Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Alternative modernisms and quiet days

Morning all,
After 2 days of glorious sunshine, Lincolnshire weather has reverted to type and we have rain. The ducklings are quite jolly about it. This past week and a bit has been a combination of super busyness and peaceful home days. Straight after our departmental postgrad progress board, I ran off to Cardiff for the Alternative Modernisms conference. There were three great things about this trip: 1) I got to stay with Smelly sister and Stu (husband) which was so lovely. Generally at conferences you stay in uni accommodation or a hotel. How nice it was to have a little home from home where I could relax. 2) The scholarship was immense. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this conference but I certainly wasn't expecting to come away quite so inspired. Because of the word 'alternative' many modernists with more niche subject areas came out of the woodwork. This meant a refreshing lack of Joyce and Woolf and far more about obscure scout groups, the design of cruise liners and pottery. I loved it! My own panel went very well. To have 40 people at a modernism and theatre panel is, quiet frankly, unheard of! There was a brilliant spirit of joyful friendship which I appreciated very much indeed 3) I got to visit my bff in Ammanford (which is further from Cardiff than you'd think!) and meet her two sweet children for the first time. We lived together when we both worked for St Mikes in Aberystwyth but haven't actually seen each other since my wedding nearly 6 years ago although we've spoken on the phone a lot. It was simply brilliant to see her.

The only downside to all the revelry is that I got a horrid cold that I had to fight off for the entire week. Bravely battled through though in the power of Vicks First Defence.

Since then it has been marking all the way. Finished all first marking yesterday so now just need to do the final bits of moderation and we can put this term to bed. For a variety of reasons, this hasn't been the easiest term for me so I'm quite glad to venture on into a summer of research. That said, last week we said goodbye to our third years and I was very sad about it. They are the first group of students I have ever seen all the way through their course so I feel particularly attached to them. They are a really strong year group and, best of all, genuinely nice folks.

I have enjoyed a number of peaceful days at home which have reminded me how much I love sitting at my wee desk and just cracking on alone. I am really quite antisocial! As well as that over the past week and a half I have: carried on with Insanity (the second month is way tougher than the first - my muscles ache...a lot!), watched Shawshank Redemption for the first time (I know, I know...), watched a brilliant documentary called Searching for Sugarman, read Paul Coelho's The Alchemist (really excellent and thoughtful), worked on a chapter for a collection entitled Modernist World, done my first batch of healthy baking (verdict: carrot cake 'best I have ever eaten' (quote from D), but still need to find a way of getting my banana muffins to rise properly) and enjoyed two bbqs.

Summer research is approaching and I am so looking forward to the next 12 weeks. I have a whole book to write along with other projects but am excited about the challenge and about the long days at my laptop. All great fun. We also have a number of gigs and wee trips coming up to give us some time together away from D's revision books.

Hope life is treating you well wherever you are

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Sorry, assessment took over life back there!

So much for blogging every week! Quite frankly any post I might have written last week would have been total nonsense! It was the second week of performance fortnight, LSPA's bi-annual theatre fest. Everything went off very well, although if I smell ketchup or strawberry sauce ever again it will be too soon. There were some interesting performances from the first years who responded to the brief in really imaginative ways. Come Thursday night I was utterly exhausted and spent the next three days resting and filling in assessment front sheets. D is super busy right now so we've tried to take a bit of time out together just to watch some football or eat food.

Talking of football, hats off to Sir Alex Ferguson who retired this week. Actually I felt rather nostalgic about it all, remembering back to those joyous Saturdays at Old Trafford watching Eric Cantona run rings around the Liverpool defence. Happy days! Fergie was also present out our wedding (coincidence, you understand, he wasn't invited as such) and signed our wedding book. I think even staunch ManU-hater D was relatively impressed by that. Anyways, onwards and upwards with David Moyes. Hopefully Rooney will be out the door so I can start supporting the Reds in good conscience again.

We continue on with our Insanity fitness programme. I am enjoying it very much indeed. This week is our rest week. I did the 'rest week workout' last night and it was considerably less restful than I was hoping! It feels pretty good to be a bit fitter. It also means that I can finally do the yoga crow pose, something I have wanted to do since taking a hard core yoga class in Canada. It requires strong triceps!

The ducklings are doing very well. We have two families: one of eight who are all huge and one of five who are a little smaller. They come for breakfast and tea. D is a big softie and left the house this morning reminding me to 'take care of the ducklings'. They are increasingly demanding and knock on the conservatory door when they are hungry. Cheeky things!

This week is my transition week back into research and I'm looking forward to it. Apart from the marking, my focus from now until September is on writing and only writing. By the by, my royalties came through from the first book. Put it this way, I won't be retiring any time soon! But it has sold rather well for a fairly off-the-wall academic book. I'm really looking forward to this summer. We have a couple of holidays, a few gigs, some conferences and long days of writing and research. Just perfect!

And talking of research....I had better crack on.