Sunday, 7 April 2013

And it's my heart, not me, who cannot drive

I don't often readily admit it, but I have a stubborn perfectionist streak. Very occasionally, this works in my favour. If I am setting myself the highest standards, I will always know I tried. Most of the time, however, it's just damaging - and I could write a whole post about that alone. Recently, I have found this to be the case with my driving endeavours. I've had only four lessons so far, but it is proving to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. Even though some of the comments my instructor makes are encouraging, I'm making some big mistakes and evidently I need a lot of practice. It makes me feel the same sort of frustration as at school when everyone else seemed to get how to solve a certain mathematical problem, and I just felt overwhelmed by it. When you are so used to excelling in other subjects, and then you encounter one that sends you tumbling back down to earth, it makes you feel like a toddler who didn't get their own way. I'm not really sure how else to describe this feeling. But anyway: I'm cursing myself for not having learnt to drive as soon as I was old enough. I'm sure it would have been a lot easier for me than it is right now.

I know I absolutely shouldn't feel like this, since in fact, a minority of my friends have actually passed their driving tests. I'm sure I once read that only a quarter of Londoners hold a driving licence. As for me, the place where I spent my adolescence was indeed rural, but when I was 17 - the legal age in the UK - learning to drive was the last thing on my mind. Everything within my town was at a walkable distance. I could easily reach nearby, bigger towns by train. On the rare occasion that I did need to go somewhere not served by a train station, I could just get a lift with my parents. Furthermore, I realised pretty early on that I eventually wanted to settle in a big, thriving city where having a car isn't necessary. I have a provisional (learner's) licence, but I initially only applied for that as ID so that I didn't have to carry my passport everywhere.

Well, I have an actual motivation to drive now, which I still want to keep under wraps until it's all set in stone (I have told a few friends when they've asked, though). So that's why it's even more difficult to accept that driving is such a challenge for me.

I think an important lesson in life is recognising when it is appropriate to throw in the towel. Not because of laziness, or finding it a bit difficult, but just because you are biting off more than you can chew. For one thing, I'm pretty far from lazy at this point, thank you very much - I mean, I'm in the final throes of my degree and am already pushing myself beyond belief! And from a financial point of view, I need to be saving as much as I can for all the costs that are integral to this opportunity (which I will reveal on here at some point, I promise!). So, I'm glad I gave it a go, but maybe this particular skill can wait a bit longer. I'll take things as they come. Striving to have it all is not always healthy.

And while we're on the theme of perfectionism, let's talk about knitting. Knitting has the potential to rip up the nerves of even the most patient. It can be a bit heartbreaking to enter a knitting shop and then think of all the projects you gave up on in the past because of the number of times you felt you had to start over.

My most recent project has been from the book Queen of Crafts: The Modern Girl's Guide to Knitting, Sewing, Quilting, Baking, Preserving & Kitchen Gardening by Jazz Domino Holly, Joe Strummer's daughter. Although I'm not a fan of that snub in the title towards boys who may want to engage in these crafts, it is a pretty nifty book.

I knitted a headband with a cute little bow on it. I started it around Christmas but didn't complete it until yesterday because I've only really had the time and energy to do a couple of rows a night, but if you stick at it, it shouldn't take that long. There were three pieces to it - the headband itself, the "bow" (just a smaller strip of stocking stitch, folded over), and the band to go around the bow.

This is my current knitting stash. The needles came with a kit that I've abandoned for now because it was a little too complicated (oops). I bought the bag from a little shop in the gorgeous town of Ghent, Belgium, and it's perfect for keeping projects in. And the duvet cover was from HEMA (pretty much the Dutch answer to IKEA)!


I can see myself engaging in some more knitting projects over the next few weeks, which will be packed full of revision and deadlines. I know earlier on in this post I said that knitting can stress you out, but actually, it's a good way to maintain your concentration levels while feeling like you're not actually doing anything. And you'll be a scarf, hat, or whatever else richer by the end of it. So in that sense, it's ideal, because it keeps your mind sharp, and once you've got the hang of your pattern, you can easily do it while watching a film. Personally, I find that knitting is the perfect activity to engage in when you're listening to an album for the first time - your mind doesn't wander, yet you are still able to fully immerse yourself into the music.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Oxburgh Hall

This is me, trying to get back into the swing of blogging. It's not easy for now, as I'm very caught up with all the work in this final semester. Plus, I'm trying to read all the books in the university library I possibly can while my card is still valid, because I am completely in love with reading and I've found some real gems lately. So this place will probably remain quiet until the summer, but you can still expect a couple of posts over the next few weeks.

Usually when I arrive home for the holidays, I make a point of doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day, wallowing in my newfound luxury. However, this time I decided I might benefit from breathing some country air for the first time in months and so I accepted a trip to Oxburgh Hall, in the village of Oxborough, Norfolk (I'm not sure why the spelling is different, either).

I've been inside the hall itself before, a while ago, but this time we decided just to walk around the grounds. The estate dates from 1482 and it's just lovely. As we all know, winter has long overstayed its welcome this year. But since we turned the clocks forward on Sunday, the sun has come out, which makes a world of difference even if we do still need to wrap up.