Saturday, 30 March 2013


For the past two years (nearly) I've been living in London. This city has somewhat captured my heart with it's  skyline, markets, coffee shops and people. I have fallen in love. And I don't intend to leave any time soon.

Yet one fraction of my heart remains in the depths of Dorset. I grew up in Bournemouth (okay not really the depths, but you'll see what I mean in a minute) and my summers were spent whiling away the time at the beach, picnicing in the forest, and generally frolicking around the town trying to keep occupied. It was a good life. 

Now for someone that grew up surrounded by fields, ocean and space, the city doesn't always quite hit the spot. Sometimes, the silence and the peace of the countryside is exactly what I need, and after a busy few months, this is definitely the place I am at. Fortunately, my family and a few friends are still about, so I've come home for a couple of weeks during the Easter holidays.

This morning I woke up buzzing. Not just because of my phone alarm, but at the prospect of clean air and a bit of travel. It seemed to take forever to get to Waterloo, and forever and a day to grab coffee at Costa, so I only just managed to make it onto my train. And then I settled down with The Great Gatsby, the second book on a long list of 'non-uni reading'. Which essentially translates to: reading-for-fun-novels. I don't always get a lot of those. Armed with my coffee and music, I napped and read, until the grey of London turned into the grey and green of fields and clouds as I headed further south. 

One of the joys of getting the train for me, is based on the last five minutes of the journey. My great aunt and uncle live in a house not too far from a railway line. As a kid I practically lived at their house, and their garden was my home. My cousins and I spent a lot of time running around playing make-believe, but I was always super excited when a train went by. Don't ask me why. Perhaps it was the prospect of adventure, perhaps it was just the idea of a stream of people smiling as I waved at them. Either way, it was great. 

And now, as I travel home, I'm one of those people on that train. And it always makes me smile as I try and catch a glimpse of their house, and the garden that I used to know so well. 
Coming home is always a strange feeling. The tensions of old and new, familiar and different are ever present. But there is something infinitely comforting about seeing the landscapes that you've known so well, even if it is Castlepoint. I am very much looking forward to two weeks of peace and rest, catching up with old friends and wandering across the beach and fields that I have so, so missed. 

I look forward to keeping you updated on my adventures. 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

End of Term

This week has been for all intents and purposes, the final week of my second year of Uni. There's been the usual rush of deadlines, but in some strange freak occurrence, I was finished a week in advance, and aside from proof reading, I am ready and waiting to submit my 7,000 words...Hurrah!

So instead of attempting to scribble words all week, I've been trying to catch up with people and get planning for the month of deadlines that follow the Easter holidays. Oh the joys. I've made the walk to and from campus  on average twice a day, and then tried to fit in coffee dates with people. I make it sound strenuous, but really it's been a week of talking.

Today I had a day of enjoying the delights of East London. I was in Uni early, and then made my way down the road and round the corner to a new cafe. It's called Paper and Cup, and is the second branch of a great social enterprise. They dropped a flyer in our door a couple of months ago, and as it offered free coffee I've been meaning to go for weeks. Today, I finally got around to it.

There's a few social enterprise coffee shops around, and as they combine some of the things I love the most: coffee and social action, I am a big fan. Yet often there is a slightly sad compromise you have to make; not great quality coffee, or slightly tired looking d├ęcor. Obviously not huge things in the grand scheme of life. By any stretch.'s nice to see Paper and Cup doing well. Both with coffee, with space, and with their general vision and ethos. 

Guilt free caffeine fix, HELLO.

I sat down for a bit of chill time with a favourite book (I've read it at least four times before) and my free coffee. And then I decided not to leave. So I spent the afternoon there, setting up camp with one of their sandwiches and a flapjack. Very good decision, and their prices were good too! Always a bonus!

So I can completely recommend that you take a visit. I can see I will be setting up camp there in a few weeks when I have essays to write. And I'm kind of okay with that. 

One of the other delights about being in East London is the fact that my house/life is based on a road that at one end points East, with the sunrise, and the other heads West, across the City, with the sunset. Tonight the sky was looking particularly impressive, and right as I was walking home via some old east end buildings. I love this part of London. 

Tonight I've got my bake on and am making a three tiered cake for my housemate who just got offered lots of exciting positions. 

Time to celebrate!!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Small Sketch

If you took the game device and replaced it with my laptop, you have a perfect little cartoon of me right now. It's not that I'm really an introvert, in fact, too much time by myself sends me a little doolally (yes it's a word!) But sometimes, just on the odd occasion, I need time by myself. Normally with some TV (I've just been catching up with The Good Wife and oh how I want to be Alicia Florrick) or perhaps with a book and a cuppa. 

The past couple of weeks have been full of people, and events, and evenings running around icey London. Don't get me wrong, I love those things, and I love being busy and having things to do. Until it gets to the point where I can't hear my own thoughts and have forgotten how to process what I'm doing. A couple of hours of peace is just what I've needed. 

However, a very favourite friend is on her way over from work. We're going to cook up a storm and catch up on the past three days since we last saw each other. I expect there'll be lots to say. 

I like alone time. But only in very small doses, and interrupted with peopley-friend time too. So perhaps it's time to leave the comfort of my duvet and venture out of my bedroom...

Love xo

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Statues Come to Life

I think that ideas such as this, have become foundations for my life. 

When people ask me why I like studying literature, my response is something along the lines of.... 'because it can change things', which often gets confused looks. 

You thought literature was just for libraries or beach holidays? Wrong. It's for the public square. And I find that idea exciting. Recently I was at a lecture with Razia Iqbal, a BBC correspondent that spends lots of her time listening to people's stories and commenting on culture and the arts. Needless to say, I was somewhat enthralled.
Anyway, she was speaking at an inter-faith lecture, and mentioned that the biggest 'f' that had changed her life was fiction. She went on to elaborate, sharing how living in a closed community as she grew up, her escape and learning come for books. She also spoke about the power of storytelling, and the ways that reading of other lives, cultures, beliefs, or even an author that just describes things in a different way to you, can open your eyes. 

I'd take that a little further and suggest that when you read of things that hit you somewhere between the ribs, it can cause you to want to act, to change, to alter the systems and structures that perpetuate the chaos and disaster that you've just read of. 

I've been thinking lots about the things I want to do with the short, short life I have; the kind of things I'd like to accomplish. I'd like my life to count, that I wouldn't just be another anonymous passing person that exists, works, raises a family and dies. To me, that might be normal, but normal is boring. If I've got another 50-60 years to go, that's a whole lot of time to do some good things. 

Today at church we were reminded of something C.S. Lewis says in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

'The snow queen has lost her power. The snow is melting, summer is on its way & those who have been turned into lifeless statues are having new life breathed onto them again.'

I am rather overwhelmed that through Jesus I don't need to be a lifeless statue. When someone dies, and comes back to life, that you might know that death has no power any longer, and can live life in it's fullness through Him, well that leaves a rather exciting future ahead. 

Bring it on. 

Friday, 22 March 2013

Just Life

The past week has been one of my most hectic. The uni deadlines are piling up as we're getting towards the end of term, and I've had events or things to do every single evening this week. 

Monday was the perfect way to start the chaos with dinner with one of my best friends. There's something so  beautifully relaxing about spending time with people that have known you for near enough forever. I cooked some chicken, made some bread and we drank some wine. Rather rustic but absolutely perfect after a day of writing essays. 

This week I also had the opportunity to go to one of the coolest events, courtesy of the ParliaMentors programme I'm on. I trekked up to North London (surprisingly far when you live out East) and went to a discussion evening with the future Chief Rabbi. The whole night was an attempt to create dialogue between London's Muslim and Jewish communities, and we were invited along to catch a glimpse, get a tour and share some hospitality. Incredible opportunity. 

After all the running around London, an interview, another dinner and some training with Church, I felt it was a good time to visit one of my favourite places in London, the Fleet River Bakery. I've written about them before, and cannot rave enough the quality of their coffee. I popped in on Wednesday afternoon as I was in the area, and though it was late afternoon, the place was heaving and I had to weave through chairs to find a spot in a corner. Definitely worth it. With some coffee and some cake I settled down to do some reading, and in the end made a long phone call to catch up with another far away friend. 

Coffee Cake, Fleet River Bakery

Other highlights of the week included a spontaneous run around Kings Cross Station to see Platform 9 and 3/4. Being a huge Harry Potter geek I don't really know how I've survived without taking a visit, so I could barely contain my excitement when we walked in. In all honesty I might have skipped. 

Overly Excited Geekiness

After such a mental week of reading, writing, thinking and such I was very much ready for chilling at home tonight, with pyjamas, wine, the housemates and An Education (which is an incredible film!)

The weekend is set to be busy, but tomorrow will be a week until I'm back home to the seaside! And as much as I love London and it has captured my heart with it's bursting streets and swirling river, I will be pleased to paddle my toes in the sea, and breathe air that tastes of salt and childhood. Bring it on.

And apologies for not writing, I've been doing some other things and blogging has taken a backseat. Soon to be rectified! 

Love and peace xxx