Monday, 11 November 2013

Getting Going

It's a Monday morning. I wake up at eight. I eat my bowl of wholesome cereal. I shower, get dressed, go to the bank - buy some fruit from the supermarket. I come back and do a phone interview. I've got some chores, an article to write and both Maths and Science homework to do but I write here. Blogging is therapeutic!

I've got two job interviews this week (just little part-time roles) and I passed the interview for my volunteer role (which I'm so happy about!) so here's a post dedicated to things that I'm grateful for.

Every now and then I think it is important to highlight what is good about your life. It is the little things that make the biggest difference, I often hear.

- Buying Christmas presents for everyone.

- Passing my interview.

- Hearing beautiful music (Bastille and Bizet!)

- Writing

- Blogging

- Starbucks skinny gingerbread latte (with the red cups!)

- Walks

- Clementines (so yummy)

- Reading a good book (James Joyce)

- The thought of going back home to London soon

- Watching good films

- Wearing cosy jumpers and woolly scarves.

- Cute stationery

- Learning (science and maths!)

- Smelling L'occitane perfumes.

- Stepping on crunchy leaves.

- Feeling cosy in my flat.

Thursday, 7 November 2013


The past week has confronted me with some major challenges. I won't go into detail but the graduate job I began working at didn't turn out to be what I thought it would. I made a risky decision to resign but I'm looking forward to delving into a new job adventure.

Just so you know, I've been given a very exciting writing opportunity at The Daily Touch website ( so keep looking for my fashion articles which will be published from next week onwards! Also got some other volunteer-related things to look forward to doing!

It feels so good going for what I want to do. I'm currently learning to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, writing this blog, mentally preparing myself for tomorrow and organising my study schedule. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to go two steps forward :-) 

I have therefore decided to go and find a part-time job, cut back on my spending, enjoy my free time to study, pass my exams and have time to spend with my boyfriend, family and friends. Tomorrow I'm going to an interview for a very exciting opportunity, which (fingers crossed) will work out. It would be absolutely brilliant!

I've mentioned it before on my blog but it really is my dream to become a primary school teacher. I love being around children it gives me the happiest feeling when I can assist in their learning. Due to personal circumstances I have experienced a delay in taking my GCSE examinations in Science and Maths, which is why I'm doing them now at the grand age of twenty-two! :-) Next year I will hopefully be applying for my PGCE at a university and I will then be able to apply for my dream job!

Here's a few pictures from my week:

Here's a picture of my new Cath Kidston bag. My previous one has lasted two years :-) but it now yellow at the handes! It's quite icky (excuse my terrible expression, there) and needed replacing as I couldn't fit my college folders inside any of my bags! I love this because it was actually very reasonably priced for Cath Kidston (especially with student discount!) and you can just fit so much inside! I want to call it the Tardis Bag - it is deceptively large! It's particularly useful for Science - I seem to have so many handouts!


I never buy nail varnishes but fancied trying out some colours on my nails for a change! I got this dark green and rosy red matte varnish by Barry M! :-) I'm hoping that they will look nice! I also picked up a 'Very Berry' face pack as I felt like having a pick-me-up after a hard week!

I'm also currently reading James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' which is a very engaging read. The only problem is I'm finding that I'm too tired/feel guilty into doing something else, i.e. studying or job hunting. I'm going to make sure that I read much more this weekend :-) I've only got less than fifty pages left of this novel. I'm wondering what to start on next?

Monday, 4 November 2013

Book Review: Virginia Woolf - Mrs Dalloway

Virginia Woolf is one of those authors I have always been slightly hesitant to approach. I am not sure why. My preconceptions were that it was the sheer exclusivity of her writing that her readers enjoyed. I rarely find people that genuinely enjoy her writing or see the purpose of it, for this reason. On the other hand, the ones I do know of say that her writing is pure poetry - but written in prose.

Having studied twentieth century American literature last year, I very was briefly introduced to this idea of high modernism. I had read Wharton's The Age of Innocence, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and Scott-Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. All of these novels, despite being written in the same century, bear no likeness to Woolf.  I would argue, however,  that Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is (out of the texts I studied) comparable to Woolf - and this is because of the stream-of-consciousness element of the text. So, as you can see, reading this novel was a challenge at first. It did, however, become much easier to read as it progressed.

My verdict for this novel is a good one. I absolutely adored Mrs Dalloway for so many reasons. A year ago, I would say that I wouldn't have. I think that I now have the patience to read and admire the subtleties of writing that I wasn't able to fully appreciate when studying for my degree. Aesthetic writing is written purely for pleasure, and I often found this difficult when reading for research. I also found that this novel seemed to appeal to me at this specific time of my life when I am experiencing what it is like to live the life of an independent woman. The social stigmas and pressures of being a woman are heavily explored in this novel, and I am so excited to read A Room of One's Own later on this year (Christmas present, anyone?). My decision to purchase this novel was made when I was in a bookshop a couple of weeks ago, due to David's recommendation. I explained that I wanted to read some new authors, preferably women (because I'm developing an interest in feminism!) and so I read the first page and thought to myself: "hmm ... different" - it certainly was!

This novel is a perfect introduction to modernism. The characters, and the way they are portrayed, are unique. Septimus is my favourite character. I love it when there's a really well written novel that has a character that I genuinely begin to care for! The exploration of relationships, and the relationships' own relationships to time and circumstance is incredibly fascinating and deeply engrossing. The language that Woolf employs is  both refreshing and experimental. I appreciate this because this is what I find that other recognised female writers such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte or Sylvia Plath seem to lack. Although I am a big fan all three female authors, I imagine this must be the reason why Woolf attracts more male readers.

Ultimately, I would recommend Mrs Dalloway to someone who is searching for a female author to idolise. Considering the time that these works were published, Woolf demonstrates that women can be both innovative and engaging in their writing style and that they can take risks. It really is quite inspiring!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Graduate Life

Hello everyone. Long time no see!

I have set up a hot spot on my iPhone as a (very) temporary solution to having no internet connection in my little flat.

Life in Norwich is settling very well indeed. As the weather becomes more cold and crisp, I can really feel the progression into the new season. Oddly enough when I was walking to work today, I saw how beautiful the cherries looked on one of the cherry trees I passed. I thought of Keats' 'To Autumn':

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
        Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
        With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
    To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
        And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
            To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
        And still more, later flowers for the bees,
        Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
        Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
           And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. 

I think that there is a reason this poem is so popular, even amongs those who aren't avid readers. I remember at my Creative Writing class in sixth-form college (I always took extra classes!), we were trying to write poems on this topic. I remember my teacher saying how the word 'mellow' sounded like a ripe fruit itself. Urgh, incredible.

I've had such a thirst for learning and a willingness so write, so I had to, here - tonight.

Life itself is a bit like Autumn at the moment. I feel that, while I'm really pleased to have graduated and have moved on from university, I'm left longing for the promise of leading on to better things.

Graduate life is not what I expected. I have a job and a home. I'm in a new city but I do not have a tutor to see if I'm finding it hard to settle in. There are no Freshers events to go to if you're feeling lonely. You receive no praise and your hard work isn't defined by good grades, but by luck and perserverance. There are no student loans and you need a job to pay the Council Tax. The Job Centre won't pay you because you've never earnt anything before and have therefore not contributed enough to gain any financial assistance. Graduate life isn't depressing - it's just an anti-climax for those who don't progress onto MA's or graduate schemes.

I say that, but I have been reading with so much more enthusiasm since graduating. I have been reading Woolf and Joyce - authors that I didn't seize the opportunity to study beforehand. I feel confident reading these by myself, though. Also, a postgraduate study option is never a closed opportunity. My enjoyment of, and ability to appreciate, literature has increased dramatically. I no longer have deadlines to meet or argue over (arguably) frivolous matters such as whether F. Scott-Fitzgerald purposely uses synaesthesia in 'The Great Gatsby' or not.

I remember reading articles last year about people, who after leaving university, had very pessimistic views on life because of their inability to live in 'the real world'. I do not think this myself. The great thing is having some spare money to spend on a shampoo that isn't Alberto Balsam and also you learn some terrific social skills too! For me, the distinction between 'uni life' and 'real life' isn't distinct at all. It was always blurred for me (if that makes sense!) - as I actively pursued paid work outside campus, would wake up at 6am on Wednesdays for work experience at the local primary school and always tried something new, whether it was playing the 'cello in a beginners' orchestra or learning French.

I'd advise to anyone studying for their undergraduates to definitely work part-time (even for just a few hours on a Saturday) just to get some work experience. It is incredible how much employers value this and it has definitely helped me receive job interview offers recently.

Studying for my GCSEs at a college in Norfolk has been an eye-opening experience, too. I am challenged in ways that I never thought I could be challenged! In April I was writing my dissertation - last night I was creating chemical reactions in a laboratory like Victor Frankenstein himself!

So, future graduates, I advise to plan for the future as much as possible and keep your chin up. Keep smiling :-)

Monday, 16 September 2013

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

"That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet." - Emily Dickinson

I have always loved literature. I have always loved Emily Dickinson. At the splendid age of twenty-two, however, I have unexpectedly been able to interpret this one poetic line in a completely different way after it was quoted in The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. After reading Unweaving the Rainbow during my first year at university, I have found Dawkins's passion for science very inspiring.

When I was very young, I used to pick up bugs on the school playground, and little worms too. I was very philosophical for a young person and I would often indulge in my deep curioisities (which is why you should never undermine children!) and during my time at primary school, I was already questioning the origins of life and our very purpose in this world. I wondered if these tiny creatures had their own belief systems, or even if they believed in the same god as I did. My teachers had informed me that ants were able to form their own colonies, so I thought it wasn't too ridiculous to be questioning this. Furthermore, I would regularly sing hymns and say my prayers just before I left to go home from school. I would participate in nativity plays and I found the idea of a heaven incredibly comforting. I particularly remember one hymn, in which I would sing: "All things bright and beautiful / All creatures great and small / All things wise and wonderful / The Lord God made them all". I became a vegetarian when I was fourteen because I thought that animals, like pigs and cows were also "bright and beautiful" - I couldn't understand these conflicting feelings I had at this time because I loved the idea of Christianity.

Since writing my undergraduate dissertation on the relationship between Darwin and the literature of the late Victorian period, I have become fascinated by the developments in science. For me, science isn't (contrary to Dawkins's belief) about finding the 'truth' but instead, it is about finding an explanation for the events of the past (and this can refer to the present that has just passed). While I do not think that anyone can explain the future with one hundred percent confidence (how could they?) I think that we can assess the past fairly, as it does not require any mode of prediction. So yes, this is why I have consequently become increasingly interested in the philosophy of religion as of late.

This summer, my eyes saw through a telescope for the very first time. I couldn't accept that some divine creator was responsible for this. It was so magical, that it was unecessary to require some form of supernatural explanation. As bleak as it seems, for it is presumably only the responsibility of group of chemical reactions, I find comfort in the beautiful chaos that is the night sky. I saw the moon, and its craters, so clearly. One day, when I have saved up and I know how to read sky maps properly - I will see the stars closer, too.

Before I digress further, Dawkins's text is quite a sensitive topic for most people and can, at times, make uncomfortable reading for those who do not follow atheist ideas. I found it quite difficult to read at points, just because I have been raised in a multicultural society and I have always respected those who have chosen to believe in their individual religions. I still feel that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs - as long as they do not impose their beliefs on others, cause hurt and are open to progression and education.

Although a lot of readers disrespect this book, I admire Dawkins for having the guts to write it. Everything he says he supports with both scientific and historical evidence. I have learnt so much from reading it, although I have the feeling that the arguments put forward by Christopher Hitchens in the past have been stronger. I was introduced to his arguments last night when reading the last few pages of The God Delusion, and I was quite shocked at his eloquence and knowledge of science, sociology, history and theology - as evident in this deeply moving video of his last speech:

At this moment in time I do not feel I could label myself an Atheist. In spite of this, I think that reading these books have spurred me towards this end of the religious spectrum. I currently say that I am Agnostic, as the optimistic part of me likes the possibility of there being something. However, the older I get, I realise that life is that very something.

I went through that inevitable stage of my youth where I was afraid of the end of life. I had experienced grief and I yearned for a reason. I no longer fear this because I have come to the realisation that I knew nothing before I was alive. Proceeding this, I chose not to perceive the end of life as some horrific void. To paraphrase Bill Bryson in A Short History of Nearly Everything, it's a miracle we're here anyway! It is indeed a miracle in itself that we are born into this conscious state of mind from birth. After all, we have the complex brain capacity to experience what it is to fall in love, have children, create art, to have an education, to want to help others and so much more. 

I'd certainly recommend The God Delusion to just about anyone. It is, however, very important to keep an open mind when reading it!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

New job, new city.

Hey everyone! :-)

Life has been crazy as of late. I have recently moved to Norwich, as you know. I have also now just secured myself a job here. I am so excited to start - my first day is tomorrow! I'm going to be working for a fashion website :-) so I'm really looking forward to working with the team and helping expand the company. Too exciting! Fingers crossed that I can do the job well :-)

Due to my lack of internet connection (I have set up a temporary hot spot on my iPhone - I am eternally grateful for my free internet trial, Vodafone!), I have been very productive outside job hunting hours. I have had lots of time to read this week. I somewhow managed to find a copy of The Penelopiad in a random Oxfam bookshop in Nottingham last weekend! I'm looking forward to reading through my first Atwood novel (or is it a novella?) very soon. I have heard very good things about her work. At the moment I am finishing The God Delusion (2006) by Richard Dawkins. It is a truly fascinating book, however, the tone of his writing is somewhat arrogant. Dawkins, in spite of this, does validate the majority of his points he makes by backing them up with scientific evidence. I am only eighty pages from the end, so it'll be interesting to see what happens towards the end of his discussion! It is certainly thought-provoking, to say the least.

I have also been watching a lot of films, too! I have just finished watching My Neighbour Totoro (1988) which is, perhaps, the cutest film I have ever set my eyes on:

I have always heard good things about Studio Ghibli films. Growing up, I have always been fascinated by Japanese culture and even studied some of the language for a while (very, very basic!). I saw Spirited Away (2001) a few months ago at an independent cinema in Suffolk. It was so sweet to see in its original format and I don't think I had seen anything so innovative for a while.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The big move!

Yay. David and I have now found our perfect Norwich abode! It's so sweet and it's in the city centre.

The architecture is so adorable! This isn't where we're living (of course) but I took a picture because I loved the door (is that sad? Probably ... ). It looks like Diagon Alley!

So yes, we're moving pretty soon! I need to find work and begin my studies for my Maths and Science qualifications. I'm really looking forward to learning different things and meeting new people!

Being the odd one out in my Maths and Science classes.

But yes, I'm looking forward to new things this year. I keep thinking about how lovely Christmas will be :-) I am so eager to wear my jumpers! If worst comes to worst, I will set up my own stall at the market and sell owl and elephant ornaments.

Then there's driving lessons. I'm really hoping to be able to drive at some point within the next year! This summer has taught me that having a car outside of London is definitely handy!

I have also been playing my keyboard. I've been trying to convince David to let us have a second hand piano (for some reason lots of people are giving them away for free?) as mine keeps making a fuzzy sound. The keys are also quite ... I don't know how to describe it! It doesn't sound very natural.

Not that I'm a professional pianist or anything. I'd love to have lessons! I've been trying to play Clair du Lune :-) and, of course, Moonlight Sonata. I've been figuring out some nice little melodies as well!

I've been spending my time well this summer, I think. I have finished (nearly) two scarves and my knitting is becoming much neater now! I've also started writing like I've always wanted to :-) I'm currently working on a children's story. I'm hoping that I can become the next Rudyard Kipling!