Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

Yes, I know, I'm early. I am just a little concerned that the festivities of Christmas will take over without me saying a blog-based 'Happy Christmas'. I am trying to get all my projects finished before the holidays but I fear it is a little ambitious. Suddenly I have four separate projects with deadlines before the 1 March and one for this time next year. This is on top of all those things that are still to be decided. Phew! Crazy days. I love my work at present though. This morning I worked on a really interesting wee article on a little-known Second World War pageant. Totally fascinating!

To make up for our lack of gigs this week (I have just about got over the disappointment) I am taking my Mum to see My Fair Lady at the Crucible tomorrow. I can't wait! I have taken a full day of annual leave (I know!) so will take Les Miserables with me and see if I can't bash through it. The film release is coming quickly and my Kindle tells me I am only 69% through! Then Christmas festivities begin to take over entirely. There is a pile of unwrapped (soon to be wrapped) presents in our lounge and homemade chilli jam in the fridge for my sister (shush!). I must say the weather doesn't feel very festive. A week ago the frost was thick on the ground and absolutely beautiful. Now it is just a little damp and gloomy. At least our Christmas travels will hopefully be straightforward this year - driving minus snow is always nice! As I look round the house I am aware of all the things that need doing. Ho hum!

But today editing takes priority and the ironing can just sit where it is! In a couple of hours I'll head to the garage for some boxing practice. I love my new punchbag! It is making up for two whole weeks without Tommy, my sweet horsie.

So, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and knows the richest of blessings at this special time of year.

Luke 1:37

Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas is coming...

So, we start with a disappointment that made my heart sore: Asia have cancelled their December tour because drummer Carl Palmer is sick. We had onstage tickets for Holmfirth on Sunday evening and front row seats at the Royal Northern in Manchester next Friday. We are so sad we won't get to see the Asia boys this year.

That said, everything else is going along swimmingly. D has had busy work week though is starting to slow down now. I feel as if I'm slowing down too. I am more sleepy in the mornings and feel like curling up in front of old wrestling videos in the evenings. It's funny how you feel like this when Christmas approaches. Although I have been on sabbatical this term, we haven't had any time off really since early September and this term has been full of travelling, writing, D's new job and plenty of other bits and pieces. We are very much looking forward to some time out. I might even get 'off grid' for a couple of days. I spend so much time staring at screens that I think my eyes need a break!

This week I have been to my departmental Christmas do, watching the Wizard of Oz at the LPAC (brilliant, wonderful, magical), enjoying a Christmas concert from the Lincoln Chorale and editing, editing, editing all that stuff I wrote during acwrimo. I have also been using my Christmas present this week and, before you say it, D gave me permission. Last weekend we had to go to B&Q to get 80kgs of sand new punch bag! I even have pink gloves. I messed around a little earlier in the week and then did a proper workout yesterday. Man, I was so tired by the end that I could barely lift my water bottle to my mouth. Funnily enough, my arms feel OK today but my calves are so tight! I have loved boxing training since my bi-weekly combat classes in Edinburgh so it feels really good to be back. The idea of actually being in a fight is terrifying though, so I think I'll just stick to the bag!

Now our gig is cancelled (sob!) we have a very quiet weekend in store, although I will be riding Tommy tomorrow which should make everything more cheery! I am also going to start my pre-Christmas clean up which involves cleaning the entire house top to bottom and sorting everything out in readiness for next weekend. We are also watching the second series of Treme. We loved the first series of this box set and, going by last night's episode, this one is going to be as good. Lack of John Goodman is a little sad though. I had forgotten how hard these HBO series make you work! They give nothing to the audience but, if you persevere, they are wonderfully vibrant and thought-provoking.

Anyways, another cup of tea is beckoning and a little more editing before a half hour yoga session to stretch the calves and some dinner.

Hope everyone is having a happy Christmas preparation time.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Gigs galore 2013

It's been a quiet sort of a Friday. I have spent most of it staring at my computer attempting to get three documents finished by the weekend. I feel I might have been a little ambitious. Not too far away, but far enough away to know that I'll be attached to the screen tomorrow as well. It's all good fun though. And yesterday I found a wonderful 1993 article that I seem to have overlooked until now.

We are slowing down for Christmas gradually. All the preparations are done - the tree is up, the presents are bought, the cards are (almost all) sent. Thanks to the rising mail prices, the stamps actually cost me four times the amount the cards did! Crazy, huh! Anyways, I feel very organised this year which is a very unusual feeling.

Yesterday D booked tickets for Bruce Springsteen who is returning to Wembley next year. Last year's gig at Wembley was brought to a crashing halt by the police who turned the lights off as it was getting so late. I expect great things again this year! During the last tour we saw him at the Etihad in Manchester and got absolutely soaked to the skin. I am hoping for some sunshine this time round. Actually 2013 has turned into a gig year. As I might have mentioned before, D and I tend to go and see our favourite guys whenever they tour as they are all getting on a bit and you don't know when they are going to hang up their mics. So, we have two Asia gigs before Christmas. And then, next year, we have Rush, Roger Waters, Mark Knopfler, Bruce, and Peter Gabriel. I am excited about all of them, but particularly Gabriel. A few years ago I decided there were a few guys I wanted to see live before they stopped touring. Gabriel is the last on that list. It is going to be quite a year! I am utterly amazed that I haven't double-booked with conferences. So much for my insistence that I would do less conferences next year - I already have four, two confirmed! Fortunately most of the big conferences are in the UK next year.

Not sure there is anything else exciting to report. D continues to work hard. I continue to enjoy my horseriding. I completed a 10K run for the first time on Monday. I am not really a runner, preferring other forms of exercise to actually keep me fit while using my runs as a bit of a stretch out. But I challenged myself on Monday while listening to a Driscoll podcast. Took me 1hr 10 mins which has to be the slowest 10K ever. But I was pretty proud.

Next week the Christmas celebrations pick up: work festive do on Monday, the press night for The Wizard of Oz at the LPAC (very excited about this and might wear red shoes), a friend's Christmas concert on Tuesday (this is the time of year when I miss performing with Rudsambee) and our first Asia gig. We have backstage tickets and I'm not sure I can possibly explain quite how excited I am about that. And then the week after I am taking my Mum to the Crucible to see My Fair Lady with the delectable Dominic West. Bestill beating heart!

Hope your Christmas preparations are going well and that you are knowing the peace of the season rather than being overwhelmed by tinsel, chocolate and Argos commercials.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like...the end of my sabbatical

Since my last post I have celebrated my birthday with a surprise visit from Mum and Dad. D, as usual, surpassed himself on the present front. I even got backstage Asia tickets so I can hang out with my favourite rock legends for the night. Very exciting!

This week I travelled across to Edge Hill University to give a wee talk. One of the best things about my sabbatical has been the opportunity to say 'yes' to invites. It was another fun trip and another great post-talk Q&A session. I also had the chance for a few hours in Liverpool. Although, as a Manc, it pains me to say this, Liverpool is actually rather nice, at least in the centre. I visited the Tate for the first time - fantastic building and very annoying art would be my conclusion.

This was my last big trip for a while. I'm spending December at home, editing the book and writing a chapter for the next book proposal. Because these things take so long, you have to start thinking about the next project a couple of years before you actually begin. I am very excited about this new direction. Yesterday was the last day of acwrimo. I have really enjoyed my November writing month and have been particularly encouraged by the way the community has supported each member. Sometimes academia can seem a little cut-throat or individualistic. Acwrimo and PhD2Published's twitter feed proves you can be pleasant, supportive, kindly, generous and an excellent academic. I find that super encouraging.

I was back horseriding today and it was a pretty tough lesson actually, although I am finally riding without any leader so that's encouraging. This week is a mixture of long writing days, getting the house into a Christmas mood and finishing my Christmas shopping. The week after plunges us straight into Christmas with a concert, the department's festive do and (joy, joy!) The Wizard of Oz at the LPAC. Last year's The Snow Queen was so magical and I'm really looking forward to Dorothy and all that this year.

Anyways, I'm going to crash on with a bit of writing before we go outside to sort out the BBQ. Yes, you hear me right. D has been slow cooking a large piece of pork all day. I realise that BBQing in December is a little mad but it is just wonderful to be able to get a bag of sunshiney BBQ food out of the freezer when it's snowing outside! And we really have felt the onslaught of winter in Lincolnshire over the past few days. We were discussing the difference between living in the city where everything feels as if it stays pretty much the same (street lights etc) and the country where you really feel the changing of the seasons. The trees are now bare and the frost on the grass in the morning is beautiful. I think I am going to love our wee country retreat as much in the winter as in the summer.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Staying in or going out with horses

I have a major obsession with horses. I love being around them, watching them and stroking them. So last weekend was a special treat as I got to actually ride a horse for the first time in about 15 years. It was so exciting even though I am a) a bit rubbish and b) it makes your bottom really sore! On Sunday afternoon D took me on a day out to Bransby Home of Rest for Horses, one of my absolute favourite places in the world. A few months back they brought in a number of horses from Wrexham who had been really badly treated. There was one, Bobby, who simply stood in the corner of his stable looking down in the dumps. But on Sunday I got to have a good fifteen minutes of proper strokes. It was lovely to see the progress he and his friends had made. Animal cruelty is one of the things I find utterly impossible to understand. Human beings are simply horrid.

Other than that, I have mostly been hanging around at home merrily writing. The book is coming along well although it will need quite a bit of brutal editing. You can't edit a blank page though, so I am encouraged. I had a day at University yesterday to go to an awards ceremony where I was presented with my teaching certificate. Fairly proud of that achievement and really enjoyed the process. The awards event was fun with canapes, balloons and Bucks Fizz (I had five sips and realised it was alcoholic...put it down). There was a great positive vibe - Lincoln has had (and still has) obstacles to overcome but I am super proud to work at such a groovy institution.

Otherwise life for me is very quiet while life for D and everyone else I know seems to be hectic in the extreme. I know that my months of peace will come to an end soon enough. I feel very privileged to have had these days just to write and reflect. I am also looking forward to meeting our first years and getting back into teaching come January. My teaching and research are so intertwined now that it is quite difficult to imagine them separately.

This week I have mostly been enjoying Zuzana's youtube workouts (my arms still ache from Monday), Starbucks gingerbread lattes, large mangoes and Les Miserables in novel form. I started reading the latter a while ago and have now got to that joyful stage where I can dip in and out when I find the time. It is an amazing novel and considerably better than the musical version even though I will always have a soft spot for that. I am hoping to finish it before the new film in January. I am excited about the film because a) Hugh Jackman is playing Valjean. Perfect casting in every way b) Colm Wilkinson who played the original Valjean in the London production is playing my favourite character (in the book anyways) the Bishop. Colm was an absolute hero of mine growing up. His voice is amazing and still makes me feel a little emotional. I am so glad he is part of this new version. I imagine that D would prefer to pull both his arms off than to see this film so I might even go alone. Going to the cinema on my own is one of my little life joys (I do love going with D too, you understand). At the end of the academic year when I was in Edinburgh I used to celebrate by going to the cinema (generally the Filmhouse) and watching a great film alone. It was always a super happy way to spend the afternoon.

Anyways, that is the end of my break so I had better crack on. Want to meet my acwrimo target by lunchtime. Then this afternoon I can crack on with the next chapter and do a couple of other jobs like booking trains to Ormskirk (I am speaking at Edge Hill University on the 28th) and replying to emails.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful November.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Acwrimo and a chill in the air

You may be wondering what on earth the title is all about. Acwrimo is a Twitter-based academic community whose members have committed to a particular writing challenge during the month of November. It stands for 'Academic Writing Month', the university version of Movember. I have a plan which largely centres around the second book as I'm hoping to get a total first draft done by Christmas. This is hugely ambitious but also necessary - once term comes around there will be very little time. So far so good. Today was particularly good - 2500 words (ish) and I even had time to vacuum the house.

November has arrived with a chilly bang in Nocton. The weather has suddenly got colder. Our house now needs heating though it is nowhere near as cold as you might imagine for a 150 year old country house made of stone. As I'm working at home during the day, I am re-enacting my undergraduate days with hot water bottles and rugs. I actually really like writing in a chilly(ish) room as not only do I stay awake but I also feel like a poet in a garret or a character in Crime and Punishment. These are all good things.

D is also working hard and is getting through all the study by having long days and working evenings. We had a happy weekend though with lots of films, a bit of shopping and church yesterday. We finally saw Skyfall on Saturday night. I liked it, D loved it. I just felt that it relied very heavily on Batman. In fact, on the way home I went through all the similarities and it was a little frightening! All jolly good fun though. We also saw Moneyball and The Artist (my favourite of the weekend - so wonderful and I LOVED the dog).

Last week I also travelled up to Dundee. Spent a couple of days with the fam in Edinburgh (good library days and lots of happy times with them) and then travelled up to the University to give my first ever invited lecture. This felt like a bit of a milestone and was such terrific fun. A small but wonderful audience who really inspired me with their questions and contributions. Then dinner and a night away. Once again, I as reminded that research can connect with people and it can be exciting and communal and democratic and fun. Returned feeling full of energy. And in two weeks I get to go to Edge Hill in Lancashire for another invited talk. Also have a quick trip down to London to work on something in the British Library and then the Northern Modernism seminar in Nottingham. November looked quite quiet and is suddenly fair frantic.

And on the horizon I can see my sabbatical coming to an end. It has been a joyous time so far. Having the time to write and read and think and say yes to engagements without a thought has been fab. I have missed the students very much and have been glad to have received a couple of dissertation emails. But, by and large, I have slipped straight back into PhD mode - lots of writing, reading, tea, wrapped in a rug. My job is just the best. And when I go back I get to teach all the stuff I have been excited about while writing the new book!

Anyways, I'm going to start dinner and turn the computer off for the night. I have American elections, University Challenge and (on Saturday) horse-riding to look forward to this week.


Friday, 26 October 2012

Viva Las Modernism

D and I have spent the past week in Las Vegas while I attended the Modernist Studies Association conference at the famous (after seeing the stories in the Mob Museum, perhaps we should say 'infamous') Flamingo Hotel. We had never been to Vegas before - what totally crazy place! The Strip is unbelievable! Everything is shiny and shouty. We stayed at the MGM Signature which was a truly excellent choice as it is a non-gambling hotel and is slightly away from the centre. This meant that it was a lovely quiet retreat.

The conference itself was wonderful - very inspirational, some great keynotes, a spectacular (I really do mean that!) workshop from my new academic hero Helen Sword and some excellent panel papers, including a fair amount on unusual genres. I'm hoping to write an article for my work blog on new moves in modernism, based on all the modernist conferences I've been to this year. D and I ate very well indeed, and we even had time for a sunset trip to the Grand Canyon which was beautiful. On our way we visited both the Hoover Dam and (fulfilling a childhood dream) Route 66. All in all it was a very good trip indeed. D will get the photos on our account as quickly as we can just in case you're interested in that type of thing. Fortunately neither of us get jet lag so we slotted right back into Blighty life.

I've spent the past couple of days working on my paper for next week's research meeting at the University of Dundee. I'm really excited to have been invited up there and am looking forward to the event. I'm keeping it fairly relaxed and raising a few questions that will hopefully be of interest to anyone who engages with art in any way. I'm staying in Edinburgh for a day and a bit so I can spend some quality time in the library. This new book needs a bit more background research yet. Apart from work, life is very quiet indeed - a little wrestling, a little house tidying and a little reading. Lovely!


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Switching off

The thing about this sabbatical lark is that you find yourself withdrawing from things, particularly, I've found, social media. So if you are waiting for an email, a response to a Linkedin request or a tweet then I can only apologise. It is rather nice to exit things for a, actually it is very nice. I don't think I had quite realised how plugged in to everything I had become over the past two years in Lincoln. It has been amazing, fun and challenging. But right now I am so glad and grateful to be spending long days (really long since D started his new job!) at home in the countryside and to concentrate on writing and reading, and reassessing my research priorities. It is an amazingly wonderful privilege and, trust me, I am really making the most of it.

The new book is coming along well. I felt as if I made a breakthrough yesterday. Writing an introductory book is quite a different undertaking from other things I've done and it requires a different voice and a different set of priorities. It's a very interesting process. I'm also completing a few other bits and pieces, including funding applications and conference abstracts. However, I'm trying as much as possible to focus on one project at a time.

Given that the days are long, I've been able to make much more of our wee country retreat and have been enjoying (OK, that might be a bit strong!) regular cross training workouts and runs through the fields. As the winter approaches (and you can feel this far more acutely in the country than in the city) I have found myself stockpiling and preparing like an old country wifey! On Saturday morning, as an example, D and I got up super early (I must be getting old, 7.30 now feels like a lie in!) and got the BBQ going. We cooked a piece of pork shoulder for 13 hours and ended up with 8 meals worth all in small freezer bags. I've been sorting through all our stuff and getting rid of things - shredding papers, taking clothes to the charity shop and getting rid of herbs I've had since 2007 (how does that happen?). I've been making lists of things we need and have even bought a tub of dried milk to keep at the back of the cupboard just in case the snow cuts us off. The idea of no builder's tea is the stuff of nightmares! So, the whole place is starting to feel organised and ready.

It has also meant that I've had way more time for reading and have been working my way through a heap of books. I'm currently wading through Asne Seierstad's traumatic The Angel of Grozny about the situation in Chechnya (I knew nothing about this before starting this book), Hemingway's equally traumatic For Whom the Bell Tolls (this is very different from what I expected - I'll do a proper review once I've finished it and have had time to process my thoughts), and have Kerouac's On the Road on my desk ready to go. With that list, I really feel I should find something more jolly to delve into. I've also been reading loads of 'intro to modernism' books both to remind me about the central issues of my field and to give me an idea if how to write a decent introductory book.

I've been enjoying Great British Bake Off (the only reality TV show allowed in our house other then...ahem...The Biggest Loser Australia which D and I got into for some unknown reason) and we've recently finished the HBO series Newsroom which, despite moments of total exasperation, was really good. We've got session 2 of Treme to begin as winter approaches.

And that is basically the world chez Warden. We have a quiet weekend in store. D is busy revising so I'll spend Saturday sorting our book shelves, a job I have been putting off since we moved into this house in March! But first we have to go to the garage to get our car fixed as poor D had a fight with a grouse the other night on his way home. D tried to avoid him but to no avail. You will be glad to know that the grouse (who we have nicknamed Gary - we name all the animals around our house) came of worse although he did cause a bit of damage. We might hit a few balls and grab some brunch while we're out and about.

Hope everyone is enjoying peaceful autumnal days.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Lincoln Academy Lecture

Last night I had the honour of speaking as part of the Lincoln Academy series. This is the University of Lincoln’s way of connecting our research with the local community. I spoke on the notion of unperformability and the British avant-garde, so it also acted as my official book launch. And I so enjoyed myself! The lecture went well and there were some great questions afterwards. I loved the fact that the audience included a load of students and colleagues, as well as local folks. And friends and the fam were there to celebrate too. D resisted the urge to ask a difficult question!

By the end of the event (after the best canap├ęs you will eat anywhere in academia) I was exhausted and just about managed to eat a veggie burger before crawling home. The whole thing reminded me of the importance of connecting our research with those outside of academia. As humanities/arts scholars it can be really easy to imagine that no one in the real world is the least bit interested in slightly obscure archival work. Last night reminded me that this is a total lie. Actually our scholarship has the potential to deeply connect with people’s lives. Clearly it is more difficult to determine its influence or importance, unlike, say, finding a cure for cancer or creating new computing systems. But art is one of the things that makes us human – our ability to create art (in its broadest sense) and to engage with/enjoy it. I had some great chats afterwards and it was clear that folks really wanted to connect with the ideas. I found the whole thing incredibly encouraging and it was a great way to start my sabbatical proper. Being reminded of the importance of art research (and my responsibility to engage non-university communities in this research) was a fab prompt for me.

And so on with the sabbatical. The end of this week will be dominated by a host of little jobs – articles to finish and papers to read. And next week it is onwards and upwards with the new book. I love the thought that I have space and time to focus on research, even though I miss the students. Oh, and this is quite a fun new side project. As a colleague rightly said, it is a good job I wasn’t reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (as an aside I haven’t read it and will not be doing so…ever)



What better way to start one’s sabbatical than with a jolly trip to Portugal with the in-laws. The weather was amazing (an autumn tan is so nice) and we enjoyed 7 days of pools, dolphins, boats, sea and food…lots of food! Oh, and coconut/pineapple juice.

Wherever we go, D looks out the most promising restaurant in the area. For this trip we found the wonderful Vila Joya, a beautiful hotel looking out over the sea. We sat under sun umbrellas and enjoyed one of the best meals we have ever eaten. I can’t even begin to tell you what we ate as there were so many courses. And they were all delicious – really delicious! Vila Joya also had two sweet love birds that I got to chat to after our food.

While on holiday I read two and a half books. The first was triathlete Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography. I have had this on my coffee table for two months and have been looking forward to reading it. It didn’t disappoint. Wellington is a very inspiring athlete, someone who is disciplined yet reassuringly normal…or at least as normal as anyone who does Ironman events. I have been enjoying ‘Road to Kona’ on Sky Sports over the past few weeks and really admire the Ironman guys. They are awesome, if slightly barmy. D keeps suggesting I train for one – I’m afraid that I simply couldn’t cope with the pain! I am, at heart, a big wuss.

The second was Neil Peart’s book about cycling in Cameroon. I read his poignant ‘Ghost Rider’ earlier this month. This one was completely different yet still had Peart’s intellectual approach. He is such an insightful guy. Reading his books has made me admire Rush’s music (while not always liking it). D is determined to convert me though as Rush plays almost constantly in the car (though it must be said, that on the way back from the airport, he put on a bit of The Boss for me – by the by, did you see that Bruce played until 2am the other night in NJ…the guy is a LEGEND!).

Anyways, the whole holiday was wonderful and relaxing. Thanks to the in-laws for letting us come and crash their vacation!


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Where have you been?

When I compare myself with the rest of the blogosphere I am hugely embarrassed about my lack of posts. I do, however, have a list of good reasons...
1) Our internet has been playing up and causing huge problems. Finally Sky have decided to send a new router through so we are hoping to get back online soon. This has meant conducting all my business on my phone. For reference, this is hard work even though the iphone is clearly amazing!
2) I have had graduation and a three day conference in Kent. All went very well. The former was a jolly opportunity to celebrate with the marvellous third years. The conference in Kent was for the European Network of Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies. This was a very interesting event with some great papers and lots of prominent folks to schmooze with. We even took a couple of hours out to explore Canterbury Cathedral. I was excited that they had a plaque to commemorate where Thomas A Becket was killed. T.S. Eliot wrote a strange ol' play all about it. The cloisters were pretty beautiful too.
3) D has started his new job which means longer hours all round. This morning we got up at 5.30 and that is becoming pretty normal. Actually feeling pretty good on it and, if you start work at 7.30 after a jolly workout, some quiet time and double tea, then you really feel up for the day.
4) I have been doing a huge tidy up. The last time we moved, I realised quite how much stuff we had. Simply unbelievable for just two people! So, I decided to begin a big clear out and get rid of anything we didn't need. Yesterday I recycled all my old PhD notes. Crazy to think that when I started research I wrote everything by hand on lined paper. It was only six years ago and now feels almost Medieval!

Surely that is enough excuses! One of the good things about D working longer is the amount of reading I am getting done. I have read so many books over the past month. It has been wonderful, although I am reading a rather traumatic one about the Chechan war right now. I'll post about it when I've finished - suffice to say, I would really recommend finding out more about this conflict. Last night we enjoyed a wonderful BBQ with our friends. We reopened Pizzeria Warden and the food went down rather well. We then got a bonfire going and sat out until 10.30. We are making the most of those last summer days.

I am now officially on sabbatical and am loving the peace and quiet. I have so much time to read and write, and to make new research plans for the future. The fact that I am doing all this in one of my most favourite places (that'll be our lovely country house) makes me feel mega blessed.

So, that's the update for the time being.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Screens, screens, screens

So, this lunchtime at Chez Warden my desk looked like the Batcave as I had three different screens on the go trying to keep up with the Guardian Higher Ed chat (I was a panelist and had a very jolly time) while attempting to solve some image issues for a journal article. I am hoping that everything worked just fine.

It has been a good week of projects and I have got most things done, including my Lincoln Academy lecture which is now finished at 49 minutes ish. It feels pretty good actually. I feel very privileged to be giving a Lincoln Academy lecture and it has been a great reminder of the need to make academic work accessible to a broad audience. This is a great challenge. I also did a bit of thinking/walking/thinking/walking about another book project which I have been putting together for a while. While wandering along with my notebook in hand I met a small frog that we have called Jumpy. That means that in our beautiful garden we have Harry the hedgehog, Cyril the squirrel and his girlfriend (who doesn't have a name at the moment), the duckies, the bunnies, the brave Ranciere-loving fieldmouse, Zach our neighbour's wonderful dog, a deer that hides a lot and Jumpy. It's practically a zoo! I love living here.

At the moment work is taking up a good lot of time and I am really enjoying it. In our relaxing evenings we have been watching two new HBO offerings - Veep (which I am not all that fond of, although last night's episode had some very funny lines) and Newsroom (which I love but led to a very long conversation between me and D the other night).  HBO are just the best! I've also been working out, enjoying a bit of golf and cooking more. I've finally found time and inclination to get back into cooking. When we first moved to Lincoln we left behind a huge kitchen and acquired the tiniest box ever. It made cooking a little more difficult and I got out of the habit of experimenting and simply hanging out in there. I'm glad to say that I've refound my vigour over the past few weeks.

Anyways, I have a couple more jobs to do before Friday is finished. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Back to serious work

So, having spent the past month living between Lincoln and Stockport (thanks Mum and Dad for being great hosts!) we are finally back at home and I have a month to do five different projects. I am managing my time very carefully right now using a cool new app called 30/30 which I would recommend to anyone trying to manage their hours effectively. I have got loads done already today and have squeezed in a tough workout (I have refound the wonderful Zuzana on youtube - her workouts are short but fierce!). Lunch is beckoning and I have to freeze a lot of meat during my lunchbreak. On Saturday D went all 'American grill' on me and smoked a piece of pork for 12 hours straight on his new BBQ. I am not a huge meat eater but it is absolutely amazing! And there are so many leftovers!

I am always relieved when a big sporting event finishes, especially the Olympics. It's been fun but I'm glad not to have to keep checking what's going on in the handball! In fact last night I deleted my London 2012 app from my phone. TV takes up considerably less of my time when there isn't 24 hr sport on. We are not very 'Team GB' in our house and my favourite moment of the games was Michael Phelps in the pool. He is just unbelievable and seems to be a genuinely nice chap. I guess the Brownlees' successes in the Triathlon were a close second. Alistair ran his 10K only 20 secs slower that Mo's. That is incredible!

Last night, in an attempt to avoid the horrors of the closing ceremony (opening ceremony was good, closing ceremony looked bad from the rumours so I steered clear - my Twitter feed this morning confirmed that this was a good plan), I sat back at read Neil Peart's (Rush drummer's) amazingly sad book Ghost Rider. It is great and extremely thought-provoking. I then cleaned the BBQ, tidied the bedroom and kept one eye of the golf (hoorah Rory!) which D enjoyed very much. Rock n' roll evening!

The month of August is completely clear. I have NOTHING in my diary at all. This is how I planned it (I've not just run out of friends, although...) as I really want to crack on with research work. I absolutely love my job and am just getting a taste of what my sabbatical is going to be like - long days with no distractions, an open Macbook, good music, tea and some real, manageable goals. It is a little duller outside today than it has been but the birds are happily jumping about so all is well.

Anyways, lunch beckons if I'm to keep on track for today. Lots of new articles and conference papers to bore you with are planned for this afternoon. I have finally started the article I have the funding for (probably a good idea to start that one!) and am loving the material. It is fascinating!

Hope everyone is having a good Olympic-free day.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Olympic obsession

Afternoon one and all,
Isn't it funny that when the Olympics come round you watch twenty times more telly than normal. The world's greatest sporting event actually compels you to be less active! D is still working for the Olympic family and I am still working my way through archival jolliness, so we are still between Manchester and Lincoln for the next week or so.

The archive has been amazing thanks to the good people of John Rylands (Manchester) and the wonderfully readable writing of Basil Dean who is fast taking over from Ewan MacColl in my affections. I am currently writing two papers on him and I love his work more and more. I am currently finishing a couple of old projects before starting on the next challenge. I remembered how much I loved my work this week!

But the most exciting moment of yesterday was getting snapped by the paparazzi in Wagamamas where Dad and I had gone to enjoy a bite of lunch. Unfortunately it was in the Daily Mail but even so. Here is the link. We are in the corner behind the guy in the blue anorak. As usual I had no idea who the 'famous' people were.

The next few days there will be more Olympics, the starting of a new article and a visit from our lovely Edinburgh friends. Life is a great deal of fun right now.


Monday, 23 July 2012

Still in perpetual motion

Wow, and so the travels continue apace. This week we've been up to Edinburgh so I could assess an MPhil, attend some meetings and read some jolly books. And then it was straight to Manchester as D is now officially working for the Olympics for a few weeks and I am enjoying the archival delights of John Rylands library. So for the next month we are diving our time between Manchester and Lincoln. We are going to get used to the Woodhead Pass!

In between all the travels we have enjoyed a bit of sunshine, met up with some folks and watched The Dark Knight Rises. D loved this film and I enjoyed most of it. It was certainly thoughtful and interesting. For me it touched a little on the dreaded emergency/disaster film genre. Unusually though, it had a number of surprising story turns which I didn't see coming AT ALL. This is always great in a film.

And tonight Dad is lighting up the BBQ to celebrate a super sunny evening. I am trying to brace myself for three weeks of Team GB patriotism. I LOVE the Olympics and LOVE the sport but am a little less convinced by the 'woo woo Team GB are best ever ever' obsession. As far as my own sporting prowess goes, I was back to running this morning after a week with a slightly dodgy knee (my own fault - I ran too far!). It felt good to get back to it.

Here's to a summer of sunshine and sport.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Perpetual Motion

So, I am beginning to forget what my own bed looks like! After seeing The Boss in Manchester (listening to his whole back catalogue right now), our lovely Minnesota friends came to visit for a couple of days before the three of us headed off to the University of Leeds for the Performance Studies international (with a small ‘i’ – I don’t know why either) conference. It was four days of chat, listening to papers (a mixed bag but some really great stuff) book promo. Three highlights: watching a great group doing Kathakali Indian dancing in a swimming pool, an amazing paper on mass performance in the French Revolution and a fun authors’ event with the good folks at Palgrave. It was a pretty unusual conference for me but good fun and I got to hang out with some great folks.

When I got back (10.30 Saturday night – academics are slackers, right?), my fab brother and sis-in law were there with our niece. While I had been sitting in darkened university seminar rooms all day, they had been to a duck race and eaten ice cream. We spent Sunday together before they headed back up the road to Auld Reekie and D and I went down to Northampton. So, a few weeks back D won a competition. He never wins anything so it was a bit of a surprise. Here was the prize: a day out with Lexus – chauffeur driven, lunch at Heston Blumenthal’s pub The Hind’s Head, a trip on the Thames and a night at Windsor races. Turns out we are pretty rubbish at betting (which I found rather encouraging for two Presbyterians!) but rather good at eating a mountain of food! It was a wonderfully unusual Monday! It also gave us the opportunity to celebrate D’s 30th birthday which actually fell right in the middle of my conference so I wasn’t even there to spoil him. We spent the night in Northampton and sped back this morning to get to work. Phew! I think I now have a few days at home!

My research summer is just beginning so I’m getting everything sorted out in readiness. Today I worked my way through a raft of emails, caught up with correspondence from the conference, rejigged all my online profiles (website, etc) and then carried on with a book that really needs to be back in the library tomorrow. These preparatory days are always fun and inspirational.

Oh, and a final congrats to our wonderful third years who are now graduands after officially receiving their marks this week. Looking forward to graduation now!


Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Boss

So, I am going to have to be very careful not to simply get all gushy in this post. For last night I fulfilled one of my little dreams by seeing the incredible Bruce Springsteen live in concert. We both took a day of annual leave and headed off to Manchester to stay with the parents. The rain was horrendous as we travelled across which (obviously) meant that everyone drove at 2 mph with an air of panic. Parking at the M&Ds (thanks for the picnic Mum!) we went into Manchester on the train and arrived in the city centre with the clouds looking a bit threatening again. As we started walking to the Etihad stadium (boo, boo!) the rain began again...and carried on for the next four hours non-stop. As we were standing on the pitch I decided to invest in a plastic poncho bought from an entrepreneurial Mancunian outside the ground. Good decision! We got absolutely soaked through to the skin! But at 7.15 the rain stopped just in time for Bruce to arrive.

There are a number of things I love about Springsteen: 1) he plays both folk and rock (in fact most of the time he combines the two) which means he appeals to both me and D 2) while his voice is instantly recognisable, his music is incredibly varied 3) all his music makes you feel emotional, either like crying over lost loves or dancing about or getting all politically hot under the collar. Music should move us and there is no one like Bruce for this 3) he is a very generous, sweet guy. He spent lots of time in the audience even allowing one wee boy to sing and another girlie to dance with Jake (sax). The band played for nearly 3 3/4 hrs - beat that One Direction or whoever you are 4) he plays an amazing show. This guy is 62 years old and has so much energy on stage. Just incredible 5) (and I say this with a little embarrassment) he is just gorgeous! D laughed at my admiration of Bruce's rather impressive back muscles.

Anyways, ahem, we had a great night, stood up for nearly 9 1/2 hours non-stop (back soreness), got wet and then dried out with a dance, and totally fell in love with wonderful Bruce. It was a total privilege to have finally seen him live.

In other news: this week we have our great friends Joanne and Will arriving for a couple of days, I have a couple of meetings and then the three of us are off to the PSi conference in Leeds (missing a certain someone's 30th birthday - I am a terrible wife) . See you there if you are going. And a week on Monday I have another wonderful celebratory treat to look forward to but more of that next week...


Monday, 18 June 2012

Our little zoo

Now that we live in the country we find ourselves surrounded by animals. We have a load of ducks who come to be fed every morning. My favourite is nicknamed 'Baby'. He was left alone when he was really young and we didn't think he'd make it. But he is a bit of a maverick and is far happier on his own. Lots of these ducks were born in our back garden. We have a hedgehog that persuaded D it was dead until it shuffled out of sight when he wasn't looking. And we have a lovely little brave mouse who continued to seat next to me while I read Jacques Ranciere's 'The Emancipated Spectator' this afternoon. There are hundreds of bunnies that spend evenings chasing each other and a little deer who occasionally reappears. It is wonderful to have so many friends out here. We were joined by the Scottish section of the fam over the weekend and, although the weather was horrible, we had a great time. It is mega to share all our animals and peace with lovely folks.

After the excitement of the Book, the past few weeks have been relatively quiet at work. My time has been taken up with finishing my PSi paper for next week (sorry, where did July come from?), rewriting a horrid article that I have been battling with for months (NB corner turned on this one today - I think I might have finally found a point to it all!), second marking and getting things ready for the external examination meetings that are coming up this week. I have also spent a few hours each day reading. This is something I do every year at this time. Making the transition from full-time lecturer who researches to full-time researcher period is not one that is always easy to negotiate. So, I like to ease myself in by reading a selection of inspiring (hopefully!) books. This week on my list I have the aforementioned Ranciere (have made it to the end of chapter 1 and am actually rather excited to see where it is going to go next), Beckett's 'Krapp's Last Tape' and Joseph Conrad's 'The Secret Agent'. These are all books that I can justify as work. I guess the transition is going to be all the more fascinating this time round as I am heading into my sabbatical.

And finally...happy father's day Dad and Dad in-law. We are so glad to have you both! We have an exciting gig coming up this weekend - I get to see one of only two musicians still on my 'need to see live' wishlist. One of these is Peter Gabriel, the other is... Well, I'll post about that next week. Oh, and if you have a couple of weeks free then we have put our Germany/Switzerland photos on Picasa. Just click on the photos side bar on Molemaison.

Until next time...

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Wedding bells!

D and his buddies have headed off for a golfing tournament and I have a peaceful day at home to get on with some jobs, do some reading and watch some sport. But so far today I have spent the morning reorganising my online profile. I have been a little bit shoddy with this, using similar passwords for all my accounts and keeping far too many spam emails in my inbox. Last night this bit me firmly on the bum as some wee rogue sent an email from my account to all my contacts. No harm done but I wouldn't buy what they were trying to sell you if I were you! Anyways, security all updated and let that be a lesson to me.

A peaceful day is a very jolly prospect as the past week has been a busy one. We have finally finished the marking and everything is uploaded ready to go. As I have a sabbatical coming up this is my final marking session until this time next year!

But the most significant moment of the week was the marriage of my sister (regular Molemaison readers will know that she is affectionately known as Smelly) to her Welsh golfer boy. We had quite a party to celebrate! She looked absolutely beyond beautiful and I got to fumble my way through bridesmaid duties. I was glad that she had also chosen her best mate as her chief bridesmaid so all that getting excited about the dress/sorting out the train/holding the flowers stuff was taken care of. When you little sister gets married you know that you are getting old!

Other than that, here are the things going on chez Warden: eight new baby duckies were born in our garden, D has been tinkling with his new BBQ (now we just need some sunshine!), I tried a bit of sprinting around my regular running paths and nearly did myself in, and we watched 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' to see the Swiss mountains where we stayed a few weeks ago. Hilariously, they even used Lauterbrunnen station, the scene of D's bout of altitude sickness!

I'm off to make some tea, do some washing and enjoy a bit of sunshine which is currently peeping through the clouds.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Our European Travels

So, I've not posted for a couple of weeks but I do have a great excuse. D and I were travelling round Europe with backpacks! We spent ten days (ish) moving from Cologne to Friedrichshafen to Lauterbrunnen (Germany to Switzerland) by train and boat. It was an amazing trip full of excitement and fun. Here are just some of the things I'll remember from it:

  • Catching up with our wonderful friends in Friedrichshafen. With some people it doesn't matter if you haven't seen each other for a year, you just click back into place. 
  • Speaking German again. Many years ago I got a B at A-Level for German (trust me, that was a remarkable result!) but I haven't used my German in earnest since a trip to Austria about ten years ago! Actually I was quite amazed by what came back and I found that I could understand a good deal more than I thought I would be able to. 
  • Enjoying the delights of the spa in Cologne. Spas in Europe are quite different than in the UK (!) but we rose to the challenge!
  • Seeing photographs of bombed out Cologne. I hadn't realised how much the folks of Cologne had suffered during WW2. The pictures on the bombed out cathedral were really shocking.
  • Marvelling at the European train system. Man, the trains are just great over there. They are clean with two decks and they go super quick!
  • Altitude sickness! So (and, while I'm going to relay this story, you just know that D will tell the embellished version) while in Switzerland we took the train up to the Jungfraujoch. This is incredibly high and we were amazed to see all the snow. The sun was shining and it was just beautiful so off we set for a jolly ramble through the snow. We made it to the Monchjochhutte (the starting point if you are going to climb the next mountain, the Monch) and were very grateful to find hot drinks at the remote hut. But walking in those sort of conditions was far more challenging than you might imagine and both of us ended the day feeling elated but a little lacking in oxygen. D suffered particularly and was very ill all over Lauterbrunnen station. We thought altitude sickness was kinda showbiz. D maintains that I just had a case of 'woman feeling a bit poorly'.
  • Train avalanches! On our final day I thought a lovely trip in an old fashioned train up to some lovely Alpine gardens might be just the thing. Except that almost at the top we were struck by an avalanche of snow, rock and trees. Now hanging over an extremely high precipice (OK so I am exaggerating just slightly) is pretty scary but the good people a the Jungfraubahn eventually got us down.
  • Cheese! Tonight we have burgers with gruyere for dinner. Swiss cheese is the greatest!
  • Waterfalls. Of all natural phenomenon, waterfalls are my absolute favourite. Our room overlooked a lovely waterfall and we had an amazing trip to the Trummelbach Falls which are spectacular.
And, given that D has just indicated that the BBQ is ready, I had better go. All in all a great trip. Photographs will be up as soon as D has found the wire! ;-)


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Exiting assessment week and the release of the Book

So, after a quiet day filling in assessment sheets and enjoying the ducks and bunnies that are running about our garden, here is a blog post to fill you in on the successes of performance fortnight. The past two days I have worked 28 hours - phew! But what a great time we had! There was some magnificent work - thought-provoking, peculiar, challenging, mature and memorable. The first years rose to the challenges and produced some of the best work I have seen at UL. Cue lots of backslapping and general jolliness.

But this has been a big week for a different reason.  Today is the day that the Book arrived on our shelves. Yes, British Avant-Garde Theatre hit the shops today after many years of hard work. I haven't seen a hard copy yet so it doesn't quite seem real. I am hugely excited and incredibly thankful for all the support I have had from friends, colleagues and family. I'll do a proper post on it when I have a copy in my hands.

Tomorrow, after many days of university-focused days, I am off to De Montfort for a brief Modernism conference. It promises to be a lovely, inspiring day. And then, to top it all off, the in-laws arrive tomorrow evening. We are so looking forward to welcoming them to our new home. I'm hoping for spring sunshine, walks in fields, lovely chat and a fire pit. Great weekend in store.

Hope your weekend is equally jolly

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Entering assessment week

So, now I have worked out the new blogger format on Google (guys, stop changing things - I have a very limited capacity to understand computing things) here is a blog post to fill you in on all the goings on chez Warden.

Last weekend I travelled down to Bath for my sister's hen party. I can't quite fathom that my little Smelly is old enough to get married. Despite feeling seriously old we had a good time indulging in afternoon tea, dancing on our party boat and living with 20 other girlies. The wedding is coming up in June and I get to be matron of honour which clearly makes me sound about 112!

Apart from that jolly jaunt I have spent most of the last week and a bit preparing for assessments. Our students are right in the middle of performance fortnight so the LPAC is choc full of slightly stressed but seriously creative folks. Today I got screamed at by a lady dressed as wallpaper. This is only a foretaste of what is to come next week with the arrival of Modern European Drama. That is going to be spectacularly jolly and weird.

Research is going relatively slowly right now as when you are knee deep in assessments it is tough to think of other things. That said, I have had some happy hours reading terrific books on Russian modernism - my favourite. The duckies returned to keep me company on Monday although they are getting old enough to move down river pretty soon. We will miss them so much! They were even here to welcome me on my return from my morning run.

The year seems to be skipping by and we have so much to look forward to: the book is due out on the 11th May (yikes!), all the inspiring performances next week, our holiday in Germany/Switzerland, happy sunny days in our new house (ha ha! The rain has been incredible recently) and visits from friends and fam.

Hope everyone is doing well wherever they are.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Ducklings, New articles and Chocolate

This about sums up the past week and a bit. We've had the wonder of 9 little ducklings wandering about our garden. I've had the excitement and anxiety of getting started with some new research projects. And I spent a jolly weekend in Birmingham with some old friends, visiting Cadbury's World and behaving like a teenager.

I've started to make the most of our new surroundings and have been for a couple of runs in the countryside. It is a great area to run in because it is flat and there are some lovely paths to explore. I even downloaded a new running app on my iphone which tracks my progress. Genius technology! I've had some great days working at home and have got into the garden every day even if I have had to wear my coat: NB waterproof jackets are the order of the day in the East Midlands at present as we've had an unbelievable and unusual amount of rain over the past few weeks...ever since they announced the hosepipe ban!

The weather has turned our minds towards this year's travels and yesterday I booked our trip to Las Vegas in October. I, as usual, am there with work; D is coming along for a jolly holiday. I am taking a day off at the end though to go to the Grand Canyon. Should be an amazing trip.

But before all that we have three weeks of tech rehearsals and final performances, essay deadlines and dissertation panic. I love performance fortnight. It is always such brilliant fun and it is wonderful to see all the amazing work the students have produced. Given the amount of screaming in the corridor today (part of the performance naturally) and the Duchamp-inspired musical instruments currently parked in my office I think we are in for some great stuff.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Happy Easter one and all!

Ooops, only a day late with my Resurrection greeting! The delay is really due to the fact that D and I have been on annual leave this week and have spent happy days chilling out, travelling about and seeing folks. So, it all started with a great weekend in Ely/Cambridge. D was beside himself with excitement as we were staying in the field where the front cover of Pink Floyd's Division Bell album was photographed.

Fortunately the field now contains a sensational B&B where we stayed. We spent Saturday in Ely behaving like 12 year olds in the Cromwell museum (we tried on helmets and everything!) and Sunday exploring the beautiful city of Cambridge. We went into all the colleges that were free and tutted at all that charged! We then went to the Aussie Pink Floyd gig (a happy coincidence). We had backstage passes so hung out with the band before and after (free bar and cake at after-show party - D and I both had rock n' roll Sprites!) and everyone was so friendly and gracious.

We came back to Nocton for a day at home (caught up with Wrestlemania - HHH/HBK/ we love you guys!) and then headed off to Edinburgh for Easter with the fam. On our way up we ate at the wonderful Greywalls. The souffle was so good that I had a cheese one for starters and a sweet one with peaches for pudding. Gorgeous, gorgeous and, although the weather was pretty grim, Muirfield still looked pretty stunning. We had such a happy few days with the family. I had a single day in the library which was topped off with a visit to one of my favourite inspirational Auld Reekie haunts, The Museum of Scotland/National Museum. It was packed with kids for science week and it was so wonderful to see so many children really wanting to learn. I have a theory that Scotland has a stronger commitment to education and learning than England, and experiences like this one just convinces me I'm right! We caught up with the whole family and ended up with the usual unbelievable amount of Easter eggs. We arrived back last night and have spent today having breakfast at Doddington Hall, seeing the horses at Bransby and watching the first episode of Game of Thrones (new series). Just a typical vacation day chez Warden.

We are back to work tomorrow though I have a couple of days at home to try and get some articles finished before the assessment period arrives. We were so glad to wake up in our lovely Garden House this morning. The weather is a bit wet but our house is still fab! Ah the peace of the countryside. We have had ducklings, deer, bunnies and all sorts of birds in our garden in recent days. It's just lovely.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter time.

Monday, 26 March 2012

We really are still alive!

Many apologies for the distinct lack of posts in recent weeks. I am now sitting in my sunny lounge with a cup of (new eteaket) tea, Peter Gabriel (not actually, you understand) and a quick break from writing a couple of overdue review articles. So here's what we've been up to since my last post (brace yourself):

  • Moved house! We are now living in a beautiful little village called Nocton. We have a garden, a big kitchen (what a relief!) and total peace. It is amazing and we feel hugely blessed to have it. 
  • Changed our car. We lease our car so it was time to get something new. D is very chuffed with it. Don't say he looks like a hairdresser...he doesn't, OK.
  • Spent four days in Oxford (me not D - I left him home alone). We moved house and then barely five days later I went off to New College Oxford for the Moving Modernisms conference. It was a great time and I met a heap of amazing, inspirational scholars. I've come back thoroughly excited...and with a lot of work to do.
  • Finished term. Despite the fact that it feels as though we've only just started term, I have taught my last class. This has been one of my most enjoyable terms of teaching ever - brilliant students, exciting courses and lots of great performances to engage with.
  • Witnessed one of our good friends Jane get baptised.
  • Made chilli for 30 sweet buddies (plus nachos and quesidillas - they weren't as good as your's Em!)
And I think that's it, other than the usual - catching up with Raw (in the lead up to Wrestlemania), re/discovering music (currently listening to Peter Gabriel's edited Big Blue Ball), watching a couple of films (though I am somewhat embarrassed to admit it, my treat for moving house was to watch Real Steel with the wholly delectable Hugh Jackman) and reading (only work books this week I'm afraid: a paper about Wilde's Salome and Erika Fischer-Lichte's Global Ibsen - she is fast becoming one of my favourite scholars). 

Now, my break is over and I'd better get on with these reviews. Suffice to say that life is pretty amazing right now and, as soon as our boxes are emptied, we are hoping to share it with all our friends. This week it is mostly...Sarah Kane Festival, book proposals, arrival of my family for the day, lunches in the garden, sorting our house out, finishing assessment timetables, and then off to Ely/Cambridge at the weekend for two jolly days of relaxation and Australian Pink Floyd. Sweet!


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Getting ready to go

Much of our thinking time has been taken up with moving house. D has managed to source some terrific furniture bargains and we pick up the keys on Saturday. I am very excited about it. We have also booked our summer holiday. We are off to Germany and Switzerland to visit some wonderful friends (Evelyn and family, we can't wait to see you!) and to enjoy the beauty of the mountains for a few days. Rather than flying, we are making the journey by train! It's going to be an adventure. The last time I travelled round Europe on a train I was 21 and didn't mind arriving in Florence with nowhere to stay and kipping down for the night in a nunnery in Venice, not to mention sleeping in a hostel in Zagreb which cost €6 a night! I am now older and demand a hot shower each morning!

Back to Lincoln life, I am currently finishing off a raft of projects including the Hassan paper (which was accepted by the good people of Theatre Notebook yesterday!), the proofs for the Literary North chapter and the final indexing/proofing of British Avant-Garde Theatre. I also have a conference abstract to write tomorrow. We are reaching the end of term (only two more weeks to go!) and the students are starting to think seriously about their performance assessments. Teaching has been so fun this term. Cool students, interesting courses!

So, I'm going to make some tea. D is watching a youtube video about Switzerland. It looks amazingly beautiful and we are so grateful for our Germany/Switzerland May holiday. Will try and post amidst the boxes next week. Until then, hope everyone is doing great.


Friday, 2 March 2012

It's March already...

...not sure where that came from. So what has happened since the last post? I have been mostly...planning to move house...enjoying a wonderful research weekend in Edinburgh...compiling the index for the Book...reading some interesting plays...watching the students give a great performance of one of my least favourite plays of all time: Osborne's 'Look Back in Anger' (still don't like it but was very proud of them)...lying in my hammock which is still up in our lounge.

My visit to Edinburgh was great. Not only did I get to spend time with some of my most favourite people, I also enjoyed two very long days in the library. If you follow me on Twitter then you'll have seen the piles of books I started with each morning: lots of fascinating stuff about fascist theatre. We so often imagine theatre as a pretty left-wing pursuit so it was very interesting to read about the theatre from the other side of the political spectrum. This week's teaching has been all very profitable. I am so enjoying spending time with the students this term. They are all mega, hard-working and talented folks.

In terms of research, I am currently doing the final bits and bobs for two articles. But proofreading and indexing is getting in the way slightly. Have a couple of books to read over the weekend and could do with finishing this index. We'll try and get some breakfast out tomorrow though - always a good start to the weekend.

Next week is our final full week in the flat before the big move. This morning the sun was shining and I imagined how beautiful our new garden would be. We are really excited about our new pad. Have just finished work (I know, it's 22.40 on a Friday - height of geekdom) and now I'm going to eat a bowl of Weetabix while watching Smackdown.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Chilling in my hammock

D reminded me that it had been a couple of weeks since I last posted here. Sorry for the lack of comment - I endeavour to do better in future. Plans for the big move are going well. We now have a sofa on the way (we have never owned our own sofa so that is exciting) and we've started sorting out removal companies. D also invested in a 'house warming present' for me - a very large hammock. This might sound like a weird present but last year while wandering happily through the stalls of Granville Island, Vancouver, I tried out a lovely hammock and promised the sweet guy who wanted to sell it to me that if I were ever to move to a house with a garden, I would buy a hammock. And here we are! I'm hoping that lots of folks are going to visit to enjoy happy afternoons swinging and snoozing in my new present.

Things continue to go well in all other areas of life. I am very fortunate to be working with imaginative, inspiring students this term. They are just great! Research is plodding along nicely with two articles currently tentatively accepted by great journals. The first proofread through the book is done and the second (and final) proofread is scheduled to take place on the week we move. Great timing on my part!

As well as work, this week has been taken up with a thought-provoking trip to the cinema to see Grey (it's about more than just wolves chasing Lian Neeson), a jolly visit of a sweet gentleman involved in mission work in Moldova, trying out our local chippie for the first time in 2 years, getting into college basketball on ESPNAmerica, and, last night, travelling through to Holmfirth (of Last of the Summer Wine fame) for the Steve Hackett gig. We had a really amazing night - total legend, great band, fab crowd and brilliant venue. But more of that later in the week when I've got the photographs up. There's a cracking one of me and Steve for your enjoyment.

D is away working in Warwick for a couple of days so I'm home alone. Today/tonight will be a mixture of weekend sport, reading Mansfield Park, swinging in my hammock (which is currently up in the lounge!), Facetiming my sister, ironing and sorting things our for the week. I might even sneak in a little snooze. Be sure to pop back over the next few days for the gig review.


Thursday, 9 February 2012

Things change quickly here!

So, since my last post (which was only a few days ago) a major thing has happened in the life of the Wardens. We are moving house! We have lived happily in our wee flat here in the centre of Lincoln for 2 years but we were both beginning to feel like a new challenge might be in order. On Saturday (did I mention this?) we went to see the most beautiful house in the country. I then spent three days agonising and, yesterday, decided that we would go for it. It reminds me of those incredible country houses in Austen novels (a la 'Sense and Sensibility' after the move rather than Pemberley, you understand) and I think we will have a wonderful, peaceful place for us both and, hopefully, for all our friends and family to visit. It is in a little village called Nocton, only 7 miles from Lincoln. But it feels like proper country with woods and little post offices and long walks and a massive garden. We feel amazingly blessed (though a little shell-shocked) and it is only costing us a little extra per month. The sweet gentleman who owns it showed us round and clearly loved the place. We feel like custodians for something very special indeed. Anyways, in preparation I am going to spend the next few weeks reading 'Mansfield Park'. I can finally be Fanny Price. This has been my dream since I was a little girl, at least since I decided that Fanny was a far more interesting character than Elizabeth Bennett. Imagine me wandering through the grass each morning drinking tea. In fact, best of all, why not come and stay for a few days. Will update all our mates on our new address in due course.

Only the packing, the cleaning and changing all those addresses to go now. Yuck!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Reflections on writing a book

Blimey, not sure what happened there - apparently we found ourselves in the second month of the year! Anyways, all is well here in Lincoln although we've just slip-slided our way into our car park with the snow falling down.

So this week has been mostly proof reading the final copy of the Book. Talking to my research mentor yesterday, I realised that there is quite a lot of me in the book. I get to certain sections and hear the music I was listening to as I wrote - Trevor Rabin soundtracks, beautiful John Wetton vocals, exciting Peter Gabriel tunes. Or I see certain rooms or landscapes - chapter five reminds me of sitting in the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), Edinburgh looking out over students enjoying sun-soaked picnics on the Meadows; the Introduction reminds me of arriving in Lincoln and having to grapple once again with my theoretical framework; chapter four sometimes reminds me of wandering around the National Museum of Scotland searching for inspiration amidst the Medieval paintings and Celtic artefacts; any mention of a MacColl play takes me right back to the North Reading Room of the National Library of Scotland. Occasionally a section of an argument reminds me of a conversation at a conference or a fortuitous chat with a colleague. I suddenly find myself proofreading a moment that was particularly difficult to write or provided a stimulating moment of revelation. It's really rather amazing (and frightening) that so much of me is in a non-fiction book! This project has been my primary focus for ages and has been my (sometimes irritating!) friend through my PhD, through testing times of unemployment, through a wonderful three months at IASH, through my postdoctoral teaching fellowship where I had to get to grips with Canadian literature in three weeks and on through my first full lectureship learning about performance and the joys of the workshop space.

And now it's coming to an end and will be on the shelves (or at least on the cyber-shelves of Amazon in a few months). It feels as if I am saying goodbye to a mate but also as if I am finally taking off a particularly uncomfortable pair of shoes! I'm now looking forward to getting on with other projects and leaving British Avant-Garde Theatre to make its own way in the world. Apologies for the prosaic Saturday night ramblings!


Friday, 27 January 2012

End of another week

Evening folks,
So it's the end of a slightly strange but certainly educational week. Academia (and life in general) can be odd at times. Anyone else noticed? Anyways, many wonderful things to rejoice in including my first real Zumba class (I've been doing Zumba for a couple of weeks with the Wii at home but this is the first time I've made a fool of myself in public - fortunately there were lots of other happy fools there too!), burgers at our new favourite Homemade Burger Co, playing a couple of games of Rayman with D (I like computer games where I get to help!), looking forward to the Royal Rumble at the weekend and listening to Australian radio for the tennis. The more I sit here and think about my little world, the more happy I get!

Tomorrow night I am off to watch Encore, our student-led production at the LPAC. They have all worked super hard and I'm looking forward to a couple of musical numbers. Before that I'm hoping to manufacture a tidy house (I think that involves me actually getting the duster out though I live in hope that my special cleaning fairy will arrive) and eat breakfast somewhere delicious with D. We have been discussing this year's holidays and, after the adventurous travels of last year, we are hoping to explore some new corners of the globe and, in true Warden style, meet some new great people. This week I came across Tolkien's great quote again: "Not all who wander are lost". I think that's probably true of me in many ways. I am a bit of a wanderer by nature (not an intrepid traveller, you understand, just a wanderer) and am hoping for some new inspirational wanders in 2012.

Have a brilliant weekend.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Borgen and Bullseye...

...this has been the slightly odd televisual combination chez Warden this week. Last week was a great start back to university. There were some brilliant classes with some inspiring students. And then two (count them) full research days. I sent off three articles and nearly finished the fourth. On a roll! And then we had a very happy weekend looking at cars, eating at Uncle Henry's and stroking beautiful horses.

And so to our TV watching. I am a little obsessed with Borgen, the Danish political series. It is incredibly acted and avoids cliche very effectively. I'm in love with the fabulous Birgitte and, at one point today, actually thought 'how would Birgitte respond to this?' Hmm... They are showing Bullseye late at night on Challenge and it makes us feel all nostalgic, even though I didn't catch it first time round. Great jumpers, magnificent hairdos and the marvellously natural Jim Bowen at the helm. Watching this shows you, not just how much television has changed, but how much society has changed.

This evening I am crashing on with reading book proofs, watching University Challenge and preparing for tomorrow's documentary theatre class. All fun and games.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Big day... new book is now available for pre-order on UK Amazon. How exciting!

This topped off a great start to the new term. Today we had 6 straight hours of Documentary Theatre. Lots of fun had by all - lots of laughter and meaningful chat. Tomorrow is Modern European Drama and then I have two days of hard core research. I am loving this term so far!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Goodbye 2011

So, I realise that I appear to have written the last two posts the wrong way round, but it only just occured to me that I hadn't really reflected on all the good things to have happened in 2011. I like a bit of reflection so let me share some of the things that have happened:

We travelled...a lot.
As a Scotsman D is a natural-born traveller. I am less so, often preferring the everyday comforts of home to living out of a suitcase for a week. Actually, given that our family live all over the country, that we enjoy taking holidays and that I am doing a bit of travelling with work, we probably spend a fifth of the year living out of bags. I have no idea why we bother with wardrobes! This year we have had the pleasure and privilege of swimming in the sea in Norfolk, exploring the beauty of the Scottish Highlands (I have to do this twice a year no matter what, otherwise I start going a little crazy - thanks to Charlie and Liz for always being so gracious in opening up their home to us!), climbing the Great Wall of China and wandering through the parks and streets of Beijing, and revisiting our fab friends in Seattle and journeying up to Vancouver and Whistler. If we haven't bored you with the photographs, then you can bore yourselves - check out our photo albums! Add this to jolly weekends at weddings and gigs and we really have been 'out and about'.

We listened to some amazing music
I now feel like a seasoned gig attender. This year I have seen Yes, Iron Maiden (I know, cool huh?), Roger Waters and Whitesnake. In a couple of weeks we are catching Steve Hackett and then in June we have tickets to see the wonderful Bruce Springsteen. There are two guys I still want to see live: one is him. I love how gigs challenge your expectations and bring you into a community. I am very glad to have discovered new music over the past few years, though my heart is still with the folkie tones of Rudsambee!

We explored Lincolnshire
While we don't live in the most exciting place in the world, there is a lot to be said for this county. I love heading up to the farmers' market and talking to my hummus man. The cathedral is still as beautiful as it was when we first arrived. Trips out to Doddington Hall and Uncle Henry's are always so fun, as are walks through Whisby Nature Park or Bransby Horse Home. Yes, it is quiet and sleepy, but Lincoln is a fun place to be.

I watched a lot of theatre
I guess this comes with the territory but I have found myself in darkened auditoriums a lot this year. Other than my students' work, my favourite productions have both been at the Sheffield Crucible: Othello and Company. Both absolutely amazing. Live theatre is just the best, even if I do get a little too much of it on a day-to-day basis.

We made new friends
For us, 2011 was a year of either making new friends or strengthening relationships. We've had great times of intense chat and bright days of waterskiing (there is a picture of this somewhere!). I am very grateful that, even while we are both so far away from our buddies elsewhere, we have made new friends here.

I finished a Book
It has been quite an exciting year work-wise with a raft of new challenges. And I actually finished British Avant-Garde Theatre. It is exhilarating and a little sad to finish such a major project. It has dominated our lives for a long time! And now there are a load of new projects to grapple with! I am so glad to have such interesting work and I'm looking forward to all that 2012 will bring.

There is probably plenty more to say but overall 2011 was categorised by a spirit of thankfulness - for our families, friends, health and happiness. Good times, undeserved.


Thursday, 12 January 2012

January silliness

At this rate you will only get two posts in the month of January! Wow, it has been non-stop so far! As soon as we got back from Auld Reekie, we were straight into final marking and assessment modulation. This is a rather long-winded admin task. Every term it confirms that I am no administrator and renews my respect for those people who are! We are nearly done but I am still online at nearly 8pm awaiting the final marks. It'll all be sorted by tomorrow though.

And then I got sick...again. Actually felt pretty rough this week and now poor old D is a bit sniffly. I have just about recovered. The new courses are coming together nicely and I had some research encouragement from Stateside - new publication on its way this year! Apart from all this, I've been finalising arrangements for the two first year courses I am coordinating. Am excited about both of them!

Last night to celebrate me feeling better and to give ourselves a little time out, D and I went to the cinema. We had tea at Homemade Burger Co., our current fave, and then spent a lovely evening with RDJ and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes: game of shadows. Interestingly, here is a film that gets better as you go on. It starts rather slowly really but by the final chess game, it is really all quite enthralling. I like what everyone is dong with the Sherlock Holmes' stories right now. The BBC series is very different but equally compelling.

So, as for New Year Resolutions which I promised to share with you, here goes:
Get things in order and keep them in order. I have systems for everything but so often they all fall apart. I would like to have plans/schemes and stick them this year.
Try Zumba. D got me the game for my Wii Fit and, now I'm feeling a little better and have done a new year yoga stretch (ouch!) I feel ready to go. I like to mix up my fitness regime sometimes. This past 6 months hasn't been brilliant as I've been under the weather a lot. Determined to regain the fitness levels I had this time last year.
Read more. It may sound rather odd, given my job and the amount of reading I do each week, but I don't actually do that much 'reading' e.g. enjoying or meditating over a really brilliant book. Hoping to do a little more of that this year.

So, there we go. I'm going to put our Tesco order away - thank you Mr Tesco Man for helping me carry everything up the stairs! To leave you with an interesting image: I managed to eat a whole can of mushy peas on my own tonight. Wow! How good are mushy peas? D and I have very different ideas about fish and chips. For me (North England lass) they are naked without mushy peas. For him as a Scotsman (actually specifically as a Edinburgh laddie) they need salt and sauce. If you haven't tried Scottish chippy sauce then...I wouldn't.

Anyways, on that culinary note I'm off to finalise the marks for release tomorrow, to sort through the shopping and to drink more tea.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Happy New Year

So, we're back in Lincoln after two weeks of travelling around the UK seeing family and friends, eating far too much food and climbing mountains in waist-high snow! We've had a wonderful holiday and, despite racing about like mad things, we both feel pretty rested and ready for 2012. We both did remarkably well for Christmas. I am still getting to grips with my iphone but can now tweet on the move (hoorah, you say?), I have a lot of new clothes and am looking forward to spending vouchers for weekends away and meals out. We feel pretty blessed by everything really.

Just so you don't presume I spent all the festive season lying on a sofa eating chocolate, I also spent a day in the National Library, finished the marking and completed the new module handbooks. All is coming together for the new term although the house still needs a bit of a sort out (Christmas paper everywhere) and I still have some lectures to write and dissertation supervisors to assign. We are, however, getting there and my jolly half hour of planning in Edinburgh's Valvona and Crolla has helped to sort out the next few months. I foresee a busy few months of research and teaching. Go me!

And so, I'm going to carry on with the second marking. Will post more about new year's resolutions later in the week. I have made some for what it's worth. They are mostly based around my new Zumba Wi game!

Oh, and happy birthday to Big Dave, world's best father-in-law and avid reader of Molemaison.