To Keep Things Brief…

One of the hardest things for me to remember while writing is to keep things brief. I tend to give very in-depth descriptions, and I need to remember that my readers have imaginations too! So it takes a conscious effort when I’m writing to not describe absolutely every detail, but to give readers the idea of what’s going on and let them fill in the blanks.

When I took a novel-writing course a few years ago, there was one assignment which really helped me to both practice and appreciate writing with brevity. I had to write an action scene, but within very specific parameters: first one action sentence, another action sentence, then two or three sentences of background, a few more of development, a short climax, and one ending sentence. One ending sentence? I felt dismayed when I read the assignment requirements– but in the end I embraced them, and received a surprisingly rave review from my instructor. The following is the scene I came up with. As you might expect from me, it’s based on the Eastern Front of World War II; and I hope you enjoy it as it was certainly something new and challenging to write!

————————————————————————————————-

What he doesn’t want is to get caught. Mark knows exactly what happens to suspected partisans and thieves; and he doesn’t want to end up hanging, a morbid deterrent, from the gallows like some of his friends.

But January in Bryansk is an inhospitable time– made even worse by the German occupation– and Mark’s family is hungry. Starvation is not such an appealing prospect, so he knows he must steal something, anything, from the Germans for his family to eat.

“As long as I’m careful, the Germans won’t know,” he thinks, “And my daughter will have something to eat again.”

Silent as a bat, Mark creeps towards the German camp. It’s late, so maybe the troops have already gone to bed. Mark looks around the apparently deserted camp, his breathing hoarse with anxiety, and locates the field kitchen. Shuffling doubled over towards it, he wonders what the Germans might do once they find out that some of their rations have been stolen.

He reaches the dark hulk of the field kitchen, when an equally dark figure rises up from the ground in front of it.

“Halt!” Cries the figure. “Was machst du?”

Mark freezes where he stands, unable to do anything but watch as the figure draws a pistol. In the face of capture and death, he remembers the words of his wife before he left:

“If you don’t come back, the fascists might as well kill us all.”

So, taking a deep breath, he hurls his empty satchel at the German and runs for the oblivion of the woods.

 

Advertisements

Celebrating Home: The Geffrye Museum

For many years I’ve had a deep interest and appreciation for interior design; especially that of years past. I used to make a monthly home magazine for my mum, full of drawings and descriptions of rooms I’d imagined in various styles from historical periods and cultures around the world. Although I don’t have time to continue that magazine, I still appreciate interior design and what it says about the ideas and preferences of contemporary society. In London last April, my mum and I visited the Geffrye Museum, which is the Museum of the Home– and that visit satisfied my long-held love for interior design!

London 2015 Adair 964

The exterior of the Geffrye Museum– although it has been a museum since 1914, the building used to house almshouses for the elderly poor in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Geffrye is located in the Hoxton/Shoreditch area of London, which I’d never been to before. We took a bus from Liverpool Street Station through an area which wasn’t terrible but wasn’t the nicest or cleanest either– in these somewhat shabby and nondescript surrounds, the Geffrye’s large ivy-covered building really stood out!

London 2015 Adair 963

Looking towards Liverpool Street from the Geffrye

London 2015 Adair 961

A very old painted advertisement on a building beside the Geffrye

The Geffrye Museum is free to enter, which is pretty awesome seeing that it features a reading room, beautiful gardens, and eleven fascinating period rooms which are described and analyzed in full detail. There is also a little cafe and a busy shop, which is crammed full of mainly books on horticulture, decorating, and historical interior design. I had trouble not buying most of what was for sale there!

Upon entering the Geffrye, one begins a journey through time. Each period room is a representation of a middle-class room from a specific decade, and the journey begins in the 17th century. First there is a room which has exhibits of artifacts and write-ups on the appropriate decade, which prepares visitors for the authentic interior in the next room.

London 2015 Adair 972

This parlour, featuring ornate, heavy furniture and little extra comfort, is from 1690

In the middle of the building is the former almshouse’s chapel, which is quite small but has a very airy feel. Then there is a reading room, with gorgeous paintings on the walls and bookcases below them. Visitors are encouraged to take time to sit and read, and a pleasant array of books on interior design is offered.

London 2015 Adair 978

The chapel features carved memorial stones and a painted version of the Ten Commandments

London 2015 Adair 980

I’d love to have such a reading room as this in my house! It was restful and beautiful.

My favourite room in the whole place was the 1790 drawing room. I love Georgian design– it’s so classical and ordered. Unfortunately I’m not sure I could live in a room like this one, because white furnishings frighten me and because I have too much stuff, but it’s so lovely that that doesn’t make me like it any less!

London 2015 Adair 982

I especially love the wallpaper here. When I have a house of my own, most of it will probably be clad in traditional or vintage wallpaper

London 2015 Adair 988

The 1830 example was slightly bolder and more ornate than the 1790 one, and it too was gorgeous

Also interesting was the Victorian room. When I was younger, I adored Victorian style because I loved things for the sake of things– if there was a table or a mantelpiece, I thought that it should be covered with cloths and useless knick-knacks. Now I tend to cringe when I see a Victorian interior. The ostentation and busyness of the Victorian home is no longer for me!

London 2015 Adair 990

Victorians seem to have been experts at cramming as many furnishings as possible into a small space

London 2015 Adair 994

The Arts and Crafts-inspired room, more or less contemporary to the Victorian one, was much more tranquil and uncluttered

The Geffrye also boasts several more modern period rooms, like a 1960s one and a modern loft. The ’60s one just reminded me of my grandparents’ bungalow, with lush carpets, bright colours in sometimes odd combinations, and utilitarian wooden bookshelves. After looking at the modern rooms and perusing the museum shop, it was time to go outside and check out the gardens. Mirroring the rooms inside, the Geffrye has several period gardens, beginning with a knot garden from the 17th century.

London 2015 Adair 1002

I’d love a knot garden like this; simple yet striking.

London 2015 Adair 1008

A cute little greenhouse, similar to what may have been seen in Victorian and Edwardian gardens

The Geffrye Museum offers a wonderful and educational look at what life was like for middle-class families throughout history, through looking at their distinctive interiors. It’s amazing what one can learn about a time period by just looking at its interiors, and the Geffrye does this very well. I really enjoyed my visit there– it was something different that was presented in a great way, and I’d love to go back!

Charming

Every evening after work– especially when it’s been a long, cold, overwhelming day– I enjoy nothing more than relaxing by watching TV with my family. Usually we watch British telly, and British telly has yielded some fantastic shows in the past six months! For me, watching TV isn’t a totally mindless pursuit; as I generally write in my journal while watching and also pay attention to the sets and costumes of the program, especially if it’s historical! One of the best programs for my study has been ITV’s Jekyll and Hyde, which is based on the classic by Robert Louis Stevenson but which incorporates sci-fi and fantasy elements as well. It’s set in 1930s London, and there could hardly be a setting I’d appreciate more! Jekyll and Hyde is a gripping series with wonderful acting and amazing sets, and in fact it has inspired my latest creation on Polyvore.Charming

 

Charming by adairjacobs on Polyvore
This outfit is a direct homage to the character of Bella Charming in Jekyll and Hyde; who is a feisty and independent proprietor of a drinking hall in London. Throughout the series she wears a stunning green evening dress and a full complement of jewellery, but is never crippled by her formal wear and even manages to punch out unruly patrons while wearing it! Some vein of unexpected toughness is what I always seek to emulate, especially in my job at Mitsubishi where tyres need to be carried around and snow needs to be shovelled– I guess that’s why I chose Bella Charming as the inspiration for this post!

Foray to Fleet Street

Dismal January is the perfect time to plan a vacation, and my friend and I are currently planning a springtime trip to London! It will be her first time in the UK and my tenth if I remember correctly; so it’s going to be a fantastic eye-opener for her and an interesting time for me, as I will be our travel guide! I’m extremely excited but also a bit nervous– I hope I don’t get us lost or anything. But miscalculations happen to the best of us– my London-born dad once got us on a Tube from Clapham heading south to Morden when we were trying to get back to central London– and I’m really looking forward to the adventure.

Planning this next trip has, however, shocked me into the realization that I still haven’t posted about even half of my last trip in 2015!! This won’t do, so for this post I will take you along on a walk/bus ride I took from south of the Thames, along Fleet Street, and to the Strand. I hope you enjoy it.

London 2015 Adair 859

We began with a nosh-up at The George in Southwark, where they serve excellent fish & chips and a nice selection of beer. This galleried coaching inn lays claim to being the oldest pub in London

London 2015 Adair 860

Southwark Cathedral stands next to the Thames and overlooks the bustle of Borough Market

London 2015 Adair 862

We didn’t go into Southwark Cathedral, but the exterior is beautiful and unusual; with small stones filling in the gaps between the large hewn cornerstones

London 2015 Adair 865

The Golden Hind was surrounded by swarms of tourists. This example is the only seagoing replica of the original 16th century galleon, which was captained by Sir Francis Drake

London 2015 Adair 868

A nice macabre reminder of the Clink, which was notorious for its poor treatment of prisoners and its opportunistic jailers

London 2015 Adair 866

The remains of Winchester Palace, which was the house of the Bishop of Winchester

London 2015 Adair 872

The famous Globe Theatre, on the south bank of the Thames

London 2015 Adair 873

Shakespeare’s original theatre is gone, but today’s Globe continues to show productions of his work in a very authentic setting

London 2015 Adair 877

The Millennium footbridge is a fixture of modern London, and I crossed it for the first time in April

London 2015 Adair 879

A view from the footbridge of some of London’s new buildings– it’s always changing

London 2015 Adair 881

Tower Bridge can be seen in the distance

London 2015 Adair 885

The glorious facade of St. Paul’s greeted us as we came across the bridge

London 2015 Adair 893

From St. Paul’s, we took a bus towards Westminster; a double-decker bus, of course. This plaque on Fleet Street caught my eye– it commemorates a T.P. O’Connor, journalist and Parliamentarian, whose pen could “lay bare the bones of a book or the soul of a statesman in a few vivid lines”. I liked that memorial.

London 2015 Adair 895

Taking a double-decker lets you see things just above street level which you wouldn’t normally notice

London 2015 Adair 898

Even London’s lamp posts are works of art!

London 2015 Adair 903

Some beautiful carvings of what seem to be heraldic crests

London 2015 Adair 906

Charing Cross Station, always busy! The architecture is really quite unique and striking

It will be amazing to be in London again in the spring, and I think posting about my last trip will help me to get all excited and ready for it! London is always memorable, and I feel that this next trip will be even more special and exciting.

Auld Lang Syne

Every New Year’s, I take time to reflect upon my year and remember all the good times, tough lessons, and wonderful people who accompanied me through the year. And although I’ve been poorly this New Year’s, I’ve had one of the greatest times of reflection yet. 2015 was unparalleled so far in terms of the people I met and experience I gained; thanks completely to my new job at Mitsubishi. Such a wonderful year has given me great confidence and hope for the year ahead.Auld Lang Syne

 

Auld Lang Syne by adairjacobs on Polyvore
To celebrate the hopeful and reflective spirit of New Year’s, I have created this outfit on Polyvore. It has a 1940s feel and utilizes comforting colours of cream, claret, and green; which recall “old acquaintance” and the happy times of the past. But the bold silhouettes of the shoes, handbag, and wide-leg pants demonstrate purpose; and a certain determination towards whatever the new year may bring. I hope you appreciate my vision of this ensemble, and have the same time to reflect and simultaneously look ahead as I have this year!