Category Archives: Bucket List

2012 in review

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Oh dear bloggy
How I’ve neglected you!

Well, well, haven’t I been naughty and neglected my lovely blog. I’m sorry dear readers, if there are any of you out there. I have an excuse or three hundred and I never promised to be regular but I have missed you and you haven’t been far from my mind (I even made a list on what I’d like to add to you).

2012 was a year of contradictions, fantastic for the country, Jubilee, Olympics and Paralympics. A bit bleugh for me if I’m honest for a number of different reasons that I won’t go in to and bore you with. There was also some fun and laughs and some bucket list achievement (one of the reasons for reduced blog action I feel).

I set a a list of 2012 Intentions and I need to review them – here’s what I wrote with my review in bold

I saw somebody write about New Year’s intentions rather than resolutions and I like this idea, especially as I have so many intentions in mind this year. My plan is to try to fulfil these things throughout the year and so in most cases they will start with an I will try to… and if I’ve got just a little way along the journey as we cross into 2013 then I should consider this a success.

Health and wellbeing (Physical and Mental)
•    Try not to let other people have a huge impact on how I feel about myself (Now, I don’t think I’ll never get upset by comments or things that happen but I need to learn to let go more and think more rationally about what that means about my worth as a person). Now this is definitely one that that I haven’t successfully achieved and has been a bleugh factor if I’m honest. 2013 – to try harder – I’m getting help with this now.
•    Try to keep up with crafting and being creative (writing, knitting, painting, card making etc. because I really have enjoyed these occupations). I’m pretty happy that I have made some good progress with this one and want to keep on going.
•    Try to leave 2012 weighing less than I did at the start (No mention of how much because I find it difficult to set a realistic target in relation to this). It took a long time to get going but thanks to the 5:2 plan I actually achieved this (not by much but there was some going up in the middle). I’d like to reset this goal for 2013.
•    Try to go to the gym more in order to help the above intention and improve my strength and stamina in general (I’m going to start by aiming to attend at least 1 session of body combat for three weeks every month). Another big fail. I basically donated to the gym and have stupidly done so again. Toward the end of the year I started pilates and really enjoyed it but I’ve been ill (flu, tonsillitis, sickness bug) since the middle of November so that fell off but I’m hoping to restart that soon. I really did feel like I stood taller after each session.
•    Try to remember to take my medication each day and to order my repeats in time so I don’t start another New Year sneezing!!! I think I mostly managed but do still forget on occasion. The sneezing I started 2013 on was flu related though.

Writing and Challenges
•    Over on my new Tumblr blog I am going to aim to take a photo a day (for every one of the 366 days in 2012) and post it on there. The snapseed photo app was very helpfully free on iTunes 12 Days of Christmas today so I’m going to use that and my exisiting photo based apps (like Instagram and Colour Splash) to have a little fun with the snaps I take. There’s an app called my365 which is also quite cool and I might use that too to summarise my months in photo calendar form. Whoo hoo I actually achieved this – hurrah, hurrah. Occasionally the photo was posted just after midnight but the photo was always taken before. I’m kind of carrying on with this but in a different way – see my forthcoming 2013 Intentions post.
•    In a second attempt to be more mindful on what is happening around me I am also going to extend the January River of Stones challenge and try to write a small stone each day of 2012. You can more about this over on Tumblr too. Another success. A few more of these were posted/written after midnight but always about the day in question.
•    I forgot to add my third daily challenge which is to reply to the Oh Life daily e-mail – this will just be a personal journal (an aide memoir) – I like that when you’ve been posting for a while it sends you random snippets from past posts). I think I may have missed a couple of days but mostly achieved this, I’m kind of still doing it because I haven’t stopped the e-mails – it’s interesting to look back on the year.
•    Sally Quilford who last year set up the May You Write Your Novel challenge has again set up a writing challenge starting today. 100k in 100 days is a bit more of a flexible writing challenge (I think writing journal articles might count too so I may be able to squeeze some work writing in this too) that I am going to attempt. I have written 823 words today not counting the small stones which I will add on. I need to think about where and how I’m going to track my progress on this one but think I’ll do it weekly rather than daily. Failed this one, and although I was going to try again this year I’m afraid starting the year sick has scuppered this.
•    I’m going to try and use this challenge and my own willpower to try and complete a full draft of my novel (with the middle laid out in more detail than a few sentences). Umm, hangs head. See Nanowrimo point below.
•    And I forgot to put in sending some stories and poems to publications. Nope – and I’ve decided to focus on the novel for now.
•    Ooops I also forgot to add in keeping up with my blog more (I’m still hoping to use Silent Sunday and meme’s like Kate Takes 5′s Listography but also generally make sure there is some content on all of my tabs and write at least two non meme related posts a month). Again not really acheived that well although I did achieve the April A-Z blogging challenge and did do a few Silent Sundays. Listography stopped though.
•    I will try ScriptFrenzy again in April Focus on the Novel Kirsty
•    I will try NaNoWriMo again in November (but importantly with all of these I will appreciate that I have a lot going on in my life so if I don’t complete the challenges I will simply be happy with adding whatever I have written that I wouldn’t have written before). I achieved 25,000 words of the sequel to my novel written in 2010/11. I now need to rewrite the first into first person. I’ve started a series bible and want to edit the first two books in the series together. I took a couple of writing courses towards the end of the year (unfortunately not being able to commit to the last and most expensive because of sickness).
•    I will try my best to submit my research proposal to the ethics committee at work by the summer (hopefully by May though). No, not achieved. This needs to go at the top of 2013 list. Unfortunately one of my supervisors died in the summer and with all my sickness progress has been delayed.
•    I will try to write at least 2 journal articles this year. Another fail. I did some conference presentations.
•    I will try to read at least 1 fiction book a month and to post the review on Goodreads and here. Just about managed the reading, did a fair few of the reviews.
•    I will try and cross 4 items off my Bucket List by the end of 2012 (1 is booked and I’m making good progress on a 2nd and maybe a 3rd so hopefully this is realistic). Yup overachieved this. Trip (well make that 3 with a 4th booked and potential 5th  planned for 2013) to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The 366Photo Challenge, The Small Stone Challenge, I read Insurgent, Saw The Hunger Games and Breaking Dawn Part 2 films and meeting some online friends.
•    Last addition (though the most important really) is to spend more time with friends and family. Hopefully this happened. Especially over the holidays – one of the main reasons I love Christmas.
•    2012 was also the year of the musicals and theatre and comedy and that is set to continue (think that deserves its own post at some time).
So not a lot then on top of everything else that I have to do. I think 2013’s list should be shorter and will follow in a separate post. Wish me luck and willpower. You lot clearly didn’t try hard enough ;o)

Insurgent – Book Review (May Contain Spoilers)

The day has finally arrived – 1st May 2012 – publication day for Veronica Roth’s sequel to Divergent. Insurgent is the second book of a planned trilogy and just as enticing as the first. The Tagline for Insurgent is:

I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am.

As part of Team Abnegation UK (a book blogger challenge), I was treated to an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) of Insurgent – thanks HarperCollins. I only received my copy on Wednesday but being selfless (as the abnegation are) I still made it a priority to read the book so that I could review it for you today. In the process I managed to cross another thing off my Bucket List.

The first thing I would say is that you really need to read Divergent if you haven’t already – you can find my review of it here. And you can buy it on the sponsored link below:

But, if you have already read Divergent and haven’t got time to read it again before Insurgent (I didn’t but wish I had) – the lovely lady herself has been kind enough to provide a summary of what happened in the first book here.

I’m afraid I’m going to find it really hard to review without some spoilers for Divergent if not Insurgent. I’ll try really hard not to give away everything but if you prefer not to read the review it is contained within the stars below.


Insurgent picks up exactly where Divergent left off with Tris and Four/Tobias and ‘whoever else was with them’ on a train on their way to the Amity compound and the action is pretty much non stop from then though there is food and sleep mentioned ;o).
In Divergent we only really got to meet three of the five factions – Abnegation (the selfless) where Tris was raised, Dauntless (the brave) where she transfers to and Erudite (the intelligent) where her brother Caleb transfers to. They are also the faction responsible for the devastation at the end of Divergent.
In Insurgent we get to visit the headquarters of all factions and find out more about Amity (the peaceful) and Candor (the honest) in the process. We also find out that the factionless are more organised than they have clearly been given credit for.

Tris is dealing with the repercussions of what she did during the Erudite controlled Dauntless simulations as well as what happened to her parents and old and current faction members. I think it is more evident to us in this book than the last that she is only 16. She is impatient and impulsive but also inquisitive and she shows her Abnegation roots by her numerous acts of selflessness. It’s unfortunate that these acts usually see others placed in danger too. Tris and Four do not have a love triangle to contend with but they also do not have a smooth ride as a couple and both keep secrets that threaten their relationship.

Divergence is seen as a massive threat by the Erudite and, not content with trying to wipe out Abnegation, they try to determine a way to control or eliminate the Divergent. We find out that Divergence is more rife than we first thought and that means something for the future of society as Tris knows it. She knows her parents wanted to let everyone know the truth and Tris doesn’t want their deaths to have been in vain. Now I had kind of guessed what the truth might be but that didn’t spoil the big reveal for me (and I got a little confused at one thing – hence the recommendation to re-read Divergent if you can or have a better memory than me).

I’m really looking forward to seeing that truth open up a whole new avenue for exploration in the as yet unnamed trilogy concluder.

As with Divergent I have selected a few of my favourite quotes to illustrate some of the themes/images that stood out for me with a little explanation why.

His breaths, my breaths, his body, my body, we are so close there is no difference.

As I mentioned in my X post there are some slightly raunchy scenes in Insurgent where Tris and Four get a little bit steamy. For Tris these moments with Tobias are her escape from the collapse of society around her and this line represents that perfectly. She never lets herself escape completely though and Tobias remains the perfect gentleman.

…even more difficult to justify my feelings with no evidence except my intuition.
    So I agree. But I do not change my mind.

Often quotes jump out at me because they may resonate with my life outside the book. To me this demonstrates the difficulties many of us face with a lack of acceptance of certain forms of knowledge. That thoughts and feelings and intuition are still not as accepted as what we can see or add up. Tris has no idea what the ‘truth’ may be but she ‘knows’ that it needs to be set free.

Don’t tell me you’re going to eat a mashed-potato sandwich

This made me giggle – Tris asks this almost indignantly of another character but it just made me crave a mash potato sandwich. I’ve not had one for a good few years now.  

Blood is a strange color. It’s darker than you expect it to be.

Obviously this comes at a point when Tris has already seen more than her fill of blood but to me it acknowledges her humanity. Death doesn’t become easier for her to accept just more of a reality.   

I don’t stare back – I refuse to stare back.
    I stare back.

Just love the contradiction in this. When we really try to stop ourselves we just can’t help giving in to what we are resisting.  

I think we cry to release the animal parts of us without losing our humanity.

I’ve been someone who has battled crying all my life, crying when I am sad, angry or sometimes with relief (A-Level results) or in pure fear (The Woman in Black). I am coming to terms with the fact that this is necessary for me, even though it sometimes makes others uncomfortable. I even have times when I haven’t cried for a when I feel an overwhelming need for a good blub. I love how Veronica through Tris justifies the necessity of this act for me.

I think they’re going to force us to eat lots of cake and then take an unreasonably long nap.

In the face of fear what is the best course of action – laugh. Tris lies to a Candor born Dauntless and comes out with my idea of heaven.


Over the week the rest of my team will be reviewing the book on their respective blogs – you can find a list of them on this post here.

(Abnegation Image courtesy of serendipity_viv)

(Three birds Image courtesy of my invite e-mail from HarperTeen - a representation of Tris' tattoo?)

You can buy Insurgent on the sponsored link below (I’m still going to be buying the Kindle version despite my ARC):

Or just admire my copy of the book from the day it arrived. I strongly suggest reading it though.

Finally in honour of today my 366 Photo (incidentally 1/3 of the way through the challenge) represents the grey stones of Abnegation.

I’d really love to hear what you thought of Insurgent in the comments – as a consequence readers please be aware the comments may contain spoilers.

In honour of Abnegation I’d also like you you tell me what selfless acts you’ve performed recently. Mine usually revolve around letting people out in front of me in the car or helping people with their IT related difficulties.

Happy Reading!

I will wear my robes

I will wear my robes

Hi all, this is my first of a series of posts on my visit to ‘The Making of Harry Potter – Warner Brothers Studio Tour’ on 9th April 2012 (and that’s another item off The Bucket List).

I’m going to start by being a tease and not telling you anything about the tour itself (don’t worry that is to come but it will take longer to write up).

After the tour was over you spill out into the gift shop – and what a gift shop it is. Now, I was hoping to buy an ‘I solemnly swear I am up to no good’ mug but they had been so popular they have sold out. I was informed by one of the lovely staff (more on them in later posts) that they are hoping to have an online shop open by Christmas so I hope to get one then (if not in a repeat visit in August *I am grinning as I type this).

So, I just had to buy something else. My first item chosen was an authentic 35mm film minicell of Emma Watson from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I chose it also for the accompanying pictures of the three main cast members.

My megageek purchase though was my Hufflepuff robes (Pottermore sorted me into the house of the badger). At £74.95 this was not a throwaway purchase and my sister very calmly asked me when I might wear it. When put on the spot my response was quite feeble with not many options. But now I have had time to think so here, Sissy Poo, is my plan (looks like an evil plan based on the shot below) for robe wearing.

1.    When I got home and was chilling and looking at my souvenirs.
2.    It was quite comfy so generally around the house (though I have to be careful climbing the stairs).
3.    When I return to the studio tour in August (a few days early birthday treat with a fellow Hufflepuff) so I can re-enact my broomstick flying but in house colours.
4.    When I eventually go to ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ in Florida.
5.    At a Harry Potter themed party (I may have to throw one myself).
6.    At most ‘open themed’ fancy dress parties.
7.    At Halloween.
8.    At a Harry Potter convention??
9.    At the Quidditch World Cup (it would be so cool to go one year – or play).
10.    Potentially for a teaching session?? (Hmmm, I may have to work up to this one).
11.    At graduation?? If they forget to order my OT degree robes again and there are no OU robes on standby (now I admit this is unlikely). I could wear under my PhD robes (assuming I complete and pass) and then have a few ‘alternate robes’ pics or I could work towards another OU degree and do as suggested with PhD robes. There is even an OU Children’s Literature course where you can actually study Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!
12.    When watching the Harry Potter films (I could make this 8 events ;o))
13.    When reading the Harry Potter books (I could make this 7 events ;o))
14.    When reading the extra Harry Potter books, e.g. Tales of Beedle the Bard, the Comic Relief specials etc.
15.    When investigating Pottermore (thanks to Stacey for this suggestion of making it a more immersive experience).
16.    When playing Harry Potter boardgames (I currently have none but hope to rectify this at some point).
17.    When playing Harry Potter games on the Wii.
18.    When playing Harry Potter games on the iPhone/iPad.
19.    Maybe on my future Harry Potter themed wedding day ;o) (If I can find a potential groom who agrees with this).
20.    When being interviewed about ‘my influences’ when I finally get my WIP finished/published.
21.    When watching TV and using the magic wand remote control you bought me for Christmas.

I think I will stop there but can anyone else think of other situations when this outfit would be required/recommended/appropriate?

And the coolest thing about the robe in my humble opinion. The fact that it has an internal wand pocket!!!!!

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