Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Friday, 26 September 2014

{London reflections}

{The Courtauld, pic taken in 2005}

I was going through old passports the other day and stumbled upon one I had 10 years ago. I noticed my entry into the UK was exactly 10 years ago--28 September 2004. On that day, I moved to London to pursue my MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art. I was a young and enthusiastic art historian with my future ahead of me--determined to pursue this passion of mine. I was overcome by a sheer desire to learn and, most importantly, I was fulfilling a dream of attending the only institution in the world dedicated solely to the history of art. Drunk on the pursuit of knowledge, excited to return to the country of my forefathers, and eager to learn all that there was to learn about art, I had high hopes and high dreams, that would--at one point--become burdensome goals that I felt I had to live up to.
10 years later, it's amazing to think that I'm living back in London, and am now the Chair of the Art History MA in my department!

These 10 years have certainly had their ups and downs. The best year of my life was probably the year at the Courtauld (including meeting my best friend for life), although I have never worked so hard or been so challenged in such a short span of time. Any of my fellow Courtauld alumns who have experienced the Courtauld MA will certainly agree.
I have lived in four different cities between then and now (not including London), finished a PhD, worked at four different institutions in three different countries, but I am happy to say that I've landed just where I wanted to be. The PhD process is one in which there are numerous trials. If not during the PhD, then the aftermath of trying to find a job after achieving it. It's a journey that most bright-eyed excitable MAs are unaware of when they venture onto the postgraduate road. Read any higher education society's blog or website and you'll find numerous articles complaining about the lack of jobs in academia and the gruesome job market (including the more gruesome interview processes)--there's usually an ongoing discussion of these themes over in the news section at CAA (for Art History). There are a lot of negatives to focus on and the road here for me certainly wasn't the one I had anticipated--finishing a PhD during the economic downturn wasn't great timing, but I learned a lot and I think my former self would be fairly happy with where I've turned up! Indeed, I think everyday how lucky I am to do something that I love and to have the freedom to express my ideas in a number of creative ways (even though the peer-review process is rather horrible!)
{me and my best friend on MA graduation day at the Courtauld 2005 (the nude statue behind us is just so perfect!}}

Any of you who have been to Somerset House, where the Courtauld is housed, will know it's a pretty stunning place to study. For those of you who have not been to Somerset House, you surely have been introduced to it in film: the site of numerous romantic moments (Love Actually) (& in particular  Somerset House ice rink is usually the backdrop to Christmassy romantic comedies), but it's also often used in various historic films such as The Duchess...and of course in more recent years, it regularly appears as the background to fashionista poses, as one of the sites of London Fashion Week.
{Courtauld/Somerset House courtyard, 2014}

{celebrating MA graduation 2005}

So, to my former self: thanks for pursuing your dreams and trying--if I hadn't gone to the Courtauld, I'm not sure how my life would have turned out. If I hadn't had the urge to dream a little and see if I could push myself to grow, learn, and spread my wings, I certainly wouldn't be where I am now. Let this be a lesson to my future self!
keep on dreaming & setting goals!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

{quotable thursdays}

phew, almost forgot to post! I'm editing/writing 3 different projects at the moment with looming deadlines and my fridge just went on the fritz...& I've got a bunch of exams to mark with an accompanying exam board so things are a bit crazy around here.
Good news is that we're having the warmest September in 50 years here in merry ol' England!
I came across this Austen quote the other night, which I love but also seems to fit my present state:

'I begin already to weigh my words & sentences more than I did, & am looking about for a sentiment, an illustration, or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my Ideas flow as fast as the rain in the Storecloset it would be charming.'
                                                           -Jane Austen, personal correspondence

Having all this writing to do, I feel the same way. If only I were as eloquent as the great writer herself!
{inspiration needed!}


Monday, 15 September 2014

{Simla turns 1!}

Today my dear little cat, Simla turns 1!

{all dressed up in her birthday hat!}

She's named after my granny who was born in Simla--amazing coincidence but my granny's birthday is tomorrow!
Simla was born near Ipswich to 'Kindaposh Royal Stroller' (father, a Havana brown) and 'Moonsfield Darkdate' (mother, a seal point Siamese). She gets her blue points from her grandfather 'He'smydarling.'
Here are some of my favourite pics since the day she arrived in my life:

{my portrait of her in a LBD}

{the day she arrived in the flat}

{similar? or simla'?}


{pillow hog}

{afternoon tea in the garden}

{special delivery}

{her favourite thing is to ride around in the laundry basket!}

{playing with her birthday 'mouse'}
{she even received a card all the way from Mexico!}


Thursday, 11 September 2014

{quotable thursdays}

Busy busy days. Huge meeting to prepare for on Saturday on top of 101 other deadlines.
{do it fabulously}
{hallo? yes I'm doing everything fabulously, thank you}

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

{à manger-beef stew}

This stew is a play on a number of stews...and very much  a bit of mixings of stuff I felt like eating! Because of that I don't have a handle really on proportions...but the idea is there & I'm sure you can follow if you are anything of an amateur cook!
It's really yummy comfort food and a perfect dish for autumn or winter.
Preheat oven to 180C
cooking time: roughly 1 hour

strips of beef
a large leek
about 8 small potatoes
a few mushrooms
a teaspoon of flour
a dash of wine
salt, pepper
handful or 2 of parsley
teaspoon of vegetable or beef stock (the powder kind)

1. I like my potatoes nice and roasted so I do them separately and add them in at the last minute. So first step, boil potatoes (cut into roasting size or slightly smaller) for about 4 minutes. Drain them and keep the water. Place them on a roasting tray with oil & salt and place them in the oven.

2. cut up the leeks, the mushrooms and place in a casserole with parsley. Add some salt, pepper, fresh rosemary & thyme & stock. Add in the beef strips (I had about two handfuls worth). sprinkle with a bit of flour. Then stir, and then add in about 2 cups of the potato water... and add a dash of wine.

3. Place in oven and cook around 20 minutes without lid. Then stir, put on lid, and check on potatoes (rotate a bit to make sure all parts get nice and crispy).

4. After another 20 minutes, check to see how everything is doing. You might add in some more wine if things aren't looking too brown...or add about a quarter of a teaspoon of marmite to brown it up (& make it tasty). Place potatoes on top of the stew and remove lid; cook a little longer until everything looks well done (about 10-20 minutes).

{garnish with fresh parsley and some freshly grated parmesan}


Thursday, 4 September 2014

{quotable thursdays}

{starting a new chapter}
Hi blogland! I'm back!
& since for many it's back to school this week, here are some thoughts on new beginnings. The best thing that school taught us every year, was that to start something new (a new year, a new school, a new class, a new book, a new ___ (fill in the blank)) required some courage. But once we started we could be led to new things and new discoveries. That's why learning is so exciting. And we never have to stop. So whether you're writing a new book, a new chapter, starting a new job, a new relationship, moving into a new house, to a new city... you are moving forward, ready to face the world in all its glory. And if you feel like you are leaving things behind, remember that you are also moving forward to things you have yet to know. so embrace it!

{just begin!}
so go ahead and fly readers!
ps: on that note, September is looking extremely busy as I take on a new role at work and try to finish up some research projects, so apologies in advance if I'm not on here as much as I should!