and see the movie you have been waiting for forever (it's oscar season so it's allowed) 
At this stressful time of year, I wish you the best of luck. We're all in this together and I'll see you on the other side. As Effie Trinket would say, May the odds be ever in your favour. 
That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!

University: Semester 2, Week 3

What began as a stressful week ended up being a really beneficial and even, at times, fun one. Sometimes it is the testing weeks that I enjoy the most because I learn a lot through the challenges and occasional struggle that they throw at me. All of those negative things, albeit the positives definitely weigh them out, are equally as important to my experience of the world both as a student as a general liver of life. Or, for want of a better word, human. 
Before I get into telling you about the work that I have been doing for class and for deadlines, let me tell you a little about the fun morning out I had with my friends pre-lecture towards the beginning of the week. Other than essay club meetings to go over work with one another, we haven't seen much of one another this week so we decided to meet up to go to this cafe called Brew and Brownie that we've wanted to go to forever. But because of how busy the cafes were we ended up going on a mini cafe crawl of sorts. It was super fun because it was kind of like window shopping, except with cake. It certainly made for a good level of concentration when we headed back for our lecture in the afternoon because our stomachs were so full it was unlikely we would get hungry for at least another week!
Hot Chocolate Obsession - cafe crawl - Copyright Clss 2017
My current deadlines/assignment work consist of a 1,500 word essay, a 1,000 word critical review and a formative presentation with an accompanying reflective commentary due largely before the end of this month. My current focus are the nearer deadlines, which in this incident are the first two written assignments on this list. For my 1,500 word essay I am getting to explore some of the American literature that I love through the work of James Baldwin’s Sonny’s Blues. It is a short story which also contains a lot about jazz music. It’s proving an intriguing area of research to say the least. But some of the articles I have stumbled across surprised me in that they read more like something I would choose to read in my free time rather than research. Either my research skills are improving or I am getting far too obsessed with literary theory! Whilst the Baldwin text is a short story, there are so many little details specifically place to make you think. Baldwin was writing at a time in history when a lot was going on – this text alone was published between the passing of the civil rights act and the Kennedy assassination. It contains themes such as heritage and the Harlem Renaissance, to ask us as readers to go out and learn more about these points throughout history, whilst continuing the respectful discussions which allow us to look back and remember what has occurred.
I’ve also chosen my modules this week for my second year at York St. John. Whilst there are lots of plans for what will or could be going on over the next following year, these modules are genuinely the most exciting thing on that list. There are three different ones for each of the semesters. From what I can remember, the ones I am most excited for are American fiction and cultures of childhood as a lot of my favourite books of all time come under those two class modules. Such as Alice in Wonderland (of course, Carroll/Dodgson) or The Road by Mccarthy. Some of the other modules I decided on included 18th century writing and literature at work. My main aim when choosing modules was to choose not only the modules which I already have an interest in or which drew me in immediately, but also to pick a few which sounded remotely interesting yet a little outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes it is good to take a leap of faith and to keep your range of options open. That is exactly how I feel about fiction at work, but it sounds an extremely promising class that I think will help me a lot. Whilst I am nervous, I know that overcoming that will be a rewarding experience.

For instance, this week I joined an orchestra at college which I was really nervous to do after not playing violin in a while. But I am actually really excited about getting back into regular violin playing as I haven't done too much with that particular skill in about a year. We are playing a lot of stuff, but importantly we are getting to play some Shostakovich. The moral of the story here being that if you work hard then you can achieve your smallest ambition or your biggest dream, you just have to motivate yourself more so that the fear is less substantial. 

Also, this week was money saving week at university. The welfare team put together a few tables in the main lobby area with lots of information on how to save money whilst staying in college - it's really useful to learn so many tips and tricks. Especially in terms of composting and growing your own food. I am super excited to try out my composting plant! I'll be sure to give you an update on that soon. Let me know if you have any good student tips you would like to hear more about. But for now, I will leave you with this cool track that was shared with me and that I think needs sharing more:
That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!


Writing The Critical Review

One of my current assignments for contemporary writing is to write a 1000 word critical review of one of the texts we have been studying the past semester. This is equally a challenging and exciting task, particularly as it is unlike anything I have come across before. It is one of the things I greatly enjoy about university - it throws at me these things which seem complex or undecipherable, and from the jumble of the undecipherable I must make art. That is the challenge for every individual and I feel York St. John is a place where the courses are designed to help Michelangelo carve their sculpture.

Constructing the literary critical review is extremely complex for many reasons. Firstly because of the type of content which needs to be involved and secondly because of the way it needs to be expressed. There is an art to gaining a balance in what is said, so that it doesn't necessarily sound like a research article nor does it sound like an informal conversation. The trick is to get the mark somewhere in between. It is hard to describe, but as with the uncanny, it is a sort of effect which one must be experience when reading a review in order to know it well enough to implement into their own writing. This is something I am trying to put into practice regularly in order to make sure that my review starts to come together.

A few ideas to help you with writing your own critical reviews:
1. Read Reviews
The best way of getting the effect of a review and of getting to know the structure of it is to read as much as you can in relation to the term review. This is quite easy as reviews are everywhere, from your highschool newsletter to whole books of literary criticism in the library. The best examples to go for are newspapers. Whilst those such as the Times literary supplement are preferable, they can also be expensive to subscribe to. My advice is to head for the mainstream newspaper reviews, such as the guardian or the telegraph. Even goodreads can prove useful.
2. List The Features
Whilst you are reading those reviews, keep a note book nearby so that you can note down any observations you come across. Anything from how it comments on the language to then linking forwards to something such as themes and how they work with character. Picking out those features is something analytical - a skill you would use in reviewing something. So either way, it is good practice to fit in.
Although your notes will be hasty and scribbled at first, you can then begin to narrow things down into a clearer and more compact piece of information. Use it as a users manual for your task. These are the things you want to integrate into your own writing, so seeing examples of them will introduce to you different ideas and methods of bringing them into your own voice without it sounding too forced. In a way it is like learning a whole new language, something which requires time, concentration and practice. A good review will take on these features but not so blatantly that things become formulaic. It will simply sound like a natural written portrayl of an opinion in relation to something. Is it successful as a work? Is it unsuccessful in other ways? Why? How? etc.
3. Apply These Features
As I previously mentioned, once you have your list you can begin to close things in a little and use it as a guide line of sorts. Applying features is much easier once you have examples in front of you. Just ensure that things don't sound too forced. When you are writing, do not directly copy something another critic has said. If you can use a bibliography, you can give credit to other writers. But if your task, as mine is, is to write a critical review without using a bibliography to accredit other writers, then make sure you are not subconsciously taking other peoples ideas. 
Keep an eye out and be sure to double check everything you write just in case. In terms of seeing if things work or if you want to test them out prior, write out small sections and work through them as you go.
4. Begin Planning
Once ideas are starting to take root in your mind and grow into bigger thoughts, be sure to begin planning whilst they are still there. Write down three things that stand out the most and then begin to branch out with more detail. The more detail you go into in your plan the easier it will be to begin constructing your essay afterwards. You can colour code, you can mind map, whatever works best. If it helps you to start writing then you are looking from the right angle. And if your planning isn't helping so far then change your angle and try something new.
5. Construct A Draft
From your in depth plan and previous practice/notes, you can then begin to construct your first draft of many (or maybe not, everyone has a different draft number when it comes to putting together work). This is going to be the longest part of the whole procedure so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get started. That time is more valuable than you can imagine, even if you do work well under the stress of the last minute. Stress working can only get you so far. So start early and you won't regret it. As you are writing, continue to read reviews and look back through your notes for assistance. If you ever get stuck then do more planning. Branch things out until you reach something which inspires you enough to carry on writing. 
I think, in summary of all of this, that the critical review is sort of in-formal in a way. It is semi in-formal. What I mean is that, to a degree, it is more liberal in what can and cannot be said when placed in comparison to an academic essay. Take that as you will, but for me, that is where I start when trying to come up with original ideas for how to express my own individual literary voice.
That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!

How To: Exit Hibernation Mode

In my most recent update, I spoke a lot about how difficult has been to get out of the slump I am currently in in order to pick up my work load and get things moving towards my imminent deadlines more efficiently. It isn't proving easy, but then again if it were proving easy then I would know that I needed more of a challenge. The days are long, but they are also full of interesting things to learn. And if you look for the positives in a situation and want to gain as much as you possibly can from it, then you will.

Hibernation mode, as I call it, kicks in just before Christmas. We get out of the habit of practicing our analytical thinking skills, don't read/research as much as we usually would and while away days with a chunk of free time. Whilst it is good to get the rest in and to offer this form of reward once difficult deadlines are over and done with, it is equally as important to exit that means of thinking when you enter back into your day to day work routine. If you don't, it gets very easy to just not try, to not challenge yourself and to find yourself five steps behind where you would usually be. It is crucial that you grow to match your own potential. It is crucial because you owe it to yourself to work hard and to prove that it is worth something and that it can mean something.

To assist you with getting out of the New Year Slump, here are a few tips I put together:

1. Get Into A Routine

Firstly settle back into your day to day class routine. It will have most likely changed with the new year, so keep an eye out for this and know the shape of your days. The early year deadlines are usually the ones closest to you so it is important to begin working towards them as soon as possible. Begin with some gentle planning around your general day time routine. Work in an hour or two between university lectures/seminars, leaving the evenings as free as you can to conduct major editing procedures and the like.

Once you have settled back into things, it will be like an old pair of slippers again: comfy and well worn. Having that as a foundation makes it much easier to build extracurricular work and essays in on top. You'll find it much harder to go back into hibernation modes if you give yourself a certain period of time for sleeping, eating and so on. Waking up at the same time every day can be a life saver because it means you aren't just getting your brain to focus, your body's internal clock will switch on and things will start to feel easier. It's like with swimming or riding a bicycle - it gets easier the more you practice. So just think of scheduling as practice for real life, which is all it is really. If you had to create a routine for a busy job, being late or not getting work done wouldn't be tolerated. Treat university like your dream job. I know it is mine because I get to read and work hard on getting to know literary texts every day. It doesn't get much better than that! Keep positive.

2. Revise/Work As You Go

Like I said about settling into a routine, make sure that you are revising regularly. If you begin revising at the beginning of term opposed to the end, then the information will have time to work itself into your brain gradually. It makes things much less stressful in the long term as a result. In addition to this, it means that if you feel you worked really hard yesterday then you don't have to prescribe yourself as much time today. It is the one flaw with scheduling - it means you feel you have to fill all of the hours you have set up for yourself to complete. When the reality is that you just need to work at your own pace and keep absorbing things as you feel is best. That doesn't mean pushing yourself to do twice as much because that is the amount of time someone else needed to complete the same task. We all process information at differing rates.

Work on an open spectrum - if you have an hour free then spend it in the library working. Adjusting to different environments can be really useful in helping you learn to settle into work more efficiently and to a better standard. I also recommend copying up notes after classes and lectures so that they are in a more concise and useful format. Having multiple copies to go between can really help in the long run.

3. Be A Step Ahead

All of these factors have something in common. They are about keeping ahead of the game and making sure that your brain doesn't switch off fully. If you are thinking all of the time in a particular way, it is easier for that to become a habit and not something which you have to switch into. Being one step ahead of everyone else is important because in reality, that hard work is what makes us stand out from the crowd in everything from a choral audition to a job interview. Whilst it is easy to work at the same pace as those around you, it is also important to be doing as much as you individually can. Yes, that means spending a few extra hours doing external reading and research sometimes. But trust me, it really pays off.

4. Regular Breaks

Give yourself time to breathe! You need the space in between tasks to do fun things like exercise or read something for you opposed to just because it is on a reading list. If you do give yourself regular breaks it is easier to keep motivated. You'll find yourself engaging on a whole other level with tasks if you can master the art of balance. Which leads us on to 5...

5. Find A Balance!

As you can see from all of these tips, there is no true way to be told how to plan your schedule. I can only help by sharing what works best for me in my own experience and this acts to some extent as a guide line for you. We all work at different rates and we should cater to that. Whilst it might at times feel like time is dragging, or that there just aren't enough hours in the day at other moments, it is important to remember that the schedule you have designed itself is also just a guide line. Do what works best, what feels best and what achieves the best outcome for you as an individual. With time, the scheduling will be much easier because you will know how much time equals what particular outcome. Hibernation mode is not forever - by the time you have kicked the habit, you won't even realise!
That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!

Update: Weekend and Deadlines

The past few weeks have provided a comfortable period of time to get reacquainted with the university schedule. It is often a difficult thing to get back into the habit of, and hence a slump can set in. The slump here is a term which means to not annotate or research beyond the class room. Whilst it is of course important to have a social life to provide balance to the long hours of work and stress, it's also important to work towards long distant goals from the present. For instance, those who will have just completed their January deadlines will probably now have entered into a bit of a slump out of relief, having completed a strenuous set of exams.

Everyone is capable of those slumps. And they do happen. In fact at times it is unavoidable because, we are only human. Students are not robots. Though I think we would all secretly love to have a brain that works like Google (I like to imagine my own is made up of filing cabinets and shelves, like a never ending library) Getting out of my own systematic winter shut down has been challenging. But hibernation is much easier to enter out of if you set yourself small tasks. For me that has been planning out my work for the past two weeks, seeing tutors about my ideas and discussing how to move forward from there. My ideas have shifted a lot so far, which makes me rather  glad I didn't begin writing immediately. Initially I was writing about a completely different text than the one I began with. Whilst I enjoyed both greatly, I'm much more confident with the ideas taking shape around this second text as they are ideas which I am already extremely passionate about: hope, travel/culture, music and equality. My biggest desire for this essay is that it feels fun to write. That because I care so much about what I am writing, my brain doesn't switch off and procrastinate. So far it has a little, but like I say - I'm only human. Not a machine.

My York 100 list is still rife with many things I am yet to do, including visit the Guy Fawkes inn and the Balloon Tree cafe for some berry picking. For those of you who don't know, the York 100 list is an undergraduate project which lists 100 things to do in our new home city before we graduate. It's a lot of fun and also a great way to break up the day to day. Which brings me back to my point - deadlines. To help take my mind off deadlines, I've been specifically setting aside free time. Whether that be meeting my friends for coffee and a chat, or going to the art gallery for the first time. Having those brief moments thinking of something other than books has been really important for me so far this year. It reminds me why I am doing what I am doing, sending me back with fresh motivation and inspiration when I initially felt it was a hopeless mission. There is always hope - you just have to look hard enough for it.

With three weeks until my first deadline (single text essay of 1,500 words) it's time to settle into a more close knit routine. One in which there is less free time, though there will be some to balance things out of course.

That's why it was important to me that this weekend I spend some quality time with those I love most in the world. Because I know that I stress quite a lot about my work (a bit of a perfectionist) and wanted to remind them of the person I am when not that workaholic monster. It's been really nice to have a mini break. To pause and spend some time at home between rehearsals. Travelling back home last Friday, I was so excited to place my feet back on Manchester soil (or Tarmac) the relief of it was wonderful. It reminded me, like I told you earlier, why I am inspired to do the things I do. It began with some retail therapy which worked wonders. Spending a good hour or so in book shops and urban outfitters let me switch off for a while. I even managed to find a copy of Carrie Hope Fletchers All I Know Now, which I've wanted to read for ages. Plus a cute cactus for my piano - meet Scout McSpike:

Saturday was a day when I got to just spend as much time as I wanted with all of the people I love. The morning meant meeting up with my boyfriend for mandatory McDonald's breakfast (of course) Whilst we talk a lot, it's difficult to not see each other as much as we used to. Then again, these are challenges any relationship takes on when an individual goes on to university. I like to think it has made us more compassionate though as we work hard to maintain clear communication when we aren't both in the same place at the same time. It's definitely possible, just more challenging because of distance. Hearing about his week made me feel much less alone than I did previously - when someone you love is having a difficult week too, it feels less like the end of the world and more like something which can be worked through.

In the afternoon I visited the rest of my family. A really cool part of the day was going to the cinema with my mum (heads up - if you are going to Manchester, check out the Printworks. It used to be a printing place but is now restaurants and a cinema built onto an old cobbled street) to see Jackie. In my first year at sixth form I studied American and British history (about 500 years worth of the stuff) so this film caught my attention due to the fact that it focused on a perspective from a big time in modern history. 

The movie was very well done in my opinion: the soundtrack was suitable but also intriguing, the drama and script were extremely respectful and historically accurate, everything about it felt like it had a very genuine shared mission of capturing history aptly. Plus, leading on from that thought on a similar concept, it got my mum and me talking about history and discussing different elements of it. This was really nice as my mum wasn't too interested in American history prior to this - I feel like it really served the purpose of opening up that area of study to her so that she could feel involved in it. Hearing her excited about learning something new made me realise how important a role film can play in this regard: it opens up ideas which might seem difficult to the public and makes the complex enjoyable.

I don't know if you have been to Manchester before. But it's best witnessed either first thing on a bright Saturday morning, or just after evening but before night has set in when all the lights are switched on on the Printworks building and newer architecture. There's so much energy about it. It is a fusion of the new and old with its own twist. It is a city with something new around every corner. Getting to see both of these times today made me feel so human - it might not seem to make much sense, but it did. It made me look out at the city I grew up in and take a long enough look that it made me realise had I not grown up here, I would still be discovering and appreciating all these many aspects of it right now. It felt very movie like to me any way - the soundtrack would have been Swifts 1989, welcome to Newyork!

Sunday was rehearsals day. But before that, baking! I finally got to make the gingerbread (or should I say ginger whale) cookies I've been planning since way back last summer with the release of Finding Dory. And baking wouldn't be baking without my grandma, who is the best chef I know. Baking is extremely therapeutic, especially when the ginger smells so good. It always makes me think of when I was in primary school and learning to bake these things for the first time. Usually at my grandparents house and with the reliable old cooking bowl that my great grandma Anne handed down. The cookies turned out well. Especially after we had iced them, they looked too good to eat! The best part was sharing them over tea afterwards though - that was a lot of fun!

Before rehearsal, there was one person I hadn't spent too much time with. Or rather dog - Rolo, of course (more commonly known as Dodo) Our walk wasn't as chilly as last weekend when the lake was frozen over, but it was still too cold for him to go swimming (he disagreed and sulked) I even got to see the first snow drops of the year. The flowers associated with the beginnings of seasons have always been my favourites. Flowers hold a lot of meaning, particularly in Victorian fiction where they can often provide subtle symbolism. For instance, there is an old German folk tale about the snow drop that says it is the first to bloom because it was the first flower to say it would give up its colour to make the spring bright. Blooming first was its reward.

Rehearsal was a tad different today as we were not led by our usual conductor but instead the conductor of the Halle adults choir, Matthew Hamilton. It's always interesting to see how different conductors envision the same piece. Often their ideas are largely the same but with subtle twists. There was this one section today we were looking at in the Dream of Gerontius. It's quite simple but is challenging to get right because it is so simple. To make it sound magical, what makes it difficult, you have to relax and make proper use of the dynamics. There is a lot of staccato, which is always difficult to get just right. But the description we were given of it being a scalpel edge sound, something more about edge than about weight of tone, really helped me to envision how I should create the sound to a better extent.  

Leaving that rehearsal, I felt like I had two lots of information to help me opposed to just one. It's why I enjoy working with HYC on the combined projects as you get to see many different facets of the same idea. Seeing it all come together like that is quite amazing. So much goes into making that final finished and polished project.

So yes, that was my fun and brief getaway weekend. It's made me feel a lot more prepared for the week ahead where previously I was a little nervous or unsure about the work load. It's a lot to get done in a brief period of time, but knowing how much support I have makes me realise that I'm not alone, I never will be. So it's important I not only keep working hard, but that I also keep talking and putting my own mental well being at the fore front of all things. I encourage you to do the same.

There is something I keep telling myself and will continue to tell myself through this next few hard weeks. When I start to desire a brain that works like Google, I will think of all the poetry ever written, the music written out of greatest grief, the novels written out of hardship and the world constructed on this same belief: Machines cannot make beautiful things. Only people can do that.
And here is a little evidence of that in the beautiful aria Handel composed, Lascia Ch'Io Pianga. A piece I have begun working on as of late:

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!


University: Semester 2, Week 2

This week has been a week of creativity and new experiences. Particularly in terms of learning and my knowledge of all things literary. It's always interesting to find your ideas challenged in a way which leaves you passionate about a new area of your subject and with plenty of new things to research. Last week, this was definitely the case with our study of the movie Wall.E and the idea of Hyperreality (a concept which was thought up by a critic called Eco)

The first change that came as a surprise this week was that suddenly I found myself riveted by the ideas presented within Sonny's Blues. This short story had previously not been terribly interesting to me as I was focused on the political connotations of Ursula Le Guin's fantastic utopia piece Those Who Walk Away From Omelas. Despite having the plans ready and an extensive amount of research completed in relation to this, I abruptly realised that Baldwin's short story would be preferable for my essay as it is not only a much broader field to discuss my ideas within (largely because it is slightly longer than Omelas) It engages with the ideas of the civil rights movement, the Harlem Renaissance, societal attitudes within the city, and the whole aspect of community formed upon shared heritage. One of the things I like most about researching the heritage aspect is that I get to look further into jazz music, which is incredibly interesting. Jazz proves a soundtrack to my work. One which is simultaneously exciting and unique. I cannot wait to see how my essay shapes out to be because of how the music has impacted on my ideas so far.

Gender and writing has also been eye opening this week. Largely due to it being the first time I have fully encountered the topic of naturalism. A particularly intriguing aspect of this class at the moment is that it calls into question the parallels between the genres of naturalism and romanticism. We are looking at the play Miss. Julie by Strindberg right now. In many ways, I dislike this play. Firstly because it is quite cruel to the idea of gender and those encompassed by the term. Secondly because it is often confusing and vague, meaning the events have to be picked apart to be understood. It is useful in a way as it means practicing identifying symbols within the text and what they represent. However, I do enjoy discussing how the play is constructed to be believable opposed to be a means of entertainment. Particularly as we have just been sorted into our formative presentation groups within seminars. That will make for an added challenge in addition to the other written work due in at the end of the following month (apologies in advance for distance due to course work hours)

Outside of class, I have been experiencing a little more of York. The first thing I was sure to do was head back to York Minster. It was odd to walk back there and to look down the aisle at the spot I sang my solo in at Christmas time. It seems a life time ago since then in a way. The whole cathedral was packed then, but it was early morning when I arrived and every seat was empty. The stained glass slightly eery as the sun was still coming up, and the rain pattered just audibly enough on the roof high above those great stone arches. That beautiful place will never cease to astound me.
York Minster - Copyright CLSS 2017
Also, due to the rain, it seemed the perfect time to finally go to the York Art Gallery. After walking past this beautiful building every time I head into town or to the train station, it was wonderful to finally find myself walking inside. 
The first exhibition I saw was one of the temporary ones. The exhibition was called Flesh and featured many different sketches and sculpture focusing primarily on anatomy. There were ideas focused on animals (including quite a peculiar sculpture of a horse) but overall the idea was to focus mostly on the study of the human figure. It was particularly striking how the exhibition mixed the past with the present. Many of the paintings were on loan from other galleries or had been taken out of the archives especially. These focused on biblical ideas or those from myth and legend throughout history. These themes still run throughout many of the modern exhibits, it is just that these make further use of technology. For instance, one piece on display was a series of photos displayed together as a collection. 
York Art Gallery - Copyright CLSS 2017
After walking through this exhibition, I saw another small temporary exhibition on clay and the craft surrounding sculpting pottery. This was indeed a thought provoking collection. Largley due to the idea that I had no idea how complicated a skill it is initially, at least not until this point in time. Seeing the difference in the pottery across time, or lack of difference at times, is only possible when you see such an extensive collection in one place. And it is also only possible to fully grasp the complexity once you have read the life stories of those involved in what is being displayed and learn about how culture can influence some of the greatest pieces of art. Even the smallest vase can hold the biggest message or source of inspiration. The message is worked carefully into each small detail.
The thing I enjoyed most about my trip to the art gallery was not learning extensively about culture and history through the evolution of art and the technique it encompasses. It was through internally engaging with the art as an individual. Sitting and sketching for even a short period of time is not only peaceful, but allowed me to fully appreciate the colours, the shading, and most importantly the complexity of what I was seeing. Only through art can we truly adore art as it deserves to be adored.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!


Books in February

January was a fantastic first month for reading. There were so many exciting books to read, including many of those featured on my current reading list. I've mentioned some favourites before, but just to confirm I think the best thing I have read this year so far would have to be The Romanovs by Montefiore. Simply because it is one of the most exciting and well written works of non-fiction I have come across in a while. Probably since reading Foxes Unearthed in early 2016.

With more book launches and releases to look forward to in the future, I have written a list of a few of the books which I would like to get through in February. Some of them are quite short reads as my deadlines are fast approaching, in less than a month now. Yet in spite of that I do want to make sure I am integrating a little extra reading for fun into my free time. Even if it is only something small like one of the School of Life books (I highly recommend How to Change the World). Art does not exist in a vaccuum, and I know that without some form of inspiration outside of my classes I will not be able to think up new ideas which make me want to keep writing. Whilst the process of essaying can be stressful and at times a tad dull, it is also importat that you write because you want to, not because you have to.

And on that note, here are a few of the books which I would like to read in February:

1. Gather Together In My Name - Maya Angelou

After reading the first volume of Angelou's autobiography (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings) I've been eagerly anticipating reading the rest of her life story. However, it wasn't till this week that I stumbled across a copy which reminded me of this. It's funny the little things that happen sometimes. So far I am quite a way into this second volume already, so should have it finished in another week or two. The structure of it is very well built - Angelou had a difficult life, but she makes it sound more of an adventure than a burden. She expresses it particularly well with the use of short chapters and brief sentences. All beautifully written, and effective because of their brief and concise nature.

One of my favourite scenes so far would have to be that of Angelou (or Reets as she was known back then) cooking Creole food in her first job at a restaurant. There is something about how she describes the place that makes it sound like home, in the warmest sense of that word. Capturing an atmosphere isn't always an easy thing to do. Yet somehow she captures it as well as a photograph. She is the definition of time travel through literature because you feel yourself on the very spot she recalls.

2. Cherry Pie - Holly Poetry

One of my favourite reads of last year that didn't make the overall list because it is quite a small book. Yet the poems within it resonate deeply with modern issues that you catch on the radio, in conversation or on the cover of the newspaper. Some of these poems are traditionally written, others have a more sombre tone or emotional depth. But the best part about them is that they are highly original, creative and witty. Many of them make me laugh out loud every time I read them, let alone the first time. For instance, a poem about feminism with Tinkerbell at the heart of it. Yes I mean the one from Peter Pan! It is high time I re-read this to cheer myself up until spring is officially here.

None of the poems are short enough for me to feature here unfortunately, and it wouldn't be justice to just provide you with one stanza of them. So here instead is the short free form poem which the book opens on (an explanation of the title and also the dedication) :
My Gran used to call me
Cherry Pie
When I was a baby
Cherry Pie is one 
of the first memories 
I have of my grandad 
When I was a teenage I worked
in Little Chef
motorway services
frozen bags
in syrup
I have a long relationship with cherries.
For Gaga and Papa.

3. Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

This short story collection features Metamorphosis at the top of the list and I am really looking forward to reading this. Largely because last semester, right back at the very beginning, we studied Ovid's Metamorphosis in my narrative class. Some of my earliest memories in education link back to the lessons I was taught on Greek mythology when I was quite small (or smaller than I am now at least) Whilst those were closer to Virgil, Ovid's ideas are still some of the most foundational. There are several stories in his great collection that have no original elsewhere, suggesting he too was an assistant in creating, shaping and recording the many myths/legends we now know so well today.

Kafka will not be writing in the style of an Ancient Greek scribe, that I know. But his ideas are more befitting of the present day. They will definitely tie in to my recent interest in how politics are represented through literature and also the idea of utopia to an extent. Kafka was quite a private man and upon his death, he was insistent that his works be burnt. However, many were saved and this is why we have access to and can read these today.

4. 1917: Stories and Poems From the Russian Revolution

The Montefiore has me in the spirit for yet more Russian literature. This poetry collection will go quite well with my re-reading of the Holly Poetry anthology previously mentioned. The mix of poetry here is ranging from the new to the old, and focusing on pretty much every key event to have occurred throughout Russian history. For those of you who don't know, this is one the many books which is being published to commemorate the Russian Revolution of 1917. There are several works following this theme which will be published throughout the year, this being one of the earliest.

5. Autumn - Ali Smith

I've been meaning to read this since it very first came out. The worst thing is, I almost bought a signed copy but ended up not doing so. I know, what was I thinking! But at the same time, any copy of an Ali Smith book is a good thing and should not be taken for granted. If you haven't read any of her work before, go and read some. Trust me, you'll see the effect.

In a way that Angelou was capable of, Smith is also able to capture perfectly an atmosphere and an environment. Autumn is the theme of the novel and is at the heart of it, although it is not solely based on this. Her stories often begin with the simple, crescendo to a peak at the middle of the novel and then dim back to the simplicity that they began with. Often they leave you with a new insight of the world around you and the people within it. She understands so much about people and her writing is a great asset to any book shelf and mind.

6. A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness

It's almost time for the Oscars, which means we are officially in Oscar season! A lot of the nominated films aren't out yet. La La Land and A Monster Calls are two of the movies currently out. I'm also really excited to go and see Jackie (about the life of Jackie Kennedy) on Friday. But before I do go and see this in the cinema, I want to read it. There are several reasons for this.

Ness explains at the beginning that he carried on to an extent the work of a childrens writer who passed away from cancer mid way through a new piece. Whilst he was flattered to have been asked to carry on what she was working on, he didn't want to marr it or turn it into something which would have been any different to how she would have written it. Instead, he was inspired by her own children and the work she had produced so far to create a new piece. The result of which is this so far extremely moving and poetically written work.

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you! 

University: Semester 2, Week 1

Coming back to York has been somewhat an odd experience. Not in that it has been negative, but in that it has been getting used to everything again. You'll see yourself once you attend university, or know if you already do, that returning is kind of like starting all over again. All of the modules and assignments are new, so are many of the professors and students you are working with. It it almost like you are back in freshers week. Not in every regard - campus is still the same, is still home. And all of my friends are here, the books in the library too that I never got chance to read in my spare time last semester. But gradually, I am falling back into the habit of planning essays, of scribbling out everything as fast as possible in my lectures and of reading wherever, whenever and however possible.
My personal library is growing!

The winter break has been good for me. Largely because after all of the stress in my assignments last semester, I just needed that opportunity to come up for air before diving back into everything again. Whilst the new assignments are intimidating in that I know they will require hard work and focus, it is my aim to remain able to meet that challenge and to not become complacent. This first work has been difficult in the amount of information being given out, but next week will be easier when it comes to focusing on the tasks ahead.

So far I have had one of each of my classes. Whilst I enjoyed the teaching style of all of my previous lecturers and seminar tutors, it is also refreshing to hear people with other areas of expertise speak their ideas and thoughts. It provides fresh information and inspiration. My favourite class is contemporary writing, because it looks largely at modern texts and the world around us. What is going in the news is very much something which is a part of our discussions. I enjoy this because it reminds me how relevant to the modern world literature is. It is crucial to our understanding of many things due to the fact that it comes in all kinds of formats. Whether that be a play, a movie, a book. Literature is everywhere. When I went to London, one of the first places I found it was in the poetry leaflets handed out on the tube. Words make our world better, or at least clearer to understand.

My other classes are proving enjoyable also. Reading texts 2 is split into two parts this semester: The first six weeks being short stories and criticism, the second half five weeks of poetry. Seeing the evolution of poetry in more detail after we studied sonnets last year will definitely be intriguing to say the least, though I am not sure if I can quite say I am looking forward to Chaucer... we do not get along well he and I. Gender and writing, just as with contemporary writing, is all about looking at the issues which arise in the modern society surrounding gender. We began by looking at an extract from Plath's The Bell Jar. Reading her exquisite and heart breaking phrases took me back to that day in early January when I visited her grave at Hebden bridge. It was easy to imagine her reading it.

Like I say, the first week is always a little odd because it is somehow manages to evade the norm. There is time to not be worried about assignments and to pause for a little while. Getting to spend time with my friends has been one of the best parts of being back because it means discussing ideas, setting short story challenges for one another, re-visiting the same places together and most importantly taste testing hot chocolate from across the city. Finding a new cafe to work from is never a bad thing.

As this second week begins and the first draws to a close, it will be good to feel the work effort becoming a tad lighter. It will be pleasant to have time to play the violin for a few minutes each day but to know that my main aim is to get an essay plan completed before the end of everything. The more work I put in now, the better the afternoons will be when my assignments are over once more. Some of them are in new formats (such as a critical review or a blog assessing my overall performance in a presentation on the construction of gender in society) which I am as of yet unaccustomed to, but all of that will soon change. It is definitely going to be a memorable experience learning about these things and something from which I can learn a great deal.

Outside of research and planning (feeling in a good place with that right now which is a relief!) my aim for the week is to carry on reading the Romanovs by Montefiore and to find some extra reading to do other than the supplied criticism. In addition to this, I want to go and see another academy award nominated film because so far all of them are proving pretty awesome - it is difficult to say who will win each of the awards this year for sure! Still living the dream from La La Land so far though - here is another little arrangement I have been working on this weekend between practice for Halle:

That's all for today folks! Thank-you again, so so so much for voting for me as blogger of the year 2016/17 - it is an achievement I am really proud of and it makes me smile to just thinking of it! 

Thank-you also for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day!

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!