A List of Nice Things

Something that I wanted to do more this year was to make time for nice things sometimes, and to care for myself more. (Is this self-care? I mean, I think it probably is. I just don’t know when to use the word haha.)  I still have not great mental health days, but I think in general it’s improved a bit? Yeah. Anyway, I thought I would make a list of some things that I do.  (I have no idea if people want to read this but eh. It is in part a reminder for myself, so.)

Listen to some calming noises
The website Noisli has some really lovely sounds which you can combine and save for different occasions. I find that certain sounds can really affect my mood, or make me think of stuff. (I have a really weird thing about the cicada/evening sound… I don’t know. Possibly from when I used to live in Japan? But yeah, I like that one.) I use this to help me feel calmer when doing work or just chilling, I guess.

Watch some TV
I don’t really watch that much TV, so it really feels like a treat when I do. Sometimes I watch stuff after finishing work, but I have also kind of set aside Tuesday afternoons as my designated ~TV watching time~. I feel like I always have stuff that I can be doing — whether that’s homework, language learning, blog stuff, music practice, writing, whatever — so it’s nice to just have a time to…not do anything and enjoy it. Yeah. *nods*

Set aside time for reading
This is kind of similar to the TV one! As my workload has increased with time, and I’ve started to use social media and stuff, I’ve read less and less. Sometimes it’s cool to just say ‘Ooh look I have some free time, let’s read a book’. (Because obviously I would phrase it in that way haha.)

Have a warm bath
Especially in winter when it’s cold, I find a warm bath can actually help me calm down and get to sleep faster. I also like to listen to stuff in the bath, or sometimes I use a face mask which I’m pretty sure does nothing for my skin, but feels nice anyway. Just in general making it a ~calming experience~.

Clean around the house/my room
My room isn’t the dirtiest, but it’s not the most tidy either. Pretty much the same goes for the rest of my house. I don’t normally feel like cleaning, but that’s mostly just because I feel like I don’t have the time or I should be doing something ‘more productive’. But I actually find tidying very satisfying and calming! Especially if I’m listening to something at the same time.

Play music out loud
When I have a little time alone to myself in the house, I like to play music out loud from the speakers in my kitchen, or just listen to podcasts out loud as I do stuff. Just. Playing stuff out loud! I don’t know, I like it a lot.

I feel like I could probably include other things but YEAH. These are just the things that initially came to mind for me. I guess other things include not doign stuff — whether that’s writing a blog post after a certain amount of days, spending extra time on my homework, whatever. If I try and do that all the time I just get completely burnt out and it is Not Good.

how are you doing? are there any nice things you like to do for yourself?

7 Less Touristy-y Things to Do in London

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Whenever I go away to places, I like to try and find actual advice from people who live there. I think it’s really cool to try and get more authentic idea for what the place is like, and it’s one of my favourite parts of travelling! I also think London is pretty cool, and I think it has some really underrated activities, so I thought it would be fun to share some things that I like to do up and about town. 😀

1. Do a scavenger hunt

If you’re with a group of people and have some time to kill, them scavenger hunts are a super way to get out and about! You can find a selection for different areas and themes here, and once you’ve picked one you’re good to go. As well as little tasks like finding street names or counting things on the outside of buildings, the hunts that I have done also give you some information about the area you’re in. You can check the ones that i have used here — you have to buy them, but it’s not much, especially split between a group. There are also some free ones here!

 2. Visit the Southbank Centre

In general there are just SO MANY good things to do spread all along the south bank of the river. Stuff happens in the Southbank Centre all year long, from the Festival of Love to fountains to Women of the World to the Christmas market. The National Theatre nearby has some great shows — if you haven’t booked you can queue up on Friday mornings (I think?) for tickets if there are any left, or try and get a Friday Rush one — as well as some free things to look at and somewhere warm to sit. You might also want to pay a visit to the Globe Theatre, BFI, Tate Modern, or second hand book fair thing. Just. SO MUCH STUFF NEAR THE SOUTHBANK. It’s always on my list for a day out!

3. Go to a book event

I am an ENDLESS ADVOCATE for book events! I love them! They’re normally really cheap or sometimes even free, and they really give me something to look forward to. I don’t think everyone always knows that they exist, so…? Of course it depends on which events are on and whether they coincide with your visit, but a quick browse on the Waterstones website will do you no harm. (Basically all the events I attend are run by Waterstones, since they tend to have the YA ones. But there’s other stuff out there too, including various cons!)

 4. Enjoy some art at the Tate(s)

I know I already mentioned Southbank, but there was too much squeezed into that short space and I LIKE ART THINGS. Some things are better than others at the Tate — the descriptions can tend to overanalyse a bit in my opinion post-capitalist modern critique or whatever I DON’T CAAARE @ CONCEPT ART but there’s so much choice as well as great permanent collections. The buildings are well worth a visit on their own, too! Tate Modern is home to the Turbine Hall which has different installations inside, and the new Switch House building is cool too. If you visit the Tate Britain then your #claimtofame can be standing at the site of Lauren Aquilina’s live Echoes video, ayy. 😉 At the moment Tate Modern has a really good Rauschenberg exhibition, by the way! I like going to see art just on a day out because I don’t feel any pressure to analyse it or whatever; I just like to try and enjoy it and consider how it makes me feel.

5. Visit Covent Garden

Covent Garden has a bunch of shops, from the wonderfully cute Moomin shop to the Whittard’s tea shop where I normally just go around testing EVERY SINGLE ITEM in their cute plastic glasses. (I have actually bought stuff from Whittards so I don’t feel too bad. It is fun to taste all their things.) Sometimes there’s street performers or market-y stalls, and in general it’s just a nice place to visit! There are also some cool quirky shops around the general Covent Garden/Seven Dials area such as Tofu Cute and Tatty Devine.

6. Do a fandom tour

London is the home to lots of cool fandom things! Of course it depends what you’re into, but some internet searching can prove very useful should you want to explore some fannish London locations. For Harry Potter, you can go on a self-guided tour or an actual professional walking tour, which  really sounds like a job I should be applying for haha. A Doctor Who tour is available (though I hear it’s more focused on Classic Who), and as well as visiting the Sherlock Holmes museum you can take a look at one of the Sherlock tours. (That link is really good; it has locations for a self-guided one as well as organised tours.)

7. Trawl through the bookshops of Charing Cross Road

Charing Cross Road is well known for its second hand bookshops — even if some of the prices might make your eyes water, it’s so atmospheric to look around them at all the old books. (I love old book smells.) Sometimes you can find real gems! ayyy my 19th century copy of Les Mis The really big Foyles is also there if you want a different selection to Waterstones, and Forbidden Planet is around the corner on Shaftesbury Avenue. 🙂

have you been to london? done any of these things? do you have any underrated activities for where you live?

7 #Relatable Clarinet Things

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I’ve played the clarinet for a couple of years now, and I love talking to other clarinet players about all the clarinet things. So HERE ARE A FEW. Also, whilst I was writing this post I I realised that this was kinda similar to An Overthinking Teenager’s #Trumpeterproblems post so do go and check that out, it’s excellent! I mean, I’m not actually a trumpeter, but I DID ENJOY IT NEVERTHELESS.

1. Wait, how many ledger lines?

As you can see here, you can get a whooole bunch of ledger lines on the clarinet. I’ve got a pretty solid hold on the lower ledger lines, but in the higher register? (The weird altissimo one.) Yeah, just no. I am that person who sits there counting them all out. TOO MANY LEDGER LINES, GUYS.

2. There are approximately 30172907 other clarinet players out there

Don’t get me wrong, I’m eternally glad so many people choose to play the clarinet, because clearly the best instrument out there. *coughs* It just means that there’s a lot of competition for the few clarinet spaces there are in orchestras. (Like, at least there are about a million violins. Compared with THREE CLARINETS, I tell you. THREE CLARINETS.) (This especially sucks when you have, like, a clarinet prodigy at your school. RIP me.)

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3. Playing 3rd clarinet in the school orchestra

Even when you do manage to get a place in orchestra, if it’s a lower part then it’s often just minims or crotchets plus 40 bars rest. I’m still pretty bitter from my 3rd clarinet days, to be honest. But it means that you can be SUPER HAPPY when you move up a part.

4. Trilling over the break

Some composers obviously just…do not understand how the clarinet works. BRO, I CANNOT TRILL FROM AN A TO A C. I JUST CAN’T. For non-clarineters: that means going from leaning on one key with your index finger to having all your fingers down! Plus another key! THE HORROR. I mean, there probably is a trill key for it. (See below.) But when you have to do it in like a scale of really quick notes going over the break and it’s just asdgyjhakeflkw.

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5. SO MANY DIFFERENT KEYS

I’ve played the clarinet for a good while now, and even I don’t know what all the little keys along the side do. (I think I know most of them. But I might have to experiment a bit if you actually asked me to tell you.) It also means that if you knock one of them slightly, it can send your entire instrument off kilter and then you have to improvise with cling film and blue-tack to try and get the notes out.

6. Cleaning your clarinet is just…no

There are a variety of different clarinet cleaning things out there that you can use, but I have a weird cloth with a weight on the end. It used to be white, but now it’s brown and ripped and just in general extremely disgusting. I used to barely ever clean my clarinet, so when I did it would come out with loads of brown stuff, but now I try and clean it every time I play to minimise that. It’s still pretty gross.

7. Your one good reed always chips

Reeds are just really weird and mostly out to hate you. (It always seems like they’re especially out to get you when you are a wee tiny clarinet player.) They’re dry and they chip really easily and sometimes you find a 2 year old one somewhere and it is super super manky. And then when you get out the one reed you trust to play it at the concert…IT GOES AND CHIPS. Because of course.

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do you play an instrument, or would you like to? (the clarinet maybe?!?) can you relate to any of these struggles?

7 Things I Love About BBC Class

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This week has been long for me and for many others, I know. I was going to write a whole post about it, but to be honest I’m just a bit tired. Instead, I decided the best thing for me was to keep loving things and talking about the things I love.

So, in case you have missed my copious twitter flailings… I AM REALLY LOVING THE NEW DOCTOR SPIN OFF CLASS. It’s about some students at Coal Hill School and the aliens which appear there, in varying combinations. I believe it’s only showing on BBC Three for the UK at the moment but it appears there! Every Saturday! SUCH JOY. Because I’m enjoying it so much, and because I basically never talk about TV shows,  here is a post about all the things I think are cool in it.

(Also: before I finished drafting this, Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff also wrote about the awesomeness of Class… so shout out to her, go read her fabulous post!)

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1. Complex and diverse characters

Characters are one of the most important things to me in media — however good the plot is, the characters are what anchors me to that world and keeps me reading/watching/etc. I am just so in love with all the characters here; they each have their flaws and strengths and hidden attributes and ASDFJKL CINNAMON ROLLS IT IS UNFAIR I ADORE THEM ALL. It’s wonderful to see diversity on the show, especially since it’s something that has frustrated me about Doctor Who in the past. The characters aren’t defined by their gender or race or sexuality.

2. Also, the cast are all super cute

Admittedly, this is not actually a part of the show itself. But ALL THE CAST ARE SO LOVELY AND COOL????? I went to their panel at MCM London and it was just SO GOOD. And then Vivian (Tanya) and Fady (Ram) did an ask thing ad they were so cute and funny just. Overall I basically have a crush on the ENTIRE CAST. They are UNFAIRLY ATTRACTIVE AND NICE PEOPLE.

3. It’s very different from Doctor Who

Don’t get me wrong, I love Doctor Who! But I think it would have been a mistake to try and be exactly the same, and it’s cool that it’s not. I was also not a massive fan of the extremely confuddling plot lines which have appeared over recent Doctor Who series, to be honest, so… Yeah. Arcs and hints for teh whole series are cool! Yes! But it was just refreshing to see more of a return to the general overarching things but ALSO new monsters to fight every week.

4. The one liners tho

That’s definitely a sentence, pfft. There are just SO MANY hilarious lines and comebacks and it is amazing. Tanya is so savage. Although Miss Quill has to be the queen of awesome liens, which leads me to my next point…

5. Miss Quill

I adore every single person in Class, to be honest, and I CANNOT CHOOSE BETWEEN THEM. (Except the evil guys.) But it’s safe to say that I’ve really fallen in love with Miss Quill… She’s definitely mean, and kind of scary, but her character just seems so complex and original to me. She DOES WHAT SHE WANTS. She has a BADASS HAIRCUT. She DOESN’T CARE ABOUT YE MORTAL PEASANTS. Yes.

6. Awesome friendship AND romantic relationship dynamics

Ships are cool. But you know what’s also cool? FRIENDSHIP. Romance can be great, but I hate when it’s placed above everything else in a show… I want ALL THE THINGS. Complex friendships and group dynamics are so important, and here they’re just beautiful. Plus, GIRL-BOY FRIENDSHIPS. We need more of these. Because, guess what folks? Girls and boys actually can be friends. Goodness me. But yes, I’m so looking forward to seeing how everyone develops!

7. One BADASS opening sequence

I will confess that I had slightly mixed feelings about it when I first saw the opening sequence, but now when it comes on I’m like YAS. The song (Up All Night, apparently) is such a jam and the graphics aah! I haven’t been able to find a really high quality video for it,  but here’s the best one I could get.

are you watching bbc class? what do you think of it so far? or would you now like to?!? (i hope so!)

7 Languages I’d Like to Speak // struck by linguistic love

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I HAVE SO MANY LANGUAGES APART FROM ENGLISH THAT I WANT TO LEARN. Literally all of them. There are way too many languages in the world. And let’s remember that I’m still on my way to learn English. I just…LIKE LANGUAGES A LOT. ❤ I have such a busy summer ahead of me. Even though I probably won’t end up doing all the work I want, but hey!

1. Spanish This is probably my favourite language at school! I want to be able to read the Spanish copy of Eleanor & Park I bought. Don’t ask. There’s also a lot of Spanish literature I’d love to read in its original language, but… HOPEFULLY. Someday. I’m going to make this happen.

2. Old English The language of Beowulf, Merlin, and the maybe the basis for Elvish. (Which makes an appearance later.) I have basically no knowledge of this language at all, unlike most of the others on this list, but thank Maggie Stiefvater. The Raven Cycle inspires unknown language-learning, okay?

3. Japanese Yes. I am in theory learning this, but I’ve basically only learnt the hiragana and katakana so far. So I can read some things phonetically! But I can’t tell you what they mean. The hope and the dream is to watch a Ghibli film in its original language (and without subs). Because I am a nerd, and I like Studio Ghibli.

4. Latin The textbook we have is kind of silly — yeah it’s the Cambridge one with Caecilius and everything, hi to anyone else who knows what I’m talking about — but this would be awesome to be able to know it a bit better. I could be Ronan Lynch. With a bonus of obscure words definitions.

5. British Sign Language Obviously BSL is different to the other languages here! There are no opportunities at all to learn it at school, so I think I should at least learn some basic phrases. It’s really cool. And then you can speak in all sorts of situations where you can’t vocally say stuff.

6. French I just handed in my options to give this up next year. *sighs* I have to many subjects that I want to study and it’s awful. I still hold my Les Mis/living in Paris fantasies in my heart, though, and I AM GOING TO MAKE THEM HAPPEN. Even if it means visiting with another person who, you know, actually can communicate. I will not give this up.

7. Elvish I’m not going to lie here: I went through a phase of researching constructed languages (i.e. made up languages) and it was all very nerdy and academic. But being able to speak Elvish would be awesome, no?| IT WOULD BE LIKE A SECRET CODE. I wish I could learn Morse Code as well. I know it’s not really a language, but can we just put that as the honorary eighth? I don’t want to break the seven tradition, guys.

do you speak more than one language? which ones would you like to learn? are you torn in WAY too many different directions like me? 😛

 

7 Things I Love About Studio Ghibli

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Studio Ghibli’s last movie comes out Friday 10th, so I’ve been feeling pretty emotional about it recently. I flail about Ghibli a lot, as many people know — and I have a suspicious amount of Totoro merchandise stored up in my bedroom! I’ve been watching them ever since I lived in Japan when I was younger, and I’m actually pretty proud of how many I’ve watched…I’ve only got When Marnie Was There left to watch before I complete them. 🙂

But it’s the last movie before their hiatus, and I HAVE NO IDEA HOW I’M GOING TO COPE. By crying in the cinema, probably. In order to sort of commemorate that, I decided to tell you all why I love Ghibli movies!

1. Beautiful animation

Literally, it’s like Hayao Miyazaki just TRIES to make animation difficult for himself. There’s so much beautiful scenery and art. There aren’t many animated movies as beautiful as Ghibli ones. A lot of studios have moved into computer graphics, so it’s awesome to go back to a more traditional style that we all recognise from Ghibli.

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2. Strong female characters!

I was just going to put ‘strong characters’ here, but to be honest lots of movies suck at having any female characters, so. (I don’t want to generalise too much about movies altogether, and it’s getting better, but yeah.) But I love that Ghibli movies have well-rounded female characters — not just the ‘strong’ femme fatale. Which is a totally fine character trait, but I don’t want all girls to be that because NOT ALL GIRLS ARE. There’s headstrong girls! Shy girls! Writerly girls! Selfish girls! Villainous girls! YAY. (Although Ghibli isn’t the pinnacle of all diversity ever and stuff. Before I get into an argument.)

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3. Awesome soundtracks

Mostly these are composed by the legend that is Joe Hisaishi — the more classical ones, like Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited — but there’s also gems like From Up ON Poppy Hill. WHICH HAS JAZZY CLARINET and to be honest is just a really nostalgic film altogether. I just…really, really like Ghibli soundtracks.

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4. There’s so much variety

I mean, I think a lot of people do think of Spirited Away as embodying Ghibli films, but Ghibli films cover so many different genres: epic fantasy, high school love story, cute children’s movie… There are meaningful movies and silly movies and nostalgic movies. Every mood can be satisfied. In my opinion, there’s one for everyone. 😛

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5. Hurrah for non-patronising childrens’ movies

You can watch Totoro with your 8 year old cousin and both enjoy it and not have to worry that it’s too inappropriate or whatever. I STILL LOVE TOTORO. And The Cat Returns. (Baron is me.) And… yeah. You get the idea.

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6. Hurrah for movies without romance

Sometimes I just don’t want to watch a movie with romance, guys. IT ISN’T THAT DIFFICULT. Although it actually is quite difficult. So it’s great to just be able to pull out a movie and know I’m getting an awesome adventure! (There are romantic movies. Whisper of the Heart is one of my favourites. But anyway.)

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7. Hayao Miyazaki is a Very Cool Guy

I’ve just been watching a documentary about Ghibli called Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, and IT’S SUPER COOL. I mean, I realise that Hayao Miyazaki hasn’t directed all Ghibli films, but he’s probably the face of the studio and he does seem to be the driving force. He’s also talked about anime culture and how directors aren’t observing human behaviour. I think there’s a lot of meaning in his films and Ghibli films in general. I cried at the end of The Wind Rises. IT’S JUST. Ack. So beautiful and sad. (I almost put the Anime is Trash gif here, but I looked it up and that’s just a mistranslation. MIYAZAKI NEVER SAID IT.)

I’m currently in exam week, so if I’m not replying as usual that’s the reason! I hope you’re all having a good day, and I’ll probably return Friday flailing about When Marnie Was There. 😛

do you like studio ghibli? which are your favourite movies? do you know of any similar films?

7 (Mostly Stupid) Nostalgic Computer Games

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So, when I say ‘nostalgic’ games, I’m not actually referring to Pac-Man kind of games. Sorry. I AM NOT OLD ENOUGH TO CLAIM PAC MAN IS MY CHILDHOOD. And I am also still in my childhood. But luckily for me, the internet changes fast enough for this to seem Sufficiently Old. *nods*

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who knows that coolmaths.com is the site to go to if you want to fool the system into thinking you’re on an educational site. (Let’s just pretend I’m not writing this list during NaNoWriMo. I HAVEN’T BEEN PROCRASTINATING AT ALL, what are you talking about?!?)

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1. Fireboy and Watergirl Oh my goodness this game was my favourite. It’s…still my favourite two player game. It’s pretty much the only decent one, in my opinion. 😉 Because I’m really bad at Minecraft and ‘Actual Video Games’. The two-player element was especially useful when there was practically a bloodbath over the two computers in the library after school. (In retrospect: why is the boy the fire? But anyway, yeah.)

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2. Bloons Tower Defense The sound of computerised balloons popping is weirdly stress-relieving. The best part is when you get, like, the robot laser eye monkey right at the end and raze through all the rainbow coloured balloons. (It was actually quite a violent game, to be honest. And who even thought of ninja and sniper moneys? Are they a metaphor for humanity? What did those weirdly sentient balloons ever do to the moneys? Is there a whole backstory to this game? *gasps*

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3. Cookie Clicker SO SO POINTLESS. Probably the most ridiculous game on this entire list. I don’t know. But it’s really fun. Just. Even more pointless than all the others. I think there are copies of it with other items, too? Ah well. Someday I’ll look it up.

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4. Papa Louie Evil pizza monsters, duh. And what is more important than delivering pizzas whilst being attacked by evil pizzas??

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5. Circle the Cat This is actually a pretty clever game, even now. Stopping the cat from getting out requires actual thinking. (Some of it is luck where the starter squares are placed. But it’s more intellectual than, say, Cookie Clicker.)

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6. Celtic Village AHAHAHA. This game is the weirdest. It wasn’t ever really a popular-at-school thing like some of the others, but my cousin and I would play it at Christmas at the same time and see who could last the longest. It’s weird as hell, and it has terrible graphics, and it glitches all the time from what I can remember: random children would just turn into green aliens?? And then, like, the gods would come and age all your people up? Who even knows? *shakes head* Anyway, I just liked naming all my villagers. I had some pretty cool ones. Even if they all ended up dying at the end or something.

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7. Shopping Street OH MY GOD the competition with this. Way to introduce children to the retailing market. It was another kind of stress relieving one, though — maybe listening to money chink from all the little people pass is less good than balloons popping, but hey. (Not that balloons are particularly normal either. Oh well.)

What computer games did you used to play? Recognise any of these? I’M SO BAD AT ALL VIDEO GAMES NOW PERSONALLY. Except for Wii Sports. 😉