Friday, 29 June 2012

Getting your doll out in public!

I wasn't always this way, but after 4 and a bit years of carting dolls around everywhere with me, I have pretty much no shame whatsoever. And why should I? I probably look a little bit nuts, now and then, but it makes me happy. Shopping? My dolls like to dance to the music playing in the store. Pub? My dolls like to frolic amongst the beer. I play with their hair almost constantly, and sometimes give them a big, satisfying nuzzle (because mmmm, Kenners smell delicious!) and usually once an outing double check that they're wearing underwear. Sometimes, they like to just get their bum out.

Beth Shopping in Glasgow

I know that not everyone is like me, and I remember very vividly how worried I used to get about it, so I thought I'd share my experiences, and hopefully spur a few of you on to flaunt your dollies loud and proud!

Postcards from Blythe #2

 I've found that getting out and proud with dolls in public tends to results in one of the following:
  1. Maybe it's my stupid baby face, but sometimes people treat me like they think I'm much younger than I am, i.e., a little kid. Or maybe just that I'm 'not all there'. Sigh. (Because obviously, a 'normal' adult wouldn't play with dolls, right?) Gavin has on a few occasions been indulgently smiled at as if he was my carer/parent. I suppose at least this attitude is fairly kindly and friendly. A family once helped me look for a doll shoe that had fallen off. Completely patronising, but well-meant, I guess. 
  2. Complete indifference! An awful lot of people barely look up when they go about their day to day lives, never mind notice what I'm holding/taking photos of. 
  3. Politely bewildered curiosity. Particularly from the 'kindly old lady' demographic, who want to hold them, know their names, and get all the dirty details on the pricing so they can look politely shocked and shake their heads. Mostly very sweet, I find the best way to deal with them is just to ham up the 'collectable', 'hold their value' kind of stuff. Basically, the same thing you say to your friends/parents/significant other when you're justifying a cheeky purchase. 
  4. Straight-up delighted curiosity! Mostly from little girls who stare longingly at me like I'm the coolest person ever, and I love it. I like to make my dolls turn towards them and maybe give them a little wave, and if it's a Blythe, maybe an eye change. I've had a few adults, too, who think they're adorable or awesome and just want to hold them and coo. Not as often, but really cool. I especially love it when people recognise them.
  5. Mild distaste. I've never actually had anyone outright laugh at or mock me (this is Britain, for goodness' sake), but I've had plenty of withering looks. Mostly from my peers, because the 18-25 age range is all kinds of judgemental. (I can't wait to be old and batty.) This one used to bother me the most, but now, if someone looks at me funny, I just figure they're not a cool person and therefore not worth my time caring. It sucked quite a bit when people I knew from school or university saw me carrying a doll around and threw me a dirty look, but again, I suppose they're not worth my time. It's not like I'm carrying around a severed head. I find that outside the school/university demographic, people care a lot less, and are more willing to just let you do your thing, which is awesome.
Obligatory Tourist Shot #2

I have found the best way to carry a doll around to attract minimum attention is to just simply hold it firmly round the waist and carry it like you would a water bottle. Slightly more carefully, but essentially, just holding it without making any effort to hide it, and not paying an awful lot of attention to it. People will follow your lead. This works especially well with Blythe as she is so sturdy. Large BJDs are a whole other kettle of fish! Just cradle it, like it's no big deal. Like you're carrying around a cardigan or something. The more casual and confident you are about it, the more people just take it in their stride.


If you're apprehensive about getting your doll out in public, here are a few (hopefully) helpful ideas:
  • Take photos! A camera legitimises all sorts of ridiculous things that are far more silly than a doll.  Planking, for a start. You're making art, guys. Art
  • Go somewhere quiet! A nice quiet walk somewhere, where you'll only bump into people every so often, to build up your confidence. Failing that, go somewhere you aren't likely to bump into people you know. Going on holiday is a great time to do this, as no one knows you, and they'll probably just think you're a pleasantly eccentric tourist. (Plus, doll holiday snaps are the cutest.)
  • Act like it's no big deal, and honestly, everyone will follow your lead. Be confident, and don't hesitate and half-hide the doll, which just draws more attention to you - just whip her out loud and proud. You have an awesome hobby. Everyone else is lame and boring. 
  • Don't go with negative people! My sister for example, lovely as she is, still acts mildly embarrassed when I break out the dolls in public. This is not encouraging, and she ends up making me wonder if I should feel stupid or embarrassed, and the whole experience just isn't as pleasant. Instead, go with someone who thinks it's cool and will stop and wait for you to take photos, and doesn't mind maybe holding the doll for you, or helping with set ups. (I refer to Gavin regularly as my 'doll-hanger'. He's the perfect example of a supportive companion on doll outings, if I say so myself. An excellent catch.)

Behold, Me!

Perhaps now, you too can have absolutely no shame. Life's too short! Get your dolls out loud and proud, and let's take pretty photos everywhere! ♥ Also, please do link me to some of your favourite 'dolls in public' shots, I'd love to see them! :)

alice xox

Sunday, 24 June 2012

4 years, 42 essays, 20 exams and 1 dissertation later...

Last Tuesday,  I finally graduated!

Graduation Procession
I'm the one in the middle! This is me as part of the academic procession.

It was actually a very sweet ceremony. I had been dreading it somewhat, but it was really lovely. I had a nice chat with the boy sat next to me, who'd I never met before, and we totally had some graduation-fear bonding. When the medieval maces came out with the rather sombre academic procession and the choir starting singing in Latin, he leaned over, looking terrified, and said: "I feel like I'm being initiated into a cult." I thought I'd be walking across the stage in utter terror, but I ended up just beaming like an idiot the entire time. It was very cute and old and just so St Andrews. The entire official ceremony is conducted in Latin and is just so ceremonial and ridiculous and adorable. The moment of official graduation happens when you kneel and get bopped on the head by the person presiding over your ceremony by a three-hundred year old cap. Then, you receive your degree-appropriate hood. Mine was black with cherry red lining, because I was receiving an MA. (The BSc ones are pink with a fluffy rim, and they totally crack me up.)

St Andrews Graduation
This is me, mid-bop on the head.

I have been bopped by the same cap as William and Kate. Still waiting for the classiness that rubbed off on me to manifest. Could be waiting a long time, I suspect.

Graduation Alice
In the Cathedral 

It was forecast to rain, but St Andrews came out beautifully sunny and warm. Thanks for the lovely send-off, St As! I will miss this town. I will miss living ten minutes away from beautiful places. I will miss the Cathedral. I will not miss being a student.

Facebook is an emotional minefield right now, given that so many people I know are graduating and making tearful statuses about 'the best four years' of their lives and so on. I enjoyed my degree! I enjoyed studying awesome things and having intelligent, awesome people teach you about them. I wouldn't change the past four years for the world, but that doesn't mean it was always awesome, because it wasn't. Sometimes, it sucked. I met some amazing people, who I will keep in touch with, but I met a lot of not-so-awesome people as well, and found myself incredibly frustrated with aspects of the academia culture even as I loved studying. I don't think I lived this mythical 'student life' I hear so much about. I drank too much sometimes, and threw up in embarrassing places, but those are not treasured memories! In fact, I, uh, actually kind of wish I could erase them altogether.

My favourite memories will be things like taking doll photos in the cathedral with Gavin. Walking through Lade Braes and seeing herons. Having stitch 'n bitch sessions with my housemates watching Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Having Lord of the Rings movie marathons with gingerbread and mead and some awesome people I met in my sci fi module. Eating out too much with Gav because we can't resist sushi. The most amazing pies from Fisher and Donaldson.

I resent the implication that my life is downhill from here! I feel like the best is yet to come, and I'm excited. :)

Graduation Alice
Me and my graduation present to myself (Alexis Emerald Blythe doll) complete with mini robe!

I suppose the slightly depressing thing is now I've graduated, I'm officially unemployed. Working on rectifying that! Wish me luck~

Graduation Alice

Just outside St Salvator's, there are the initials PH on the ground. They stand for Patrick Hamilton, who was burned alive on that spot during the Reformation. Student traditions says that it is dangerous to stand on the PH, and if you do so, you will fail your degree! (You can atone, though, by doing the May Dip.) Having dutifully avoided stepping on it for the past 4 years, it was weirdly exciting to finally stand on it.

171/366 Graduation!

Goodbye, St Andrews! Thank you for all the prettiness and perfect weather. (And, well, Gavin. He's my favourite souvenir!) Best of luck with the coastal erosion business, and maybe, I'll see you again sometime!

alice xox, M.A. (Hons)
(sorry, couldn't resist)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Olympic Torch Relay for London 2012

The Olympic Torch relay made its way to Newcastle yesterday! I managed to get my sticky mitts on a wristband for the special ticket holders-only area by the quayside for the evening celebrations, which, predictably, I got super excited about. While the torch made its way around the city centre, Twist and Pulse hosted some Olympics themed shenanigans on the stage. Once the torch reached the quayside, Bear Grylls zip-wired from the top of the Tyne bridge to the Baltic, where the next torchbearer, Will Hardy, carried it right past us. It was a really fun event with a lovely atmosphere! Strangers bent over backwards - quite literally - so I could get the perfect shot when the torch came past. Whoever you are - thank you! I really appreciated it. 

Cracked out my 40-140mm lens, which I rarely ever use, and took some fun shots. Here are a few!

The Tyne Bridge, with Olympic rings
Twist and Pulse

Twist and Pulse

Bear Grylls beginning his zipwire descent with the torch

Bear Grylls landing in gateshead


Will Hardy, 14 year old torchbearer

"Will is an inspiration to me everyday. When he was 23 months old Will had meningitis, resulting in having both legs and half his left arm amputated. Will didn't let this deter him from swimming and by 2009, Will joined a school swimming club, from which he was identified for a disability talent ID day and it was recommended he joined Gosforth Dolphins. It was evident that William was a fantastic swimmer and within 3 months he was a National Champion. Will is now in the 2011 British Disability Swimming World Class Talent Programme. As Will watched his brother become more involved in cricket, he set his sights on becoming a junior player at Newcastle Wasps Cricket Club. Cricket hasn't come as naturally to Will though with regular practice Will can now bat and bowl very effectively. He is a valued member of the club and well liked and respected within the club. Will regularly plays for this mainstream team, recently captaining the side and successfully playing wearing his blades rather than prosthetic legs. In both sports Will has thrived in a mainstream environment, first school and then in mainstream club environment." - Source

I am now officially way too excited to see the Olympics in August!

alice xox

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Patriotism and a Long Weekend

This weekend was the Queen's diamond jubilee. Which firstly, is a Bloody Long Time, and secondly, meant we got a rather beautiful four day weekend. Of course, as a member of the Great Unemployed, I have a seven day weekend, so it didn't mean a lot to me. Gavin, however, as a useful and contributing member of society, got some time off work, and so joined me in Newcastle for a bit of confused patriotism.

Street party decorations in Gosforth, Newcastle

I say 'confused' because I don't really know how I feel about the monarchy overall. Not that the monarchy isn't an amazing thing - they're such a huge part of the UK's history and culture, bring us a lot of invaluable tourism, and, it would seem, still manage to lift people's spirits in economically rubbish times, if the millions of people going nuts this weekend is anything to go by. However, I'm going to point you in the general direction of this blog entry by an internet acquaintance (and fellow St Andrews alumnus!) as some food for thought. But, ideological wrestlings in my brain aside, I think the Queen is rather adorable and I do love a good party. ;)

Grace Halfpenny, complete with tiny, adorable flag

I wasn't by any means up close and personal with the Royals this time, but I deployed my 6-foot Union Jack and settled in front of the TV with Gavin, leftover pizza from last night, and some Asda's own-brand pop. We may also be St Andrews alumni who are going to get married, but we are considerably less classy.

Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant
Jessica presents the Thames Jubilee Pageant 

Much like the Royal Wedding last year, the BBC commentary was just hilarious. In a dreadful, unintentional way. From the presenter leaping around a maternity ward presenting 'Jubilee Babies' with special bibs (post-labour mums unimpressed) to John Barrowman for some reason popping up on the boat with the bells and threatening to ring them, it was just a mess. Particularly enjoyed some of the commentary regarding the 'parking' of the Royal Barge, in which one of the commentators wisely informed us that 'people don't realise that boats aren't like cars.' Thanks for that, Beeb. I'd always been a bit fuzzy on the differences.

Sycamore Gap, aka 'The Robin Hood Tree' along Hadrian's Wall

Gav and I took a break from royalty to enjoy Northumberland, which is just my favourite place in the world. Hadrian's Wall is just stunning from start to finish, and we explored it a little bit last summer. This time, we walked along the other side, the 'Barbarian's view of the Wall.'

The Barbarian's View of the Wall
The Barbaria's View of the Wall

Sigh. Those views! I've always privately associated Hadrian's Wall with the Wall of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, and wikipedia confirmed this for me yesterday, which pleases me greatly. Newcastle is therefore clearly Winterfell, I am a Stark, and Gavin is an uncivilised, uncouth Wildling. :P

Gavin of the North

I know the Vikings didn't really have an awful lot to do with the Romans, or Hadrian's Wall, but I couldn't resist letting my Lego marauders do some historically inaccurate raiding...

Hadrian's Wall
The happy couple

I wrestled with self-timer to try and get a photo with both me and Gavin, because there really aren't enough and I'm a big sap like that. The Wall very helpfully provided both backdrop and tripod equivalent.

Alice & Grabby

There we are, in all our sweaty glory! We met a hilarious lady of even more impressive sweatiness and her young son, who was desperate for the toilet and dragging her along the path far too fast. There are a lot of ups and downs, and it's relatively tough going. Unprompted, she shared with us that it was far worse with her older son, who used to eat enormous amounts of fruit. She then darkly informed us: "He had five a day. And I'm not talking about the fruit." 

I love Geordies. 

And just a quick note to tag on the end here - in case anyone is interested  - I got my final exam results yesterday. All in all I look set to get the degree classification I wanted, and I'm very chuffed. More on that when I actually graduate in a couple of weeks!  

alice xox