A Visit Back to London Town and a Short Stay at South Causey Inn in Durham County, UK


London, UK

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South Causey Inn, Stanley, Durham County

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Although it Remains ‘Unconfirmed’, Signs Point to Me Being An Awesome Person


To You,

Just a brief little list of things I wish to present to you at this moment:

1. I’m Canadian. I always like to start with this because it resonates my awesomeness. πŸ˜‰

2. I have studied in two different countries apart from my own.

3. I moved to the Indiana, USA when I was 18 to pursue my Bachelors in Athletic Training. Indiana was a state that I probably could not have located on a map beforehand. I thought Texas was within relative proximity to Florida. Yes, I am a dunce.

4. I moved to London, UK when I was 19 on my lonesome to take time to avoid the mundane academic curriculum.

5. I moved back to Indiana to officially seek out my Bachelor’s degree in 2007.

6. I enrolled in the Fine Arts Photography program at my university in 2008.

7. Up until 2008 I had never seen a darkroom before. Nor did I know the names of any credible artists in the photography field.

8. I graduated with my Bachelor in Fine Arts Photography being recognized as a top 5 in my class by professors.

9. I applied to 3 schools in England for my Master’s degree.

10. I got accepted into 2 programs at my top choice, Durham University.

11. Being the idiot that I am, I accepted a position in the MA in International Studies program in Durham’s prestigious School of Government and International Affairs department.

12. I’m an idiot because I had never taken a course in politics in my life. I avoided it in high school, and had never read Marxist theory nor any other political theory up to my first week of classes in a Master’s program.

13. Twice in my life I have pursued degrees of which I had next to no experience in. Seriously. No exaggeration. Really no knowledge at all.

14. Pursuing studies in political theory at Durham University was one of the most difficult challenges I have taken on.

15. You should also know that I’m not a natural ‘book smart’ individual. I merely have an interest to push my brain to ‘know’.

16. I sometimes use words not fully knowing what they mean, but because I like the sound of them. See. Not book smart.

17. I have a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Emma Bear Tugboat Ein Son. I just thought that was worth noting.

18. Although unconfirmed, I have received my dissertation mark and I will soon be awarded with my Master of Arts in International Studies from Durham University, and no one will ever truly understand how mentally demanding the past few years of my life have been and thus how truly proud of myself that I am.

19. I can pinpoint Texas AND Florida on a map correctly. And Indiana. I’ve come a long way. πŸ™‚

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

10 Days Worth Waiting For: Durham, London, Cassis, and Paris all wrapped up into one perfect holiday


To You,

I have been rather withdrawn, so to speak, the past couple of days. I have wanted to write a little diddy on my latest travels with my dearest beau, however the energy and inspiration has escaped me. Overall, I don’t think there’s a way for me to relay it all as it was absolutely wonderful even through the arguments, the moments of tension, the minutes of settling into complete time with one another. Therefore I shall write only briefly with a few pictures to add to the ocular amusement to this picture-book story of the past two weeks.

I separated myself from digital communication for the time that my lad was visiting me, and it was lovely. I refrained from updating my blog, from posting up-to-date status posts on facebook, or checking my mobile for texts or incoming calls. And so, I am way behind on updates on my little diddy, aka this blog πŸ™‚ So here goes nothing…

First Days: June 26th – 27th
Location: London, United Kingdom

I slept the night in Heathrow Airport the night of the 25th since from Durham to London there were no trains that would arrive in time for me to greet the dear boy at the arrivals gate. After a rather noisy night of construction and a group communicating at high volumes behind me, I dolled myself up in the ladies room and awaited his emerging from the gates. After standing for nearly an hour after the boards had updated his arrival, his beardy-face emerged, and I attacked πŸ™‚ And when I say ‘attacked’ I mean it in the loveliest of terms. I dropped my bags and ran up for a hug. After many hellos, our first stop was the barber shop where he was scheduled to shave that furry thing off his face πŸ™‚ Clean shaven complete, it was off to our hotel and then the city. In the evening we checked out the Phantom of the Opera (one of my all time favourites), and the following day we explored the sites a bit more, heading to Tower Bridge and further south to Bermondsey to see the exhibits at the White Cube Galleries.

The evening of the 27th we were off to Durham where all we were to do was sleep, drink coffee, and relax.

White Cube, Damien Hirst ‘Two Weeks, One Summer’

Olympic Rings

Next of days: June 27th – 30th
Location: Durham, United Kingdom

Our time in Durham was so relaxing for the most part. Our first morning, we had a much needed sleep in after not being able to sleep the night before until the early hours. Eventually, we woke up and headed into the town for some food and coffee – both essential things for our single and co-existence. After some cakes and sandwiches and many shots of espresso, we wondered further around, heading up to my college, the Castle, and the Cathedral. Later in the afternoon we were scheduled to visit my workplace at Mary’s College and the minute we decided to leave, we were hit with a massive downpour which flooded the streets. Needless to say we were drenched by the time we reached work, and he was drenched to above the knees after pushing a man’s car through the high waters on the streets. Saying good-bye to my old work mates was bitter sweet – I will say I will cherish them more than most people I had courses with, and I’m very glad to have met them all. That evening we watched the Italy-Germany match at a local pub next to my flat, and relaxed for the duration of the night. Durham was lovely – having him here even for a couple of days made me miss him that much more after he left, because it felt so lovely having in my home for once. I wished he could be here always.

Running through the flooded streets

Walk along the river

Days to follow: June 30th – July 3rd
Location: London, United Kingdom… and ???

In the early morning hours of the 30th, we jumped on our train and headed back to London. On the train, I let something out of the bag that I had been hiding from my beau for months. I had told him the plan was to head to London and then take the Eurostar to Paris that evening. So, I kind of lied. Big time. On the train I let him partially into the secret: we were neither going to Paris just yet, nor were we taking a train there. We were to fly to France the following morning, but to where, I was yet to reveal. So, upon our arrival to London, we checked our bags into storage so as to not have to lug them around with us throughout the day. Our plan of action: art. First we headed to Camden Town for some food, where we briefly perused the markets and later took a pit stop at some food stalls. After this, we headed south to the Tate Modern to check out Damien Hirst’s retrospective which was stellar. Although his prized piece was no longer up for viewing, the remainder of the collection was gorgeous – my favourites were the butterfly paintings. Stunning. Post art perusing, we munched on some bread I had made the night before with some lamb sausages we had cooked up as well for the ride. Then we wandered to the Thames where we laid under the sun for a short nap since we were both exhausted.

Pat taking photos of me whilst I attempted to cleanly eat a peach whilst not being able to breathe through my stuffed up nose

Arrival to King’s Cross

Camden for lunch

Time for a siesta by the Thames

Panoramic of the Thames

Later that night, we picked up our luggage again and headed to Gatwick. Now, I had picked up a cold during our walk through the flooded streets of Durham, and so I was not in the best of places. My head was stuffed, my body aching, and I felt a little less than attractive unless you like the puffy face, bloodshot eyes, red-Rudolph nose look. So to cheer myself up, I decided half way through the night to show the dear boy photos of where we were going.

We were to fly to Marseille, France in the early hours and then take a short train to Cassis, a small port-town on the Mediterranean. I think it took him a few minutes to believe me after I showed him photos of the beach we were to visit, les Calanques d’En Vau during our stay. So not to dive into details, his reaction was priceless and it definitely lifted my moods as I had been so excited for months πŸ™‚

After our arrival in Marseille, we trained it to Cassis, France, and lo and behold, it was stunning. We walked along lavender gardens, olive tree pastures, and rows of grapevines as we made our way to our hotel, HΓ΄tel le Cassiden. The location was beautiful, romantic, and absolutely perfect. The day as it progressed was a culmination of exhaustion, and with those few moments of worry as I mentioned at the start of the post, it held it’s times of tension and anxiety. I think it’s always hard when you pair someone who is used to throwing herself into foreign situations with someone who is trying it out on literally foreign territory, but after some sleep, we triumphed. The second day was bliss. We took our rented boat out to the beach, and relaxed under the perfect sun – not too hot sitting at 27 degrees Celcius, and the water was a cool chill that refreshed you throughout the hours. The evening, we ate dinner port-side, and later smoked a cuban cigar on the beach. Lovely.

Walking from Cassis train station to our hotel

Our window view onto the market streets

Driving our boat to les Calanques d’En Vau

Assessing our swim from boat to shore… with our bag..!

Calanques d’En Vau

Seafood dinner on the port. Gorgeous.

After dinner walk. πŸ™‚

Onto the next one: July 3rd – 4th
Location: Paris, France

After a stressful morning of getting to our train on time, we jetted off on the train from Marseille to Paris, arriving mid-day. After a well-needed nap in our cozy hotel room at Hotel le Petit Trianon in the St. Germain-de-PrΓ¨s district, we walked out for dinner and then the Eiffel Tower. Again, we had had a stressful evening – exhaustion was getting to the both of us I think. But after a break-point in our discussion, we laid back and smiled under the glittering Eiffel Tower.

Gorgeous Duck Confit.

The following day, we merely walked around the city. We were a little tired of paying city prices, and so gathered some fresh food and made our own meals throughout the day. We walked to the Louvre, along la Seine, through the gardens, and around the ancient streets. Neither of us were up for museum gazing, or tourist attractions, I think we just wanted to wander the city at our own pace and just chill together. To be honest, Paris was lovely – I’ve been told to go there by, well, everyone. However, I would have much preferred to stay in Cassis. We had a few incidents that definitely put us off fully enjoying our time there, but I would definitely return, however I’m not in any rush. I’ve always tried to explain to people why I’ve never gone, and now that I have, I stand even truer to it. If I have the chance to go, I’m typically in London. So why would I leave one city for another? If I leave a city, I prefer going to a completely different scene, like the countryside or the mountains, or the sea. But overall, I am so glad I got to experience Paris first with the chap. But now, it was back to London.

Oh my goodness, yes.

Book stalls along la Seine.

Giggles in the gardens.

Last stop: July 4th – 6th
Location: London, United Kingdom

So, after a major fault on my part (something of which I will not go into), we eventually made our way to London once again on the Eurostar train. Arriving in the late evening, we were both starving and so headed out quickly for food. The following day we wandered to the British Museum to gaze at the brilliant ceramics collection that they hold there. After much inspiration was found, we walked further to Kensington Gardens to find the Ai Wei Wei installation and Yoko Ono’s retrospective at the Serpentine Gallery. It was so lovely to just walk around the gardens with an ice cream cone under the sun. Eventually we made our way to the Thames where I showed him Buckingham Palace along route, and then Parliament Square and Westminster. We sat on the Thames, ate our fresh food purchased from a farmers market in Tavistock Square, and drank our Elderflower cordial that I have also purchased at the market. Yum. Hopped on the tube, hopped off, and then later had dinner in Covent Garden at Herman zee German, a little hole-in-the-wall joint with great German eats. And then final stop was the Maple Leaf, a Canadian bar in London πŸ™‚ As we made our way back to our hotel in Euston, we stopped off at Euston Tap, a bar he had read about, where he purchased some beer to drink later on through the night. Now, it was off to pack as he was set to fly the next morning.

Royal Mile Whiskies, London

Kensington Gardens

Ai Wei Wei’s installation outside the Serpentine Galleries

Me outside the Maple Leaf pub.

So on July 6th, I took the Picadilly Line from London King’s Cross with him to Heathrow where we were say another one of our airport good-byes in the underground terminal. I was set to catch my train back at King’s Cross at 10:30AM to head back into Durham. I did not want this trip to end, and was so sad to be Paddy-less in England now. I know it’s pathetic, but it was nice having my best friend with me for at least 12 days in the country I’ve lived without him since September. He made every location a little brighter, and it was all rather dulled slightly once he left.

And that’s that. The two weeks I had been waiting for for so long, and to be honest, the days didn’t fly by, but instead were enjoyed through every second of it. Not all the moments were easy, and frustration was definitely felt, but I will never say that relationships that are meant to last are never without their worries. Long distance makes that even more difficult – we are not a couple that never argues, as both of us have too much that has happened in our pasts to make the present silky smooth. I do think we’re working tremendously hard to understand each other better, and come to a point where we’re not worried about possible hurt, possible disappointment, possible heartbreak.

Anyways, speak again soon – so much is speeding up right now, that I will write again shortly to update on that. But for now, I am hungry πŸ™‚

Peace & love,

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

p.s – No, I’m not self-obsessed, but I don’t typically post photos with others in them if they’d prefer me not to, and so alas, no photos of the dude on my blog. He’s lovely looking though, I promise πŸ˜‰

Durham: The Place of History, Beauty, and The Mask Busking a Duet with a Bagpiper on the Bongo Drums


I walk down past the Marketplace, and slowly hear bagpipes building in the foreground. Not unusual, as a bagpiper is occasionally playing on the bridge by Esquires. However, this time the melody was accompanied by bongo drums… and then as I approach the scene, I see that it’s not only a person playing bongo drums, but The Mask playing bongo drums. Class. πŸ™‚ x

A Lovely Saturday Morning in Durham


To you,

Yesterday the train tickets for Paris, France arrived in the mail – I could have opted for e-tickets, but being the old soul that I am, I much prefer having tickets in hand to hold and keep for little souvenirs. And so to follow suit in my Parisian/English mood as of late, I turned my online radio onto a Juliette GrΓ©co station and decided to get ready for the day.

After slipping on my boyfriend’s jeans (not Boyfriend Jeans, but rather my boyfriend’s jeans that he handed off to me), teasing my hair into a little ’60’s inspired pull-back, and grabbing my sunnies, I decided to venture into Durham on this lovely sunny Saturday. I awoke to a blue sky and the sun sparkling down on the rooftops, and being Saturday this meant that the Durham City Market would be alive and energetic with fellow towners perusing the stalls.

First, a well-needed stop at the little cafΓ© stand to grab myself a lattΓ© to sip as I strolled beneath the sun’s glorious rays. I later grabbed some little donuts – always a good (and dangerous) deal at 7 for β‚€1. There’s truly nothing better than a Saturday morning being surrounded by the intimate market atmosphere in a little historic town under the summer’s warmth.

Next, I walked up the narrow alley and up into the Attic to gaze into the People’s Bookshop where I love to find random reads, and I’ve been in need of a summer novel to dig into. It’s a cozy little shop with varying genres of reads from politics, biographies, poetry and literature, and old vintage finds. Also, it’s fun to see if there will be anything of interest on their β‚€2 shelves, which sits outside its entrance and follows an honor system for payment with a little coin box for you to drop your moneys into. I walked out with a little french novel by Jean-Paul Sartre and the classic Madame Bovary.

Overall, a lovely Saturday spent wandering the markets and little stores of Durham. It’s days like this that I adore living right around the corner from the market rather than up near the school. The canal, the music from the buskers, the coffee and little bookstores – I mean, why come to Durham if not to experience its friendly character?

Until next time,

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

This Place


To you,

Here in my flat I sit, surrounding by clothes, luggage, books, and papers… apparently I’ve opened up a thrift store by the looks of it. Well, a quite sad one at that since the amount of clothes I own could easily fit in a medium sized suitcase, my books I’m not willing to part with, and the papers are rather financial and official than anything of interest. Either way, I’m sitting amongst my Durham-life’s belongings πŸ™‚

Outside, the sky is blue with white fluffy clouds slowly moving across the endless planes, hovering above the rooftops of the little terrace houses, row upon row. The sunlight is leaking golden hues into my apartment, and at this time of day the beams are lighting up my fireplace, illuminating my books and objects laid upon my mantle. It’s all rather lovely.

I think my life here is all rather lovely. This flat is very much my home, added to the tiny list of places of which I’ve felt a strong connection to to call ‘home’. I’m very comfortable here, very content, and I truly will be sad to move from here in a few months when the time comes. I’ve become so at ease here, and it’s been very refreshing as a whole living on my own in this little flat. I truly did luck out, since I’ve heard from many others how impossible it was to find one-bedroom or studio accommodation here in the market place. Somehow, from abroad, I managed to snag myself a little home. I’m definitely a loner at heart, and although I do enjoy the company of others, I’m not comfortable in it at all times, and so living on my own has never been as intolerable as many expect it to be. I really do enjoy it, with no hesitation in stating as such! In a few days, I leave Durham until my return at the end of April, and throughout the summer I will be very excited to show off one of my ‘homes’ to the visitors expected to be coming and going within the sunny months.

Anyways, back to packing. It’s been a nice day. Organizing, book shopping, coffee grabbing, chit-chatting, and now pack to the start of that list.

Speak soon,

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

My Life is [insert philosophical metaphor here]


To you,

Sitting here after a lengthy week of readings and a short evening shift at work, all nice and cozy under a plush hospital-pale blue coloured blanket. I’ve had many open ended thoughts slowly making their way through the never ending maze that is my flustered mind, and it’s all making my mood rather anxious with excitement and stressful fear of having to organize my plan of action.

So… to grab a halt to this ranting before it gets hazy – what is it that you’ve been thinking about?

That, my dear friends, is a good question.

Overall, I can sum it up in my philosophy of life.

Suckers - pulled you into another hippy view of the world.

For me, life is something to experience. I know, right – bet you haven’t heard that one before. But I’m serious. For me, it’s about doing things not for the sake of bragging, boasting, nor achieving or failing. It’s about just doing. I am very lucky to be the child of two immigrant parents to Canada, because traveling for instance is something that is a part of my life. It’s not a luxury, nor is it something I brag about. I don’t consider myself a traveler because there is so much I’ve yet to see although I have traveled numerous amounts of time since I was 8 months old to visit family overseas. To me, traveling is something you just do. You experience cultural relations through sinking your feet onto the dirt of unknown pathways. You breathe it in, and you keep it as a part of who you are. Experiences develop you – they don’t necessarily change you, but instead add to your progression of human life. New experiences are vital to my growth, and so are challenges. Being here in Durham, it is a huge challenge for me. I am an intelligent person, however my intelligence is stubborn in its capabilities to learn at times. Academia has never come naturally to me – I’ve always worked my ass off to attain satisfactory grades on my personal grading scale. I praise myself on good grades not because they will further me towards that CEO position 15 years from now, or aid me develop connections with IVY League headmasters. It’s because I pushed myself beyond the challenge set before me. I’m a true athlete at heart, and its probably why athletics are something I’ve always excelled at. I see a challenge and I set my game plan. So attending Durham was the next step from Art School. I had never considered visual arts as an academic pursuit of choice, and I had no experience it art beyond drawing. I did it, and pushed myself to experience it, and I mean really experience it to the point that it became a part of me. And now, I’m studying International Studies for my postgraduate degree. Why, people ask? Well merely for the reason that my art developed into political topics regarding my identity amongst the symmetry of the rest of humanity. And I wanted to understand that further; the human rights aspect of life, the religious and the ethnic. I have next to no history in this subject matter, other than the average Joe who shares empathy with the human race. So I jumped in and figured ‘why not.’ I’m struggling on some levels, but am no way backing down from this challenge. My right and left sides of the brain are forcibly becoming friends. Since I was 18, I’ve not stepped back from the edge, but rather dove in doing flips and twists the whole way down. And now, I don’t know where to jump next. I don’t think I’ll ever ‘settle down’ in the traditional sense, meaning I will never settle for a life without experiences. From the domestic to the academic to the creative to the extreme – I don’t want to stop growing, and I don’t think I’ll ever look at my life and state, ‘That’s enough. I’m good now.’

It’s not about finances, or accessibility, but moreso the search for something reflective. I don’t travel to say ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been there. You should soooo go sometime.’ I travel because my family has traveled, and because humanity should be understood on the ground floor amongst the community and not on the 25th behind doctrines and laws. I travel to witness the motion of history in action. And it’s the same with every other aspect of my life. I love, and I love in the pureness notion of it. It’s not out of dependability, or because I want to settle down and know I’m set for life to be with this partner in crime. I have no aspirations out of love, other than to love and live my life experiencing true and pure connections. I do not seek it, but when I find it I choose to experience it. From the everyday of listening to the rain or watching the sun peer through the window panes, from tasting food to walking outside – it’s something I experience. I’m not saying all should travel to far off places or seek out extreme situations, but I do believe all should seek out experiences.

So yeah, this is what I’ve been thinking about. Where am I headed next? What do I want to experience next? Why? What am I in need of?

Thoughts to think. πŸ™‚

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

I Best Be Super Duper Smart After All of this is Over


To you,

So I’ve now completed my first week of the Epiphany Term, which basically entailed sitting in the classroom for a fraction of the actual module period to receive an introduction to the course material to take place in the coming weeks – you know, your typical first week. Thus far, all looks rather good! It’s a nice change from the previous term which consisted of two modules, one of which was useful to a certain degree as to what I’m hoping to get out of this MA programme, and the other.. well, I like it but it’s definitely like being thrown into something at top speed while still reading the instruction manual.

These are the modules I will be taking this term:

Mondays: Political Ideologies – pretty much what it sounds like, with a dab of feminism and multiculturalism thrown in towards the end of the term. I’m excited about this one because it will assist me in further understanding theoretical points of view regarding Liberalism, Conservatism, Marxism, etc.

Tuesdays: Research Methods and Dissertation Production – this one I’m not ‘thrilled’ about, but its a compulsory guideline course towards dissertation production, and so therefore should deem interesting.. or perhaps helpful should be the word used there..! It also requires a two-hour seminar on Fridays which kind of blows, but I suppose I can’t have all fun modules πŸ™‚

Thursdays: Human Rights – a two hour seminar going over the various degrees of human rights discussion. Pretty in depth, and definitely one of them that I’ve been looking forward to.
Religion and Globalization – this one is carried over from the Michaelmas Term since it is a 30 credit module. This one is interesting with good discussion, and relative projects, but its the one of which I feel a little lost in regarding theory and conceptual nature within theology and morality.
Race, Ethnicity, and the Otherness – Clearly, this one I am stoked for. It’s a 30-credit module in one term, so its quite heavy with regards to reading material. It is noted that not all the readings have to be completed prior to the seminar and lecture, but it’s pertinent to the discussion to be had. I mean, the first lecture requires a whole novel to be read..! The discussion and lecture topics for this one I have been eager to commence, because it will definitely assist me with my art practice’s concepts and theory.

So yep, that’s my Epiphany Term module listing until mid-March. Lots to do, lots to read, lots to learn. Yay! (insert nerdy smiley face here)

Peace out,

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

Dreaming of those Burger Eating Yesteryears


To you,

Being me – that is, being the worrier at times, the over thinker, the ‘GIMME SOMETHING TO DO!!’ person – its been slightly hard the past week readjusting to life here in Durham. I love living on my lonesome, and my flat is absolutely adorbs that I wouldn’t change that either, but, again, being me, I have had far too much time the past couple of days that I keep obsessing over the idea that one week ago I was eating a burger with someone whose company cannot be replaced and that I wish I could see everyday (oh, did I mention that I was a hopeless romantic? no? wellll now you know). I mean, you know you really enjoy being around somebody when you’re devouring an amazing burger, and that person still tops that delectable experience (also, if you didn’t know that I loved food – I mean really loved food – then again.. now you know). Anyways, the past few days have been long, empty, and ridiculously boring. I truly am enamoured with Durham, but when it gets pitch-black dark at 4:30PM, living on your own can get very lonely.

I’ve decided to make a list (under the pressure of my loving mother with whom I’ve been calling every night for the past few nights to just chat away the hours) of things to occupy my time. I figure I have 2 months here before Easter break. So let’s make that seem shorter, and specify 8 things to schedule in before then. Friends to visit. Places to travel to. Assignments to start on. Let’s go. Because people, I am not lying. THIS BOREDOM IS DRIVING ME CRAZY. No. Joke. I feel really down, I miss my close friends and my absolutely amazing best friend with whom I couldn’t ask for more (and as a bonus, he’s rather easy on the eyes πŸ˜‰ ), and I miss meeting for coffees, and coming home to see someone that is happy to see me, even if it’s just to go out and eat a burger. I even miss that burger. 😦

I don’t do well with masses amounts of spare time. It has been the hardest transition since being here as a traditional student, and no longer an art student. In art school, yeah I had my papers to research and write, and exams to study for, but with studio assignments you did not sit at a laptop or in the library and get stuff done. You carried your books with you, placed them down amongst your design, concept, installation plans and got your hands busy. Printing images. Testing experimental processes. Getting high off paint/spray adhesive fumes. Sitting in gallery spaces for hours on end plotting out your exhibition. Installing at 2 o’clock in the morning. Spending hours watching a massive car accident unfold outside your gallery space, whilst standing atop a ladder wondering if the tarp on the pavement was covering a corpse or just left behind on accident (and it was the latter, thank god..). THAT was busy. Don’t get me wrong – I am so thrilled to be here and take time to just research material, and formulate an argument based off such research with my art theories, and I do not regret taking a year to study as a traditional student. But sitting in a library or in a coffee shop or in my flat does not feel like working. I mean I could carry around a can of spray adhesive for old times sake, but I don’t think that encourages a healthy habit.

So anyways, that’s me. I’m bored. Severely and grumpily bored. And my mood’s been down in the dumps and homesick because of it. sigh.

Until next time,

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

It is Time for the Epiphany! (Term, that is)


This makes a walk in the cold a little bit better

To you,

The last time that I posted was on the last day of 2011 as I sat in a living room, going over the events of the year, still having difficulty in comprehending most of them. But, its been over two weeks since then so let’s catch up in a brief recap.

New Year’s Eve was just perfect πŸ™‚ I truly couldn’t have asked for a better one for the occasion. With the chap off at work until 11PM, it didn’t leave much up for planning, but not being a huge fan of large gatherings over New Year’s Eve it allowed me to stay at home, preparing a surprise meal for the dear boy. (I would post pictures, but they’re all on the dear boy’s camera.. and that’s by no means a hint to hurry up and send them to me.. πŸ˜‰ ) I got all gussied up, slipped on my 6-inch velvet black stilettos (this is me we’re talking about remember), and surprised him with a nice candle-lit dinner eating mediteranean chicken, vegetables, and a homemade dessert of strawberries hand-dipped in chocolate. For drinks, well I had forgotten to purchase those, so we had Mountain Dew.. you know, to keep us humble.. It was quiet, intimate, and made me smile πŸ™‚ And I think it made him happy too, which is even better xo.

On New Year’s day we started 2012 off right by going snowboarding! The weather wasn’t optimal, but we made the most of it. Sadly, my stressed out noggin was not able to fully enjoy the day – but as most of us know, my stressed out noggin tends to get in the way sometimes. It’s another one of my huge characteristic contradictions. I’m chill, adventurous, and love getting off the beaten path, but at then at times I’ve always been one to be overly cautious, the one to over-analyze situations, and the one to runaway – which is probably how I end up off the beaten path, come to think of it..! It was still nice spending time with him nonetheless (whether he feels the same way, is another question since I’m not always so pleasant when I’m stressed). Days leading further into 2012 were a mix of stress and relaxation – it didn’t help that I had essays to write and distract my procrastination/relaxation. Two weeks is just not enough to truly enjoy yourself when you have assignments due upon your return to school. I did get to see my lovely friends, catch up over cheese, coffees, random mixed drinks that I shall call the Vic Louise cocktail..? The Vixon Mix..? The Brit Spritz? Okay, so we’re still out on a name for my drink, (although one boy refers to them as my juice box drinkies), but I had a good time. I met with old professors, had lunches, and ate a lot of food.

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The winter holidays were lovely, with my family flying over for Christmas and spending it seeing lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins, and taking some time for me and them. I was sad to see it end, but am ready for this term to run its course. The day I arrived back in Durham (which took a total of 18hours from one airport to my eventual destination), it was a little rough sitting here on my lonesome, with two papers to complete. When I wasn’t being monopolized by writing and researching and editing, I just took some time to think, something of which I hope to get more time to do this term

I feel like 2012 is filled with so many amazing possibilities, but many of them cancel the others out. I know what I want in life, but I guess I’m still frightened by the sacrifices which they require. In some situations, I have never felt so lucky, but I guess with others I have been spoiled. My family has always given me the freedom to be with the trust that I’m doing what’s right. I’ve never been restricted in where I wanted to live, or what I wanted to study, or what I wanted to do when it came to my decisions in life. I’ve done many years of compromising my absolute wants for others, and so you think I would be used to it, but the thoughts still make me nervous (which is natural, I’m sure). A part of me is worried that I’ll never get to experience the things that mean so much to me with others, because my life is global.

Anyways, lots to think about and consider for 2012. Let’s just pray that I can enjoy the opportunities ahead of me, and not get too stressed out by the decisions needed to be made.

pray hard people, pray real hard..

Oh, and a quick thank you – upon my return to my flat in Durham, amongst all the homesickness and exhaustion, I was welcomed with a small pile of letters, gifts, and cards at my door that truly made me smile and feel the distance of my global nature squeeze in just a little bit closer πŸ™‚ For those of you who have joined in my letter writing pursuits, it means so much to me! I look forward to writing more soon! Bisous!!

Speak again soon,

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

Pic-chas.


What I Be Doin’, Fools.


Michaelmas Term is over.

Unbuckle, stuff belongings, train to London.

SURPRISE! I greet my family in the London Heathrow underground.

SURPRISE! Miners singin’, ballet boys dancin’. Billy Elliot in the West End.

Unbuckle, stuff more belongings, train back to Durham with family in tow.

Arrive in Durham, snifflin’ n sneezin’.

Tomorrow, Christmas holly and jolly for a Son family celebration.

Monday, see ya big bruv. 3 Sons left in Durham.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – Durham, Durham, Durham.

Unbuckle, stuff belongings, passport in hand, training back to London.

Oxford Street shoppin’.

Deck the halls and tra-la-la. A Dibble/Son 25th of December Christmas.

Rest and awake. A Tran/Son Boxing Day reunion.

December 27th. Passports in hand. Heathrow bound. And all my lovin’, I’m sending home to you. πŸ™‚ xxx

 

Coffee, Cake, and Vintage Books – A Walk Down the Durham Alleyways


Softly the sun rays peak through the curtains as the combination of morning light and my alarm ringing awaken me.

The last sight I saw before this moment were the stars sparkling over the rooftops as I lay to bed with hopeless dreams floating about, no energy left to spare.

With a chill outside seeping through these old window frames, I wrap up warm in a cardy, scarf and plush jacket before grabbing my cognac-coloured purse and fumbling with my keys out the door.

The air through town whispered by my ears, and the smells of stale cigarettes meeting the winter chill encompassed me.

My boots hitting stone-tiled roads and walkways, the Christmas market stalls crowding the square, and singers and musicians hitting a chord as coins fell at their feet.

Up the side alley, I stand close to the wall as if I am its supportive beams, as other pedestrians flow in the opposite direction.

I sit in the patio garden of this small, busy cafe with a milky latte frothing at the rim of its glass, and a holiday slice of raspberry sponge cake – all I was missing was a book to flip through.

With that thought in mind, I finish my tea-time snack, and head to the new bookstore in the attic. Small uneven steps lead you up the winding path until you’re standing in a small, intimate space of literature.

Books placed in paper bags, I leave after discussing art history with the owner for a few brief minutes. Down the winding blue steps, and back into the alley way. I shuffle through the tight crowds as vehicles squeeze their way through the narrow paths.

The walk was short, but peaceful. And now, on my couch, the sun is starting to set through the winter sky and everything in my flat seems still.

A Tale Full of Chapters Untold: Weeks filled with Laughter, and a Coffee Filter with Mould…


To you,

My hiatus has been a long one, as mentioned in my brief post a few days ago. But with very good reason, as November has flown by without a moment of flickering acknowledgement. I have decided though, since my exhaustion has still ceased to disappear completely from my mind’s functioning capabilities, that I will update you with my days past in a few separate postings – or ‘chapters,’ if you will.

So let us consider this to be Chapter 1, entitled:

Chapter I: Winter Holidays are Upon Us.. or something of similar ranging cheese-factor

For those of you whom are unaware, I shall be spending the Christmas portion of my winter holidays in England – something of which I have not done since 2005. But even more rare of an occasion is the fact that my entire family will be spending it together – myself, two siblings, and me ma – something of which has not happened in, oh, I don’t know, 5 or 6 years perhaps? I know, crazy, right? But alas, it is all of true tales. And I suppose if we are going to stay correct within the designation of dates, and with the 25th of December technically being the official celebration of Christmas (although, let’s not kid ourselves – we all know December being the month of Christ’s birth to be somewhat incorrect.. πŸ˜‰ ), technically we are not spending Christmas Day together. Instead, on the weekend of December 16th, the Son family will be celebrating in Durham with complete ignorance to the fact that it is not the 25th. I mean, let us evaluate this situation, shall we? In the modern, western world, what is the celebration of ‘Christmas’ so to speak, apart from the religiously affiliated reasoning? Is it not considered a time to be with family? Is it not a time to appreciate your loved ones? Is it not a time to feast on a delicious spread of roast veg, Yorkshire pudding, and meat? Or a time to run around mad amongst visiting friends and family? Is it not a time to be giving the gift of good tidings, and great joy? (Do I need to include a clip of the Vicar of Dibley’s Christmas lunch? Um – YEAH! YOUTUBE INTERMISSION!!)

Well, then – how will December 16th through 18th not be considered Christmas? To be honest, the religious affiliation with the way the holiday is spent is somewhat (and sadly) lost in western tradition, and in my household we don’t always have a Christmas tree, and we don’t really give gifts to one another. We spend it together, as Hallmark intended it to be spent – according to their cards, at least. And no, this is not an anti-religious message, but more so an explanation that the Christmas holidays are very important to me, but more so because I can spend it with my family, of whom live near and far.

Another question you may be pondering – why the 16th?? Well, dear friends, my brother will be in the land of Aussies on the 25th, and so to avoid another missed Christmas together, the 16th it is! And you know what I am finding to be an odd ‘adult’ realization? I am hosting our Christmas this year. In my flat. In Durham. How weird is that? Most kids go home for Christmas – the Sons are coming to me this year… another new one for the books! I am very ecstatic though, although I am also very sad to be missing out on the Trentonian Christmas Eve dinner tradition with one of my best lovelies back home, and the fact that my dear puppy is back in Canada as well. Spending some winter time in England with my family will be awesome, and I am definitely looking forward to it πŸ™‚ We will remain in Durham until mid week before we head to London to visit with my mum and dad’s families for the 25th. It will be my ma’s first Christmas in England in nearly 30 years, so for her, a definite special one!

Now, as for New Year’s. Slightly different plans. I will in fact be returning to North America for a fair amount of time before my next term commences in January to spend the latter portion of the holiday. I am beyond excited. I could be going anywhere in the planet, as long as my one reason for visiting was present with me, I would still be beyond excited. Location is completely irrelevant, and just like the holidays in general, for me, its the people you get to spend it with – not the events, the presents, the expectations, etc. but rather the people. I just recently purchased my plane ticket, and I am counting down the days πŸ™‚ I am definitely hoping to see a few other friendly faces, but one in particular… well… πŸ™‚

So that is my news on the upcoming winter holidays as my Michaelmas term slowly crawls to an end in a couple of weeks. What other chapters will follow? Well, the content will jump around from being inside a 17m-high snow globe in the middle of Durham Marketplace, a week-long apprenticeship consisting of 12-15hr work days, new photographic participation (the nerd inside of me lives on), and a day in the life of my life in Durham – I really want to illustrate the scenery of which I walk everyday, the atmosphere surrounding me, and life as an eternally confused Durham postgraduate student.

Until next time, and Chapter II of my tales, take care and speak soon.

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

Golden Hues and Brown Leather Shoes


Fall Fashion has arrived back in my life!

Silk yellow pencil skirt, ruby wool tights, brown leather oxfords. Fall Fashion has arrived back in my life!

To you,

I spent my early teatime afternoon in the cafe today. Nothing gets me more in the mood to be productive than sitting in the back of a cafe, in a brown leather brass buttoned chair, sipping on a latte and eating a pain-au-chocolat pastry. I sat with my necessary tools laid out in front of me and worked for a good three hours or so. Post leisurely productivity, I caught up on groceries and walked home. This is what I am adoring the most – walking. I’ve used public transport minimally within the city, and I have no complaints on the 20-30 minutes walk to and from work and school. The university sites are beautiful and peaceful, and even the busiest of roads of which I walk along are not jammed with honking traffic jams. The air is fresh and the colours of autumn are reminiscent of flickering candle flames and lush Tuscan yellows. Tonight, I head to a public lecture series and walk to the Castle to retrieve my pre-matriculation ‘class’ photograph of all the Castle Postgraduates. Will post when I am able… no surprise, I stick out quite vibrantly.. that’s your hint on finding me πŸ˜‰

Au revoir pour ce soir.

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

Mariah Robertson – Artist within the Photographic Medium


As I wondered the galleries at the Baltic Contemporary Art Center in Newcastle yesterday, I discovered an artist by the name of Mariah Robertson who is a New York based artist working within the photographic medium, and more specifically, within darkroom processes alone. Her work, which spans over meters of silver gelatin and metallic photo paper is clearly in discussion revolving around the process of experimentation and boundaries regarding photography as an artistic medium. Collages of imagery with photograms, the viewer can find obvious to hidden visuals of nature, human presence, and quite typically, nudity. Having begun my Master’s degree in Durham over the past month, finding an artist whose work is so far from my own, yet at the same time what I’ve found to be of strong inspiration within the topics of creation and art throughout the medium of photography, has been a reminder of sorts that this is a medium of which I remain to hold great passion for. Her sculptural display of work is something I truly adored since I am not enamored to frames (as many of you know), and she clearly has a physical relationship with her work and wants the audience to have the same. My views are not in depth, nor thought provoking, but rather personal; an internal ignition to stay connected with my passion for the medium and desire to explore it further. xo

Mariah Robertson

Mariah Robertson

Mariah Robertson

Mariah Robertson

Mariah Robertson - Elbosco

Mariah Robertson - Elbosco

Mariah Robertson

Self-portrait

It’s Been a Long Week. Here Are Some Pics In Lieu of Words For Now.


Β Durham City from Wharton Park

Durham City from Wharton Park

A 6-year gap reunion!

Best friends since the mid-90's, we met up after 6-years of no visits :o) Now, she in Oxford, me in Durham, and not an ounce of cool between us.

Out for lunch in Durham with Oliver

Out for lunch in Durham with Oliver

Out for lunch in Durham with Oliver

Out for lunch in Durham with Oliver

Durham City Market

Durham City Market

Durham Food Festival

Durham Food Festival

Durham Food Festival

Paella... lots and lots of Paella

Baltic Contemporary Art Centre - Turner Prize Exhibition

Baltic Contemporary Art Centre - Turner Prize Exhibition

A brief note To You,

As mentioned, its been a long week. From last Saturday to today, what has occurred is the following: a weekend visit from my brother simultaneously added with a rendez-vous between best friends whom hadn’t seen each other in over six years also referred to as the Epic Reunion of Ariana (me) and Karazlactim (G); 2 full days working on my feet for the Durham University Careers Fair; 2 days of modules; 3 job interviews with 1 offer and 2 call-backs; a trip to Newcastle to apply for my National Insurance Number and a check-in at the Turner Prize 2011 exhibitions; a lecture through my department with David Mepham, the Director for Human Rights in the United Kingdom; and a lecture with David Miliband, MP for South Shields. Brilliant week, but a long one. Hope the photos suffice for now as I must run, because I’ve a bun in the oven – literally.. I’m baking bread as we speak… the metaphoric translation would make this a rather busy week with loads more gossip to share than I care for at the moment.

πŸ™‚

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

Questionably Odd, yet Described with a Self-Termed Synonym of ‘Endearing’


To you,

So for the weekend, of which I thought I would have to force myself to find things to occupy my spare time with, I have ended up sitting here at my re-arranged and reorganized work setup hoping that I will be able to complete everything before my exhaustion kicks in. First of all, my adapting to this whole living on my lonesome deal is going somewhat the way any new found relationship does. It’s all rather new and exciting with moments of giddy butterflies mangling each other inside your tummy-tum-tum, and smiles and wide-eyed thoughts dreaming of all the brand new experiences to come. But then once in a while, your mind starts to ponder on the effort and re-evaluation of all things new and prior which will affect your new found love. To clarify with points of which I am sure to expand on in the coming weeks and months –

Point A: Eating habits

The cliche yet poignant ideal as to how one cooks for oneself – emphasis on the ONE. I’m not sure as to what my battle within this topic will be. It will be either not eating due to not needing to cook for anyone else, or the complete opposite being that I will be making large portions still out of habit, and in turn will eat twice the portion as to what I would typically. I mean, no one’s watching me. My appetite can finally be expressed in all its glutenous glory. Thus far, its been the prior. My fridge currently houses a loaf of bread, a tub of Greek yoghurt, butter spread, a half empty bag of mushrooms (the healthy kind, not the fun kind), and milk. My freezer: ice cubes. My pantry: pasta galore, cans of tomatoes, salt and peppah, granola bars, nutella and peanut butter, and cooking ingredients for bread making. No meat. No snacky yum yums. And might I mention that I just went grocery shopping today… and yet this is all that I have. In one day, I ate nothing but toast, yoghurt with strawberries, and Wheatabix cereal. I made myself cook the other night – and mind you, I absolutely love to cook and I am sure that I will dive into it as the winter months ensue and my stomach craves the warmth of all things baked. But right now, I am adjusting. On one hand, I am eating healthy, although perhaps not enough of my healthy indulgences as I should be. I’m pretty sure I’ve already lost weight – my freshman 15 always seems to be the opposite as reputed. Anyways, let’s move on to –

Point B: Foolish celebrations

Within my first few days of settling into my flat, everything I did would be followed by the declaration of “I can do this, because this is MY apartment. MINE!” I kid you not. I would actually express this in an audible fashion with a firm, slightly crazy but let’s just say endearing, assurance. I’d be doing the laundry – “I can do this at midnight, because this is MY apartment!” Arranging my decorative tidbits – “I can put this on the mantle because this is MY apartment!” Eating biscuits and tea in bed in the morning – “I can be here, because this is MY apartment! MINE!!” This one would slowly follow by the depressing realization that it was 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and I was getting crumbs everywhere… “I can bitch about my crumbs, because they’re MINE!” Endearing. Oh, so endearing. Right? But in all seriousness, I would do this and am still doing this when I purchase something cute for my flat, or rearranged my furniture. My schedule is mine. My grocery list is mine. My spare time is mine, and oh my God do I appreciate that! Although it can get a little lonely, wishing I had a familiar face to call up and visit, but alas I must adjust. I think I’m dealing with such in an okay manner, however. A therapist may say I have possession issues, but that’s a whole different conversation πŸ™‚

Thus far, I think I’m rather happy living on my lonesome. I’ve managed decently as well, I think. I found a flat in a perfect location with all the amenities of which I require through my own online hunting and researching from across the pond. I arranged my bills, internet and phone installation from abroad. Set-up my bank account, and researched my options for a phone plan. I figured out the bus system – something of which I have always failed to do in every previous location of which I’ve lived! Today, I organized my office with my new printer which I’ve already used to print out around 200 pages worth of reading lists, seminar schedules, syllabi, etc. I am really rather comfortable here, and I’m very, very pleased with this. I think now more than ever I was truly in need of some space and time to think to myself. I don’t plan on being a recluse as such, but I definitely needed something of my own.

Anyways, lets cut it here for now. I’ll have more to update on soon as I start my courses this week. I already have my readjustment thoughts bubbling regarding that, and I’m sure to expand on that tomorrow evening πŸ™‚

Much love and peace.

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

Fluster Dustered


Walking to Campus

Walking to Campus

Hiya,

Its a rainy grey day with a slight chill outside in Durham today. Misty raindrops sprinkle the pavement, and no noise from pedestrians or strollers are being heard in comparison to the other weekends when the streets become quite busy with markets, shoppers, and leisure seekers. Indoors, its been a little on the cold side with no sun peering through the windows, and the heating not kicking on until this evening for some reason. Luckily I am used to living in drafty old buildings, so a good blanket and a scarf have served me well this afternoon. And a hot cup of tea never hurts either.

I’ve been rather flustered with fleeting thoughts of this and that for the past few days, and today with the melancholy atmosphere outside its influenced a rather melancholy cloud in the air within the interior walls. My mind is just bouncing all over the place, and no single thought can be tamed. I’m excited for courses to get going so that perhaps I’ll have further distraction from having to constantly think about my life now, then, and later on. So many things are floating within a giant thought bubble and I’m having difficulty organizing such thoughts into individually categorized thought bubbles, whether organized by priority, similarity, or what ever else.

I think I’m an odd contradiction when it comes to my personality and traits. On one hand, and most knowingly so amongst my classmates, I am rather anal and particular when it comes to organization with some matters. I like to know my schedule; my plan. I like to have my routines written out and organized, and I can find myself uneasy when not given enough instruction if a particular result is required. However, on the other hand, I find myself uncomfortable and saddened when limitations are hung over my bouncing nature in regards to my life, my goals, my dreams, and any other direction of which I am striving towards.

Anyways, I’m sitting with these random thought bubbles today.

On a more Durham-front, I walked around the area to explore the scenery around me yesterday. I strolled to Wharton Park which is a 3 minute walk behind my house. With plush green grass, mossy grounds, and open views, it was a breath of fresh air. The scenery of Durham from the observation platform is stunning with the Durham Cathedral and Castle standing out in their glory, and the true countryside seen in the distance amongst the backdrop to the town itself. I walked around in the autumn sun for about an hour with my camera, capturing sights but mainly textural qualities of the grounds around me. I’m sure someone would have grabbed an amusing photo if they had photographed me and the other picture snapping park-strollers at that moment. On one side, a group of observers taking photos of the landscape looking out off the observation platform, gazing into the sunlight as it hit the ancient town. And then on the other side of the photo would be me, with my back turned towards the landscape and sunshine snapping close up textural images of the tree bark. Some people looked a little confused. Nothing I’m not used to, really. πŸ™‚

The day prior to this, which would be a Thursday I believe, I handled some frustrating school business (registration.. I won’t even start on that front). However on my way back from campus as I walked through the market square there was a small medieval fair going on, and with food stalls filling the air with a gorgeous aroma, I strolled on through and lo and behold, I find what I’ve been looking for – a booth selling leather bound journals filled with delicate linen pages for a very pleasant cost. In my standard nerdy particularity, I stood around handling each book, flipping through the pages, comparing binding methods, and then eventually made my pick. For sketches, writings, and general wonderment, I was ecstatic over my purchase πŸ™‚

Well, I’ll leave it here for now. Much to get to, I suppose. I think I’ll spend the weekend trying to think through everything that’s floating around my head. For those of you that have kept in touch with me, its been a very up and down year and I think its all starting to wear down on me slightly. Oh well. :-/

Take care and talk soon.

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

P.S – Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians!! I wish I could join in the Thanksgiving feasts with you xoxo