Friday, 30 March 2012

East Sussex Records Office - Lewes

Yesterday I spent a lovely day in Lewes with my friend ( The reason for our visit was to go to the East Sussex Records Office which is based there. As you well know by now I am currently researching my dissertation. Following my tutorial a few weeks ago I had a few archives to track down and research. Well, luckily I have had some success. One of the archives  - the Bexhill War Memorial Committee papers - are located at the Records Office, hence our trip yesterday. My friend was there to help cover more ground as I only really had one day to go through the papers and make notes. Thankfully my friend is also interested in history and knows how to take references and notes so she was a very useful companion! I was slightly concerned she would get bored as dissertations are famously only interesting to the person writing them, but she claims she found it interesting and was not bored!

The archive itself was very interesting. It included some of the minutes of the committee meetings (unfortunately not complete), the leaflet asking for design submissions from Sculptors and Architects (5 Guineas for the top 5 designs chosen by the committee!), some of the designs including the winning entry, sketches and maps for where it will be located and the Borough Surveyor's reports on the location and winning design. The archive also included information on the Children's Memorial Fund that was planned to be set up with any money left over from the "visible memorial" fund and the various discussions with the Charity Commission to get this fund recognised as a "War Charity". Finally there were papers detailing damage to the war memorial in 1921 just a few months after it was unveiled at the end of 1920. The damage was apparently caused by the rocks moving and the stone the memorial was made out of expanding in the warmer weather which hadn't been allowed for. Although the repairs were made, it did come at a cost which judging by the collection of papers, those that provided the additional cash were not happy about! I did not know about this incident so this was something new to add to the narrative of the Bexhill War Memorial.

With my friend's help we managed to get through the archive in about 3 hours. I would most definitely have been there all day had I been on my own. I was also extremely lucky to get three documents copied on the day. At the moment there is at least a 4-6 week waiting time for reproductions which with my deadline pending would not have been doable. However the staff there very kindly agreed to make an exception and I was able to collect the copies on our way home. I am very grateful!

By the time we were finished it was lunch time and as the sun was out we took our picnic outside and sat on a bench watching the world go by and enjoying the view of Lewes Castle. It was also an opportunity to warm up after the chilly temperatures of the archive! After our picnic we took a stroll around Lewes looking at the various historic buildings and churches, reading plaques and looking in the lovely unique shops. Typically I found a beautiful A5 purple leather bound thick notebook ( I am the Stationery Pigeon after all) that I really wanted, but unfortunately it had a £20 price tag! Unless the Birthday Fairy, Father Christmas or Lottery decides I can have it, it will sadly remain in the shop!. The red leather one was equally beautiful!

We then found a collection of craft shops including a fabric/quilting shop. Now I am not a fabric crafter and as the daughter of a curtain maker and upholsterer I have an aversion to fabric and sewing. It was always going to go one way or the other; either I would join the family business or rebel. I rebelled to the point where I do not know how to sew or use a sewing machine, have no idea about different fabrics and don't normally go in fabric shops by choice. However my friend loves fabric craft and wanted to go into the shop. We are also starting to make quilts for Crafty Claires to sell at Craft Fairs. Yes that's right I will be helping to make quilts! Me! My Dad does not believe it!! The shop itself was very nice and I loved all the colours of fabric and the little bundles of pre-cut patchwork pieces. It was also very nice as a cute little dog called Freddy lived there and just had to be fussed over! He was a friendly little thing and I couldn't resist making a fuss of him! I am sucker for little dogs! We also bought a couple of panels for our quilts for the next craft fair in April.

Luckily my friend and I are ideally suited as friends. Not only do we share similar interests but we also get bored at exactly the same time! After looking at the quilt stuff we both decided we had had enough! We were bored, hot, thirsty and tired. We returned to the car via our bench for a final sit down and a drink! It was a lovely day and I am really grateful for my friend's help. She made the day far more enjoyable!

Now I need to sort out access to the Mass Observation Archives at University of Sussex! Hmmmm.......................

Sunday, 25 March 2012


In September two of my friends will be going off to university for the first time. They will be studying History and  Archaeology & Anthropology respectively. To be honest I am a little bit jealous. Now I know that you will be thinking, "hang on your at university too, your doing your MA". Well, yes I am but its not the same as spending three years full time as an undergraduate. Its not the same as moving to a new town and living in Halls of Residence for the first year and its not the same as living away from home for the first time at the tender age of 18.
Despite the recent headline grabbing changes to fees and student loans, university is a good thing. Its exciting. Its a right of passage. Its an opportunity. Obviously there are the academic gains; studying a subject in depth and in various ways, sharing ideas with like minded people and hopefully achieving a qualification that will lead to paid employment. However there are also all the non-academic gains. Learning to stand on your own two feet, being responsible for your own actions, meeting diverse and different people, expanding and challenging your preconceptions, and learning how to budget and make ends meet while being continuously "skint".

There are obviously other experiences too; learning to hold your alcohol (or not!), testing your ability to be up until the early hours of the morning having fun and getting up on time for a 9am lecture, realising how useful having a friend who can drive and who has their car on campus is, and trying "new things"!! Its also an opportunity to make new friends and broaden your horizons. Despite some ups and downs I really loved being at university and wish I could go back and do it all again.

So for my friends embarking on the scholastic adventure that is university here are some tips based on my own experience:
1. A' Levels and College does not prepare you for University no matter what your teachers have told you. It would be like saying a 10 minute walk in the snow in December would prepare you for a 30 day trip to the Arctic. You are expected to lead your studying at university. You choose which criticism or feedback to listen to and ignore. You have to cope with the workload and you ARE expected to read all the reading before each lecture or seminar. Note taking is very different, and lecture learning is completely different to classroom learning. Be adaptable and quick to learn and you will be fine.

2. You will never find every single lecture interesting and fascinating. All subjects have dull, dry boring aspects that you just have to get through. Grit your teeth and remember it will pass and you will move on to more interesting stuff soon.

3.  At uni you are an adult and will be treated as one. You decide whether you go to lectures or not. But remember this new freedom can bite you on your bum if you fall behind or screw up. Its your fault. No letters to you parents or your parents being called to the university. YOU have to face the music and more importantly face your tutors.

4. Don't leave essays, assignments and seminars to the last minute. They are expected to take you  a certain amount of time to prepare and if you don't use this time its obvious and your tutor can tell.

5. Your tutors will not carry you. They have hundreds of students to teach. If you can't be bothered, they won't be bothered with you when you ask for help.

6. Homesickness passes. It might feel like the end of the world and you can't carry on, but trust me it will get better and you will be glad you stayed and stuck it out.

7. Most students are untidy and adverse to washing up and cleaning in general. This will irritate you, but complaining about it will not help and will not make you very popular. Look after your own stuff. That's the best you can hope for if your sharing digs with someone. When you move into private accommodation it will hopefully get better (sometimes!).

8. If you can choose who you live with, choose wisely. Having to find a new housemate is not always easy and even the most careful and rigorous choosing process can result in letting a weirdo move in with you! Once they are in they are impossible to get rid off. Make sure you find out as much about them as possible, BEFORE you offer them the room!

9. Having fun is allowed. Don't feel guilty for going out and having fun. Make the most of every opportunity (as long as you are safe and don't put yourself in any danger).

10. Enjoy every second, even the bad bits. You really will look back on your uni years with fondness and yearning after they have passed.

11. Do not believe all the hype about Fresher's Week, Fortnight or Month. This is designed for one type of student in mind and if you are not that particular type of student you will be disappointed. But if you like Foam Parties, luminous shot drinks, themed club nights and waking up with sick in your hair then you will have a ball! (Freshers Week at my uni was definitely not for me!).

12. Finally, you only get to do this once. Yes you can go back and do other degrees but you will only ever be an undergraduate for the first time once. Make the most of it.

There are probably more useful tips like eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, or don't do drugs or always have taxi fair home, but that is just common sense (I would hope!).

So to Cat and Rachel, good luck for September when you go off to university and enjoy every single second! You will have a fabulous time and will be glad you went. I look forward to hearing all about your adventures and your studies! 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Dissertation Update March 2012

On Friday I had my first tutorial with my supervisor for my masters dissertation. I should have had this first tutorial weeks ago but due to other issues I have had problems with booking one. However it was great to finally get to have a chat about my proposal and the feedback I had got for it as well as discussing what my next steps would be and how to progress forward with my study. It was also a relief to discuss my concerns about deadlines and certain aspects of the study. In particular I wasn't completely happy with the structure or framework of it. I was also uncertain about the theoretical side and whether I was going down the right path with the reading I was doing

My supervisor completely understood where I was coming from and really understood me and my interests. She had already picked up in my proposal the weakness I had with the theory and although I had identified a usable structure, she felt I had overlooked more juicer options! I was able to explain that I had not overlooked certain areas but had been lead away from them to a more theoretical based study during the proposal stage.  She reassured me that I didn't need to use this approach and it should be what I wanted to do as it was MY study. She felt I should use a more historical approach considering my background and interests and use the theory to look at the wider picture when necessary. I completely agreed with her. I had originally wanted to focus more on the history of the war memorial and how its meaning had changed. I had also wanted to trace the history of the war memorial and war commemoration in general from the end of the First World War to modern day. I had been steered away from this when writing my proposal as it was considered a too wider date range. However with my supervisor's help I now have a plan that covers all the things I wanted to look at while still being academic and suitable for my MA!!

The slight downside to all this good stuff is that I now have a long list of archives to find and books to read. Although this will be fun and I will enjoy doing it, it will also take a lot of time and with a deadline fast approaching time is not something that I have a lot of! However I am sure I will figure out a way of fitting it all in. Plus when your enjoying something, its amazing how quickly you can whiz through it!

So my next steps are to track down the archive for the war memorial committee that was set up in Bexhill, have a look as the Mass Observation archive at the University of Sussex to look at the observations of Armistice Day in 1937 and 1938 as well as throughout the Second World War and to look at both local and national newspapers to see how Armistice Day and the burial of the unknown warrior were reported. This is on top of lots of reading and beginning to draft a chapter!

Better make a start..........!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Framed Decoupage and some more Cards

Here are some more of my latest craft creations. They are both decoupage cards. The top Forever Friends one is approx A4 size. Its the biggest card I have made to date.

The other card is a Me to You or Tatty Teddy decoupage, but its a bit different as its also a tiered card which means the decoupage then has a tiered frame over the top which is also decoupaged. Its quite time consuming but I am very pleased with the finished result!

 Following on from a suggestion from my friend Claire 2 I have also started to look at ways of branching out from just doing cards. These are my first and second attempts at doing framed decoupage as a picture. Not sure how well they will do, but hopefully someone will want to give them a home. They are quite cute!
Today I attended a Craft Fair at St.Barnabas Church, Bexhill with Claire 2 and her Mum and Nan. It was a fun day although unfortunately I didn't sell anything which is a bit frustrating. However I enjoyed myself which is the main thing.

For photos of today's fair please look at our craft blog Crafty Claires at

Friday, 9 March 2012

Crafty Claires Blog

Just a quick little note to say that if you enjoyed the recent photos of my lovely Easter Cards then please also follow my other blog Crafty Claires

The blog has been set up between me and my crafty friend and we will be talking about our crafting endeavours, showcasing our latest crafty creations and reporting back about craft fairs we have attended. As you know my craft of choice is papercraft namely decoupage and embossing.  My friend (or No 2) is interested in crochet, knitting, sewing, fabric crafts and tons more!

Please follow Crafty Claires and our crafty adventures!

P.S: We will be at St. Barnabas Church, Bexhill this Saturday (10th March) from 10am - 4pm for their monthly craft fair if your local and want to pop in!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Easter Cards

 This coming Saturday I am suppose to be sharing a table at a local Craft Fair with my fabulous friend who also does craft. Her equally talented Mum and Nan will also be having a table at the Fair. As Easter is fast approaching I thought I had better replenish my stock by making a few Easter Cards. I am also hoping to do some Mother's Day cards and weddings & anniversaries as well as the usual Happy Birthday ones. So far I have made these Easter Cards and wanted to share them with you!

 When I have some more photos I will put them on here too!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day 2012

As my blog is called the Book Worm I thought I should write something about today being World Book Day. So what's it all about? Well, World Book Day is a celebration of reading, books, authors and illustrators. It is marked in over 100 countries and it has been running for 15 years now. Its main aim is to encourage children to read books, get excited about reading and genuinely to see books as cool fun things! However it is also a great excuse to encourage adults to pick up a book and get reading too!

As I have said before I love books, so I fully support World Book Day, especially when there are 4 million children living in Britain today who do not own one single reading book. There are also a high number of adults who do not own books either! As someone who has filled three tall bookshelves and now has piles of books scattered around I find this shocking and a real shame. They are missing out on so much. Its part of learning and learning doesn't stop because you finish school. You continue to learn throughout your life and reading plays a part in this.

Reading is a really enjoyable, relaxing past time. There is nothing nicer then snuggling down with a good book, drink and nibbles. Books are door ways to different worlds and different adventures. I couldn't imagine not owning a book.

So my message for today is to encourage everyone to pick up a book and read it. Get lost in it. Enjoy it. For my fellow book worms out there why not use World Book Day as an excuse to treat yourself to a new book!