Sunshine in Seattle

Earlier in December I was lucky enough to be taken on holiday to Seattle in the USA, as a  birthday present from my wonderful boyfriend. We went primarily to attend the first ever PodCon, but also to be able to explore a place that we may not otherwise have ever visited. During our time in Seattle we spent two days wandering around the city and two days at the convention (with our first day taken up by a delayed flight and then trying to fight off jet lag!). Given that we therefore only had two days to explore, we tried to cram all the important and well-known sites into our visit.

Downtown
Pike Street Market (one of the oldest continuously running farmers markets in the USA) was a surprisingly fun experience – especially with all the run up to Christmas starting.
Pioneer Square is not necessarily that much to look at, but I found it interesting to go to the area where the original settlement of Seattle started. (Oh, and stopping off to visit the very quirky-looking city library too!).
The water front is certainly one of the more iconic areas of the city, with a gorgeous view of Mount Rainier.

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Pike Street Market

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Austen, Bookshops and Roman Baths in… Bath!

A few weeks ago I had a late celebratory weekend for my birthday in Bath with my family and boyfriend. Bath is certainly a beautiful city, especially with its Georgian architecture throughout the centre. (As Alex pointed out, its unusual to see such consistency of architecture in such an old city.) The Georgian style is definitely one of my favourites, and Bath did not disappoint!

We were only visiting for a few days (I would love to have stayed for longer), but we still managed to get a lot done in the time we had. Along with the well-known and touristy areas, we also discovered some bookshops (obviously!), went to the theatre and had lots of cake and tea and coffee at various shops across the city.

Roman Baths
The Roman Baths have got to be the most famous landmark of this city, and a “must go” place while here – and to be honest, I agree! They were fascinating, and the museum complex was really interesting, with lots of information available (both to read and with the audio-guide – provided in the price of entrance).

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Oxford – SYP Conference 2017

Last weekend I travelled to Oxford Brookes University for the day to attend a conference about the publishing industry, held by the Society of Young Publishers (SYP). Publishing is where I hope to work following my studies, so it was a great opportunity to talk with like-minded people (who were either looking to work in publishing, like me, or already worked in publishing), gain some very good advice, and obviously an opportunity for some networking.

The conference was titled Publishing: A Brave New World? (because no-one can resist a literary reference!), and the whole day was based on the idea of innovation and disruption. The keynote at the start, given by Katie Espiner from Orion publishers, and the closing panel, both featured heavily on this theme, but there were also smaller panels throughout the day (with lots of choice about which to go to!) which discussed various issues within this larger scope.

It was a really great day, with some useful insights into the publishing industry that I’m sure will be invaluable for such a competitive area for careers. It was especially fun to be involved in discussions about the industry with other people who were also interested in its future (and I’m sure will one day be running and shaping it too).

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Third Year Feelings – The Start of First Term

I’ve been back at university for over a month now and, so far, third year has been a mixture of emotions and experiences already. Most prominently, this year started off with the usual excitement and apprehension, but also a feeling of fear and being overwhelmed. Speaking to my friends, I know I’m not alone in this, and it all stems from the thought of life after we graduate. (More specifically, having no idea what is going to happen, despite the various talks we’ve been given about our opportunities after uni – which right now only seemed to have increased this worry rather than cured it!) But, also alongside these concerns, for me is a great deal of excitement too; I’m really enjoying the work I’m doing, and I’m looking forward to the opportunities that I know I’ll discover throughout this final year.

Yet, as much as I am enjoying my work this year, there has been an awful lot of it! It may be that the workload is in fact more than last year, but it could also be that I just forgot how busy university can be – after all, we’ve just been thrown completely into the deep end this year! It really has full speed from the first week.

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The Bookshop, Penelope Fitzgerald

I picked up this book to read because it was a short novel – I’ve been wanting to read more short novels recently. (Not only is it a resolution to myself, but it also makes me feel better about the number of books I’ve read, and helps with my ambitious Goodreads reading challenge!) I’m not completely naive though; I had looked up which short novels are recommended, and this one particularly caught my eye. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, it depicts the life of Florence Green who lives in her small East Anglian town, and decides, against polite but ruthless local opposition, to open a bookshop. For me, anything about working in a bookshop or with books will always persuade me to want to give it a chance and read it, and this novel was no exception.

This wasn’t a bad book – certainly there was nothing specific that made me react negatively to it. Yet, when I was asked how I felt about this book, all I could think of was “pleasant”. It’s an easy read for sure: the writing is good, and there’s no denying her ability to create interesting and realistic characters – which is so central to this novel. Her writing captures a sense of place to the story, specifically the close community that is so opposed to the establishing of a bookshop, against the stubbornness and strong-will of the protagonist, Florence.

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MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood

MaddAddam is the final novel in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian trilogy of the same name. Having enjoyed the first two novels – Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood – I was looking forward to starting the final novel, particularly to see how it would all end, and like the previous novels, I wasn’t at all disappointed.

Whereas the trilogy’s two previous novels’ plots run within the same period of time, along parallel timelines, MaddAddam continues on from their endings, providing a completely new and unknown plot. This was great for establishing the novel as both a continuation of the story, and its inevitable conclusion too, while also bringing something different from the rest of the trilogy.

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When Creativity Takes the Stage: Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2017

Last week I travelled up to Edinburgh in Scotland, to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’ve wanted to go for a few years now, and finally I got around to it! (Well, it was my birthday present to my boyfriend, who wanted to go too, so I thought that was as good an excuse as any!).

During my time at the Fringe I kept being taken aback my just how it completely takes over the entire city: it’s not just a few places all in one small area, as I had expected, but venues spread across the city centre – all of which were remarkably well signposted. The venues themselves were all made to accommodate the various types of performances at the Fringe, both big and small. Not only was it well-organised, including the many bars and food stalls, but the number of  posters covering the city was astonishing – on the sides of buses, on lamp-posts, and on the walls of buildings all the way into Leith (where we stayed), in addition to all the flyers that were being constantly handed out. Given that this year marked the 70th anniversary of the Fringe I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised at the level of organisation, but I really was impressed.

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