{February 2, 2012}   -EEEOOOUUUREEEOOOUUUR-

I don’t know about other Universities, or even other campuses, but our campus has a sneaky way of encouraging students to leave the Uni residences, both on a temporary and permanent basis. Fire alarms are constants. Even after a whole semester here, people are still occasionally forgetting to cook properly. I hope it’s because of alcohol. Drinking is the only excuse for burning your food after a whole semester, and there’s no excuse for drinking, really… That doesn’t make sense on paper, but it does in my head. I should think that through.

Anyway, despite all this, every week an official visits each house and turns on the alarm for a couple of seconds to make sure it works all right. When you’re sitting inside, quite content and lazy, and you start to hear the loud, 2 second klaxons going off around the courtyard, getting slowly closer… personally, it makes me suddenly want to get out. It’ll only be 2 seconds when it finally comes round, but that doesn’t matter. Even if I’m in the building when the alarm goes off, I’ll still be urging myself to just get out. It’s a primal impulse. If it wasn’t so cold I’d be quite glad for it actually – I’d’ve gone for a nice long walk to the Bay, had ice cream & tea & done some doodles & sketches, and walked back again. It’s good that I got out today anyway, even if it was just to the same café to make notes about what I’d like to do over the weekend. But even if this stuff is good for me, I don’t want these weekly alarms. Not even for 2 seconds. Next year, it’ll be quiet.


Spent most of the day watching old Disney films. It’s very strange watching them after so long – all the bits that I remember vividly, and the bits that I don’t remember at all but now seem so important – if other people didn’t go on about it I definitely wouldn’t have remembered Bambi’s Ma dying. It’s not that sad, people. Anyway, I’m going to be watching plenty more, so I’ll say more in a later blog. Going to curl up with a thermos of tea & play my Attorney game. Sounds boring to you, but ha ha to you who dismisses the Ace Attorney series, because they are some of the best games I’ve ever played.


{January 31, 2012}   University, 2nd Semester

As is always the way, it’s all flown by, but at the same time it feels like I’ve been going to Uni for at least a year now. If it carries on at this rate, by the time I’ve completed my degree I’ll feel like nearly a decade’s past. Despite all this, I still walk into lectures and wonder if I’ve gone to the wrong room. You’d think after 3 months I’d feel some kind of vague familiarity with the mass of unnamed but regularly seen fellow students of journalism, but no. Instead I get the strange, solitary but strongly independent feeling I always get when first joining a group of total strangers. The only difference between now and the first semester is that there’s no first day nerves and no one’s awkwardly trying to befriend their seat-neighbours. Besides all that, it’s just like how I left it.


I’m worn out already, mostly from the cold, so I’ve spent a lot of time tucked up warm at home with earl grey, thinking about all the things I want to do. I’ve made lists. And deadlines. I’m working on a spare-time-timetable. Is that strange? It’s probably the effect of the New Year & my resolutions. Also a lot down to the fact that I’m a student living in a vibrant city that I love. Now if only there was a kind of high-paid job I could work towards that involved playing guitar, juggling, drawing and/or any of my other hobbies… I’d be over-loaded with motivation & productivity. I don’t want to be behind a counter.


I’m thinking about jobs a bit now because I’ve been looking for my accommodation for next year. I’ve been advised that 1-person flats are the most expensive, closely followed by 2-person flats. It’s only when you get to 3 or higher that you really start to see savings. That and small, not too expensive flats are few, if not non-existent between the Bay & city centre. Basically, I’ve been advised to share with 3 or more people & look for houses further north. But I’m still hoping. Maybe someone in the family will win the lottery or find buried treasure (if anyone, I’m betting it’s my brother – he has the Indiana Jones Factor), or maybe an amazing job will come along that’ll pay well & be creatively stimulating, or maybe I’ll find a perfect flatmate with loads of dosh who’d be willing to split the rent unevenly. And who’s lovely of course. If you’re reading this Mr/Miss Perfect Flatmate, I’d only share if you were interesting and/or lovely & our lives complemented each other enough – I wouldn’t use you for the money. Though we would need some.


It’s a bit of a waiting & staying informed game. *Sigh* Still, at least I’m not out “on the lash” every night, wasting money on cute clothes or lying in bed all day. Who knows, maybe if I save enough on my spending I’ll be able to afford a good place? It’ll all work out somehow. Eventually.


Off to watch Disney.


Sleep tight.

{January 28, 2012}   Painting – FOR REAL

Drawing I’m good at. Digital painting, I’m pretty good at too. But real painting? Let me change the subject.


I have a few pressing issues on my plate at the moment:

1. Finding a flat and/or flatmate for next year. I adore Cardiff Bay, and I so want to get a flat that’s as close to it as possible. Also, I’d much rather that either I live alone, or with just one other person, but they’d have to be very close to me. Unfortunately, it looks like cheap-because-it’s-tiny 1-person flats don’t exist in the Bay area, and the one person who fits my bill probably won’t be available (romance is in this season). So, either I put up with an expensive 1-person flat (which would probably mean me getting a job…) or I find a suitable flatmate somehow. I don’t know how to go about that exactly. I expect that would be down to luck and letting everyone I talk to know that I’m in need. Either way, I’m sure something will work out. It must do.

I really don’t want to compromise…

2. Getting better. I’ve been a bit ill for a while now and if I’m ill for much longer I will go crazy. The weather outside has been beautiful and sunny and gorgeous, but because I need to get better I’ve been stuck indoors almost entirely for the past 4 days or so. If the weather’s still good tomorrow, I don’t care if I wake up and vomit because Satan possessed me during the night – I am getting out there and enjoying the fresh air.

3. Waiting for the 2009 Guy Ritchie ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film to arrive so that I can watch it and write the comparative review that I promised about 2 weeks ago (because frankly, I can’t remember too many details anymore).


Talking of Sherlock, today I picked up my set of acrylics & my drawing pad and had a go at a portrait – Benedict Cumberbatch. I’ve never been very good at painting (probably due to the fact that I was never properly taught how to), but I think I’ve done really good considering. Also I only had the one, rather thick brush, & it was photographed under strange lighting on slightly warped paper. So yeah, perfectionist-me is still unhappy but most of me is toying with proud. Any comments on this would be very very welcome.

{January 26, 2012}   Me, Beauty Queen? No, Me Actress.

I’ve made the best of a rather down day by sorting out all my remaining admin, which included signing up to a casting website. There, I’ve created a profile detailing all my interests and experience in the worlds of acting, music & modelling and can apply to any of the many related jobs they have on offer. For a long while I fretted about not getting a good enough-looking profile photo – this would need to be a professional-looking headshot which shows my face at its most attractive. So eventually I just gave up and posted a pretty good one, amateurly photographed, in unnaturally yellow lighting with me looking a little bit sleep-deprived, but relatively handsome. I then applied to a couple of interesting-sounding jobs and left it to practice guitar.


6 hours later and I check my emails. I’ve received a message – sent 3 hours after I posted the photo. Not from the people I applied to. On my profile I see that it’s had 2 more views since I last looked. The message essentially told me this:

‘We’ve looked at your profile and pictures and would love it if you would enter our pageant – Cardiff’s Dazzling Beauty.’

On the application form they seemed pretty good, asking not just for pretty girls, but girls with grace, charisma, intelligence & talent. Within 3 hours of posting an ‘ok’ photo, I got an invitation to apply to become the Beauty of Cardiff. Huh.


As complimentary as that is, I won’t enter. It is a beauty pageant after all. And anyway, I’m sure the offer wasn’t a selfless, ‘I really think you could win’, one. Aaaaand… yes, here it is – the entry fee for this competition is £65. Nice con, lady.



Besides that, I’m really looking forward to this site. It may be flooded with the more inane jobs, like ‘Has your boyfriend impregnated someone else? Sell us your story!’, but I reckon I’ll finally be able to get some small, semi-professional local jobs now. I’ll be able to see what it’s like working as an actress towards a finished, filmed product, or (when I’ve improved in guitar & singing) join a good band or sell my own solo career, and just expand my experiences in general. As much as I love being a student and being able to stay in one place all day reading or noodling on my guitar, I want to start getting to know the outside world. I want to know the kinds of places I could be going to one day. I want to be where the people are! I wanna see, wanna see ’em dancing. Walking around on those… what d’you call them? Oh! Feet.


Damn, that’s song’s in my head now. Shut up Ariel. Thanks. Now – shut up! – I’m going to go to bed & read, and tomorrow maybe my throat won’t be so sore & I can leave the house. Real shame so soon after renting a practice room in the music school. Ah. Right now I can only dream. Makes sense to say goodnight then.


Goodnight. o

{January 24, 2012}   While My Guitar Happily Hums

It feels simultaneously like the days are flying by and slowly dragging on & on. The only way that I can convince myself that it was yesterday that I most recently went to the Bay is to look at the calendar good & hard & try to let the thoughts sort themselves out. Wow. I’ve done an awful lot these past few days, but at the same time, it feels like nothing. My latent perfectionism wants to convince me I’ve wasted my time, just because I’ve spent loads of time practicing guitar and yet only have 2 simple tunes memorised. It expects immediate excellence wherever there is effort. The rest of me knows I’ve done good.


While I’ve only memorised 2 out of the 20 or so that I’m interested in, my general proficiency has gone WAY up. I can actually pick up a piece and play it so it’s recognisable, and even adequate, without prior practice! It feels great. My friend’s given me an unwanted acoustic guitar, which is much lighter than my electric & I’m sure will sound a lot better than it (without the aid of amps) when I’ve re-stringed it. A bit more practice, some more tunes memorised and some good weather, and it won’t be long till I’m taking my music out with me. I’m feeling accomplished, and sounding pretty good.


Oh yeah, and a couple of interesting things happened on Sunday.

1) I discovered that the best day to visit Cardiff Bay (as a local anyway) is on Sundays, because that’s when everyone goes & the place feels most alive. Go any other day to clear your head, get some peace & focus on the beauty of the place, but go on Sunday for beauty with a bit of buzz. While passing by the front door of Torchwood, I overheard some confused non-fans, so stepped in to become the helpful informer & tell them about the TV show & why it’s decorated the way it is right now. Might strategically loiter around there next time & see if I can’t enlighten any more people.

2) That night I had a dream in which I sang an original song. I dreamt it was a song by Kate Bush which she sung & orchestrated in the style of Florence & the Machine. To make sure I remembered it I wrote down all of the song I could remember… while I was still dreaming. I tricked myself into forgetting the original song that I composed in my sleep by writing it down (& therefore stopping it praying on my mind) in an imaginary notebook! Agh, self-deception is wonderfully bizarre. I have the tune to the chorus at least & some lyrics that fit but I know aren’t the original ones. I should keep working at it though.


All good. Was going to watch something before bed but think I’m too worn out after a long day of errands (and aching back from guitar usage). Will read my bedtime book, ‘Gods Behaving Badly‘. Wish I had some proper bedtime tea – peppermint’s good for clearing the mind & Earl Grey’s good for focus… but will do in a pinch for bedtime. God I’m Tired. Must’ve worked hard today. Clap.


Goodnight o


{January 21, 2012}   Bout of Freedom

Had my last exam yesterday & now I have 9 (now 8) days of total freedom before lectures start. It’s amazing how revitalising that concept is to me. I’ve made a big list of things I want to do & have spent most of today reading in my favourite café & playing guitar, which is really the basic model of my week coming. My guitar playing’s a bit funny, because I really enjoy it normally as well, but I’ve had a series of fantasies recently that some time soon, my guitar playing skills will be called upon by someone – the most normal fantasy is the very reasonable taking it down to the Bay with my friend to casually practice & maybe teach her some chords, the least normal fantasy… well it’s complete fantasy except it stays in Cardiff and I’m still the protagonist. Anyway, should anything between A & B be about to occur, I don’t want to become the instant klutz I usually do when performing guitar to others or to a computer that’s recording me, so that’s all been making my practice a little more intent & frequent.


One thing I really appreciated on the morning of exams was fun videos. Each exam day I got up early & went through revision notes & then got high nerves in some form or another (1st day I was feeling ill & anxious, 2nd day just generally a bit depressed). What really cured me was watching funny videos on Youtube – in particular, ones with lovely famous people in them. I’ve always found they boost bad moods more because, with famous people you like, you can really identify, empathise, go ‘Oh, they’re so lovely/silly/witty/brilliant/funny and they’re having such a good time!’ and that can trick you into feeling contented, much, much faster than videos of people flinging themselves at walls & footballs being kicked, quite brilliantly/accidently into the goalie’s face after rebounding off the goal posts. Anyway, here’s a few of the videos that cheered me up. Mostly from Doctor Who Confidential (please don’t go). Not in any particular order, except that I saved the best for last.







Oh Barrowman…

There are few things more intimidating. But of all the things that intimidate me, very few force me to eventually undertake them. Which is why exams are wonderful, wonderful things that I hate. Gotta overcome all my fears at some point, and this one’s making me do just that!


University exams however (at least for the 1st semester) are a doddle compared to the last ones I took. I guess the trauma of IB exams made me forget what 1st year exams are like. Very relaxed now. Have 1 more exam tomorrow & then I’m free for a whole week. Oh all the things I have planned… as much as I’d like to say how I’m looking forward to catching up on my reading & visiting the Bay regularly & writing & so forth, let’s face it, right now all I want to catch up on is sleeping time.


And if you want to be productive, there is one thing you can do, which I recommend above all else: Set an alarm for a set time (say 7:00), leave it somewhere away from your bed & go to sleep. When the alarm wakes you, get up & turn it off immediately, don’t go back to bed, stay active and keep in your mind whatever you wanted to do today, and as soon as you’re awake enough & have had breakfast, go to it. I’m telling you, there is no better way to be productive than waking up with a purpose and not lying in. When I did that yesterday, I did 5 hours revision almost solidly – I even interrupted my break times because I was so impatient to get back to studying! If you need something doing, if you want to be able to pursue any motive wholeheartedly, do this. It will not fail you. Though, if you do all this and then find Youtube, it’s broken, alright? Relax by doing something else, nothing passive – instead of watching the TV, practice juggling or do some stretches or sketches or reading or something – just stay involved, but change the type of activity so you’re switching between work & play.

{January 17, 2012}   Doctor Who Makes Learning Fun!

I love Cardiff.


Exams are stupid.


I said last time I’d write about the new Sherlock series & movies, but that’s going to have to wait till the weekend – I’ve arrived back in Cardiff & am preparing for the first exams of my University year on Thursday and Friday. I can’t afford to think about anything else. I tried to concentrate on it all really well today – look! I even made a day planner with The Doctor on it;

But yeah, that failed a little – I found it really hard to stick to it because I was feeling ridiculously restless… like I’d had a sip of coffee AND got stumped by a really interesting brainteaser. When I went out to return my books I went on to a nice café I know – a real haven for piece of mind, despite the volume of the music. And there I had the antidote to a restless temperament – tea, with mint ice-cream.

When I came back I was able to do more revision, but without the routine of a day spent  studying I just struggled too much to keep it going. My flatmates don’t really help. I’m an introvert surrounded by extroverts. I wish I could just live & breathe the purpose of revising for the exams for the next 3 days, without people disturbing me. In this kind of headspace, socialisation is a threat. Next year, I’m going to need a place of my own. Either that or just 1 flatmate who understands me enough to deal with my moods. I’m going to go to bed early and get up early when no one else is up. I’ll have the peace all to myself, and I’ll use it well. And if they get up & start being noisy again, I’ll just have to take my revision to the lovely café. And this time I’ll dismantle the pillow fortress that is my current sleeping arrangement. As unbelievably comfortable it was in the morning, it made for awkward, light sleeping filled with heavy dreams. I’ll be ready & focused tomorrow. And next week, I’ll be in utter bliss…



{January 15, 2012}   A Holmesian Dilemma

How do you go about showing off some brilliance of yours if you hate spoilers with a passion and it means revealing a spoiler? Ugh. Then of course, the only way I can reveal it without revealing the spoiler is by shutting up until the show-runners reveal it themselves, but then I can hardly get any credit for revealing something that’s just been revealed. Unlike Holmes though, I don’t have enough confidence in my abilities to write down my almost perfectly assured theory into how it was all pulled off to seal it in an envelope and give it to a third party. I must kill this fear of failure. I’ll say it again: I’m a cowardly lion.

May give my family an envelope later. At least once these ideas have had some more time to ferment.

I loved it anyway. This particular episode was much better than the film… Watch this site if you happen to care about my opinion on which of the new Sherlocks is the best. The answer may surprise.


Just saw ‘The Holiday’ before Sherlock. Jude Law’s head seemed wider in that. The Watson role makes him look better than modern him. Kudos to him for making a beardless moustache work.

{January 15, 2012}   Keeping Up With Holmes & Watson

There’s been the second in the series of Guy Ritchie’s films starring Downey Jr. & Law, and the second BBC TV series by Gatiss & Moffatt starring Cumberbatch & Freeman. Despite all this fill, I started recently at reading all the old stories. After the 1st one (‘A Study in Scarlet’), I thought I should read the ones that relate to the new BBC series. I’d already seen their version of the short story, ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’, and the next was the big novel ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, so I got to reading those straight away. It’s really wonderful seeing how they’ve completely reinvented them – if you haven’t read any Conan Doyle, try one of his Holmes short stories. They’re all available for free online here: http://sherlock-holm.es/pdf/a4/1-sided/ . The copyright issues are explained there, but essentially it’s ok to read wherever you are in the world so long as you don’t download the files. How do the officials check things like that anyway?

I thought I’d set myself a challenge:

1) I would read ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ right up until the big revelation scene at the end, and all before I see the TV reinvention on Saturday (today).

2) As I read, I would do my best to deduce (or induce?*) what I could about everything before it is revealed in the story, as I went along.

3) Once I reached the big revelation scene, I’d do my best to induce/deduce what the truth is, so details like who’s the murderer, how did they do it or plan to do it, and how Holmes & Watson would go about catching him.


I’ll put the ‘Cons’ ahead of the ‘Pros’ so that this blog finishes on accomplishment rather than failure.


1) There were lots of things that would have been almost impossible for me to get. Either because of the way the story moved forwards (finding things out simply because they’re shown with very little or no indicators beforehand), or because of lack of information. For the most of the story, Holmes is absent. During this time, he collects more information, so when they reunite, Holmes induces the correct conclusions using what Watson confides and what he’s known secretly. Not fair. Then you get the same sort of thing by the writing. At one point, Holmes becomes transfixed by something on the wall. Being a book, we can’t know what it is and what the visually important detail is until it’s spelled out for us. Ah well.

2) There wasn’t really a proper ‘revelation scene’. In most detective stories, the lead keeps relatively schtum about his ideas until right near the end where everyone is gathered into a parlour room and told why each of them isn’t the murderer and the second least likely seeming one is. Not in these novels. There were lots of little revelations along the way, so the scene I stopped at (right before they try to catch him in the act of attempted murder) seemed more like a continuation of what had gone before. It didn’t feel right to stop there. But I did.

3) I didn’t really have any time between getting to that point and seeing the TV version to think it through. Thankfully though, <skip to ‘pro #3’>. Unfortunately this also meant <skip to ‘con’ #5>.

4)  Due to a confusion with names (I get confused when reading quickly with old names and everyone is Mr/Mrs/Miss)and the stark difference in their physical descriptions, I assumed that Mr & Miss Stapleton were married, rather than brother & sister. So I thought that, then later discovered I shouldn’t have thought that, and then later was told that actually my mistaken half induction was actually right.

5) Because the TV version was so different to the book, my reading deadline & specifics weren’t at all necessary. They may as well have been 2 separate stories altogether.


1) Come on Watson, how could you not tell it was Holmes silouetted against the moon that night? Especially after learning that this mystery 2nd man of the moors was aided by a young boy, who you also didn’t recognise? And it didn’t even cross your mind? My memory’s not great with the little details, but I think it said it’d been 5 years working together, from the start of which Holmes employed local street kids for recon missions, and Watson met this particular one on the day he last saw Holmes. Not sure this should be a ‘Pro’ actually – Officer Dibble could’ve worked it out.

2) Otherwise, I felt very on par with Watson. It was around 50/50 for me to get something before he did & vice-versa, but most of the time I worked it out pretty much as I read that Watson had got it too. Watson definitely wins overall though (despite the above). I’m a cowardly lion and we’d never’ve worked these things out if it weren’t for his ability to go out there and just do stuff. Like tailing the butler when he passed his door. That’s a tiny little thing in comparison to all the dark stuff happening, but no way would I have left my room. Too risky. In my head anyway. Plus, if I’d actually been there, I doubt I’d be able to keep as clear a head to work these things out as he did. I think I may have beaten Holmes at one point too.

3) The TV version was very different to the book, so what I really got was 2 separate exercises in deduction. Also, while I still don’t know the end to the book, I’m sure that the ending to the episode won’t have spoiled anything big for me (besides the murderer’s end… but that’s ok).

4) Kinda half ‘pro’ half ‘con’. I pegged Mr Stapleton as a highly suspicious character very early on when he mentioned his intimate knowledge of the bogs and his enthusiasm for butterfly collecting. People with specialised knowledge are always the most suspicious because it gives them specialised and often hidden power. The butterfly-enthusiasm just added to it because serious enthusiasts have the potential to be seriously motivated. I knew this girl who liked John Barrowman. Tried once to tell her that he’s gay, not bisexual, and she got very scary. And I’m not even sure that she really liked him. Point is, even enthusiasm at a low level can create problems, and enthusiasm at a higher level can create PROBLEMS. Bit of a ‘con’ point because, while I got the right guy, it’s hardly the way you should go about finding a killer is it?

*Spoilers over*

4) Also, while not related to my test, it was just a very, very good book. And a very good TV series too. Go watch it. And when you’ve done that, go watch some new Doctor Who too. And if you’re still up for obeying my suggestions after that, go to Cardiff and go to the Bay on a sunny weather day and compliment all young women you see. If that lady happens to be me, you’ll know because I won’t curtsy.


*Inductive reasoning is really what Holmes advocates most highly, not deductive reasoning. The problem with these words is that they change their meaning somewhat depending on their context. In the context of reasoning, think of them as adjectives applied to ideas;

Inductive reasoning: To induce ideas. This is done by observing all the details, and then using logic create a theory.

Deductive reasoning: The opposite – you start with your theory and then you look for evidence to support it.

Essentially, Holmes uses inductive reasoning to draw conclusions from what he observes. He would then go on to use deductive reasoning together with general probability to find which of his theories is the most likely to be true.

et cetera