Ready Or Not Here I Come.

September 17, 2014 — 20 Comments
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Tom outside the main Glasgow University building

Well we dropped Tom off at Glasgow University he’s studying Geography and the university was in the top 5 in the UK for Geography in the 2014 guide he used, he is also taking archaeology and philosophy as extra modules in his first year. Then we dusted and vacuumed my flat ready for me to move back in next week. The weekend was a little emotional for me as this was my little brother venturing out into the world and as his big sister I felt just a little protective of him :)

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Inside the quadrangle which house the Geography department.

“Did you pack every item of clothing in your wardrobe!” Mum said on the Friday evening as Tom’s student wardrobe was bulging. “Nearly” said Tom “then I don’t have to wash and iron clothes for a couple of weeks!” he added. The student village houses about 1000 students and we’d just done the car parking dance where there are about five spaces per block of flats and twelve cars vying for each of them, with abandoned cars blocking the roads. “Why on earth do they give everyone a 5pm start time!” Mum cried, she thought that was just his slot, but it seemed it was everyone’s. But once we managed to get the car unloaded it all seemed a little more relaxed and the number of people frantically running around started to dwindle.

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The Murano Street student village in Glasgow

I thought my older brother Matt and I had given Tom all of our six years of collective University advice but we still forgot to tell him to take a padlock for the kitchen cupboard and a mat for the floor near his sink in the bedroom. We’d remembered plasters, headache tablets, Andrews Salts in case he gave himself an upset tummy, an extension cable and all of his clothes hangers (all essential :) ) along with a long list of items you just cant live without as a student.

We lined his new Stabilo colour markers, pens, pencils, lever arch files, refill pads and notebooks on his desk shelves, I don’t know why but I love new stationery. Everything else was found a place to live for the next year and in the end it looked a lot more homely. The one thing we had to do once we had his new address was buy his TV licence £145 so that he could watch his football on his iPad (sadly no actual TV ). I think he’d want to come home if he couldn’t watch his beloved Manchester City.

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Tom stood with the Capital One Cup and the Premiership Trophy on his last visit to watch Manchester City at the Etihad stadium.

I’m proud of my little brother today; he text us to say he’d walked to Tesco and checked the prices, OK he was buying unhealthy Pepsi Max but six cans for £3.49 and eight cans for £2.00 really was a no brainer but at least he noticed! He added three pasta meals for £6.00, bread and a bag of apples all for under a £10 so he was happy.

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He just had to share his great find with us :)

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The best thing is that I am only 30 minutes away if he wants to visit and chill out or pop around for his Sunday dinner.  We are also invited to some of the Freshers’ activities and I’ve been invited to a fancy dress party with friends as a character I just love, all will be revealed next week he he.

I will let you know what next year has in store for me at College after I am all settled in on Sunday.

Finally, if you missed it I added my end of Second Year Rusalka’s Song to the Moon onto my Soundcloud page if you’d like to take a listen.

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Glasgow University

This Friday, 12th September, my family are dropping my younger brother Tom off at the University of Glasgow for his first day. My eldest brother Matthew and I have been trying to advise him on what to pack and to help him decide what items he needs to take with him for the big move. Luckily my Mum went to Wilko’s and bought most of the items he might need for his next few months of self-catering, self-laundry, and self-organisation. I wish him all the best with the next step and secretly I am quite glad he’s not too far from me, so I can give him a cuddle any time he gets home sick.

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With just one week to the Scottish Independence vote we could both be studying in an independent Scotland from the 19th of September 2014. I wonder if that will make any difference to us, I read one article in the Guardian  that asked if I will need to show my passport to enter and leave Scotland! (the article says not). It is brilliant that Scottish teenagers can vote from the age of 16.

My brother Tom came to help me with my lunchtime recital today in Rochdale, with Russell Lomas accompanying me and with a very enthusiastic audience I had a great time. I performed alongside a fabulous clarinettist called Elliot Gresty, who will going on to study at the RCM this September. I wish him all the best with his studies, and I can’t wait to hear him in the future. At the concert I sang a collection of English Songs, which I had not previously performed. A first outing of a song is always exciting, I hope the audience enjoyed them.

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My Recital Today With Russell Lomas In Rochdale.

My last recital before starting back to University will be in Preston, Lancashire on Friday the 19th September following which it is straight up the motorway and back to Glasgow ready for the start of term. The amazing Russell Lomas will be accompanying me and Elizabeth Lawton, (Flute) will be sharing the concert with me. Not one to be missed. :)

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Sometimes on my lunch break from work, I enjoy getting crafty with my Mum and my friend Gill.  So when Gill offered to show me a new technique to colour cards and paper I jumped at the chance.  It was going to be fun as it involved shaving foam, card dyes and possibly getting messy. :)

To start, I sprayed an even layer of (bargain priced) shaving foam onto a plastic tray.

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After adding the shaving foam to the messy tray I sprayed the dye on to the surface of one side.

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I then added a second colour to the surface.

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Then to add a little texture to the surface I used a wooden stick to create straight lines up and down the shaving foam mixing the colour on the surface of the foam.

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Then take the piece of card or paper that you want to transfer the pattern to and place it gently on the surface of the shaving foam.

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Once the paper is resting on the surface of the shaving foam press it gently to get an even coating of colour.

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Peel back the paper or card gently and evenly lift it out of the tray.

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Place the paper or card flat on your work surface.

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Then gently scrape off any shaving foam that has stuck to surface with a  ruler or other straight edge.

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The ink dries quickly to the paper or card and you can wipe away any foam that might be left.

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The swirls and patterns can make lovely backgrounds for cards or other craft projects.

It is really quick to do and the only other thing that I would recommend to you is using latex gloves to keep the dye off your fingers. You can use the shaving foam in your messy tray more than once just add a little extra dye.

If you give it go I would love to hear from you, Oh and don’t tell my Dad it was me that took his shaving foam ;)

Autumn Hues

September 3, 2014 — 56 Comments

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I love the colours of autumn, it’s going to be great to get back to studying full time mid-September. As the days get shorter I love to get up early and make the most of the sunlight. Though the Autumn brings the summer to a close I have always looked upon it as a time of excitement and new experiences.

I’ve been practising my cooking and baking during the summer at home and I  have enjoyed experimenting with the recipes everyone sent in to me to try. Matt, my brother, introduced me to sweet potato wedges, as well as cheering up the plate with their orange colour it’s a great source of vitamin C and is lower in calories than carbs such as pasta and potatoes. I’ve read that the body makes serotonin to make you happy from foods such as dairy, fish, bananas, dates, almonds and peanuts so I’m stocking up :)

It’s been lovely catching up with my girlfriends from school during the break and one of my best friends, we met at pre-school, Deanna is about to take an Erasmus year in Germany as part of her German/History degree very excited for her.

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Deanna, Josie and Me from our high school days.

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Me, Deanna and Josie at our Valedictory just before we all left for College.

I can’t wait to catch up with my girls in Glasgow too, Davidona sadly will be missing from the group but she has an exciting erasmus in Helsinki at the Sibelius Academy and no doubt plenty of fabulous experiences to share with us whilst she is there..

Before I go back to Glasgow I have two final lunch time recitals with the ever supportive Russell Lomas, the first on Wednesday 10th September in Rochdale, Lancashire and the second on Friday 19th September in Preston, Lancashire. I’ve learnt a couple of new songs for the occasion to keep me focused on practise during the holiday.

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I’ve enjoyed my yoga sessions nearly every day using Internet training videos, my parents have a smart T.V. which made that so much easier than trying to watch the You Tube videos on my laptop.  I find that yoga is a great way to keep fit when your daily timetable is so varied.

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This year I will be taking on a new language at school and starting to get to grips with French.  I have sung before in German, Italian and Czech but the French style of pronunciation when singing is so different.  It was great to listen to the way the French language was spoken whilst we were in Paris, boy those verb conjugations, informal and formal verb uses and le and la are tricky!  I tried out some of my very basic sentences in Paris, I even bored the restaurant cat to sleep ( very Parisian ).

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Finally I’ve my 21st birthday this November and the weekend before I have two exciting concerts with Tideswell Male Voice Choir at Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield and the Buxton Opera House, Buxton.

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My Birthday falls in the autumn break at College so celebrations may take some organising. I am still undecided on what to do and would love to know if you did anything exciting for your 21st birthday.

 

Opera National de Paris

August 31, 2014 — 42 Comments
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Outside The Opera National de Paris ( The Palais Garnier )

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The Grand Staircase

The Palais Garnier is a magnificent building which seats 1979 people and was built between 1861 and 1875 for the Paris Opera. The architecture is in the Baroque style and designed by Charles Garnier who won the opportunity to design the new Opera House in a competition, (the project was designed by Napoleon III). It is situated at 8 rue Scribe, Place de l’Opera a stroll away from the Louvre and it’s ranked 4th out of 752 places to visit by tripadvisor. The interior is as stunning as the exterior complimented by its spectacular gold statues that glinted in the summer sunshine.

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Such Beauty In The Fabulous Anti Rooms And Corridors

We did a self-guided tour which costed 10 euros for an adult and 6 euros for a student aged 10-25 years. There was an opportunity to be included in a tour party but I prefer to explore at my own pace and and admire all the intricacies with my family.

There is a very unusual modern ceiling painting in the theatre itself called the Chagall Ceiling.

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The Chagall Ceiling

We saw interesting model set designs in display cases and costumes and an outdoor balcony which leads off from the lavish corridors.

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This Was One Of The Model Sets For A Performance Of Othello

The opera house is the setting for the romantic Gothic love story “The Phantom Of The Opera” which was written in 1910 by Gaston Leroux. It is said that on his death bed Leroux exclaimed that the opera ghost on which he based his story actually existed.

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Though there is not a lake under the opera house there is a stone clad water tank that was built to stop the foundations from flooding, but I like to believe that there is a watery labyrinth deep under the opera house.

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The Phantoms box was box number 5 but we stood at the box with our age on the door and managed to get inside one deep with red velvet furnishings, photographs just don’t do the place justice.

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Most operas are now performed in the more modern Opera Bastille which seats 2700 and was opened in 1989 but I do hope that they keep performing opera as well as ballet productions in this beautiful building for many years to come.

A Little Extra Research

I must admit that looking a little closer at the legends surrounding the Opera Garnier felt a little like searching for Father Christmas. I am a romantic at heart and I like to imagine that the rumours surrounding the story of “The Phantom Of The Opera” were real and that the world of opera and romance continue to be entwined within this beautiful building.

I checked out several websites and as my French is not good enough to understand the original Parisian sources I can only relate the information that I found.

There is an underground “lake” beneath the opera house but unfortunately it is not the mysterious underground labyrinth that I had imagined. It is rather the result of the Architect’s imagination, Charles Garnier, who encountered high levels of ground water on the site. He tried using wells and steam pumps to drain the foundations but failed to dry out the site. So instead he decided to use the water and by building a large stone tank called a “cuve” to collect the water he was able to add extra stability to the foundations of the grand building. After completion the large tank provided the Paris fire department with a ready supply of water in the case of fire and is still checked every month by fire fighters.

On May 20th 1896 an incident occurred in the Opera Garnier which could have inspired Leroux when reseraching for his story. At 8:57 pm during a performance of “Helle” two counterweights fell from the chandelier which led to the death of one audience member and injured many others. There is an excellent blog post here if you want to read about the incident which I found fascinating. It also explains why there was so much controversy over the final repair and repainting of the ceiling surrounding the original chandelier.

I really enjoyed reading a little deeper into the history of the Opera Garnier but just like Father Christmas maybe some things are best left to our imaginations.

Tonight I had intended to put up a post about my visit to the Opera National de Paris and provide a little back story for you but that has been put on hold temporarily :)

Why? you may ask, well as you know I find it very hard to resist a challenge, particularly one from one of my oldest friends Oscar White especially as he immersed himself in a bath full of freezing cold water for his ALS ice bucket challenge, he always was over the top lol.  So when I finished my singing practise tonight and Dad finally found some ice (as everywhere was sold out!) I got changed and decided to give it a go.

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The ice bucket challenge, social media’s latest craze, is designed to raise money and awareness for the neurodegenerative illness ALS.  In an official letter this week, the ALS Association said: “Never before have been in a better position to fuel our fight against this disease. Increased awareness and unprecedented financial support will enable us to think outside the box.”

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affects the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons degenerate and die which makes it increasingly difficult to move muscles.

When muscles aren’t used enough, they stop working. Sufferers begin to feel weak, especially in their arms, legs, and during speech, swallowing and breathing. As muscle tissue atrophies, limbs start to get smaller. In the later stages of the illness, patients may become totally paralysed.

There is no known cause of ALS, though there is a proven hereditary factor in some cases. In about 90 per cent of cases, nobody knows how or why the illness struck. There is also no known cure, though the millions being raised by the ALS association will go towards researching these great unknowns.

In the UK the illness is often referred to as motor neurone disease (MND), and the leading organisation is the Motor Neurone Disease Association. MacMillan Cancer Support are also taking donations.

In the US it is sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named after the all-time great baseball player from the early 20th Century whose time at the top ended when he was stricken with the illness in 1939.

You can donate at The ALS Association

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On Matt’s birthday we made chocolate cake. Whilst it was baking in the oven we talked about our late break holiday that my Dad had booked us all on to Paris, France.

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It was only a one hour flight from Manchester and it was somewhere that Matt, Tom and I had always wanted to visit.

We were looking forward to seeing all the sights and with a bit of luck some sunny weather was predicted.

We arrived in the early evening so we decided our first foray into Paris would be along the River Seine to see Notre Dame Cathedral. The views along the banks of the Seine were exquisitely beautiful and it made for a fabulous first evening in Paris.

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Outside “The Louvre” with my lovely brothers.

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We decided to walk along the banks of “La Seine” to “Notre-Dame de Paris”

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Outside “Notre-Dame de Paris”

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In the “Square Jean XXIII” where small concerts are often performed.

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Lover’s padlocks on the “Pont de L’Archeveche”.

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Just taking 5 minutes before heading back to the hotel.

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River boat cruises are very popular.

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We saw Graffiti on the tops of buildings and you have to ask “How” and “Why”.

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Intriguing, does anybody know what this is ?

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Paris art, “Oh La La, does my bottom look big in this?” lol

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We visited the “Opera National de Paris” later in the week. We saw it when we first arrived and I’ll tell you more about it in my next post.