7 Quick Takes – Back to Uni, Dancing Around, and Events Galore!

Phew, I forgot how busy being at uni was. It’s been a long first week, but my laundry is on and my room has been tidied, so I can finally sit down, have some ‘me’ time and blog. You can catch up with the other 7 Quick Take Friday bloggers over at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

seven quick takes friday 2

Of course, with everything about uni going on, I’ve also landed myself many Freshers outtings and social things to do, amongst societies and friend-groups. That’s the good thing about being a third year. This also means that I’ll be a final year, with all my big exams coming up this year. Argh!


I went to see a couple of my close friends at one of their gigs last night. If your into Folk music/traditional ballads, you should check Loreley out. They’re young students, but they put so much work into their duo and the results are clear. Plus, their second album will be coming out soon.


Swing Dance has been my week mostly. We had a demo from 12 until 2 on Wednesday – and we had international teacher Bobby White over from the States to teach our evening class—which went on until 10.30! Three hours of dancing in various shapes and forms! Safe to say that when I got home, I flumped right down on my bed. Still a little aching today, to be honest.

Freshers' Fayre Social Dance was a hit!

A post shared by RUSDS (@ru_swing_dance_society) on

Lovely ladies. This is from the RUSDS Instagram

You can check out the Reading University Swing Dance Society website, even if you don’t live anywhere near. The concept of Swing Dance and Lindy Hop are similar wherever one lives.


I also had a Quidditch taster that afternoon to encourage the Freshers, and not just those with an interest in the Harry Potter. That’s right! For those of you who are new to my blog, I am a Quidditch player for the University of Reading (England). I usually play Chaser, but I have been known to Keep and Beat when required. We have quite a few Beaters in Reading, so the need rarely arises. Check out Quidditch UK for more info on the type of Quidditch I play.


Also went to a friend’s surprise welcome home party this prevening, which was a lot of fun. Our mutual friend organised it through the Chaplaincy; and it’s one of those moments where the genuine spark of life is reignited. God is Good. More than ever that He gives us these friends and chances.

 I am so enthusiastic! 😛


As you might have guessed, I haven’t had much time to write. Or edit. Or even read. The days have flashed past with me running to catch them. So, instead, here’s a recent extract from the geeky love piece I’ve been working on, which I’m excited to say has a title. Even more excitedly, the initials are SoS, so that suits my tastes exactly.


I flailed. Again and again, until the pain had slunk back to its hovel in my subconscious mind. The air was soft—until it wasn’t, my fist smacking down against one of the framed photos with which I’d lined my desk with their distant smiles and past glories.

Running Around With Brooms Between Our Legs, Take Two

Or: The Second Annual Valentine’s Cup

No Quick takes Friday today – *gasp* – and I have a valid reason…apart from having been utterly butterly busy today.

What is this mighty fine reason, Alex?


(Image copyright to someone on the Oxford team, I’m sure)

This weekend I’m off home to sunny-ish Oxford for the mercenary Quidditch tournament The Valentine’s Cup. This involves players from any, every, and no team signing up to play in one of sixteen pun-filled teams. (This is Quidditch – we don’t take ourselves so seriously, of course.) After players pay the entry fee and complete the form about their positions and a self-assessment of their abilities, the captains connect up via Skype and hold an auction or bidding for the players with ‘money’ or, rather, points they had equal to start. And a captain, if playing, has to factor in their own price as well. 

As you can probably guess, this leads to a lot of squabbling big money battles over the bid players.

By the way: if you’ve got this far, and you’re still wondering what Quidditch is – or, I should say, what the real-life ‘Muggle Quidditch’ sport is – let me redirect you to my first blog post about Quidditch or this about page from the UK’s Quidditch governing body, QuidditchUK. And it is not only for Harry Potter fans! Quidditch is energetic, community-filled, and an exhausting cross between netball and rugby. 

Anyway, I love this particular cup, having experienced its auctioned awesomeness last year. Its big twist? Because this is Valentine’s themed, players are auctioned and bought in pairs. I managed to ask one of my Reading Rocs teammates, and we now find ourselves, amusingly enough, on the Paynekillers team, captained by Olivia Payne – my Valentine’s Cup The First pair-mate, or ‘Qualentine’.

I have yet to see how this weekend will actually pan out, though!

Want to follow the goings on in European Quidditch this weekend but won’t be able to make it to a quaint English city? You can catch up with all the action on the Valentine’s Cup Event page. Alternatively, keep an eye on Twitter, where there are many players and Quidditch UK officials – I’d start with hosts @oxfordquidditch, who will no doubt be literally on the ball detailing the weekend, the scores, and the socials, as they pass. If this so catches your fancy – I will be tweeting if I have time and WiFi – you can follow me @Caelestia_Flora.

Reading Rocs
Reading Rocs Quidditch Team logo


Quick Takes About An Away Game of Quidditch, Taize Prayer, and Collating Data

Sometimes, nothing much needs to be said about one’s week, and that’s why conversiondiary’s Quick Takes is so useful.



Did I mention the Reading Rocs team went to a Quidditch tournament? Oh, I didn’t? Here, have a picture of me Chasing at the Southern Cup (photo by the Southampton team photographer).


This week has been an unusual one, where anticipation for its end has left me asking why the time is moving so slowly, as opposed to so quickly as per my usual stance. Tonight is the launch party of the university magazine The New Frontier, for whom I do the occasional writing about [creative] writing.

The New Frontier


What have I even being doing this week, though? Less busy than last week, by dint of not having [immediate] deadlines, and I had the chance to briefly write (see point 7, as per the organised norm), but I’ve also been working (and have finished doing so, thanks to creating an excel sheet. *wipes brow*) on collating the data for my Autumn term mini project, on temporal discounting. I’ve still got a long way to go, though, as I start my report.


On Wednesday evening, we had a Taize evening of prayer, a very interesting experience, despite that I prefer traditionalism in hymns and praise. Taize prayer involves ecumenical meditative chant versions of hymns, silence, and experiencing God and the Spirit through being contemplative with others. It was very metaphysically cleansing.

A photo I took in the summer of a Mother and Child tapestry in a church
A photo I took in the summer of a Mother and Child tapestry in a church


Speaking of singing, my two choirs continue. The Duke Ellington jazz never fails to amuse me, but I’ve also had to concentrate on Christmas carols with the Chamber Choir; we’re singing in a lunchtime concert for the students in a couple of weeks, so that’s become my practising priority. I still feel rather out-of-joint for singing carols before December!


Editing and writing. I’ve done a bit this week. Editing has been somewhat productive; I received mostly positive comments from my CP, which is, in a way, worries me (doesn’t everything! ^_^). For if one cannot improve… Conversely, the main issues I have to deal with are the chronology and direct laying out of Phillip’s active time-stream and Aidelle’s temporally-frozen wasteland, and making the taxicab shelter scene beginning a firmer setting.

I may have to enlist the steampunks with this one.


Your weekly extract. I wanted to work on scenes I already had the groundwork for. So…I had them talking in the caves, but I had to get them to the caves first. Fun. And I’ve learnt that Laurie suffers from pseudovertigo when faced with heights.

These extracts seem to be getting longer, don’t they? Sorry – I wanted to include a little of Jess and Laurie’s mid-climb conversation, where they discuss, effectively, steampunk, that is, the world if history had been different. As a student myself, I can confirm that our conversations do tend to float from the mundane to the academic regardless of what we are doing.

He said, “One wrong move from a visionary and we’re living in broken world of steam engines and AIs and golems.”

“Anachronisms,” she added.

Laurie shrugged. She had a point. “Maybe not.”

“Pass the rope.”

He did so, and the rope burned through his hands, like a passive fire. She looped it around the rock, tugged it tight, and zoomed down.

He peered over the cliff-face. She was a metre down, dangling, with a wonderful grin over her face.

His mouth twitched and the canvas of flesh ached open in a mimic of her smile.


She shifted in the harness, one hand massaging her back. Quite a funny sight, indeed. “Not quite.”

The cavern yawed out below. He swallowed and blinked away the dizziness, and launched himself off the ledge.

For a second – blackness. Then Laurie prised opened his eyes. The cavern below did not hang in total darkness, but light rolled down the stalactites from the cracks in their path and amber veins in the surrounding columns. Behind him, a vista of afternoon light warmed the edges of his coat.



7 Quick Takes about LIFE

(I am getting worse at thinking of the long titles, so have a cheap version 😉 ) Hello! Join us over at Conversion Diary to touch on our weeks.

7 quick takes sm1  7 Quick Takes about driving in DC, meeting fabulous people, and outing myself as an airplane stalker nerd


My society count has almost gone up this year – certainly, I’m doing a whole range of different things, but I seem to be doing more of them, whilst last year I quickly found myself abandoning societies with whom I’d always intended to have some relationship. Annoyingly, I have rather congested weeks, with Monday and Friday evenings being weekly free (but with the possibility of being filled with extra things), but Tuesday, and particularly Wednesday and Thursdays being one-after-the-other filled. I’ll have to get used to this new priorities, but, after a summer of being laptop-based, I think I’m ready to spend some more time elsewhere.

I am a Scribbler… And also the camera-[wo]man behind Scribbler events, so it seems. Also – end-sentence proposition, but syntax wasn’t being friendly…


By the time you read this, I will probably have already set off for my second swing dancing of the week. Granted, the first was a lesson we ran and mainly for beginners, though I did learn an improvement on my basics. Nevertheless, it’s easy to feel busy from hurrying back and forth.


For me, Quidditch has restarted for the term. We have a whole crop of potential players at Reading. Very exciting! We don’t have any matches immediately, but no doubt a few are scheduled between the captains.


Speaking on rushing about, my Thursdays now consist of about 3-4 hours of singing in the pre/evening. Busy, yes, but also SO much fun. One of the pieces the full chorus is singing is this jazz piece Freedom by Duke Ellington. The video below recounts all three movements, but you can get a feel for the theme by listening to just the beginning. As it’s jazz, every video and performance and interpretation is different, so if you like the song, I’d recommend looking around for different arrangements of the band and the swing notes and personal ornamentations of the choir.

Did I mention it is JAZZ!

Crunchy, no? I am very enthused. There’s a top C in that first movement already!


School. I had my first week of second year lectures-and-seminars this week, which accounts for the lack of posting.

As I type this, I’m sat sipping Starbucks after my Visual Word Recognition lecture. Because the module titles for me as a joint student are so vague (‘cognition and neuroscience’), I didn’t know what to expect, but word recognition is resemblant of the topics I address on this blog, if in more neurochemical and neurotheoretical depth.


I’m going to Thorpe Park tomorrow! (That’s a popular theme park, for those of you who aren’t Brits.) It’s one of my close friends’ birthday, so we’re meeting up. As such, however, I lose another Saturday/weekend.


I did a little bit of writing. Sometimes the mind wanders, and I have been thinking about extranarrative (‘metanarrative‘ writing is something completely different, sadly) and symbolic points of novels (see yesterday’s post) instead of straight fiction prose. I almost have some semblance of chapter two with this introduction of Jess’ tutor. This is also the first time the eponymous archaeology building is featured. As always with these Friday exclusives: first draft stuff, and comments are always welcome.

“Are you okay?”

Jess swallowed and peeked through the freckled pane of the door. Laurie had vanished. She bit her lip. Terrible that she had faltered at his sight alone, but she turned even pinker at the thought that she forced herself into hiding from him. Ridiculous.

“Yes.” Speaking drove the clot from her voice-box. “I’m a Fresh— ahem, a first year, and I’m looking for, uhh, Ground 23. Dr. Rowse’s lecture on Bones, Bodies, Burials. He’s my personal tutor, too.”

Mirth bloomed in the sharp green eyes looking down at her, as doom opened its fat lips and swallowed Jess whole. She’d probably stepped into the wrong building and all.

“Easy mistake to make.” The woman flicked up her shawl over her shoulders and gestured forward. “This way.”

Jess hurried along her strides. “Excuse me–“

Her voice caught. Jess flinched – blinked, almost – at movements from the towers of floors above. The Carrington consisted of three vaguely-modern levels with narrow, white-stoned stairs that her shoes clicked rebelliously against. As Ground 23 was, predictably, on the ground floor, the woman pushed on through the maze. The walls turned from off-white paste to brick upon brick under Jess’ scrutiny, and she sighed with relief. The Carrington was as soft inside as its archaic exterior hinted. Minus those blank-faced stairwells and entrances.

That’s it from me for now. I’ll check in with you lovely readers on Monday. Have a good weekend!

7 Quick Takes about Swing, Costuming, and a Hectic Week

It’s Friday again! I’ve been doing a lot, so join me and the other Catholic bloggers at ConversionDiary as we detail our weeks in 7 quick points.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about my first radio show, punk rock dads, and a desperate plea for birthday party ideas


I’m back at university! It’s great to see the people I lived and worked with last year and the people I will come to live and work with this year as I move into a new corridor. My ‘quarter’ or ‘segment’ or whatever is of four and me, three of which I’ve known well, if not lived with last year. The rest of upper B are people I lived with or socialised with, and a few spares. It’s a good lot, and I’ve been lucky to some respect.


I played A for Author yesterday: I made myself a giant pencil out of card and gave myself a bit of ‘geek chic’, as I believe it’s called. That was entertaining.

I apologise for feeding to the stereotype.
I apologise for feeding to the stereotype.


I got more of my costume for steampunk life, including a ‘jumperskirt’ dress I ordered a good couple of months ago – but it had to be sewn to fit my measurements, so I expected the wait. Luckily, although the zip is a stiff one, the dress is pretty much perfect. I’d worried it would be too short for day-wear because of the style, but it’s only just above kneelength and goes well with a new blouse of mine. *air punch*


The other main activity I’ve been doing this year has been promoting the Swing dancing I do at the university, which involved dressing up (yay!) and standing behind a stall for five-ish hours (boo!). Whilst we are trying to get more people into the activity (classified as a sport, apparently), I’m not used to being on my feet so much again, and it will take me the usual time to adapt.



I also did some walking (partly under duress and necessity) these last couple of days, and I intend to help out with the Quidditch demo that’s going on at the weekend. So, yeah: I’m finally getting back to being, well, healthy. Possibly photos to follow.


As such, though, my reading this week has been on the low. I brought a bunch of fiction to uni, but I’ve not had so much a quiet minute to read when I’ve not given it to blogging or research. I have a couple of CP crits still to write – I’m getting through them, slowly.


Writing has been alright. I got around to the first kiss scene in UTC, even though I still need to sort out the plan and the order. I don’t know how this works in terms of the entire plot, but it adds a new level of tension between Laurie and Jess when they have to stay away from each other. I also found out that, when angry/annoyed/stressed, Jess has quite a mouth on her. Sorry.

Before even the slight bob of dizziness reached her, Laurie stiffened, and withdrew. Jess quivered.

“It’s okay.”

“No, its not. This is a mistake. I’m sorry.”

He’d simultaneously turned pink and ghost pale. Jess resisted throwing a hand up to his glorious stubble, to the way his cheeks curved into the dark lines of his hair. She just wanted to play with it, if she were allowed that second opportunity.

But Laurie pulled away, frowned, and Jess’ heart sunk, volcano stone. All those moments she’d fantasised about her lips locking onto his with such strong, passionate attraction, she’d not thought of those moments post-snog, where he might simply reject her in oblivion, pure and hellish.

Laurie had managed to osmosis-drip to the other side of the room. With his big eyes, he bade her a goodbye more sad than it really ought to have been, and pushed through into the corridor.

F***. Not that reaction. Anything but that. She wasn’t that bad a kisser.


7 Quick Takes Friday about Singing the Carmina, Batman BBQs, and Reading Steampunk (Again)

Join me and the other Catholic bloggers at ConversionDiary as we summarise our week in 7 Quick Takes.

 7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about wearing triceratops hats, signing Kindles, and standing in the middle of Times Square wearing an epic selfie t shirt


This is a scheduled post, as I’m currently out guiding people around my university hall for our Open Days!


I finished writing my Steampunk short, The Incidents at Cavendish Mechanics, and my hands are in prayer that people will like it. On the other side of the coin, two hours of straight reading in the sun yesterday have pulled me close to the halfway mark of Lilith Saintcrow’s The Iron Wyrm Affair. Good book. Great use of voice. You can check out the rest of my writing/reading progress on the Ready. Set. Write! Post.


I’ve learnt that, thanks to my Swing knowledge, I can also Salsa! We had a couple of short lessons at my university hall, Wantage Hall, in time for the Wantage Summer Ball that is this evening and Brazilian themed to with the football World Cup.

Wantage – it’s so pretty!
Wantage Quad – it’s so pretty, even without the sun or the marquee!


Speaking of dancing, our Swing lesson last night focused on the exhausting Jitterbug Stroll, and though it killed my ankles, the dance definitely heightened my sense of starting sequences on the eighth beat rather than the first.



The Reading Rocs Quidditch team had our end-of-year barbecue on Tuesday, Batman themed, though I simply donned my cat[woman] ears and paraded in. I’ve not had any time for going out and buying stuff, and I couldn’t tell you if my sewing has improved vicariously since dropping Textiles class aged 13.

In any case, it was a good send off for the four members of the team who won’t be returning next year, including our Captain and our Coach (who happens to be TeamUK Head Snitch, too!).


We did an entire run through of the Carmina Burana today, and, from the point of a performing first soprano, it sounds great. Physically, regardless of the fact I’m left almost unable to stand by the end, the piece feels great, like my voice is actually working to its fullest. That makes me happy.


I’m looking forward to my week, despite the amount of work I’m going to be putting in simply to stay awake at times. Here’s hoping I’m not relying on coffee!



Lifey-Wimey Things

I apologise for a blatant lack of consistency in my posting. At the moment, I’m in an intermittent stage between levels of everything, an ‘in-between life’. Like Hazel. You know, that character in some film of a depression book by John Green that’s out in Australia and the US, but not the UK yet…

Like John Green says (but of which there is no gif!): Hazel is called Hazel because it’s an in-between colour: “in-between health and sickness, in-between adolescence and adulthood,” etc.

I pity all the Hazels in fiction that they will be forever compared to the Fault in Our Stars girl.

What about nullities, huh? Are some nullities bigger than other nullities?

(Answers in the comments)

Anyway! That said, I am on the other side of having written of the Steampunk short and only goodness knows if it is interesting. June barrels on with its everything (for instance, I have Open Day training tomorrow for work on Friday and Saturday. Brits, come to the University of Reading! It’s awesome!) and in the back of my mind lingers ideas of the planning I’m meant to be doing for July’s CampNaNoWriMo. Yes, I take on too many projects, but that’s the way I like it, for the empty mind is one with vicious claws.

Also, the alt grave key on my laptop broke. So, yeah, that was a success on the existing part!

That’s my life for now, I guess: in-between work and leisure; in-between past and future and all those words entail. In between total and acceptable insanity.

I’m off to play Quidditch and croquet. But not simultaneously. I hope.

One day I will be able to use an SPG gif in a relevant manner.

Oh, hey, this one’s relevant if you imagine me shutting down instead of The Spine!

Is it gif or “jiff”? Is there a culture/US-UK difference?

Also, stop me before I watch too many Green brother vlogs! I have to organise my YouTube ‘watch later’ section.