The Autumn Tag!

We’re nearing the end of October, which means it is well and truly autumn – though I feel like somebody forgot to tell the weather, because I’m on the northwest coast of England and it was 17 degrees today! That’s like a standard UK summer. Regardless, the jumpers are out, the shorts have been left at home, and I was recently tagged to write about all things autumn by both Esther Ruth Wyse and Jess Cantoni!

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What signifies the start of autumn for you?

For me, autumn begins when the leaves start changing colour and I’m cold enough to put jumpers on again. Though I do get cold very easily – especially after the summer just gone! I know everyone else was hating on the 33 degree heat around London but I was LIVING for it. When it dropped to 22 degrees I was practically an ice cube, I’d gotten so used to the heat.

What is your favourite autumn scent?

I’d say my favourite autumn scents are orange-y, lightly spiced scents. Please note I’m very bad at describing scents, so that’s my best effort! But generally, if it’s orange-y coloured, whether it’s potpourri (not that I’ve ever bought that, mum does occasionally) or candles, I’m good with that for autumn.

What is your favourite autumn colour?

If you’d asked me this three, maybe four years ago, it would have been a red-wine burgundy. I kid you not, most of my wardrobe was that colour! Nowadays I’m really into the mustard yellows that have been in the shops for the last couple of years, and I definitely love gentle browns – y’know, for boots and things.

Are you a fan of PSL (pumpkin spice latte)?

I’ve never had one! I don’t really drink coffees at all, so it’s not a drink I’ve tried.

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What is your favourite autumn drink?

I like a good hot chocolate. Preferably on the really chocolatey side! I’m not always the greatest with dairy though, but I’ve recently started using oat milk and, turns out, that makes a very smooth hot choc.

What’s your favourite coffee shop and their drink of choice?

Like I said earlier, I don’t really drink coffee (caffeine + me = bouncing off the walls and a lot of inexplicable giggles), but I do love the frozen chocolate drinks from Starbucks/Costa every now and again – I have no idea what they’re called though, because Costa changed the name of theirs recently and I literally never remember what the Starbucks one is called! It’s that one… with the cream… and the ice… and the chocolate… Let me know if you have any idea what I’m on about.

Apple pie or pumpkin pie?

I’ve never had pumpkin pie either! I’ve definitely had apple tart before, which I’m not sure counts as apple pie, but I’ll go with it – it’s alright. There are better desserts, but it does the job. I prefer a stroodle, or an apple cake my mum makes.

What TV show, new or old, are you looking forward to in the next few months?

I usually look forward to the new series of Doctor Who, but I have no TV license or TV aerial in my third year student house, so can’t really watch TV as such… so I’ll be rewatching How I Met Your Mother, Friends, Once Upon A Time, and all the Harry Potters. Big shout-out to Netflix and DVDs!

What is your favourite autumn fashion trend?

Cable knits. C A B L E   K N I T S. I love a cable knit. So warm. So cosy. Jumpers, cardigans, socks, gloves, scarves… Give me all the cable knits.

What is your favourite comfort food to enjoy in the colder months?

Probably duck spring rolls. I eat a pescetarian diet in the main because of stomach issues, but duck spring rolls on an autumn night are so good. Alternatively, baked camembert and toast. My mouth is actually watering right now.

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What is your favourite autumn activity?

I love baking in the autumn, and cooking seasonal things – like soup. Last year I made pumpkin cupcakes and pumpkin soup for the first time, which I think went quite well – I usually end up baking at least a few times in autumn (this week I made sweet potato & leek soup and chocolate orange fairy cakes). I think carving pumpkins is fun too, but obviously that’s only really a Halloween thing. I’d like to go pumpkin picking at some point though!

Are you a fan of horror movies?

I’ve never been all that into horror films, because I’m not really into that thrill, but I have been watching some recently because I’m studying a Gothic fiction & film module at university so every week we have to watch a different film – we haven’t gotten to the modern ones yet so the most recent one we’ve seen was made in the 1960s! Having said this, an odd series of circumstances meant I did watch the Daniel Radcliffe version of The Woman In Black about five times from when it came out in cinemas to when it came out on DVD. Having said this, I don’t think it counts as horror… does it? So – long walk for a short drink of water – no.

Do you ever do anything fun for Halloween?

I haven’t in recent years, but I do remember at some point growing up my parents threw me a Halloween-themed party (I have an awful memory but this might have been a birthday party, because my birthday is 11-Nov and therefore close to Halloween). They drew and cut out witch and monster heads and hung them from the ceiling, and the house got all decorated, so that was really fun. I did some trick-or-treating as a kid too, like everyone.

What was your favourite part about Halloween as a child?

Not sure about a favourite ‘part’ exactly, but my favourite memories would be the party I just mentioned, rewatching the early Harry Potter films, and watching all the Halloween films on the Disney channel.

Are you a bigger fan of Bonfire night or Halloween?

I probably celebrate Bonfire Night more than Halloween, so I’ll say Bonfire Night – though in my head I sort of rank them equally! Last year I did nothing for either, because I was in deadline mania, but I’ll see if there’s anything going on this year.

Where is your dream destination to visit in the autumn?

Don’t ask me that! There’s too many. Iceland in the autumn was amazing, but I’d love to see Madeira in autumn too.

Do you always forget about the clocks going back?

Usually I’m vaguely aware that it’s going to happen, but never know which day. Then I Google it after my mum reminds me. I have vague memories of getting ready for school at what turned out to be 6am instead of 7am once back in either primary or early secondary school, and I was really wondering why nobody else was getting up until I saw the time on a clock that changed automatically. I didn’t bother taking my uniform off before crawling back under the covers for a while.

When do you usually start preparing for Christmas?

Compared to most people these days, really late! I’ve always had a rule – no Christmas until after my birthday. My housemate, whose birthday is six days after mine, also has the same rule, so for us it’s mid-to-late November when we start thinking about Christmas! Although I have already started lightly Christmas shopping, but sometimes it’s just easier to get that done early. Considering my birthday is an entire six weeks before Christmas, I don’t think it’s too Scrooge-like – yet I have had birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper before… Not cool, guys. Not cool.

That’s all of the questions! Thanks so much to Esther and Jess for tagging me, and now it’s time for my tags – I feel like most bloggers I follow have done this one already so I’ll only tag a few!

Sophie from In Sophie’s Mind

Rav from An Earthly Mama

Kate from Finding Kate

Dani from World Meet Dani

 

I Moved House – Third Time in Three Years!

Ah, the university life…

I’m very well aware, as you may be, that many people, when going to university, live in halls for first year and then find some housemates and live in a house/flat/whatever for the successive two years, or however long they may be there for. Well… not me!

I lived in private halls in first year because I didn’t get offered the university-owned accommodation I wanted, and the one they did offer me was far too high a price. Instead, I was in a five-person self-catered ensuite flat, with four people I’d never met before. The staff had managed to group the five of us together as all first years at the same university (they served 3 in the area). It was an interesting year, involving far too much cigarette smoke coming into my bedroom, a melted fork in the oven, and maggots in the flat.

In second year, I chose to live with four other girls, three of whom were also doing history, the fourth doing English. It was actually quite funny as I was the only monolingual of the group – the other languages spoken were Welsh, Punjabi, Greek, and Portuguese. This was a slightly turbulent living situation – two of us preferred to be far tidier than the others, and one housemate actually moved out shortly after Christmas. But, aside from the hiccups, it was a nice house, recently refurbished, with two bathrooms and it was close to the university – though on the other side of campus to my first year, not that this made all that much difference.

So what happened this year? Well, almost from the beginning, one of my second year housemates said they were planning to live with other people in her third year. Then another wanted to live in a different area to where we were – further from the university, where we didn’t want to move to. So we were down to three, until the whole oh-wait-she’s-moved-out thing. This left two of us trying to find an affordable two-bed student rental house, preferably close to university, after Christmas – by which time most of the properties have been taken up. (Top tip: when looking for second and third year accommodation, figure out what you want as fast as you can in October and GET LOOKING!)

If we’d known it would have been just the two of us early on, we probably could have grabbed a lovely, fairly cheap place. As it is, we have a pretty small, slightly shabby house – but it’s actually a tad closer to university than last year, and the bills are included in the rent which is slightly cheaper than it was last year (though my third year loan is smaller too, thanks government).

Moving in at the beginning of this month was a bit of a nightmare, largely because the property wasn’t actually clean. Not too big an ask of somewhere you’re paying a large amount of rent to, right? For it to be clean when you move in? Well, apparently, yes it is. Spiders – both dead and alive – were everywhere. Cobwebs everywhere, too. Sticky floor. The whole shebang. It’s taken a good while to settle in here. Then there was a bit of an issue where I didn’t know where what felt like half my belongings were – at this point my things were spread between two houses in Liverpool, one in Telford, and one at home in Hertfordshire! Thus, it took a bit of time to pool everything together.

See, I actually don’t mind moving – I’d go so far as to say I quite like it. The variety suits me well, and I know it can be a hassle (thanks mum & dad), but all the same… it keeps things changing. I realise many people dislike change as a whole, but particularly when it comes to the changing of home comforts – I can’t say that’s something I find too challenging, but I understand why others do.

So yes, I’m in this place for a little under a year – I don’t plan on going home for all that long over Christmas and Easter this year, probably under a month in total, so I’ll probably be here until the end of the tenancy at the end of June 2019. Then, of course, I’ll be graduating from university and moving back home… which I’m just thrilled about, by the way (sense the sarcasm – next weekend’s post will address this a bit further). In consequence, this is probably the last time I’ll move house (aside from moving out) for a while, which makes me a little wistful, to be honest. But I suppose if I don’t have to spend months searching for where to live for the following year, I might have to put that time into pursuing other, possibly more productive, pursuits… we’ll see.

One thing I’m infinitely glad about, though? After this year, I’ll never have to deal with student landlords again! If you’ve experienced it, you know. If not… be glad.

Have you got any moving-house stories? Let me know!

A Day in Haworth!

On Friday 17th November, a friend and I rolled sleepily out of bed and walked down to university, where we got on a minibus which would take us to Haworth, Yorkshire. It was a trip with the English society, because the main tourist attraction in Haworth is, of course, the Brontë Parsonage.

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I’ll confess now that I’ve only actually read Jane Eyre, and the first time I didn’t even like it all that much (it improved on second reading, many years later). But the Brontë sisters are undoubtedly famous, so it was a good opportunity to take. The parsonage is a good couple of hours away from the Liverpool, so we didn’t get there until around midday. It was raining most of the way there, but by the time we eventually stopped, it was just a bit gloomy, weather-wise (the irony was not lost on us).

So our first stop was getting our tickets to the parsonage! The student tickets cost around £6 (I think the standard adult ticket was £7-8), and apparently they stay valid for a whole year. I don’t know when I’d get the opportunity to go back within a year, but it’s still cool.

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We decided to go around the parsonage before finding something to eat. The house itself had quite a few rooms – it was modest, which I guess you would expect. This year the parsonage has been promoting the story of Branwell Brontë (the brother, if you’re not familiar… I wasn’t), but next year is the celebration of Emily Brontë’s 200th birthday, and the museum has something rather special in mind.

The above photo is one of what will be a unique, handwritten manuscript of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, in a tribute to her as the original manuscript is lost. Curated by Clare Towmey, visitors to the parsonage can take the opportunity to write one line each in the manuscript, and then it will be exhibited at the museum all of next year.

The session to write in the manuscript happened at 4pm on the Friday I went, and while our trip had split up into our various groups basically as soon as we got off the minibus, it was amusing to see all of us pool into the house at about ten to four, eager to take part. To tell the truth, it did feel very strange to sit in the Brontë house, writing in a Brontë manuscript. My line was “by my employer. Hareton would not open his fingers, so I”, but again, I haven’t actually read it so it doesn’t actually mean anything to me. Don’t worry, it’s on the to-read list…

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In between our two trips to the house, I spent some time wandering up and down the high street, mostly just to take photographs. My Instagram is soon to be filled with them. It’s a very pretty place, and clearly takes pride in its Brontë legacy with the amount of references to it and merchandise sold to do with it.

More of our time, however, was spent in the graveyard behind the church by the parsonage. Now, my mum has always liked graveyards, as morbid as it may be, and I’ve never really understood it – but we thought we’d see if we could find the Brontë graves. We were very much unsuccessful, for reasons to be explained, but while we were there, loitering, a man approached us and asked if we would like to help wind up the church clock.

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Figuring hey, why not – we had time to kill, after all – we agreed. Now, you know those doors on the sides of churches that look really small and old, and you walk past them and vaguely wonder if anyone ever actually uses them? It turns out, yes! The man opened the tiny door and led us up what has to have been the narrowest set of stone spiral stairs I have ever come across. They were so narrow that there was a rope hanging from top to bottom for the express purpose of semi-dragging yourself up so you didn’t tumble back down.

We emerged into a small room with a high ceiling, where the man lifted a long ladder and placed it against a balcony, where the clock mechanism is (as you can see below).

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It was a few minutes to three at this point, so we hurried (albeit unsteadily) up the ladder so we could watch as the clock turned three and set the bells off. I’ll admit, it was actually really interesting to see the mechanism go. The man was telling us about the history of the clock tower, and how the clock mechanism had been working since the late 1800s, when it was installed.

Winding the clock turned out to mean winding three separate parts of the clock, one at a time. When you wind it (using some form of crank that attaches to the mechanism), the ropes pull up these ginormous weights – and I mean ginormous. The first one must have been over a metre long, almost a foot thick, and completely solid metal. The other two got progressively smaller, but winding them up was honestly a bit of a workout. The whole process took around 40 minutes.

We signed a book afterwards, which it appears people have been doing for quite a long time, to say that we’d been there – we were also showed the time when a member of Japanese royalty signed the book in 1999, and then on the next page, a few Japanese tourists did it and, according to the man, were thrilled to realise that the royalty had been there only a short while before them.

 

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All in all, my day in Haworth was pretty great. I definitely didn’t expect to end up in a clock tower or writing in a Brontë manuscript! Plus, the trip would have been totally worth it for the photography opportunities anyway. And hey, maybe my mum’s right and good things do come from hanging out in graveyards.

Katy x