Feeling Fancy

Today I was in Windsor, with Ed, his sister and his mum. Originally the plan was to go to Oxford and do a bit of pre-holiday shopping just to get the final bits and pieces and look at the universities for Ed as he is thinking of applying, but they got stuck in traffic and decided that going to Windsor would give us more time to do things. 

Originally we started off near Windsor castle although we did not go in. There’s never really much appeal in standing in a long queue to hand over £18 of your own money (if I was being given £18 it might be a different story). But all is well, if we had gone in the castle we may have been sidetracked for a long time, as that’s what you get for being involved with a family of history enthusiasts) and we wouldn’t have done half the things that we did. Silver Linings. 

Instead we walked past the guild hall (or something like that) and found ourselves in a little museum. It was smaller, even, than the local museum back home which is saying something. But what was interesting to find was that around Windsor there had been finds of mammoth tusks, as DNA analysis has managed to identify and date to the pre-historic era, and also a tooth of an Indian Elephant a while later. Not only were there mammoths in England, which is astonishing in itself as all of what I studied in university made me think they were only on mainland Europe, but there were elephants too! That being said, it could have just been another Hannibal episode (he led elephants through Italy to try and attack Rome during the Carthage wars). Altogether we were done in about half an hour, us historians have a tendency to drag these things out for a long time as we discuss samian pottery. 

And then we did a spot of shopping, there was an expensive shop and I really liked one of the shirts in the window. 

“If I tell them my last name is the same as the shop name, will they give me the shirt for free?” I asked. It’s a joke that is old and I say it every time I pass one, but psychologically I think I say it in the hope that one day it will come true. We can’t get answers if we don’t ask the questions. Windsor altogether mainly consisted of these expensive shops and, as a student, I was not emotionally ready to part with much cash. Never the less there is never any harm in pretending you’re a millionaire and looking at the clothes, even if it then depresses you that you aren’t a millionaire. 

Because the shops were too expensive (for me) too old (for the sister) and too much for women (for Ed) we decided that we would take a walk and either go to the castle after-all, go to the gardens or take a walk a down the river and we ended up by the river. Jem was originally looking for row boats to take out on the river, but she couldn’t find them. I’m sort of glad that she couldn’t find them. The last time I stepped foot in a row boat the oar snapped and myself and Vie were stranded in the middle of the lake. We did however end up on a 40 minute river cruise tour thing which told you about the area. I am therefore even more glad we didn’t get the row boats. I probably would have crashed the thing and subsequently drowned. 

On the boat we could see Eton college, the castle, lots of fields and very nice houses that I wished I could own (maybe my estate agent mum could help me out, pleeeeeeeaaaaassse) and some little ducklings. There was also a lot of swans. We reached a bridge and the man on the boat told us the roof needed to be lowered to fit underneath it. We thought it was going to be much like a convertible where the roof splits and folds and gets tucked away, but what actually happened is that the roof literally got lowered, to the point where we were panicking that we would get squashed underneath the roof. Luckily it stopped just as it grazed the top of my head, like it would in some James Bond or Indiana Jones film, and was raised again. I don’t know what the tour man said, his voice was extremely muffled over the speaker.

On board the boat I also decided to test out a new instant polaroid camera thing that I had treated myself to after nearly a year of lusting after one. It was a nice picture of Ed his sister and his mum, and we all found it really exciting to watch it develop in front of our eyes. It quickly became the topic of conversation.

“are you even as old as that thing?” a man in the row behind us asked and jokes were shared among us about technology and whatnot.

We got off the boat after being told that some tall chimneys in the distance were the chimneys from an industrial state (that was all I heard of the tour) and we headed off to get some dinner, however on the way we passed a traditional fudge shop called the Fudge Kitchen and we had a look inside. The person in the shop was extremely friendly and kind and offered us all sorts of tasters and even brought out a fresh batch (close to closing) so that we could try it. It turns out that the man in the shop also comes from Norfolk but moved to Windsor as a kid, and we were in there for a very long time trying all of the fudges and talking about stuff (it turns out that some work on Windsor castle means that the man’s house was flooded with 8 feet of water a while back) and eventually I decided that I would get some fudge for us all. I decided on a strawberries and cream slice and the specially brought out one called “Loretta”, it was chocolate and orange. Ed decided on an Eton mess one (the sweetest fudge they sold, and very befitting for where we were) and a toffee one while Jem chose a canadian maple and walnut and Pookie (the sister) chose vanilla, and we walked away feeling very happy with ourselves. 

Afterwards we ended up at Nando’s for dinner where most of the time was spent eating in silent appreciation of the food, since most of us had not eaten since breakfast but we had good conversation. The only problem was that Ed started to worry about some exams he had coming up and the only person that could seemingly calm him down was me. 

“maybe you should come back with us for a couple of days, he’s been like this the entire time” Ed’s mum said, worried. So I checked my timetables to find that I had no exams, lectures or events for almost a week and so I agreed that I probably should, if it was going to be a help to everyone. Which is how I suddenly found myself packing a suitcase with a few pieces of clothing and my laptop and have managed to somehow make my way back to Norfolk for three or four days. Don’t worry. I bought all of my necessary books and revision with me, and once I return it is going to be a very intense search for a place to live in second year. 

Advertisements

The Gladiator and the Spider

I hate spiders, I’m scared of them. Tiny ones I can just about manage with a small amount of panic, and I can occasionally pluck up the courage to stand on one, but otherwise I run off. I am definitely more scared of the spider than it is of me. When I went to Reading I thought I’d be safe from all eight-legged monstrosities. The rooms seemed better sealed than the house with a plethora of holes and cracks back home and it was virtually impossible to have one come into my room. 

I should have been warned when one of my flatmates regaled a story a couple of weeks back at how he woke up with a huge spider on his face, and I should have assumed that, now being ‘spider season’ I might come across one. Today was that day. I was laying on my bed reading one of mum’s posts when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I looked at it thinking it would just be some fluff that’s rolling in the breeze of the open window, but when I looked it was brown and WAY too fast to be rolling fluff….it was a spider *shudders* 

My mouth made a squeaking noise and I instantly stood up on the bed, cowering and my skin crawling. Luckily Ed was here to save the day.

“ED!” I half shouted through the wall as he was in the shower “There’s a spider.” There was no response. Perhaps he thought I was being silly and could kill it myself like I had to when I was at home (Vie is more scared of dead spiders than alive ones) but it was a big spider, at least in my eyes, and there had been that huge thing earlier about flesh eating spiders. I did not want to go anywhere near that thing. Oh, but it was travelling towards the bed. I called for Ed again. Still no reply. I needed rescuing. I took a small window of opportunity and fled to the bathroom where I hoped it wouldn’t crawl through the gap between the door and the floor. 

“There’s a spider!” I said. 

“How big is it?” He asked. Big enough. Big enough for me to cower away, and hide..in a bathroom. He told me to give him a minute as he finished in the shower. No Ed, it needs to be killed now! I let him finish in the shower and fled back to my bed to keep an eye on it, giving a useful narrative. “It’s in my clothes……now it’s in YOUR clothes.”

Ed came out, in not much more than a towel, he had a piece of tissue ready in his hand for an attack on the spider. There was a moment of calm, like we were waiting in the trenches, as he started to pick up pieces of clothes to find the spider. I stared, not wanting to miss it if it if it started hurtling towards me with ferocious speed. Suddenly we were gladiators in the ring. I was the emperor demanding that blood be drawn in the arena, Ed was the gladiator, more specifically a bestiarius- skilled at fighting beasts (that would be the spider) and the game was on. 

“Aaaaah!” Ed screamed when the spider unravelled itself from one of the shirts he was holding and it spilled onto the floor by the bed, it reminded me of so many other spider-stories. I backed away not wanting my flesh to be eaten or anything by the beast. Ed whacked a tissue-filled fist onto the ground, hopefully the spider was dead. It was not dead. It happened quickly, like any attack would. Ed telling the spider to die, me telling Ed to kill the spider. (spiders are the only times I get violent) and then, eventually, the spider dying. I let out a breath I had been holding while I waited for the combat to end. It was tense stuff. 

“Now” I said “Flush it or throw it out of the window.” and so Ed flushed it. 

I sat there, thinking about how I should write a post about this, because it was hilarious and terrifying, and perhaps because my step-dad used to share spider-news with Vie and I made me want to share it. Also thinking of other stories. There are too many to name here right now, perhaps it shall be another post later, and is an hour long dramatised conversation in itself, which one sparked up a huge chain of spider tales in a p.e lesson, but There we go.

“Don’t look in the toilet.” Ed says, finally coming out of the bathroom.

“Why?” I asked, thinking how could the spider possibly still be alive?

“The spider.” He replied. “It is dead. But it’s floating at the top.” Vie’s worst nightmare. And an idea that gives me the creeps. The lesson of this story is to always throw your spiders out of the window.   

What I’m Reading | More Than This by Patrick Ness

What the popular author John Green said about this book was ‘just read it’ and it is emblazoned on the front cover for all to see. It was the black and yellow that caught my eye when I saw it in the local book-shop and then I saw that I was being ordered to read it. So I turned it over to the blurb and read what it was about, and it seemed curious. I have a system at choosing whether to buy a book. First of all it needs to catch my eye, then the blurb needs to sound interesting, then I read the first page and if I am not drawn in I put it back down. If I am I buy the book…or continue reading propping myself up against the book-shelf until I feel like I’ve been there to long…and then I buy the book. But I didn’t follow my rules for this. I was already captivated. 

Image

This is where I try to tell you about the plot without giving away any spoilers so that you can read the book and be surprised yourself, so stop reading, if you don’t trust me, and skip to the end.It’s about this boy who drowns one day on a beach (I can tell you this, it says it on the blurb) and then finds himself in a different world and he has to navigate his way around it trying to figure out what it all is and if he is on his own or not and if it is real or a dream he has while he’s dying in the ocean waves. It’s safe for you to read again here.   

I tell you this now, plain and simple: More Than This is perhaps one of the best and most imaginative stories I have read in a long time. It’s everything that I like and, for once, I do not find myself irritated by the protagonist of the story like I have so many times, which is one of the instant plus sides. It’s eloquently written, it connected me so deeply with the protagonist that I had to check it wasn’t written in first person a multitude of times, and while I would find myself rolling my eyes at a flashback if I read it in an average story, they have a paramount significance with the rest of the story and they, while helping you unravel the story yourself, don’t give too much away. But this isn’t an average book, by no means. It is an intricate story that unravels more and more mystery the more you read. The second one question is answered there’s another that needs to be solved, and I think that’s what makes it so good. It makes you curious the more you delve deeper into this insane world that the boy is in, and you want to know these answers that lead onto more… more than this. 

While I was reading it I found myself mesmerised, curious, thrilled, and tense as drama finds its way onto every single page. I could not put this down the book and have only put it down because Ed wanted to sleep and I can’t read with no light (perhaps I should invest some money into a little reading light you attach to books) but if I was on my own I would have easily chosen to stay awake all night to finish it and be utterly mind-blown, I found myself pausing with absolute stun as the events occurred, and had to pause just to gasp and exclaim to Ed that it was “such a good book” So I tell you now exactly what John Green said about it JUST READ IT. Go to your local book shop, pick up a copy and clear your calendar to sit down and be immersed by what is perhaps one of the most captivating reads I have read in a long time.  You will not regret it.

A.M at P.M

The 24th of May was the concert for the Arctic Monkeys that I was going to in Finsbury Park, not because I’m a band member, a roadie or a ‘groupie’ but because, like any other average person in the world, I bought the tickets. They were a Christmas present to Ed. Luckily I had managed to procure an umbrella and waterproof shoes for if it did rain when I got to London it was raining so hard not even my brollie could save me. Luckily it dried up by the time the concert came around (even if the mud in the park could rival Glastonbury, when we were getting the tube back there was a man with mud up to the hem of his shorts!). We had tried to find rain-coats before hand but the only ones I could find were from Topshop and I wasn’t prepared to spend £40 in plastic. 

Ed and I got to the venue just as the first opening act ended, and that was the opening act we really wanted to see…but the four minutes that we did see them were pretty awesome. The second act was Miles Kane and we figured that if we took the face of the bassist and the haircut of the drummer he would look much like my step-dad. Perhaps he doesn’t actually go on business trips, but is actually a rock star. Some of the (bizarre/retro/iffy) clothes looked like something he would have somewhere in his wardrobe! The other was Tame Impala, but I didn’t really pay attention to them much as I was freezing cold and my feet were killing me. I jut wanted the main act to perform.

In between acts there was an agonising half an hour wait for the next band in which, having no dancing to distract myself from the pain coming from my feet and legs I watched the people. Never in my life have I seen so many people wearing the same combinations of denim and leather, and never have I seen so many people with a Noel Gallagher-esque hair cut. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people wore those outfits as their daily wardrobe or if they were just trying to fit in, but it was entertaining.  When the bands came on there was more dancing (read: jumping and swaying) which made my feet agonise in the long run, but at least all my weight wasn’t on them constantly. 

Arctic Monkeys came on at nine in the evening and their first song was Do I Wanna Know from their newest album which made everyone super excited, but they only played perhaps three songs from their AM album, which the tour was meant to promote, so it felt a little bit lacklustre. I believe it rained again, but I couldn’t tell because apparently a thing you do at Arctic Monkeys concerts is throw beer into the sky and down peoples shirts so it could have just been Fosters raining down on us. The problem with the beer being so readily available was that people were incredibly drunk before we had even reached halfway through the evening. I had to watch as a man vomitted into a cup and put it on the ground, and had to put up with a man who told everyone he “was Boy George”. Arctic Monkeys are a good band but they were only on for an hour which sort of disappointed me because they have tonnes of songs and only performed around ten of them, however they did play our favourites and so we were happy with what we got. 

Ed and I also had to leave at 10pm so that was one reason why I should be glad they finished half an hour earlier than we were told, at least we didn’t miss anything from them, but the problem was now that every other person was also leaving and Ed and I needed to be back at King’s Cross to collect his suitcase and get on a train home, so we had to dash from the stage to the tube station to make it ahead of the crowd and we just managed to get on the train before the mass of people caught up with us. Perhaps if the gig had less supporting acts then we could have seen more of the main act, and I would probably feel a lot less disheartened, but it was fine, I discovered some new music. We got home covered in alcohol and cigarette smoke which wasn’t very pleasant and since Ed went through the full experience of having a glass full of it poured down him we were happy to be home. The way I’m writing this I’m making it out to be less pleasant than it actually was but, believe me, I did have a good time. I’m just glad that I wasn’t covered in mud or booze myself. 

You Can Stand Under My Umbrella…If I Had One.

A while back I managed to purchase a new umbrella, it was something I had been meaning to do since the start of the year and I finally did it, only for it to sit on my windowsill for days and days as it was too sunny here in Reading to even think about using an umbrella. But today I finally got to use it as it rained for an hour or so. This rain made me wary about tomorrow as I am in London for a concert and I don’t know if it’s indoors or outdoors, and if Reading is experiencing rain then perhaps London is too. So I went on a hunt to find some comfortable and waterproof shoes that I can walk around in without my feet hurting. 

The problem is that all of my shoes are mostly EITHER waterproof OR comfortable and also a lot of the time it’s neither so I felt like I needed these, in case the weather was crazy. 

In town I got a few compliments on my new umbrella, which made me happy. It was a cute umbrella featuring little white fluffy clouds and rainbow coloured rain-drops. It’s always nice to get a compliment anyway. It stopped raining at some point and I took my umbrella down and carried it in my hand as a bottle of body-wash took up the space in my bag (the Boots self check out machine didn’t have any carrier bags) 

This very same day I lost my new umbrella. I was carrying it around in my hand, so I don’t really know how it happened but I presume I must have left it in a shop. I would be comfortable with this theory, however I couldn’t remember what shop I had left it in, how long I had been without my snazzy umbrella, and I didn’t even remember putting it down. How could I not notice an umbrella leaving my hand!?!?!?! It’s a mystery to me. 

I admit I was a bit sad. It was a good umbrella, even if it did come from Sainsbury’s. I didn’t know whether to replace the umbrella or go looking for it in the shops I had visited. The problem was I had gone into a lot of shops, and I didn’t know how long I was without my umbrella. It could have been anywhere and the shops were shutting. So I decided to replace the umbrella. If it was my purse or my keys it would have been a different story, but an umbrella is replaceable. 

I went into Sainsbury’s. Found the same design and went to the checkout to buy it. The funny thing is when I scanned it the machine said it was £6 instead of £8 and looking at the machine dumbfounded (But the label says £8!) I saw that it was actually on sale. I laughed, it seemed as if the world had listened to me mourning the loss of my snazzy umbrella and decided to make it up to me, by giving me the spare money to go and get a chocolate bar. Yay! 

Who knows, perhaps one of the people who complimented me has found it in wherever I left it and decided that they wanted to keep my snazzy umbrella, to which I saw they can keep it, then we can go singin’ in the rain together. 

It’s funny how some things work.

Mihi Fortuna

Today I went in for my second exam, out of six, for this year. Today’s exam was Latin, and throughout the year it wasn’t my best module, but I was okay at it. Today I was brilliant. What happened? The goddess Roma couldn’t have appeared to me in a dream and given me a fluent knowledge of the Latin language, nor could it just suddenly click within three weeks of my last Latin test. What was it?

I tell you what it was. 

Luck.

My first exam happened on Wednesday and was a module on Augustan Rome. I wasn’t stressed about this one because Augustan Rome is bound to be my best module since I have been studying Rome for almost the entirety of my high school life and again this year. It was safe that I knew what was needed to be known about the Ara Pacis or the forum. And as a girl in my seminar group said “I’ve been there.” *puts hands on hips and takes superwoman stance*. And when I opened that paper, lo and behold it was a miracle. There, in the list of twelve of twelve questions, were two that I wished would crop up. The first was on fate in the Aeneid (I’m pretty much an expert on the Aeneid) and the second was about the Forum Augustus, I distinctly having an entire lecture on that forum and I remember it well. So it’s safe to say that I was okay at that. 

As I said today was Latin, and it was perhaps the exam I was dreading the most because I haven’t been my best this year and was pretty rubbish at it in GCSE, yet I walked to the exam hall with confidence- maybe Roma really had visited me in a dream- and didn’t panic at all. 

“You may read your answer booklets” the invigilator said as I sat down, so I opened it. And hallelujah(!) I couldn’t have been more lucky even if I had tried. The difficulty is the same as GCSE, and is set in two parts. Short answers and then a passage to translate. When I saw that the questions were going to be on book VI of The Aeneid I had to stop myself from celebrating outside of my head. I’m an expert on The Aeneid, as I have said. This was going to be easy. I didn’t even need to read that Latin passage to tell you that Aeneas was in the underworld to see his dead father, or that Deiophobus had his nose cut off in the war of Troy, and was even horrified when they said that Menelaus was king of the Greeks when it was actually Agamemnon. The passage I had to translate was a continuation of the story and over all there was three words I didn’t understand but could easily make it up and have a chance of being right. The passage was about Helen of Troy and the judgement of Paris, and the wooden horse. Done and dusted. 

I finished my Latin exam in 35 minutes, even finishing before the best girl in the year, and left the exam hall giddy with happiness. The second that door closed behind me I was dancing like the Trojan women in the passage and laughing out loud…on my own. I’m pretty sure I got above 80% which is among the top of the top, maybe even 90% of my luck continues. Hopefully the rest of my exams will be just as easy.

Looks like I’m making a sacrifice to Apollo (the god of education) Minerva (the goddess of wisdom) and all the other gods, just to make sure of it. 

Morning Glory

Like almost every other blogger on WordPress I consider myself as I writer. I don’t have anything published (I’m pretty sure a poem I wrote about a cat when I was nine doesn’t count) but I write, therefore I am a writer. Often I would start a story, and think it was amazing, before I had another idea and moved onto the next one. I started a project about a year ago, when I was inspired by Margaret Atwood and by Youth Theatre sessions that I took on the weekend. It was that story that I submitted to a writing competition around the end of December 2013. And then I left it alone, and hadn’t written anything new for months. Until now. 

I guess I was using university to take myself away from my second of three passions. The other is acting. I had already taken myself out of acting as I didn’t like the society at university. Then it clicked. I wasn’t going to give up on writing, and particularly not this story which I had been obsessing with since I started, collecting books, and articles to help me, creating maps and characters and their stories. So this week I started to write it again, from scratch, so that I could do the best job I could. 

The problem is I’m obsessing over it again. Why did I stop writing it?! In some senses I had never forgotten about it, there was a niggling in my mind that told me to keep going, but I didn’t act upon it. Perhaps I wanted to start again when I had a fresh mind, or perhaps I was just lazy. But then I spent the past couple of days reading Divergent and my story sprung back to life at the mention of double yellow lines. So here we are. I’m not complaining. I LOVE writing. But today I have a Latin exam, and I couldn’t get to sleep anyway, having thrashed around bed for two hours. But the thing is inspiration struck just as I was about to sleep, for a scene.

It would be perfect for character development my brain called to me, as it was a problem I had. So I noted the idea quickly on my phone, writing a quick paragraph or two. But now I had it in my head, and it wasn’t going anywhere. It was all I could think about. So I spent another hour thrashing around bed, trying to stop thinking so that I could get some shut eye before my exam, but this thing was screaming to be written. So I gave up on sleep at six o clock in the morning, at least coffee is a thing, and took my laptop and have now written it out into something proper. What was a quick paragraph of about seven sentences of dialogue has quickly turned into two-thousand words and an hour of writing as I listened to movie soundtracks. I’m happy to be writing again. I’m not just an archaeologist. But couldn’t my subconscious mind decide to do it at a different time?