Monday, 29 April 2013

Getting Creative

Being an English student has a number of benefits. Aside from the extensive reading that I get to do (note to self: must remember this is a privilege and opportunity!) and the very flexible timetable, I also have no exams. Yes that's right. Whilst every other students seems to be revising their socks off, my work is confined to essays. Granted there have been several thousand words to write, and I've got several thousand more but all in all, I'm feeling quite relaxed.

Which is quite a blessing, as it's given me space to start an internship (and a paid job soon! I found out today!) This weekend I decided to take some to chill out after a bit of a mad week. I spent the day pottering about the house, watching copious amounts of Gilmore Girls and doing some sewing. 

I got bought a sewing machine last year, and love it. Whilst at home over Easter I bought some new fabric, and have been eagerly hoping to find some time to use it. I kept things simple, but I have a new bag and some new cushions and I'm feeling rather proud. 

Tote bag

Bedroom cushions
As said, I've been feeling kind of creative this week. Earlier today I was reading an article about how detrimental social media can be. And in lots of ways I agree. Internet friends aren't real friends, and jealous becomes an instinct when you spend hours browsing someone else's exotic holiday snaps. And yet I've found that it helps me see beauty in things that normally I would only give a passing glance to. Like these roses. Those moments of joy are extended when you take a photo, when you share it or when you return to it. And I like that. 

Rosy flowers
Anyhow Gilmore Girls has been put on again so I'm going to join the housemates in drooling over Jesse. Fictional? Meh...!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Rocking the Lobster Look

Oh gosh, it is Friday, and I am sat in front of a computer. I have been for most of the day, and as the Senate House Library database has crashed *panic and sob all at once* I am taking a break from the studying. To the blog I say!

This week has been a little full on, as I've begun working three days a week for an internship. The other days I'm attempting to complete second year Uni things...and maybe have a social life! As if. Fortunately lots of people are in the middle of exam season and aren't off doing too many fun things without me. (Some friends did go see QI being recorded this week which I definitely thought was a great idea!)

One of my favourite things this week has been the sunshine. It's been glorious. For someone that lived her life at the beach, splashing in the sea and soaking up the sun, summer quickly became my favourite time of year. It's been so many long, cold, damp months of winter, but fiiinally, the bright, glorious sun has got his hat on and has come out to play. 

And I got burnt. 

In April. 

I am now rocking the lobster look (stupid vampire skin of mine!)

Anyway, disregarding my current tomato impression, I love the first few weeks of spring because of the change it brings in everyone. The whole of London has been outside, basking in the warmth, getting out the flip flops and donning sunglasses and big smiles. There's something about change that just gets everyone excited. This week it's felt like the whole city is buzzing with expectation, and I love it. 

On Tuesday, I did a ton of shopping. All the things that I've been in need of for ages. Like a mirror...Yes that's right, I've not had a mirror since I moved into my house in September. I think it's a miracle I've not left the house in rainbow colours and pyjamas every day really. I also bought a rug to brighten up my oh-so-white bedroom, and lots of new make up. My favourite thing is my new lipstick, which is called 'Summer Pink' which I felt was rather fitting. It looks kind of like this... 

Tuesday also involved an afternoon of gardening! Apparently, I've inherited the family love of planting things, and had the most domestic, green-fingered day, digging up weeds, turning over the soil and planting new seeds. I am incredibly excited to see things grow. Nature is a bit crazy, and I am still trying to get my head around the idea that some teeny, tiny, dots of brown might grow into beautiful flowers. 

This week I spent rather a lot of time on the Southbank. Thursday in particular, was rather glorious. After finishing work, I headed to meet my lovely friend Suzie and succeeded in distracting her from revision, for the sake of chats and discussions. Hurrah. We decided to wander along the river, getting distracted by the book market that lives outside the BFI and then walking all the way up to St Paul's to get home. I kept crossing bridges, and being blown away by the way the city sprawls so invitingly, defined by its' skyline; the financial district to the East, Westminster (funnily enough) to the West, and all sorts of arts and cultural things right in the middle. St Paul's was looking particularly majestic in the early evening light...

This week has been a week to be thankful, of some great friends and numerous other blessings. No, life isn't easy, but there are moments of outstanding beauty if you know Whose eyes to look through. 
So it may be Friday, and I may be scribbling away on a dissertation proposal (yes that is a year in advance you crazy uni!) but I am also aware that there is much, much to be joyful about.

Monday, 22 April 2013

How to do Spring

Evening all!

So I've been back in London for a week, and the past seven days have been surprisingly hectic. Uni is still ongoing, although with no structure, I'm learning that I need to get things done by myself. I managed to research and write an essay in between starting my new internship, and taking part in some exciting things with the ParliaMentors programme I'm on. 

But, just to fill you in, I had an incredible Easter break, full of the outdoors, the most delightful and beautiful places in Dorset, good friends and good conversations. It was pretty hard to leave. Here are a couple of highlights...

Trudging through the New Forest

Naturey lichen.

On top of the world in Warbarrow Bay

Lyme Regis
Since arriving back in London, I've embarked on one of those overwhelming weeks where I feel more than a little out of my depth, and whilst everyone tells me that's a good thing, it is beyond uncomfortable. In the midst of it all, I've been challenged about trust - the difference between accepting something is true, and actually letting it change you. When you get to trust in God, it means that there is a life of hope, promise and adventure available. I need to get better at not just knowing this, but putting it into practice with all of the things going on in life. Mission for the week ahead I believe.

In an ideal world, this is what we hope to see.
This weekend I had a packed day of dreaming and planning about the student group I help to run. It was a great day of strategising, looking at diagrams and chatting to our team, getting excited about what God might want to in the next six months, as well as years down the line. There's something incredibly exciting about putting these plans together in a building off of Oxford Street on a sunny spring day, the rest of the world passing by as we all sat about thinking about how much we want to see this city made even better than it is. Kinda surreal.

Housemates and cocktails - perfect combination.
  Saturday evening, a friend had organised a private party at The City of London Distillery, an incredible gin bar, tucked down a small lane in one of the oldest parts of London. We arrived slightly late, and by that time the place was heaving with people dressed in snazzy clothes, clutching cocktails and G&Ts. They make their gin on site, and boy was it good. I'd love to pop in there on another evening to see who else was about, but the bar staff were ultra friendly and that's always a plus. 

Gin Distillery
After all of that, I felt it was about time that I had a lie-in and a bit of a rest. This morning I finished the latest Neil Gaimon book I've picked up, and I can thoroughly recommend. Perhaps because it's set in London, I'm a little biased, but the way he blends fiction and reality absolutely blows me away. He writes about a 'London Below', which consists of society's outcasts, every person in the city that drops away, falls beneath the cracks, is ignored by the system. And then he creates an entire universe, showcasing skills and abilities, personalities and adventure. Needless to say I was blown away. 

My afternoon was spent sitting in the sun, with iced coffee before heading to church and then to the pub. It's been the restful day every one should get to have before heading into another manic week. 

What have you been up to?


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Weather-themed Groaning.

Whilst it is technically British Summer Time (yes apparently that happened) it certainly doesn't feel like that. I'm getting a little disillusioned with winter - it seems to be greedily demanding far too much of my year, and whilst I enjoy the first few months of good knitwear, hot chocolate and film evenings, by April I'm eager for flowers, picnics and a tan. 

Since arriving home on Saturday there's been a few glimpses of sunshine, and like the fool I am I've assumed that they've meant warmth. Apparently not. I've gone on a few brisk winter walks, through the New Forest and over Hengistbury Head, sunglasses in hand, in the hope that I don't look too ridiculously mish-mashed with all of my layers. 
Light breaks through the gloom.
An avenue of trees in Holmsley
On Tuesday I caught up with a good friend from London that also lives locally. It was so, so good to meet and talk away from the buzz and crazy environment of the City. We sat on the top of Hengistbury Head discussing life, and the things God is speaking to us about, and gazing at the horizon. There wasn't a tower block in sight, just clear blue ocean. Perfection. 
Pretend Summertime

Hengistbury Huts

Yesterday became a day to bake and relax in a friend's warm kitchen. Another London friend, but someone I've known since we were 11. It was great to see her family, and spend time in a place that I lived in almost as much as my own home as we were growing up. We made bread, and then attempted macaroons. Sadly we were lacking ground almonds, and had to lessen our ingredients, which resulted in some not very peaky egg whites. Needless to say, the cake below is not so much a macaroon, but a red velvet ring...with almond flavouring. I was pleased that we managed to salvage something out of the baking wreckage, and for unintentional cake it was pretty tasty!

Baking Endeavours
I hear that it's begun snowing in London. It makes me glad that I'm not there. I have no time for that crunchy white stuff when there have been years when I've been swimming in the sea by this time. So I'm going to continue my hibernation with some reading and a hot cup of tea. I'm not sure there's much else to be done right now!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Mercy all, Immense and Free

Since becoming a Christian about six years ago, Easter has taken a bit of a different theme for me. It's always been a fairly big family day; a day for feasting and catching up with everyone, and of course for eating a tremendous amount of chocolate. 

But, when you get to know Jesus, the significance of Easter changes dramatically. I'd say Easter is pretty much the foundation of my life. Because my life and hope is entirely based on the fact that Jesus is ALIVE. And well, that's what Easter Sunday is all about - that this man who died, crucified on a tree, came back to life, destroying death, conquering sin and giving me life. It's incredible news, and though I get to celebrate it every day of the year, Easter Sunday is always something special.

Yesterday I was back at my home church, which is always a lovely feeling. I worked there for a year, and was fairly involved before I moved to London, so there's a large group of friends that I love to visit. On arriving at the door I was accosted by two of my favourite people, charging out of nowhere to leap on me. Easter, as I said is a time for joy and celebration, and perhaps our greater awareness of what we're singing adds a new dimension to our times of worship. These two verses of an old hymn blew me away yesterday.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

After church, I headed over to my Great Aunt's house, where there was a huge roast cooking. Lamb, potatoes, the whole shebang. We settled down to the feast, which was over far sooner than I would have liked! Afterwards, we went for a walk along the beach, intending to help digest the copious amounts of crumble we had eaten. 

It was absolutely freezing as we trekked along the promenade, and the wind whistled in my ears until it felt like I had none. Far to the west, the sunlight was seen through the storm clouds and as the sun set, it was absolutely stunning. 

Eventually we headed home to watch Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and some other terrible film that my mum had picked up cheap on DVD that I recommend no one ever watches. 
Sadly today is grotty and grey so I'm hibernating at home with that copy of The Great Gatsby, which I have very nearly finished.