I’m back!

It feels like an absolute age since I last sat down and blogged – in reality it’s been 20 days since I posted my charity shop haul.  I’ve had a manic few weeks but as things have finally started to settle down, I wanted to catch-up and let you know what I’ve been up to…

Well, top on the list has been studying.  I finally finished my Byron essay, after spending most of Christmas and the New Year working on  it.  I could easily still be sat here now working on it as I’m never happy but I got it finished and sent off last week.  It’s all about waiting for the results now…fingers crossed!

studying MA

I’ve spent MANY hours sat at the computer typing away…

Seeing as I couldn’t commit to blogging during this time, I’ve mostly been adding little bits here and there on twitter and Instagram.  I really love the visual nature of Instagram and it appeals to the wannabe photographer in me!

I’ve made a number of new charity shop purchases and have set myself a little challenge for this year.  With the exception of items such as underwear and socks, I’m going to attempt to only buy clothes from charity shops and vintage markets this year.  So far so good, although I am hankering after a T-shirt in New Look that says ‘Skint’ on it as it pretty much describes me at the moment!

After finishing my essay, I went to my local library and got out a load of books.  I’ve read two and am currently working through a third one at the moment.  I’m also reading a biography of the poet John Clare as I want to write my MA dissertation on him.  If you haven’t heard of or read any Clare, he’s a Romantic period contemporary of Byron and Keats. He had little formal education, wrote mainly about country life and sadly, spent many years in asylums.  For me, his poetry is a sheer delight – lyrical, beautiful and poignant.

I’ve also joined a Pilates class and I am loving it!  I don’t go to the gym because I genuinely don’t enjoy the atmosphere; I much prefer exercising on my own or in small classes like this.  I also intend to start running again from next week but most likely on the treadmill as it’s currently very cold here!

I’ve taken part in two new year challenges.  Firstly, I took part in the 14 day #ProjectPositive Instagram challenge with Anastasia Amour.  for the first 14 days of January, I posted images that related to the different topics set.  It was great fun and I got to ‘meet’ some lovely new people and to think about myself in a different light.  Do go and check out Anastasia’s blog – she’s all about empowering women to be more body confident and positive – a lovely lady too!

Secondly, I’ve been decluttering…big time!  My lovely new friend at Pauper to Princess has been running a January declutter challenge whereby you get rid of one item on the 1st, two on the 2nd etc., all the way up to thirty-one items on the 31st.  To be honest, I cannot tell you have much I’ve got rid of but it’s standing at a few sacks so far!

onesies charity

These onesies have gone to charity

books charity

Books I’ve read have either gone to charity or to friends

de-clutter challenge

I’ve been passing on old magazines to friends

I think that just about covers my January so far.  I hope you are all well and have been making the most of this month!

William Blake assists with Byron

I haven’t managed to blog very much at all recently. I’m still in the process of wading through my MA essay on Byron – I was even writing it on Boxing Day when everyone else was watching trashy TV and eating chocolate. I still ate the chocolate of course…

Anyway, I have had assistance in the form of the gorgeous William Blake who keeps popping to the side of the tank to see what I’m up to. I think he likes the picture of Byron on the cover of my book to be honest. Probably sizing him up to see if he could take him in a fight.

I know William Blake has quite a few fans out there, so here’s some recent pictures of him eating his breakfast and swimming round the new plants Santa Fish brought him for Christmas.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8c6/73369255/files/2014/12/img_2874.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8c6/73369255/files/2014/12/img_2872.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/8c6/73369255/files/2014/12/img_2873.jpg

Rainy day reading

I decided to make today a reading day.  It’s been raining pretty much all day and it’s starting to get really cold so I didn’t need much convincing to stay inside and catch up with some reading for my MA.

I’ve now read this biography of Byron (last week’s charity shop purchase) from cover to cover.  Although the author’s writing style feels a little dated, it has certainly been useful in filling in the gaps in my knowledge regarding Byron’s life.

Byron biography

Byron biography

It’s always worth checking through the books in charity shops as you can often find a little treasure like this.

 

An afternoon in Stratford-upon-Avon

It was raining very heavily this morning but by midday, the sun had come out and it had turning into a really beautiful sunny day.  This meant that our planned afternoon in Stratford was still on the cards – hurrah!

As I’m sure you know, Stratford is the birthplace of William Shakespeare and a thoroughly lovely town to visit.  We started our afternoon off with a spot of lunch in The Golden Bee pub and then headed off to browse the shops and market.

Fish & chips...yummy!

Fish & chips…yummy!

There are quite a lot of charity shops in Stratford and they tend to be full of really high quality stuff.  A couple of years ago, I bought a grey silk Banana Republic dress from one, which I ended up wearing to a friend’s wedding.  There is a fantastic Oxfam shop that specialises in books, CDs, LPs and DVDs.  I saw this lovely book in their Christmas display:

A cornucopia of Christmas cheer!

A cornucopia of Christmas cheer!

As the title suggests, the book is full of Christmas stories, poems and carols.  I thought it would be nice to read a bit here and there over December to get me into the festive mood.  It cost a mere £2.99, which is a real bargain for a nicely illustrated hardback book.

I was really lucky to find a book to help me with my latest essay.  My local library were unable to help me source a good biography of Lord Byron and I had given up hope of finding one unless it was on the internet.  On the literature shelf, I found this one from the 1970s, which is full of colour plates, engravings and black and white photographs:

Mad, bad and dangerous to know?

Mad, bad and dangerous to know?

Hopefully, it will give me a bit more background knowledge of Byron’s life and help with my essay on Don Juan!

I got a record player for my birthday, so I am constantly on the look out for bargain vinyl.  I regularly pick up an LP when I visit a charity shops and can often get them for around £1.  The three I choose today are a bizarre mixture (as the lovely man on the till pointed out), but I do have pretty eclectic taste!  The first one I chose is the wonderful Frank Sinatra singing with Count Basie and his orchestra.  This was the most expensive of the three (£4.99) but well worth every penny.  I love Sinatra’s voice – I think of it as the aural equivalent of melting chocolate!

Just sublime!

Just sublime!

The second LP is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 ‘Choral’.  I love listening to classical music whilst I’m reading or drawing and I don’t remember hearing this one before.  It was a snip at 99p.

beethoven lp

My final choice is admittedly a very strange one, but I loved the cover!

A bit of an odd choice?

A bit of an odd choice?

I’m actually listening to it as I write this post and, although it took a bit of getting used to, the music is itself is quite interesting.  The harpsichords and oboes make me feel like I am sat in the court of Henry VIII.  Even though I wont be playing it everyday, I am glad I bought it; is it is very atmospheric – plus it only cost 99p!

I apologise if you were hoping for lots of pictures of Stratford-upon-Avon but I’ve been so many times before I forget to take any.  So here’s a couple I took when I attended an all-night poetry writing workshop in the summer…enjoy!

Inside a very old building!

Inside a very old building!

anne hathaway's bed

Yes, this is Anne Hathaway’s bed!