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Archive for October, 2008

Sisterhood

My sister came to stay with me for a week (two people in nine square meters, how nice) and we had a great time. Cream tea and a visit to the cathedral, pub food and a walk to the seaside, roast dinner with all my housemates, bars and shopping, even some study time in the library: the whole student experience. She left yesterday, and the room feels larger than usual. It can be a good or a bad thing depending on the perspective, but I must say it was quite messy when she was around. She put her stuff all over the place and as an unfortunate result left with some of mine.

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Dirrrty

Efficiency is not a very English word. I don’t remember when exactly it dawned on me that I would have to do without. Maybe when the European office told me they needed one week to sign my form. Or perhaps when the parcel that took three days to travel from New Zealand to Parkwood reception took three others to come to my house a hundred yards away. Unless it was when library staff anounced that the book I was looking for isn’t yet shelved because they’ve only just ordered it in July. At any rate, I wasn’t particularly surprised when the cleaners failed to show up for one of their weekly visits; I simply waited for them with some impatience the following week. But again, they didn’t come. Parkwood reception told me not to worry, they will come this week. In the meanwhile, my housemates and I find it hard to make an effort to keep things clean… I wonder why.

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Most wanted

After a month abroad, I’ve started to miss a few things, but not necessarily the ones I thought I would need. I knew that leaving my guitar behind would be hard, but not that I would have to order new juggling balls (I hadn’t touched mine for years)! And how could I guess that I wouldn’t be able to find my favourite brand of deodorant here? In contrast I thought food would be difficult to get used to, but everything’s fine so far except one very simple thing: bread. It’s hard to find a decent loaf here, and when I do it’s never cheap. Also, I miss my cat Gandalf, but I doubt my sister will be able to bring him to me.

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I know I’ve been drawing sunny shells, romantic fallen leaves, and gothic cathedral porches, but I hope this didn’t lead you to believe that I’m not as serious a student here as I was at home (no pun intended). Indeed, even though I only have two modules, and some (science students, usually) may think we literature students spend our time “sitting and pondering”, as one of my housemates put it, it still adds up to a rather impressive stack of books. I haven’t drawn them all, by the way, so don’t judge me too hastily if you think my reading list is ridiculously short. But what am I doing? I don’t have to justify myself after all!

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Fallen leaves

The weather changed for the worse today, but before that we were enjoying an Indian summer with dewy mornings and sunny afternoons. I really didn’t feel like staying behind my desk, so I neglected the Creative Writing group (and my blog) and joined the Circus Society instead. There’s a beautiful grassy ground surrounded by trees in front of the library which overlooks the city and cathedral, and this is where the meetings take place, mainly on Sundays. I’ve taken up juggling again, something I had put aside years ago, and I would really like to learn Poi now, especially sock poi. I think I’ve lost interest in diabolo and golo, but I wasn’t particularly good at either in the first place. Now, Poi’s got style and it looks really cool and relaxed, although I am aware that it isn’t as effortless as it seems and that I may hurt myself just as much as when practicing nunchaku. By the way, I’ve just ordered a wood nunch with cord and am looking forward to trying it out, so winter can wait a little longer.

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Autumn bliss

I found the farmer’s market yesterday. It’s in a hall near Canterbury West train station and it’s very small but the produce are well chosen and nicely presented. There’s also a restaurant there that looks promising, I’m sure I’ll be tempted to give it a try one of these days. I’ve already roasted the figs in the oven and eaten them with a mix of ricotta and honey. I also sliced the courgettes and cooked them in a pan with the lid on until they started to get soft, then added onions and garlic, and later just a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of mint before eating them on a slice of bread. As for the squash, I’ve doomed it to one of Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipes. I think I’ll enjoy the soup tonight… The chestnuts come from a tree close to the house, but I don’t think they’re quite ready yet. I just became jealous of all the squirrels that take them away one by one to hide them in secret places and thought I’d have my own share of them.

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English weather

This week-end I made my first incursion into the countryside, which is absolutely lovely, with fields surrounded by hedges, lots of orchards, and woods full of oaks and pine trees. I also hadn’t had fish & chips in a while, and the closer the sea is, the better it tastes. Sunday was a really beautiful, but not very clear day, and it felt like summer. By Tuesday though, a thick rain was pouring down and autumn had clearly taken over. Now that specific English weather – wind and sun and clouds and blue sky and rain – is playing with my assumptions, and I keep on telling myself that it’s time to buy an umbrella when in fact most of the time I manage to cross the campus unscathed.

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