Monday, 28 January 2013

200 years of Mr Darcy

It seems that today is the 200th anniversary of the first publication of one of my favourite books; Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

I first read this fantastic story to coincide with the BBC's adaptation in 1995, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, and I was hooked. This adaptation is still my favourite and I've seen it so many times that I know it by heart! This weekend I've been having a bit of a P&P fest - I've watched the BBC version, the Bollywood style Bride and Prejudice and the more recent Keira Knightly version as well as re-reading the book.

I recently helped a student studying for her English Literature GCSE (in my other life, when not crafting, I offer tuition in English). She'd read Pride and Prejudice in class and was preparing for her final exams.

I think I was very lucky that I never studied this book during my GCSE, A-level or degree level literature courses since I'm sure I wouldn't enjoy it so much if I'd had to pick it to pieces. In fact, I haven't read Mansfield Park since studying it as an A-level text yet I revisit Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey regularly. 

In many ways, it is a strange choice for a GCSE text. For one thing it's quite long - there's so much material to work with and it's very hard to find the quotes, even when you know they're in there somewhere!

Another huge hurdle I found was that, intrinsic to the story (and our understanding of the characters' motives and choices) is a way of life that's becoming increasingly alien to the young people of today. It's hard for them to understand many of the concepts that permeate the novel: the role of women in society; the choices available to people; the obsession with marriage; the importance of fortune and making a good match; the concept of the old maid; the restrictions on behaviour; the importance of honour and respectability; and the hierarchy of social class. There's a huge amount of work needed to truly understand the background to this novel.

Another thing, that I noticed for the first time during our discussions, is just how often Jane Austen chooses to use reported speech. She barely lets some of the characters speak at all. She regularly cuts Mr Bingley off with an "etc" suggesting that what he's saying has little or no importance to the story. And whole tracts of conversation, that I remember from various adaptations, don't exist at all! Even Mr Darcy's famous first proposal is told almost exclusively from Elizabeth's point of view. It's no wonder the BBC adaptation ended up as six episodes each an hour long. It must have been a nightmare trying to create the right words to live up to Jane Austen's purpose.

It's good fun to be analysing texts again, something I haven't done since I finished university, and to re-read an old favourite with a critical eye is very enlightening. I'm beginning to notice Jane Austen's subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle!) manipulation of the reader. I've noticed passages that seem to be in her voice, passing judgement on a situation. I've noticed details that I glossed over before. 

I really hope that the next generations continue to find ways to connect with Jane Austen's work so that Pride and Prejudice doesn't end up one of those books that they studied and hated at school.

Anyway, I've just reached the bit where Elizabeth and her aunt and uncle are visiting Pemberley. So I'm going to join them, over a nice cup of tea.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Snow inspirations

It's snowing again - a fresh blanket of snow is obscuring the grey sludge that still lingers at the edges of the roads. 

For my inspirational picture selection this week I have decided to show some of the photos I took after our first snow fall on Friday.

I have tried to choose photos for interesting contrasts, textures and shapes. 

It does look very pretty! The twisted branches and architectural features are really highlighted by the white background and the monochrome palette brings out all the different textures. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Icy blues

It is a beautiful day today. Very clear and bright with a definite chill in the air. The kind of cold that makes your breath visible and helps you appreciate returning home to hot soup and a warm house! No snow around here yet though.

Here are a selection of Folksy items that seemed suitable on this grogeous day. I hope you like them too. (click on the photo for more details of each item)

Crafted by Nichola

Scotti Creations


Fat Bunny Designs

Made 4 your Books

handprinted by a. deegan


Meeka-Boo Designs

Fat Cat Silver

Mr Ian Swales

Black Fox Press

Moon Rainbow

I hope you have a lovely day whatever the weather is doing where you are!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Not-Quite-Fifty Shades of Grey

Looking out of the window this morning, the world looks a bit grey. The weather, although dry, is decidedly cloudy and the Christmas decorations have gone from the streets and house windows.

So in an effort to brighten my day a little, I have been looking at the good side of the colour grey.

I have reminded myself that grey can be cosy, stylish, smart and cute. And it goes very well with other colours, of course!

Here are some of my favourite grey items on Wow Thank You today...

(Click on the pictures for more information on each item)

Kozmic Dreams

A & V Designs

Bee Designs

Leanne Woods Designs

Minty Club

Kerri Robberts Designs

Clarice Caine

lottie nottie

green grass

Court & Spark

Random Button

What does the colour grey mean to you?

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Crafting an Incredible 2013

We spent New Year's Eve with friends this year: in a little village just outside Shaftesbury. It was lovely to catch up with everybody and even lovelier to wake up to sunshine on New Year's Day.

Anyone living in the UK this year will recognise the significance of these photos! This small miracle grew into one whole sunny day without rain! A much needed lift to the spirits after a very wet Christmas and months of grey, rain and flood warnings.

In fact, this sunshine on New Year's Day inspired me to re-write completely the post I'd planned. Suddenly what I'd intended to write seemed too bleak, too retrospective. 

New Year is about looking forward, not back.

It is about hope. 

So here's the new improved version of the blog post. A post about my word for the year (in place of resolutions).

For 2013 my word is HAPPINESS.

This may sound a little odd, so let me explain a little. Recently, I stumbled across Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project. Sometimes these things appear in our lives, as if by magic, when we need them most.

Or as the Buddhist saying goes "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

And, as I devoured Gretchen's book, I realised that I was also "not as happy as I should be" with the life that I have. So it's time for a change.

In 2013, I intend to spend time focusing on the following (amongst other things):
  •  getting to know myself as I am now, in 2013
  • discovering what makes me happy 
  • working on improving areas that cause me stress or unhappiness
  •  finding ways to lift my mood 
I will be finding ways to be grateful for the life I have and ways to appreciate things around me. I intend to notice more and I will have more fun.
While I was planning my own Happiness Project (and thinking "how will I find time for all this?"), another 'teacher' appeared in my life. Another chance web link led me to Leonie Dawson. Her enthusiasm and joyous approach to life have been a huge inspiration in the few short weeks since I found her site! I will be using her 2013 Create Your Incredible Year Calendar & Workbook to help me fit these resolutions into my year and to start moving towards some of my other goals: personal, spiritual, business and financial.

 So with a little bit of creative time management there will be time for all the things I want to do. Time to grow my business, update my websites and get to grips with Twitter. Time to spend with my long-suffering OH, with family and with friends. Time for organisation and de-cluttering. Time to make things for me and my home as well as things for sale. Time for fun and time for relaxation.

Well that's the theory anyway!

I have so many things I'd like to achieve this year that if I only complete a quarter of them I'll be a very happy girl! I'll keep you posted with my progress...

I'd love to hear what you have planned for 2013 and any resolutions you have made.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Some lovely pinterest images to inspire at the dawning of a new year...

                                                 Source: via Anna on Pinterest

                                                        Source: via Katie on Pinterest

                                             Source: via Rowan on Pinterest

                                                            Source: via Anna on Pinterest

Happy New Year everyone! I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2013.
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