One Weekend - Museums, Galleries and Cycling in the Park

Cycling is incredibly relaxing. You might not agree with me and say that pedalling for hours on end makes me some kind of health freak. Except I don't care much about my health, half the time my preferred meal is a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

What I like about it is the feel of the summer breeze through my hair as I casually cycle by the canal, smiling at the goslings without a care in the world. Watching the sun go down, the beautiful sunset reflecting off the surface of the water. Heaven.

Wednesday 27th July - Baby Photos

I have blog posts I was supposed to finish writing, but as usual I managed to procrastinate enough that they still need editing.

I hope to post them up soon but here are some baby photos of me to keep you occupied in the meantime. I dare you not to laugh.

I could do my eyebrow trick from a young age


This outfit is just terrifying 

 Even when I was younger I was hilarious. Or maybe I just thought that.

Saturday 23rd July - The Tragedy in Norway

On twitter, 'Christianity' has become one of the top trending topics in the UK. The description for this is 'Christianity is responsible for 90% of the wars in history'. I'm not going to address this because it would be off topic to do so. I do find it, however, disrespectful and ignorant of people to group all Christians together and blame us for what has happened. I retweeted something along the lines of the murderer in Norway not being Christian (he is said to be a Christian fundamentalist). Someone replied to me saying: 'It's like saying Al Qaeda isn't Muslim.' Come to think about it, and please correct me if I'm wrong, I don't think they are. Not truly. Just like the man who has been charged, Christians across the world would agree that his actions were not Christian. He may have been acting on what he believed Christianity to be, but if so he was misguided. His belief was a subversion, a misunderstanding of Scripture and the message of Christ.

As Pope Benedict XVI writes in his second book titled 'Jesus of Nazareth': 'The cruel consequences of religiously motivated violence are only too evident to us all. Violence does not build up the kingdom of God,the kingdom of humanity. On the contrary, it is a favorite instrument of the Antichrist, however idealistic its religious motivation may be. It serves, not humanity, but inhumanity ... No; violent revolution, killing others in God’s name, was not his way. His “zeal” for the kingdom of God took quite a different form.'

Anyway, I'm not going to go on and preach. I should have thought carefully before posting this. I'm not thinking straight and am still quite shocked about all the news surrounding the events. I might even take this post down.

No words can describe the terrible events that have occurred in Norway. I ask that you pray for the victims and their family, along with those responsible for the attacks. And if you can spare a moment, you can find an incredibly emotional eyewitness account of the shootings at the Norwegian youth camp here.

EDIT: This is a good article on why we need to ask what the word 'fundamentalist' means in this context, as well as the importance of sticking to the facts when it comes to reporting.

In a battle to the death, who would win: a pirate or a ninja?

I was having a conversation similar to this just the other day. My friends and I were talking about who would win between cowboys and ninjas. One friend argued for flying ninjas but the other - more convincingly you might say - argued that anyone with a gun (i.e. a pirate) can just go *bang* and kill any ninja, flying or not. So I'll have to go with the pirate.

Photo credit to ~aliensamurai

Monday 18th July - Productive Day

I've had a productive day. This morning I sent off press releases, proofread the paper, and imported all the photos that needed archiving into iPhoto. I also managed to catch up with MasterChef Australia. *SPOILER ALERT* If you watch MasterChef Australia and you're not up to the latest episode, stop reading. Instead, go back to the homepage and find an older blog post to read. They're more interesting, I promise. Especially the ones from when I was in the Philippines.

Anyway, in this episode, the contestants get to serve lunch for the Dalai Lama. Now, I'm not Buddhist but I was really touched by the way he inspired the amateur cooks. Walking into the kitchen during mise en place they were in awe. It was very emotional and some of them were even crying. There's this one particular part which I felt summed up the whole experience:

Such a humble and kind man.

Saturday 16th July - Karaoke and Jenga: The Perfect Combination

Rain just makes you want to stay indoors. It's all good fun when you're indoors and you watch as the dark clouds gather and just start chucking it down, but when you're caught in it ... well, that's another story. So I was glad when my friend agreed to translate our evening gathering from the Southbank to my 'crib', as he called it.

The DT Crew

It was all a bit last minute so I didn't actually have any plans as to how we were going to spend our evening. You'd think our company would be enough, but sometimes our amazingness and highly intellectual and engaging conversation is just too much to handle. But as usual, we managed to have an amazing evening. One that involved karaoke and Jenga.

This is how Jenga was meant to be played

Jenga didn't go so well. Chris' silly 'one touch only' rule meant there was a lot of first time prodding that meant the game didn't last very long. (Re-reading over that sentence ... it reads funny. Forgive me, I see innuendo everywhere. I actually manage to make Jenga sound like a variant of the original strip poker....)

Rocking out

We had a failsafe though - karaoke. Now most people need a bit *cough* a lot of encouragement *sneeze* alcohol to go anywhere near a microphone and a list of songs that include Uptown Girl and Red Red Wine. Lack of organisation meant we didn't have tequila shots on hand but a bit of apple and elderflower, along with the forfeit that losing Jenga meant having to sing a song lead to us singing the night away. Literally. We finished at 2:30am. And that was only because we'd lost our voices. 

Singing their little hearts out

Our karaoke mic is brill. It scores you depending on ... well I don't really know, but even duetting with a friend, we couldn't manage a score above 50. Shameful I know.

I'm a failure as a Filipino. I can't sing. I can't dance. I can't do much. I'm just thankful that no one was recording us that night, otherwise you would be scrunching up your face and squirming.

My Mother: You all look so Asian

P.S. We're so eager to join the cat choir that we've arranged another evening this weekend.

Would you rather be a zombie or a mummy?

Zombie. If I was a mummy I'd trip over my own strands of linen.

Photo credit to *geodex

What's your favorite season of the year?

Autumn. Not too cold, not too hot. And the colours ... Just beautiful.

Friday 15th July - Writing

At least with essays one has free reign to write whatever one likes, approach a question how one likes and reference whatever one likes (bar Wiki). Granted one might lose marks for flippancy or using colloquial language but at least it's all one's own work.

Writing for a newspaper is completely different. Most of the time the finished article is only half of what you originally submitted, and that's not even including the structural changes or the words you - or someone else - has supposedly said.

It's tough because one ends up feeling a bit reluctant to have one's name attached to a story they didn't really write. Sure it would be published in the newspaper/online, but it's not really one's own work.

Why would anyone want credit for something they didn't write?

Thursday 14th July - Just Another Manic Thursday

Started today on a bad note. Been feeling a bit sick the last couple of days and today was no different.

At work I've been working on the newspaper, editing the pages and organising the layout. It's all good fun. I could do this for a living! Though come lunchtime things were just starting to get a bit manic....

I was silly enough to wear heels today forgetting that I'd be working in the Cathedral, covering an event for a press release. At first I thought it'd be fine to just tiptoe around but the click of a heel in the silence of prayer and reverence is deafening. Not to mention the fact that one would most likely take a few slips and end up looking like a drunk ice-skater. So anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to go home and change my shoes. For some reason I had it in my head that Vespers didn't start till 15:30. The Westminster Cathedral site said 17:00 and the diary 15:00. I was confused. But I was really set on changing my shoes. So I set off around 13:30. I was cutting it fine.

Naturally the traffic was horrendous. I got halfway and realised that there's no way I would make it and get back in time. So I had a rushed lunch and travelled back to the office but the traffic was bad on that side of the road too *sigh* Arrived at 15:15. I was either 15 mins late or 15 mins early. Popped into the Cathedral to see that it had already started. Fudge. Ran to the office (in heels - I can barely walk in them) to be told that my boss was already in the Cathedral. Rushed back and started to tiptoe around (creepy-child-catcher-from-Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang style). I couldn't see him anywhere. Sitting in the front row? No. Was he on the sanctuary? No. And then I spotted him: on the first level by the windows!

All I could think about was how he was going to kill me for being late. And now I couldn't even tell him I had arrived! How the hell was I supposed to get up there? So using my natural charm (ha) I spoke to one of the security guards, told him where I worked and that I needed to get up there. He directed me to the security office, where the guy seemed to know who I was talking about and led me to a closed staircase.

I was getting excited. It was a closed staircase. This meant people weren't allowed to go up them. But I was going to. The guard finally unlocked the gate (and locked it behind me). Walking up the stairs I had no idea where I was going. I reached the landing but I couldn't see him. I felt like Robert Langdon exploring the underground tunnels of the Vatican. There were narrow passages, tight tunnels and arches, twist and turns, but finally ... hoorah! The view from up there is amazing. A real bird's eye view. You can just imagine yourself as a plump pigeon perched on the edge of the balcony. It must be beautiful during the Easter Vigil, the Cathedral bathed in darkness, the flicker of hundreds of candles giving a slight glow ... I'm a little nervous when it comes to heights so I was glad when we made our way down.

After all the photos were taken, we made our way back to the office. I hadn't been sitting at my desk very long when I overheard someone mention my name. I didn't think it was anything, so continued with my work. My boss walked out of the office and returned a minute later saying that someone was at the front desk wanting to talk to me. I prayed he wouldn't say the name I didn't want to hear, but lo and behold he did. I froze. I quickly mumbled something about how I didn't want to see him and if he could send him away I'd appreciate it. No more questions were asked. I was thankful ... but worried. Just half an hour ago I was exploring the depths of the Cathedral like Indiana Jones, and now this. I soon came down from my high after that.

I was glad to be on my way home. Hoping no one was following me I got on the bus and let out a huge sigh of relief. Then this guy gets on. The bus is empty and he decides to sit next to me. 'Fair enough' I think, most people want to sit at the front because of the 'view', so sure, have a seat. Then he starts talking. Not to someone on the phone, or opposite him, or even to himself, but to me. I'm surprised. Strangers don't strike up conversation on public transport unless they're asking for directions or hitting on you. It wasn't the former.

Needless to say the guy was nice. Charming even. He told me he was a journalist and was on his way back to work after a spot of shopping (he has good taste, I must say). He said: 'Why are you so nice?' Me: ? Him: 'You're so nice. You talk to people when they talk to you.' Me: 'Well, yes. It's only good manners to reply, unless I feel threatened.' *laughter* It was nice to just talk. I was surprised by the experience, but he had me laughing - something I appreciated after the afternoon I just had.

He told me to remember him and shook my hand as he left. I couldn't help but think it was all a bit strange. It shouldn't be though: talking to a stranger. It should be everyday. Like he said, in other cultures everyone speaks to everyone. Here though we're antisocial workaholics. We don't like the strange and unknown. Our curiosity is not stimulated by it. We like the banal. The routine. The everyday.

Wednesday 13th July - Cookies or cupcakes?

Cookies/biscuits because I can eat more of them. But can I have copious amounts of both? In fact a whole house made out of both will do me just fine.

Photo credit to Snowfern

Ask me anything

Weltschmertz oder Schadenfreude?

At first I saw this and thought I'd answer 'yes' or 'many things' in hope that I'd answer the question, but soon realised the internet exists to make things easier i.e. google translate. So, after much deliberation, the latter, definitely.

Photo credit to ToastWizard

Ask me anything

If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?


Ask me anything

Monday 11th July - Fudge

I'm so angry with myself right now. I'm so angry I've worked myself up and now I'm upset. I've been given a good opportunity to go and do something and I have to turn it down.

I have this thing that holds me back from doing things most people have no problem with. After a long time of bottling things up, it slowly simmered to the surface and reared its ugly head. What angers me is that I never used to be like this. I used to be normal. Life used to be normal. Uneventful. I'm just frustrated that it makes life a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

I often feel embarrassed and awkward when I'm presented with a situation that I know will make me feel uncomfortable. I'm not just talking 'Oh I don't like that', I mean full on 'Fudge, I can't'.

It scares me to think that I'm at a disadvantage because of it. That I won't be able to get the job I want because of it. That I won't meet someone who will be patient enough to put up with me. I've become really good at wearing a mask, putting on a brave face and pushing through. The reality is that I'm just about coping. There are times when everything's fine. But then it comes out of nowhere. At the smallest trigger I feel absolute fear.

What do I fear? I can't even tell you because I don't know myself. You'd think it would be something profound like death or God, but it's something I can't place my finger on.

I've been told that I shouldn't try to fight it, but embrace it. But even embracing it makes for a tough ride. When things begin to subside I feel exhausted - physically, emotionally and mentally.

I don't know to do.

Saturday 9th July - What a Week!

Monday 4th July

Even before I got out of bed this morning I knew I had a long and exciting day ahead of me. I was about to start work experience at the Communications Office at the Diocese of Westminster.

Thrown in the deep end, I went to Knebworth, near Stevenage, for a parish profile I was to write for The Westminster Record. After the interview, I took a look around the church, snapped a few photos and went back to the presbytery for afternoon tea ("Ooh er!" I hear you say). I'll post a link/photo here once the article's published - if I remember - which I think will be in a week's time....

Anyway, I arrived back at London's King's Cross around 5ish and made my way to Chalk Farm to see Linkin Park. I used to be a HUGE fan when I was younger, back in the days when I thought the more piercings I had the cooler I'd be. My friend had won iTunes Festival tickets and had invited me. How could I say no? I've seen them live before at Wembley, so I kind of knew what to expect. I must say though, I was a bit worried that I wouldn't enjoy myself seeing as I had already outgrown my metal-wristband-headbanging phase. To no one's surprise I had a great time.

The Roundhouse is an amazing venue. It's got a really nice atmosphere and is quite pleasing on the eye. Unfortunately we didn't get any war wounds from being in the mosh pit but we had our fair share of headbanging and jumping around. T'was a shame that the people around us weren't so interested in letting loose as much, but hey-ho. The best bit was the encore. They returned on stage to perform some of their older songs as well as an amazing rendition of Adele's 'Rolling in the Deep'. I didn't think Chester would be able to pull it off, but ... his voice. Just, wow.


Tuesday 5th July

Needless to say, I had left my voice at the Roundhouse last night.

Today I had another busy day away from my desk. It was the Headteachers' Conference at the Diocese and I was asked to cover it (i.e. record the speeches, take photos, write up a news story and publish it to the site).

It was a strange prospect to think that I could bump into one of my old headteachers. I mean, I didn't expect them to remember me or anything, but it's always a bit surreal when something from your past crops up. It's like someone's messed with the time continuum or something. Anyway, that's exactly what happened. Although I bumped into someone I didn't expect to - my primary school headteacher. One, because she retired about six years ago, so under normal circumstances she wouldn't be at the conference, and two, the last time I saw her was ... ten years ago. Ten years!

All I really remember from the conversation was her going 'Oh my God!' several times. To me she hadn't changed a bit. Ok, she'd aged (as you do) but her expressions, the way she spoke - just like they were ten years ago. I on the other hand must have looked like a complete stranger; I was only three feet tall back then! It was lovely to catch up. I remember clearly that she didn't have much faith in me getting accepted into the secondary school I wanted to go to. She felt that circumstances at home would be a disadvantage, regardless of how well I may have been doing at school. Just goes to show that you should just do what you think is right. We only get one chance at life, so make the most of it. Makes you realise that you'll never know where life will take you and who you'll meet (again) along the way.

The day's ended but I don't know what it is, I feel a bit low, a bit blue.

I'm disappointed that I'm not feeling a certain way. It took me a while to place the feeling, but I soon realised it was one of inadequacy. I guess I just feel a bit out of my depth - like I don't really fit in. I probably just need to settle in.


Wednesday 10th July

Nothing too exciting to report on. I learnt how to use QuarkXPress to format the newspaper - it's sort of like a glorified version of Photoshop or any kind of design program for that matter.

After work I was off to meet some friends for a birthday gathering. The place I was meant to go to was a Brazilian-styled restaurant. Instead of it being a straightforward A-B journey I ended up going on an adventure.

It was embarrassing. I turned up to the restaurant and said to the lady at the front that I was meeting friends who had already reserved a table. I walked in, it was a small room so I could see everyone clearly - apart from my friends. I was confused. I looked again, just in case (you can never be too sure, especially when I'm not wearing my glasses), but still, nothing. So I rang one of them and said I had arrived but I couldn't see them. And then the dreaded question: 'Where are you?'. 'Victoria' I said. 'Ah ... well ... we're in Putney'. Putney?! That was ages away from Victoria! Now I'm not usually this stupid. I say stupid things, but I can read a map. It turns out that the link that was sent to everyone only showed the main branch *headdesk*

I'd never been to Putney. At first I thought 'Where's Putney? I know it's south of the river, but ... what's in Putney?' Turns out that it's quite a nice place. Anyway, I arrived after an hour to an empty restaurant. Apologised profusely for being such a ditz and we swiftly moved on to a pub. T'was nice to see everyone and catch up. Goes to show that it doesn't matter whether you've not spoken to someone for months on end, if they're really your friend it's as if you just spoke to them yesterday.

I also noticed that I had been out more this week (note, we're only half way through) than I had last semester. Now I wonder what that says about me?


Thursday 11th July

What did I do today? I did something. I know I did. Hmmm.


Friday 12th July

Putting the final touches to the parish profile. I had fun writing it as I didn't have to be as structured as one does when writing a news article. I tried to inject a bit of personality into the piece (i.e. dry humour and some arty babble). I would have included some self-deprecation but I had reached my word limit.

We also had Elevenses which was rather nice. I got to meet everyone in the house and have some tea and cake. It's always nice to get away from the desk for a bit, I get headaches when I stare at a screen for too long.

I then went to a meeting to discuss a press release I've been asked to organise. It was all very exciting. There were so many factors to take into account: the target audience (local/national/Catholic newspapers who would be interested in the story), making sure all the information is correct (names/date/places etc.), asking all the right questions, how many photos to take, what kind etc. etc. It's all good experience. I'm being pushed out of my comfort zone and challenged, which can only be a good thing (I think).

So yes, it's Friday and as much as I'd like to just go home and sleep I have a friend from uni coming to stay over.


Saturday 10th July

Up early (for a Saturday) to go to Portobello Market. My friend had never been before so she asked if I'd kindly play host and take her to see the nicer part of the ghetto. Here's what we got up to:

My Work Spaces

At university

This is my desk on a good day. When I'm in the middle of writing an essay, there's usually no desk space to be seen.

Behind the anglepoise are some Christmas flowers in a wine bottle, along with a flag (an indication of where I study). Various Bibles, thesauruses and dictionaries, along with endless bottles of water/half-empty cups that litter the edge of the desk.

I'm a bit of a hoarder, as you can see from the things on my window sill. A vibrating smurf, a toy duck from my academic dad, Zippy, a teapot, R2D2 and juggling balls all encourage procrastination.

On most occasions, Maximus (my MacBook) occupies half of the desk whilst papers and books occupy the other half (I prefer to use good ol' pen and paper when I can). There's also a stone sculpture I carved, and Newton's Cradle (which I never get to play with because my flatmate says it disturbs her whilst she works).

At home

This desk - which I've just reclaimed from all the clutter that was on it - is not too dissimilar from my one at uni.

The watercolour painting you see is of Pluscarden Abbey, and next to it is a photo of a friend and I at Brighton that's been mounted on to a plank of wood. Nelly the elephant helps keep Maximus clean. There's also various notepads/diaries, my fountain pen and pots in the corner with paintbrushes, rulers, memory sticks - everything you can think of except for a rubber.

There never seems to be a rubber available when you need one.