Archive for December, 2015

And the rain keeps tumbling down…

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

I spent three months sitting in an office with a man called Sustainability Steve who would regularly tell me that the world was going to end in the next 30 years and I think he might have a point. The world has been experiencing some strange weather recently that has caused a few problems for us unprepared humans. Sadly, over Christmas many people lost their homes and businesses through fires, floods and tornados and are having to pull their lives back together.

In England, steady rain over the Christmas period has brought extensive floods to the north of the country, and streets, houses and shops have found themselves underwater. It is terrifying to watch and I can’t even start to imagine how it must feel to have your house submerged in rising water.

debris manchester

Debris

The impact of the floods was even visible in central Manchester as the Irwell river broke its banks quite close to my old apartment. What was a pleasant paved boardwalk became a beach with piles of debris that had floated down stream stuck to railings, benches and posts.

Manchester

New Manchester beach

One of my favourite local pubs, the Mark Addy, was essentially washed away as it’s position down in the basin of the Irwell turned out not to be such a good idea. My brother and I had a pint at that pub two Christmases ago. It is so sad to see it destroyed.

The Mark Addy

The Mark Addy

Another storm (it’s name is Frank.) is currently hitting the north of the UK and I suspect there are a few anxious people hoping their homes don’t get flooded again. Not fun.

Medicine Cabinet (or when students are given a bunch of objects)

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

On my first day at school, I was put into a group with four other students who would become my exhibition team members. We were given a box of items from the Museum of Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester and told to create a pop-up exhibition. This all seemed quite exciting and do-able until I realised that the five other groups of students also had boxes and were also creating pop-up exhibitions that had to then come together to form THE ULTIMATE EXHIBITION. Yikes.

The next 12 weeks involved a lot of confusion, laughter, tears, horror, worry, frowning, and general “how the hell are we going to do this?”. Each group had objects somehow related to health and medicine – my group had medical art while others had surgical implements, items from a doctor’s bag or ‘alternative medicine’ devices. Somehow each group had to develop an exhibition that told the stories of their objects while also combining all of the exhibitions together to form one overall display. We were due to exhibit on 11 December at a building at Chetham’s School of Music. After a change of date and location, we were allowed to install on 12 December at a different building at Chetham’s Library, 1.5 hours before the exhibition opened.

exhibition

My group’s final exhibition

It was a close call but somehow, through what I can only describe as a ‘Christmas miracle’, we managed to install our exhibition and be ready for our first visitors at the 11am opening time. A second Christmas miracle occurred when Pubert Gladstone was one of the first to come through the door. REMARKABLE yet wonderful.

I was overwhelmed by how successful the final event was. We had over 200 visitors throughout the day despite it being one of the wettest Saturdays in Manchester this winter and it being hidden in the depths of the beautiful Chetham’s Library. It was such a privilege to be allowed to hold an exhibition in such a beautiful old building. If you ever have the chance to visit the library, do. It is incredible.

Chetham's library

Chetham’s Library (before the rain)

I had so many friends and family members come to check out my work despite me suggesting it was a bad idea. It was incredible to have such support. Thanks folks – muchos appreciatos.

I got a little teary at the end of it all when my lecturer, Kostas, congratulated us on having such a successful exhibition and it really was – we had all worked our butts off and somehow managed to create something that none of us believed was actually possible. We bonded as a class group and came away feeling quite pleased with ourselves.

But thank god it’s over. I never want to organise an exhibition with 35 other people without defined roles ever again. The end.

medicine cabinet

Final results of our interactive activity

The Christmas that was

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

A friend just asked me what my New Year resolutions are and I told him that I didn’t have any. I think this might be a slight lie. I always set resolutions, well aware that I won’t stick to them. But I need something to work towards and challenge myself with. I’m not entirely sure what they are yet (although reducing my sugar intake from its current excessive heights is definitely up there) but I know I want to return to writing more on my blog. I have been neglecting it lately and now that I have two large essays to write I find myself drawn back to the safety of my own personal writing. So much easier than scary academia.

December has been a crazy month – I spent a lot of it laughing/crying hysterically and pulling on my hair whenever someone asked me how I was. A lot of people had to put up with a manic Jess as I went a little bit nuts working on a group exhibition for uni. Thirty five people attempting to organise one exhibition does not make for relaxed times but the end result was surprisingly great. I will write about this in a separate post a little later.

exhibition

Proof that I am learning stuff.

I also had a written group assignment to put together, plus two other large essays looming. They’re still looming. Really. Need. To. Write. Them.

Plus paid writing work has been flowing in steadily which has kept me fed and housed. It has been lovely that so many of my clients have been willing to stick with me as I country hopped over the last few months. Being able to juggle university and paid writing work has been life saving. I don’t think I could handle a ‘real job’ at the moment.

And then there was Christmas. Once again, Jess McScrooge came out and I managed to avoid the Christmas markets until the final day when I stocked up on my favourite dutch almond slice. I am exceptionally lucky to have some exceptionally welcoming family members in this country and was invited to spend Christmas with them. It was a small and relaxed gathering (well, relaxed for me because I didn’t have to do anything!) with plenty of delicious food and a mulled wine or two.

On Boxing Day we went for a windy walk up Bosley Cloud, somehow managing to avoid the rain. We ate fruit mince pies at the top, a feat that required two hands in order to stop the wind from steal our pastry crumbs.

mince pie at Bosley Cloud

Pie and a view.

I had another large family gathering yesterday at another cousin’s house and it has reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such a great family around. Sure, they may all be a bunch of oddballs, but who isn’t? Much laughter was had. They’re a good bunch.

Now New Years approaches. I’m quite excited to see what 2016 brings – I already know it will be challenging as a dissertation awaits. If anyone has any thoughts on what I should write about, please let me know because I currently have no idea. Thanks.

Oops.

Friday, December 4th, 2015

So another month has passed and I am now three months into My Life in Manchester Part II. Every day I think “I should write a blog post” and then I do the copious amounts of uni work and work-work instead. I have decided to take a little time out to write about little old me again. I miss writing my blog posts and I’m certain you miss reading them. Ha!

Uni is seriously great. Never before have I been so excited about the fact that I have to write a 6000 word essay. It would appear that studying something that you actually love is really rewarding and inspiring – even if it does involve group work. My poor group members have had to deal with “grumpy old Jess” as their team leader and have had to learn what my frowning face means. Next Saturday, however, the class pop-up exhibition that we have been working on for the last semester is going to happen. I’m terrified – there is huge potential it is going to be dreadful. However, I am lowering my expectations so that I will be pleasantly surprised, and anyone who is planning on visiting the exhibition should do the same.

rain

Rainy day blues

Winter has been trying to arrive over the last couple of week. It has been raining a lot which doesn’t do much for moral – lucky the Christmas markets are on! Not. I have managed to escape them this year as I no longer live in the centre of town. Saying that, I did manage to find some festive cheer the other Saturday and I bought myself a hot, giant stroopwafel. It made me love Christmas just a little bit.

I really shouldn’t leave this blog writing for so long because I have lots of things to talk about but my inner professional writing nerd knows that no one really wants to read long blog posts. So I’m going to go now. I promise to write again soon.