Vacationing on a Budget: How I booked our European holiday

To You,

So to procrastinate on my dissertation writing, something of which I greatly excel at already, I decided to recap on some of my travel planning strategies. I am a budget traveler, however, I also appreciate comfort and ease. Mixing the two is extremely possible, doable, however requires much research and time consuming scheduling. This trip is definitely not as re-creatable for others seeing as for one location I took advantage of being a resident in said locale and therefore did not have to fork out hotel prices. However, here are my tips and the resources I definitely spent hours researching in order to secure the best prices for what we were wanting.

1. Accommodation

I’ve tried many sites. A ridiculous amount. Thus far I cannot confirm that this site will always provide you with the cheapest results, however it lumps numerous other websites into one comparable data force of which I love – organized? yes? We are friends. ๐Ÿ™‚ For hotels I solely went through a newly discovered gem called You enter your location (as specific as you please if you know the area or street or landmark of which you hope to be closest to), alter the price settings, and peruse the selection by price, distance to your search, or rated quality. Conveniently it also relays hostel results which is always a plus for the budget backpacker. Since we were booking for two people and quite honestly did not want to share rooms with others, we opted out of the hostel options since booking a double bed in a 1-occupant room can deem pricey as they typically charge a room rate per individual. You can view other website price offers, and to be on the safe side, call up the hotel you are thinking of booking and see if they have any other available rates. In Paris we stayed at Hotel le Petit Trianon and during our arrival the manager made it known that he personally would have offered a better rate – generously, he gave me cash back on my reservation so to not over charge us as it is written in the small black print that some travel sites charge a commission fee which is already calculated in the cost of the room. At a 10% charge, this can add up. But Trivago basically lists a collection of travel sites offering up deals, and I definitely found some decent ones, especially for Cassis, France where we stayed at Hรดtel Le Cassiden.

Hรดtel Le Cassiden – window view onto streets below, water (not seen) was to the right.

2. Transport

We opted for trains and planes for this trip, no car rentals. For the UK we were merely bouncing between London and Durham and therefore EastCoast was the best option for the best prices. For the Eurostar however, look around. Their website does not always offer the best rates, and even though by a small margin, I found tickets for 10 pounds cheaper on separate sites such as TGV-Europe. In the end, always compare. It takes time and much organization, but it can be worth it if you are aiming to save as much as you can whilst still enjoying your travels. Times of day can affect the cost substantially – trains early in the morning and late at night within the UK can result in saving 20+ pounds per ticket. But again, consider the convenience factor for your trip.

For flights, I researched a lot. Again the convenience factor goes into whether you choose trains or planes for long-distance travel. At times flights were cheaper, however due to their flight times and the fact that you have to check in 2 or so hours before departure made trains a slightly more convenient option. The two well-known budget airlines in Europe are definitely EasyJet and RyanAir. Look around though as new airlines are popping up quickly, such as MonarchAirlines. In my planning I even went as far as planning by airport departure, knowing that some airports in London were more accessible than others depending on the time of travel. And yes, I did opt to save a night of accommodation by sleeping in the airport for one evening as the flight was an early 7AM departure, and we would have to be there by 4:30AM for check-in. So on that note – make sure you double check how to get to the airport. For example in London, easy direct routes via train may not get you there in time if you fly at 6AM or so. However, buses such as EasyBus do offer 24hour service to and from Gatwick, Stansted, and Luton into central London. They do also offer trips to and from Heathrow terminals, however not as directly accessible to central London as the other airport routes. Like I said, research. ๐Ÿ™‚

3. Location, location, location

For our trip I had one special locale of which I wanted to book, however I had no clue as to whereย specifically I wanted to go for our romantic getaway. Having that flexibility aided me in being able to pick the most appropriate and affordable for our agenda. In the end I narrowed in on the south of France, and at first was focusing in on Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez – you know, the classic beach fronts. However, I was well aware as to the cost of visiting said destinations, and being July, the crowds would not have assisted in a ‘romantic’ feel, nor a relaxing one. I adore all those locations, but I was also in the mood for something different, somewhere less known, and most definitely more comfortable for my wallet as this was my surprise gift for me and him for our first year together and year of long-distance (I am a full-time postgraduate student holding a part-time job.. my cash does not flow without loads of turbulence). I soon then considered some medieval areas such as Annecy which is gorgeous, and some other mountain areas, but in the end I realized that I had chosen those original destinations along the Cรดtes d’Azur for a reason: relaxation, sun, water, peace. So after much RESEARCH (my favourite theme for this post apparently), I somehow came along the not highly-written about town called Cassis in Provence-Alpes-Cรดtes d’Azur. So much ended up being perfect about this find.

โ€ข A) It secured the romantic factor, as Cassis is a port town along the water, small in size, with amazing food and views.
โ€ข B) It was affordable. I mean ‘oh my God YES!’ affordable. I got a hotel on the water (Hรดtel Le Cassiden) for what I was paying for mediocre hotels in London, and it was contemporary with a beautiful window view onto the market and water.
โ€ข C) Not touristy compared to it’s neighboring cities such as Nice. The crowds were present in the magnitude of market goers on a weekend visiting their local farmer’s stalls.
โ€ข And D) Friendly. The locals were sweet, and being the small town their English was minimal at some locations, but they were not rude nor impatient with you. I speak French (although not fluent), and I conversed pleasantly with many.

Another plus – Marseille is a short 25 minute train ride away, and therefore we flew directly from London to Marseille for cheap. There are also several gorgeous cities surrounding Cassis, so if you’re there for a while you can alter your destination easily by a short train ride. And regarding beaches – people may wonder if the beaches compare to Nice and other French Riviera hotspots. I shall post this photo and let you decide. And please, take observation at the amount of people on this sunny afternoon in July.

Calanques d’En Vau, Cassis

Side note – again, research comes in handy. I discovered that this specific beach and the most gorgeous in the area is pretty much only accessible by boat or kayak. So what did I hunt down? A company which would rent me a boat. It took some time, but I found them and it was well worth the extra expense ๐Ÿ™‚ Plus they were super helpful and easy to work things out with: JCF-Boat Services.


If nothing else, I am a researcher when I know I have a goal in mind – especially a financial goal. We never stayed in anywhere but central locations, all hotels with private rooms and only one had shared bathroom facilities. I know London well, and so I knew where I wanted to stay in that city. Paris, I did not but after doing some reading chose St. Germain-de-Prรจs which was exactly what I was looking for as we walked everywhere, except underground trains to and from Gare de Lyon, and Gare Nord which is where we arrived into the city and departed from back to London. Cassis, again totally worth the extra time and research. I could not have chosen a more perfect location for the relaxing portion of our trip, and again, not much is written on this stunning French town.. I may do a single post solely on Cassis because a paragraph on it does not do it justice.

I’m telling you – research is well worth the time and organizational stress you may experience the first couple of days of planning your trip. And if to stress one more thing beyond research – book ahead of time. Give yourself time to change your mind, alter your agenda, or research some more for sanity purposes. And again – check for cancellation charges on accommodation especially. Unless you are 100% on your choice, something else may pop up with a better deal or location. That, or your schedule may change. Just do what you have to do for no regrets.

In the end, I will say finding and reserving our trip to Cassis made me feel quite proud of my travel skills – I wanted exactly what I received, and it was overall a beautiful experience. I highly recommend this place to anyone – I’ve many tips to offer up as well if you’d care to hear, and of which I plan to write on shortly ๐Ÿ™‚

Until next time, bon voyage!

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

P.S – Check out my previous post with more photos from our trip. xo

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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, Hรดtel 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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-Prรจs 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve Taken ‘International Studies’ into A Whole New Context..

To you,

Good day to you all from my cozy little flat in Durham. The birds, as I type, are chirping away as the sun is quietly peering out from behind these grey clouds. It’s a lovely-ish day that started out with a nice lie-in, and some travel planning there on afterwards.

Yes, that’s right – travel planning. One of my favourite hobbies and talents, it’s a shock I never became a travel agent (but never say never, am I right!).ย This time around, however, the planning is much more enjoyable/stressful, because I am planning the most spectacular trip (it’s how you word things that sells it to the buyer)ย for my lovely bloke whom is making his way across the ocean on his first embarkment upon Europe. And so once the initial overseas plane ticket was purchased, it was the silent ‘go-ahead’ for me to start finding every deal in existence for the most travel-attractive months in Europe: June and July. With the Queen’s Jubilee, and the London Summer Olympics, and school kids and their families on the ‘family holiday prowl’, I knew that if I didn’t start NOW (and I say that with the utmost sincerity and due diligence) that deals would fly out the window and into the pockets of people not as deserving as I (OK, perhaps that’s a slightly over-exaggerated, perhaps obnoxious, self-centered assumption).ย 

So, traveling. Goes without saying, the accompanying ‘deals’ to that phrase is imperative in my book. I do not travel frivolously. Maybe one day I will go on a luxurious holiday, but not yet, and not this summer as millions flock to London. I’m still a pro at my game, and I refuse to retire just yet. Now, deals – they do not have to imply that you will seekย ONLY the cheapest options available. You have to make the trip itself worthwhile. And so I did my best to negotiate wants and needs, and I think I’ve managed to book a trip that I wouldn’t deem the cheapest that I would/could have booked, but definitely one packed with hidden deals resulting from a stupid amount of research. And I do mean STUPID.

Trains – deals pop on on occasion, which mean they disappear as such as well. Flights can be the same, as many people know, and sometimes you have to bite the bullet and grab what you think is a fair price. Sure, it could drop again later. But it could also sell out completely, and you’ve lost any chance at getting a seat on that line. I lost a couple good deals because of that – nothing huge, but definitely a hit to my ego, although I had my reasons for hesitating. In the end, for the UK, and for France ended up finding me discounts on tickets not listed on sites like,, etc. Hotels – new favorite website isย which finds almost every deal on every travel site, and minimizes that to a list of the cheapest hotel/hostel/apartment booking site. Go by location, price, star rating, averaged review ratings – it made finding deals quick and easy for Paris and London in my case.

Anyways, I’m pumped. I’ve not ‘vacationed’ in a long time. And if anyone has any specific advice for Paris, France – I’m all ears. Shockingly, I have never been to the French city – a train away from London of which I lived for a year, and have visited on several occasions since I was 8 months old. So, arrondissements, cafรฉs, parks/jardins – hit me with ’em, folks!

ร€ bientรดt!

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

The Equation of Being Dozy

To you,

Another week commences and it seems like the kick-off to the hectic season of the remaining 1 month of the Epiphany Term. Absolute craziness, if you ask me. I have one more month of modules before all I’m left with are summatives, and dissertation components. Ri. Di. Cu. Lous. [<- the deliberate separation of syllables by the usage of multiple periods within the word merely emphasizes the utter nonsense that this all foreshadows]

Not only does today commence the chaotic season of final assignments and thesis construction, but it also begins the elongated season of travel. In about an hour [I should probably pack, huh] I leave for London for another quick getaway to see family, ending exhibits, and what not. Back at 1:30AM on Thursday, I then have a full day of modules throughout the remainder of that day. One week later, off to the Highlands. Two weeks following that, Berlin. One day following that, Toronto. 5 days following that, a lovely 8 hour drive to Indianapolis. ‘Oy’ to the ‘Vey’.

I think my brain has been prepping for this ‘season’, if you will, because it has still decided to remain somewhat dormant. A little too ‘chillaxed’ on the laziness measuring scale. On the up side, however, I have been in good spirits as of late in comparison to the weeks past, which is a nice refresher. [Perhaps moments of glee and euphoria equate to a sustained dormancy of air-headed doziness? Einstein? Anyone?]

Things feel like they’re going well this term. I’m… happy? Still a weird emotion to grasp onto, me thinks, but it seems to sum up my mood. I’m so thankful for those in my life right now, and am still bewildered as to how some people came to enter my life, because it seems like the odds were against us. It seems as if the moment I was able to breathe, inhale the deep reflections of clarity and peace with oneself, the world shifted and I was confronted with the friendship that I never thought possible to find. Feeling hopeless and completely disheartened, on that last breath of innocent naivety they squeezed into my life before I could give up and build my walls to keep everyone out and at a distance. Overall it made me keep a remaining ounce of faith in continuing to dream about the unlikely, or the unbelievable. I think that’s what’s keeping me going right now. And right now, there’s nothing more that I could ask for. ๐Ÿ™‚

Except for maybe some coffee. Ohhh how I could go for a coffee right now.

Will update later on London and the Kiefer and Greyson exhibits ๐Ÿ™‚

Ciao ciao,

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

I Be Trippin’, Yo.

To you,

I am sure that there is plenty for me to be working on. However, caught up in the flickering moments of free time this week, I have grown rather bored. I’ve two readings left for this week, 1 assignment, and the completion of one power point presentation. Apart from that, zip. I feel as though this week is the calm before the storm, however. Only 70 pages of reading, and one presentation? I feel something troublesome brewing beneath the cobble stone roads of Durham.

If I were to look ahead on my planned out calendar listing due dates and presentations for the remainder of the Epiphany Term, I would notice a quick rise in activity approaching.

But alas, here I type, shrugging off busy times as if it were apocalypse.

This week overall has been rather uneventful, with a few personal tasks accumulating on my to-do list. Trips to book is #1. Numero uno. As quiet as this week is, I do have a few trips coming up in the next couple of weeks. February 20th I’m headed back down to London to visit big bruvah and Georgina, and to catch the last few days of Anselm Kiefer’s exhibit at the Bermondsey White Cube galleries and Grayson Perry’s exhibition “The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman” at the British Museum. Those few days will be packed with excellent visuals.

Anselm Kiefer: Il Mistero delle Cattedrali

Grayson Perry: Tomb of Unknown Craftsman

Following those few days in London, I will return to further assignments being due (another reason as to why I should be filling these soon-to-be fleeing moments of spare time getting way ahead on projects). About a week following these events, I will have formative essays due, and a trip to the Scottish Highlands with my brother and a few of his mates to drive around and climb whatever mountains we find ourselves at the base off. My kind of trip, to be frank. So for about 4 days we will roam Scotland until the Sunday when my brother and myself depart the group to head back to Durham for the night (about 1.5 hours on the train from Edinburgh). It is then that I will bid farewell to the big bro as he will be moving to Perth, Australia the following weekend. It has been a refreshing change living in the same country as him for the past few months, as it had been over 4 years since we had lived in the same continent. Perth will be a trip I will cover soon… not very soon, but soon.

Following my bounce around the highlands, I will be in Durham for the remaining 2 weeks of the Epiphany Term – two weeks. What is so monumental about those two weeks that I purposely lay weight to their significance with the assistance of bold text, you ask? Well, it is my final two weeks of courses in Durham. Cray-cray if you ask me, but I’m ready. Within those two weeks I will have 4 assignments due and two presentations. Not too bad, me thinks. Finishing things on March 16th, I will be in Durham for almost a week before departing once again (or at least that’s the plan). I’m planning on going to Berlin for 4 days to attend the Arts in Cultural Diplomacy conference of which I am nerdily giddy about. Nothing has been finalized, and deposits have not been submitted, but I have a place secured for the next week if I choose to attend, which I am very much leaning towards right now. It would be an excellent opportunity to attend forums and lectures based around the subject matter of which I am planning on doing my dissertation on.

Directly following the conference in Berlin – a city I love and adore – I will be flying home to Canada land ๐Ÿ™‚ I am most definitely excited to go home to Trenton, finally see and play with my cuddle bug Emma Tugboat, and visit with close friends and family. I’ll have work to complete during the visit, but I’m feeling pretty good about it all – much more so than last term.

Emma Bear Tugboat, the Awesomest Welsh Corgi in the World (awaiting rebuttle from the Queen)

After spending about a week in Canada, I will venture down to Indianapolis to see my lovely chap for what should be a ridiculously busy few weeks since he will be culminating his thesis work, and I will be working towards mine. Even if all we have time for are a few enthusiastic high-fives in passing everyday, it will be worth it to see him even in the caffeine-depleted grumpiness (remind me of this when I am stressing out over my piles of work, s’il vous plait? ;-)). I will be in North America until the near end of April, when I will return to Durham to hand in my assignments and finish my thesis proposal before handing that in on May 4th.

And then…. we wait.

So anyways, all of these trips will be occurring within less than a one and a half month time span. Nuts! But, me likey. Financially, it’s going to be a stretch (mainly for Berlin since that was unexpected and so close to my trip home), but I’ll make it work. I want to get this show on the road, because right now I’m feeling the anticipation and doing my best to get ahead before I become swamped with trips and assignments.

Tonight, however, I would rather watch a movie and eat nachos. It’s a shame I have neither a selection of movies, or nachos. :-/

Instead I’ve sat here on my couch typing, sifting through images, and attempting to finish up a power point presentation. I have been sifting through thoughts as per usual as well, trying to figure out a way to manage all the components of my life as they occur in the present, and as I foresee them challenging one another in the near to far-off future. I feel rather silent in such thoughts, not quite ready to diverge from the inner dialogue that’s been occurring for the past couple of weeks or so.

I look forward to the coming weeks as they rev up for action! I’m really enjoying my modules this term, which obviously helps when you’re drowning in an avalanche of readings: it’s an avalanche that you desperately want to ride upon rather than hide beneath a rock waiting for it to stop. [That statement will prevent me from ever getting hired within an avalanche rescue team.] We’ll see – my posts within those weeks could express highly contradicting sentiments ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, I’ll leave it there. I’ll be writing more letters/postcards this week ๐Ÿ™‚

Peace, love, and passer-by high fives!

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

The City Where People from Dublin Have Irish Accents.

On Friday, January 20th after a short evening shift at work, I hopped on the train and arrived in London at 1:00 AM. Saturday was then filled with lots of food, a much anticipated trip to the Tate Modern, and an evening filled with more food, family, The Chakras (a band from Dublin, and friends of my brother’s) playing at The Borderline in central London, and a night cap at ‘The Maple Leaf’, a Canadian pub in Covent Garden. So here are some pics and vids of the weekend events. Enjoy xoxoxo

January 20th, 2012

I’m not a big celebrator of my birthdays, but I’m getting better at accepting its acknowledgment. It’s typically a personal day for me, and so starting last year I decided that I would purchase myself something small on the notion that it’s ‘Victoria Day’ or what’s better known as ‘Present Day’ amongst close peeps. A little gift for me, and that’s it. So tonight I work for a few hours, then head to the train station ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekender packed. Let's Bounce.

ย Ready to bounce to London for a quick weekend getaway. My prezzie to myself. PEACE! 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx


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.. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ I am definitely hoping to see a few other friendly faces, but one in particular… well… ๐Ÿ™‚

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

I Have Returned From Whence I Came. Well, Not Really, but I Was Hoping for Some Kind of Dramatic Proclamation of My Blogging Return.

To you,

Yes, I have been rather rubbish at writing for the past couple of weeks. For many different reasons I took a slight hiatus from the blogging-sphere, and now with the assistance of returned power to my lovely MacBook Pro, I am briefly here to proclaim a continuing existence on this little diddy.

Reasons for my hiatus: well, they vary somewhat. From the emotional and mental to the electrical, my oh my what a tale of such woes and fury these thoughts could dispel. Okay, not as such, but what a great description for my futuristic romance novel debut if I ever decide to choose that authorship path in life, eh? In all honesty, there were emotional, mental, and electrical dysfunctions of sorts but none so woeful and filled with fury. I have been having some on and off bits of stress and worry causing my moods to hit a rather low slum. I obviously miss those back home, but there are some definite significant kinks in my situation of which make living so far away that much harder. I’m still kicking though! Also, the battle of landing employment on this side of the pond has been rather frustrating, to say the absolute least. I have lived the past four years only being able to work a legal set amount of 20hrs/week as an International student in the U.S. and now here, I am fully legal to work whatever I can manage. And I have not been able to find anything past 20hrs/week. Having struggled for the past month being here without working – it truly has driven me mad some days – I have now found a ‘Casual’ position within catering at Durham University which is providing me with substantial wages to live. And when I say ‘live’ I by no means mean food, coffee, mobile phone bill (although that’s probably the least of the three). I of course mean rent, and rent alone. So I can live indoors, but I’ll be skin and bones. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am rather pleased to have found work though finally, because the few of you of whom I’ve spoken to most definitely know that my mood has suffered. So to those few, I will send you my employer’s address and you can mail him a letter thanking him for my halt in depressing phone calls and messages ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

In addition to said employment, I have also landed a week’s long gig of which I am extremely enthused with. I managed to secure a position as a Project Apprentice with the upcoming Lumiere Festival, which is a huge light-based art event in Durham. With local, national, and international artists collaborating and creating numerous light installations throughout the city, it is organized by a creative projects team from London and I’ll be working with them while they’re in the city. It also includes numerous workshops which will give further insight into what working within artistic related events on the grand scale entails. This apprenticeship alone pays almost a month’s work at my other job, so I’ll be banking a decent penny and working with people within the arts sector. Big air high fives all around!!

Apart from my employment updates, school is going well – the readings are still somewhat foreign to me and I’m having some difficulty with the fact that I am so academically behind these young grad students, having never studied European political history, or any political history for that matter. I’m indulging in some academic lectures of which I’m enjoying, such as the David Miliband lecture, and the lecture with the head of the Human Rights UK. More are approaching next week regarding the Arab Spring and other relative matters.

Having mentioned this to others, and possibly within my writings as well, I feel as though this was the year of all years thus far where me living on my own has been the right move. I’ve always wanted to experience living on my own, but have never had the financial means or opportunity to do so. It’s still a stretch here regarding finances, but I’m managing. I’ve definitely hit emotional and mental realizations in reference to the healing processes of which I’ve never given myself the time to ponder over in regards to numerous occasions tracing all the way back to Purdue (2003) and possibly even prior. I feel like my mind is slowly realizing that I have no roadblocks in making my way through the healing process – no roommates, flatmates, awkward unannounced interruptions, etc. I’ve a schedule, and I’ve my own space and time. Its been most definitely difficult the past couple of weeks, in trying to sort out my post-postgraduate plans because there is so much I want to start experiencing without hesitation, but unfortunately many of my dreams take place in numerous varying locations, and do not correlate with the others. Its been a struggle, and quite a significant one causing many days of feeling quite grey.. neither here, nor there. And as I mentioned, I have very significant things of which mean the most dearest of all my experiences right now and it can be very challenging to experience said things with my current set of events, a.k.a studying in Durham. I hate to be one of those people, but yes, I am sadly and pathetically complaining and crying over all the wonderful things occurring in my life right now. Go on. Looooaaaathe me. But to be quite honest, I think I am coming to realize and witness the surfacing of much hurt and pain that I’ve experienced over the past many years, which is refreshing to see it come to light, but not quite an assisting factor with all other stress occurring in the present! Oh well, one can’t control everything… or at least I haven’t discovered how to do so just yet..!

So that’s me right now. Part-time employed. Fantastic opportunity coming up in the next couple of weeks within the arts sector. Financing the dream of living indoors. And spending such a dream moping in said indoor space. Oh, and I’ve mailed out a bunch of letters, and more will be sent in the next few days. Watch those mailboxes people. I’ve yet to create my postcards, so you’ll have to settle for the even more old school letter writing. Pen and paper. My two most loved tools ๐Ÿ™‚

To add a brief catch-up to the not-so-brief tale of my woes and sorrows, here’s my latest timeline to catch you up even further!
Oct. 14 – Oliver (bruvah) and Georgina (pesty bestie) came to Durham in two separate yet highly coincidental visits
Oct. 17 – interviewed for Lumiere Festival, and received an offer ๐Ÿ™‚
Oct. 19 – Human Rights UK lecture (awesome awesome awesome)
Oct. 21 – went to Baltic Contemporary Art Centre for the Turner Prize exhibit in Newcastle
Oct. 21 – David Miliband lecture (fantastical)
Oct. 28 – did some temp work in a kitchen and was oddly offered a catering/front of house position literally as I stepped in the door
Oct. 29 – went to London for Oliver’s 29th birthday shindig
Oct. 30 – mysteriously misplaced my laptop charger in Oliver’s apartment only for it to be found after I had returned to Durham, therefore eliminating all computer usage until today
Oct. 31 – started my new job
Nov. 1 – discovered a small contemporary gallery in Durham which was to open an exhibit from the Tamarind Institute in New Mexico featuring one of my fave printmakers, Jim Dine’s pieces
Nov. 4 – my grand return to this blog thing, and my first night working a Durham formal dinner
Tomorrow – I shall longboard my way to the gallery to gaze at the Lithography featured pieces and attend a lecture from some art folk from London and abroad
Nov. 14 – 21st – Lumiere Festival and Apprenticeship take place
Dec. 7 – completion of the Michaelmas Term
Winter Hols – ???xoxoxoxox????

That’s me. How’s you?

Peace & love,

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

A Moment of Clarity and Honesty… in the middle of the night in London

To you,

It’s apparently 3:10 in the morning, something of which already gives me a moment of clarity as I thought the digital analogue reading was to read something around the sort of 1AM, perhaps as late as 1:30AM. Apparently I’ve been up for the past 3 hours – not quite sure as to what I’ve been pre-occupying myself with as, I have just said, I thought only an hour had past since my eyes peeked open at midnight. What’s worse is that I only went to sleep at 11:00PM with heavy eyelids, something of which I thought summoned a good night’s sleep. Clearly, I was just in need of a nap. Wonderful.

Anyways, this post has already rerouted itself from its original purpose. So back on track, here we go.

As just a mere few sentences ago I stated, yes, I have been functionally awake since midnight. Thinking it was one of those awakening moments when your natural body clock clicks itself on right before the alarm goes off, I thought, “Wow, its 6AM already and I feel pretty damn good.” Negative. My disappointment in my 1 hour ‘nap’ was not quite on the levels of theatrical, but most definitely more dramatic than it should have been to be classified within regular persons’ standards. And so I sat, somewhat anxious wondering what I should do to fill my time, and perhaps encourage a sleepy-time relapse. Computer? No. Internet surfing would just add to my anxiety I think. Letter writing? No. Although I’m sure someone would have received a rather incomprehensible rant concerning my failure at achieving a smooth night’s rest. I had visited Waterstones, a bookstore chain, today to gather some academic reads and whilst there picked up a John le Carrรฉ novel, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” One of my dad’s favourite authors, the title has also been flashed on TV screens throughout the UK as an up and coming film – one of which le Carrรฉ has deemed a strong representation of his book. So, I decided to enjoy some old fashioned, and nothing-beats-it, English mystery literature.

Reading through the pages, my anxiety began to fade and thoughts of my upcoming move north surfed upon my awaking brainwaves. I think it was the act of an enjoyable activity of which brought up such thoughts. After a few more pages, I decided to write.

“So.. how did you end up in Indiana?”

Throughout the past decade (and yes, it does pain me to write such a timeline-based statement) I have gone through many transitions, as we all do post-16 year-old experiences. At sixteen, as many of you can recall, I wanted to be an athlete. I wanted to live it, love it, and encompass my identity around it. At seventeen, I decided that I would move to the United States and pursue an athletic scholarship to commence my dream of ‘making it big’ and proving everyone that I could do it. What didn’t come to my realization until after I had accepted an offer to attend Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and commenced my studies, were two things: A) I should have studied American geography so to have learned where the hell I was sending myself to; and B) I did not want to be an athlete, nor did I even want to study the trade. I did something purely outside of my goody-two-shoes, innocent reputation, and that was to give-up and drop out of university after one year of complete uninspired attendance. I still remember calling up my mum with what I thought was the most fantastic revelation of my life, but apparently was not as such on her end of the phone. Lesson learned: a few minutes after telling your parent you want to drop out of university after forking over a massive lump-sum of your life’s worth, it may be too soon to joke about it. So what happens next? Nothing. For an entire year, I did nothing but breathe. After sufficient oxygen had returned to my brain, I chose to move to England. At age twenty, I packed up a significant amount of my belongings and shipped myself over to London. Vulnerable, and still wanting to please all those around me, I ended my London dreams and moved back to Indiana to finish my degree. Never received any pressure from surrounding parties, and from my mum, nothing but pure support to do what I needed to do in life. Due to many reasons, it was the decision I had to make for myself to figure out where many paths of my life were taking, and to this day I do not regret it. However, what I do regret, is taking almost the entire four years of attending university at the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI to realize the amazing people of which I was surrounded by. Which brings me to this first moment of clarity. Sitting on the bed, reading my Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy novel, I thought about all the wonderful people of whom I’ve met and am keeping in touch with still. From elementary school, to high school, to Purdue University, and now Indianapolis, I’ve met some pure, absolute quality. Some mates are also pure crap, but I adore them anyways. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But even through difficult transitions and hurtful experiences, I do appreciate everything that each friendship gave me whether still lasting or not.

Turning it up a notch

What I see as inspiring my sudden happiness (a word I have used very rarely in sincerity in my life, and hold absolute heaviness on), is that throughout my four years I gradually developed a sense of wanting to better myself. I wanted to respect the fact that I was still forking out a massive amount of money to attend university, and so I was determined to match the dollar quantity with attended quality. My curriculum vitae is impressive, and my transcripts can match. I’m not shy to boast about my hard work! However, in addition to paper results, I wanted to change myself internally – both metaphorically and physically. After my trip to China in May 2010 with my homegrown mate Stephanie, I began to focus on alternative paths in my life. No matter how hard I had worked in university and in life, I had yet to experience the actual definition of “work” in relation to what my parents went through to get me, my sister and brother to where we are today. I grew tiresome of my own whining regarding money, course loads, work loads, etc. I was uninspired by my own voice, and such a feeling is merely a waste of time. I see myself as changed. I’m more spiritual, engaged, and I actually want to take care of myself so that I can take care of others in the future. This lead to my next clarifying view.

Traditional vs. Art Kids

Attending Durham University for my postgraduate studies is step one in the changes I want to make progress on here on out. Being a Fine Arts graduate, you can easily feel pinholed by your non-art studying peers. We’re eccentric. We’re extroverts. We’re oddly matched. We’re just odd. We’re unfocused. Loopy. Crazy. Unrealistic. Obnoxious. Snobs. Trendy. Freakish. Confused. Immature. Even by our artistic peers we’re judged. Constantly. In fact, its required within our curriculum to critique relentlessly and honestly. I think some of us, if not all, will own up to one or more of these stereotyped characteristics. But we are by no means held strictly to them, are we? secured by lock and chain? In one aspect, I do find that at times we don’t take on traditional academia with the same inspiration as we do our visual and mindful creations. Something of which I was determined to do for myself was to draw a path that I felt laid out a considerably undetermined definition as to what I was and am capable of. I did not want to be pinholed in seeing myself as purely creative in the world of academia. I wanted to see myself as capable of achieving and pursuing the discussion with those who consider me eccentric, extroverted, and unrealistic. What outsiders don’t see within us Art students is the way that our mind is able to reach a level of discussion which utilizes text book theories and history, but does not solely rely on it for opinion. We can speak from our heart and our mind, whether it be through abstracted smears of paint, or digital representations of modernity – and everything in between HOWEVER not all art students are willing to utilize these capabilities, which, I apologize, in my eyes is a person wasting the capabilities of the human body. And so, as stated, I’m hoping to progress on this within my own personal struggles and strengths.

A Lil’ Wee Side Project

I recently contacted 1/3rd of my facebook friends in request of their mailing address. One of my reasons for contacting numerous people I had linked as ‘Friends’ on facebook and requesting their mailing addresses was due to these changes that I am planning for myself. I want personal communication with those who will reciprocate. By using the term ‘personal’ I don’t necessarily mean through content, but through practice. I adore technology, and the digital world is definitely attractive. In the end, however, I still prefer a book in my hands to feel and hear the turns of the pages, and finding a newspaper on the underground still appeals to me rather than checking out updates online. And since I was little, letters have always been very, very important to me. I remember a conversation with my dad when I was little – pre or post-cancer, I do not recall. We were talking about reincarnation, and all I remember him stating was how he wanted to be reincarnated as a piece of paper. As a little girl, this statement seemed to hold the least amount of creative whimsy that an adult could possibly hold. His reasoning – so that whenever needed, he could be useful to everyone. To this day, that statement rings out with an indescribable amount of inspiration to me. After his passing in 1992, I began to write my father letters. I’d write them as if I was reporting my existing statistics, who knows why. Iย  think I was convinced that someone would come across these letters like they do in far off novels of century-old discoveries, and I thought (at age 7 remind you) that whomever found these would be so intrigued as to who I was, and where I stood. So I would write “To daddy: My name is Victoria. I am seven years old. I have 1 brother and 1 sister. My father’s name is Chhuon, and his wife is Susan. She is my mum.” This would continue into scientifically termed statements as to how my father died. The most unpleasant and highly factual letters ever written by a seven year old who would later become an art student, if you ask me! Anyways, I still write him letters on paper. Less statistical these days, but nonetheless beginning with “To daddy..” and always signed off the same way for more than a decade. So there you go – a moment of honesty. And my reason for wanting to write letters more – to remain honest and connected without abbreviation or spell check.

Well, there you have it. My thoughts in the middle of the night. To sum up, I’m rather happy as I sit. For many reasons – some more significant, life changing, and inspiring than others… ๐Ÿ™‚ย  xo

It is now almost 4:30 in the morning. Perhaps I can take another hour and a half ‘nap’ before my alarm goes off.

Speak again soon!

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

p.s – it is now 4:45AM. For those who know me, there was no way I was going to submit this without a read-over. Psh. ๐Ÿ™‚ x

Whip ‘n’ Curl

To you,

Today I spent my day re-sorting my luggage scheme (it’s never ending, I tell ya) which pretty much consisted of me re-packing my belongings without having any conscious outlook as to how much each suitcase would weigh since I am not flying to Durham, but taking the overground rail. Yes. I have been in London for a few days now, and what I choose to report to you lovely readers is that of my packing scheme. You thought my London stories would consist of tales of tea on the Thames? Perhaps shopping through Picadilly? Or maybe strolling the streets of markets and chimney sweepers? Think again people – this here is REAL! My apologies, I do promise for postings to get more entertaining, but for now just humour me.

To move on, I am now in west London staying with my mum’s youngest sister which is proving to be another couple of days of me chilling and researching Durham details so that I am the utmost prepared for my arrival and subsequent duties. In a bit of fun, however, I decided to doll myself up a bit before departing Oliver’s (brother) flat.. and.. well.. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves. Rather… rolley if you will.



A lil’ curly curl. I’ve never had rollers in my hair, and as fun as it was, my hair quickly deflated as it was raining out as I walked from my brother’s flat to the Bayswater tube station. Oh well.

So there you have it – London tales of luggage re-organizing, hair rollers, and Durham prepping. I ain’t sugah coating nothin’. (Actual Londonesque photos to be uploaded shortly. Forgive me people, but this isn’t my tourist town so I kindly forget to do such travel-related things. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Until next time, I bid thee adieu!

Love from, Vic Louise xoxo

Ready. Set. Go!


Welcome to “Love From Vic Louise,” a blog of which I’ve created to help document and share these upcoming 12 months with you, and in all honesty keep records for myself. Having just arrived in London, UK with 2 rolling suitcases, a large backpacker’s knapsack, a fully packed laptop bag, and a heavily padded longboard, I have officially begun my next adventure of attending Durham University as a postgraduate student in the Master of Arts in International Studies programme. With one week in London to buffer my upcoming academic year in a field of which I have never once studied, however have always been inspired by, I hope to share with you my trials and tribulations of going through a year of brand new experiences. After four years of trying to figure out my desired place in life, I impulsively came to the hurried decision to approach my next steps with a “Now or Never” stance. My life has changed quite rapidly, and although so rapidly, very much happily. And these next steps will only add to these changes. I am studying a field of which I have no academic experience – a graduated Fine Arts student, I somehow convinced the faculty of Durham University that I could study politics and foreign studies in their world class programme! I will be living alone in my own flat, something of which I have never done and have always wanted the opportunity to do. And I am studying at a university of which four years ago I would have never had the courage to even apply to due to its top academic and historic reputation. Lots of changes, loads of excitement, and a shit ton of fear! What adventures are made of! (insert about-to-vomit emoticon)

So anyways, please join me in my quests, and always feel free to suggest ideas! I am an art student at heart, and will be continuing such endeavours within and outside of this blog. (More details to come)

Speak again soon!

Love From Vic Louise xoxo