Bits & Pieces

Despite my best efforts and even a fair amount of motivation, I’ve not found much time to blog recently. I haven’t even been doing an awful lot, but work has been ridiculously busy & stressful and is only going to get more so and all my weekends have some event or other. Nevertheless, here’s a quick snapshot of things that have been going on recently.

  •  I spent a post-Valentine’s Sunday morning cleaning the flat and listening to Radio 2, and I unashamedly liked it.
  • Matthew and I have been hunting for our next citybreak. I’m tending towards Copenhagen or Seville…any tips/thoughts, anyone?
  • We went for a low-key but still perfect Valentine’s Day, with delicious cake at Peyton & Byrne and then our first visit to Greenwich Picturehouse to see The Imitation Game, which I absolutely loved. M and I agreed that “heartwrenching” is the only word to describe it, and really, Keira Knightley is a wonder isn’t she?
  • I went to Tayyabs for the first time with work to celebrate various birthdays/leaving/company anniversaries. The boss ordered so I’m still not sure exactly what I ate but it was all delicious!
  • In the spirit of doing more couple things, M & I had Kate and Will over for a lovely civilized dinner party where we talked about grown up things like work and then watched Marky Mark videos on youtube because we’re not really old yet.
  • That same weekend, I also made my first ever visit to Infernos to celebrate Mae’s birthday and it was everything I ever hoped for.
  • We’ve started watching House of Cards (after everyone I know told me I should) and I’m loving the way it’s written and the snappy dialogue, even if I’m finding it a little difficult to keep up!
  • I went for a meeting at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (right next door to The Ivy) and fell absolutely in love with the place. I’ve resolved to return as soon as possible for lunch and/or drinks; their 3rd floor bar is gorgeous with a sweet outdoor area I’m excited to try out.

In amongst all of this, I have also been doing a few things a bit more blogworthy and have some fun posts (& events) lined up in the next couple of weeks – but first, what have you lot been up to?

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Reading Lately

My course hasn’t finished (not by a long shot) but I’m all done with seminars and reading lists so I’ve been finding quite a bit of time to read what I want lately. I won’t bore you with full individual reviews, but here’s a little rundown of my three latests in case you’re looking for summer beach inspiration!

Source: prettybooks

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls, Anton DiSclafani

The Amazon description of this book says that it’s ideally suited for fans of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep and Liza Klaussman’s Tigers in Red Weather. It just so happens that Prep is way up there in my favourite 3 books ever and I think I already mentioned how much I enjoyed Tigers, so this was top of my list to download for our trip to Croatia. Safe to say, I loved it. It follows 15 year old Thea as she is sent to a remote riding camp in North Carolina right at the beginning of the American Depression and it contains all my favourite ingredients in a book: teenage girls, people with too much money, the American South, a good healthy dose of family scandal, and so on and so on. It’s also a really interesting little glimpse at the Depression and how it began and how it affected or didn’t affect various family fortunes…a read I’d highly recommend!

I Am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe

This is actually one of my main dissertation texts but I’ve been enjoying re-reading it so much that I felt it deserved a mention. It follows Charlotte Simmons, who is from a tiny town in the Appalachian mountains, through her first term at Ivy League-esque Dupont College, and her various encounters with frat boy Hoyt, basketball star Jojo, boarding-school roommate Beverly, and so on and so on. Maybe it appeals to me because everything about it reminds me so much of William & Mary (there is a fraternity formal scene that is so on point it’s untrue) but it’s one of my very favourite American college-life books ever. Mind you, ask me again how much I like it when I’ve finished analysing the life out of the 700 word thing, and then we’ll see how good it is…

The Universe versus Alex Woods, Gavin Extence

Like most of the books I download, I kept seeing this one everywhere and when it showed up cheap on Kindle I went ahead and bought it. It’s quite similar in tone to last summer’s favourite, The Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – actually I’d say it’s like a cross between that and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time: Woods’ protagonist, Alex, is eccentric to say the least but charming nonetheless. It took me a while to read and I wouldn’t call it particularly compelling, so it’s good if you want something you can pick up and read a couple of chapters every now and again, but it did actually get quite emotional at the end!

What have you been reading lately?

 

13

Happy New Year, everybody!

I started a “reflections on 2013” post a little bit ago and never finished it, let alone published it on time (story of my life), but I wanted to get something up, because in many ways 2013 was a BIG one for me. It was a strange old year, actually: there have been so many ups and downs that I think even calling it a rollercoaster is an understatement.

2013 was the year I graduated. I didn’t really want to graduate, because I hate endings at the best of times – seriously, the end of the latest series of Gogglebox caused me grief let alone the end of the best three years of my life – but actually it was easily one of the best days of my life. My brother said that in every picture, I have the most ridiculous grin and he’s right, because I loved every second of it – especially the moment I crossed the stage and met Floella (although the moments immediately preceding that were terrifying). I loved the outfits, both the funny gowns and everyone’s nice dresses, and I just loved getting to see everyone I’ve spent the last three years with, whether I shared a house or a seminar group with them. Graduation was like having all your birthdays come at once and I LOVED it.

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2013 also brought a few trips I didn’t think would ever happen. First, that time me and eleven members of my extended family descended on Disneyworld for a mid-dissertation holiday (I don’t want to condone that exactly…but it didn’t seem to have any effect on my grade. Just saying!). I’ve wanted to see my gorgeous little cousins in Disney for as long as I can remember – having the littles around made it a totally different kind of trip and I loved it all!

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Later in the year came our spontaneous trip “home” to Williamsburg. Booking flights to the States a week before departure and not telling anybody about it is the kind of thing I would always have dreamed about when I was younger – it’s exactly the kind of carpe diem move I’m always chatting on about and it could not have worked out better. The whole trip, what with the exhaustion and jet lag and general homecoming madness, was like a bizarre and surreal dream, but I will never ever forget the reactions of some of our best friends. One of my presiding memories from that trip is sitting in the sacred College Delly shortly after arrival, surrounded by some of my favourite people in the world, and thinking I had never ever felt so happy in all my life.

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As much as I’d love to talk about all the fun stuff and forget the negatives, I can’t mention 2013 without mentioning my brother’s accident. All that time in the hospital and the ensuing rehab was no fun at all and it was traumatic to say the least. All the rehab stuff continues and there have been a few setbacks along the way, but I’m pleased to report that the patient is (hopefully) well on his way to being entirely mended, and is adapting to one-armed life in the meantime. Cringe alert, I also think that actually, everybody has come out of the other side stronger (with the exception of Dom’s right arm…). Plus, the crash indirectly led to us getting Jimmy, the cutest & most mischievous puppy there ever was. After waiting for almost two long months to finally meet him, I have fallen a bit in love and have loved getting to know him properly over the Christmas period!

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Besides all that, though, looking back on it now summer 2013 actually had more than its fair share of highlights. Between the gorgeous weather, all the endless sunny days with Exeter as our playground, trips to Fowey and Southwold and Portugal and some 21st celebrations I’ll never forget, I had outrageous amounts of fun and I don’t want to overlook them all!

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In terms of every day life, my slightly irresponsible fourth year looked to be turning into an absolute disaster sometime around the end of August. Three months in, and it’s not the funfilled rush that was undergrad, but some great things have come out of it already. Everybody needs a Tas in their life and even Rory’s not that bad…but actually though, we’ve got a fab little group in Exe this year. Even though everybody’s really busy all the time, it’s nice to know that they’re just down the road and from our little (!) tapas dinner party to our Thanksgiving celebrations, we’ve had a lot of fun.

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I’ve also seen this little blog grow and grow, and looking back, it’s actually been a huge part of this last year. It was a great outlet for me during the worst moments of the summer, and a good way to keep the world at large updated not just on Dom’s various injuries but, more importantly, what restaurants I was eating at. I’ve “met” a whole bunch of lovely girls both on the blogosphere (how I hate that phrase) and even in real life and I am hoping to meet many more in the new year!

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I don’t reallyyyy go in for New Years resolutions, mostly because I’m pretty happy with the way I live my life anyway. I feel like I want to get a better balance between work, play and MA and I really need to get my act in gear re: the whole job thing. Which is quite stressful actually. It’s a bit weird that I have no idea where I’ll be this time next year, but then I guess if you’d asked me last January 2nd what I’d predict for the year, I probably wouldn’t have come up with any of the above. I think if I’ve learnt anything from my tumultuous 2013, it’s that all you can do is take life as it comes. And also that One Direction have strange powers of infiltration that can turn you from vague indifference to all-out fan in the blink of an eye.

Here’s to 2014, everybody!