Saturday, 21 January 2012

Late for resolutions, I know...

It's almost February, the time of year when everyone forgets that they resolved to give up smoking, go on a diet or stop procrastinating. Ironically, I have just made my new years resolutions. Maybe the late date is a good signifier that I'm not just hyped up by the crowd, but can maintain the following resolutions well beyond Spring at the very least.

1. Practice yoga every morning and attend iyengar classes on mondays. Yoga not only helps one understand their body and mind, but really implants a desire to keep both healthy. Breathing is so important in yoga, for me this is of crucial importance as often I become timid when I lose control of my breathing in a moment of suspense.

2. Spend less, but stay healthy. This means buying as many fresh vegetables as possible every week from lidls and local greengrocers to make soups, stews and interesting salads. Preparing everything from fresh ingredients is so much cheaper than buying everything pre-made. Buy NO more pasta or rice until the stuff in the cupboard has been used.

3. Cut back on dairy, it creates a minefield on my face, makes me tired and I don't particularly like the idea of the sourcing. Instead, use a variety of different alternatives to milk, lentils, beans, yellow split peas, soya and seitan.

4. Do the Zenith exercises from my French book, I noticed how little I have used that book even though the work is supposedly required for the orals, though I might as well make use of it!

5. I am 4 weeks ahead so far, but stick to that! A stress free holiday, innovative learning week and possibility to have a life are and will be very much appreciated.

(A great motivation, the prospect of this!)

6. Commence one of the other projects I had abandoned hope of during childhood: music theory. Keep going with the Italian chorus in order to gain practice! Perhaps find a course and get involved in summer.

7. Read more articles in French and Italian... Watch more foreign films for pleasure and visit the French institute more often!

8. Continue working on self confidence, I'm getting there :)

9. Write more, not just here, but in my personal diary. Even if it is about the mundane everyday thoughts.

10. Ten, just to make this a rounded number, do more stuff with other people. I get enough invites but so often turn them down, say yes more!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Holidays, 2012

I passed my Christmas holidays in Scotland this year, a rarity given that all of my summer was spent abroad, as was last Christmas. Britain really is an ideal place to enjoy winter festivities, what with the wild countryside, advent hype, abundance of Christmas markets, films and displays all geared up to spread festive spirit. When the presents are unwrapped, the paper chucked or burnt, the games played, the food cooked and consumed, one cannot help but see the dismal near future; January and February are cold, melancholic, hopeless. Easter cannot be considered a good enough reward at the other end, after all we can eat chocolate year round. Ideal as Christmas is, it is over in a flash.

The snow came before Christmas this year, Christmas in the glen this year was reasonably warm over 10 degrees! Misty and Fairy enjoyed pretending to be huskies

This year, as smoke from the fireworks shrouded the sky above Edinburgh, a sensation of change was bought about within me. 2011 was a bad year. Though it served its purpose, it was full of disappointment. The sun on New Years day, and promise of Spring within the Glen were and are encouraging that this year will be better. I really live between Middle Earth and Hogwarts...

Three days after New Years day, my parents, boyfriend, his sister and I headed North in a tightly squeezed little car. From Edinburgh to Perth we encountered hurricane force winds, witnessing the impact. A man drove slowly and carefully along a country lane with a large pine tree in his windscreen, you could see the glass smashed into hundreds of fragile pieces. Trees blocked many mains roads, and birds fought to stay air born. Beyond Perth, we crossed highland terrain covered in snow, the caledonian pine forests and landscapes which looked as desolate as the Arctic. The outcome was the arrival at the little fishing village of Ullapool, from which we caught the 3 1/2 hour ferry to Stornoway on the isle of Lewis.

Lewis, located in the outer Hebrides felt very familiar to me, having traveled in Wales, Ireland and Cornwall. The most magical landscapes for me were just North of Harris, where distant silhouettes of mountains met Northern light, white sandy beaches and valleys with intricate natural systems of steep waterfalls. The Callanish stones were not only extremely photogenic, but also moving. Given that Stone henge is so close to a main road, I can definitely say that the position of Callanish in the barren landscape is more romantic. We stayed in the picturesque recently restored village of Garenin, home to the black houses which appear on many postcards. The houses are built which stone and thatched, the interior included rustic stone and wooden walls, though with modern furniture and appliances. At night it was cold and noisy, even with the cosy wood burner. To a certain degree, this added to the cottage's charm. It is slightly easier to empathise with those MacLeods who used to live in the village up until half a century before.

We stayed in one of these traditional blackhouses :)

Callanish stones!

Carloway Broch

Bewitching landscapes...

With my guests gone, I have picked myself up from where I left off, ensuring that I am ahead before the next semester starts. Back to studious, independent self who finds great pleasure in academia. I know it will pay off and enjoy the satisfaction gained from learning. It does help however to have the promise of a break, a time in which I can do more or less nothing. In February, April, and then indeed in Summer I have the promise of just that.

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