31 December 2011

Recap of My 2011




2011 has been a very strange year for me. I'm used to following patterns and doing the same things in the same order every week, month and year, with some minor variations. This year saw my world shake as I tried new things and moved onto new life stages. I've enjoyed it for the most part, but it has most certainly been different!

January

January saw me decide to try and make a quilt. I decided to make it by hand and was perhaps a tad optimistic designing one which contained over 200 6inch squares. It remains an ongoing project.


February

In February for the very first time my boyfriend and I celebrated his birthday together.

March

March this year I started my blog. A major move for me as I'm generally quite a shy person, at least when it involves face to face, but having been reading blogs for a while, and being captivated by my younger sister's blog I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. After reading 'The Name of the Wind' by Patrick Rothfuss and posting my very own review My little Library was born.

April

The most major event this april was the Royal Wedding. It was major. There was a hoohah. Press from half the world flocked to our country. And it saw the birth of the obsessive culture surrounding Pippa Middleton's behind. I joined the millions who watched the wedding live on television, I only watched the wedding and not any of the reception which was aired afterwards.
On a less major note for most people, but just as important to me, two days prior to the event of the year marked two years together for myself and my boyfriend. It put a major smile on my face, especially when he took me out to dinner at what is possibly my favourite restaurant, Churchs.

May

I turned 18 this may. Some of my friends came to a picnic in the park for my lunch and others helped me celebrate with my first evening out. My Grandparents also bought me a new digital camera which has helped me no end with this blog, and just taking nice photos in general.

May also marked the start of exam period which was right over half term excluding me from the Scout Camp I very much wanted to go on.

June

In June I finished my exams and spent the rest of the time being very lazy around the house when I wasn't doing housework for my mum. It was brilliant, I loved being able to just take the time just to read and do nothing.



July

At the very start of the month My boyfriend took me to Cadbury World, which as a devoted chocolate lover couldn't have been any better!
July also saw two major firsts for me. I started the first job I've ever had at Choices Clothes which is very close to where I live, I couldn't have asked for a better place to have started to learn about the world of work! It was a very traditional setting in many ways with a very much familial feel, which was enhanced as I've known my employers and many of the staff for a long time.
The other major first was that while the rest of my family left for the family holiday as per usual I was left behind.This was my choice as I had been hoping all along to have been able to get some work during the period, but it certainly felt strange.

August

In August I took an accidental blog-break. This partly stemmed from my new job and university preparations and partly from the fact that I started following a lot of new blogs all at once and found myself backlogged far too much.
I also picked up my A-level results, which I think will be one of the most stressful days I will ever have, and recieved an offer of a place at the University of Hertfordshire.
There was my annual 3-days of helping at a Church holiday club, and a three-day trip to Rome during a heatwave which was an 18th birthday present from my parents. Rome was as brilliant as I ever imagined it to be and it really sparked my imagination.

Then perhaps the geekiest part of my year, but something I loved, I went to Insomnia43 with my boyfriend, a couple of local friends and some online friends. Not only did we have a geekily good time, but we entered and came second in a Minecraft competition when none of us had been playing longer than a month, and most (including me) less than a week! If you watch the round up video you can see both my boyfriend and the back of my head... I felt a little strange as my laptop was less than 1/4 of the size of most peoples machines :S
Finally in August I provoked some friends into agreeing to participate in The Dickens Periodical which was intended as a weekly 'magazine-style' blog collaboration, but which developed into something more monthly.

September

The end of September saw major upheaval to my life as I moved to university. It wasn't until the end of the month and I didn't much enjoy the buildup to it. My summer job ended and I felt like I was packing my life into a box.

October

October definately wasn't my favourite month of the past year. I wasn't enjoying living away from home, I was homesick, I didn't enjoy cooking for myself and perhaps the thing I enjoyed least of all was being woken up in the early hours more days than not. The one brightside for me was my course which I absoluetly loved!
My prospect brightened a lot after 4 weeks when I came home for the first time. My parents persuaded me they could come and get me every weekend if I wanted and suddenly life seemed a lot more bearable.

November

In November I met up with my boyfriend and friends in London to see the fireworks which are held annually. It saw my first foray into solo train travel and gave me an added degree of freedom as I was now able to just get myself to the train station and catch a train home if I felt I couldn't take anymore.


December

December was a month I had been counting down until. For the first time I was able to come home for longer than just a weekend. It didn't disappoint, days of being able to sleep interrupted and more time working at Choices. Christmas was brilliant, seeing all of my family, and getting brilliant presents. One of the favourites of mine, and perhaps the most Trivial was my brand new Klein bottle.

What's in store for 2012...?

In 2012 I'm hoping;
  • To settle in at Uni more still.
  • To read 52 books as part of a Charity challenge my friend and I set ourselves, to find out more head here.
  • To publish 12 more issues of The Dickens Periodical.
  • To pass my first year at Uni without needing to retake anything, with a Mechanics module coming up this could be a challenge.
  • To go swimming 3 times a week.
  • To start cooking healthy food for myself.
  • To finish making the quilt squares for my very first quilt.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Rowen

30 December 2011

Christmas

Christmas this year was unusual. This was mostly due to the fact that being away from home for the first time I missed out on a lot of things which normally signify the build up to Christmas to me.
It was also because this year I decided to make a lot of my Christmas presents, having left it all until the last minute and being unable to use a sewing machine on them until a week before Christmas, meant that I didn't manage everything I'd planned, and ended up buying last minute presents for quite a few people. Maybe I'll do better next year...

I left the presents so late that one present I was sewing before and after the midnight mass service at my Church while my boyfriend set up and cleared away and still had finishing to do the following morning, fortunately it was done before I needed to give it to my Nan.

The other thing that was unusual this year was the volume of foodstuffs I was given... and how little I've actually touched it!

Christmas meant some great presents too, I got a Klein bottle which to my geekiness is absolutely amazing, a World of Warcraft Calender so that I can understand more of the random stuff my guild talks about, and plenty of book vouchers which have been put to a good use which I'll be announcing shortly.

Hope your Christmas was as good.

Rowen

16 December 2011

A Feast For Crows - George.R.R.Martin



This is the last of these books I'll be able to borrow from my God-dad. I feel kind of repentent as I've had it since my birthday, which is the beginning of May, but have only just finished it. However he did loan me practically the whole series in one go which coerced me into reading them in a more condesed fashion than I'd planned.

I'm not sure if I think this book was brilliant or dreadful. It was certainly well written and contained large amounts of material for some characters I really love. However it essentially cut out some of my favourite characters, and in my honest opinion it had far too much cersei.

This book made me angry, a fact I think is primarily due to the fact that Cersei's chapters filled possibly 1/3 of the novel. I hate her schemeing. However the situations she sets up which are essentially doomed to failure as anyone can see, except her who thinks they make her some kind of genius. A fact which amuses me slightly.

The other factor which made me angry with this book is the general level of despair. It is beginning, at this point in the series, to me at least, to seem as though none of the characters may experience a happy ending. At first I thought it was interesting that you just can't tell who the next seemingly essential character to be killed off would be, and on some levels I still do. But I would personally like it for at least one character to come out of this novel with their own slice of 'happy-ever-after'. It's beginning to seem not justs improbable but impossible.

I am still hooked.

I will keep reading.

Rowen

13 December 2011

Saving

I think I am perhaps a bit unusual for my generation, in that I really don't like spending money. I know that there are still a lot of things I can do to improve on this front, but spending money, particularly large amounts of money, is something I find particularly stressful. You may read this and think, hey large amounts of money, that stresses everyone out. This is true I think. But for me a large amount of money would be anything over £20.

£20 being considered a stressful amount of money to spend makes any number of situations stress in point:
  • Doing the grocery shopping, while this can come in at £15  or less it's likely it will be more
  • Paying rent, as I've only done this once so far, and will only have to do it 3 times over the course of the academic year, I can say this stressed me out no end. Fortunately it included Utilities in the cost.
  • Buying a textbook which I NEED for Uni, £50
I think this has to do with the fact that I am at heart a saver. I've been saving my money for as long as I can remember. I think I must've been about 8 when I started putting my birthday and Christmas money into a savings account to 'reduce my Uni debts'. It only took me a little while to realise that the government would give me that money without questions to fund my studies, and then all I'd have to do would be to repay it.

So the purpose for my savings changed. It became my 'house deposit', in many ways this is laughable as although I always saved about 90% of all the money I got for birthday and Christmas I've never been in a position to save anywhere near the amount I would need to be able put a deposit on a house.

I guess I am a homemaker. Because the only big purchase I really want to make is a house I can call home. I hope that dream will come true one day. For now though, I've started a new saving initiative;



A Penny Jar!

Rowen

10 December 2011

The Cretan Runner - George Pdychoundakis

I don't think I'll ever be able to call this one of my favourite books, as it was way too rooted in facts to suit my taste. However I wouldn't say that I didn't enjoy it.

This book was the autobiography of George Psychoundakis. He seems to me a person whose life no-one would under normal circumstances take any interest in. However his story shares similarities with that of Anne Frank and other 'ordinary' people who experienced something a little bit different.

The Autobiography runs solely from 1941, when the Germans first occupied Crete, to their leaving the island at the very end of WWII. It showed me a completely different viewpoint and a different side to the war than the one you tend to think of. In thinking of the War you tend to think, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, The Holocaust and Eastern Europe. You tend to give little thought to the fact that it was, as the name states, literally a global war. There are very few countries who were not affected.

I bought the book over a year ago for some background reading for History Coursework. I soon realised that it was essentially irrelevent to either of my topics, and as such put it down. I didn't pick it up again until about a fortnight ago, but I'm glad that I did. It was very interesting learning about such a different aspect of the war, and how the resistance fought against the Germans.

Although he's called himself a runner, he seems more to have hiked than run, something which I can't hold against him, as he did the job of a runner, while having to deal with the rocky landscape of Crete.

I have only two issues with this book. The first is that it was originally written in Greek, and in places it hasn't translated very well making it an effort to read. The second is that in parts of the book it becomes little more than a list of names, both of people and places, which mean little to anyone who didn't know them and their settings. Although where possible there have been attempts to rectify this, it could make it a tad slow placed.

I would reccomend this book to anyone with an interest in wartime history. It's a brilliant source of a different perspective.

Rowen

5 December 2011

The Trial and Tribulations of Train Travel

You've probably gathered by now that I would much prefer to go home as often as possible than stay at University so it should come as no surprise that I decided to go home this weekend. The easiest way for me to do this, for my family more than myself, although it does mean extra nights of good sleep for me, is to catch the train home on the friday evening and back to the university on the monday morning.

This weekend that was what I did. The journey home went, as it always has, smoothly. There was a minor hiccup when I had to change as I was unsure where the platform I needed was, and the train was slightly more than comfortably crowded. It's been a while since I've seen a train that crowded. But the point was that we made it to my destination without any major crises on my part.

The journey back was less of a smooth ride. For a start my dad was taking me to the station, but he was then going on to drop my sister at her sixth form college. This meant that we had to wait for her, and ended up leaving possibly a full 5 minutes later than intended. We got to the station and I figured out what platform I needed, lo and behold they announce my train is now in the station. This is a situation which would normally lead to me running to make sure I don't miss it, but that becomes slightly less practical when you're carrying two heavy bags that you're already struggling to lug up the stairs. I really need to get a suitcase!

I made it onto the train I'd planned to catch, if I hadn't then it wouldn't have been the end of the world as I had an all day open single, however it was by  mere seconds, I think the train left slightly early. If I'd missed the train I honestly think I might've cried.

The actual journey was effortless, a little crowded at points, but smooth sailing. There weren't even any delays which I thanked my lucky stars for as the last time I made this Journey less than 5 minutes after the second train leaving the station we were delayed for a full 25 minutes. No-ones fault but it ended up in needing a second train-change as the one I was on had to change routes to go straight through the small station I needed on it's way to London.

Today though my trials were not to end with nearly missing a train, because on my way out of the station the machine ate my ticket. Fortunately for me I don't need it again,  and there was a kind gentleman who saw what happened and opened the gate for me.

After that I nearly fell onto every person on the bus due to being overbalanced by my heavy bags and got back to the University to discover that today we're having room inspections. All I can say is thank goodness I tidied up before I left on friday!

Off to have a lecture now...

Rowen

27 November 2011

First Sunday of Advent - 2011

Today was the first sunday of Advent. While this made me happy because it means in 3 weeks I'll be home for another 3 weeks, it also made me a little sad, because for as long as I can remember I've gone to every single Advent sunday at my church. And every one of those sundays I would watch the candle be lit and say a little prayer. Only today I wasn't at my church. I was in my room in Uni halls, over 50 miles away, which although not far is too far.

So i got my Sister to take a picture of a candle for me, we're not allowed candles here, let alone to light them.

And I said a little prayer.



This week I prayed for those serving in Afghanistan. I prayed for the health and happiness of my family and friends.

And I just thought a little while. It made me peaceful.

Do you have traditional Advent celebrations?

Rowen

The Mayor of London Parade - 2011

A fortnight ago yesterday I went to the Mayor of London Parade in London. It's actually an annual fireworks display over the river Thames, and as far as I'm aware, there's no actual parade involved. This is the third time I've gone, although the first time I went I didn't actually see and fireworks as it was too windy for them so they were cancelled.



My boyfriend and I have gone for each of the last three years with his brother and friend, the three of them just used to do it together before I was brought into the equation.

 

They're a really good display of fireworks and last around 12 minutes each year.

 It also makes for a really good day out in London. Normally we make it to London for about 10.30, this year because I was coming from the Uni rather than our home town it was about 11am before we got to looking around.
 We spend the morning wandering up and down Oxford Street and eat lunch at the plaza about halfway up as the food court has a range of fast food places, to please everyone.
 In the afternoon we go to Harrods and look around. The guys look for the most expensive thing they can see, it's usually a watch, and I wind Robert up by telling him that I want all of the fancy old-style tables. It's not strictly speaking true, although I do really like them...
 We'll then stop in at a coffee shop, and wander down to the banks of the Thames, ready for the 5pm start of the fireworks.

 We have tea at Garfunkels and then head on home.
 I wonder sometimes if it's bad that the day is more or less identical each time. But then I think that actually it's kinda nice, at least I know what I'm doing.

All in all it's a really good day out with friends every year, regardless of whether you see the fireworks, which are in fact excellent.

Rowen

26 November 2011

Autumn Cushion

I was inspired to make this cushion, which is going to be part of a set for my aunt, uncle, cousin and her husband for Christmas this year, by looking at all the trees which appeared in the Celebrate Colour contest as soon as it opened.

Being typically myself I procrastinated in starting the cushion, which wouldn't have been a big deal, except that I want to enter it into the Celebrate Color competition at Stitched in Color. The other issue is that although the competition ends tonight I only started it on tuesday, which causes major time issues when you're also revising for an exam and have no machine with which to do the piecing, it's not out of objection that I don't have a machine, but that as a student I can't afford one, and I find hand-stitching quite peaceful most of the time.


So I cut out my pieces, of which there are a grand total of 28 and started stitching the front together. I put the four non-descript pairs in the borders and a half of each of the 'seasonal' pairs in the corners. The Butterflies represent summer, the budding leaf pattern spring, the Snowflakes winter and the Ivy leaves autumn. It was essential these fabrics were highlighted in some small way as the set of cushions will eventually consist of Summer, Spring, Autumn and Winter.

Once I'd pieced the centre of the front I drew out my pattern on some squared paper that I use for my maths work and pinned it to the space which needed to be embroidered.  


I did the embroidery through the paper to use it as a guide, although I discovered a major issue that it can cause. I started by stitching the grass in a green thread and then outlined the tree in black, both were done using a simple running stitch.


The next stage was to infill the tree's 'bark', also in the black thread and running stitch. It was at this stage the problems started to arise as I realised I needed to remove the paper from beneath the embroidery, however the stitches in places were close enough togethe that this was practically impossible.

 When It was time to do the leaves, in a metallic orange thread, using a satin stitch, I cut a guideline area out of the paper before starting, a much better idea!

 Eventually I completed the embroidery, this part didn't actually take too long, maybe a couple of hours. To remove all traces of the paper I actually had to wet the fabric and rub it off the front, fortunately for me this worked and didn't cause ink from the pen I'd used to run onto the fabric.

 I was very impressed with how the tree turned out. The bark looked so realistic and the whole of it, except maybe the grass really contrasted with the general beigeness being used for the rest of the cushion. Exactly what I was aiming for as it really focused the eye.
 I'm actually in love with the colour of the leaves. So glad I found that thread!

 The next stage was to attatch the final border to the front of the cushion. The border fabric, also used in the centre, was from a pair of curtains I bought from the second hand shop where I worked over the summer. I was really concerned with how they'd hold up to my hand stitching but they surprised me :)

I pieced the back as well. this consisted of the same four focus fabrics appearing in the same size, order and places as on the front of the cushion. The rest of the back was made from the curtain material.

 After pieceing both front and back I pressed them, always makes a difference. Although I never press fabrics as I go along  I always do before putting the front and back together.

 The cushion was then pinned for the most time consuming part. Putting it together. I tacked with a loose running stitch from the bottom of the left hand seam, around both sides and the top to the same place on the other side. I then tidied it up with a tighter running stitch back the other way. This is the way I do pretty much all of my seams. At this point I turned it right way out and stuffed it, using the contents of a pillow I'd bought. I then pinned the back closed and finished off the last stretch of seam with a slip stitch.

I love how it turned out, I keep saying it but it's true, and I'm a tad disappointed I can't keep it, but I'm fairly sure my aunt will treasure it.

When I stitch I double all of my threads up to hopefully make them stronger and more contrasting. I think all of the threads that I used for embroidery were actually intended for machine stitching, however the orange and green came out of the bargain bucket because of broken spools and the black belonged to my mum but she doesn't sew often.

Hopefully this will link with Stitched in Color and I'll try and find the button.

Rowen

24 November 2011

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

This Morning I finished reading Life of Pi. At just 4 days it is the shortest any 'true' book, I don't truly count Mills and Boons, has taken me since I've been living at Uni, and in great part that is testamony to the brilliant story-telling and captivating tale.

I'm still unsure if the story is real or false. It was told in the sense of 'true' fiction, however that isn't to say it wasn't completely made up. Some credence is lent to it's being true by the fact that events leading up to it were put in a preface, however that is completely counteracted by the sheer improbability of the story.

Either way it truly is a tale to make you believe in God, and I felt ensconced, could imagine myself there, from beginning to end.

My personal favourite part was the nickname of Pi, Pi, which is in fact, even by design, a number. It is my favourite number, not because of anything actually to do with the number, as much as because I just like the symbol which is used for it.

Life of Pi was the 47th of the 1001 books I have to read, and to date it is one of the most interesting, if not the least weird, that I have come across.

It was also a World Book Night book. This year, 2012, I intend to spend the night reading books from their designated list. Although I doubt if I'll get much more read than one book, I can but try.

Rowen

20 November 2011

Little Miss Chatterbox - A cushion

This August one of my best friends turned 18. She has the sunniest disposition of anyone I know, she's so sunny that at times, very early in the morning times, you can just want to make her stop. However The point to this is that for her birthday I made her a very tiny cushion, I wanted to show it on here but I never took a picture and she's never gotten round to sending me one :P

However another of my friends saw me rushing to finish it off, because typical me the day I was giving it to her it still wasn't finished. She said to me 'For my birthday could you make me a Mr Bump one?' I said yeah ok. Fast Forward about a month and a half, and it's a bit of a long and slow day at work, I happened to bring up the topic. As we were working in a second hand children shop the result being that whenever we went into the shop to put items out we would look for a part of the Mr Men and Little Miss Libraries.

We didn't find a single book, a fact which completely shocked me until I realised that if most children were like I was as a small child their Mr Men and Little Miss books would either be treasured possessions or coloured over, or both...

However she did happen to see a pair of curtains she liked the colour of that I agreed would cut up acceptably. I told her that with that much fabric I could probably make four. We decided upon two large and two small. Of those four I only managed to get one and a half done by her birthday which was yesterday. She got the one and will get the other two and a half at a later date, when they're done.

So Happy Birthday Sarah, I hope you enjoy Little Miss Chatterbox :)


Rowen

16 November 2011

Bringing a Smile to my Day

It's the little things that make you smile. Or I think so.

Of course when the little things make you smile the big things can render you heartstoppingly happy.

When I've had a tough day, or been woken up what feels like a million times during the night and still have to be up for 9am then the little things make my day.

Getting a hug off someone special.

My parents taking time out of their day to skype me, even though it sometimes feels like checking up.

Sitting down with a hot drink for just a few moments between seemingly endless sets of questions.

Reading the blogs which really inspire me.

A chat with a good friend I really miss.

All of these things make me feel just a little bit happier and help to keep a smile on my face.

Rowen

14 November 2011

We Will Remember Them

Rememberance day is one of the most important days on my calendar and that of many other people I'm sure.


It is a day of reflection and thankfulness, gratefulness even, for everything that the servicemen and women have given for us to be able to live as we do. As I was often told growing up 'it's thanks to them we don't speak German', and although I have nothing particularly against speaking German I am proud of my heritage and the flexibility of the English language. Without it I wouldn't be able to enjoy many of the books I do, and certainly if the second world war had been won by Hitler we'd be much less culturally diverse than we are today.

It makes me angry to hear of demonstrations such as the one last year where people burnt our poppies on one of our most important days as a nation. I don't object to people living in this country who weren't born here, I'm not against them seeking protection. But I have to say that I do agree with the sentiment of 'If you can't show some respect to the people who made the safety and security of this country possible then maybe you shouldn't be here'.

We Will Remember Them!

Rowen

9 November 2011

Linear Algebra

This module has been a major disappointment to me since I started it.

Linear algebra makes you think of the simple linear equations which you start to learn about when you're approximately in year 9, however this module is missing all of its simplicity.

It's actually only half a module and the other half which I thought I would enjoy less I find myself enjoying more.

My point I guess is that the university modules are like a book, you can't necessarialy judge from the cover and blurb how much you'll like it. There are those which will fulfil all your expectations, those which you know you'll dislike and do, those you discover you like much more than you anticipated and those, like linear algebra, which smash all of your hopes to splinters.

Rowen

6 November 2011

Elements of a love story



I'm one of those cynic few, I suppose it's cynic at any rate, who believe that any love story is made up of  approximately 7 essential elements. It makes it no less magical to me, it just means that i'm able to place exactly where in the story I am by what's already happened.

These elements in my opinion are;
  • The two meet/remeet each other and either get off on a bad footing(more common) or fall instantly in love (less common because in the type of story i normally read this would make the rest of the story void, although it has it's place, if for example they need to fight their situation rather than each other to be together).
  • The two are forced into a rather excessive amount of contact with each other for no apparant reason, often against the will of one party or the other.
  • The two discover they have a lot in common, or at least a startling amount of chemistry.
  • She tells him she hates him, possibly despite the fact she already knows she loves him.
  • He either despairs and goes off only to realise he can't live without her or becomes determined to make her see his good qualities.
  • The couple declare their undying love for one another.
  • The two get married or make some sort of lasting commitment to one another.
The epitome of this for me, is not the common romeo and juliet, but pride and prejudice.

When Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy meet they definately get off on the wrong footing. Meeting at a ball where he displays his pride much to her displeasure.

The two spend an awful lot of time together, although not a lot of it in intimate society at the beginning of the story. Mostly at balls, although they are also forced together when Jane Bennett becomes ill, and later at Mr Darcy's aunts.

Elizabeth has very little respect for Mr Darcy, compounded by rumours which she is told. However he becomes attracted to her. In the 1995 Tv adaptation it is in the first episode that he first expresses an admiration for her 'fine eyes'.

Mr Darcy then proposes to Elizabeth. She tells him in no uncertain terms that she would never marry him, that she does in fact despise him.

He despairs at this point, resolves to leave her alone, but does try to improve her opinion of him on some points. When they then spend more time together, coincidentally, she begins to see him in a better light, and a softer side to him.

He proposes a second time and she tells him she's actually been in love with him for some time now.

The couple get married.

The 1995 Tv adaptation is one of my all-time favourite go-to feel-good watches, despite the fact that I was only 2 when it aired. Despite the fact that it isn't my favourite book, or even my favourite Austen. I can't get enough of the Tv series.

I'm currently educating one of my flat-mates :P

Here's to us all finding our very own Mr Darcy!

Rowen

5 November 2011

Cooking

I'm not a good cook. I don't enjoy it. But I can cook.

I tell a slight lie, I do enjoy cooking but only in certain situations, preferably ones which involve clean kitchens and copious amounts of time.

I normally enjoy eating, but since starting uni, meal times are something i dread and to some extent try to avoid.

This is because nowadays mealtimes involve standing around in a crowded kitchen for a minimum of 20 minutes where you can be interrogated about anything and everything, to cook something in an unclean environment with no space, which 9 times out of 10 looks awful anyway.

Today I was looking forward to my dinner, i had it planned. It would be relatively simple and tasty.

It burnt, not a minor burning but a nice thick coating of the bottom of the pan, and while the meal doesn't taste awful it does have a secondary, and lasting, kick of charcoal.

Rowen

4 November 2011

Hobbies

Everyone has hobbies. They're the things that make us who we are.
From sports, to crafts, to social clubs.
Sometimes I feel a bit like I'm collecting hobbies.

I enjoy;
  • Reading
  • Sewing
  • Embroidery
  • Swimming
  • Scouting
  • Gaming
to name a few. Each time i take up a new hobby I get filled with grand ideas of inspiration, the things it will one day be able to do for me when i have my very own family and live the oh-so-sustainable life I dream of.

Sometimes I think I have too many.

What's your favourite hobby?

Rowen

1 November 2011

Respect

I think that in many ways respect is an abstract concept nowadays. Political correctness has blurred the borders. I thought that my sister's boyfriend made a very good point recently when he posted a rantlet on facebook about using 'Miss' and 'Sir' as terms of respect and how he thinks that some of that is lost when you reach higher education and are able to call your teachers/lecturers by their first names. I think that he's right. They're not our equals, as using their first name implies, they are our superiors, they know more than us and are trying to pass that on.

This point was raised in my mind during several lectures I've had over the past week where the lecturer has had to tell people who were talking to stop, and in one case gave up and ended the lecture. Personally at that point I was disappointed as I was sincerely interested in what he had been trying to say. However it hadn't been a small portion of the lecture group who had been talking over him.

I can understand going to a lecture and getting bored, it's happened to me on more than one occasion, but I still can't understand how you can be so disrespectful and start talking over the lecturer. If someone doesn't want to listen to a lecture that in my opinion is fine, it doesn't bother me... as long as they ignore what's being said quietly. At that point they're going to probably fail anyway but I'm paying to be there as are many others who actually want to learn. It becomes a point of disrespect to all of us as well.

Another point of disrespect I've come across since being here is noise. People who get drunk tend to get louder, I get that. But when it's 3 in the morning and you're trying to sleep because you need to get up in about 3 hours, the last thing you want to hear is thudding, thumping and shouting. I get a little bit angry that people can't understand this basic courtesy.

And finally it's food. I think, having paid for it's use, we should all be able to leave food in the communal areas without having to think about whether we'll go back to it and find that it's been eaten. We should be able to eat what we want in the communal areas without people looking down their nose at us for our choice of food, making themselves seem superior, or even trying to put us off our food.

Rowen

On Irritation and Isolation

I've always been a bit of a loner that's just my personality.

As a child I was perfectly able to amuse myself, from the age of about 8 my idea of a good afternoon was to curl up somewhere quiet by myself with a good book. This has probably led to my lasting obsession with books. I collect them. I love them. People tell me you'll grow out of it and get rid of them, but I could never get rid of any of my books, they're my best friends.

I've never spent more than a couple of hours a day in the company of my family, or even friends on days such as weekends and holidays where it could be helped. That is because if i push it much beyond that point I often find myself indulging in murderous thoughts towards them. Too long with any one person and their every irritating trait starts to drive me up the wall. The exception being my boyfriend who i could happily spend days at a time with.

This has meant coming to Uni is a shock to the system in another way. Here you can't escape people. They come and knock on your door and there's a good chance that if you're there someone knows and you can't risk offending them. This has meant that I've answered the door at points where i would've told my family to just get lost, they understand I need my space.  There are people here who struggle with that concept however.

I like the people here, but I don't want to tell them my exact plans for my days or meals. I don't want to be checked up on. And I certainly don't like it when they expect to be able to come into my personal space and criticise. It's not affecting them, so...

Anyway. My point kind of is they're irritating me and I'd like some space. I nearly isolated a good friend permanently in the last year going over a similar problem after spending 10 days together.

Is a little space too much to ask?

Rowen

31 October 2011

University

Just like school... except we all live here.

Maybe we weren't so off when we were small and imagined our teachers lived at school.

26 October 2011

Empress - Karen Miller



I finished this in my first week at university, almost 4 weeks ago now. This book captivated me to start with. The character Hekat was someone who emotionally you felt for to start with.

However she gets hurt and becomes bitter.

She becomes cruel.

She was a character I loved at the start of the book but loathed by the end of it. I think that in itself speaks volumes about this book. About the quality of the writing. To feel two such strong and such polar emotions about the same character.

Her sons were also somewhat a revelation. Her oldest is someone I would admire, but at the same time pity. Her youngest I pity, but he becomes too much like his mother.

The priest Vortka was my favourite character throughout the book.
I look forward to reading the sequels, but they're gonna wait for a little while.

Rowen

Repetition: Good or Bad?

Repeptition drives me mad. It's not so much the fact that I'm hearing it again, but the fact that I've heard it before and there's a goodly chance it's already sunk in.

Having recently started Uni I was looking forwards to learning some new things, intermingled with the inevitable catch up. However I'm reading maths and I've already studied further maths as well as maths at A-level. This means that for three of my four modules I've already covered about 99% of the stuff we're doing. No big surprises that the one module which is completely new is the one I'm really enjoying...

Add to the fact that some of my lecturers are incredibly fond of repeating themselves. One keeps showing us the same thing on the internal system which we could find for ourselves three or four times every lecture.

I have no doubt that this insane ability to repeat everything will come in handy when it comes to the time to learn some new content. My real concern though, is that I won't realise when that time comes and will stay switched off.

Does unecessary repetition annoy you?

Rowen

11 October 2011

You'll have the time of your life!

 I want to believe everyone, believe me, there's nothing I'd love more. But fact, having spent a week here and despite having met some brilliant people I don't think I am going to enjoy uni life. I'm too much of a home girl, I'm not the girl who goes looking for an adventure, I'm the one who'll happily stay in and do the familiar much to the long-term aggreivement of my friends.

I don't enjoy the parties.
I don't enjoy the independence.
I don't enjoy the being away from home.
I don't enjoy meeting new people, even though they're great people to spend time with.

And yet I'm the one of my new friends who's staying this first weekend.
The one who's sticking it out.

Why?

It's too far, I don't want to force my parents into a total of six hours driving at the end of every week.
I don't want to be a disappointment, I'm the first of my parents children to go, and they're so proud, how can I bear to let them down.
At some point in my future this may be of benefit to me, this ability to stick out the tough times and just get on with it.
Having a degree will benefit me and my boyfriend in the long-term.

But I'm scared, there's a million things scaring me, not least the fact that I'm doing a maths degree and speaking statistically it's incredibly unlikely my boyfriend and I will make it through this as a couple, but I think I'll break if we don't.
My diet has gone to pot because my cooking skills are pretty much limited to baking and I have neither the patience nor the drive to learn anything more than heating up a tin of food in the microwave.
I hate being away from home. I hate the amount of freedom it's taken from me. And the fact it's forced me to put trust into people I barely know.
I miss my family and my friends. Most of all I miss my boyfriend. I miss being in a place I know so well I could walk it blindfolded.

The truth of it is, I'm just not settling in very well...

Rowen

12 July 2011

Clash of Kings - George.R.R.Martin

       The second book in the 'Song of Ice and Fire' series, and another really good read, not to mention another which took ages. I've deduced that these books are really good, you may have got that, and I've really enjoyed reading them, they're a lot of fun. However the problems with them are that they are just too long and try to cram way too much in.
       I love the fact that there are so many Point of View Characters, it's really good, and they're well written. You could tell which Character was which after having read a few chapters without needing to use names, because they've all developed their own distinct personalities. However it can cause problems when you reach page 75 and you still havn't returned to any characters (I don't think this is accurate, but it's a little what it felt like), especially when they're all in different places socialising with different people, simply because you struggle to remember what each Character has going on in their life when you get back to them. It's a little like trying to read 8 books at once.
    However, near the end, the last 200 pages or so there's a whole patch which is set in a really short space of time, and the author bats back and forwards between a select few characters, all in the same sort of area, but slight variances as to specifics. You really feel a sense of urgency and time flow, and you know what's happening, it's brilliant.
      The ending for a few of the Characters in this book left me feeling the varying emotions of nervous, saddened and unsure... And then while reading it I'm always struggling with a who's-the-good-guy feeling, because I get the feeling that the Starks are supposed to be the 'good-guys' however you then meet people like Tyrion and Daenerys, who seem to want to see the demise of the Stark's but you want them to triumph even though they can't all. This makes it more realistic to read, but I think it also suffers as a novel, because by making it less cut and dried, he's almost taken away a sense of satisfaction and a 'cheer-factor'. You can't cheer for your favourite and egg them on for fear of offending all your other favourites.
       I think that the author, although being ambiguous, is very talented to be able to evoke such a range of emotions for all of the different characters that are come across.
     I loved this book, as I loved the first one, and because I have so many issues with certain aspects of it I can only assume that it is because this is storytelling at it's absolute very best.

Rowen

7 July 2011

Day Thirteen - Comic

Today it's my sister's birthday, so there was no way I could do anything that wasn't birthday related for this drawing. Happy birthday Pip, excuse my awful picture.

If you're struggling to read the text it goes 'Oooh a Present' 'It's Yours' 'I love it'
The present is a box-set of 24, which my sister loves.

We look nothing like the stick figures but I can't draw cartoons so I went for something in the style of Oots :)

Rowen

Genesis 3:16

"Then God said to the woman, "I will cause you to have much trouble when you are pregnant, and when you give birth to children, you will have great pain. You will greatly desire your husband, but he will rule over you." "

It's accurate, women do suffer during pregnancy and birth. However it is also something which a history teacher I had would call 'a convenient story created by men for men to control women.' It is a fact that much of the bible in the Old Testament was written down long after the events actually took place. There is no reason why it couldn't have been added by men as an afterthought. However we do biologically function in the way described above, so I'm not sure I'm convinced.

Rowen

6 July 2011

Day Twelve - Most recent Acheivement

I'm not sure if it's an acheivement yet, but I'm gonna go with it. I decided around christmas that I'd like to make a quilt, for when my boyfriend and I one day need one, and if we don't then I'll still have made something I can be proud of.
     It's going to be made of 214 6" squares.
     24 of these will be the stars seen in the picture, they're called friendship stars.
    23 of these will be the stars seen in the picture. They're supposed to be paper peiced, however I didn't know how to do that when I started, so I have a feeling they're going to be made in a variety of ways.
   There will be one square which is embroidered with a logo associated with a past-time me and my boyfriend share.
    There will also be 166 of the square blocks, known as square dance blocks. none of these will be the same, although some may use the same fabrics reversed.
    Once I've made all of those I then need to decide on a layout and sew them into rows. And once I've sewn the rows I need to sew the rows together.
    After that I intend to get some batting to be able to hand-quilt it and bind it, it's a project I estimate will take about two years.

Maybe I'll share some of the blocks I've already finished.

Rowen

Genesis 3:14-15

"The Lord God said to the snake, "Because you did this, a curse will be put upon you. You will be cursed as no other animal, tame or wild, will ever be. You will crawl on your stomach, and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
I will make you and the woman enemies of each other. Your descendants and her descendants will be enemies. One of her descendents will crush your head, and you will bite his heel."

I don't know if it's just me, but the stuff from the second verse sounds a bit like the story about Achilles heel. I may be wrong but it sounds right to me. In which case it came true and I think that as much as anything should invoke confidence in God.

The first verse is less true, because although no other animal immediately  springs to mind, you actually have slugs and snails, and eels and worms, all of whom crawl on their stomachs, albeit the eel spends most of his time in water.

Rowen

Day Eleven - A turning point in your Life



I wouldn't say that there has ever been a major turning point in my life, more that my life seems to go round in circles, so I don't know if you can tell but i've drawn a windmill.

Rowen

Genesis 3:8-13

"Then they heard the Lord God walking in the garden during the cool part of the day, and the man and his wife hid from the Lord God among the trees in the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said, "Where are you?"
The man answered, "I heard you walking in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid."
God asked, "Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat fruit from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?"
The man said, "You gave this woman to me and she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it."
Then the Lord God said to the woman, "How could you have done such a thing?"
She answered, "The snake tricked me, so I ate the fruit." "

Once again her actions, and his, are typically human. They did not want to take the blame so they blamed another. While it was true that the fruit was provided by those mentioned, each of them is at fault for eating from the tree when they were told not to as they each actively made the decision to eat the fruit themselves. I think part of the issue is not so much that they ate the fruit, but that they are unwilling to face up to their actions.

We all sin, but God is willing to forgive us so long as we admit we sinned, say sorry and ask for forgiveness.

Rowen

Day Ten - Favourite Candy



I love Cadbury's Dairy Milk bar, although this isn't the design I'd instantly recognise it's the one I had to hand as it's more recent, being redesigned for the fairtrade logo. To be honest this was a struggle as I'm a true female and love anything that's chocolate.

Rowen

Genesis 3:6-7

"The woman saw that the tree was beautiful, that its fruit was good to eat, and that it would make her wise. So she took some of it's fruit and ate it. She also gave some of the fruit to her husband, and he ate it.
Then, it was as if their eyes were opened. They realised they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together and made something to cover themselves."

I think this demonstrates pretty typical human behaviour. We are never content with what we have, we always want more. I suppose I'm a pretty good example of this, I have lots of books, but if I go into a bookshop I can't help but want to buy more of them, despite the fact I have a good couple hundred books I havn't read.

The point is though, she wanted something she didn't have. She took it. And in the process she lost a gift she had which was precious. Her innocence.

Rowen