Tuesday, August 28, 2012

London Regatta, 2012

Each year, the village of Bursledon has a regatta, and this year's theme was "London through the Ages."  There are many competitions, and each year, the Goodisons decorate one of their boats in a competition for the best decorated float on the theme.  Fran's brother, Will, and his girlfriend, Megan, came up with the idea of the Great Fire of London. They did the bulk of the work, stenciling and drawing the outline of London's skyline on some plywood.

We all helped in painting the outline. 

And we also came up with themed costumes, perfected  a la glue gun. 

The girls had these great dresses and head pieces. 
On the day of the regatta, they rolled out the mirror (their boat) now with the plywood attached. 

And hitched it up to the car's trailer. 

The entire waterfront was completely decorated with London-themed structures, amidst many of the races. 

These next three pictures are taken from Hamble Interactive.  This is "Blazing Squad 1666" coming out for the parade, complete with costume and, I think the best feature, our smoke bombs.

Here is some of the competition: the London zoo.

And three other floats of buses and London-themed costumes.


The evening ended with a tremendous firework display in which a boat was set on fire and a man nearly hit when he attempted to put it out. 

All in all, rather exciting. We came second in our float, Fran came second in the swimming contest, and their crew of four came first in the paddle-less boat competition! Impressive wins.

This week, I've been gearing up for a new school year, and my head has been swimming, filling out forms and excel spread sheets, arranging dates ordering books, and I feel like my head is water-logged and I can't quite see straight. Better go fix that!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This Week

1-5. On the way home from one of Fran's interview's, a sign read "Jane Austen's House" and this is the sort of thing that makes England so very exciting. Things of greatness are just around the corner and one doesn't have to look very hard, or at all, to find something worth while.  Such a great amount of history concentrated in such a small(ish) amount of land.  So we stopped and looked, even though it was closed, we peeked at the garden, and found neither of us had a desire to go inside.

6. A night with friends.

7-12. A birthday in Kent. We camped outside in the spectacular weather.  The hosts threw an amazing cook-out of mackerel they had caught themselves. Just wow. We played badminton, herded their free-range chickens, and pitched tents.  Later that night, we went on a walk in the dark through fields to the local pub.  Little did we know that the fields we walked through were full of horses, and they galloped up to us in the inky night and surveyed us from their fence.  Startled, but then delighted, we fed them grass and looked upon their magnificence and found ourselves slightly awed.  It was one of those rare nights with a clear sky full of stars.  I discovered the big dipper is called "the plough" here. The north star still points north, even in a different country, and I walked home full of thoughts of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway, and what it must be like to walk in the dark all the time without light pollution.  We walked and whistled, and once back, built a bonfire, a great big one of all the discarded limbs of ash trees. 

This week has been one of just working away and preparing for the Regatta this weekend. The theme is "London through the Ages" and while I can't yet disclose the float's design, it looks phenomenal. More to come soon.

Favorite Things

The sun slinks lower earlier now and I unconsciously wish for the Scottish latitude to possess those few extra moments of dalyight.  We head on a walk with the dog, the misquitos now only murmuring and the bats flit overhead, while the dog gallops off to the center of the common to patrol the day's visitors.  Fran asks what I want to do that evening and I tell him. With a wry smile he says, what, are we like a couple from the 1940s or something.  I contemplated this, and activities I find so lovely are so often sacrificed to the easy, the accessible, in an attempt to lasso the hurdling locomotive of the day's end, to the tv and the frozen pizza, in order to rest.  I thought on things I liked to do and don't, out of fear, or vanity, or all-consuming time. So while idealistic and perhaps not embraced as often as willed, like the moments of summer's sunshine, furtively abundant and never blazing, this list of favorite things is a small aspiration to something better.

Favorite Things:

- live music
- being able to walk places
- a good phrase of poetry
- making things with my hands
- books that makes me cry
- watching a fire
- gardens in bloom
- a glimpse of mountains after a bend in the road
- bubble baths
- seeing familiar faces
- piping cups of tea
- wild fields
- homegrown vegetables
- lawn games
- mocassins
- dogs and rabbits and hedgehogs
- family recipes
- aching muscles after a long day
- waking up and realizing I have nothing to do today

What are some of your favorite things??

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dealing with Hydras

click for source

Reading just makes me more conscious of all the other books I need to read.  I'm reading through a book my advisor wrote, and she's simply unbelievable. Each page is filled with footnotes of other sources she acquired in her long research, and each time I come away from a stint of reading it, I have at least three new books I need to buy and another dozen or so I need to find at the library.  It's like getting into a fight with a hydra-- when you cut off one head at least two more take it's place.  Except this is perhaps worse, simply as whenever I read twenty pages, I have about 20 more books I ought to read. The odds are not in my favor.

The other thing is I think I am rather slow at reading.  For an hour's sessions in a difficult work, I can only get about twenty pages read. Twenty! So my pace seems to absolutely crawl.  This is rather hard to swallow as when I read less mind-intensive works, I can absolutely devour them. Well, at least I thought so.

I've mentioned reading War and Peace. It is taking flipping forever. Maybe it's because I'm reading in on my kindle and I can't see how far I've got left.  In this instance, I'm almost grateful for the kindle, as reading that tome in bed at night would be suicide to my sprained wrist. But it does make me question whether I am a fast reader or not.

But then here's another thing. When I finish my daily quota of reading for academic work, I'm tired of sitting. I want to take the dog for a walk, concoct something in the kitchen, learn to bowl in cricket. I don't really want to sit down and read again. In fact, I don't want to sit down, period.

I feel like the tortoise in the race of the tortoise and the hare: plod, plod, plod.

Happy Friday! We're off on Saturday for a birthday so it's travelling again over the weekend, but very much looking forward to seeing familiar faces. Enjoy yours!!

So, how do you do it? After graduate school or work, do you want to come home to sit down again? How do you manage your leisure reading with the weights of a job or school? Are you like me, and now catch the ten minutes before bed?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thoughts on Teachings and Readings

Wall painting in a Roman villa in either the Etruscan or Palantine Museum, Rome. From my travels in 2009.

I recently emailed, by far, my favorite professor at UNC for some advice on teaching and his response is one of the best emails I have ever read.  I have been rather apathetic lately, towards my readings, towards other academic work.  This in a way was a hounding call, the "Yes, yes! That's why I wanted to do this in the first place" rousing me from my stupor and eagerly attacking my work. I'm half-tempted to let you peek at the entire email here, it so thrilled me to my core. On the other hand, I almost don't want to share it as it's so special and I want it to be savored. To compromise, here is a glimpse at some of his suggestions.

- In your class at least one person is your superior. Never over-simplify or dismiss what someone says, but listen attentively.
- Stick close to the human element in discussions,  especially in philosophy. 
- Assume that the text has something valuable to teach you.  Do not dismiss it and say, "Well that's what the Greek or Romans did," but seek to understand why they have chosen to relay this information to you. Usually this is on more that one level.
- Give the author the benefit of the doubt. Do not say assume that you know more than the author with "well that was a thousand years ago and now we know better." These texts say something important about the human condition.  Seek to understand what that is and why it is important.

Attached was a glorious reading list.  Wonderful texts, haunting texts, that a hundred or even fifty years ago, established a core curriculum to any University diploma.  It makes my heart ache that they are so often not read. It made me want to read all of them.

There are few moments when one's heart simply bursts out of the rib cage with wonder. Fran, seeing my excitement, surveyed the reading list, and said, "Let's read them. One a fortnight." Usually I find it rather inappropriate to gush about one's boyfriend on one's blog, but perhaps this moment calls for an exception-- Ya'll, what a man! Francis thinks we should start a book club, but I'm far too shy and embarrassed. What do you think?

Also, what do you think makes a good teacher? How should one approach one's students? The texts? What advice can you give a budding tutor? Can't tell you enough how much I'm going to need it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Safari Park

 This weekend we went to visit Fran's grandmother in Stourbridge and Fran really wanted to go to Safari Park as it was one of his favorite childhood memories.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  The highlight for me was a giraffe eating out of my hand, and oh my goodness, that was the best moment of my life.

The necessities

The rhino and it's chinky armor

the cheetah prowling

the restless lionesses

who strolled across the road

And sat nearest to the wildebeasts on the other side of the fence

a rare white lioness

cattle strolling through the cars

which Fran later fed

some Zebras going at it

the camels poked their heads through car windows

The olifants

The giraffe! My moment of glory

the zebras

giraffes wandering across the plains

a smelly hippo

adorable kids in a manger

Made friends with the red-bellied lemur

patted a pregnant goat

watched the meerkats

attended a seal show

and came home to my own darlings

Happy Monday! Bit rainy here, but got to spend it with dog and bunnies with an unlimited supply of mint tea. Hope yours was good!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thoughts on a 9-5

We've been back for two days now, each one with Fran off to some job, leaving me to navigate the wiles of a regular 9-5 here.  Here's how my ideal day looks:

6-7 Wake up Coffee Read spiritual things
7-8 Running Shower Breakfast
8-9 Primary source
9-10 Secondary Source
10-11 Languages
11-12 Helpful background reading
Post lunch: computer stuff:email, admin, organizing notes, and writing

Here's how the day really turned out:

7-8.30 Wake up
8.30-9 Shower Dress Try not to swear.
9-10. Breakfast Bunnies Spiritual things.
10-11: Reading first task then realize must print off sheet and post today
11-4: Spend the rest of the day hooking up printer and trying to get it to print
4-5: Fill out sheet and run to post office before it shuts

Ok. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But it's amazing how much time is taken away by small things. But I am determined. I will prevail!

We're off again today for the weekend to visit grandparents and to go to Safari Park. I've never been so I think I'm excited. In other weekend news, my brother moves into NC State tomorrow. For some reason that consumes my thoughts.  Happy Friday, and hope your work routine is productive and your weekend glorious!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Minack and St Ives

Being on a semi-holiday in Cornwall, on Tuesday we took a trek to see the Minack Theatre but stopping first in St. Ives along the way.


St Ives is renowned for its artists and authors.  I hadn't read much on the location before we went, but now dearly wish I had. When we arrived, we ate a late lunch in a pub, and then proceeded down to the main thorough fare--a main right on the half-enclosed harbor.  Truly, the situation of it was beautiful, and I'm sure the beaches there were fantastic, but even on a rather wet day, it was jam-packed.  Cars had trouble moving down the streets so many tourists thronged through them, and it wasn't long before Fran and I began to miss the forest for the trees, or in this case, the beauty of the city for all the crowd!

We did enjoy some ice creams.

Because we were so near to Land's End, we thought we'd stop for a look.  It was incredibly fogging with the visibility exceptionally low.  It was after six when we drove up and there attendants were demanding a fortune for parking. We only wanted to see and hurry onto the Minack, but firm in their desire to accrue a fortune, they let us turn around.  It was quite funny and we had a good laugh as I hurriedly took these photos, so perhaps you can understand what a breathtaking spectacle it was being at the very end of the country with no further southerly direction possible.

Finally we wound up at the Minack. Ah, what a breathtaking theatre! Between the World Wars, a lady name Rowena Cade established and built this theatre on the coast of Cornwall shores in order to host Shakespeare's plays.  Built on the verge of a rocky coast, the background is literally the sea.


Here are some pictures of Rowena Cade.  Aren't they just remarkable? I love her hair in the first, and everything about the second. You can read more about her remarkable life here.


These were our seats.  It was misty and there's no protection from the rain, which made the performance all the more exciting.  We bundled up real good for Shakespeare's As You Like It.


This is photo from the scene when Orlando decides to go into the forest of Arden with his loyal man, Adam.  This speech meant a great deal to me in high school and Amanda and I even tried to incorporate it into the bulletin of our graduation!

Orlando famously attempting to woo Gannymede in the stead of his fair Rosalind. (I think I just might name my dog Gannymede...)

The last scene, every one on stage, married, and reconciled.

The cast gives their farewell!

The production we went to see was As You Like It performed by Winchester College players. It was a wonderful performance, not least because it is one of my very favorite plays! I highly recommend going to the Minack, even on an overcast night. Something entirely special!