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Showing posts from 2015

Lost in the Library

Once again it's hit that time of year that myself and (apparently) every single other student at the University of Lincoln flock the the hallowed halls of the Library. I got to the point when I was writing my essay earlier that I resorted to tweeting:

Now, don't get me wrong, I am so very much enjoying my course. It's wonderful. Every day poses a new challenge and third year so far has been brilliant. I've had so many great opportunities and experiences that previously were not even on my horizon -- I am so so grateful.


I could really do with a nap for a week. Third years seem collectively to be wandering around aimlessly like zombies. Slowly raising their hands in a sloppy waves, whilst struggling to form coherent sentences because words are difficult when you're this tired. Last night, I came back from my lovely friend's flat at half midnight, charged until 1:45, fretted about university work until I eventually drifted off and before I knew it my eyes w…

A Librarian and a Penguin

These past couple of days have been very poignant for me. I heard of the passing of Mike Sutton, who worked at Harrogate Library and showed me the ropes as a bright eyed and bushy tailed fifteen year old on work experience. That week's work experience introduced me to the Young Volunteer scheme which I was part of for about five years; I met so many great people through it, had some laughs and grew as a person. Not to mention that over the years Harrogate Library has been a big staple in my life: providing me with books, friends and a place where I did most of my revision back in my A Level years.

Mike and I spoke now and then, in person and every now and then online. No matter how he was feeling, he always greeted me with a smile when I came into the library and asked how I was. I also am so very aware how much he meant to his colleagues, who will miss him incredibly.

The past couple of days I've also been reading a beautiful and sweet little book called The Penguin Lessons b…

Pretty Ugly @ LPAC by Lauren Orwin | 29 October 2015

Imagine a stage where the performer is so intimately exposed to us. She lies on the stage (very Abramovic) surrounded by the costumes which will make up her show. The performer is Louise Orwin and she is about to take us on a journey.
Teenage girls around the world post videos of themselves online, asking viewers if they think they are pretty or ugly. Orwin took this idea and decided to see what would happen if she played the roles of three teenage girls online for a year. Most of the comments were negative, a majority of them from men. However, this show is not just about exposing misogyny or, indeed, paedophilia (she was posing as underage girl, and most of the genuine posters online are under the age of consent). Pretty Ugly is also about girls – about being a girl. About how we question, doubt, and construct ourselves. Imagine Moran’s How To Build a Girl on stage, with some shocking scenes.
Orwin introduces not only to the characters of Baby, Becky and Amanda, but also three of the …

Happy Things

My lovely friend Bee posted a blog post this evening of her happy things. Many people know I like to read, it's a thing I shout about on a daily (cough-hourly-cough) basis. But, I thought I'd trawl through the dusty recesses of my mind and list some things that make me happy. Maybe it'll be something I can come back to and cheer me up on a rainy day? Or maybe you, too, decide to mind-vomit some happy things. I like senselessly, carelessly writing what comes into my head. Let's do this.

the smell when everything is cold and damp outside and there are leaves on the ground
my dog's ears
bookshop smell
cosy blankets
hot tea
hot coffee
evenings with my mum and dad and sister
my cousin Harry's laugh
washing my hands in hot water
standing under the shower with my face up
heavy rain
feeling breathless
recalling a memory and getting a funny feeling in your tummy
choosing books for people and them actually liking them
feeling full up from a really good meal

Invisible Illness

Hundreds- thousands- millions of people on our planet live with invisible illness. Whether they suffer from a long term medical condition, chronic pain, or mental illness, invisible illness is tough because there's simply nothing to see.

The amount of times of the last five years I've wanted a big sign above my head saying "I'm ill, please believe me" is unreal. A woman, just this last 6 months called me out on taking up a space for my suitcase because I couldn't lift it onto the overhead rack on a crowded train. When I explained I had a bad back, she said she did too and that it was disgusting that I'd taken up a seat. I got off that train and cried; I'd been travelling three hours with around 20 books in my suitcase. I was in so much pain, and yet when I'd tried to explain (calmly and nicely) that I had a bad back, I was interrupted and disbelieved.

Today was a big day for me. I went to the cinema with a friend, and for the first time, I was abl…

Final Year (aka let the panicking begin)

It's eight o'clock in the evening and I'm sitting here, three nights before I move out for my third year at university and what am I doing? I am panicking. (In a good way. Kind of.)

These past few days I've been pouring over old photos because two of my young cousins hit milestones this past week: one started primary school, the other started secondary school. Now, I'm not being funny but when did I get so grown up? I should be the one starting school surely?! But no, I am alas beginning my final year of my degree. Don't get my wrong, I am excited; I'm so looking forward to living with the girls I'm sharing a flat with, meeting new people, being confident-sassy-sexy (the killer trio), spending time with my nearest and dearest, and (hopefully) (seriously, so much hope) kicking ass at my degree. I'm a final year english student which generally means me running around aimlessly with a book in front of my face saying stuff about words and hoping I make …


Growing up I've been both lucky and unlucky with my opportunities to explore the world outside of my house. Family holidays to France every year grounded my ability to travel long distances (we drove), my grandmother being German and auntie living in Germany solidified my love for the country and desire to learn the language, and my love of reading allowed me to travel from the safety of my bedroom.

I honestly believe one of the main reasons that my wanderlust hasn't really kicked in until now is because my imagination was enough. And to this very day it still is - just about. Earlier this year I interned in London and that was a bit of an adventure for me (Yorkshire born and bred!). Even going 82 miles down south to University was a big deal. I can still recall the butterflies in my stomach as I walked up the stairs to my new flat on move-in day. Reading has given me a sense of adventure, and also allowed me to get an appetite to explore.

Because I was ill for most of sixth f…

Once Upon a Time seasons 1-4 | Review

First of all, if you haven't seen Once Upon a Time and want to go into the show blind, then please minimise this, go watch it all and come back. While there are no ground-breaking spoilers here, I do touch on parts of the plot, and characters that may be considered of a spoiler-y nature.

Back in 2010, I was babysitting for an old neighbour when what to my wandering eyes could appear but an advert. The advert was to become the beginning of an adventure in my life, spanning right up until this very day. It has indeed taken me since that dreary, dark night in 2010 until this very day to get up to date with Once Upon a Time (IMDB here), and my what a journey it has been. What drew me to the show initially was the basic theme of fairytales (I’m a sucker for a good story), and the added twist of modern day America meets the fairytales was just my cup of tea. Over the years we have seen a group of characters, once (upon a time *sniggers*) defined by their stock stereotypes of ‘hero’ and …

The Anticipation of Surgery

Tomorrow I am going into hospital so they can put a trial spinal chord stimulator (scs) into my back, which will hopefully reduce my chronic pain. If you've known me at all in the past four or five years, you'll probably be aware that in 2012 I was diagnosed with congenital syringomyelia. This basically means that residing in my spinal chord is a syrinx (or cyst); mine is pretty small, and I've had it since I was born so various doctors argued over whether I could technically get pain from this.

I have so many emotions about tomorrow. First of all, I am so very grateful to have this opportunity to have this treatment. I am so lucky. The treatment is new and not widely used because it's administered by pain clinics as opposed to neurologists or neurosurgeons. I also know that if I have these two surgeries and they help me, maybe I can help encourage the wider use of this treatment. Over the past couple of years I've fogged my brain up with medicine, and to be offere…

More Endings: Second Year of University

It seems that our lives are compromised of endings; lots of little chapters with some loose ends, some rather neatly tied up. Four years ago I left compulsory education to do my GCSEs, now I'm about to sit an exam that will mark the end of my second year at university. We seem to have this incessant need to categorise times in our lives. It allows us to look back at certain times and recall memories, whether fond or bad with a sense of reflection.

Fifteen year old Claire was very different from now. I was about to embark on my first relationship, I was young and naive and also very, very ignorant. Luckily, I was ignorant in the nicest way possible; I was handled with care by all those around me. I drank for the first time with the best possible people I could have, my first kiss was much the same. I am so, so lucky to have grown up the way I have.

This year has also thrown some trials at me. I started second year thinking it would follow a very different thread that it has done. A…

'Macbeth' @ Harrogate Theatre | 7 May 2015

When I came home this week, my sister surprised me with the chance to see Macbeth at Harrogate Theatre. This particular production had been touring since February by Tara Arts and Black Theatre Live. The production has to be one of the best Shakespeare productions I have ever seen.

Rating: 5/5 *

Three outrageous drag-queens* cook up an explosive brew of treachery, ambition and passion, setting an Asian family off on a path of bloody self-destruction. Tara Arts brings Indian movement and music to Shakespeare's text, offering a powerful contemporary take on his darkest play. [source

Never before have I seen a Shakespeare play that has evoked such emotion. I was very familiar with Macbeth, as most people are. However, I did not experience the strength of emotion in any previous production or reading of Macbeth that I did in this performance. 

Mountford portrays a deeply intense and crazed Macbeth who slowly and scarily descends into madness. Along with the power of Shaheen Khan's …

Prescription: A Book A Day

When life gets a little wobbly for me, when I look around me and there's this rather large mote of emotion or troubles or stress I begin to build myself a bridge. It takes time, care and patience; each book a brick that has to be selected carefully. Sometimes rain will lash down and threaten to flood my little island, but as yet the banks have held. With each book, I get closer to the mainland, and I get more determined to get there, a smile growing on my face. The books slot together perfectly, each adding a stitch to my patches until I become reasonably fully formed again. (No one ever is fully formed though, don't be silly!)

Recently books that I wouldn't have dreamed of approaching have helped me more than I could've imagined. As cathartic as book shopping is, the real joy comes when you sit and fall into another world and then hit a passage or a feeling or a thought that reveals the sun to you. Out from a cloud, comes this clarity. And it's wonderful.

Reading …

Reading Week: A Week in the life of an English student

I am currently a second year English undergrad student and halfway through my second term. One thing people always warned me about was the level of reading that would be thrown at me and my fellow students - they were correct.

In 2011 I made a commitment to read 100 books in one year and being a slow reader I didn't achieve that, making it to 65 instead. This past week alone I have read 9 books... nine. That's crazy for me because sixteen year old me felt like nine books in one month was an impossible feet! This is yet another thing that makes me chuckle at my past self and pat her on the back, willing her to believe that it'll all work out in the end.

Reading weeks are a common thing in lots of universities and students often get slated for simply dossing about and doing nothing for a whole week. I am here to argue otherwise; I was glued to my reading for the whole week, as were a lot of my friends. I love my degree and without reading the texts, I can't learn and con…

Finding the Words

First term of second year completed and it's given me a lot to think about. Assessments have been written, tears have been shed but most of all I've grown as a person in ways I didn't really think I'd have to any time soon.

These past few months I've found comfort in a lot of things; namely Gossip Girl, books, books and more books. But sometimes it has been the words of those around me, close to me that have been the most impressionable. Their understanding, kindness and trust has shown me how to act, how to feel and how to keep on going. I do make it sound rather dramatic but since November I have had to feel a lot of what I have't felt since I was thirteen years old, I've had to spend quite a bit of time on my own and I've had to learn to not drown myself in thoughts. It's been difficult but it's not down to me that I've not run away, or got stupidly stupidly sad, or that I've given up; it's due to my family, and my truly brilliant…

Best Books: The 2014 Edition

Through various platforms I have always rounded up my favourite books of 20## because I read a lot and let's face it, there are some beauties in there. In 2013 I did a '13 things for 2013' and I may do something similar when my brain is more awake. For now, have some book recommendations:

1. 1984 by George Orwell -- having wanted to read this for years after my Grandpa gingerly placed a beautiful copy of Animal Farm into my small, naive hands, I am so happy finally to have got around to reading it. I think most people know of this book and all I will really say is this: r e a d  i t.

2. More Than This by Patrick Ness -- a dystopian theme is arising here. I read Ness' beautiful A Monster Calls a couple of years ago and it was nice to finally sit down and read this beautiful novel. Profoundly thought-provoking and such a page turner. It's been a long time since I've read any YA that I've loved this much.

3. Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann -- Just b e…