books are the best places to explore

15 tips for traveling alone

I recently returned from a four-month trip around Europe. I backpacked to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Germany, Norway and The Netherlands, sometimes with my best friend, sometimes with new friends, and sometimes all alone. 

Travelling alone was one of the best experiences of my life. You’ll surprise yourself with your keen intuition, your ability to cope with a new language, your friend-making skills, your geographical bearings and overall just how much you enjoy doing whatever you want, whenever you want - from eating whenever, going wherever and doing whatever you feel like doing. Sometimes I had gelato for breakfast, once I spent six hours in a museum, a few times I slept til midday, I went to a music festival solo and I swam in the ocean morning, noon and dusk. 

But travelling alone can also be problematic and lonely if you’re not properly prepared. Here’s some easy tips that really enriched my experience travelling alone. 

1. Laptop smart
Not only is it exceedingly hard to navigate foreign transport sites from a phone, my laptop proved really valuable to me when I needed precious downtime, which was about once a week. I loaded up a portable hard drive with movies and boxsets so I could retreat into my own little world with my headphones on to watch a movie in bed when I needed a bit of ‘me’ time. 

2. Device smart
- I subscribed to Spotify Premium for $10 a month and built myself some playlists by mood - chill, happy, groovy, pensive. Then I downloaded them, so they were available offline.
- I also downloaded Tripit, an app that links with your email and builds you an automatic itinerary based on your email confirmations.
- I also downloaded, an app with offline maps and GPS location so I was never lost. I dropped a (permanent) pin on the location of my accommodation in each city so I always had my bearings. 
- Also make sure your emails are accessible on your phone - I found the Gmail app to be the best option for me, because many of my emails were available offline - valuable when I needed an address or confirmation number, which was a lot!

3. Spend smart
I went with Citibank Australia, who offer a Citibank Plus everyday account with fee-free withdrawals and fee-free transactions anywhere in the world. Shop around your banks and see what deal you can find - don’t just go with your own bank, who might smash you with withdrawal and transaction fees. Every dollar counts when you’re overseas.

4. Insure smart 
This was a non-negotiable. I actually submitted two claims after this trip - one for a lost phone and another for a change of trip. Make sure you know what you’re entitled to before you commit to a policy - valuables up to $1,000 is essential if you’re taking that laptop or smartphone!

5. Pack smart
A few quick tips:
- Don’t take anything that needs ironing. You’ll never wear it, trust me. 
- Bring your runners so you can walk miles during the day. It really made all the difference for me - on days I wore them I could walk up to 30,000 steps without any pain whatsoever. 
- Bring your flip flops for showering. Tinea is rampant in hostel world!
- Bring exercise gear. I always moved from place to place in my exercise gear - it’s easy to sleep in on long haul bus-rides, and you don’t want to wear your 15kg pack with bad shoes - it hurts your ankles!
- Pack, then don’t take half the things you packed. Every little thing is a lot heavier on your back in the blistering heat, trust me. And they have toiletries in other countries too, you know!

6. Disembark smart
- Always carry some cash with you for the country you’re going to - for me, it was mostly euros. It was essential for my commute from the airport, and when I forgot to arm myself with currency, I was left disoriented, tired and wandering around trying to find an ATM while not getting robbed.
- It’s also worth Googling bus or train information before you board your plane, so you know the fastest and cheapest way to your accommodation before you land. Taxis are tempting - but will run your budget dry quickly. 

7. Book smart 
- Book directly through the website, not the compare-sites - it’s cheaper! This includes airlines, bus companies and train websites, and the hostel websites when it comes to booking your accommodation.
- Also, always book your bits and bobs in a private browsing section. Airline websites have algorithms that send the ticket prices up if they log your IP looking at a price a couple times to create a sense of urgency in you.
- But don’t feel like you need to map your whole plan out before you even leave home - I purposefully left gaps in my plan and life filled them in. I stayed with europeans I’d met overseas, travelled with new friends and went to countries that I had no plans on going to, like Norway (one of my favourite countries in the end!) 

8. Backup smart
After every country I backed up my phone to my laptop and my laptop to my hard drive. If you trust the Cloud, backup to there too. It is devastating to lose travel photos - they’re about the most important thing you own when you travel. 

9. Stay smart
- is the go-to site for hostels. If I was nervous about my choice, I’d usually book one night in and extend my stay if it felt right. I always read plenty of reviews for each place, particularly taking notice of the location rating. Cleanliness in the bathroom, uncomfortable beds or a tiny kitchen were things I could deal with. A 30 minute commute to the city was something that wore me down pretty quickly.
- Speaking of the kitchen - that ‘free’ shelf in the fridge is your best friend - use it!

10. Be alone smart
- Find a local pub and go and sit at the bar with a good book. Strike up a conversation with the bartender - they are probably bored out of their mind! Bartenders have a wealth of cultural knowledge about their city that you’d never find on Trip Advisor - ask for their hot tips on eating, drinking, shopping and the sights. I asked each bartender to draw all over a fold-up map in each city so I had a visual reference - it helped me pair things together that were close by so I could plan my days better.
- Also, do the walking tour on your first day. They are usually free (the tour guides live on tips) and they are the most useful introduction to a city - not to mention hugely interesting.

11. Commute smart
If you’re wondering if you should walk or get a metro, walk. If you’re wondering whether you should get the metro or a bus, bus. The metro is fast, but you see nothing. 

12. Dress smart
- If you’re spending the day exploring, wear one less thing than you think you need to. It’s awful being hot and sweaty, but easy to speed up if you’re feeling a little nippy. Plus, your thighs will thank you when they can crush steel between your rippling muscles!
- Runners are pretty much always the best option - you’ll double your productivity with them on. 

13. Mini-pack smart
Your daypack should contain:
- headphones
- a book
- a city map (to ask the locals to circle their favourite places on!)
- a knife and fork (plastic, for impromptu lunches in the park or by the water)
- a water bottle. Water is your best friend between all that exercise you didn’t realize you were doing (win!), the salty restaurant meals you’re eating (yum) and the drinking (inevitable). Drink it in litres - otherwise you’ll be perpetually dehydrated and wondering why you feel so tired. 

14. Wash, dry and iron smart
It’s inevitable you’ll have to wash atleast once a week. Face it, pretty boy. Mama aint here to help you now. 
- Every night, wash the underwear you wore that day in the shower. It takes five seconds, stops them from stinking up the place (we all know undies get the most dirty) and fresh undies are one of life’s little pleasures!
- You can iron out major creases by wetting a towel and wiping the clothing while it’s on you (it’ll dry), or bringing the item on a coat hanger into the shower area (the steam makes the creases drop out) 
- Splurge occasionally and get laundry done. Most hostels do it for less than $10, and having fresh clean dry clothing one of those amazing little things that lifts your spirits when you’re out of your comfort zone. 

15. Socialise smart
Talk to people! Everyone is the best version of themselves when they are travelling. Strike up conversations with people you would never usually speak to, especially those travelling alone as well. Ask them their story, compare itineraries, go on adventures together and who knows? You might just make a friend for life. 

Gemsona April Prompts

Pics or it Didn’t Happen!
Create fake instagram or snapchat posts for your gemsona! Do they take pictures while on important missions? Did they snap an embarrassing photo of their superior and get in trouble for it? What cool places have they visited? Or: Show your gemsona’s best side and have them take some selfies like the Cool Kids

Jean Gems
Uniforms are great, but you know what’s even better? Jeans! Take a leaf out of Rebecca Sugar’s book and have your gemsona hang out in some casual-wear. Need some inspiration? Check out Rebecca’s original ‘Gems in Jeans’ drawings! (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

An Agate terrifies, a Lapis terraforms, and your gemsona…?
What is your gemsona’s gem-type known for on Homeworld? What role / function are they created for? Are they known for being generals in Homeworld’s armies? Explorers searching for new planets to conquer? Architects who build towers as grand as the Lunar Sea Spire? 

Monthly Gem Challenge: Cacoxenite ✰
Instead of Bonus Prompts, Gemsona HQ will start hosting monthly gemsona design challenges. Each month, we’ll give you a weird, pretty, or unusual gem and challenge you to design a gemsona based on it! You can go as in-depth as you’d like: come up with their personality and backstory, or just make a gemsona design. They can even be a fusion of two other gems if you’d prefer; the choice is up to you! If you already have a Cacoxenite gemsona, they can participate too. This month is for all Cacoxenites! Please check our new “Monthly Gem Challenge” tag for more information on this month’s gem.

Remember to tag your prompt as #GEMSONA APRIL PROMPT, and pop any other fanart in the #Gemsona tag! You can also participate in the 30 Day Gemsona Challenge whenever you want or fill out the new Gemsona Stats Sheet (just remember to tag those accordingly too)!

Remember, all Past Gemsona Prompts and future prompts will no longer be limited to their month! If you missed out on participating in the past few months or if you run out of time to finish your piece, just drop it in the #GEMSONA PAST PROMPT tag! (Though I still recommend finishing the prompts during their month since we don’t check that tag as often).

anonymous asked:

Where do you think the main 4 and Mettaton would want to go with their S/O once they're free from the underground?


Home. His home. A New Home. Someplace stable, that he knows isn’t going to go away any time soon. He just wants to relax, to realize that life is finally going to be okay for a while. He just wants to go Home.


Driving down the highway, carefree, the wind blowing through your hair! Why pick a specific place when you could go everywhere at once?? He’d be so excited just to have made it to the Surface, that it wouldn’t matter where he goes–as long as he’s going somewhere!!


The beach!! She’s heard that humans always had such huge, open spaces of water (& with the actual amount of water in Waterfall being very minimal after a while), she’d love to go exploring in it! Whether it’s climbing the rocks, walking down the dunes, or just going for a long, nice swim, it’d be great to have a place to stretch her legs out in.


A maid cafe. Somewhere nice, with lots of shops & movies & books that she could explore. She loves to collect things–figurines, merch, posters, etc. A mall would be best, but any sort of shop bazaar with a lot of homemade things that she could check out would be nice too.


Movie theaters, live Broadway performances, concerts–the bigger the show, the better!! He’s always dreamed of getting to experience the magic of Surface cinema in person, & getting that opportunity would be that dream realized. It’s all he wants.

Battle Pains

Part one can be found here
Sorry but just a T rating again mostly for language. Still fluffy
also I hate the title but TOO LATE

Tagging: @hypaalicious @themissimmortal @diadyn @lithiumkatana17 @laciewhy

Part 2:

It turned out that, as with everything else, Cor was efficient at washing dishes. Much more efficient than you were at drying them, somehow. You dried and stacked the last plate as he doused the fire and folded chairs behind you. The two of you had passed your chores in silence. Cor was right: you were able to bring your thoughts back into focus and calm through the repetitive task of polishing the silverware.

The break after such a heated kiss, though unwelcome, had allowed you to let flow the feelings and thoughts you had actively been repressing for weeks. As it happened, the short version was this:

You had it bad. And it wasn’t just a physical crush.

Keep reading


More photos of the amazing Miss Peregrine house model taherehmafi got me for my birthday, along with some photos of the actual house, an abandoned chateau in the Belgian countryside.

I found photos of this house on the internet while I was writing Miss Peregrine, and it inspired my descriptions of her house. Then, when it came time to make the book trailer, I went to Belgium to find – with the help of the urban explorer photographer whose pictures had inspired me – the actual house. I fell in love with the place, though it’s a dangerous wreck inside and probably unsalvageable and we were trespassing the entire time we were there.

It’s falling down; a wreck inside. I went back last year when I was on book tour in Belgium and spoke to the woman who cares for the estate it sits on. She says they’re letting it fall down. That makes me very sad. One day, the model Tahereh had made for me may be the best evidence this house ever existed. 

The model itself is so extraordinary, so detailed, I don’t even have words. It was custom made by Michael DelPriore of Ryerson Studios, in upstate New York. He’d built lots of models of nice houses before; never of a broken one. He says he can’t wait to do more. 

  • best things in life:
  • 1. someone tickling my arm
  • 2. when my favourite artist releases a new album
  • 3. someone playing with my hair
  • 4. the freedom of hanging out with my friends while being stupid teenagers
  • 5. falling in love
  • 6. hugs when i'm feeling my loneliest
  • 7. the great feeling of success after hard work
  • 8. wearing oversized warm jumpers
  • 9. thinking about life in the shower
  • 10. my imagination
  • 11. travelling
  • 12. seeing two people you ship dating
  • 13. exploring and taking risks
  • 14. birthdays
  • 15. laughing till I cry
  • 16. inside jokes
  • 17. sitting in the dark watching the stars
  • 18. dancing your heart out at a concert
  • 19. a really good book
  • 20. finding your happy place

The best things in life are the things that don’t last.

The little bursts of joy and the sights you only see once. The places you’ve visited and will never visit again. The people you met, loved, and left.

Life is bittersweet. Bitter because everything eventually ends, and sweet because you never have to forget.

—  stella .
excerpt 24

“ 2017 is the year of giving a fuck. I’ve spent enough time putting up walls, chuckling under my breath, viewing life through a cynical lense, looking around for fucks to give. Guess what, bebs- there are plenty of people and places and movements and ideas worth giving a fuck about!!! Straight up- like soooo many!!! My travels over the past few years have brought me all around the world and back through the biggest cities and smallest towns in America. I am excited and encouraged by the humanity I’ve seen and the beauty right under my nose. But some of us aren’t able to see these things!! Our vision is clouded or our resources limited. Our spirits have been broken and we’re down about the future. Therefore, we must lift each other up. Celebrate one another. Give our all to those we love. And before we can really do it for anyone else: we have to do it for ourselves. Easier said than done though, right? Not everyone/everything will deserve your time and energy… but you do. You are always a worthy investment. And sowing into yourself will help you be able to help build up others. Don’t forget how much power words carry, and how what we think- we can manifest. Think and say Love. Think and be creative. Be fair. Be a champion. Be prosperous. Be kind. Be beautiful. You already are. Now go out and live like it. May 2017 bring you every bit of happiness and satisfaction you can possibly stand and may peace find you wherever you are. 

 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! Taking my second solo trip at the end 2016 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Exploring a new place by yourself means you can do craaaaazy shit like have coconut milk ice cream and red wine for dinner at your air B&B, walk for miles until you find somewhere you wanna explore, read your book alone at the bar as you eat lunch and meet new (much older and wiser) pals, or spend New Year’s Eve doing kirtan chanting in Sanskrit for three hours at a yoga studio with total strangers. (Just a few of the highlights from the past few days). Being alone shows you what you really like, without fear of any judgement from friends, colleagues, lovers, or family. And it can also be evidence of your self-sufficiency. You can find your way back from a long hike. If your phone dies for a few hours, you can survive- no one (including you) will be truly effected. I journaled a lot and I took so many mental pictures (as well as iPhone pics). When I took my silent solo trip to Malibu last year, I wrote and recorded most of Mad Love right after. It’s a truly rejuvenating and inspiring reset. I encourage any and everyone to do it when they can. HAPPY NEW YEAR, you special special person, you! Step into your truth in 2017. Mad love, Jo. —————————- PS.- for those wondering who took the pic, lol. I took a tour of Sedona vortexes and my tour guide took this.” - JoJo on Instagram


BATB Hogwarts Houses

I know there are plenty of these out there but thought I would add my own thoughts since the 2017 movie really expanded the story line.

Belle- Gryffindor

The comparison of Belle to Hermione are well matched in several ways and just like our ol’ heroine the urge to place her in Ravenclaw is strong. However, look at the sorts of books she reads and why she always has her nose stuck in a book. Belle wants adventure! She wants to explore and discover- her books offer her that needed escape until fate changes her path. She is brave and described to be so much like her mother- the keyword there is fearless. 

Beast/Adam- Ravenclaw

I thought a lot about this and I really think Ravenclaw is the best fit for Adam. He values knowledge and his pride plays a pivotal role in him as a character. He is witty throughout the film and has a delightful competitive streak. Like so many other characters, he embodies other traits of houses such as his very Slytherin resourcefulness but when you examine what was of most value to him, Ravenclaw seems to be the best choice. 

Maurice- Ravenclaw

Marice shows us a side to Ravenclaw sometimes forgotten. He is a man of high intelligence and creativity and values originality, often encouraging it in his own daughter. He is also a source of wisdom for Belle and a guiding light in her life. 

Lumiere- Slytherin

Lumiere finds ways to get what he wants. He is cunning and resourceful and knows exactly what to say to change a situation to work better for him. He obviously worked his way up to be one of the most valued members of the household, displaying a lot of ambition. 

Plumette- Hufflepuff

There are many great Hufflepuff examples in this film and I believe Plumette is a great one! She never shirks away from her work and is practices patience with their circumstances. Plus everyone knows that a Slytherin x Hufflepuff romance is the stuff of magic.

Cogsworth- Hufflepuff

Good ol’ hardworking and dedicated Cogsworth. With him we get to see that side of Hufflepuff well played out in the HP series- the character wanting to stick to the rules and stay on the good side of the Beast.

Madame Garderobe- Gryffindor

Okay…hear me out on this one. This character’s crowning moment comes when she is willing to do anything to get to the one she loves the most- including possibly destroying herself in the process. Madame is a woman who enjoys the finer things in life, including her chivalrous beloved.

Mrs. Potts- Hufflepuff

She is clearly the Hufflepuff Hen Mother ( a term coined by @curiouselfqueen ) and works very hard to ensures well taken care of. Patience is her greatest trait which she shows around everyone including her own budding Gryfindor son. 

LeFou- Hufflepuff

Everyone loves a Hufflepuff hero and in this character, we get one! That he is dedicated and loyal to his friend, Gaston, is an understatement but he also highly values fair play. The transition we see him make in the film happens when Gaston starts to go against his values- making his loyalty less important than defending what is right. 

Gaston- Gryffindor

This character is the hardest one for me to place because there is so much Slytherin I see in him that I often want to ignore the very obvious Gryffindor side of him.  (Just look deeper and see how cunning and quick minded he really is!)  Gaston values bravery and craves danger and adventure. While often misplaced, his really is chivalrous and wants to be the hero. The ambitious side of him is also a high motivator but that value is often trumped when he can do something on the edge to prove his nerve. 


For one of my homework assignments I had to go out to a bookstore and do research on their organization and categorization. Since I’m lazy I decided to look for stores close to campus and it turns out there’s a tiny used bookstore just down the street. So my friend and I went there and oh my gosh it’s the coolest place and it smells like old books, good old books, because it’s full of old used books. The best part is, we took down a hard cover book to check the pricing (part of the research) and the original price was $22 but the store price is $15. Some books are even less than $5! 

Six Words

Pairing: Bucky x Reader

Summary: The narrative behind a six word story. 

Word Count: 3.5k (sorry it’s kind of long)

Warnings: drinking, angst 

A/n: I know, I’m back from the dead. I wish I had more time to write, but I managed to write this for now. Sorry if it’s a little rusty :)

Tags: @minervaem @buchananbarnestrash @imaginingbucky @illuminationunknown @witchwhoviandemigod @aweways

Originally posted by monstacookies


“Need some help with that box?” You momentarily dropped the heavy box you had been carrying and looked up. A tall, dark-haired guy sauntered towards you, and you tucked a piece of hair behind your ear.

“If you don’t mind, that would be great,” you managed to get out, and he smiled, the skin around his bright, blue eyes crinkling. He picked up the box you had been struggling to carry with ease, and you noticed a black ring on his finger, the color of obsidian.

“Name’s Bucky. I live in 206.” Bucky wiggled his eyebrows, causing you to giggle.

“I’m (Y/n), I’m moving into 208.”

“A new neighbor,” Bucky mused. “This will be fun.” He strode off with your box, and you had to walk quickly to keep up with his long stride. “So what brings you to the city, neighbor?” he asked.

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BBC - Podcasts and Downloads

‘’Enjoy BBC audio on the move - a wide range of programmes and highlights are available as podcasts for you to download for free.’’ (and be careful, some of them are available for download only one month after the original broadcast) E.g.:

BBC Learning English Drama

Dramas for English language learners. Every Friday you can improve your English by listening to a drama specially created for English language learners. Listen to retellings of classic stories and bespoke dramas on specific topics. Each episode will be between six and 10 minutes long. Most dramas will be told over a number of episodes.


History as told by the people who were there. Witness talks to people who lived through moments of history to bring you a personal perspective on world events. Broadcast on weekdays.

21st Century Mythologies

Peter Conrad examines contemporary popular culture in a series of  21st Century Mythologies in the spirit of Roland Barthes.

6 Minute English

Learn and practise useful English language for everyday situations with the BBC. Your weekly instruction manual for saying or doing something in English is published every Friday. Each programme is six minutes long and contains examples and explanations to help you improve your knowledge of the English language across a wide range of topics.

6 Minute Grammar

Learn English grammar in six minutes. Every Tuesday join two of our presenters and learn a new key area of grammar.

6 Minute Vocabulary

Build your English vocabulary in six minutes. Every Monday join two of our presenters and hear about different ways to develop your vocabulary knowledge and skills.

A Christmas Carol (BBC Learning)

Charles Dickens’ classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is abridged in 9 episodes and read by Alan Smith. The adaptation of the story is rich in music and sound effects and is accompanied by Teacher’s Notes - making it ideal for children studying a classic text.

A History of Britain in Numbers

British history in numbers, the big trends and changes in our lives, brought to life with interviews and new audio techniques, and compared with the present day. Andrew Dilnot presents 10 programmes that cover population, incomes, health, consumption, homes, work, education, old age and women.

A History of Ideas

A fresh take on the History of Ideas as big subjects like beauty, freedom, technology and morality get dissected by a team of thinkers. Philosophers, theologians, lawyers, Neuroscientists, historians and mathematicians join Melvyn Bragg to present a history in many voices.

A History of the World in 100 Objects

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, explores 100 different objects which reflect how the world has changed.

A Point of View

Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors including historian Lisa Jardine, novelist Sarah Dunant and writer Alain de Botton.

Americana: inside the USA

An insider’s guide to the stories and people shaping the USA today.   Discussion and insight from some of the best known names and voices in America.


Analysis makes sense of the ideas that change the world, from economics to social affairs to global politics to political Islam. With thought-provoking and expert presenters, Analysis aims to make the world of policy and ideas both interesting and surprising.

BBC Business Daily

Demystifying the world of money - Business Daily and In the Balance examine the big issues facing the global economy and look at what the analysis and the business jargon really mean.

All in the Mind

All in the Mind examines how we think and behave. It’s presented by psychologist Claudia Hammond. She investigates the latest techniques being used by mental health practitioners, speaks to people with psychological issues and uncovers all the most recent research from the world of the mind.

Beyond Belief

Debates exploring the place of religion and faith in today’s complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a multi-faith panel to discuss how religious traditions affect their values and perspectives.


James Naughtie and readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best known novels. Authors include: Douglas Adams, Alan Bennett, Alice Sebold and Maya Angelou.

Books and Authors

This podcast features Open Book and A Good Read. In Open Book, Mariella Frostrup talks to leading authors about their work. A Good Read features Harriett Gilbert discussing a range of favourite titles with guests.

Cook The Perfect…

Discover cooking techniques and tips to help you perfect your cooking know-how. Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey are joined by leading chefs and food writers who share their secrets for perfect home-cooked dishes.


The science documentary series that looks in depth at the most significant ideas, discoveries and trends in science

Drama of the Week

Every Friday we bring you a new drama from Radio 4 or Radio 3.Exercise your imagination with some of the best writers and actors on radio. Storytelling at its very best.

Excess Baggage

Travellers’ Tales from home and around the world: their destinations, experiences and issues arising from their journeys are discussed with Sandi Toksvig or John McCarthy.

Five Hundred Years of Friendship

Five Hundred Years of Friendship: Dr Thomas Dixon presents a history of the changing meaning of friendship over the centuries.

Food Programme

Provenance and pleasure, history and health - Radio 4’s weekly look at food. Making sense of food, from the kitchen and canteen, to the farm and factory.  We place food in its historical and cultural context; call to account policy makers and industry decision makers; and celebrate the sheer pleasure of good food.

Great Lives

Biography series exploring the greatest people who ever lived. Matthew Parris interviews an eminent guest and an expert to reveal the truth behind their history heroes.

Germany: Memories of a Nation

Presented by British Museum director Neil MacGregor, this 30-part series explores 600 years of Germany’s complex and often challenging history, using objects, art, landmarks and literature.

In Our Time: Culture

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas as it applies to culture - from literature and the visual arts to artistic movements and their origins.

In Our Time: Philosophy

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of philosophy - from ancient Greek thinkers to the major questions that preoccupy philosophers today.

In Our Time: Religion

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of religious ideas - from the faith systems of ancient civilisations to the development of modern religions.

My Own Shakespeare

What does Shakespeare mean to us today ? Public figures from all walks of life talk about the piece of Shakespeare that inspires them most.The pieces are read by well known actors.

The Digital Human

Aleks Krotoski explores what technology tells us about modern living. Each programme takes part of our digital world and looks at how it’s influencing who we are, what we value and where we’re headed. Whether it be our relationships or our environments; both real and virtual, Aleks reveals what these developments tell us about ourselves and the world we’re creating.

The Educators – ideas about learning

Examining ideas about the way we teach and learn. Sarah Montague interviews some of the most influential people in education, to find out the origin of their ideas, the things they would change and the experience that has shaped them.

Playing Grown-Up

Completing my first week of my first, real job, I couldn’t help but think about how grown-up I felt.

Yet, notice I have said ‘felt,’ not ‘am.’

Entering the world of London - and the world of advertising in particular - I have been continually reminded of a point I feel is important to recognise. Although all who choose to spend their lives here in the capital have jobs and obligations such as the laundry, the bills, the dreaded London commute at rush hour… it seems to me that there are perhaps no ‘grown-ups,’ in the sense of the phrase I came to acquire meaning ’strict,’ ‘boring,’ or even ‘experienced.’ No, there are no grown-ups here. We are all just acting.

Take the latter example. I’m told that proper ‘Londoners’ don’t really raise their heads or look around inquisitively while on the underground/overground commute. Well I’m not a true Londoner. So I did.

Surrounding me were a plethora of people: I could hear faint grime issuing from one set of earphones, classical music from another; saw people reading anything from erotica, to history, to critical theory; surveyed those attempting to learn new languages; some reading the news. My list could go on. United by the monotonous obligation to commute to work at a set time, what I experienced was anything but monotony. Lives continued beyond this, beyond this 10 minute journey under the streets of London. What had been considered a boring ‘grown-up’ task has revealed itself to be a 10 minute opportunity to explore the deep, the personal, the individual. To explore what is not yet known. The grown-up suits, ties and heels I see are, therefore, just the costume of the day.

I’ll use work as the next example.  

My office is like no other, I will wholeheartedly say this. An intense, positive, family-like vibe washes over me as I step through the wooden door to Now. We don’t have an obligation to wear corporate uniform; the office space is light, airy and open with glass doors/walls so those working can also see into meetings with ease; we have quirky items (e.g. cuddly penguin) adorning the shelving display wall, and our music playlist is also goddamn incredible.

My first week with Now has been insightful, interesting and difficult … but it has also been incredibly fun. After feeling that I wasn’t productive during the first couple of days, where my time was spent learning the ropes, reading about current projects and setting myself up on various different systems, towards the end of this week I finally felt comfortable in the role, as I was given responsibility and became more active in meetings.

At Now, working life is ridiculously busy, and we work extremely hard - everybody I have met this week is so dedicated to each and every project they are involved in. We also work extremely hard together. And it is that element which I think separates my working reality from my working expectations. At 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon I was sat in a meeting discussing creative briefs for an upcoming project. I looked across the office and - as I had been warned before - there were bottles of wine and beer laid out in the office kitchen, with people already gathering to have a drink, a snack and a chat at the end of the week. Already that afternoon a bowl of Cornetto ice creams had miraculously appeared in the kitchen, and we had also all had an invite to an Olympic-themed office party happening next Thursday, where we have all been given a country to come dressed as/bring food and drink linked to. Yeah. My office is really fun. These moments are an infusion of inspiration, a morale-boosting, childish indulgence underpinning the otherwise ‘grown-up’ world of computers, emails, and £££.  

I can’t help but marvel that the week I have recently experienced is my first week as something called ‘a grown-up.’ Am I different now?

Although I still feel like myself: clueless, disorganised, erratic, clumsy … there have been moments this week I have had to stop purely to think about how independent I have forced myself to be by moving here, starting this job, living on my own for August. Searching for a flat to move into in September with my two guy friends, doing the weekly food shop and meal plan, deciding whether to/not to buy that morning coffee, going for a Saturday morning run in a new park and being followed by a small excitable dog, exploring new places alone armed with my DSLR because I can and have no restrictions, taking part in the daily commute - I’m still myself, but the situation has changed somewhat.

I’ve experienced my first proper weekend, spent it with my best friend and with some new friends, went for brunch (for the first time EVER), danced around my flat while having pre-drinks, went to a bar, went to a street-food market, read my book, cleaned, did washing, sat in a coffee shop trying to sort out some drama which has happened with my now-broken phone (FYI I will be phoneless until at least Friday so don’t expect many Instagram updates) … wanted to do so many other cultural things that I didn’t have time to do due to the latter event.

But I can only compare this weekend to what being a ‘grown-up’ must feel like. I’m not a ‘grown-up’, I will make lots of formative, baby mistakes both at work and outside work for years to come (I’m also terrified about this) but what I have experienced this week tells me that that’s okay. This is what life is like. Being a ‘grown-up’ is a mythical concept, instead I’ve realised that I am - we all are - currently ‘playing grown-up,’ and do you know what? … I quite like that phrase.

Freedom. Discovery. This is what ‘grown-up’ feels like.

- Sarah 

INTERMISSION - Concluding the First Half of the “Course.”

Komiði sæl og blessud, vinir,

I am amazed at home far this informal “course” has come. We have covered A LOT of material this year - 20 lessons with a total of 30 posts. So, let’s take a moment to recap all of the lessons that have been posted up until now, before we move to the next half of this “course.”

FIRST HALF: Culture and Society.

Introductory Segment
Lesson 1The Viking Age and Our Sources.
Lesson 2The Geography and People of Early Medieval Scandinavia.
Lesson 3The Origins of the Viking Age.

Mythological Segment
Lesson 4Introduction to Norse Mythology: Our Sources.
Lesson 5Intro to Norse Mythology: The Story of Creation and the Worlds.
Lesson 6aIntro to Norse Mythology: The Major Gods and Races (Part 1).
Lesson 6bIntro to Norse Mythology: The Major Gods and Races (Part 2).
Lesson 6cIntro to Norse Mythology: The Major Gods and Races (Part 3).
Lesson 7Viking Spirituality.

Literary Segment
Lesson 8Runes
Lesson 9aLiterature and the Sagas, Part 1: The Nature of Our Sources.
Lesson 9bLiterature and the Sagas, Part 2: Snorri Sturluson and the Edda.
Lesson 9cLiterature and the Sagas, Part 3: The Skalds and Their Poetry.
Lesson 9dLiterature and the Sagas, Part 4: Kingly and Heroic Saga Literature.
Lesson 9eLiterature and the Sagas, Part 5: The Icelandic Sagas and Saga Style.

Society and Law Segment
Lesson 10Viking Age Society.
Lesson 11Law in the Viking Age.
Lesson 12Blood, Feud, and Honor.
Lesson 13aWomen in the Viking Age, Part 1: Overview and Social Roles.
Lesson 13bWomen in the Viking Age, Part 2: In the Eyes of the Law.
Lesson 13cWomen in the Viking Age, Part 3: Were Women “Vikings?”

Ship Segment
Lesson 14aViking Ships and Seafaring, Part 1: Development, Construction, and Navigation.
Lesson 14bViking Ships and Seafaring, Part 2: Primary Examples.

Native Settlement and Trade Segment
Lesson 15aThe Settlements at Home, Part 1: The Longhouse and the Village.
Lesson 15bThe Settlements at Home, Part 2: Early Towns.
Lesson 16Viking Money: Commerce, Coins, and Cuerdale.

Art and Weaponry Segment
Lesson 17Viking Crafts.
Lesson 18Viking Art: Decorating Useful Objects.
Lesson 19Viking Weaponry.
Lesson 20Viking Warfare.

I thank everyone who reads these lessons and supports my blog. I hope that everyone is benefitting from these lessons, although they are definitely not the best. As I have said, they are mainly based off my experiences in one class, taught by Dr. Jennifer Dukes-Knight, and various books I have read with her and on my own after taking that course. Regardless, I am vey glad to provide these lessons to give people a place to begin their exploration of Viking history.

Next week, things will return to normal with…

SECOND HALF: Raids, Settlements, and Kings.

I look forward to the second half of the course, and I am sure many others are as well. So, we shall return next Friday with Lesson 21 - Viking Raids: Francia. (Lesson may be split into parts).

Skál og ferð vel.

POTIONS {Draco imagine}
Following the instructions in your book you add different herbs and such into your coldren.
“Y/a! Did you let the wormwood cool down before adding? And why are you stirring so fast?!” Snap comes around pointing out mistakes.
“Draco! Come teach y/a how to properly make Draught of living death.” Snap calls across the room.
The blind boy makes is way over to you.
“Get rid of this. This is rubbish. You need to restart."he says. Listening to him you set back up to redo it.

After he walks you through adding everything he sits down beside you placing a hand on your leg.
"Almost done.” He smiles at both of your work.
“Now turn 6 times anticlockwise and clockwise once.” He places the spoon in your hand as he helps you stir slowly.
“It says 7 times anti clockwise.” You read out of the book.
“Trust me.” He says his breath lingering down your neck.

After class you head up to the library hopping to find some books to further advance you in potions.
Grabbing a few you move down the long endless shelves.
“You know you’re good enough. Just need to know the tricks.” A voice speaks up behind you.
Turning around Draco smiles placing a few books back that you had in your hand,
“These are rubbish.”
“I will show you the best place in the library” grabbing your hand he pulls you deep inside the bookshelves getting lost as he pulls you deeper and deeper. Stopping at a dead end Draco turns around quickly pulling me close pressing his soft pink lips onto yours.
In shock you gasp. Draco takes the opportunity to begins exploring your mouth with his tongue.
You begin kissing him back now fully understanding what just happened- what is happening.
He kisses you hard. His hands roaming your body. Tangling them in your hair, grabbing your butt.t
Out of no were you press him hard agent a bookcase that lined the wall.
Drawing away from the kiss Draco smiles looking at you,
{its late and I’m sleepy so any spelling or grammar problems I’m sorry}

Some Recollection - Hans and Anna


Hans had decided some time back he quite liked this simpler life. Sure, it wasn’t exactly a princely position, but it was better than the stress at home. Besides…. He was far enough down the line that he could ‘vanish’ and remake his life as he wanted to.

How he never thought of that before, actually? It seemed so obvious now. He could travel, or return to the navy. He had enjoyed the sea after all. It was a sense of freedom.

But for the first time… There were things he would lose if he did that. Would he see Anna again? (Would she even mind - no, put that worry aside for now). She has done so much for him, he shouldn’t vanish in return. He could apply to help protect the royal family, work his way up the rankings. He had military experience. That wouldn’t be a bad idea. He had read enough books to know how best to hold a guardian-like position, how to prevent anyone from shutting her out of anything -

A windowsill. Night time. Anna sits in front of him, dressed like true royalty. She looks lonely.

“-But then, one day she just, shut me out and… I never knew why.”

It sounded so familiar and yet so different, but he couldn’t help it.

“I would never shut you out.” He placed a hand on hers, as though confirming a promise.

Images flash in his mind. Luckily, Hans manages to sit down before hurting himself.

They explore the castle, talk, dance. Hans felt less of an ideal talking partner and more like himself again. This girl, someone he literally bumped into, is perfect. He’s only here for a day and yet he wants to see her again. And for some reason, his normally logical mind comes up with only one solution -

Work abandoned, Hans rises to his feet and hurries to the castle as fast as his legs can carry him. He’s sure the servants are giving him strange looks but he just has  to find Anna and ask her. There’s no way he would be so illogical, right?

Luckily, he finds her in the library, where he gracelessly stumbles in. Not exactly a ‘picture of sophisticated grace’, especially given how their last conversation went a few weeks previously.


Probably not the best way of saying ‘hey, I got some of my memories back’, but he is kind of in shock here.

sylverdollar  asked:

book rec: red rising by pierce brown is like set in space and has some amazing world building, one of the best sci fi books i've ever read

thank you! I’ve heard good things about it, adding to my tbr ❤️

time of day: dusk / morning / afternoon / dawn / evening

archetype: hero / villain / rebel / lover /  jester / explorer / royal / spiritual / dreamer / innocent / mentor

instrument: violin / flute / harmonica / piano / drums / cello / trumpet / clarinet / acoustic guitar / harp / electric guitar / cymbals / french horn

scent: pine / cinnamon / fresh laundry / lilac / apples / peach

place: coffee shop / beach / valley / city / mountains

want one?

Dear future me,

Remember when you thought you wouldn’t even make it past high school? Well, you did. You made it past all the drama, heartache, failures, stress. You made it past it all and I hope you’re pretty damn proud of yourself. You are but a dream to me, you are my ideal self, what i wish i were right now. I imagine you to be perfection, but I know you aren’t even close-and that’s okay, because perfection is boring.

I hope you’re living for yourself and only yourself. You better not be letting anyone else dictate your happiness. I hope you have midnight adventures and drive into the sunrise with yourself. I hope you take yourself to posh restaurants and walk yourself to the coffee house for a few quite hours with a novel. I hope you’ve read at least half of the books you have stocked up and crossed off most of the things from our bucket list. And if you ever feel out of place again, just know, you are all you need.

Don’t be afraid to lose yourself in the sunshine and city lights, I’ve learnt you have to lose yourself to find yourself. You’ve always been one who can’t stand monotony, make sure you give yourself a break every few months and travel to a different corner of this planet you like to call yours. Travelling is what you do best, I hope never stop exploring.

I know that life gets in the way and sometimes no matter how hard you try, you forget who you are. But I hope you never stop doing you. I hope you still do all the things that kept you alive through your teenage years. I hope that you love the city you now call home. But most of all, I hope you are happy and content with who you are.

I hope I’m not hoping for too much.

—  dear future me // d.a

birdyinabook  asked:

*curtsies* Duke, I am applying for publishing programs in grad schools. Right now I'm looking at a few on the West coast. Do you know or have any advice for applying for grad schools? (Also my personal essay is shit.)

*Curtsies* So, general advice: PLAN AHEAD. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to get your applications in. Make a spreadsheet of which school’s materials are due when and go through and take care of it date by date. Also: Have someone else proofread your stuff. There is like a 99% chance they’ll catch typos and stuff you miss. 

Essay advice: This is literally all about your personality. Every admissions officer has read every version of “I had very high grades and had leadership roles in extra-curricular activities” under the sun. That stuff’s on your transcript, so make this about you. Why do you want to do this graduate degree and why are you the best possible candidate for it? Tell a story. Make a joke. Make yourself stand out. I got accepted to all of the Shakespeare MAs I applied for and I honestly think my personal statement helped a lot, because I basically said, “Look I’m a huge nerd and I get straight up freakin’ giddy about Shakespeare and I’ve literally been this weird since I was nine years old.” I shit you not. Obviously it can’t be that casual, but that’s the general idea. Here are my first two paragraphs to better show what I mean:

My parents like to joke that I was a performer from the moment I learned to speak. I grew up in a family of readers and storytellers, and I was no exception to the rule. I was boisterous, imaginative, and precocious, and in an effort to siphon off some of my wild creative energy, my parents enrolled me in my first theatre camp at the ripe age of six. (I played the title role in Rumpelstiltskin. At the time I was convinced I was the best actor in the troupe, though it now seems more likely that because I was the smallest I was simply the most convincing as a dwarf.) From that point forward, the theatre was the only place I wanted to be. I persuaded myself that I couldn’t love anything more than I loved the stage. I was wrong.

Three years after my theatrical ‘debut’ as a magical midget, I stumbled across a copy of The Comedy of Errors while exploring my parents’ library. I smuggled the book up to my room—unsure if I’d found something decidedly ‘adult’ and therefore taboo—and read the whole thing in one sitting. The majority of the humor (‘adult’ indeed) was lost on me, but the beauty of the language was not. I sat on my bedroom floor with the book, on the verge of tears, devastated that I hadn’t discovered it sooner. It was like I had stumbled upon a book of magic spells. Shakespeare is so eloquent, so powerful, so compelling, that my first reading of him was not unlike a religious experience. One could say I was bewitched.

Like, I literally used the phrase ‘magical midget.’ This is not the time to tone it down. Which brings me to my second point: Let your passion show. Patsy Rodenburg says in her book Speaking Shakespeare that Shakespeare’s world is a world where “passion is attractive,” and I think the same is true of graduate school, because if you don’t love your subject intensely, you are absolutely not up to it. So let the admissions staff see how obsessed you are with books. Normal is not what they’re looking for. They’re looking for exactly the weird sleep-deprived shuffling Frankenstudent who loves books more than they love a good night’s sleep. So show them that.

Good luck!


#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick through Southeastern Utah’s Red-Rock Riches!

Moab, Utah is synonymous with slickrock canyons and public land adventure sports. One could fill a novel with nearby public land recreation opportunities within a stone’s through of town. But for this trip, we’ll use Moab as a jumping off point to head further south into more remote canyons and mesas of Southeast Utah. 

Between Moab and Montecello is the immense Canyon Rims Recreation Area. It offers top-of-the-world vistas of vast the labyrinth of Colorado River Canyons including several BLM wilderness study areas and the east side of Canyonlands National Park.  The BLM maintains two primitive campgrounds on the rim, which are open from May to October and can serve as a base for exploration – although the views from the campgrounds themselves are so spectacular that there is no need to go far for stunning photo opportunities. More adventurous explorers can search the canyon rims for that perfect photo angle in the ever-changing light on the multi-hued red rocks.

Next, continue south to Cedar Mesa to visit one of the most significant cultural history locales in North America. This area was occupied by Ancestral Puebloan Native Americans, often called the “Anasazi”, between 800 and 2,000 years ago. Remains from their civilization are located throughout the canyons that dissect the mesa, and it is very moving and humbling to stand among them. Cliff dwellings, graineries and other structures are extremely well preserved and perched under overhangs in the cliffs. Amazing pictographs and petroglyphs can also be found here.  All of the sites require moderate to arduous hikes into the canyons and even multi-day backpacks are popular in Grand Gulch.  Due to the significance and fragility of the sites, you must obtain a permit for use of the area and numbers are limited during peak seasons. Plan ahead and also stop by the Kane Gulch Visitor Center for the latest information. 

Driving further south along Cedar Mesa, Highway 261 eventually reaches a lip that seems like the end of the earth – the mesa drops 1100 feet straight down to the desert below with the buttes and spires of Monument Valley visible in the distance.  The curiously named “Moki Dugway”, a bit of a white-knuckle route carved into the escarpment, allows you to drive down the cliff face to the valley below. A short drive further takes you to the Valley of the Gods, a hidden gem with scenery similar to that of nearby Monument Valley. Valley of the God’s isolated buttes, towering pinnacles and tall cliffs offer endless photo angles.  A 17 mile drive circles the valley and more adventurous explorers can go into the Road Canyon Wilderness Study Area for backcountry hikes.

Photo Tips: Often the best and most unique photo angles in Utah’s canyon country and other western landscapes require traveling far off the pavement on remote back roads, then hiking away from your vehicle. I often use web-based aerial image programs (like Google Earth) to scout areas before trips for the best potential photo spots. Safety should always be front in these remote places.  Even renowned western author and explorer Edward Abbey spoke of some close calls in the desert in his book Desert Solitare.  I always tell someone where I am going with as many specifics as I can. Most importantly I tell them when I plan to be out and when I will contact them.  I always carry a GPS emergency locator unit, and I can use that to check in with family each night while on extended trips when I am out of cell range. I also carry enough clothing and water to be able to be on my own without help for several days. Finally, I mark my vehicle location with a GPS waypoint so that I can find it when I am hiking back in the dark after an evening photo shoot!

Check out our @esri Southeast Utah multimedia storymap for more stunning photos, videos, helpful links and maps of the area: