Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Final Year


I started my final year of uni yesterday and oh gosh this has come along quickly.

I thought it would be nice to do a little run-through post, regarding what I'm doing this year. Just a chat about what modules I'm taking, the rather dreaded dissertation and general life around uni.

Module wise, I'll be doing two modules per semester, as well as my dissertation all throughout the year. My semester one modules are Last Year's Novels and Henry James and Edith Wharton. I've read through a good load of the LYN texts and I've found them all really interesting and intriguing in all kinds of different ways. And I really love Henry James' writing and I've been getting into Edith Wharton as well, who has a fairly similar style, so I'm really looking forward to that module too. In semester two my modules are Shakespeare's Tragedies and Law and Literature. I've read quite a few tragedies so I think it'll be interesting to really analyse them and look across their similarities and differences. I think Law and Literature is going to be a great module, I can't wait to read the texts.

A far as my dissertation is concerned, I've got a fairly general idea of what I'd like to write about and the texts I'm keen to look into. I've submitted my proposal and am just waiting to find out who my supervisor will be, before I get really stuck into it.

For my last year, I'll actually be living at home, instead of in Birmingham as I have the past two years. The long and short is that having only 6/7 contact hours doesn't really make it worth the cost of living there. I think money is always a big factor when it comes to uni, and something that even puts a lot of people off from going. Whereas the past two years I've had classes most days each week, this year it'll be noticeably less, and it's therefore more cost effective to get the train on the days I'm in. And I can read on the train, so that'll be a productive use of that time and will hopefully help me keep on top of the reading.

In all honesty, I'm really looking forward to this year of uni. It's going to be the year most tailored to what I'm really interested in studying, rather than the more generalised 1st and 2nd year courses. But of course, it is always daunting starting a new year and I know that this is going to be the most important year. As much as I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of uni work, I hope I can cope with it - with 75% of my final grade counting on it, I kind of need it to go well.

Fingers crossed.

Are you starting back at uni, or maybe even starting for your first year? What are you most looking forward to?

Until next time.


Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Monday, 19 September 2016

A Royal Day Out


My birthday gift to my mum this year was a 'Royal Day Out' at Buckingham Palace. Although her birthday was back in May, we decided the best time to make the trip would be September, as certain parts of the palace are opened up to the public between late-July and early-October (and we wanted to avoid the surge of people during the summer months).

Of course, I was actually really ill on the day (typical), but I'd booked a few weeks in advance and obviously wasn't going to back out. It was a very warm day, which didn't help the sickness feeling, but I powered through and we had a pretty nice day.


A Royal Day Out ticket includes admission to the Queen's Gallery, the Royal Mews, and the State Rooms; you can alternatively by individual tickets to each attraction if you're on a time limit. In all, from when we entered the Gallery to when we left through the garden, we were there for around five hours, so the full day experience really does cover the bulk of the day.

We began at the Queen's Gallery, which essentially had two main exhibits. The first was Maria Merian's Butterflies. The images were very vibrant and depicted the life cycles of insects, which was done very nicely. Essentially her paintings were used educationally, as a means to educate the people of the 1700s on the insects life cycles, and informing them of what she'd learnt during her time in Suriname.



The other exhibition displayed the work of Scottish Artists between 1750-1900. These paintings were more focused on people, with many portraits, but still with the odd landscape image (my personal favourites). There were many paintings of the royal family throughout this period, in particular, of course, Queen Victoria.

After the Gallery, we went on to the Mews. The royal carriages are beeeeeautiful. I cannot even begin to describe the grandeur and attention to detail. Absolutely stunning. It was so interesting to read into the history of the Royal Mews and the Riding School as well, and to learn about the day-to-day routine there. There were two horses out to be seen, but they looked a little shy and a bit hot and bothered sadly (it was a very hot day).



Due to the heat, we grabbed an ice lolly and sat in the shade for a little break before entering the State Rooms in our allocated time slot (entry to the Gallery and State Rooms are timed, but you can enter the Mews at whatever time you wish - so if you wanted more time in the Gallery, you could come back to the Mews after the State Rooms).

The State Rooms were pretty darn stunning. Everything was as elegant as you can imagine and in perfect colour schemes. This was by far the hottest of the three locations though, so if you end up going on a hot day, be warned - there are benches to sit down throughout, but they will be crowded.

The Queen's Wardrobe display was out, so we got to have a look at some of her outfits, from when she was very young, to more recent ones, like her outfit for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

Of all the rooms, I must say the Music Room was my favourite, closely followed by the Blue Drawing Room. They were just, perfect? I don't think you could possibly design any room better. Very impressive.


When leaving the State Rooms, you head out into the Garden, where there's a little cafe; we had ice cream (of course), which was very nice. And then we hit up the gift shop, which was something else. The tea sets were everything I could ever dream of but £££££ golly were they pricey. We settled for some fancy tins of biscuits and a bar of chocolate with the palace on it. But one day, I'd like a few cups and saucers for my future home.


All in all, we had a really nice day (almost nice enough to forget how dreadful I felt, but unfortunately not quite). We rounded it off with a wander through Green Park, before heading off to catch our train home.

Personally, I think Buckingham Palace is definitely worth having a look around. And, additionally, you can convert your tickets into a year's pass if you get it stamped at one of the three attractions, which we did. As a result we're hoping to head back on a cooler date, which will hopefully make another day even more enjoyable.

Until next time.


Contacts/social media:
Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Lion King


On Thursday I took my best friend, Charlie, to London for a day of sun and song (and food), to celebrate her upcoming 21st birthday before we're back and busy at uni.


We arrived in London at around lunchtime, but knowing we would be having dinner fairly early in the evening, we didn't have a big lunch. Instead, we opted to head to cc Selfridges, and have a cupcake each at Lola's Cupcakes. Charlie went for salted caramel and I had red velvet.


We didn't really have a plan or schedule for the afternoon, so decided to do a few touristy bits. First we went along to Baker Street to see Sherlock Holmes' house; only from the outside however, but I'm sure we'll go back to have a tour around the inside at some point. We then headed off to King's Cross to find Platform 9 3/4, which we did not realise was a full on tourist attraction, with a shop and a photographer.


We were there for a while before going on a wander around, then going towards Trafalgar Square. It was a very warm day, so the breeze next to the fountains was ever so refreshing. We had a nice sit down and relaxed for a little while before moving on.

Following on from that we sauntered off to Covent Garden, where we caught a street performer, before heading off round the corner to dinner. We went to one of our favourite restaurants, Fire and Stone. We discovered the place back when there was one in Oxford several years ago, which sadly closed down. But now, every other time we come to London we have to go. They do the most wonderful pizzas, and also accept tastecards, giving you 50% off of your food. The food was delicious, I have a Melbourne pizza, one of my favourites.



After dinner we made our way to the Lyceum Theatre, which was just down the road, to see The Lion King. We'd both heard brilliant things about the production, but nothing could have prepared us for how utterly phenomenal it was. From the moment it began to the second it finished, we were amazed. The costumes, the music, the stage production. It was incredible. If you're thinking of seeing a musical next time you're in London, you should without a doubt see this one.

All in all it was the loveliest day, and a wonderful way to celebrate Charlie's birthday.

Until next time.


Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Back to Uni Prep


Now that we've reached September, I, as well as many, many others, are getting ready to go back to uni. I will be going back into my final year - which feels very daunting - at the University of Birmingham, where I'm studying English.

I thought I'd have a little ramble on here about what I'm doing/what I have been doing to prepare for the new semester.

Reading is the big one for my course, as it's centered completely around text. Therefore, my preparations for the end of this month have been going on pretty much since breaking up for summer. I received my reading lists a week or two into the summer, and was quick to order the books and get reading.

Doing only two modules per semester, as well as an ongoing research project (dissertation), I'll actually have less texts to read during each term than in previous years. However, with all the extra reading I'll be doing for my dissertation, I'm sure it will end up being more work. As a result, I've gotten right into the reading for semester 1, having already read about half the texts on each module, and I'm making an extra effort this month to do as much reading as I can fit in before starting back. Essentially this means freeing up more time during each week of term to read criticism and research the texts in other ways, as I'll only need to read back over the main plot, themes and theories, because I'll already be very familiar with the texts.

In terms of organisation, I've got a new planner/diary, a notebook for daily to-do lists, some folders for lecture/seminar notes, and a new-found determination to really stay on top of things (desperately hoping that lasts for at least a month). Generally with to-do lists I'll just make a list of things I need to do and tick them off as and when I've done them. But I've recently started putting times on things, as lectures etc are at specific times and then I can build my day around that, as well as driving lessons, volunteering and that kind of thing. Anything that doesn't need to be done at a specific time can still be timetabled so that if I know I'll have time to do x, y, z between two timed events, I'll make sure I'm making the most of that time.

I'm trying to start the uni year with a positive mindset, with great intentions to keep it up (for as long as possible). I'm someone who easily ends up feeling bogged down by one thing and another, so I'll be doing everything I can to see the best in stressful situations. I'm hoping to plan one day, or at least one afternoon during the week where I don't need to do anything, as where I'll be working at the weekends that time is now unavailable. Along with that I'll be taking regular breaks, even if they're only very short, from reading/writing, which will hopefully make me feel more productive in the long run.

I'm quite excited to go back to uni now, and I'm look forward to having more structure to my days, and something to plan the days around.

What are you doing to prepare to go back to uni? Do you have any plans to stay productive and to stick to your intentions?

Until next time.


Contacts/social media:
Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Catch Up


After a bit of a disappearance throughout August, I'm trying to get back on track with blogging. My post about trying to stay on board was evidently true, as I've just not been feeling like blogging over the past month and I've felt a bit unmotivated because of my lack of timetable and general schedule.


Over the past month I've basically just been doing things that I've found fun, and making the most of having that time readily available to me. I've been on some days out, to various National Trust places, including Mottisfont and Stonehenge. I've had a few nice days out in Oxford with various friends, and have been out to eat and for drinks several times. I've been to see one of my uni friends, who's heading off on a year abroad. I've also been working every weekend, as well as reading basically everyday and starting to plan my dissertation. All of these things have just added up time wise, and my blog has been pushed to the back of my mind in all honesty.

We also very sadly lost our dog at the beginning of the month, and I think that just left me a bit too brokenhearted to really think about the blog, as I would usually sit on the floor with him whilst I wrote posts. He was pretty old for a Labrador and had been getting slower and slower over the past year, so it was kind of expected, but that of course didn't make it any easier. The important thing was that we didn't want him to suffer, and he lived a very full and loved life. He was spoiled rotten and I wouldn't have changed a thing. There's just a bit of a Prince shaped hole in my heart and has been for this past month, and I'm sure it's never going to go away. But I'm glad that he's in a better place.


Now, I'm very much thinking about blogging again, and I'm ready to make a proper effort to get back to it with regular posts, starting with September. They'll probably be a few back to uni posts, a couple of day trips that I've got planned, and I think a favourites to round off the month.


I'm looking forward to the routine that'll come with going back to uni, and I think that will get me back to planning my time more efficiently.

I hope you've all had a lovely summer, and you'll be hearing from me again very soon.

Until next time.


Contacts/social media:
Twitter: @abbielour
Instagram: abbielour
Email: abbielour18@gmail.com