Unless I’m going somewhere I’m not usually awake at this time on a Saturday morning but today I can’t sleep. I’m on call at work and it messes with my sleep patterns. Anyway, since I’m awake I thought I’d make a blog post. For the fun of it.
Yesterday I got all the stuff I’d written on the train to Nottingham and back typed up. It turned out to be quite a substantial amount of writing. I don’t know why but I find it quite easy to write while I’m on the train, especially if I get a table seat. I can spread myself out and just write. I think the motion of the train must be relaxing, and for me at least the novelty still hasn’t worn off.
Am I the only one who finds trains conducive to writing, any type of writing?
There’s a great tumblr blog, prompts-and-pointers.tumblr.com, that I follow and on Sunday I wrote down one of their prompts in my notebook. It kept me busy on the train, I came up with three possible short stories. I started on the first one on Monday and continued it quite easily yesterday, once I’d got everything I’d scribbled in my notebook typed up. I think its about 3,300 words long now and maybe half finished. I had an idea to work on all three story ideas and compare the results at the end.
I’m going to have to go for another train ride soon.
I’m actually going to attempt to sleep for a while now,
Double room, 1 adult, no refund available if cancelled.
I stayed here in December and was quite impressed except that then I had booked a twin room and we got a family room instead – I ended up in a child’s bed while my companion got the double bed. So, as it’s ten minutes away from Rock City, essentially just around the corner from that venue, it seemed the obvious place to stay again.
I arrived in the late afternoon and was greeted by cheerful reception staff members who efficiently dealt with my check in and directed me to my room after answering questions about the restaurant and bar without hesitation.
The servers in the restaurant, later that evening and in the morning, were personable, helpful and quick to assist. They were very solicitous of my comfort without being pushy.
It was clean, quiet, and good value for money, providing budget accommodation that didn’t feel ‘budget’. In a good location near Nottingham Trent University, the shopping and entertainment areas of Nottingham and on the tram route (there’s a stop almost outside the door) it’s a central point if you are visiting the city for business or pleasure. The use of key cards to use the lifts and to enter the hotel after 11pm made me feel secure. Check in is from 2.00pm and check out is 11.00am.
The room was clean and comfortable. Facilities included a compact bathroom, with four towels; freeview television; hairdryer; desk and chair; easy chair and small table; tea and coffee (plus rather slow boiling kettle), as well as a 30 minutes free WiFi. I didn’t make use of the WiFi but the instructions for connecting to it were very simple and explained on a card in the room. I could have done with clearer instructions on how to use the television though.
The bed was firm but comfortable; the bedding was of a good quality. There was adequate lighting and heating, although I found the room a little too warm during the night. If I hadn’t been so exhausted I’d have got up and changed the temperature – instructions for this were provided.
I slept well, disturbed only by the creaking above as people moved about of the top floor about midnight – I can’t have been the only one who went out for the evening. I wasn’t disturbed in the morning by traffic noise or other people getting up, their noise was muted.
The bath/shower were easy to use, and the water temperature fairly comfortable and easy to adjust. The towels provided were of a good size and quality.
The restaurant is open 5.00pm – 10.00pm for evening meals and 6.30am – 10.30am for breakfast.
I had the Premier Breakfast which was excellent value (£8.25 all you can eat full English and continental breakfasts) and cooked just right, neither too hot nor cold, nor had any of it dried out (or become soggy) under the heater. It was very filling and kept me going until I got home mid-afternoon.
On Monday evening I had the chicken Caesar salad. A full, and substantial, chicken breast had been grilled then sliced up. The salad was fresh and crunchy, there was a touch to much dressing and cheese for my taste but I certainly enjoyed it.
I was seated quickly and waited only 20 minutes for my meal. The menu selection was comprehensive although it seemed to lack in basic meals – everything was a little too fussy and pricey.
A good value budget hotel, with decent rooms and friendly staff. Eat breakfast there, but tea (dinner, supper) elsewhere unless you really don’t fancy wandering around the city. Book rooms as far in advance as you can for the best prices. I booked three months in advance and chose the cheapest option but without the opportunity to get a refund if I cancelled.
It’s near the city centre and easy to get to from the train station – either by walking or tram. If you walk it takes 20 – 30 minutes, depending on how fit you are – a lot of the way is uphill.
I enjoyed my stay at this Premier Inn, and next time I’m in Nottingham I shall stay there again.
I’ve finally recovered enough to write, although I think I’ve come down with a chill from standing in the cold waiting to get in. Either that or all the singing has completely wrecked my throat. So I had a great night, eventually, if you hadn’t already realised that. But I’m supposed to be reviewing the whole night, not just Halestorm.
Doors opened at 7.30pm and I left my hotel and strolled up to Rock City at about 7.50pm, getting there for 8pm. Which was a massive mistake; I should have got there much earlier and waited in the queue. But I’m not much good at queuing so I stayed at my hotel and listened to Kerrang! radio instead. Anyway, there was queue, a massive queue. The crowd were cheerful, even in the cold, and the anticipation of a good night was palpable.
Rock City’s door staff are efficient enough that I was only waiting for ten minutes to get in. The Main Room, in which Sacred Mother Tongue were already playing, was packed almost to the doors. I managed to get myself a decent place to stand and stayed there for the rest of the night.
Sacred Mother Tongue
8.00pm – 8.25pm
Andy James – Guitars
Darrin South – Vocals
Josh Gurner – Bass
Lee Newell – Drums
I managed to hear the last fifteen minutes of their set, three songs – and I actually recognised one of them (Seven, from their EP ‘A Light Shines’)! I really quite liked this band, even if occasionally their singer, Darrin South, swerves in to yelling rather than singing, their guitarist (Andy James) is spectacular and the songs are really good. Their set was a great way to start the night.
After the gig I bought their EP from the merch stand; it was an enjoyable listen this morning, certainly woke me up anyway. I had a listen to their album ‘The Ruin of Man’, it was slightly heavier than ‘A Light Shines’ but still enjoyable. I shall look forward to hearing their new album ‘Out of the Darkness (released 15th April 2013).
They are also performing on the main stage of Download on Sunday 16th June 2013, and I shall undoubtedly be there to see them.
In This Moment
8.45pm – 9.20pm
Maria Brink – Vocals
Chris Howorth – Lead Guitar
Travis Johnson – Bass
Randy Weitzel – Guitar
Tom Hane – Drums
I’d never heard of this band before Monday night, and I’d happily never hear from them again.
The singer tried, possibly too hard, but no amount of props and swirly hair can make up for the fact that her voice is weak, she didn’t annunciate clearly – I had no idea what she was saying most of the time – and her voice had the same effect as nails on chalkboards i.e. I wanted to plug my ears with cheese. The rest of the band was good though. They dressed up in a slightly less silly a manner than Ms Brink, while still being a bit daft, their stage antics and interaction with the crowd as well as their skill with their instruments almost made up for the shockingly bad singing and incoherent lyrics. They almost had me bobbing along to the second song but I lost interest again on the third.
Strangely enough, I didn’t bother getting anything of theirs from the merchandise desk on my way out.
9.40pm – 11.00pm
Lzzy Hale – Vocals, Piano
Arejay Hale – Drums
Joseph Hottinger – Guitar, Vocals
Josh Smith – Bass Guitar, Vocals
It’s not often a band sounds as good live as they do on their records but Halestorm are definitely one of those that do. Playing a set that mostly consisted of the songs from their most recent album ‘The Strange Case of…’ as well as a couple of covers, and the odd song from ‘Halestorm’, they opened with Grammy awards winning ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’.
Lzzy Hale is an engaging front woman, who sings with passion and plays her guitars with skill. Her ‘Beautiful with You’ almost moved me to tears, while ‘Daughters of Darkness’ had the crowd screaming along. Her interaction with the audience was a mixture of rabble-rousing and humility. She couldn’t thank us enough for coming to see them.
Arejay Hale is an impressive drummer; his drum solo during ‘Daughters of Darkness’ was certainly memorable, especially after he threw his sticks in to the crowd and continued with his hands, and then the gigantic drumsticks. He also suggested, before ‘I Get Off’ that Nottingham should change its name to Naughtyham.
The Hale’s are an amusing pair but their guitarist and bass player are no less impressive musicians for not being as forward. The chemistry and friendship between every single member of Halestorm was obvious, as was the fact that they were having fun.
I had a great night, and invested in a t-shirt, patch and signed copy of ‘The Strange Case Of…’ to remember it by.
I’m not going to dissemble; I went to Rock City hoping that Halestorm would impress live as they did on their records and I was not disappointed. I discovered a new band, Sacred Mother Tongue, which I will try to see again, and saw a band, In This Moment, that I hope never to have to hear again. Other people might disagree, but then I heard a few people mutter that they didn’t think much to the support acts either.
Well, that’s my review of the night. Going to rest again now, I still feel rather rough,
Just a quick post, because I still feel like I’m hungover even though I didn’t drink last night. I understand this feeling is referred to as the bangover. Whatever name it has it’s exhausting, but worth it.
Last night Halestorm showed why they are the exception to my ‘I don’t like female metal/rock bands/singers’ rule. I honestly find most female singers too ‘screechy’ – their voices are too high pitched and have the same effect on me as nails on a chalkboard. Lzzy Hale on the other hand has a lovely voice.
I’ll tell you all about it and review the whole concert, including the two support acts, when I’m feeling human again, can get my notes in order and can get my laptop to a WiFi connection.
The Horologicon: A day’s jaunt through the lost words of the English Language
I’ve just finished reading this book. The author doesn’t recommend reading it straight through, instead treating it as a reference work to be consulted at the appropriate hour of the day, unless one wishes to go mad. I used to read dictionaries for fun (don’t ask) so, really, it’s quite probable that I am already mad. That being the case, I’ve spent the past couple of morning’s making my way through this witty volume.
I laughed like a drain all the way through. Mark Forsyth is a clever writer; his talent for finding and using obscure words is truly remarkable. No longer will I suffer from utcare; I shall rise from my bed and take up this little volume. And when Bulls’s Noon comes I shall probably still be looking through it.
I really must get his first book, The Etymologicon; if it’s as good as The Horologicon I am certain of a good read.
I heartily recommend this book if you’re interested in the lost words of the English language, ever feel tongue-tied, in need of new ways to insult your boss without getting the sack, or just want a new word to say that you, or somebody else, are drunk.
In case anyone ever wondered, which I doubt, this it me. (Picture taken by Miss A. Curtis) I was outside the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street, London (see previous posts for details of my adventures in London last weekend). I’m not too fond of having my picture taken, so it took quite a bit of persuasion by my friends for me to accede to their request that I pose.
The museum’s great. The staff are very accommodating.
Today I’m going to Nottingham, to a concert at Rock City.
When I got home from London on Tuesday my Mslexia issue 57 was waiting for me. I’m terrible; I get magazines and rarely finish them before the next issue turns up. This time however I’ve finished the magazine in a few hours. I love Mslexia; it’s really interesting and the articles are always insightful. As I’m a subscriber I occasionally get emails from the magazine and a while ago I received an email survey about depression and antidepressants, and their effect on women writers. I filled it in and waited to see the results.
According to the article there has been no research in to the effect of mood altering medication on creativity. This isn’t surprising, it takes long enough to do all the safety tests on new pharmaceuticals and funding isn’t necessarily available for researching something as intangible as creativity. The article writer suggests, quite venomously, that the scientific community doesn’t value creativity. I disagree. I base my disagreement on personal experience of the scientific community and knowledge of the past. You have to be creative in order to make the imaginative leaps needed to get from a crystal interference pattern to the structure of DNA, or to develop new ways to see old problems, and find new solutions.
That aside, the article made me think about my own depression. This is a personal story; if you don’t want to read it then you should leave now. I am not ashamed to say that I have depression, that I have suffered from it for nearly twenty years, most of that time untreated, and that I come from a family of depressives. I know the source of my sickness and I spend every day dealing with it. I am also on antidepressants. I haven’t been on them long but already I have become more productive. I have been able to write the last ten blog posts, for a start. For two months I pretty much couldn’t write, with treatment came a new desire to work again.
This is the second time I have been put on antidepressants. The first time was in 2010. I was an absolute mess. I was (and still am) doing a terribly dull job that wastes my intelligence and I fell in to a black pit from which I felt there was no way out. Through pharmaceutical and talking therapy, especially the talking therapy, I discovered the cause of that particular depressive episode. I also found a solution: WRITING.
Writing, with reading, had always been one of my greatest pleasures. I didn’t go out much as a child, or teenager. I preferred to stay at home and read, or write. My parents bought me a typewriter when I was eight and I used to write all the time. The first thing I ever had published was an article about birds of prey in our primary school magazine, which I also helped produce and edit. My ambition was to be a writer; it was the only thing I ever wanted to do. But we grow up and are influenced by our environment. I was influenced by those who said I’d never be able to make a living as a writer, that I wasn’t extrovert enough to be able to interview people or go places.
Nobody ever said I wasn’t clever enough but that I was far too timid. Self-fulfilling prophecies; the more I was told ‘you can’t do that’ the less I believed I was capable of it. I was diverted in to other areas; the sciences mainly, which is what I studied at university. Yes, it was interesting and kept me amused for a few years, but I knew by the end of my first year that it wasn’t what I wanted. I spent more time in the library reading old books than I probably should have done considering I was studying chemistry. I suffered a depressive episode at university but did nothing about it, I struggled on alone. This is not something I suggest anyone do. Really, get help as soon as possible.
I got my degree, somehow, and tried to find a job. It was difficult and I had to take part time and seasonal jobs with nothing to do with my degree or interests. At the same time I did a few short courses at a community college. One, which was cancelled half way through, was about creative writing. I wrote a few stories and they seemed to go over well. Certainly the constructive criticism helped me develop. I did eventually find a lab job, and while it didn’t pay too badly I was bored. I went back to college and studied English Literature in the evening. I loved it. Then I got made redundant. So I went to work in a fish factory. I hate it, but needs must.
Before I knew it that old demon depression was chasing me again. I hadn’t written anything in years, except a few essays for my course. As I said, by 2010 I was a mess. But with treatment, talking through things and finding ways to cope with my symptoms lead to a break through. I found my way back to writing, and seriously considered it again for the first time in eleven years. Why shouldn’t I try to write for a living? So I started to write again, started this blog, wrote a few articles for an online magazine. I don’t make a living out of it, I’d like to though, and I am not afraid of saying so any more. At the moment it is a creative release and an excuse to investigate the most obscure subjects at times. Everywhere I go, everything I do, see, read or hear now becomes a source of ideas for things to write about.
Without the help of antidepressants I wouldn’t have had a clear enough head to see my way forward, or the ability to plan and act on those plans. My depression squashes any creative urges and the impetus to act on the urges I do have. The medication releases me from the prison of my sickness. I know some people find that their medication deadens their creative side or causes emotional flattening, but I couldn’t survive without the occasional help it provides. My desire to write returned within three weeks of being treated this time around and writing has helped me cope with the emotional turmoil I have experienced.
Thanks for reading.
If you have a mental health problem, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Whether therapy or medication is your treatment of choice take it. It’s better than the alternative. I have been there, I know this.
Review: Happily Ever After: Celebrating Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Frances Lincoln Limited Publishers
While I was in the British Library on Monday I saw a few books about Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, and being a little bit of a Janeite I couldn’t resist buying this book for the train journey home. It is a fairly substantial hardback of 225 pages illustrated with drawings and photographs from the various editions of the book and film/tv adaptations that have been made. It took me a bit longer than the train journey to read, but certainly made the time pass agreeably.
The contents cover everything from the writing of Pride and Prejudice to the characters and various adaptations in books and films, and the ‘selling’ of Pride and Prejudice. Who knew you could get skateboards with quotes on them?
It is fairly obvious that the book was published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. The writer is clearly enamoured of her subject and holds definite opinions about it. It is enjoyable to read, and covers many interesting topics. The book is informative and would probably have been useful to my younger self when I was studying Pride and Prejudice for my GCSE English Literature. I particularly found the discussion of translating P&P interesting. The fine irony of Jane Austen, her wicked wit, cannot be easy to translate, although anyone who gives it a go deserves a medal for trying.
However, there is a slight feeling of snobbery and prejudice against anyone who dares to adapt the original (personally I like ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ – it’s funny) and the authoress also becomes repetitive at times. We all know P&P is a great book; you don’t need to tell us a dozen times a chapter.
Borrow it from the library if you’re studying Pride and Prejudice, only buy this book if you really can’t resist.
The rooms were warm (a little too warm at night), clean and comfortable. I felt secure enough that I was prepared to leave most of my belongings in the room while we went out.
The beds were single bunk beds and about six foot long – only just long enough. I had some trouble climbing up to the top bunk on the two nights I had a top bunk but once up there I found them private and comfortable. I the mattress was fairly thick and quilt likewise. The single pillow was a bit thin but functional. The bedding was clean and of decent quality. Beneath the beds were two large lockable drawers, provided you brought your own padlock. They were large enough to store a back pack and coat, or probably a large rucksack.
Basic but clean and comfortable. Hairdryer provided. The communal bathroom next to the room we spent the second night in was better than the bathroom in the en-suite room we spent the first and third nights in.
The TV lounge was large and equipped with a selection of chairs, tables and sofas, as well as a large flat screen television and six computers and a shelf of books. There were also a couple of vending machines with snacks and drinks. Free tea and coffee was also available.
The entire hostel has free wifi access, for which we were given user names and passwords upon check-in. The wifi was a bit patchy but when it worked it was a decent connection.
The bar was expensive and didn’t have a huge range.
The restaurant, providing evening meals, was also a little expensive and the chef rude. The food wasn’t too bad. I liked my burger and chips but my companions complained that the spaghetti bolognaise sauce left something to be desired.
The free continental breakfast was adequate and filling, although it was a bit crowded between 8am and 9am. The conservatory was a more pleasant, and less crowded, place to sit and eat.
Laptop and passport safes were available near the front desk. I didn’t make use of them but they looked secure.
There is a cash machine in the front lobby if you find yourself out of cash. It charges £1.80.
The left luggage cabin provides a fairly secure place to leave baggage if you get there too early to check in to your room (check in is 2pm, check out 11am). I used it twice and always felt comfortable leaving my belongings there. The key is on a stick and kept at the front desk. It has to be signed for.
The ladies and gents on the front desk were helpful and friendly, even when busy they made an effort to converse with all guests and assist where necessary.
I’ve never stayed in a hostel before but if Palmers Lodge Swiss Cottage is anything to go by I shall definitely have to look in to it. They are cheap (£63 for the 3 nights) and comfortable, providing a welcoming place to stay in London. Near shops and take-aways, it is easy to find somewhere to eat. It is very handy for the Jubilee Line as Swiss Cottage is a five minute walk down the road. It was also easy to book the beds on the website, with a variety of rooms available. I am definitely staying there next time I go to London.
We decided, after a debate at the British Museum, to get on the tube to King’s Cross and go to the British Library instead. I had thought it would have to wait until our next visit to London but as our train didn’t leave until 8.35pm we had the time. The British Library had a few exhibitions on and the kept me amused while my companions found a bench and read. I had wanted to see the Mughal Empire Exhibitions, but it cost to go in and I’m still broke.
The King’s Library Tower
The first thing to catch our eyes as we entered the Library was The King’s Library Tower. Six floors of books kept in a controlled environment purpose built for them in 1998. These books were the property of King George III and were presented to the nation by King George IV. They range in date from 1454 to the 1820’s and form the heart of the Library’s collection. It was fascinating to look around the outside of the tower and see how valued old books are.
Folio Society Gallery – A –Z Murder in the Library:An A – Z of Crime Fiction
This display was arresting to say the least; it covers all aspects of crime fiction with a small display of books and related memorabilia. I didn’t spend long there though because I got distracted by another exhibit.
The Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British library
I have officially found a new happy place. Next time my sickness gets too much I shall close my eyes and remember this gallery. It’s dark, calm peace was a balm and the books, oh the books! I only left because time was getting on and I felt rude abandoning my friends for so long.
This gallery houses some great treasures, books I’d thought I wouldn’t see for years. The Beowulf manuscript, Jane Austen’s notebook (Volume the third) and writing desk given to her by her father, the Lindesfarne Gospels and The Gutenberg Bible, illuminated manuscripts, the Luttrel Psalter, Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Magna Carta. So much, so many precious manuscripts. I can’t. There are no words.
Go and see it if you are in London. So much history is laid out before your eyes. There are interactive units that allow you to ‘turn the page’ virtually. I had a quick look at them but they were in use so I can’t really give an opinion on them.
The Library also houses The Philatelic Collection – a collection of stamps from all over the world as well as die blanks. I had a quick look in some of the frames, but I’m not really interested in stamps. I should imagine though that from its range in terms of age and origins, for a philatelist it would be very interesting.
The Library also has a Café, which seem busy when I peeked in. I didn’t get too see what sort of food was on offer or the prices.
There was ample seating/study areas throughout the Library for those who were there to study, and it seemed to be a very popular place.
The shop – I spent money I didn’t have on five books. I am bad. Very bad. However two of the books are new books which will get reviewed and the other three were about certain of the ‘Treasures’ exhibit manuscripts.
So that was my afternoon at the British Library. I would recommend anyone go to visit it, whether for study, to see the exhibits or just to get out of the cold for an hour because it’s a fascinating place. I’ll stop rhapsodising about old books now, and say goodbye,