Sunday, 18 November 2012

Bath & Stonehenge


Stonehenge is one of England's most visited tourist attractions, but it isn't necessarily the most exciting one. To a lot of people anyway. There is no fancy visitor centre - just a couple of gigantic stones in the middle of nowhere. I however love going there and wondering how and why 3500 years ago, people transported stones weighing up to four tonnes, over 240 miles from Wales to an inconspicuous plain in the English countryside. How did they do it? How did they erect them when they finally got there? And why?


There are many myths and legends surrounding Stonehenge, and to this day so called neo-druids pilgrimage and gather there to celebrate the summer solstice. I actually spotted one myself this time, but sadly didn't get the chance to speak to him. Have you been to Stonehenge - and if yes, did you like it?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

4 simple goals before 2013 - halftime update part II


Here is the second part of my 4 simple goals challenge update:

3. Make a home:
No progress here, I'm afraid. Still no pictures on the wall, still no cosy corners:-(. I'm thinking of starting a pinterest board to gather some inspiration, but I guess a homely home doesn't come overnight...


4. Improve Anchor & Sing:
I haven't actually started the Blog Love E-course yet, but I had a lot of other things on my to-do list that I wanted to implement anyway. I also got a few additional ideas from the 'Blogging for Creatives' book (see this post for a review).
So, here's a list of recent changes to the blog:

Added
- a search bar after reading the DIY Blog Redesign series from The Flourishing Abode.
- a Creative Commons License
- categories to my sidebar
- my twitter feed to the sidebar (I'm @anchorandsing if you would like to follow)
- a note to my comment form
I have also updated my blogroll and it's now revolving.

These are mostly really simple and small changes and yet, some of them took me forever! I guess Rome wasn't built in a day, but there's so much technological stuff to learn about when you're fairly new to blogging, it's quite mind-boggling. Anyway, I'll keep at it and hopefully you'll see some more exciting changes soon.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

A poem for the weekend (and a reason to celebrate)

If I could write words by Spike Milligan

If I could write words on an autumn forest floor,
What a bonfire my letters would make.

If I could speak words of water,
you would drown when I said
"I love you."

This very gentleman successfully defended his PhD thesis last week and is now a Dr. I am so happy and proud!

Friday, 2 November 2012

4 simple goals before 2013 - halftime update part I

Now that November has begun, I thought I'd do an update on how I've been faring in the 4 goals challenge. You can read more about it in this post. Here is what I've managed to do so far (I'll be posting part II soon):

1. Read four books:
These are the four books I chose:
1.  Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
I read this book over a weekend and just couldn't put it down. It tells the story of a young Irish girl who emigrates to Brooklyn in the 50s, her struggle to settle into this new world and to lead a self-determined life. It's written in a wonderfully melancholic style and I can only recommend it!

2.  A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich
I love history and thought this book was fantastic. It was the opposite of what you'd expect a book with such a title to be - interesting, vibrant and written in a style that's easy to read and understand. As part of my job, I get to sit in on weekly lectures on British history and it was great to read this book alongside and put the events I'm learning about into a broader perspective.
 
3.  Blogging for Creatives by Robin Houghton
I won this book in a giveaway on Robin's fabulous blog: Blogging for Creatives. It's a great resource for all bloggers and if you're not familiar with it, I highly recommend stopping by.
I haven't actually read many books about blogging and didn't really know what to expect, but I ended up learning something new on every single page! The book is full of information about everything a blogger needs to know - content, design, PR, troubleshooting. The images and layout are great and it contains lots of interview with all sorts of different bloggers. I'm so happy to have a copy of this book and I'm sure I'll be going back to it again and again.

4.  Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig
Still need to read this one


2. Knit something:
It took me quite a while to decide on a project. I wanted something fairly quick and easy and eventually found this pretty (and free) pattern for a cowl. I finished it yesterday, but unfortunately it didn't look one bit like the pretty picture on the Pickles website. I must have completely misjudged my gauge swatch, because my cowl was at a length where is looked more like a knitted necklace, but was too short to wrap around my neck twice. Soo, I’ve just unravelled the whole thing and will be starting afresh with a different pattern. If anyone has any suggestions - let me know!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A poem for the weekend

The Leader by Roger McGough

I wanna be the leader
I wanna be the leader
Can I be the leader?
Can I? Can I?
Promise? Promise?
Yipee, I'm the leader
I'm the leader

OK, what shall we do now?

Picture taken on this tour

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

In my mailbox - romantic cities

Paris (postcard from Australia)

Venice (postcard from Italy)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Ireland

 
I spent a couple of days in Ireland with my students the other week. We toured the Ring of Kerry, kissed the Blarney Stone, tried Irish coffee, cuddled some Irish wolfhounds, listened to live music and simply enjoyed the hospitality of these wonderful people.
 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A discovery tour of hidden art in London

 
Street art. It's unexpected, surprising, colourful, quirky and current. It's something I love and always photograph whenever I come across a piece. Not that I know a lot about the art form (or art in general), but it's something that intrigues me and when my friend Christine recently suggested to go on a street art tour of London, I was instantly game!

 
The tour was run by Alternative London Tours. The great thing about it was that the guide himself was an artist and really involved in the East London scene. He showed us some of his own work and told us stories about the other artists whose pieces we were seeing. He also gave us advice on how to spot street art and explained the different existing styles and techniques, as well as the history of the art form and the local area. It was so so interesting!

What do you think about street art? Do you like it? Is there any around where you live?

Friday, 5 October 2012

A poem for the weekend

A Question by Robert Frost

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

Scotland 2009

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Recently thrifted

Here is what I found the other day when scouting the local charity shops:
Flowery dress, book, pretty picture and bow tie necklace
How cute is the necklace?! Can you believe it was only £1.50!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Thursday, 20 September 2012

4 simple goals (before 2013)

Fall has arrived in England. The days are getting shorter and darker, making me want to wear woolly knits and drink tea constantly. We're three Weeks into the semester at Harlaxton and I'm incredibly busy at work. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be taking the students on four trips all over the UK. (I just checked my calendar and my next free weekend is four weeks away from now)!
So although I'm excited about the upcoming months, I also thought it would be a good idea to join Elsie's fun 4 simple goals challenge to stay motivated and get things done during this busy season.
Here are my four goals:

1. Read four books:
I spend so much time sitting in front of a computer screen every day that in the evening I'm oftentimes not in the mood for reading. I miss it! Since I'll be doing a lot of travelling over the next few months, I'm aiming at reading one book per month until the new year.

2. Knit something:
If ever there was a season for knitting, this is it! I'm not a prolific knitter by any means, but looking at pretty blogs like One Sheepish Girl makes me want to start a new project immediately!

3. Make a home:
Decorating is seriously tough for me. I moved into a lovely new flat about four months ago and haven't even hung a single picture! Granted, it's a fully furnished place that was lovingly decorated before my arrival, but I really want to make it a bit more homely and personal.

4. Improve Anchor & Sing:
I love learning new things and this blog needs some serious pimpin'! So, to get me started I ordered the Blog Love E-course from A Beautiful Mess and my goal no 4 is to complete the course before the end of this year!
What are your plans for this fall?

You can find an updates for this challenge here and here.

Friday, 7 September 2012

A poem for the weekend

The shirt by Jane Kenyon

The shirt touches his neck
and smooths over his back.
It slides down his sides.
It even goes down below his belt -
down into his pants.
Lucky shirt.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

A weekend at the Paralympics

I spent the weekend in London with Ben to celebrate his 27th birthday and surprised him with tickets to the Paralympics. We had such a great time! I absolutely love attending live sport events, but it never really occurred to me that it would be possible to get tickets to the Games. Booking them turned out to be quite an easy process though and they weren't particularly expensive either, which is probably why London 2012 are the first ever sold out Paralympic Games.
I already mentioned some of the fantastic ads that ran on British television here, but to see these amazing athletes live was such a treat. We started the day watching a few table tennis matches and then walked into an arena where Germany was playing Russia in sitting volleyball. (Germany won, yey!)
In the afternoon, we met up with friends to see the judo competitions. We had been watching for about 30 minutes when I suddenly started wondering what these athletes' disabilities were. We observed the scene for another while before we realised that they were either blind or partially sighted! I couldn't believe we hadn't noticed until then! 
The atmosphere was absolutely brilliant, and the venues really fun and futuristic. Here are a few snapshots:

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Olympic Mail

Did you guys watch the Olympics? For the first time in my life, I actually own a TV and was able to follow the games from the opening to the closing ceremony. It was so cool to experience the games while living in England. There was such a buzz in the country! I can't wait for the Paralympics to start tomorrow! Have you seen this and this brilliant video?
Postcards to: Brenda in the US, and China
I'm happy to report that I managed to get my hands on a few official London 2012 cards. They're so colourful; I really like the design.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Harlaxton semester no 1

On Friday I got up at 3am to pick up 150 students from the airport. Our fall semester has officially begun and I am excited and a teeny tiny bit jealous of our students and the wonderful experiences they will have here over the next couple of months. I studied abroad in China and the US before getting my degree in England, so I'm only too familiar with the ups and downs of living abroad and how much it shapes you as a person.
This weekend was full of orientation activities and I have only just found the time to sit down and take a few deep breaths. There is still so much to organise and sort out, but I'm calling it a day and will be spending the rest of the evening watching 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and sipping on a glass of elderflower cordial.
 
Have you – or are you planning to studied abroad?

Me at Lake Michigan Fall 2006

Monday, 13 August 2012

Writing Letters

I love postcards. They are short and sweet and the thought of writing one is a lot less daunting than writing a whole letter. Letters are work-intensive and require more reflection and 'planning'. For me anyway, because I'm a bit of a perfectionist and need everything to be just right.
Nevertheless, I really want to try and write more of them in the future, not only because sometimes it's great to send longer messages and be able to include little goodies (like poems, or newspaper clippings), but also because I've recently discovered my love for envelopes.  
Envelopes add another layer to a letters. They're a great medium for mail art and can convey a message in themselves.
Here is a one I recently sent to my sister for her birthday:
I am now on Twitter! Feel free to follow me @anchorandsing

Friday, 10 August 2012

A poem for the weekend

Green tea by Dale Ritterbusch

There is this tea
I have sometimes,
Pan Long Ying Hao,
so tightly curled
it looks like tiny roots
gnarled, a greenish-gray.
When it steeps, it opens
the way you woke this morning,
stretching, your hands behind
your head, back arched,
toes pointing, a smile steeped
in ceremony, a celebration,
the reaching of your arms.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Art in my mailbox

Let's face it - for us fans of handwritten mail, the biggest problem is usually not finding someone to write to, but getting someone to write back. Even though most people greatly appreciate a handwritten letter, they often - for various reasons - won't write back. That's why I'm a big fan of postcrossing, a project that enables people to write postcards to folks all over the world and - for each sent postcard - to receive one in return. Here are a few art cards I have found in my mailbox since joining the project:
Postcards from: the US, the Czech Republic, Poland and China

Monday, 6 August 2012

A rather British afternoon

What did you get up to this weekend? It was nice and sunny here for a change, so my colleagues and I took the opportunity to do something very British and spend Saturday afternoon in the garden with lemonade and a few games of croquet.
We all started jobs here at the same time and all come from different countries (Ireland, England, America and Germany). It's been brilliant discovering the local area, hanging out and working together, trying to give our students a fabulous study abroad experience. This cool bunch are the main reason why I feel so happy and at home here.
Croquet was lots of fun (or as my Irish colleague Caroline would put it "Great craik")! Have you ever tried it? I can't wait to play it again.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Settling in

It's been over two months now since I moved into Harlaxton Manor. Living in a 200-year old listed building is an amazing experiencing and I still get all giddy whenever I drive towards the house and can make out its silhouette in the distance.
Settling in has been easy, especially now that I'm not getting lost as much as I used to in the beginning. Embarassingly enough, I had to be shown the laundry room three times before being able to locate it myself. These days however, I can confidently go exploring without having to worry about missing dinner, because I can't find my way out of a certain corridor.
Harlaxton is a little like Hogwarts - there are hundreds of rooms, secret passageways and other nooks and crannies - I could swear some of those staircases move! I haven't spotted a ghost yet, but who knows, they might just show up when you least expect them.
There are so many lovely details in the architecture and furniture of this place. I could take pictures for days.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Red Mail

Postcards to: Russia, Germany and the Netherlands

Saturday, 28 July 2012

A poem for the weekend (and a goodbye)

"Nature" is what we see by Emily Dickinson
"Nature" is what we see -
The Hill - the Afternoon -
Squirrel - Eclipse - the Bumblebee -
Nay - Nature is Heaven -
Nature is what we hear -
The Bobolink - the Sea -
Thunder - the Cricket -
Nay - Nature is Harmony -
Nature is what we know -
Yet have no art to say -
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.
Yesterday, we bid farewell to Ben's Grandpa Dennis. It was of course a very sad occasion, but it ended up being a nice day with family, sunshine and laughter. The ceremony was personal and full of love - it was more a celebration of his life, rather than a classical funeral.
The funeral took place on a green burial site, where instead of a tumbstone, each grave is marked with a tree. At the moment the trees are still young and fairly small, but one day there will be a large forest on thi site. Dennis' grave is next to his wife's beautiful oak tree. I like to think that the're happily reunited now and that their trees will grow towards heaven together.

Friday, 20 July 2012

I'm a winner!

A couple of weeks ago, I won a giveaway on Carla's fabulous blog 365letters. Yey! I received this colourful little packet yesterday:
Isn't it amazing?! I think it's by far the loveliest envelope I ever did receive. And the cards are really sweet. Thanks so much Carla!
If you're into letter writing and stamps, please check out Carla's blog. It's one of the greatest and a fantastic treasure trove for all things mail related. You'll find lots of information on fun projects and articles, great suggestions for letter writing topics and giveaways. I also really like her posts about how to find people to write to.

Monday, 16 July 2012

A very rainy holiday

I just returned from a week's holiday at my boyfriends'. It was a little disappointing as it rained all day every day and we couldn't do much of the walking and barbecuing we'd initially planned. Ben and I aren't the kind of people who can just just hang out inside for days on end, so we spontaneously spent a day in London and visited Churchill's War Rooms. It's an attraction I'd wanted to see for a while and it was really interesting to see the underground space from which Churchill coordinated England's Second World War operations. We also saw The TenFiveSixty and The Stowaways perform at The Boileroom, a great venue in Guildford that showcases up and coming bands.
Despite the weather, it ended up being a nice break. We even managed to finally watch The Matrix (neither of us had seen it before) and the lovely film 'The kids are alright'.

It's the middle of July now and it has been raining in England for the past six weeks. It couldn't be more depressing - it was 16°C today!
How are you guys spending your summer? I hope it's nicer wherever you are!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Mail art

Germany has not got much of a card writing culture, whereas in England cards are given and sent for every occasion: a new job, a house move, a celebrations of any kind. Not to send someone a birthday card can cause a serious strain on a relationship. Astonishingly though, it doesn't seem to matter all that much what you write in the card; I've seen plenty of cards which contained nothing more than a printed 'Happy birthday' or 'Thank you' and a signature.
I always try to write long and meaningful mail, because I don't see the point of paying postage for one line - it seems like a bit of a waste. Plus it's not very caring, is it? I also embellish the letters I sent to family members and various pen pals. As a teenager I once spent a whole week making envelopes from old calendars. (I still have dozens of them laying around).
I only discovered recently that there are lots of people who pursue the hobby of 'mail art'. And let me tell you - some of these people's mail is truly artistic! Check out the site of the International Union of Mail Artists and the Flicker streams of the Letter Writer's Alliance and Danielle Maret for some breathtaking examples.
I found these, and many other sites so inspiring that I really wanted to get more creative again with my mail. I recently bough this postcard book to make the beginning a little easier - et voila - my first official attempt at mail art - what do you think?
Postcard to the US



Thursday, 28 June 2012

Paris - I never knew you at all

My little trip to Paris was merveilleux! It had been 10 years since my last visit, so I didn't remember much about the city. It was quite an eye opener, especially regarding the rustiness of my French!
The weather was a bit mixed and I spent a lot of time exploring the various museums. I saw a fantastic Gerhard Richter exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, but my favourite museum was probably the Musee Marmatton Monet, which is housed in a small villa in the Ranelagh Garden and exhibits impressionist paintings.
My favourite part of the holiday was just walking the streets, marvelling at the many shop windows of boulangeries, creperies and of course the famous patisseries selling small tartes and macarons.
I also spent quite a bit of time sitting in cafes, watching fashionable Parisians stroll past. Has anyone else ever noticed that there is a certain 'dress code' that most Parisian women adhere to? I realised this at the beginning of my explorations - as long as you wear the following colours: black, dark blue and grey - you will fit in. I tried the colour combination on day three of my visit and was stopped twice and asked for directions in French, ha! I felt like I was let in on a big secret!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Celebration time

I don't know about you, but I loove birthdays. Love them. Especially my own of course. To me, there is nothing better than to be congratulated, to be spoilt for a day, to open presents and to celebrate with family and friends.
 I know lots of people feel the same, so I always try to make an effort and send my friends a special something for their birthdays. I'm really happy with how these two letters turned out.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Exploring

I can't believe I've been in my new home for four weeks already! Time really has flown by and I've hardly had a minute to myself. I'm really enjoying the job though, my colleagues are great, there is a lot to learn and I get to travel, so I can't complain. This weekend, I'm having a bit of me-time though and I'm looking forward to catching up with the world, reading, editing pictures and writing some long overdue blogposts. I have pictures from my recent trip to Paris to share - so stay tuned!
 
The other weekend, Ben and I got to spend a couple of days together, which is rare since we live three hours apart. We rented bikes and took the opportunity to explore the local area a little.
I'm probably the last person on this planet to own an iphone, but yey, I finally joined the club! These are my first atempts to get to grips with Instagram. I haven't really tried many apps yet. Can you recommend any?

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Bluebell woods

Harlaxton Manor (my home) is surrounded by 117 acres of formal gardens, park and woodland. At this time of the year the woods are especially magical. The bluebells are in bloom and transform everything into a purple fairytale land.
This past week has been quite hectic. Ben was here and we had lots of visitors.
So it was especially nice to be able to start every day with a walk in the woods, relaxing and looking for fairies. I love having this immediate access to nature. The last office I worked in was situated on an industrial estate next to a motorway. Although, I tried to go outside as much as possible, the surroundings certainly didn't look like this: