Photo Diary: A Weekend in Whitby

From light breezes to blustering winds, drizzly spells to torrential rainfall and times where you are just simply left breathless – and I’m not just talking about walking up and down those hundred and ninety-nine steps several times – but whether it be in the warmth of the golden sun or through blurred vision because the wind has struck you and you’re crying rivers, Whitby is still without a doubt, breathtakingly beautiful.

You see, writing can get so overwhelming and stressful at times that a break is needed to avoid the risk of one becoming a sectioned patient. Luckily for us, our amazing creative writing tutors understood this and organised a weekend retreat to Whitby where we able to escape, to write, or to just take in the lovely sights that Whitby consisted of where inspiration was lurking on every cobbled corner. And it was definitely a wonderful break indeed! Minus those killer steps of course – our hostel was situated on the cliff top and the easiest way to get into the town was to go down that bugger of a staircase – but no pain, no gain right?

We arrived at the hostel and I’m sure the first question asked was “what’s the WIFI password?” (I may or may not have wanted to know that myself.) So once all that important stuff was out the way we had our chance to explore! Yes, we were at the seaside but let’s not forget it’s November (and this is Britain) so I basically wanted to wrap up so much that if I fell and hit the floor, the goal was to bounce straight off the ground and get back up again! (Fortunately I didn’t fall but that meant I was never able to test that theory.) So, hats, scarves, boots were the basics, obviously gloves were out of the question because then I wouldn’t be able to use my phone. #FirstWorldProbs

Whitby has always been a special place from a literary perspective as its mesmerising scenes has influenced many great writers – Lewis Carroll and of course, Bram Stoker are just a couple. Now, it was OUR time to become inspired! We had the pleasure of walking through cemeteries where the gravestones looked more like props stolen from a movie set (except there were actual real people buried underneath these ones.) We took a gander round the little town, discovered tiny coffee shops that seemed only fit for hobbits – there was a lot of “Mind Your Head” signs about it – I met some overly friendly donkeys and I think I probably made friends with more dogs than I did with people 🙂

We had a night dedicated to the students for their chance to read out what they had written over the course of the first day, I just have to say, I was surrounded by some crazy, mad talent in there! Being in the company of such a lovely group of people, bonding and meeting some amazing new friends has definitely been the highlight of the trip! Okay, soppy moment over.

And I think that’s it in a nutshell! So, here I have created a little photo diary of my time over the retreat. I switched into photographer mode quite often, okay, very often (I got a little excited at the Abbey ruins as you may be able to tell) and of course, there’s plenty of selfie action!

Somehow all 199 of those steps seemed to have had some kind of inspirational powers because writer, Michael Farber has wrote a whole novel about them. I don’t know what he was on whilst he was walking up (and down) them, but I want some of it. The point being, I intend to read his novel that is, oh shocker, called The Hundred and Ninety Nine Steps to try and find some positivity from the devil that made me feel like I’d done three straight days of leg-day at the gym! Okay, I’ve never been to a leg-day session in my life but if I did, I imagine it would feel like that.

Also, a massive, massive thank you to the Creative Writing Team at York St John! We had a blast!

Follow @YSJWriting on Twitter for more pictures of how the trip went down.

Relaxed Retreater out x

University Book Haul: Semester 1

Does anyone else get excited as I do when that brown, flat packed, Amazon box slides through the letterbox? Landing with a deep, thunderous THUD on the floor of the hallway, echoing throughout the house and announcing its presence, letting everybody know – the books have arrived!

I am one month away until I am back at University for my third – and sadly my last – year for my undergraduate degree! Like all universities, they love it when their students are super duper prepared for upcoming modules and lectures which is why I have already received my reading list for the year (I actually got it a while ago but I only had a proper look at it recently, oops!)

So getting to the point, I want to show you my book haul for September from the reading list uni provided me with thinking that some of the titles may entice you so that you can read them with me!

So for the first semester I had the hardest decision of just choosing TWO modules from a massive range! As I am doing a joint honours course in creative writing and english literature I had to choose one for each, so in the end I decided upon 20th century writing and scriptwriting!

The 20th Century Writing module:

Just hover the images for the titles, author’ s names and dates!

The good thing about uni reading lists is that they tend to be novels that are unique and nobody has really heard of or read. They’re books that are not at the top of every book chart in Waterstones that every body in the world is reading, but instead they’re underrated, hidden gems that may become one of my favourites.

I love it when that happens!

Scripwriting module:

A shorter list but I feel that’s because these books are much more theoretical, if your into writing scripts and my creative writing tutors are recommending them, then why not give them a go (I must say the books they have previously advised us to read have improved my writing massively over the last year!)

Tip: For those who are thinking of or have already chosen English Literature to study, the advice I would perhaps give to you is pick topics/modules that you wouldn’t normally choose but make sure they still appeal to you in some way. That way you become much more open minded to other genres and it broadens your literature knowledge and understanding. Obviously pick ones that you know you would enjoy too! This balance of genres I found made it much more easier when it came to writing assignments, as a lot of the time books from all different genres can cross reference with each other.

P.S. If your into writing and would like some more tips and advice, I have titles of books that were a massive help throughout my second year of uni. Just comment on this post, email, tweet me, whatever you fancy if you would like to know any more information!

🙂 x – Iram

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The Valley of Vines

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A little dose of magic..

Lately I have been engulfed by the fantasy world of Princes, Princesses, Evil Sorcerers and Dragon’s, so much that I have even been dreaming about it – I’m not complaining though! And after watching and re-watching movies from my childhood (Peter Pan being my all time favourite, greatest line opener to – ‘All children grow up, except one.’) they all merged together and influenced me to write something that will hopefully open up the beauty your imagination brought to you as a child. Do you believe in fairy-tales?

THE VALLEY OF VINES

She was chosen as a leader, the one with courage that never boasts and she sensed the danger of the land to be threatened by new hosts.

 Her silver hair and stony glare had lain upon a Prince so brave, just and fair. He must take control and save the land, but with a weakened soul and his trembling hand, a stronger force was needed from those with the ability to float.

‘You must go to them my Prince,’ she proposed ‘you must go to meet the Ghosts.’

 With a gaping mouth and widened eyes the Prince rose with fright and surprise, he wiped his good hand across his forehead and whispered,

But surely my lady the Ghosts would want us dead?’ With an icy grip upon his shoulder, the Lady with a grin pleaded the Prince to

‘Serve his land’ through lips so tight and thin. A fire roared silently in the corner of the room, it coughed and hissed and spit, as her steel hand compelled him slowly, to sit. With a wince he spoke so low and discreet,

What am I to do?’

She replies,

‘The Quest is simple my sweet, we are in search of a clue. The Valley of Vines is where all the answers lay, to the Ghosts who know all that is true. Time is precious so you must not delay our people are depending on you.’

 So the Prince, with great haste mounted his horse and began to ride for the woods that bloomed so wild. The Valley of Vines hidden in the dead of the wood surrounded by stonewalls that consisted of the stale scent of blood.

 In the thicket of the forest he continued on foot. The wood was alive with mischief, tricks and elves in search of loot. The staggered breathing of the Dragons, deep in their slumber led the Prince to tiptoe to the Iron Gate too high to crawl up or clamber.

 ‘Hello!’ He shouted, but no one was in sight when a sudden blast emerged and his body took flight! The Earth met his back and with a grunt and a curse he found the mighty iron open and through it he quickly dispersed.

 An eerie chill overcame the Prince, a flashback led to his withered hand; he violently flinched away from the cool air that pinched his skin so grand. About him the vines hung, giant and thick lingering like venomous snakes with their teeth ready to sink. Further ahead was a clearing in which a stone throne was placed. The pain in his hand began searing as he prepared for what he was about to face.

 The rock of the chair was smooth, with twisted vines wrapped around it like mothers protecting their youth. The Prince sat, his body rigid and cold, the presence of the Ghosts was strong, but a single one he could not behold.

I have a message from the Queen’ his voice was an icy gasp, if only one would allow itself to be seen then the sudden thought daunted that this was a trap!

The plant snaked and slithered about his waist, it tightened and squeezed until it was blood in his mouth that he could taste. No limbs would function; his arms lay in a state of paralysis preventing any discussion, his head has sunken. Frostbitten vines wrapped him up to endure a fate of frozen solitude, a handsome statue for all to view the consequences of treason, and what the Queen would do to you.


Hope you enjoyed it!

P.S. My sister and I went for a little nature trail (when I say ‘little’ I mean a six mile walk round some nature gardens! As I walked around the place I found began to find the surroundings more and more magical, the whole setting also tied in perfectly with The Valley of Vines. So stay tuned for my next post because it will be all about our adventure out there, spoiler alert: to continue with the fairy-tale theme, it involves some kissing of frogs! And some nature/landscape photography by yours truly!

Teaser for what is about to come – Deep into the woods we go…

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(Rain)Drop

Has anyone else just looked up at the sky when it was raining, and thought that all them drops are just little people having a little jamming session and are dancing their way down from the heavens?

No? Just me then.

The change of weather is starting to become a massive inspiration towards my writing. As we dive further into the chill of winter here is something that we all can relate to:

(Rain)Drop

Released from the imprisonment of the cloud
gravity pulls and plunges it to Earth. Plink!
It hits the windowpane with a chilling sound,
like the way its long last cousin would hit the sink.

Yet its brothers and sisters still fall
pummelling down in all their transparency
wildly flung through the atmosphere they
call out for help until they have reached terminal velocity.

The Earth with endurance has thirst to quench
yet time stops a little for crystals to shower
upon us blessings and spells to repent,
patience is virtue for that dehydrated flower.

My head tilted up towards the heavens, I see
them spin and glide to their own special beat,
some settling there upon my cheek,
others pool and melt into one another by my feet.

I squint through each plop!
A stage of graceful dancers,
then the curtain drops.