Sunday, 26 April 2015

Things That Made Me Happy This Week #16

1// Non-Fiction As I write this I'm about three-quarters of the way through my third non-fiction read in a row. It's an odd time for a flurry of non-fiction reading considering how much information I'm having to take in daily at work, but I'm going to make the most of it whilst I can. If you've got any recommendations then please make sure to throw them my way!

2// The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell This book has kept me on my toes this week. It's the most entertaining non-fiction book I've read in a while and probably my favourite book from this month so I'll definitely be reviewing it soon.

3// Reading in the sun As soon as the sun arrives I try to spend as much time in the fresh (ish) air as possible. This week I've spent a couple of late afternoons reading on our balcony and it has been lovely. Chilly, but lovely.

4// Flow charts I've been creating some information packs at work for the tumour groups that I specialise in and that has involved creating some completely stunning flow charts. If you've never considered flow charts to be beautiful things then you really need to see mine. They are works of art and so very calming to create.

5// A chilled Friday evening in the pub After a failed run on Friday afternoon I decided the only thing for it was an evening spent chillaxing in the pub. Cider + good company = fun times.

What has made you happy this week?


Friday, 24 April 2015

Hello, world!

So I guess it's been a while, huh? If you're still there then thank you for sticking around during my prolonged absence! Way back when I started my new job (a whole six weeks ago now, *lifts jaw of the floor*), I knew that I was going to take a wee break just to settle in and find my feet, but I didn't anticipate that finding my feet would take such a long time.

I don't know how many of you know, but six weeks ago I started working for the NHS in a role created in partnership with Macmillan. It's brand new for the trust I work for, brand new for Macmillan, actually, entirely brand new - this has never been tried before. It's challenging, exciting, rewarding and, at the moment, pretty frustrating. Yep, three weeks of induction and training somehow turned into six weeks of induction and training. I'm learning a lot about a lot of things, but now I'm pretty ready to just get cracking and help some people. The start date is set for next Monday so we shall see.

That more or less sums up the reason for my complete radio silence over here and my quieter than usual presence on social media. I've also been pretty busy with life things and trying to put a good amount of time into the Centenary News books page - if you're interested in WW1 I have posted the odd review on there, plus lots of recommendations for WW1 related reads. Shameless plug over.

I can't be entirely sure that things will get back to normal here immediately, but I do know I have missed sharing this space with you guys and chatting everything happiness and books. Here's to hoping that you've missed it, too!

I think things are going to change a little for Lit Nerd. I've been thinking about tweaking my focus a tad so that The Happiness Project takes centre stage. I've been considering this change for a while, in part because I don't seem to read as much as I used to, but also because focusing on happiness does wonders for me and I really hope it can do the same for you. There will still be a focus on bookish goodness and the occasional review as books are obviously the number one thing on my happy list, but I'm going to have a fiddle with the format until I find something really worthy of lit nerdiness.

Basically I'm just going to try and pick up where I left off and see how it goes. There may be an element of winging it, but that can be good for the soul every now and then.

Anyway guys, over to you! How have you been? Read any good books lately? Any thoughts about what you'd like to see on Lit Nerd in the next few weeks and months?

P.S. Have I said I've missed you yet? Or that you're all kinda awesome and lovely?


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Literary London: Blake

If you've been around these parts before then you may remember that one of my favourite London pastimes is, like my good friend Darles Chickens, walking. I can walk for hours, turning down new streets or familiar roads, crossing different bridges or poking my head into various nooks and crannies in my favourite city.

This past Saturday we spent a particularly blustery yet delightfully sunny day wandering around East London. As we made our way home we were forced to take a slight detour due to some roadworks that took up the entire pavement. We nipped behind a block of flats and walked towards a railway bridge we hoped would lead towards home. It did lead towards home, but it also lead to one of the most exciting discoveries I've made so far this year.

Railway bridges, tunnels and arches are not an uncommon sight around the area I live and I pretty much think that if you've seen one, you've seen them all. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I walked under this particular bridge and the late afternoon sun caught the edge of something coloured. I had definitely been walking along grumbling about how much I needed a wee and how sore my feet were and probably how hot/cold I was, but that moaning died on my lips when I looked up and saw a mosaic bearing the title page of William Blake's Songs of Innocence.

The mosaics line both sides of the tunnel (Centaur Street in Lambeth, for any London based Blake enthusiasts) and brought such life to an otherwise worn out road. Each mosaic was beautifully made and depicted scenes from his Songs and other works - some dark in subject matter, and some cheering. This last photo I think demonstrates quite how incongruous the mosaics look in their setting, but it is the perfect place for something based on Blake's poems ('London' springs to mind).

I've always had a love for mosaics so that plus Blake was a marriage made in Lit Nerd heaven. It was also rather lovely to stumble across this collection so soon after reading Tracy Chevalier's Burning Bright and having my love for William rekindled.

After a quick bit of research I found out that the project was organised by Southwark Mosaics, who had this to say on their website:

''William Blake lived for ten of his most productive years in North Lambeth at 13 Hercules Buildings. The old house has been knocked down, but there is a plaque where it once stood on Hercules Road. William Blake lived in Hercules Road, SE1 from 1790 – 1800 and this mosaic project pays homage to his genius and some of his greatest work. Southbank Mosaics artists worked with 300 volunteers over a period of 7 years to research, design, plan, make and install 70 mosaics based on the words and paintings of William Blake into the railway tunnels of Waterloo Station, turning them from dark unwelcoming places into street galleries bright with opulent and durable works of art.''

If there is one thing that I've learnt from this discovery it is the importance of keeping your eyes open. Keep them up, look all around you, look at the sky, look at the tops of buildings, look at lampposts, look at doorways, look in the crannies and open spaces - look everywhere and never stop seeing the little things.

I truly hope that London never loses its capacity to surprise me and that I'll never run out of things to discover here. I have a sneaking suspicion that that won't happen any time soon.

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