I’ve baked a cake made out of rainbows and smiles and eaten all of it myself.

Because who shares cake?

Most people complain on a regular basis. I myself am an accomplished whinger, with the ability to find a problem in just about anything. That is, until I start actually thinking about my life. While it’s far from perfect, there’s nothing much I would really want to change.

I enjoy the mundane. It’s probably quite telling that my favourite scenes in books and films are always the ones where characters are going about their daily life and nothing is going disastrously wrong. I like having work to do; I know through experience that if I have nothing to work towards I will get hopelessly bored and become even lazier than I already am. I love being at university (neverending fresher’s flu notwithstanding) and I like just being me.

I noticed a post on my reader about describing the perfect day and I realised that for me, every day is pretty close to the perfect day. Yes, I have bad days, but I’m lucky enough to have found some very close friends at university who I can always call and we can find somewhere to sit and make each other laugh. Loud, snorting, honking, public-hazard belly laughs that draw stares and clear rooms. This is a daily occurrence regardless of how we are feeling, but it’s a sure-fire way to improve a bad day.

I also love the direction my life is heading. I know I want to go into research but I’m also trying my hand at science journalism, with my first article (hopefully) about to be published in the university’s biosciences magazine. I could decide I want to go into science journalism full-time after university; I don’t know yet. I have time to decide and the one thing I’m certain of is that science is the path I want to be taking.

There are still things I’d change, such as my ability to procrastinate, my compulsive skin-picking and the state of my love-life, but honestly, these are all things I can deal with. Except possibly the love-life one, but if I doggedly socialise someone is going to wind up not realising how insane I am until it’s too late. And if not, well, see the section about laughing with friends above. Much laughter has happened, much pain has been worked through and many ridiculous (and entirely deserved) insults have been leveled at men who have wronged us.

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Are you a reader or a page-turner?

Real books are sexy

This appeared on iwastesomuchtime.com (my life in a hyperlink nutshell) and it made me angry. Why, you ask? Because it’s stark monochrome in its opinion, and to quote an old teacher of mine: “When you are with people seeing in black and white, see red”.

I love books. I love reading. I have a lot of books. I also have a Kindle. Last Christmas I realised that I no longer had space in my room for any more books, that there was an expanding list of books that I wanted to read, and that it’s actually quite expensive to indulge a good reading habit.

So I asked for a Kindle. I’m not likely to fill it up in my lifetime, I have most of the published world at my fingertips, much of which is free and it makes my life a hell of a lot easier.

When I travel to France, I am squashed in the back of a car for which I am patently too large. I also know that I there is a limit to how much I can stare at the scenery and paint things, so I bring books. As a child, I would bring upwards of fifteen books at a time, and read them all. This was uncomfortable to say the least (have you ever sat with a small library wedged into any available gap between you and the door of a car for eighteen hours?) and so it’s much, much nicer to know that my entire reading list for the holiday is on one device, which conveniently comes with a lit screen so I don’t have to read by the light of street lamps on the autoroute.

I was a strange child, OK.

Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing I love more than shelves of books that are all mine, with their own scars to show how avidly I read them (I’m mean to books). One of my goals is to have a house with a library; one of the awesome ones you see on BuzzFeed. But until I have the space to keep all of my books, I’ll read from whatever I want.

I don’t read books, I read stories. If those stories are in a book, fine. If I have to use an electronic device, equally fine. So many people want a library to call their own, but I get the feeling they want it so they can sit and drink brandy and show people that they have a room full of books because they;re just so cultured. I have a library; it’s growing and it’s all hidden on one tiny device which I can read wherever I want because snobbishness is not going to stop me from reading, dammit!

Sorry. Rant over. This is probably less than coherent as it’s late and I’m ill and illness makes me anxious and my anxiety is eased by writing whatever comes into my head extremely fast. Point I’m trying to convey: before we all bash e-readers, can we just check that we still enjoy reading itself or if we just like the feeling of being readers.

It’s a good thing they don’t actually sting*

I’m trying to add more pictures to this blog, mostly because I have so many stored on my laptop and this way I can sort through my favourite and also keep the blog from becoming a solid wall of text posts.

This is a bee orchid, a fairly rare plant summed up best by this xkcd comic. I found these growing a few hundred yards away from the house in France, on a sheltered section of hillside. They’re one of my favourite plants to come across, partly because they’re rare and partly because they really do look like they have bees on them!

*My title rhymes and this makes me irrationally happy.

My family: insane, unpredictable, awesome.

Yesterday afternoon, I got a call from my mother. It went something like this:

Mum: I’ve just decided I want to see the poppies at the Tower of London. I’m driving up to London tonight, want to come with me?

Me: Yes, definitely!

Mum: Great, I’ll pick you up at three-thirty tomorrow morning then.

Me: …What?

Mum: Well, if we go in the middle of the night there’ll be no traffic and no tourists. Also, your brother wants to come along and we don’t have time to do it during the day.

Me: …You’re driving over a hundred miles in the middle of the night, with a boy who has to be at school for 9am, to see the poppies?

Mum: Yes.

Me: There’s no way I’m missing out on an impromptu middle-of-the-night road trip! I’ll see you at half three tomorrow morning!

The upshot is that I saw the poppies at the Tower. I also haven’t gone to bed yet at the time of writing this; I’m running solely on caffeine and willpower but the poppies were stunning and totally worth it. Not only was seeing it all in darkness very dramatic, it was also very peaceful and poignant. People had left names and dates of lost soldiers tied to the railings, and it was so touching to read them and see photos of the soldiers who gave their lives for their country.

Between the hours of 4 and 5am, London is asleep. There’s virtually no traffic or pedestrians, and all roadworks stop. It’s slightly surreal driving through Knightsbridge and along the river without having to negotiate hordes of people and cars but it makes for a much better experience. Deserted motorways are also a lot more fun to drive down!

IMG_20141110_042610
The M4, pretty much empty.

I have to admit, I don’t know many other families who would happily spend their Sunday night/Monday morning driving halfway across the country to spend half an hour in the capital city. Then again, this is my family we’re talking about. They once sent me to school three hours after we got finished a twenty hour car journey from France. Then again, long journeys at strange hours have never been an issue for my parents: many years ago their jobs put my father in Germany and my mother in England. So, every Friday night after work, my mother would get into her Triumph Spitfire and drive to Germany. And every Sunday afternoon, she would drive from Germany back to the UK. I think this says a lot about my family’s attitude to distances. It is not a normal attitude.