A Story That Should Never Have Happened…

Around this time last year, I wrote a short story about the day the Mary Rose sank back in 1545, told through the eyes of a young lady-in-waiting to the wife of the Vice-Admiral. I worked as a volunteer tour guide and shop assistant at the Mary Rose Museum in the summer of 2013, before I left Hampshire for university. That summer, although exhausting, was the best summer of my life, and I often long to be back wandering through the galleries, long kirtle swishing with the movement of my footsteps…

But, enough of me being poetic or wistful for what has been. Here is the story, published on the museum blog, for Museum Week’s Inspiration Day. I hope you enjoy!

http://www.maryrose.org/a-story-that-should-never-have-happened/

I Survived! Or, Amsterdam 2014!

So… Amsterdam.

Let’s say that I made it to and from in one piece.

I left Bath at 8.30pm, meaning that I sadly had to miss the final for Battle of the Laughs, which I was gutted about, because I was really rooting for the other comedians who were battling their way into the hearts of the students, to get that all important Summer Ball gig. But, we set off into the night, snuggled in blankets and munching snacks in the hope that we’d go to sleep on the coach. Alas, we didn’t, even though I took my sleep medication. But we got onto the ferry, and sailed away into the abyss of Europe.

That said, we got into sunny Amsterdam at 8.30am, after twelve gruelling hours on the road. After dropping our bags off, the intrepid explorers decided to go grab breakfast. 

Image

It was lovely to nibble on a light snack whilst beginning to re-read Diary of a Young Girl, as it made sense to read the story of a brave young woman going through a terrible experience, whilst walking the streets she would of known and loved. We had plans to visit The Secret Annexe the next day anyway, so context was needed.

After that, we decided to have a wander around our surroundings. We were really lucky to be getting such amazing weather, to be honest! I brought my posh DSLR camera that I got for Christmas, so was very able to play tourist for a change, and get snap happy. I’ll show off a couple of my favourite ones:

Image

Image

Image

It was so lovely, that I agreed to hire out a bike with a couple of my friends for a couple of hours. Considering that I hadn’t cycled since I was fourteen, I was pretty nervous, especially as I’d spent quite a bit of the morning watching all the locals whizzing around like pros (seriously, some of the kids were on their smartphones, on Facebook, whilst moving!). So, after being shown how to use the bike locks (which we soon forgot) and how the brakes worked (that would prove to be rather handy!), we set off. It wasn’t long before I was wobbling all over the place, half on the pavement, half on the road. My shoe kept falling off in the middle of the cycle road, and we went the wrong way down a one-way path (doh!), and then we had pandemonium trying to lock and unlock our bikes when we went off for dinner (a lovely Italian place!), before I managed to get the hang of cycling, by which point, we had to give the bikes back. At one point, I had Dutch cyclists swear at me (it sounded like they were, harsh tone of voice!), so I swore back in English (though a mother did have to cover her daughter’s ears, whoops!), and an older gentleman came up to me in the street and said “You need to learn to ride bicycle. Get off pavement!”, when I thought I was on the road… DOH! I did try though, which I guess was the main thing.

The next day, we bought 24 hour public transport tickets, and set off to find the Anne Frank House museum. 

Image

It was another beautiful day, as we boarded our first tram, and trundled off to Dam Square, where we’d have to walk for another ten minutes to find Prinsengracht, where the museum was. We got there at about 10am, to discover a massive queue! I’d hoped at that time in the morning that it wouldn’t of been so busy, but I forgot for a moment just how famous Anne and her beloved diary is. Anyone who is anyone would want to come to see the place where Anne and her fellow hiders lived until that fateful day when they were captured. 

Image

This was the queue at around 11am! It just got madder and madder as the minutes ticked by. Although, that said, listening to the bells of the church that Anne used to love made me feel more determined to swallow my impatience, and get through the queue and into the Secret Annex. But, I did bring the diary with me…

Image

It kept me busy whilst the queue shuffled slowly forwards. But we got in, and that was the main thing. We read out extracts of the diary, as well as the afterword, when a couple of my friends asked if Anne survived the war unfound. Unfortunately someone did tip off the hiders to the Nazis, who took them away to the dreaded concentration camps, and only Otto, Anne’s father, survived. 

Image

We were not allowed to take photos inside the Secret Annexe, so this was as far as the camera got. However, I agreed with this policy even if my friends didn’t, as you don’t want to ruin the experience by taking lots of photos and disturbing other visitors, not to mention that some artifacts get affected by light damage, especially when subjected to flash photography (see, there’s the old museum volunteer in me coming out!). But seeing the postcards on the wall, the books they read, the maps on the wall where they tracked the progress of the Allied forces, brought it home for me, that these were not just stories on a page anymore, but real people, and real lives. This was even more emphasized, when we got to the room where Anne’s original diary is kept, in a glass case, for all to see, as well as pieces of paper where Anne had written short stories, or her draft of the novel she was writing about the Secret Annex, based on her original diary. 

I then had to pop back home, as my card started playing up, because I needed more funds to be loaded on, which meant I missed out on the canal cruise I’d wanted to go on, which was a shame. But before then I bought the film made in 1959 about Anne’s diary, as well as a graphic biography of Anne’s life, which I simply couldn’t bear to leave behind. We went out for one last time, to another lovely Italian restaurant, where I had a really nice calzone. We wandered the streets of Amsterdam as the nightlife awoke, before turning in for the night, as we had a long journey ahead of us for the next day.

And then we left Amsterdam the next morning, at 11am. We travelled back into England, which took us longer than planned as we got stuck in traffic. But we soon made it, and lugged all our suitcases and bags back into our rooms, before I flopped into bed.

It was a wonderful experience, and one I would love to repeat. I’d better start saving up for going back, I might persuade Josh to go with me, I think he’d love the laid back vibe of the place, not sure if he’d want to hire a bicycle though… 

 

 

Shiz Just Got Real…

Packed up my locker at work today. This was a bitter sweet moment in my life where I am excited to be leaving there in order to find better things (like hopefully a paid job!). Yet I also feel a little bit sad to think that all I have to show for five months of volunteering there is this…

image

That is just a tad bit depressing. Oh well, another box of stuff to go through. There was a bit of a row between Josh and I, as he wants me to start looking for a job at university right this minute, and throw out most of my things. I however, want to make the most of the university jobshop so I find a shift that suits my hours of study. I also am determined to keep all my books. Especially the books.

So, I’ve got just one whole weekend, a Tuesday and a Saturday left at work. Not that I mind much, I can’t wait to get out of there!

Catch-Up

So, as you can see, my cosplay has been unveiled! I’ll be looking into the Femme Arthur Dent next, so stay tuned for that! I got my bow tie through the post yesterday afternoon, which I was able to intercept as work let me off early!

I didn’t realise that yesterday was one of those days where I didn’t actually need to go into work. I could of sat down and started some coursework, but as I left my memory stick over at my fiancé’s, I’m going to have to wait a while before I can finish off the theory side of things for college, but I’ll probably take the day off next Tuesday after the opening weekend rush in order to sit and get some serious work done. I might even head off to college and sit in the study centre a while, but, meh.

Today I’m going to be visiting Southampton with my housemate and our carer today, it’ll be the first visit of the year, which is pretty exciting, as I haven’t been since the Christmas shopping. One of the reasons I rarely go there to shop is because it’s a one and a half hours’ journey by bus to get there in the first place (Winchester is two hours!), and the bus to the city isn’t very frequent, so you need to have a full day out in the city, it’s not somewhere where you can go to for a couple of hours and then go home. It’s also a place that gets pretty crowded when the weather is good, as they have a massive shopping centre, an IKEA and a very busy high street. It’s not particularly fun, but there you go. The crowd issue causes several issues, for example, long queues in some of the stores, people stepping on either you or the shopping and generally getting in the way. I tend to get most annoyed at the mums with huge buggies, which act like those snow plowers (and most of the time their kids are not even in the blinking thing!), and they expect you to get the heck out of their way! I understand it when a disabled person needs the room, but not these mums who use their buggies as trollies…

Rant over. 

Anyways, I’m really excited about tomorrow as well, as I’m going to be doing a filming gig for work. As the new museum has all it’s opening stuff going on tomorrow, they need people to help the film crew out. As I have training in filmmaking (thanks college!) I’ve been asked to help out. Only downside is that they will need me in Southsea for 8.30am. Looks like I’ll have to be up with the sparrows, as I need to get a bus from my house to Gosport, get the ferry over to Gunwarf, and then hop on another bus to Southsea. It’s a once in a lifetime thing though, so it really is something to get excited about!

And then on Friday will be a massive work do! We’re all going to this party that will have a DJ, live music, food and drink, just some really cool stuff! It’ll be a long one as well, so how I’m going to get off the base at 10.30pm without a pass is beyond me! 

Then Saturday and Sunday will be the opening weekend to the public! Scary stuff! I’m really nervous, as I know it’ll be the busiest weekend in the history of busy weekends. As a volunteer tour guide in the new museum, my job does involve crowd control, as well as talking to the public about the artefacts and other stories to do with the museum, and I also have to do security checks for unattended items. 

And then back to college for the final full day…

Half Term!

So, tomorrow heralds the start of the final Half Term break of this academic year! For those who are non-UK, half terms are random weeks that we school/college students get off, where we get the entire week off to do as we please before going back to education the week after. This is why we don’t have longer school holidays like in the US. But I digress. 

After this week off, I only have to go into college for one final 9-4 day of classes, and then I sign out of college forever! This is why this half term for me is actually a lot more special. It’s also because when I go to university, I will never have a half term ever again, as universities set up their own holidays rather than linking to the way the government organises this time. It does mean I’ll get longer breaks though, such as longer Christmas and Spring break. 

So, you must be wondering about what I’ll be getting up to, what I shall be doing with this final half term? 

This past weekend I’ve had off of work, as the museum opens to the public museum, so I’ve been vegging in front of Jeremy Kyle and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Hopefully I should get my hair dyed (I have my usual dye and some bleach for the fringe) Tomorrow will be an early start, 5am to be precise, as I am (with Josh’s help) selling a load of my stuff at the local car boot sale, and will then write up the Geeky Feminist post (Doctor Who, very cool). Tuesday is one of the days I’m on shift, so from 9 to 5 I’ll be at the museum, then I’ll be going back home. I believe that I’ll be popping into Southampton on either Wednesday or Thursday, as I would like to get hold of some D&D dice (I need my friend to send me the DM guides) as well as to have a look into a nice dress for Thursday and Friday. Thursday evening is the opening ceremony for the museum, which I have been invited to, along with the other volunteers and staff members, which is exciting. I’ve also been asked to take notes so I can write a ‘dummy’ blog post for a potential Mary Rose blog, so that will be nice. I’ll probably spend my spare time studying, as well as making sure I can attend the open audition for ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ at the theatre near the museum. I do have my dossier to still do, as well as some essays for three different lecturers. I will have to make sure that everything gets done before 3rd June, when everything is due in, before I sign out on 5th June. Friday is the work do to celebrate the museum being open at last, which will be exciting. Then I’ll be working the opening weekend with the usual hours, and I bet it’ll be the busiest I’ll have ever worked. 

So, that’ll be my half term. 

If you’re having half term this week, what you doing? If you could have a whole week to yourself, what would you do with it?