Thursday 25 August 2016

The Bath Bookshop Crawl

Last Saturday, despite a poor weather forecast, an early weekend rise and a crippling train fare, I made the bold and also brave decision to go along to the Bath Bookshop Crawl. Maybe it was madness, maybe it was the fact that I just really very enthusiastically like buying books, or maybe it was just the fact that I love our intrepid and excellent organiser SO much, but either way at about 10am on Saturday morning, I found myself outside Bath train station, trying to figure out which Pokemon Bath has*.

After a quick little scout around by myself, I met everyone at the coffee shop we were supposed to meet at (obviously...) where Katie immediately made the day awesome by handing me my very own Lego Laura:
which is now basically my favourite possession and LOOK SHE HAS A WINE BOTTLE IT IS SO ACCURATE!

Anyway... I was a teeny bit later than others so when their drinks arrived and Katie had a strawberry milkshake, I needed one THAT SECOND because SPRINKLES

and then once everyone arrived, we set off to find all the books!

If I was an actual good blogger, I would have taken notes about each bookshop and the things I bought there, AS WELL AS taking photos of things other than milkshakes, but I think we can all agree that I am a terrible blogger so there is that. However, I am a thieving little blogger, so allow me to tell you which bookshops we visited (and in order, no less!) and how awesome each one was:

Good Buy Books: The good buy in the name refers to the fact that this is a discount (although not secondhand) bookshop, and it was pretty good for being one of those. Think The Works, only way less shit.

Scoobs: I am alllll about Scoobs. It's this secondhand book... area in this awesome covered market, and it is REALLY GOOD for secondhand books. At first glance I wasn't exactly convinced, but as I examined the shelves closer I found some books that I wanted so badly I had to borrow cash from Bex to buy them (I promptly paid her back, of course).

Waterstones: Waterstones Bath is a treat and a delight AND they thought we were special people (which obviously we are) so we got a free lunch and a goody bag from them and and and it was so great! I also bought books using some of the leaving voucher my old work got me (bless them) and one of the Waterstones stamp cards so really, I got free books, ya know?
But back to the lunch- I think we were all maybe expecting a couple of sandwiches and maybe some orange squash if we were lucky, but we had a fancy pants table complete with strawberry and lemon water, our pick of the sandwiches from the restaurant, crisps, cake, whatever drink we wanted... It was basically amazing. The store manager kept asking questions like we were super famous bloggers which made me slightly scared that I was going to be found out, BUT some of us (Bex and Ellie)
totally are famous bloggers so it's fine!
The point is, even if they hadn't treated us like royalty, I would fully recommend this Waterstones because it is just a little bit lovely. Plus they treated us like royalty, what can I say?!

Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights: Because I was expecting something that would completely blow my mind from Mr B's, I was a little bit underwhelmed by it. Don't get me wrong- it's a perfectly nice bookshop, and if I hadn't known it was all famous and referenced in every book set in Bath (AND if it wasn't called an emporium) I think I would be wholly enthusiastic about it, but because I had the expectations, I was a bit like 'THIS is an emporium?' Still, I bought a couple of books from there and had a pretty good time so who can complain? NO ONE. Not even me.

Topping and Company: I loooooved Topping and Company (probably because I didn't have any expectations about it!). It's pretty much the platonic ideal of a bookshop, in that the shelves stretch practically to the ceiling and there are ladders to reach the very top (who said Beauty and the Beast, WAS IT ME? Sure) but mainly I think I liked that they have tables and chairs and serve tea to those who partake (most people), and biscuits even if you don't (me). So basically I think I liked it because I really needed the sit down, but the atmosphere and the staff and the whole experience was pretty great. I even took a photo there!
mmmm, books...

American Dream Comics: We arrived here suuuuuper late and we almost didn't find it and then we did and I inadvertently called the lady working there old... It was fine to browse around for 5 minutes, but any more than that and I think we would have struggled because there were a lot more comics (and pop vinyls) than actual book comics (comic books? Sure.) I'm gonna say this one is pretty missable, unless you wanna go in there and see if you think the woman who works there looks older than me because I THINK SHE DOES SO THERE.

Ahem. So that was all the book stuff, then some people left (some people left before the comics, actually), and some of us went to the pub which I was all about because it meant some more sitting, and also because I decided to get the train back with Bex and her sister and brother in law, because socialising, even though it was so busy that Bex and I didn't even get to sit together for most of the journey. But anyway, pub was good, drinking is good, fooding is also good and trains are awful.

In order to end this post on a high, I'm not even going to tell you about the GIANT WAIT I had at Reading station because all the trains were cancelled for some reason, but just that during this (giant) wait, I ONLY WENT AND CAUGHT A MR MIME!
Highlight of the day? Of course not. But it was an excellent end to an excellent day. And I got all these books!
Yay books? Yay books. For always.

*A lot of Eevees, if you were interested.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Sunday Sundries: Just A Quickie...

Greetings, little internet friends!

I don't know why you're so little today, but apparently that's the thing I'm going with so let's keep powering through. This is more of a post to say that I'm not really doing a post today, which I know is really helpful and enlightening to us all. Yesterday was the Bath Bookshop Crawl which was magnificent, and if I had more time this morning I'd do a full post about it, buuuuut, I don't. However, I will write a thing about it during the week, and you're all going to love it (BECAUSE I COMMAND IT).

Other than that magnificence, the week has been pretty ordinary, or what has not become the new ordinary for me. I went to work every day (wuuuut), saw a friend I haven't seen for aaaages on Tuesday (and CAUGHT A BLASTOISE OMFG CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! I mean, I love my friend and we have so much fun hanging out, but the Blastoise was really the highlight of that day) and generally carried on with the work of getting used to the rhythms of my new life.

Maybe the most notable part of the week was going to see my nan's house for the very last time before it finally sold on Friday. That's the second time I've had to do that this year, and it was predictably horrible and poignant and nostalgic and all the rest of the soup of emotions that come with death and mourning. The fact that I now don't have any grandparents houses to go to makes it hit really really hard that they really and truly are all gone, so it was a bit of a sobering midweek experience.

I'm hoping to avoid any more emotional trauma this week, though. I'm only working 3 days because apparently I am a terrible new member of staff (but also, y'know, I've got stuff to do). It's looking like the kind of week that it exhausts me to just think about, because I've been trying to do this thing where I plan my meals out ahead of time so I know exactly what I need to buy, and it seems like I'm only going to be home for 2 meals all week which is a tad ridiculous. And potentially expensive, but still. Yay to having friends and doing stuff, I guess!

But enough about me, tell me about you!

Tuesday 16 August 2016

27 Before 28: #23- Go to the Shakespeare Exhibition at the British Library

When you commit yourself to going to an exhibition, you can never be exactly sure what you're going to find. For usually between £10-£15, you might be buying access to some of the greatest treasures you've ever had the pleasure of seeing, or you might be buying access to, like, some shoes (the V&A shoe exhibition was disappointing to me, but really I should have known what I was getting myself into...).

It was, therefore, not without some hesitation that I handed over £12 to the nice British Library lady to get into the Shakespeare Exhibition, but I knew as soon as I'd stepped in that I'd made the right decision. Just in the very first section, before going down the stairs to the real part of the exhibition, they had a First Folio*, a couple of contemporary books actually referencing Shakespeare's work AT THE SAME TIME IT WAS WRITTEN, and (AND) an actual page containing Shakespeare's actual handwriting.

To say that I was freaking out would be an understatement, and I hadn't even been in the exhibition proper, yet! I might be too much of a nerd for my own good sometimes.

Downstairs, everything was still awesome. Although nothing else reached the dizzying heights of SHAKESPEARE'S HANDWRITING, the rest of the exhibition was still really just top notch. I'm talking quartos of the plays, I'm talking performance history and key figures important in keeping his legacy alive and relevant within theatre. I'm also talking international history of Shakespeare**, history of women in theatre, history of non-white people in theatre (Othello was the first play to have an actual female actor in it, and it's obviously got a real history of non-white actors playing Othello). I'm finally talking that they have actually recreated the set of Peter Brook's Midsummer Night's Dream, a performance of it that I wasn't even aware of, but that was apparently really really famous and its super minimalist setting makes me think that it's definitely an interpretation that I would LOVE to see.

Like I said, a total nerd.

One unexpected side effect of the exhibition is that it made me believe that Lawrence Olivier was a bit of a twat. I think this is something people sort of already know, but they overlook it because he was a good actor and blah blah blah. BUT. During segregation in America, this black actor wanted to come to England and play Othello and Olivier refused to let him, not because of racism really, but because he wanted to play the role himself. I can't really talk about how disturbing blackface is to me, but come on Olivier, sort it out. I was iffy on him from that, but then towards the end of the exhibition, I discovered that- wait for it- his style of directing was to act out each of the roles as he thought it should be played, and then get his actors to do it exactly as he'd just done it.

He acted out. Each of the roles. And the other actors just got to copy him or else. I mean, come on! What a dick!

This exhibition, however, was very much not a dick. It's basically got all the cool stuff a Shakespeare person could ever want, and was very much worth £12 of my money and a couple of hours of my time. If you're going to be in London any time between now and the 6th September, I really can't recommend this exhibition enough, and for my part, I'm really glad I found the time and energy to go.

*The First Folio is the very first book that had all Shakespeare's plays published together. For some of the plays it contains the only surviving examples, for others it's generally the best version of them, when comparing the text of those to the quartos that also survive. Why yes, I am a Master of Shakespare, why do you ask?

**like, for example, did you know that there is evidence to suggest that merchants and stuff who sailed to Africa within Shakespeare's lifetime actually performed one of his plays for the natives? Because I did not know that, and it is incredible to believe that he was global even before globalisation was really a thing

Sunday 14 August 2016

Sunday Sundries: Still Alive, Sorta Busy!

Hi guyssssssss!

I totally missed last week's Sunday Sundries post, which is very much my bad- I was having some nerves over starting work on Monday and I was actually pretty tired out from all the lovely things I did last week. In very brief summary- I spent some of my vouchers that old work very kindly gave me, went to the Shakespeare Exhibition at the British Library (separate post coming soon... mebbe), got a haircut, went work clothes shopping with my mum, went on a day trip to Brighton AND caught so many Pokemon that you wouldn't even believe it.

If you want Voltorbs or Magnemites, go to Brighton. That's all I'm saying.

But anyway. That was last week and now THIS week has been all about starting new work. And you know what? It's been pretty ok. I have this thing where I completely hate being the new person, and where I really hate making Big Life Changes, but this one has been strangely ok so far. I think this is down to a couple of things, not least that I have flexible working hours which means that it's not stressful trying to get to work in the morning because as long as I'm there by 10 it's all fine. Similarly, it feels like such a luxury, not only deciding when my lunch should be, but how long I take over it and basically it's only been a week but I can't imagine not having flexible working hours again!

It also lets my inner maths nerd flag fly, cause I get to do calculations of like 'ok so if I stay til 5:30 today, I can leave earlier tomorrow' and so on and so forth. It's pretty spectacular.

So yes. All of that has been pretty lovely, and everyone's been really nice, and even though I was knackered by Friday after learning a bazillion new things and ways of doing things, it was a good kind of knackered. And then I went and partied! So Friday night I spent with my old work friends at a BBQ thrown in honour of my leaving and it was so lovely. I miss the job not at all (except for the part where I knew all the things, that part was excellent) but the people, I really do miss. Old Work BBQs are always the best because the company owner provides all the food and drink, and I'm not saying that I was shitfaced or anything, but I was definitely dry heaving, and then not so dry heaving yesterday morning when I left my friend's house, where I had to stay because I was too drunk to get home.

Yeah, I was a tiny bit shitfaced, it was great.

And so. I'm looking at another week of working, not as daunting as last week but still kinda scary, and looking FORWARD to the Bath Bookshop Crawl next weekend. I've been slightly noncommittal to the event, for no particular reason except that Bath is FAR, you guys, and I still haven't fully committed to the level of, y'know, buying a train ticket or anything, but I think I'm probably going to make the effort to go, firstly because Bex and Katie will be there and I adore them, secondly because Bath is really very beautiful, and thirdly because BOOOOOOOOKS. These are all the best reasons, you know it's true.

Until then, though, I hope you all have spectacular weeks, fill me in on the vital parts in the comments please!

Thursday 4 August 2016

27 Before 28: #14 Make At Least 10 Beautiful Things

In an attempt to actually achieve some goals and whatnot (as well as having actual things to write about here) I'm recording some of my 27 Before 28 List achievements before my next birthday. You can see the original list here, marvel at its splendour.

Beautiful Thing #1
Once upon a time, when I was feeling low, I was browsing through Tumblr and came across a tattoo on basically my favourite Tumblr, The Word Made Flesh. This particular tattoo was a couple of mins from Bukowski's A Lighthouse of Words, and included within the post was the full poem. I read it, and immediately began to cry because it was exactly what I needed to read, and remains the exact thing I need to read whenever I start to feel low, or sad, or basically at most points in my life.

I'm not entirely sure what possessed me to embroider the poem, except that I knew I wanted to display it in my room somewhere and I'm not all that great at drawing or even writing all that prettily, so at the time embroidery seemed like the best way to put my own personal touch on it as well as, y'know, giving me something to occupy myself. Occupy me it did, and although I worked like a fiend on it for a couple of days, it took a further 3 or so months to actually embroider the last 4 or 5 lines, mainly because I knew I had to re-draw them on and frankly, that felt like the most work of all.

However, it's done now, and I just have to figure out where to hang it, so that I can have a constant reminder that no matter how bad things seem, they're going to get better. I promise it, and Bukowski does too, in a much more eloquent way.

Monday 1 August 2016

Things I Read in July

I'm definitely not going to freak out about the fact that it is now August, but seriously, how is it August already? I feel like someone really dropped the ball there, if I'm honest. Are we really going to have to start taking 2016 seriously now that it seems like it's really happening? I hope not!

This has been such a lean reading month for me that I feel like I should apologise to everyone, except that would be insane so I'm not going to do that. I read three books this month, and one of those was sort of half book, half comic book, so reaaaally it's only two and a half, but if we consider the fact that I also got through more than half of the second Game of Thrones book (at time of writing, about 520 pages worth!) it's not so bad. Really this is a positive sign, and just means that I've been both living more, in having had things to do pretty much every weekend in July, and that I've caught one hell of a lot of Pokemon. NO REGRETS!

Here are the books, anyway.

Cell by Stephen King
If you can believe it, I have already reviewed this and everything right here. If that's a bit TL;DR for you, then to summarise- I had a lot of problems with the plot of this one, but at the same time I was truly scared by it and needed a bit of a cuddle afterwards, so it kind of did everything that I would traditionally want a Stephen King book to do. But still, there were those plot problems... I still haven't really come to a conclusion about this.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner
I can't even describe how good this book is. I only knew it was a thing because a film involving Alexander Skarsgard was made of it, but having read and seen both in quick succession, I can confirm that, as almost always, the book is so much better than the film. It's partly autobiographical, and the main character (Minnie) is frustrating and honest and raw and wonderful and basically everything you expect and want a teenage girl to be. Even though her teenage experience has basically nothing to do with my teenage experience, there are parts of it that are so universal that I had to text Frances pretty often with quotes from the book because THIS IS ME. This was me. Sometimes it still is me. 

This is a really good book.

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin
Why was I reading a biography of Jane Austen as if it was a gentle summer read? It's difficult to say, except for the fact that it's not too big, so was pretty portable to carry with me on my travels over this month. I don't want to say too much about this one, because I actually want to review it in big style (I know), but let's just say that it was incredibly well written for non-fiction, and didn't make me want to hurt myself by making loads of unsubstantiated claims like so many other biographies. Really a very impressive book, and really interesting if you care about Jane Austen in any way at all.

And that's all I got through! All three were really pretty good though, so I'm good with the quality of what I read anyway. Yay July!