Thursday, 18 December 2014


Well, its December. Lots happens in December, and to be honest I find it exhausting. But anyway. I've been making things of late, so I thought I would show you all:

Knitted plush dogs
I knitted these two for my new and good friends H and Ames. Check out their crafty blog Here: Bonnington Craft Haven. They make all sorts of awesome stuff which is worth checking out.
These guys took me around a week or more to make each one, doing a couple of hours each day. It was fun though :) They're not too hard to make.

I wanted to make more stuff for people but I ran out of time. I'll put up any more things I make.

I've come home now for the xmas hols. This is probably the last time I'll be home this early or for this long but hey. This is the first xmas since I was 15 that I don't have to do exam revision all day every day I'm home. Its odd, and tbh I'm already a bit bored. Hopefully people will be around to meet up with, and there is reading to do for my next rotation.

In other creative news, edible creativity has been occurring:

Cherry Cake
Mmm Cherry cake with lemon icing. My fave type of cake ever. Its quick, easy and nice. Even if it looks a bit messy. Food presentation is not my strong point.

Candy peel
This is supposed to be candied orange/grapefruit peel. Something went wrong, because to be brutally honest it was disgusting and ended up in the bin. Oh well, better luck next time. I don't even like candied peel.

Marzipan fruit
Ok, this I'm kinda proud of. It took me like 3 hours, but this is (homemade by mum) marzipan and food colouring made into fruit. Its not amazing, but I'm happy with it. You have banannas, oranges, kiwi's, apples and pears. Grapes were a bit too hard.

So, that's all for now. Just wanted to share pretty pictures. Happy xmas

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Frankenstein and the Theatre

So this weekend I got to see something incredible:

Frankenstein, an incredible performance
This was a play originally performed live at the National Theatre, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. When it was performed, they also filmed it and broadcast it into cinema's around the country so that other people could get to experience it from afar. This year they decided to re-air it in the cinema's, allowing those of us who missed it to see it.

Now, I adore the theatre. It was always my dream to work in a theatre, to be a theatre actor and experience the madness and sheer exhilaration of performing each and every night. Sadly my talents in this field are somewhat lacking, but my love of the theatre has never lessened. So to get to see these two great actors at work was really something.

The play had an interesting twist - the two main actors swapped roles each night, one time playing Dr. Victor Frankenstein, and the next playing the monster he created. This emphasised the idea of creation and humanity and such (according to the director).

Swapping roles each night, giving two brilliant interpretations of the same play
I was lucky enough to see both versions of the play, and both were just incredible. The two men portrayed both characters differently to one another, despite going through the same motions and having the same lines. Lots of people say they have a 'favourite' cast for the play, but I have to say it is hard to choose which I prefer.
BC's portrayal of the creature really showed his innocence and sheer joy at seeing the world for the first time, of experiencing sunlight and rain, and the feeling of grass on his skin, and the vulnerability he had when he first came to life and learned to walk. As the play moved on, you really felt the sense of sheer betrayal felt by the creature, which I found less so from JLM's portrayal. JLM on the other hand showed the creatures anger and burning rage barely kept under control as the play progressed, his voice stronger and body language harsher from the start. They both showed different sides to the creature, but both of them made you love him, sympathise with him, and feel an immense loss for the person he could have been had people not been so harsh.
JLM portrayed the doctor's progression as a slow decent into madness, which I loved. The doctors sheer exhaustion yet sheer determination at the end was just incredible. BC on the other hand really made the characters obsession and drive for science shine through, though showed less of the characters slow but sure destruction than JLM.

So you see, it's very hard to say which I prefer. In a way I would say I prefer cast A, with BC as the creature and JLM as the doctor. I think that is because that was the first performance I saw, and so the second was always being compared. Both were just incredible though, and I am so glad I saw them.

A quick word on the staging - incredible. Ok, I know I have said that a lot, but seriously it was. They had a huge display of lightbulbs that lit up and flashed at times throughout the performance, showing the flashes of electricity that brings the creature to life, as well as the strangeness of it all and those flashes of inspiration that came to Victor Frankenstein throughout the story. They also had a rotating centre, allowing for different staging to appear, and a set of tracks (like a railway) which were used to great effect (especially when a fully steampunked up train and crew came roaring on stage). Also that make-up for the creature: just wow.

If any of you ever get the chance to see it then do so. They aren't releasing a DVD of it, which is sad but a decision made by the performance team and one I respect. It would loose something I think.
Here is the trailer they released, so you can have a flavour:

As a final note, if anyone ever wants to see anything in the theatre, please give me a shout. I want to see more things at the theatre, as I always have and always will love the magic. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Kingdom Hearts - my childhood Pokemon

So, many people are currently getting excited over the upcoming release of this:

Yup, that's right, Pokemon!
This (for those of you who either live under a rock or care none for games), is the remake and upgrade of two of the most popular pokemon games. The original games were released alongside Pokemon emerald, which hasn't been remade (maybe it was rubbish?), on the Nintendo Gameboy Advance around 2002-2003 according to Wikipedia.

You may have guessed I don't play Pokemon. Nor do I have a particular wish to. I have my reasons, which I won't go into here.

*cue shock and outrage*

Ok, I will go into one reason. I have never owned any of the handheld Nintendo consoles. None of them. So, whilst most of you who enjoy the series have a huge rush of nostalgia back to an era where colour was a luxury and the envy of all when it came to handheld gaming, I only have a vague memory of being a little jealous I didn't have one. So I didn't play the series as a kid.
Ok, 2 reasons. The other being I like in depth and detailed story-lines that are the main focus of a game. And no, I do not count 'to be the best pokemon trainer ever' to be an in depth and detailed storyline. I also don't enjoy having to do endless battles for 6 hours solid before being told 'great, you are now strong enough to do the next 6 hours of endless battles'.

Now, before you all start yelling at me, I'm not saying they're bad games. I'm saying I don't enjoy them. Difference. Note it.

Now onto something I do love, and spent most of my childhood playing over and over again:

The original Kingdom Hearts
For those of you who don't know, this is a game called Kingdom Hearts. There are now something like 6 spin off games from this original ones, all of which are damned good. It was originally released on the PS2, also funnily enough back in 2002, 2 years after I first got my PS2.

The basic premise of the game is you play as this guy over here in the red ->
This is Sora, your traditional mildly irritating teenage protagonist, who I nevertheless kinda like. He is the legendary keyblade master (though of course he doesn't know it). The keyblade literally being a giant key (see image) that you use to beat up the bad guys. Deal with it.

Then Disney and the final fantasy series team up and go, hey lets team up and get into gaming. So, Sora meets up with Donald Duck and Goofy the dog (see other images) and goes about saving all the worlds you know and love (or don't) from all the old Disney films. You go to Wonderland, Agrabah, Neverland, Atlantica, Halloween Town, Tarzan's Jungle and Hercules training grounds. Plus there are a couple of other new worlds to play in. You really don't have to have seen the films to play the game (I haven't seen them all) but its fun to see the characters you know in new and interesting situations.
Shadow heartless, your basic bad guy

The story is a good one (IMHO). The worlds are being devoured by the dark evil beings known as the heartless, who come from the darkness in peoples hearts. Without you and your trusty companions, everything will succumb to darkness. At the same time, Sora's two best friends have gone missing, and he wants nothing more than to find them both safe and well. (yeah, like that's going to happen). There is a lot of character development for Sora as the game goes on and he realises that the universe isn't as happy as he thinks it is. There are also numerous things that occur that tie in with the story-lines of later games, which I think is cool.
The only problem I have with the KH games (bar the slight cheesyness) is my now irrational hatred of Mickey Mouse, which people just don't get.

So yeah, basically whilst you are all getting excited over Pokemon, I'm busy getting excited for the release of Kingdom Hearts 2.5 remix in a couple of weeks. 1.5 remix came out last year and I have been loving every minute of it. The remix versions are not only the PS3 shiny remakes, but they also have a bunch of new content, new enemies, new cutscenes and new goals to achieve, adding an extra dimension to the game. They also come with 2 of the spin-off games not previously available on the PS2 which I'm excited to play. (It got irritating when Nintendo snapped up a couple of the spin off games as exclusives as I don't have the console or the money to own one).
I prefer the storyline of KH1, but the gameplay of KH2 is on another level and I love it so much more. Plus KH3 is now in the works, much excitement!

So there you are. I like gaming. Sorry for the slow update, not much exciting has been occurring in my life recently.
I should have some exciting science updates for you soon(ish) maybe. I'm currently creating many much wiggly lines using an NMR machine which is fun (go look it up).

That's all for now!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Robin Hood

Robin Hood. The renowned archer who robbed from the rich to feed the poor, the hero of Nottingham and the nemesis of the Sheriff. This weekend Nottingham castle celebrated this figure of legend in a pretty spectacular way with the Robin Hood Pageant, which me and 2 very good friends went to on Saturday.

Around the grounds of the event were loads of tents with shops, demonstrations and lots of reenactors in full kit. The first shop was amazing, full of hand crafted leather and metal goods, including jewellery, drinking and calling horns, tankards, bows and arrows, bracer's, all beautifully carved with amazing detail. If anyone is ever over Sherwood forest way I recommend checking out his shop (The Forest Archer ( Further on, we saw a woman spinning and dying wool in the traditional ways, which was really cool. Next we found a place that let you make your own candles, either by rolling them out of bees wax, or by dipping candles in coloured wax to make them pretty. H also got a hat.

Then came to my favourite parts. First they had an area to have a go at archery, which I jumped at. I got given an extra arrow or two, as the guy I was working with was lovely and seemed rather relieved to be working with someone who had some idea of how to shoot for once! (Ok, I'm not exactly great but I know the very basics of how to stand, hold and fire)

Robin hood in rainbow gloves
Then came the most beautiful part of the day. BIRDS OF PREY! Now, for those of you who don't know me, I absolutely adore any and all forms of birds of prey. They are the most beautiful creatures on this planet. My dream would be to work in falconry for a living, working with and hunting with these gorgeous birds. Its a bit of a strange dream for a very strict vegetarian who isn't keen on leather, but hey.

Lanner falcon cross, Harris hawk and Eagle owl

Yes that is my hand in the top left. That little guy was just gorgeous, and I got to hold him for a couple of minutes. I also got to fly the Harris Hawk twice to my hand which was just amazing! There was also a beautiful grumpy little barn owl, but I didn't manage to get a good picture of him.

There were a few more tents and things which had cool stuff in at the bottom, and then we headed up the hill. At the top were more shops, with hand carved wooden kitchen things, swords and daggers, gemstones, baskets, pouches, herbs, drink powders etc. It was all pretty cool.

We then had a pretty darn good afternoon of entertainment, with stories, sword fights, jousting and a falconry display. We got pretty darn cold sitting out watching for as long as we did, but it was so worth it. The characterisations were really well done too, with the Sheriff yelling evil things at us lowly peasants and Friar Tuck winning most of his battles with a tankard of ale in his hand, running away and falling over a lot.

The day show
We went out for dinner, and then we got to go back as they did a night time joust. It was incredible, with the knights charging down the green on horseback with flaming torches in hand, the incredible noises made by axe and sword meeting shields, sparks flying everywhere as metal met metal, and the final battle had the evil sheriff of Nottingham wielding a two handed flaming sword against Robin Hood carrying two single handed blades. All in all it was pretty darn spectacular, and we all had such a good day.

Night time jousting
I can highly recommend it to everyone for next year. Its brilliant fun, and I have to say I was surprised at the lack of LARPers.
Spending today chilling out as next week is going to be very long and very busy.
Have fun

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Lab times and leafy friends

Inductions. A necessary boredom, but such a dull one. Especially when it takes 2 full weeks! It's now week 3 of my return to uni land, and so far it's been 2 solid weeks of induction and courses, 2 days of reading and half a day in the lab waiting for other people to do things!

I have to say the courses we did were a big let down. Only a small group of us got to do the 2 day imaging course, and at first it looked to be really good. It ended up being really dull, going into a bunch of the physics behind microscopy which you don't particularly need to understand/know/remember when you actually use the machine. And we didn't get to do much hands on stuff which was disappointing. 
Anyways, courses aside we finally got our rotation placements through. My chosen phd topic I want to do I will get to do in my third rotation, which I'm very much looking forward to. The group are amazing, my soon to be supervisors lovely, and the work fascinating. Before then, I will be working on bacterial interaction with lipids in membranes (current project) and miRNA in neuroprotection and development (after New Years). The first project is much more chemistry and physics based than I was expecting, so it's kinda difficult and scary. I'm just hoping I don't screw up and let any of the labs down by failing. I kinda need to be good at this.
Very pretty, very fake neuroscience pic

In other news, my latest postcard collection has now grown to 3 thanks to my parents going on holiday. I'm hoping I get lots more soon :) I love postcards. I also now have two new friends in the form of mini evergreen shrubberies which have yet to be named (submissions are welcome). 
My sister and an old friend of mine from my first secondary school came to visit last weekend which was nice :) haven't seen them for an age. 
Can't really remember much else exciting. Games are afoot once again, with the return of Bens's Serilla on Thursdays which will be most fun :) also, someone else should own diablo 3 on ps3 so I can game with people more often. It's a very good game.

My new leafy friends

Ok, I'm out of news and tired.
Have fun

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Outcast and Puffy hat Degrees

The title may sound strange, but all will become clear. As a note, this is not all about Larp.
We had an epic weekend at Outcast, the best part being just seeing all my friends from the system again, both OoC and IC. I really know some amazing people.

The weekend started off well, with most of the Fae being possessed by a sorcerer (because it was totally a good idea to fall asleep next to the creepy portal gate right?), and then myself and Ylva (IC name) went and got 2 more people without anyone noticing. We did get caught pretty much as soon as we timed in Saturday morning however. Thankfully people were nice and fixed us rather than trying to kill us. Saturday saw us trying to solve the plot (Rescue our friend from the prison, stop the sorcerer who was corrupting the rock naturae, and find the magic acorn in order to fix Gaia's grove in Varkarna). Unfortunately it had rained the night before, so all of the writings we found on the field had smudged horribly, so translating was not what you would call easy.

Fae pile! (deliberately blurry)
That day, Fian decided to go to war, which has not happened in forever. It meant that Memory (my characters mentor) had to write and prepare the song of war to trigger the story-eater. That night, we fought the tainted rock naturae and fixed the small one, and at midnight performed the song. It was pretty darn spectacular - the guitar and drums together with the chanting and singing sounded amazing. Sunday finally dawned, leading us to find the acorn, fix pebbles, and for myself and Memory to take flight and follow the story eater to war. 

So Sunday evening brought about the unfortunate return of normality. So far this week I've been doing all of the boring induction rubbish that comes with starting a new degree. Whilst its necessary, I really want to just get on with it already. We've had to sit through safety talks and welcome talks and all that jazz. I have to say that the best part of the three days was when they pointed out a number of different things that PhD could stand for, including Puffy hat Degree :D So now that is what I refer to it as.
The puffiest of hats

The most frustrating part of this last week has been that we have been asked to sign up to a bunch of courses that will be really useful/required for our Puffy hat Degrees. What was annoying was that the system just didn't work, meaning a bunch of us have wasted 2 days trying to sign up to the ones that have only 8 places (for 40 of us...), and then when it did all go live people missed out >:( Thankfully I managed to book onto all but one of the ones I wanted, and I'm hoping that the waiting list will mean that the course either runs again or extends slightly. We will see.
Tomorrow we get to go on a trip down south to Rothemsted to see all the cool stuff they do there. Then the weekend shall be filled with LARPing with the university and playing L5R with my friends.
I guess I shall report back when I have something to report.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Moving in

Having spent the last 6 months away from Notts, living back home with my parents, I have to say it does feel a little strange to be back living here. I made the decision to move back into student halls, so I'm now living in a small studio flat by myself. Now many people might say I'm mad to be going back into halls after 3 years of house living, but I had some good reasons (whether they will remain good reasons remains to be seen!)

Mainly, this place includes all bills, rent, insurance and security in the 3 payments I make throughout the year, and I know in advance when and how much I need to pay. So as long as I'm careful with my money (and I normally am), I have no need to worry, and can have as many hot showers as I like without worrying about how much it is going to cost me.That lack of worry is the best thing.
Also, as you can see from the title, I'm about to embark on the PhD journey for the first time. I have no idea how much work this is going to entail. So having a tiny flat with only me to worry about takes a whole work load out of the equation. 

Well, me and my two friends!

Anyways, moved into my new room today finally. Managed to bring me, my parents and all my stuff in one car (large improvement from my undergrad years of far too much stuff). That said, they are bringing more stuff up for me in a couple of weeks...
Had a bit of a faff getting my room sorted when we arrived, as for some reason they didn't have my payment confirmation. Luckily I did and they soon handed over the keys. I have to say, the room wasn't exactly in a great state when I got in - muck on the walls, the door stuck, the carpet and hob rings were filthy :/ To be fair on the accomodation people though, we went and told them and within a few hours it's all been sorted! The carpet is still a bit of a mess, but the lovely cleaning guy has done his best and said he will report it (I might even get a new one!).

All my stuff is now unpacked, and whilst it doesn't yet feel very homey, after a few nights I'm sure it will. I even have a tea corner! Plus this place now has wifi which is just heaven in a box. And it's really warm up here (I'm up on the top floor). Which is good in a way, means I shouldn't be sleeping under 4 blankets and a double duvet all year like my last house. 

Tea corner. Best thing.

My parents have also started up my new post card collection :) I have a fairly substantial one from my four years of undergrad, and I now plan on starting a new one which is just as big, if not bigger! (If you ever feel like sending me anything, PLEASE send me a postcard with it :) I love postcards)

First postcard of the degree!
Outcast coming up this weekend :) something I am much looking forward to and will report on next time hopefully. If I remember.