- I am a notoriously busy and fast paced person; in archery I shoot 3 arrows in the time most people shoot 1; in daily life a talk quickly and that only speed up when in meetings and during other time sensitive occasions. I am only able to write this piece as the internet is so slow on this train that I can’t do any work, although I have already worked on a paper I am writing. Taking time to breathe make you relax and think things through, it also means you can get more done in the long run and is a lot better for your health.
- Be grateful for the opportunities you are offered. I have spent much of my life continually grabbing opportunities and developing the privileged position I am now in. Definitely, a lot of what I have is based on my skills and know how in the areas to get to where I am with these skills I had to be in the right place at the right time a hell of a lot of times. I know that I probably will never be content with what I have but I am grateful for it and reminding myself of that is great for your mental health.
- Be kind. This point is quite obvious and believe it or not I was before 2017 but this year has really hit home to me how much a small chat, a compliment or even a smile could lift someone’s spirits. This applies to everyone, the stranger on the train, a person you don’t know who you’ve been sat next to in class or a friend you just passed who you kind of knew about 4 years about.
- Be yourself. This year more than ever I have been myself, my full out there, flamboyant, quite camp, self. Strangely I found my true self is a combination of Eddy and Patsy from absolutely fabulous: as I swan into a room with a glass of champagne in one hand, the bottle in the other, shouting “Sweetie Darling” this is further reiterated to me.
- Don’t drink so much you fall face first out a moving taxi and lose the keys to your flat and office. No deep moral message… Just don’t do it.
- The best restaurant in Dundee is Bridgeview Station. For any one fancying a trip to Dundee it is well worth but beware of the fine dining portions.
- Beetroot and venison is an amazing combination which can be used to create the most amazingly posh version of a shepherd’s pie.
- Get an organiser. My online calendar worked last year but this year my head has been everywhere and would really have benefitted from a full diary and organiser. Fortunately I received a pocket calendar diary for meeting scheduling on the go and a full leather organiser for my office desk to plan my year and sort my expenses. I would thoroughly recommend a physical copy in addition to any online diaries.
- Wow them. They key to most things in life is having the ability to wow people. Make sure you present the full you with all the trimmings and in the most extroverted way. The ability to be out there can make people at ease with you, feel more confidence in you and generally create a better overall impression.
- Life’s a journey, everyone’s destination is the same.
I just read a review of my blog from late September last year which really reminded me what this blog is all about, what I want to achieve. I want to make people think. Think about life, think about other, think that there is more than studying more than a degree. Shock horror, how dare I say that I am a law student, we are meant to be dull and studious. No. I created this blog to display that there are bigger thing to think about and we as students are more than capable of tackling them. So revelation had what am I going to tackle? Well the title should be a hint: tattoos and piercings.
My opinion of tattoos and piercings has changed hugely over the last year and is still changing today. Originally I had a rather conservative view of them- odd considering my largely liberal view on most other things as you can see from my writing. To explain the only piercings in my family are ear piercings and my uncle the trucker is the only close relative with tattoos. It’s not until I came to uni that I started to really understand there is generally more to them than meets the eye.
Tattoos was the first of the two that I warmed to. I had met lots of people who had got tattoos as memorials to others or children’s names but I never really got the appeal, to me the black writing just looked like something damaging the skin. One night I was sitting with a girl who told me about the meaning of her tattoo. She had a few stars with some words below it; something along the lines of wishes changing but in a somewhat poetic couplet. She explained that she set a wish on each star and as she achieved them she would replace it with another so she would always have her wishes and like real wishes no-one knew them except her. She has one star which she says is a wish she will always be striving towards but will never achieve. From then I understood tattoos a lot more. Real meaningful tattoos are not about displaying yourself to the world it is about things holding a real personal meaning. I still had an issue with garish whimsical tattoos at this point though.
My next revelation came from something not relating to tattoos at all, it came from a piece I wrote called purple poncho (I know inspired by myself, how egotistical). This piece looked at accepting people and how people are entitled to wear and be, what they want. I realised that the choice to get tattoos can be a stylistic choice and although it may not always be fashion in my eyes it doesn’t entitle me, or anyone, else to draw inferences about their person from it. Very much the book by the cover metaphor (although I hate it because people spend a lot of time designing covers of books to make you buy them).
When it moves on to piercings I am trying to adopt the same perception but it can’t be a coincidence that I am yet to meet a member of Catholic society or the Christian Union with a nose or brow piercing. That said one of my very dear friends has set her mind on getting a nose piercing and it felt odd to me that in telling me she started the sentence with “you’re not going to like this”. I feel part of the reason I disapprove of it is because she is training to be a doctor and as a professional people expect a certain look and nose piercings are generally considered rather informal. That again though is society enforcing a rather strange construct of what we perceive as acceptable in our society but why? Perhaps because people that get them quite often want to fit into the group that society perceives unusually pierced people as. That said there is those who do it because they feel they personally like it and this is where I have struggled with both piecing’s and tattoos. As I mentioned with tattoos, the idea that tattoos can be of personal importance was accepted by me first and I think this is the same with piercings.
I can get why people do things for themselves but when they do it to fit a certain societal stereotype I find it harder to accept. I think what I mean is in my eyes if you do something like that you should do it because it means something to you, that way who cares what anyone else thinks.
On the 9th of April 2016 I decided to start writing and made my first step in creating this blog; now one year I have a chance to reflect on this life changing leap.
When I started this blog I wasn’t at my peak- I was mentally and physically drained. I had been living away from home for the first time, facing an onslaught of university exams as well as struggling with general life dramas and a sense that I didn’t have a purpose. I have always been driven to do so many different things and that had just vanished. One thing I always did have though was my thoughts and an A in English. Writing gave me a chance to express and experience.
I have written over 120 pieces since taking up writing 1 year ago, which have been read in over 40 countries across the globe. I have published not only on this blog but briefly on OutletMag, as well as in the magazine which I am a Deputy Editor, Magdalen. In addition I received a couple of paid pieces of work with D & G life, a multi-award winning magazine. All in all for a years work I think I’ve done not bad. Hopefully looking forward I will become the Editor-in-Chief of Magdalen.
Starting writing has also been a major catalyst for positive change in me personally. It has given me a lot of confidence; for example before writing I doubt I would have been comfortable going along to a music festival, interviewing world renowned artists and craftsmen, walking down City Centre in a purple poncho (a hark back to one of my first pieces). I have also switch from slacks to suits, written a cook book and won silver in the Scottish University championships as a Senior Barebow archer. To top it off I have travelled to England Ireland and Wales representing Young people and become a director on the board of Youth Scotland. Fair to say writing got me my mojo back.
I know I’ve probably said it a hundred time but if you have the slightest inclination to write then do; it does so much more than just improve your writing.
Looking forward to the next year I am hoping to carry on with this upward trend and regarding this blog, who knows? I am thinking I may do some more lighthearted stuff at times as apposed to my general more serious topics- it is “theextraordinartstudentlife” after all. It can all be too serious.
Until next time, thanks for all the support, ciao the now 🙂
I by no means am an expert critic, I have no educational qualification in any of the areas I critique; what I do have however is an expert eye for detail and an understanding of how things should be done. In addition I generally have some experience actually participating in the field I’m reviewing, I feel it lends you not only to a better understand of the topic but also an empathy towards the people whose work you are critiquing.
I have critiqued everything from music festivals, to plays, to operas, to food and art and although you take each area slightly differently the same fundamental principles remain the same. Here is what I have found during my time reviewing amount to developing a good critique.
- What did the person intend by the piece? No matter how good the painting, or dish, or piece of Shakespeare is, the intention behind the portrayal is paramount. If it doesn’t do what the creator wanted it to do it hasn’t succeeded as a piece.
- How well did they portray this intention? This is the point that most people go straight to, this artist really displayed a sense of turmoil and anguish; this actor really looked convincingly angry, frustrated and confused. This is important as this is where the actual physical skill of the person is shown.
- Was the intention any good? Whether the person did a fantastic job of getting across their intention or not, if the concept they were attempting to display is rubbish then the piece can only ever be rubbish. In acting this may be when an actor gets the wrong view of how a character should interact with the plot, in food it is far more obvious because if they fail at this element it simply doesn’t taste good. This step of judging a concept in other art forms is exceedingly difficult and personal which is really where the ability to analyse and emotionally connect with things plays a major role.
Once you have devised a broad idea from the basic principles it is then up to you to weave it into a well-articulated piece which effectively displays you opinion on the piece. It should not only be factually correct, but interesting to be read. Furthermore an important balance must be struck between being overly critical on the person while still retaining your integrity. Generally your review should assist in some way at helping the person realise errors and develop on that, not make them lose faith in what they do.
Once you have thought through all that the next step is to try and not use too many works in reviewing it, reviews over 600 words are generally overly explanatory and loses the reader. Now go forth and critique the world.
In light of more news of Robin Williams’ death it brought it back to the forefront of my mind. I always found it sad how someone no matter how many people they made happy could never make themselves that happy. Fortunately the new evidence has made it appear that physical disease had a greater role in his suicide than previously expected. However it still no less invalidates the point and thus I wanted to contemplate this point and instead of doing my usual journalistic style pieces I thought I would do something with a bit of soul. Admittedly it is probably rubbish but hey, I gave it a shot.
Isn’t it strange how you can feel lonely in a crowded room?
Isn’t it strange you can be crowded by yourself?
Noise, laughter and joy, and you too join
Pleasantries exchanged, jokes made: perfect host
Topics derived, memories made, fun all around
Yet you sit silent in mind, loud in body
Your over embellished facade shouting loudly
I am here, I am great
Trying to drown out the silent loneliness of your mind
A mind when left to its own devises destroys
Dark, dangerous, devious and distraught
Caught in looping ideas so frantic they vanish without sight
Rapidly they reappear, tearing through thoughts and gone
Flamboyant fakery through our fabulous facade saves
Saves from a troubled lonesome mind the shell within which it resides.
We are all our own worst enemies.
So here is a recipe for a queen scallop dish I devised yesterday. It is very simple and pretty delicious, if i do say so myself. I have used Tesco as a reference for an online food order but other food providers are available.
150g of queen scallops £4
1 lemon 35p
8 or so leaves of fresh chives 70p
150ml double cream 60p
An onion 16p
3 cloves of garlic 30p
Half a dozen mushrooms 30p
A tbsp white wine vinegar 80p
Heaped tablespoon of unsalted butter £1.09
total cost= £8.89
Method– serves 3
- If you have a food processor blend together the onion and 2 cloves of garlic until very finely chopped or pureed then add half the cream and half a lemon and half the white wine vinegar and several leaves of fresh chives and blend.
- Put linguine on to boil.
- Meanwhile fry the mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter with a finely chopped garlic clove.
- Add the mixture from the food processor into the pan with the mushrooms and fry for a couple of minutes adding more cream if it starts to appear watery.
- Add the scallops and cook for several minutes gradually adding in the rest of the cream and the remaining half a lemon, white wine vinegar and finish with a couple of leaves of fresh chives.
- Serve with the linguine
If you don’t have a food processor then finely chop the onion and garlic and fry them lightly, then add half of the cream, chives, lemon and white wine vinegar. Then follow the recipe from above from stage 2.
Tip if not thick enough add some cornflour mixed with water.
Designs all come from somewhere, some deep crevice within the designers mind, which are abstractly constructed in normally a 2D and then a 3D form. Designers draw inspiration from almost anything. In clothes design I have seen designers be inspired from things like geology, to butterflies, to war torn towns and from colours, to smells, to philosophies.
The creation of mood boards is almost integrally important to the creation of almost any kind of design, although I would say it is particularly necessary in clothing and textile design. Designers draw shapes from mood boards and interpret them into clothing, sections of garments or a pattern. The colour schemes can also be drawn from this. I have used mood boards when designing a a range of clothing. I generally start with a central image that defines the message and feeling I want the range to show and then the rest of the images tend to have interesting shapes or patterns that I can use. The worst thing a fashion designer can do is draw all of their inspiration from existing garments. It creates boring recycled ideas which neither I nor the great Anna Wintour approve of.
In jewellery design I create things far more organically; my mood board is in my mind. I am inspired by a person or an emotion rather than a topic and from that I doodle and create shapes that eventually become realities. Here are some pieces I did exploring the different ideals of love, all connected through the symbol of a heart.
Here There is a selection of pieces such as the modern, simple love heart earring. In contrast there are the ornate stylised regency earrings with Botswana agate drops. On the necklace front the is the cute love bird pendant and the Victorian-esque jade drop pendant.
See how here the idea of love if the clear inspiration yet all of the different eras characteristics have made their way into it as well, displaying a shifting idea towards love but still a fundamental consistency as represented through the heart playing an integral role in each design.
So in celebration of the launch of “The Extraordinary Student’s Guide to Cooking” I have decided to make a list of my top 10 favourite food blog posts of 2016. I post quite a bit about cooking, effects of certain foods and diet plans so I have had plenty to choose from. My two main pleasures in life are fine food and fine clothes, so when my secret Santa got me a tie and some chocolates last Christmas I was delighted. Anyway down to business.
1. “Superfood” Diet This is the first of a two part blog post. In this post I explore the concept of the “superfood” and mention certain superfoods, their benefits and provide some suggestions on incorporating them in your diet.
2. “Superfood” Diet Part II Well it’s in the title, this is the second instalment of the “Superfood” blog posts.
3. Chocolate: Brain Food or Just Wishful Thinking? An interesting exploration into the possible, scientifically proven, beneficial effects of chocolate.
4. Kitchen Therapy This piece discusses the therapeutic effect of cooking.
5. Slow Cooked Beef This is a favourite recipe of mine for cooking beautifully rich and succulent beef.
6. Depression Diet The effect that certain food types can have on our mental state.
7. Cooking With Pork Some of my top tips on cooking with pork, including a recipe or two.
8. Champagne, Caviar, Smoked Salmon and Tea. Is it really good for me? An investigation into the possible lesser know effects of some of my favourite food and drink.
9. Fish Dish A recipe for budding cooks.
10. Chocolate Yum A brief outburst of my love for chocolate.
Well there you are folks, Enjoy!
Well the cookbook is out “The Extraordinary Student’s Guide to Cooking” is available now for download on amazon. It is a non illustrated edition as since it is designed partially for kindle the images would be in black and white anyway. With that said I have been having a great time sketching on the surface tablet so an edition with lots of pretty pictures may also be on its way but probably more of the ingredients than finished dishes.
This cookbook is the culmination of nearly a years worth of exploration into cooking. When I started writing the cookbook I was at a bit of a loose end. I was in the first year of university and had left home where I was a member of, or heading up ,every committee going and came to Dundee where I was just, well, beige for a lack of a better word. I had no extra dimensions. I did law and hung out with my flatmates, yes it was great for most of the year but then I began to miss the constant pressure, deadlines and dependence that comes with being a part of so many different things. I am constantly pursuing a challenge and loving good food, writing a cookbook became my new one. I spent my spare time jotting down ideas in a notebook, coming home from university and cooking up the most amazing meals.
The publishing of this book not so much marks something I hope sells lots and makes me some money but rather symbolises my first year of living independently, learning to cook for myself and take care of myself. It is as much a diary through food as it is a cookbook. Nevertheless, there are a fantastic selection of amazing recipes and tips from homemade pasta, to alcoholic salmon, to full Sunday roasts. There are over 30 recipes plus some handy tips to help you start developing your own recipes. For an early taster of one of the recipes check out one of my previous blog posts Slow Cooked Beef.
Later in the week I will write up a post on my top favourite food posts of last year if you want to check out some more of my writing on food from super foods, to diets, to more recipes.
2017 is finally here and not a moment too soon. I started of this year fresh faced and full of enthusiasm and plan to continue on that track . This morning I submitted my cook book “The Extraordinary Student’s Guide to Cooking” which should be available to purchase on amazon kindle by the end of the week. This is a simple text recipe book with the illustrated copy to follow in the coming weeks.
I am also hoping to revitalise my efforts for blogging but with me currently sitting working on 3 different writing based projects I think I may be unable to make it my New Years resolution.
I want to throw out a big thank you to everyone for reading and liking my blog post. In 2016 “The Extraordinary Student Life” was viewed in 36 countries around the world. It has featured posts from music, to mental health, to cooking and much much more. So to reflect on this years posts I’ve come up with my top 5 posts.
Thanks again all and watch this space for The Extraordinary Student life in 2017.