Book Club Books Miniaturist Book shelf

Judging a book by it’s cover: My first experience at a book club!

This year one of my goals is to say YES to things more. A lot of the time I can be super lazy so I end up sitting in bed with a book (or Netflix) or seeing friends. So this year I joined a local book club and in doing so it introduced me to two books I wouldn’t normally read – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt.

The discussion was led by Michael of The Big Comfy Book Shop. Situated in FarGo Village, it is the host of many events and small clubs for Coventry. It’s a haven in which to pass the time with a cup of tea (or a glass of wine if that’s your preference), browse the shelves or sit and write that novel you’ve been working on (make sure to buy one of their cakes!).

As always, totally just my own opinion, unsponsored and completely biased. 

The Miniaturist itself

Set in the 1600’s in Amsterdam, the story is driven by the idea of societal pressures, put upon by the piousness of the people during the time period. Burton successfully injects you as a modern reader into the mind of this young Dutch girl who is arriving at her marital home, naive and unprepared for what she encounters there.

It encapsulates the feeling of entrapment, isolation and oppression that the protagonist would have felt during the period of time. This book tackles racism, sexism and homophobia all in one novel without making it feel like it’s the only thing progressing the novel.

With the ambience of a detective story, Burton keeps you guessing the whole time and just when you feel secure in what you know about a character or plot line it twists in a different direction. I found I couldn’t put it down! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who, like me, didn’t realise how engrossing an historic fiction novel could be!

The Book Club

I find that meeting actual real life human beings can be difficult. I for one am so used to discussing my views from the comfort of my sofa and a computer screen, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and just launched straight into it… and I wasn’t disappointed! It was just great to meet people face to face and get a sense for how passionate they were about literature in general as well as the books themselves.

We were assigned the book “The Sisters Brothers” (usually it’s a voting system), which is a novel about two brothers who are travelling across California during the gold rush era. We discussed this in detail and it was great to hear the conclusions of other people and what they drew from the story. This is another book I really enjoyed despite it being completely out of my normal remit of fantasy and sci-fi! I can’t wait to read more and expand my reading scope!

This month’s book is a firm favourite of mine – World War Z by Max Brooks. When I first read it I talked about it incessantly to anyone who would listen and now I will get to discuss it in some degree of depth with people who may love or hate it!. That’s quite scary but it’s much better to have an open discussion than a one-sided one!

So what have you all been reading? I’d love to get some recommendations from you all!

Amy

Typewriter New Tech vs Old Spec

New Tech vs Old Spec: Elements of the past and the future combining…

…to make something not quite as good as either!

I have a dilemma that I face every few months. A battle between my love of automation, connectivity and online tools and the nostalgic feeling of a new scrapbook or diary getting slowly filled with important information, scribbles and ramblings. So begins the Internal Debate… New Tech vs Old Spec.

You may find that you switch endlessly between computer based checklists and old school address books; online calendars and idea journals, desperate to produce concise and legible thoughts. I’ve decided try to help find a happy medium by talking through the pros and cons!

 What puts tech on top

  • Of course, blogging is new to me but I’ve found it helps to give direction to my writing. It helps when I feel like I am talking to someone (even if I just leave the notes unpublished) and this is something my diary never did for me. It’s given me the ability to throw my words out there and for once, there’s a possibility that someone might hear. Hello!
    Morse code technology

    We talk a lot more but say a lot less – Photo by Geoffrey Schild Photography

  • Note-taking and calendar apps serve me well in dealing with the things I need to remember/ do and general weekly management. It helps us to have everything in one place but soon it becomes clogged with information and like all posts (including this one) it’ll all get lost in the fabric of information and time. Then again, at least it won’t clutter your house…
  • One thing I know I am, is indecisive. Online note-taking allows you to delete, rethink and revamp to my heart’s content. I end up with a jumble of notebooks and notes and it’s just not good for an organised mind! I have a slight addiction to fresh cool notebooks too – such a waste of money but I can’t help it…
Notebook journals new tech vs old spec

This is a very small percentage of the notebooks I actually own. Oops.

Where old methods never fail

  • Torn out pages, scribbled ideas and drawings – nothing fuels my creativity like a scrapbook. I really miss the personality that bursts from the pages. Evernote serves as a place for my thoughts to go… but often they fizzle out and get lost. With a book, that thought becomes a memory and no matter how insignificant it’s always there to go back to.
  • I love physical books so having printed pages and particularly printed photographs really makes me happy! We don’t print our photos enough nowadays! Mostly because photos are so common that there are usually so many that don’t mean a lot. It means the precious moments are awash in a sea of selfies and mundanity.

New Tech vs Old Spec Camera vs Phone Pictures

  • I don’t remember things very well… I think it’s because I never need to use my memory! If I need information I’ll Google it, not take it in and then if I need to recall I’ll just use Google again. It can’t be good for anyone’s mind so I advise taking time away from tech to regain some mental clarity.
  • “I’ve just popped online to research my artwork and now I’ve done my online banking, had a chat with my friends and reorganised all my phone apps! Now it’s too late for me to pick up a pencil, best go to sleep.” Constant distractions from outside can be productive but sometimes dull the creative process… I never get anything done!

Internal Debate Creativity vs Productivity New Tech vs Old Spec

The truth is…

There are good and bad parts to new tech and traditional methods. I don’t think I will ever be able to detach myself from one or the other. However, rather than getting trapped in an endless loop of copying information between the two mediums I’m going to try to keep all my organisational notes fully online and all my creative ideas as physical items so I stop editing myself and getting caught up online!

Do you have this problem? How do you cope with the battle between technology and creative flow?

Until next time,

Amy

 

Gantrisch Astrophotography Geoffrey Schild Photography Space Themed Blog

Internal Debate: Hey wait, Funny guy…This isn’t a joke?

This week I hadn’t planned an Internal Debate post. I’ve been working on a post titled “5 YouTubers that I watch religiously”. I intended to discuss their content, their achievements and why it was I idolised them and followed them, sometimes not just in their media content but also in their weekly vlogs.

Just to bear in mind, these are people who I look forward to seeing content from, people I wait in line to see, people who I feel I relate to. Finding people like this on YouTube can be like finding your own personal brand of TV. Something that interests you entirely and you make a part of your daily routines.

So, why am I not producing this “5 YouTubers” post?

It’s got to be some kind of joke…

Vice posted an article on Facebook, which initially I thought to be a lie or fabrication. I follow Vice and their articles are usually trustworthy, but it indicated that one of the YouTuber’s I watched was inherently racist. His face stared back at me with a caption “What Should Parents Do When Their Kid’s Favorite YouTuber Gets Racist?

My immediate reaction was perhaps it’s a mistake? Is this just more click-bait? Are they using his face out of context? It’s so often that mainstream media will demonise YouTube stars for making comments in an ironic or comedic way and taking them WAY out of proportion. This is not uncommon, and it’s all I wanted to think was happening.

Fire by Geoffrey Schild Photography

Searching for the truth

After doing some digging through various articles, I found the original video it all stemmed from: it was a 2-hour interview on the subject of racism, minorities, immigration and general social commentary. As a huge fan, I set out to remotely fight his corner until about 10 minutes in when I realised… I couldn’t. The arguments he presented and “facts” he cited were not only false but pretty ridiculous, misinformed statements which were altogether hateful.

My aim is not to debate these views here, but you can find the video itself here.

Sometimes we have misconceptions of the people we watch on screen. We think that because we see aspects of their personal lives and views, we know who they are as a person. It’s common that we do this when viewing comedians, in particular, some of which are struggling with mental health issues but who are on the forefront just plain funny. This brought home for me how really we don’t know the people we watch and we shouldn’t judge them solely based on what the parts of them they choose to present to us.

Chess Board Grand-Hotel Giessbach Geoffrey Schild Photography

The Internal Debate

During my time following his, frankly hilarious, game series and film reviews I have not once thought to myself that he was making a political statement. This calls into question – do I stop watching the content he produces (which I enjoy) because this guy has views that are different from mine? At no point up until now had I any idea of his views in his comedy – it’s just good old slapstick silliness and perfectly executed jokes.

I went through a similar internal debate when a certain Mr Depp came under fire in recent years for other aspects of his private life. It somehow made the content he was part of less enjoyable for me to watch. It makes me unable to detach myself from the fact that despite this person being a world-renowned actor, he somehow isn’t the person I idolised when I was young.

I watch TV content without any idea what the political/social views of the creators are. They could potentially all have extreme views I didn’t agree with and I would be oblivious. But I revered this person; does it mean I need to care more about him as a person? Does someone who makes YouTube content need to think like me, for me to enjoy their work?

I have no doubt that if and when this YouTuber releases a new video, I will watch it. But how I will feel about it following this revelation, remains to be seen.

Until Next Time

Amy

A Geek’s Guide: How to be cool 100% of the time

So as most of you can tell, I am pretty much the authority on being cool… So I thought I’d share my grand knowledge with you all in the form of an A-Z on being cool 100% of the time.

Also officially introducing part of my new Logo courtesy of Satin and Tat!

Amy

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other word would smell as sweet.”  – From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

You don’t all have to be called Amy to be cool, but it just helps!

Bookworm

I think reading is super important for the soul. I’d say if you can’t afford to travel, then read. You’ll broaden your mind either way, and I don’t just mean with the mindless drivel you get in your local newspaper. Escape to another world, particularly when ours doesn’t go in the right direction… I love all kinds of fiction books but my favourite genre is time travel… give me a paradoxical nightmare and I am there! (or then?)

Bookworm, childhood

Childhood

The best way to make an epic skyscraper is to lay some solid foundations and my childhood was pretty amazing (kudos to my parents). I think the best way to make sure your child grows up to be as cool as I, is to dress them in an Austen-esque dress regardless of gender or current trends. It will help get them on the track to a 100% cool factor.

Drawing

I draw most of the day when I am bored but nothing ever becomes more than a scribble on a page. If I spend more than an hour on a single drawing then it’s a rarity. The pressures of social media make us feel like everything needs to be of a certain skill level to share with others, but don’t be afraid to draw every day, just for the joy in it!

Geoffrey Schild Photography

Astrophotography is another amazing image by Geoffrey Schild

Existential Crisis

Sometimes you just need to freak out at how insignificant you are to put things into perspective when you’re worrying too much! Just chill! Sometimes I think things in the shower, such as… the water that passes over you now, has existed for billions of years, has touched so many living things and will never touch you again. Does it really matter if you don’t finish that thing today? Probably not.

Friends

Your shared experiences help add to who you are. There are a select few I would call my true friends. The ones who add to my daily life, who I truly care for and place importance in. They help to make me who I am and for that, I’m really thankful. Okay, mushy stuff over.

Nostalgia MySpace Friendship Nerd

If I still had a MySpace… These guys would be my Top 8!

Games

Okay, so if you’re still reading this may not be the first time you’ll want to roll your eyes (and it may not be the last.) I hate the whole “gamer chick” cliche and all that comes with it. I just want to say I LOVE GAMES. Please talk to me about games. Introduce me to games. Tell me things about cool games. I am not talking about FIFA or Battlefield… Think Bioshock, Life is Strange… Works of art in game form. GIMME.

Hair

One of the first things people notice about me is my hair. People tell me (frankly ridiculous) things like, “You should see what your hair is like straight!” How about HELL NO. Why would I take something that makes me unique, and then change it to fit in with everyone else? Do you even know me?!Curly Haired Nerd

Illogical

Why do things the most direct way when you can do them in a completely convoluted way? Always act first and never think about what you’re going to do until it’s done… *facepalm*

James

Have a super smart boyfriend who helps to keep you on the right track towards being an ultra-nerd. You always need someone around who can fuel your passions and encourage you to pursue your dreams. Just when you think you’re starting to feel like life is a little bit ordinary or dull, you’ll both start dancing in the kitchen to National Express, and all will be right again with the world.

Kooky – See Quirky.

James and Me, Lego James and Me

Lego

Like many adults clinging to their youth, I have a huge passion for Lego. It’s one of those things you wish you had more of as a kid but it’s only affordable if you’re an adult with a bit of expendable income. I collect mini-figs (… those are the little people…) and I’d say it’s the first collection that I’ve been really passionate about!

My Little Pony

Bronies are the coolest. I don’t care what people say. Their fandom rivals that of Harry Potter, Sherlock and Dr Who combined. We aren’t all trilby wearing weirdos and MLP is ACTUALLY AMAZING. Did you enjoy cartoons as a kid? Do you like them as an adult? If so then give MLP a try – it’s not just for little girls.

Nineties Nerd

I was born at the end of the ’80s and so I grew up with all the new privileges of the ’90s and early ’00s. That perfect timing right where technologies became household necessities as I grew up. At this age, we have the ability to adapt to new things with a progressive respect and no fear of the new. We remember the days where we had to turn off the internet to use the phone and somehow it makes us have a respect for the wonders of tech too.

Organisation

Despite being illogical in everyday situations I am super organised in the long term. I have at least 3 diaries, calendars and journals to make sure my time is organised!

90s emo kid purple cords and pogs slammers nerd culture

Purple Cords and POGz were the BEST.

Purple Cords

We all have phases in our teens. The times when we look back with a grimace and a swift self-edit. My purple-cord phase was one of those times but everyone should have a phase like this. If you didn’t, I don’t think that anyone could consider you to be cool.

Quirky

So pretty much anyone who identifies themselves as “quirky” is a bit of a tool. But you try thinking up with something to describe yourself beginning with Q! I like quirky, as a word. I learned that there isn’t really a direct translation for quirky in some languages, and that’s a massive shame. Kooky is the closest but it doesn’t quite cut it unless you’re the kind of quirky that lives with a hundred cats in a shack in the woods.

Ravenclaw

Of course, I had to drop Harry Potter in here somewhere. I have a huge passion for Harry Potter (as you can probably tell from my previous posts). Ravenclaws have a thirst for knowledge and value wisdom, and that makes them super cool! If you too are a Ravenclaw then don’t worry – you’re just as sane as I am.

Ravenclaw Badge and Space Themed Intergalactic Bath Bomb

Space

I have a real passion for Space-themed items, and try to fit them into my life wherever possible. If you want to do the same you might want to check out my Space Princess Gift Guide or Space Cheesecake posts!

Tiny Versions of big things

Ever look at a small version of something and just go EEK! THAT’S ADORABLE. This only happens to me… every day. Check out ThingsForAnts on Reddit if you want more examples of this. I also have a passion for tiny versions of food! I follow YouTubers such as Tiny Kitchen by Tastemade! So satisfying to watch!

Tiny Versions of Big Things

Understated

Make sure that all your outfits definitely don’t stand out from the crowd. Opt for plain colours like BEIGE and make sure you don’t see a pattern in sight. That’s the key to making sure that you blend in really well… Pfft.

Vintage Style

Vintage style is one of my passions – My hair just lends itself to victory rolls and you pretty much won’t see me out without a 50s style dress on. Every year I visit Goodwood Revival because it’s a haven of vintage culture that I get swept up in. It’s the best place on earth, probably! I love anything with an iconic history and I don’t just mean clothes. I can lose myself in a bric-a-brac store for hours, just checking out all the weird and wonderful items.Vintage Zaftig Girl

Wedding Blogger

Blogging for personal reasons is relatively new to me but I think I’d have been 20% cooler if I’d started doing it earlier. You can talk as much as you want, about whatever you want and you’ll have a load of fun memories from the process. I have been a blogger for Brooklyn Bridal for a year and a half now, and have recently started a new venture with Satin & Tat. Without sounding like Monica, I am pretty wedding obsessed. I think it stems from my love for parties, and after all – isn’t that what mostly what a wedding is?!

X Chromosome

I am a self-proclaimed feminist and I believe in breaking the stigma when we talk about women as pretty before we see them as clever or passionate or curious. I am proud to be a woman and all that involves! As is my good friend Lizzie who I collaborated with to make a feminist infographic! (and sells feminist art on her Etsy.)

Yes

Grab opportunities that life throws at you with both hands. We aren’t talking about a Yes-Man scenario but by saying yes to more things it just makes life more interesting. YES- I’ll take art classes with you… I’ll come on that trip… LET’S DO THIS THING! One of my goals is to say yes to more things.

Zaftig

This is a perfect word to describe me which I only found when trying to come up with things that being with Z. It has all of the descriptions with none of the negative connotations. I am of course not saying that you all must be like me but I embrace it as something that makes me who I am! Deal with it, dudes.

Well, you’ve made it to the end of this educational post and just by getting this far you have probably started noticing yourself changing into an awesome nerd.

Good luck with being cool 100% of the time!

Until Next Time
Amy

Eland West Midland Safari Park

Major Adulting: A weekday trip to West Midlands Safari Park

My best friend and I really needed a break from being adults with full-time jobs so we decided to chill out amongst the animals for a day.  So this week’s post is just a little summary of my trip to West Midland Safari Park!

It was the best idea ever – a chilly Thursday in February meant no people, no swarms of children, no sweltering in cars in a queue… We could just leisurely drive at our own pace around the park and there were no battles for space to view the animals. All the animals were energetic and curious (likely due to waking up a bit after the quiet winter) and so we had some really amazing interactions with quite a lot of them!

I will let the pictures speak for themselves but here are just a few Safari Park highlights!

  • Feeding the deer and giving them all silly names and personas
  • Getting bitten by an overzealous zebra
  • Being surrounded by little red fox-like animals
  • Being closer than I’ve ever been to a lion (about 1 metre or so!)
  • Having birds land on our heads and nibble us!

We also vlogged for most of the day and recorded some of our closer encounters so I will edit and upload a video soon!

Without further ado… The photos!

West Midlands Safari Park

These little guys circled around the car – I think they were scavengers of some kind! I can’t remember their name.

 Penguin 1 Safari Park
 Penguin 2 Safari Park

Greater One Horned Rhino Safari Park

Nice Zebra Safari Park

Nice Zebra

Bad Zebra Safari Park Zebra Bite

Bad Zebra!

Majestic Tiger West Midland Safari Park

 Deer Safari Park
 Unamused deer safari park
 Deer at Safari Park
Snek Boa Constrictor Safari Park

Snek.

Beautiful (but noisy!) lorikeets

Lorikeet Safari park

These little birds love to eat your hair products!

Proud Sealion

So there you have it- The Safari Park!

Our day at the Safari Park was a success. It was a much-needed rest and so much fun. We missed the meerkats and lemurs because we arrived too late but we got free return tickets. (Bonus!)

I want to make sure to do things like this a lot more! Hope you like the photos!

Which are your favourites?

Amy

Cheeky Deer Safari Park

I bring you love.