Catching Up: A Brief History of My Past 2 Years

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high five to anyone who saw that title and thought of Bill Bryson’s ‘A Brief History of Everything’ by the way, that’s what I was going for

So you may or may not have noticed but my blogging’s been pretty sporadic for the past two years. I left school and went to college to do the International Baccalaureate (hereafter to be referred to as IB, aka a very stressful experience that is ‘a fancy euphemism for hell’ according to the highly reliable Urban Dictionary). Just for a little more, absolutely not dramatized, context:

The small cult-like group of students who are involved in the International Baccalaureate program. Laugh at the bags under their eyes and insane amount of homework now, but your sorry ass will be working for one of these guys in the near future. The near future for an IB kid is not so near, though. Having several hours worth of homework doesn’t exactly make the time fly. Because of this, they have extensive knowledge about useless topics, for example :Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. 

– Urban Dictionary

I highly recommend you look up the rest of the Urban Dictionary entries for IB if you want a better idea of what it is, it’s scarily accurate

So yeah, been pretty busy lately and my writing and this blog just kinda fell by the wayside. Eventually it felt like too long to just pick it up again and I didn’t really know what to say, but now I’m giving it another go (so apologies in advance for any incoherent rambles while I get my blogging head back!).

What else has happened in the last two years?

Aside from college and everything new and exciting associated with that, I’ve…

  • Gone to Seville, Spain
  • Visited New York
  • Played at the Montreux Jazz Festival for the second time
  • Played at the Vienne Jazz Festival (France) for the first time
  • Left the jazz orchestra I played at those festivals with
  • Lost contact with a number of friends
  • Made a load of new friends
  • Been in a nearly two-year relationship
  • Come out of the end of that relationship trying to fill my time (any idea why I’ve restarted blogging yet?!)
  • Experience two lots of heavy snow in the south of England, in March
  • Booked a holiday to Seville for the end of my exams (yay!)
  • Slowly begun my transition to a creative, arty type who wears lots of floaty clothes and tassel earrings
  • Probably done a lot more things that I now can’t remember

So yeah, been pretty busy! I’m not really sure what way I’m going to revive this blog, but I’m hoping to kinda stick with my old mix of music and books and films and general life stuff, as well as maybe a bit of stuff about the IB/coping with college in general?

We shall see! What’s everyone else been up to in the last two years (oops…)

16 Things To Do In My 16th Year

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CUTE BIRTHDAY PIGS YES PLEASE {via}

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY TODAY. YAYYYYY. (well, it will be when you’re reading this. I’m actually being *organised* and scheduling a post (though only from the night before) so HAH PRODUCTIVITY AYYYY)

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because #puns {via}

Ahem.

To celebrate MY SIXTEENTH BIRTHDAY (not that I’m at all excited about the fact that IT’S MY BIRTHDAY) I made a list of 16 things I’m hoping to do in my 16th year, as a kinda short-term bucket list…

  1. Movie marathon (preferably Harry Potter or High School Musical (because YES MATURITY))

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    this is actually too adorable {via}

  2. Take part in (camp) NaNoWriMo (I’m thinking maybe the July camp…)
  3. Continue blogging
  4. Try something new
  5. Keep in touch with the people from school that I want to stay in touch with when I move to college
  6. Learn a piece of music off by heart
  7. Go to the beach with friends (plans for this are already – completely coincidentally – kinda being discussed so yay!)
  8. Make a cheesecake
  9. Watch the sunset on a beach (I have no idea if I’ll be near a beach at the appropriate time at some point over the next year, but I’m going to try my best)

  10. Listen to more jazz and classical music
  11. Have a picnic in a park
  12. Sleep under the stars
  13. Be more confident, especially in new situations
  14. Do an Instagram photo challenge
  15. Go for a run before breakfast (I know, I know, once in a year, I’m setting the bar almost unreachably high)

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    legit me when running {via}

  16. Write a letter to 17-year-old me (cliché I know but meh)

What’s on your bucket list, either in the long or short term?

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Writing To An Unknown Soldier

As many of you will probably know, today (11th November) is Armistice Day, or more commonly, Remembrance Day, a date chosen as it marks the end of fighting in World War I. Many countries use this date to commemorate the service done by their armed forces, especially in the two World Wars, but also in other recent conflicts, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today at school we had a Remembrance Service, which included the traditional silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and the Last Post. In honour of the date, I thought I’d share with you a poem I wrote for English a couple of years ago. I would love any feedback you have for me on it :). I’ve also included a few photos I took on a school trip to the Belgian battlefields a couple of years ago.

I just want to note – although my poem mentions a German soldier, it doesn’t specifically apply to WWI/WWII, that was just the context we had to write the poem in. 

Letter to an Unknown Soldier

To the German soldier that killed my best friend,

I barely caught a glimpse of you,

Before old Robert was shot down

At point blank range.

But I saw enough of your expression

To know you didn’t mean it;

I saw enough of your grey, gaunt face and your grief-stricken features

To know you didn’t mean it.

I barely caught a glimpse of you

Before you pulled that trigger,

But I saw enough

To wonder:

About you, and your life

Did you have a best friend?

And did they go to war?

Perhaps it would be better to ask,

Did you still have a best friend?

When the guns stopped firing?

When you limped

Bloody, bruised, your comrades blown to bits and your patriotism in tatters

Off the battle field

Carrying a coffin, on a stretcher, or staggering on your own two feet

I barely caught a glimpse of you,

But I saw enough to wonder:

Did you have a family?

And do you still have one now?

A new wife, a giggling child, a competitive brother, a moody sister, a loving mother and a proud father?

Maybe just an obscure cousin

Or an estranged great-aunt

Supporting you as you carry the weight of your family’s expectations

Did you have a job?

Work on the family farm, perhaps,

Or in your neighbour’s fields?

Did you have great plans?

Of grand careers

Unthinkable luxury

Or just happy families?

Were you excited for war, eager and ready to serve your country?

Did you believe in the cause?

Did you hate the Allies?

Were you a willing accomplice in this bloodthirsty game?

Until you stepped onto the corpse-strewn playing field

And realised

You were just a pawn in this complicated contest

Of knights, bishops and kings.

Until you saw the death, the destruction

Surrounding you.

And did you regret

The futile deaths of enemies and comrades

From the start?

Or was it only when you looked into my best friend’s eyes?

When you saw the hope, the fear and the resignation,

And the desperate terror

That lay in the stagnant pools of his pupils?

Was it only then that you regretted pulling that trigger?

For your country, for your leader, and for a cause you no longer believed in.

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There you have it. Let me know your thoughts! Did you commemorate Remembrance Day at all? What remembrance customs does your country have? – in England, we have a minute’s silence at 11am and all wear poppies, as well as having services on the Sunday closest to the 11th.

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End-of-the-Week Wrap Up vol.#8

weekly wrap up

Hola, amigos! After a bit of an absence, me (and my weekly wrap up!) are BACK! Over the past week or so I’ve not posted much, as I’ve been focusing on Camp NaNoWriMo or just not motivated, but hopefully things will pick up again soon. As I didn’t do a wrap up last week, this post will pick out the highlights from the last couple of weeks.

On The Blog:

In the last fortnight I’ve:

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  • created a new ‘Reasons To Be Happy‘ feature, inspired by author Katrina Kittle’s book and blog: you can see my entries so far here, here and here, and feel free to add your personal reasons to be happy – I’d love to read them!
  • I did a REALLY REALLY EXCITING THING a.k.a interviewing one of my favourite singers, Lauren Aquilina
  • Tracklisting Tuesday happened, this time talking about Ella Eyre’s new single, ‘Together’

I’ve also been mentioned on Katrina Kittle’s Facebook page (scroll down until you get to the 10th of April)! Lots of exciting things happening around here…

Elsewhere On The Internet:

On Instagram:

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I posted this after seeing Pete Long’s orchestra play an evening of ‘Echoes of Ellington’ as part of a trip organised by my jazz orchestra. It was great, except for when he said to leave the low notes for girls…he’s coming to our residential in October, so I suspect my friends and I will have a bone to pick with him!

https://instagram.com/p/1TxRvnEQHB/?taken-by=booksteaanda_onesie

Naturally, my Lauren Aquilina interview had to be mentioned.

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My first (and only!) Creme Egg of the year was an occasion worthy of commemoration!

Reading

In terms of books, I’ve started reading Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love for English at school, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, and multiple fun books such as Jill Mansell’s Making Your Mind Up and Falling For You, as well as Katie Fforde’s Wedding Season. I also picked up Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle from the charity shop. In terms of blogs, Holly shared some awesome lyric art from Walk The Moon’s song Anna Sun, Lana shared her thoughts on fanfiction, Lux Lisbon’s Get Some Scars EP was reviewed over at moustacheyousomething, Aimee gave out some tips for writing book reviews, Michelle set out some post-exam blogging goals, Ari said thank you for 30 followers (and totally described how I feel when I reach a milestone) and Kayleigh gave us all a little update!

Lots of things have been happening in my life lately; all weekend it’s been my jazz orchestra’s 40th anniversary celebrations, which consisted of a gig, a masterclass with some alumni, the aforementioned Pete Long concert and an American supper/concert from bands past and present, all of which has been really good fun. I also returned from my Easter holiday back to school on Tuesday (:(). Also: I GET MY BRACES OFF ON WEDNESDAY!!! Oh, and I got a funky new duvet set which I love and some awesome socks, which kinda match! Oh, and guess what clever old me managed to do today? Burn my chin with roast chicken soup! Ouch…
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How has your week(/fortnight) been?

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Celebration Week: A Blog For Every Occasion

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*image from weheartit*

As part of my one-year blogging anniversary celebration week, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite blogs and what they’re good for. If you want to find even more blogs after you’ve read this post, head over here for Elly’s list of her favourite blogs, which originally gave me the idea for this post! I’ve tried to kind of stick with blogs I haven’t previously mentioned, but check out the Blogs I Follow widget on my sidebar or just ask down in the comments for more blogs I’m enjoying right now 🙂

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Poetry 201: A Slightly Dubious Elegy & Poetry Potluck!

Here’s my submission for Friday’s assignment, a elegy about fog, preferable including a metaphor. Whilst I’m not entirely convinced it counts as an elegy, it’s definitely about fog! Also, does “pockets of light”count as a metaphor? Having a brain-is-busy-sunning-itself-on-a-beach-somewhere moment! For those that don’t know, an elegy is a poem typically written about missing something, and written in elegiac couplets, where the first line is longer than the second.

I found this challenge really difficult – probably the hardest so far – so I’m pretty pleased I managed to get anything out, even if it isn’t officially an elegy! It’s about glasses fogging up as you enter a warm room, and was one of the suggestions the Daily Post gave us. It’s certainly one that I can relate to!

A sudden blindness, my vision completely obscured

Pockets of light start to appear

I feel lost, abandoned and vulnerable, a sense down

Slowly, the clouds clear

I peer through the gaps, colours and shapes materialising through the grey

Then it’s gone

Finally, reinforcements have arrived

Normality, as well as my eyesight, has been restored

As always, feel free to drop me a line in the comments with your feedback and suggestions for improvements 🙂

Although the weekend is free time for participants to catch up and generally have a break from poetry, there was an informal assignment, ‘Poetry Potluck’, encouraging us to share our favourite pieces of poetry. I’ve chosen two pieces, the first of which is ‘Steam In The Kettle’ by Charles Causley. Here’s the last verse, as it’s quite a long poem:

Fume and mist

And steam and smoke –

You never heard

A word I spoke;

But till the seven seas

Stop their flow

And the wheeling world

Is turned to snow,

I’ll ask you what

I want to know:

Where do you come from

And where do you go?

I just love the way he’s made a whole poem about something as simple as steam. I first came across it in Year 5, when I had to take an English Speaking Board exam through school. We had to memorise and perform a poem, give a presentation and read aloud a book extract, and this was the poem I chose. Unfortunately, I can remember very little of it now, pretty much just ‘Steam in the kettle, steam in the pan’…

My second choice is ‘How Can I?’ by Brian Moses. I discovered this when I chose the Oxford Book of Children’s Poetry as my school prize several years ago…it’s quite lighthearted and I think it will appeal to teenagers! However, it does make you consider how many metaphors we regularly use in real life though…

How can I wind up my brother

when I haven’t got the key?

How can I turn on my charm

when I can’t even find the switch?

How can I snap at my mother

when I’m not a crocodile?

How can I stir up my sister

when I’m not even holding a spoon?

How can I pick up my feet

and not fall to the ground on my knees?

How can I stretch my legs

when they’re long enough already?

Parents!-They ask the impossible!

– Brian Moses

Haha, I love it. If you like that poem, I would also recommend you check out ‘Granny Smith: Best Before Feb 21’ by John Corben.

Congratulations and thanks for struggling through such a long post!

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Christmas Haul!

Yes, I know December 25th was three weeks ago…but I thought that I would bring you a quick post highlighting my favourite Christmas presents anyway! I loved all my presents (thank you to people that gave me one! :-)), but for this post I just picked out a few that instantly came to mind. Oh, and click here to see a roundup of all the music I was given this Christmas…

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To Facebook Or To Not Facebook? HELP, MY INDECISIVENESS IS TAKING OVER!

As I am very nearly at the massive milestone of 150 followers (146!), I’m contemplating extending my social media portfolio. I am already on Instagram and Twitter (though Twitter is generally just used to post links to blog posts – I prefer Instagram by far),  but am now considering a Facebook page. There are several arguments for it – more statistics, the potential of a further-reaching audience, the chance to mention things I don’t have time for a full post on. But my blog is still relatively new – I haven’t been going for even a year yet, and haven’t got half as many followers as some that have Facebook pages! I don’t want to come across as big-headed or overconfident for starting a Facebook page, but then again it could be  a way for me to expand my blog.

So I wanted to know – what do you think? If I had a Facebook page, would you ‘like’ it? Would you like to have a bit more of an insight into me or would you rather I shut up and go away? Would you like to see which posts from other bloggers that I’m enjoying, or would you rather stick with the bloggers you know?

Please, help me out here!

An Overthinking Teenager

100 Days of Happiness {day 58} – A Truly British Evening

G-B-B-O! G-B-B-O! G-B-B-O! G-B-B-O! G-B-B-O! G-B-B-O!

This cry can be heard from all over Britain, as the winner of the Great British Bake Off 2014 was announced approximately forty-five minutes ago. Now, as I’m a kind, lovely person, I won’t spoil the result for anybody. But DAMN IT WASN’T WHO I WANTED!!!

Ahem. Angry reality television-induced shouting over.

Today I also had two tests (chemistry – the Periodic Table and Spanish – the Preterite Tense), which I think went OK (don’t quote me on that when I get 1/12 or something when I get the tests back next week though!). I got a bit more of my music composition homework done, which I’m happy about, and had an interesting conversation with my composition teacher about the Sibelius composing software, how some instruments are easier to write for than others and the different tessituras (ranges) of various instruments. In English, I started writing a poem about an elderly relative, which I’m very proud of.

I also had yummy homemade carrot and lentil soup for lunch and did an ‘interesting’ dance club with my friend…for her sake, I shall not elaborate any further!

All in all a good Wednesday.

An Overthinking Teenager

+Bonus points to anybody who can spot the additional widget on my sidebar, new today…

I’m A Teenager, Get Me Out Of Here…

I want to go to university. Luckily, I probably will be able to. Unluckily for my present mood, that’s at least four years away.

One of the core reasons I want to go to uni is to meet new people. Don’t get me wrong, I have some of the best friends in the world. But I want to meet people based on their interests, notbecause we’ve all been shoved together in a group of 100 or so for about six years of our lives. I want to meet people who don’t care about crazy obsessions, or fitting in with the cool kids, because the wwhole idea of cool kids has faded a bit. I want to have freedom to spend hours listening to music without seven solid hours of school getting in the way, to study exactly what I want, to eat my favourite food, to decorate my own room entirely my own way. At the moment, my room is brilliant. I love it. I don’t have a burning desire to get away from my family and friends, but I do want to make new friends, with similar interests to me, without being stuck ina group of the same people for half my childhood (although I do like some of those people a great deal, and very much hope I will stay in contact with them once I finally get off to uni). Maybe I’ll go to uni somewhere like America or Holland, and explore  a new culture. Maybe I’ll stay in the UK. Maybe I’ll stay in my home city. Who knows?

But there you go, my late night thought of the day.

What are your thoughts about university and higher education generally?

An Overthinking Teenager