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Home Sweet Home

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It’s now been a week since I have settled back into life at home and my new challenge of finding a job. It is the strangest feeling not knowing what I’m doing next. I haven’t been unemployed since I was 16, and I’ve always had university to go back to at the end of the long summers. Now all I seem to have is a lot of unknowns and time to fill! To stop myself going too crazy when I don’t have applications to write I’ve made a list of things I want to do this summer:

1) Finish crocheting my blanket
2) Go running more
3) Learn to do more things with my hair
4) Practise my German
5) Find a job!!!

Trying to put myself in a positive frame of mind, I’ve decided not to think of this as the ‘Summer of Unemployment’ but the ‘Summer of Possibilities’. There are so many paths to choose from and things I still want to learn that I’m determined to make the most of the free(ish) time I have!

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My door holds as a clue as to what is probably happening inside…

That said I’ve spent most of the last few weeks with my head in a book. I’m calling it a little mini-break after the stress of moving out of a flat. I’ve also been infected with an unshakable wanderlust. All I want to do is go explore, not even necessarily abroad, I’m constantly catching myself absent-mindedly planning daytrips to London and a number of random local places I’ve never shown an interest in before. I never realised I was this incapable of staying at home for long periods of time!

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My obsession with maps and travelling continues on my walls with prints of two of my favourite cities I’ve visited, Berlin and New York

One of my favourite things about being home is my room. After 4 years of beige student housing it is lovely to be back in my sunshine yellow happy place. Looking around I’ve realised what a random selection of belongings I have. Despite living in the box room I still manage to cram in an inordinate amount of knick-knacks and magazines, although it’s becoming harder as the years go on.

The plan for next week is to try and follow the ‘unemployment timetable’ I’ve made myself, including all the things on my list as well as job applications (yes, I am that much of an organisational freak). As much as I am loving the warm weather I would appreciate it cooling down a bit, it’s making me sleepy!

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Goodreads Challenge #3 – #6

In between frantically tying up loose ends before  finishing work and moving out, it feels like the only other thing I’ve really been doing is reading, but looking at my list it doesn’t seem like I’ve made much progress! I decided when I started this that only new books would count, and this month I have mostly been re-reading a load of my favourites. After my visit to the Warner Bros Studio I started the whole Harry Potter series from the beginning. I’ve just finished Goblet of Fire but now need to wait for my 9 year old cousin to finish Order of the Phoenix as he borrowed it from me (I feel like this says a lot of things about my mental age…). I also had a bit of a Tom Clancy revival (nothing takes my mind off stress like spy novels and murder mysteries!) as Channel 4 were showing two films in their ‘action weekend’. This meant I re-read all 4 of the Jack Ryan Jr series to make sure I knew what was happening in the new one (below).

My next challenge to myself is to read more non-fiction books. I love the depth of discussion on a topic a book allows, something a magazine article always struggles to do, but I know that when I’m stressed I tend to opt for escapism not information, however interesting it may be.

#3 – The Men Who Stare At Goats – Jon Ronson

As bizarre as the first of his books I read. I didn’t like this one as much, I think because I found the topic less interesting, but it was no less astounding. It’s one of those books you spend the entire time thinking ‘can this really be serious? this must be a joke’.

#4 – The Last Empress – Anchee Min

Carrying on where Empress Orchid left off, this one was a little more depressing (it was the story of her downfall after all) and a little slower, but nonetheless a great book.

#5 – The Key – Simon Toyne

Being a massive lover of Kate Mosse and her Languedoc Trilogy (Labyrinth, Sepulchre, Citadel) I hoped for something similar from this book, and while it wasn’t quite as good, it did keep me fully engrossed for a few days and has placed the sequel firmly on my ‘To read’ list.

#6 – Command Authority – Tom Clancy

What can I say? Sometimes I have the reading taste of a middle aged man… I can’t explain what it is about Tom Clancy books that keeps me coming back to them, it’s definitely not the violence and detailed descriptions of military equipment! However I love a plot that slowly unravels until all the dots are connected, and if my Year 11 obsession with the TV show Spooks is anything to go by I do have a strange fascination with spies. Focusing on a situation in the Ukraine involving Russia, this book was a bit too eerily close to the mark for my liking… Here’s hoping that’s not what’s going on behind the scenes!

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On my travels

My Year in Pens

A selection of the UK's best novelty pens : Nottingham - Stratford-upon-Avon - York - Bristol - Durham - Edinburgh - Manchester - Warner Bros Studio

A selection of the UK’s best novelty pens : Nottingham – Stratford-upon-Avon – York – Bristol – Durham – Edinburgh – Manchester – Warner Bros Studio

Last summer after realising how many places I would be visiting with this job, I decided I needed to collect something to mark all my trips. Normally I’m a big fan of postcards, but I figured as this was a once in a lifetime year it needed something a bit more exciting. I was all for snowglobes (until someone pointed out they probably wouldn’t have them everywhere – shame), my colleague suggested souvenir spoons which I thought were sufficiently tacky enough to be suitable, however we then remembered how much they cost… So in the end we settled on novelty pens and pencils, affordable (most of the time), tacky and widely available. I expected great things and some cities did not fail to disappoint, however others seemed to think simply writing the cities name on a pen would would make someone pay £2 for it!

Below are all the ridiculous writing implements I’ve bought this year. I’ve tried to pick a favourite but I just can’t do it. I’ve narrowed it down to Bristol’s moving boats or the Hermione wand pen I got from the Warner Bros Studios. One is perfect to play with when you need to think, and the other is a wand – enough said. During a bout of procrastination I also decided to make a few suggestions for the cities which definitely didn’t exploit their full potential in novelty pens (Cardiff and Newcastle I’m looking at you!).

It’s been a crazy busy year and I have the pens to prove it! I feel like my collection should be bigger, but I did repeat a lot of trips and my colleagues kindly filled in and gave me a few weekends off. Now that I no longer have to spend my weekends worrying about losing students in various cities I think I might actually be starting to miss it…

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On my travels

Harry Potter Studio Tour!

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I could not have finished my year of trips on a better day, the sun was out, the students were lovely and the place we went to was quite literally magical. Harry Potter was a major part of my childhood, from first getting lost in the wizarding world around aged 10, to the majority of our school not speaking to each other until we had all finished the final book aged 18. I was never really that bothered about doing the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, mostly because I thought it a load of rides, but also because I am in most cases a book person not a film person. However it is a firm favourite on the trips programme so the next time it came up I decided to go relive my childhood.

I loved it. From the costumes and sets to the technical drawings and models it was absolutely astounding to see the amount of work that had gone into the films. My favourite part was definitely seeing how everything had been made, from the super complex Gringotts vault door to the castle model, it was amazing how many things were real and not CGI. Thinking about it now, it’s probably the mixture of super detailed models and after effects that made everything look so realistic. Walking around made me remember exactly how much and why I loved the Harry Potter books and films. I am now partway through the second book for the god knows what time and still as captivated as ever.

Full scale Marauders Map, the most complex looking piece of graphic design made for glimpses on screen...

Full scale Marauders Map, the most complex looking piece of graphic design made for glimpses on screen…

I never thought about the amount of design that would go into stocking imaginary shops, surely this is enough to keep any department busy for a few years?!

I never thought about the amount of design that would go into stocking imaginary shops, surely this is enough to keep any department busy for a few years?!

The first of many amazing models

The first of many amazing models

 

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April & May

Sunny day at Batmans house

Sunny day at Batmans house (Wollaton Hall)

You’d think with it being last term and all the students being in deadline/revision isolation life would be a little less busy, but that has definitely not been the case. With so many bank holidays I decided to make the most of the extra time and go home, but my family aren’t ones to stay on the sofa for too long either so we ended up visiting Blenheim Palace. Up against Chatsworth House the interior is nowhere near as astounding, and in some ways nor are the gardens, but the sheer size of the grounds and the lake create a breathtaking landscape. I would love to find out how many miles we walked!

The grounds are HUGE, I have no idea how many miles we walked around them

The grounds are HUGE, I have no idea how many miles we walked around them

In other news I ran my first big event, our annual awards ceremony, and apart from a few small hiccups everything seemed to go smoothly. Despite the air con messing with my balloon display, the room looked great, I’m just disappointed that I was running around so much I forgot to take some decent pictures!

The awards!

The awards!

The rest of May has just been a bit of a blur with a load of work projects hitting their peak, and me still being determined to make the most of my weekends off. Another museum run to London (unfortunately cut short due getting soaked in the rain) followed by one of the crazy family bbqs I have been missing so much, topped of this packed month. With me slowly reclaiming my social life and routine from the trips programme, I am finally beginning to look forward to summer!

 

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Pradasphere at Harrods

My all time favourite Prada collection

My all time favourite Prada collection

When I first heard Harrods was hosting a Prada retrospective I couldn’t quite get my head around it, while I’ve known them to do similar takeovers with Chanel and Dior I’d never actually seen how it works in a store already filled to bursting. Coming up to Harrods I expected to see some gloriously decadent Prada themed windows. Well they were Prada themed but I was fairly disappointed, sure the items are so beautiful and often detailed that simple surroundings are great to show them off, but the collections are so strongly themed that I couldn’t help but think of the creative fun you could have with them. It just seemed like such a missed opportunity.

Once we got inside it was clear we had to go up to the 4th floor, however I didn’t expect to have to navigate through the children’s department to get there, a bit more signage would have helped us not end up in the Disney cafe! Walking into the room was like walking into a treasure trove, you just didn’t know where to look first! I absolutely loved the cabinets everything was in, it gave the items such a feeling of historical importance, like ancient artefacts at the Pitt Rivers Museum. Come to think of it the entire feel of the place reminded me of the Pitt Rivers, so many items of such variety all bundled together, although there was more obvious order here with each cabinet being organised according to a theme.

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I think the reason this exhibition feel so astounding despite it’s small size is the overwhelming amount of things to look at. The glass cabinets mean you can get right up close to the items and see the numerous intricate details, instead of being cordoned off a metre away as happens with most fashion exhibitions. While I am very love it or hate it about Prada collections, the way this exhibition was presented really made me realise the long history of the brand and what international respect and reputation it has.

 

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Goodreads Challenge

Goodreads Challenge #1 & #2

I don’t consider myself an extremely introverted person but there have been many times in life when I can safely say I would have been much happier with my head in a book. Since I was little, getting lost in a story has always been one of my favourite things to do, and in recent years it has been my best coping technique for the stresses of dissertations and job-hunting. Coming to the end of my internship and getting ready to throw myself back into the world of job applications (more on that later) has given me cause to procrastinate and reignite this love affair once again. Reading is always something I want to do more of but life just seems to get in the way! Having never made a concious effort to read more, I decided to do the Goodreads Challenge. While the Challenge isn’t anything special, I’ve never actually counted how many books I read in a given time so was curious to see. Starting halfway through the year made it harder to set a target. I’d already read a number of books this year but decided to start afresh and see if the challenge changed my reading habits. I toyed with 50 having immediately decided that 100 was too cliche (and too much seeing as I would definitely have more productive things I should be doing and not distracting myself from!) but settled on 25, a not too scary or unachievable number. Below are my first two completed books, one much funnier than expected, and the other a beautifully colourful portrayal of court politics.

#1 – Them: Adventures with Extremists – Jon Ronson

#2 – Empress Orchid – Anchee Min

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