Last But Not Least: Day Twenty-Two

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Our last day. I was wearing my favourite dress today, and it’s now damp and rumpled; a bit like we are. A bit tired and a bit ready to go home, and a bit sad-looking because we’re not ready to say good-bye. Not to those red doubledecker buses, not to the tea, not to the bookshops. Not to each other.

But, my friend, I have loved being on an adventure with you, loved it so much I wished it would never end. But I think you’re fast asleep, and it’s only another three minutes until tomorrow, and this diary is all that’s left of today. A bunch of words that fail to describe a feeling. Like trying to catch a beam of sunlight.

But, friend, I think we caught it.

So let’s just start again.

(Quote: John Green)

Here’s to all the places we went:

Day One: London
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Day Two: London
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Day Three: London
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Day Four: Winchester
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Day Five: Brighton
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Day Six: Stonehenge
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Day Seven: Oxford
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Day Eight: Stratford-Upon-Avon
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Day Nine: Bath
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Day Ten: Cardiff
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Day Eleven: Bristol
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Day Twelve: Cambridge
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Day Thirteen: Cambridge
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Day Fourteen: Norwich
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Day Fifteen: York
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Day Sixteen: Lincoln
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Day Seventeen: Durham
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Day Eighteen: Edinburgh
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Day Nineteen: Loch Ness
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Day Twenty: Glasgow
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Day Twenty-One: St. Andrews
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Day Twenty-Two: London
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Last But Not Least: Day Nineteen

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It’s the Highlands. They make you think there might just be a monster lurking somewhere. They make you think all sorts of things beyond reason. The names of the towns we pass sound like magic spells. It’s wonderful.

Last But Not Least: Day Seventeen

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There once was a boy named Harry destined for greatness.

There once was a girl named Inga trying to see the light.

There once was a girl named Noemí desperate to find the magic.

There once were oh so many spells and books and forests filled with magic and wonder, and there once were castles full of stories, and there once were fortresses full of mysteries.

There once were. There are. All the children loving fairie tales and yearning for the pixie dust to take them.

There once was a boy named Harry and he spread light and he promised magic, and it was that which made him not a hero, but a friend who would always be waiting.

(Quote: J.K. Rowling)

Last But Not Least: Day Sixteen

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Today there was a steep hill and a castle. There was a shop that sold dust from space and Berty Bott’s All Flavoured Beans. There was a girl from a Spanish beach, and there were stories. Today was made up of Once Upon a Times, of things that happened a long time ago and have stopped happening, and some things that are still happening. Memories becoming dreams and dreams becoming memories, and a reality interwoven with stories and histories.

(Quote: Maggie Stiefvater)

Last But Not Least: Day Fifteen

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I’m wearing a T-shirt that says Buy Me Some Peanuts And Crackerjacks. We’re walking along the moat and we find the ruins of a cathedral. I think I like ruined cathedrals much better because you can actually see the sky, and maybe god sits up there in the clouds or maybe he doesn’t, but the sky is so big and vast and full of wonder that it makes me feel tiny and giddy with joy to be alive. We’re dancing tot he music on the street. We find a bookshop. We have lunch in the backyard of a tiny café. Our laughter is still ringing in my ears. I finally buy my own peanuts. And ice cream. I’m sure heaven is paced with ice cream.

(Quote: J.R.R. Tolkien)

Last But Not Least: Day Fourteen

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The dragons are everywhere, scattered across town. They don’t look anything like the mythical creatures in the stories that I love so much, Eragon or Harry Potter. But I love them anyway. They just stand there, amidst tourists and busy shoppers, and the sun makes them glimmer and glitter in an almost unrealistic way.

It feels a bit like magic; everything is old and beautiful, and every other shop window seems to be full of books. We sit down on the foot of a dragon wearing a deerstalker, and we listen to the music of a violinist playing and swirling, and he reminds me a bit of a shooting star.

(Quote: Terry Pratchett)

Last But Not Least: Day Thirteen

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Everything is a little out of place here. The shops, the advertisements, the tourists, me. The streets probably haven’t changed since the middle ages, and it startles me to think that some things still remain after everything that has happened. You would think the world should have gone up in smoke by now, but there are ancient buildings that some architect came up with eight hundred years ago, and no one has ever dared touch them. I don’t think we are quite capable of not caring about art and beauty, and maybe that’s why we can never be fully destroyed. Because there will always be that one street that stays, unnoticed maybe, but filled to the brim with memories and heart.

(Quote: Maggie Stiefvater)

Sexy Books: The White Goddess by Simon Gough

Just read: The White Goddess: An Encounter by Simon Gough

 Just to be clear, when I say «Just read» I really mean that I read this book over a period of seven months. Does this tell you enough?

I bought it at Blackwell’s in Oxford last summer, and if you don’t know Blackwell’s, it’s a gigantic book store and they had the BRILLIANT idea of offering their customers blind dates with books. They wrap the books up and write a little something about them on the paper, and you choose one that sounds appealing to you. That way you don’t judge the books by its cover. They also don’t give you the blurb but really just tell you why it is awesome. So I put total faith in the booksellers and ended up with Simon Goughs memoir.

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«When 10-year-old Simon Gough went to Majorca in 1953 he thought he had landed in paradise. Far from the misery of his English boarding school and his parent’s divorce, he fell in love – with the tiny village of Deya, with his wild cousin Juan and most of all with his beloved ”Grand-Uncle” Robert Graves.

When he returned in 1960, paradise had been overrun by beatniks and marijuana – and Simon liked it all the more. But soon he fell for the enchanting Margot Callas, Robert Graves’ muse. He found himself entangled in a web of lies and deceit and playing a game whose rules he didn’t understand. The repercussions would haunt him for the rest of his life.

The White Goddess: An Encounter is a mesmerising tale of sex, lies and divided loyalties. Set between the magic of a bohemian Majorca and the horror of Franco’s Madrid, it is a haunting evocation of a lost time and place, dominated by the extraordinary power of Robert Graves, one of the 20th century’s greatest writers.»

There were some very intriguing things about this book. First of all, it’s really a memoir but it is written in the style of a novel. It’s very captivating at first and fort he first 162 pages it’s impossible to put down. That is because the first part of the book (162 pages) describes Simon’s childhood when he visited his uncle in Majorca. It all feels very surreal and insane and beautiful. It takes you right to Spain and makes you crave the ocean and paella and crazy relatives. (and I don’t even like paella all that much. But after reading this I can’t stop thinking about it!)

The only thing wrong with the book is that the author didn’t finish the book there. Oh no, seven years later he’s back, an angst ridden teenager, filled to the brim with hormones and uncontrollable lust. AND OF COURSE HE FALLS IN LOVE! Oh, and not just with any girl, nope! His heart’s desire is his grand-uncle’s twenty-four year old lover! Feel disgusted yet?

As you can probably guess, Margot (the girl’s name) and Simon have a somewhat complicated relationship. They each start living in Madrid and they hang out from time to time, and whenever they don’t he turns into Bella Swan. You know, Spain was under dictatorship at the time, you’d think there were more things to worry about. Nah, Simon only cares about why Margot will not comply to his clinginess.

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It just got way too much for me and I had to pick up something else to read. I mean, seriously, at one point he rips a corpse’s head off and gives it to Margot as a symbol of his undying love for her. What… WHY?! Is this a guy thing? – Boys, never ever under any circumstances give me a human head! I’ll go out with you for chocolates, I swear!
Why I kept reading I’ll never know.

This incident aside, the most disturbing part for me, was the end. See, now I’m torn between bringing on the spoilers and letting people find out for themselves. I’ll cut it short: Margot runs off, Simon gets in a fight with his uncle, the end. ALL THAT DRAMA AND HE DOESN’T EVEN GET THE GIRL! Damn it, Simon!

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I have been holding all that in for quite some time, believe me! On the plus side, there are some characters that made it worth my time. For instance, Beryl, Simon’s aunt. She’s just so down to earth and sweet and kind, and geez, that woman is patient! She doesn’t mind the least that her husband is having an affair with this young bimbo. He calls Margot his «Muse» and she totally goes along with it. And then there’s also Stella, some girl who spends her holidays in Majorca, and she said what I kept thinking the entire time: «It’s better than moping around like a love-sick idiot,» she retorted. «You’re quite a pair, you and Robert, both pining after the same woman – sorry –goddess–!» Oooh, burnn!

Well, I think Simon should have gone after Stella. The two or three times she appeared she seemed very cool and grounded, and, man, I wish there was a book about her instead!

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I need to stop now because I could rant on forever and ever, and then I’d miss my lecture, and then I would not know enough about the exciting world of Slavic philology.

Have a good rest of the week everybody!
Lots of love from the roots of my heart,
xxx

The header image has nothing to do with the book. I just like Sangria (and it’s Spanish, that counts, right?)

Last But Not Least: Day Twelve

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My goal has been to write at least one sentence a day, and so far I have always written more than just the one, but I keep thinking that maybe one sentence might have said it all; yet, if I let this sentence stand alone, it is not going to help me remember Cambridge very well. When did my diary become a place of endless rambling? I’ve got Inga for that. Not to self: this is the reason you don’t travel alone!

Three days ago I was being poetic, today my brain is vomitting all over the place.

It’s really pretty here (wow, what a precise description!), and I had a Nutella/Marshmallow crêpe, and the guy selling it to me flirted a little bit which, in turn, made me feel pretty. And every person I see on the street might be part of the Brainy Elite. They must have the sort of brains who can keep their shit together.

I should probably talk to Inga now and stop rambling to myself. #SOCIALISE

Last But Not Least: Day Eleven

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I never knew I liked cider. Until today.
It’s only cider, but it puts my life upside down. Well, maybe not exactly upside down. Maybe it just shook the ground I built my life on a little bit. Like a tiny, drunk earthquake. What if cider is not the only thing I thought tasted awful but actually turns out tob e rather delicious? Didn’t I have the same epiphany with ginger ale in Matamata two summers ago? What about all the books I promised myself never to read? It scares me that some day in boredom I might pick up a copy of Shades of Grey and like it!

It’s really weird to love something I swore to hate. It makes me want to raise my glass to changes of the heart, to second impressions and to my mind doing its best not to be set on one opinion. Cheers to the earthquakes that make me think.