Friday, 30 October 2015

Two months into the new job!

Afternoon friends!

On the 1st September I joined the drama department at De Montfort University as Senior Lecturer (VC2020) and very jolly it is too. My new colleagues are very friendly and welcoming, and I have enjoyed getting to know a bunch of new students. Funnily enough, the transition between institutions has been considerably more anxiety-filled than I could have imagined. I guess you always just want to do well when you go somewhere new!

I'm enjoying dividing my time between Nottingham and Leicester, and have sourced decent independent coffee and a delicious veggie Indian restaurant. These are clearly the most important things! My train trip is shorter than when I worked at Lincoln - it's just half an hour on the London train. I've been to the Curve Theatre and De Montfort Hall, so I feel as though I am properly getting into Leicester cultural life. I really love the vibrancy of these two Midlands cities. They both have such a beautiful collection of diverse cultures, nationalities, languages and belief systems. It is all rather exciting actually.

So, what else is happening? Well I am just busy writing. I have a million projects to complete by next April, including, of course, the Book. The latter is progressing well; I just have chapter 4 to complete. Looking forward to getting it all sent off although I'm enjoying the writing process. Outside of work we've been watching some films, enjoying a Steve Hackett gig and finishing the beautiful 'Show Me a Hero' (the HBO series). A few weeks ago I decided that we needed a break away from everything and so we took ourselves up to North Yorkshire and spent the most lovely couple of days at Flamingo Land (with me screaming my head off on the rollercoasters), eating delicious sandwiches at Helmsley, staying in a cosy pub (with a lovely dog called Arthur) and visiting Castle Howard and Riveaulx Abbey. It was a very short trip but I felt enormously refreshed afterwards. It really chilled me out and I returned with renewed vigour. We should do this more often!

November is approaching - a month of birthdays, chilly weather, preparing for December and, this year, heading off to Boston for the Modernist Studies Association Conference. I really can't wait for the latter. It is going to be so cool - lots of lovely people and great, fascinating work in store.

Hope everyone is doing great

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Summer adventures

And with that, summer is nearly over!

It has been a great couple of months full of adventures. First up was a month of writing - suddenly I feel as if the book is starting to come together. I just have chapter 4 to finish, although chapter 2 continues to drive me a bit crazy! Migrating Modernist Performance: British Theatrical Travels through Russia will be out with Palgrave MacMillan next year. I've also been working on the new Professional Wrestling and Performance edited collection for Routledge which, all being well, will also come out next year. I have a million other projects on the go at the moment and one of tonight's major jobs is to work out how on earth it is all going to get done!

As usual for the Wardens, the second half of the summer was taken up with an exciting trip. This year we went back to America (2nd of 3 Stateside trips for me this year!), starting in LA, driving up the coast to Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Carmel Valley, San Francisco, Sonora and finally back for a couple of days in New York before flying home. It was an amazing trip, full of new experiences, including bathing at Esalen at 2am, seeing the final ever Rush gig, visiting Yosemite, flying under the Golden Gate Bridge in a helicopter (yes, I know, right?), landing on Alcatraz, riding on a stagecoach, watching the Mets, getting tickets for On the Town (my first on-Broadway musical) and seeing enormous trees, swimming in incredible oceans, dragging D round loads of art galleries, eating at awesome restaurants, wandering amongst amazing architecture and indulging in way too much ice-cream.

Here are a couple of my favourite photos (typically, D has hundreds and will probably be a bit grumpy about the ones I've chosen to put up here!)

Yosemite Valley looking down!

Me looking rather wistful at the Big Sur

'Welcome to the Rock' from the helicopter

'Welcome to the Rock' as we arrived

The amazing nighttime sky in Sonora. This was the view from our house!

New York - memorial to 9/11 

We travelled on four planes (Le Compagnie x2, Delta, JetBlue) and all left on time (just about) and were great. We stayed in seven different places, mostly Air BnB which I recommend to everyone as a brilliant, cost-effective and exciting way of travelling. We walked so far that D has to throw away his £10 walking shoes. I read two books: The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus (great and pretty inspiring) and H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald (which I loved).

All in all, a great summer. And now it is back to it. There is a lot going on in the family right now (including the birth of our new wee niece!) but I am also back to writing and sorting before term begins.

And the big news is...*drum roll* Tuesday I will be starting a new job at De Montfort University, Leicester. I'm enjoyed my time in Lincoln but I'm definitely ready for a new start, and am looking forward to meeting the students and hanging our with my new colleagues.

Hope everyone is doing great!


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Settled in Nottingham

So, welcome back to blogging! We have been in Nottingham now for three months and it has gone by in a lovely blur. The apartment we finally found is fantastic - close to the centre of town, overlooking the Trent, with a pool on site. I feel very settled here (even though there are still a few boxes to unpack).

There have been lots of exciting events, opportunities and trips over the past few months. Here is just a taster of what has been going on in the lives of the Wardens:

1) I went to New Orleans! I presented a paper on British holiday camp pro-wrestling at the Popular Culture Association Conference. I had the best time. The conference was good if a bit wacky - Martin Sheen gave a talk so it was also pretty showbiz. I met a lot of super nice people, including contributors to the forthcoming edited book, Performance and Pro-Wrestling (Routledge 2016). New Orleans is an amazing place! I ate some incredible food (gumbos, crawfish, jambalayas) and listened to some cool jazz, including at the legendary Preservation Hall. I visited galleries, took a walking tour and wandered my way round the amazing cemeteries. It was a great trip and I felt quite sad to come back to the UK.

2) I've given papers in Oxford (Avant-Gardes Now! conference) and Manchester (Raymond Williams Now! Conference) - everything is 'now'! - and have played around in some archives.

3) I've watched some cool indie wrestling in Sheffield (ICW - well worth catching them)

4) The end of term has come and gone. I saw some great performances - very exciting, vibrant and risky (in the best possible sense of that word). All the marking is now done (phew!) and the admin is signed off. This is always a pretty terrific feeling.

5) We went to Copenhagen! D and I fancied a proper holiday so we took ourselves off the the Danish capital where I spent five days prancing around castles, wandering through art galleries (sense the theme!?) and pretending to be Birgitte Nyborg. Ever sense I watched Borgen I've wanted to visit Copenhagen - Birgitte is a bit of a hero. It was as lovely as I had hoped. We stayed in this great little apartment in Vesterbro - Air BnB wins again.

And, on top of all this, I've been sorting out the house (everyone will be pleased to now we now have sofas), doing lots of writing in an attempt to finish the first draft of the book by September, attending way too many meetings, reading lots of great books (including Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist which you need to read if you haven't) and catching up with new series of Treme and the first series of Daredevil which is a bit scary than I thought it would be given it's from the Marvel franchise.

There are some exciting things coming up, one of which I'll be able to share in a few weeks (cryptic!). D and I will be off to America at some stage and I am trying to chain myself to the desk for a while to get writing done. Fortunately I absolutely love working at home!

Hope everyone is doing well.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Quite a month... know when you carefully plan something and then it all falls apart? Welcome to our failed experience of buying a house. After much wrangling the whole deal fell apart leaving us just a week to find a new place to live. For the first time in my life I think I used the word 'stressed'! Finally we found the perfect flat to rent and here I sit, one week after a rather rapid house move. Thanks to our gracious friends looking after our BBQ and extra large hammock, we managed to downsize from our big, rambling Victorian house to a two bedroom apartment. We absolutely love the new flat! It's pretty near the centre of Nottingham and overlooks the Trent. I don't think I will ever get sick of the sunrise through our 5th floor window or the novelty of having a dishwasher for the first time in three years. We've enjoyed living in Lincolnshire but it was time to move on.

So, what else happened in February/early March?

Well we went down to Cardiff to see the family (including our beautiful nephew), we've played an unusual amount of adventure golf and I've finished Alice Munro's short stories (which were amazing!).

I've travelled to Glasgow to speak at the University of Strathclyde and, as of two days ago, I finally have a copy of the new book in my hands. Yes friends, Modernist and Avant-Garde Performance: an introduction is out and available at all good bookshops! I'm pleased with the way it looks (EUP have done a great job) and hope that it will really help folks approaching this material for the first time.

And I won a British Academy grant to fund the British/Russian project which is amazingly exciting and means a good number of 2015 foreign trips. While I have won some small external grants before this is my first big one. In modern academia securing such grants is absolutely vital so I am chuffed to bits!

I've taken up swimming again for the first time in ages (very lovely) and said goodbye to my horse friends in Lincolnshire in the hope of new Nottingham-based horse friends.

So, currently I sit surrounded by boxes and the bed is still in its plastic wrapping but, I have to say, I feel extremely positive about the future here in our new city and am looking forward to exploring its parks, cinemas and art spaces over the next few months.

Whatever you are up to, I hope things are good with you.

Monday, 19 January 2015

2015 and we're already halfway in... January 2015

Ahem...Happy New Year...

So, this year, to save me from the regular embarrassment of not updating my blog often enough, I'm going to post a single epistle each month detailing the goings on in the world of the Wardens. I might also post occasional musings.

So what has happened since my last post?
Christmas came and went. It involved us travelling from Lincoln to Nottingham to Stockport to Edinburgh to Aviemore and back again. Despite a bit of illness we had a lot of fun and it was great to see everyone. Dogsledding in Aviemore was a particular highlight but then so was playing Christmas games with our niece.

Since there, here is the news:
 - We are in the process of relocating to Nottingham full time. This has been a long decision but it is definitely the right one. We should be moving in late February and are looking forward to enjoying Nottingham life and being closer to everyone. This also means that the next few weeks will be full of boxes and removal men. Although we'll miss our big old house (and particularly the ducks!), it is definitely the right time. I'll be doing a commute back to Lincoln for the time being and am actually quite looking forward to quiet writing and reading time on the train. I've been listening to the BBC's War and Peace over the past few days and reckon I could get quite into spoken books.
- I've been super busy with research work, including writing two abstracts, an invited lecture and numerous  forms. I'm also up to 20,000 words of the book which is a big relief as I was beginning to get a little anxious about lack of progress. It's my own fault - there are just too many exciting things happening! Last Friday I returned to one of my favourite archives at the John Rylands in Manchester. Pretty super that I can combine work things with seeing the family, including my rather beautiful 10-week old nephew.
- We watched The Hobbit at the Kinema in Woodhall Spa. I enjoyed it, although we agreed that there were way too many plot holes (what happened to those worm things? Anybody?)
- I've finished the marking. As usual a good mix of stuff this term. Looking forward to the forthcoming term when I'm back to teaching Modern European Drama and Documentary Theatre, my favourites!
- I've been reading a lot. I have made a whole heap of New Year's Resolutions this term, most of which seem to be going OK. One of them is reading a whole fiction book every month. I realise that this doesn't sound like very much but I spend all my days reading books about modernism and theatre and tend to neglect 'fun' reading. So far I've actually read two books (Murakami's new one [very strange!] and a rather beautiful if perplexing book by Carol Sheilds called Unless). I'm now on to Alice Munro's short stories. I read a couple of these when I taught Canadian Literature at Edinburgh but I haven't returned to them for many years. The first one was a bit disturbing but amazing. Looking forward to a train journey tomorrow so I can read the next.
- One of my other resolutions revolves around fitness challenges which, as you'll know, I really like! January is always an easy fitness month for me. It's about getting things back on track: light cardio and, this year, loads of yoga. While I don't really go in for the spiritual side of yoga, I really like the movements and the focus they force you to maintain. I'm following some pretty tough yoga sessions D bought me (yoga 'til failure!) but am really loving it. Hoping that by February I'll be ready to ramp it up a bit in preparation for a nice summer challenge.

The next few weeks will be full with term starting, moving house and three new publications all coming out - an article, a book chapter and, on February 15th, Modernist and Avant-Garde Performance: an introduction.

Hoping you're having a great start to 2015. I have high hopes for this year!

And today on Martin Luther King Day I leave you with this: