My Week In Photos: Cornwall

Cornwall

I got home from Cornwall at 7.30am on Saturday, bleary-eyed, with my stomach full of nothing but Watsits.  A pretty standard British holiday, if you ask me.  I had flu/allergies/whatever-that-thing-was all week, but still managed to do some wonderful things while I was away…

Cornwall Polperro

We visited Polperro, a gorgeous fishing village that was just down the hill from our accommodation.

Cornwall

Cornwall

We followed the narrow streets round to the Model Village.

Cornwall

We stole a day to revisit Newquay. Parking was still extortionately priced, but we had an amazing fried breakfast and enjoyed lounging on the beach.

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Bodmin Jail was an interesting afternoon trip. Curiously, I thought it wasn’t quite as atmospheric as I was expecting, but the exhibits were fascinating!

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

There was a big blue, terrifying room full of cells, each one housing a different crime. Some were pretty grotesque, and scary… (this photo is of one of the nicer stories!)

Cornwall

Cornwall

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall Reading

It wouldn’t be a holiday without getting in some reading time.

We also did a lot of swimming, eating, board gaming and laughing. And trudging through the rain, of course!

Want to see more Cornwall?  Check out what I got up to last year!

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

September 13, 2017
/

Flash Fiction Winner: ‘Game Over’

I’m pleased to share the winning entry of August’s Flash Fiction Competition!  The theme this time was ‘Game Over’, and Jess Larter has been chosen as August’s winner for her short story about a queen at war.

You can read her winning story below:


The Queen has lost count of how many times they have stood here, ready to play war as if they are children about to play a game.

She stares out across the battlefield and observes the army on the other side. It is as if she is looking in a mirror, the other army a reflection of her own except for the colour of their armour. Her soldiers stand in front of her in a neat row, all dressed in the white garb of their kingdom. They are restless and eager to fight; ready to sacrifice their lives for the crown, for her. It’s likely they will do just that.

One of them takes a tentative step forward and his reflection does the same. Within seconds the playing field becomes a thunderstorm of black and white as more troops from both sides rush into the fray. The Queen doesn’t hesitate to join them.

After what feels to her like hours, she is finally able to stop and catch her breath. When her eyes find the King, his white armour a beacon gleaming in the sunshine, she is surprised to see she is not the only one eyeing him. A Knight clad in black armour sits atop her horse, a shadow ready to charge. The shadow waits just a second longer then spurs the horse forward.

She is almost upon the King when he finally hears her racing up behind him. He only has the time to take a single step to the right and out of the reach of her sword. At least this time it will not be that sword that deals him the killing blow. Or perhaps this time he won’t be dealt any fatal blow and instead it will be the King in the black cloak who dies.

It is a hopeful thought, but a fleeting one. Both the King and Queen realise too late that the Knight was intended to be a distraction so that other enemies could surround him. He frantically searches for a way to escape; the Queen resigns herself to the fact that there isn’t one.

Every other player on the field pauses their fighting to watch the situation unfold. Silence falls as they hold a collective breath, waiting to see what happens next although they already know what will. It won’t be long now before they are tidily arranged back on their own sides of the battleground, about to repeat this all again. There is comfort in the inevitability.

A single word booms out above their heads, louder than cannon fire. The absence of the sounds of war makes it even more startling.

“Checkmate.”

In the end, it isn’t clear which foe is the one responsible, but the result is the same.

The Queen watches. The white King falls.

Game over.

The Queen has lost count of how many times they have stood here, ready to play war as if they are children about to play a game.


Congratulations to Jess for winning!  The Flash Fiction Competition is returning on Friday 1st December 2017.  Check the Flash Fiction page for more information.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

September 12, 2017
/

Literacy In a Digital World

International Literacy Day

This year’s theme for International Literacy Day is ‘Literacy in a digital world’. Although it sounds like the title of an essay I might have written at university, it is a topic I find really interesting.

…at least 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-school children still lack basic literacy skills.

How can literacy be promoted in a changing, increasingly digital world? I see two sides of the coin all the time – on TV talk shows, especially in my job – where there are those who refuse to accept technology and those who embrace it. And I myself can see both arguments too. I know dyslexics who benefit enormously from digital support, but I do wonder about the deterioration of my own literacy skills when I find myself relying on autocorrect for the most basic of sentences.

What I do know is that my sister refuses to pick up books in any form, and has relied heavily on the digital world to increase her literacy skills. I’m a real believer that any reading (e.g. e-magazines, blogs) is useful for literacy development, so I’ve always encouraged her digital pursuits. Interestingly, her vocabulary is excellent, and she is often more articulate than myself, who has always devoured books.

Personally, I live and breathe the digital world. Not because it is often a necessity of being a 20-something in this era, but because I feel there is so much to gain from it. I don’t spend all that much time Facebook scrolling, but I do read blogs (Almost Amazing Grace and BluChickenNinja are two of my current favourites) and find it the most convenient way of staying in touch with current events. I’ve also found that running my own blog has developed my writing skills as well as forcing me to learn basic coding and even business skills.

It might be the millennial in me talking, but I think there is much the digital world can do to support literacy, if we are sensible and continue to develop our other skills too. On the whole, I think it offers more opportunity than it takes away, but whether this argument translates to other cultures, I’m not so sure.

I wish everyone a happy International Literacy Day, whether you spend it in the digital world or the real one.

You can find out more about International Literacy Day here.

What are your thoughts?  Can the digital world support literacy?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

September 8, 2017
/

Ten Years of Letters

10 Years of Letters

Recently, when looking through old letters, my friend realised that we had been writing to each other for ten years.  Ten years!  That’s almost half of my life!  Though for much of that time we have lived within the same county, life has often taken us to the other end of the country, and sending mail has always been a simple yet personal way of touching base with each other during those months.

Learning of our decade as pen pals, I was inspired to read through my own box of mail from my friend, full of everything from dozen-page letters to handmade postcards cut from magazines.

10 Years of Letters

It really was a trip down memory lane – mail from holidays, mail following break-ups or sent during periods of homesickness for a bit of comfort.  Many of the letters I can barely remember, recalling times I had long forgotten.

It’s been a year since we last wrote to each other, but reading our old letters has rekindled our longing to be pen pals again.  With life constantly changing as it does, it is nice to feel grounded when a message from an old friend is pushed through the letterbox.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

August 31, 2017
/

The Man at the Station

Broken Mannequin

I see your legs

bent and broken,

and I think:

Thank God

I can still walk.

Thank God

I can run,

if I wanted to.

I return to the sofa.


I was musing today about the marvels of movement, after seeing an elderly man being overtaken by speedy commuters on their way home from work.  It was very humbling, though I still spent the evening in front of the television.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

August 22, 2017
/

Little Terrors

Writing, and rewriting, scenes about monsters seemed like a good idea at the time.  But now, lying in the dark, duvet pulled up past my chin, I hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet outside the door.

Tiny, furry feet.

Up and down the stairs, they disturb the floorboards and baby’s toys; I hear the giggle of a plastic, smiling child.

The door creaks open…

Not quite terrifying beasts, but still little terrors.


They leave me alone all day, until I open a book or newspaper.  Then they come running.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

August 15, 2017
/

The Disposable Camera Project

Disposable Camera Project

This summer is going to be a good one; I just know it.  And because I clearly don’t have enough things to think about already at the moment, I decided that I really wanted to try something new and creative to capture all the cool things I have planned.  So, I came up with a great project idea.  I purchased a disposable camera, and have just 27 shots over the coming weeks to give a taste of everything on the calendar – festivals, weddings, Pokémon hunts, outdoor cinema.  At the end of the summer, I’m going to put them all into an album (even the really blurry ones).

I used to take a camera abroad with me when I was twelve years old – back when digital cameras were clunky and still a luxury (definitely not something a clumsy twelve year old would take for two weeks on a Portuguese island).  I always loved the excitement of getting the film developed, as I’d rarely remember what I’d found interesting enough to photograph during the trip.  Some of the best photos I’ve ever taken were the result of those disposable cameras, and there’s something about the nostalgia of it all that led me to paying what felt like a hefty price for a supposed ‘underwater’ one-use camera.

Though I am skeptical of how it would survive in the bathtub, let alone the Great Barrier Reef, I’m looking forward to seeing the results.  I’ll be sharing some of my favourites on here once I’ve got the film developed – look out for a post at the end of September.  Let’s hope at least a few of them turn out ok, but the uncertainty of the development process is half the fun.

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

July 26, 2017
/

The Other Side of the Camera: Orwell

After a long stint of not playing any video games, it seems that I’ve got my mojo back.  I know a lot of people use gaming as a form of escapism, but I find that actually I have to be in the right kind of mood to immerse myself in a new world.  I’m still not quite in the zone yet for elaborate RPGs, but I’ve enjoyed playing short games like the horror Neverending Nightmare, and most recently, Orwell.

In Orwell, the player is a newly recruited member of a surveillance company of the same name, whose job is to keep a watchful eye over the people of the Nation after a recent terrorist attack.

Orwell

Cassandra Watergate is the prime suspect of the attack, and the player must select which snippets of information to upload, drawing from sources such as newspapers, social media and university websites.  What gets uploaded directs the outcome of the game, including who lives and who dies – no pressure!

Orwell

As a fan of dystopian fiction, the idea of playing as Big Brother seemed really innovative to me.  It is actually a very immersive experience, and I became quite dedicated to my role; although I didn’t feel like I trusted Orwell, I wanted to impress my boss and do the best job I could.  It was also interesting to see just how easily I could build a profile for someone based on information put online – job, location, interests.  It is a good reminder to always be cautious of what you put on the Internet – you never know when Big Brother might be watching!

Although I bought Orwell in the Steam sale, it is more than worth its usual £6.99 price tag.  There’s also a free demo, so those who are curious can try before they buy!

Happy gaming,

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

July 13, 2017
/

Fairy Loot ‘Elementalists’ June Unboxing

I keep saying to myself, “this’ll be my last Fairy Loot box, I promise”,  but the themes have continued to be really strong every month, and the items inside always such good quality.  I just can’t stop (send help!).

For those who aren’t familiar with the subscription box, Fairy Loot release a new box every month for bookworms, with a different literary theme.  What I’ve always liked about them is that you can buy a one-off box with no rolling subscription – it is a real pet peeve of mine when an auto-renewal starts on a product without you signing up for it (I’m having flashbacks to My Geek Box now – I’m not impressed).

June’s theme was ‘elementalists’, which I was particularly excited about.  It is always interesting to see how the different themes are interpreted, and how the different items reflect it.

Let the unboxing begin…

Fairy Loot

Witchwood Remedies sure know how to create a scent with a kick!  Though it wasn’t to my tastes, the label design is so nice that I’ll be gifting this to a friend for Christmas.  I did have a slight niggle with this one – I was a bit concerned about having flammable decoration around the wick, so I’d recommend clearing it out before lighting the candle (safety first, kids!).

Fairy Loot

The ‘Clairvoyance’ soap was one of my favourite items.  I love how it is wrapped, and it smells incredible too!

Fairy Loot

I felt slightly underwhelmed by the ‘Air Bender’ lip balm – it must be difficult to jazz up something so small, but at least it has a function, and I’ll be able to actually use it.

Fairy Loot

I finally got a cushion cover, which (sad, I know) has been my Fairy Loot dream since my friend received one in her first box last year.  I just need to source an actual cushion now to go inside…

Fairy Loot

This is also the first time that the book really interested me.  I’ll definitely be making time to read it over the summer, if I ever get The Rachel Papers finished!

Fairy Loot

Of the three I’ve had so far, June wasn’t a favourite in the end, but I still felt it was good value for money.

I’m going to try to behave and not order another Fairy Loot for a while, but August’s theme has already been announced: Otherworlds.  It is for fans of A Court of Mist and Fury, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Peter Pan – in other words, it was pretty much designed specifically for my tastes, and it would be disrespectful if I were to not order one… right?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

July 6, 2017
/

5 Favourite Board Games of 2017 (Part 1)

We’re just over halfway through 2017, but already I have added more than a dozen new board games to my repertoire.  I thought I’d pick out my favourites so far, as I’m so excited by these titles that I can’t possibly wait until the end of the year to share them… so watch this space for a part two at some point!

 1.) Sub Terra

Sub Terra

I played this for the first time yesterday – what an incredible game!  Funded by Kickstarter, I don’t even think it is available to buy anywhere yet, which means I’ll be waiting a bit longer until I can own my own copy.  The aim of the game is to escape being trapped underground, surviving cave-ins, gas leaks, floods and nightmarish horrors before the flashlight breaks… My one playthrough was intense, and the co-operative elements are what made it my favourite board game of the year (so far); figuring out whether to split up or stay together is no easy decision to make.

 2.) Mysterium

Mysterium

This supernatural murder mystery is great fun.  One person must play the ghost, and communicate to the other players the details of their murder through abstract vision cards.  This is a real test of friendships, as the ghost must choose vision cards that he thinks the receiver will be able to decipher – and sometimes you just find yourselves on completely different wavelengths!

 3.) Pagoda

This simple two-player game takes a surprising amount of thought and strategy.  The premise is to take it in turns to place columns, winning points as the levels of the pagoda get higher.  I’ve yet to beat my friend at this, despite at least six rematches, but it has taken away none of the fun.

 4.) Splendor

SplendorSplendor was one of the first games I ever played when I attended my first board game cafe.  It is my favourite card game at the moment, not even beaten by Exploding Kittens or Flux.  Players must collect and spend gems, building their empire until they have enough points to win.  My favourite feature of the game is the heavy gem tokens – they are great quality, and nothing quite beats the satisfaction of stacking them together!

 5.) Kana Gawa

Kana GawaKana Gawa is the most gentle competitive game I have ever played.  Players must build beautiful Japanese landscape paintings, collecting points for things like combinations of trees, animals and people.  The illustrations are beautiful, and it is a real pleasure to play.


Five excellent titles that I recommend to any board gamer!  The rules of any one of them are not so complex that they couldn’t be picked up by a first time board gamer too.  Sub Terra for those who like a frantic 60 minute game filled with monsters, finishing with Kana Gawa for the more relaxed gamer.

Have you ever played any of these games? Any recommendations for what I should play next?

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

July 2, 2017
/