May 2012

This is going to be an interesting week.  I’m starting my proper research on the Marian ballads.  So far I’ve written quite a bit about two of them – I’m splurging so that I can go back and edit all my ideas later.  But there’s a lot on this week.

I have various meetings and appointments to go to about the children, and the usual ferrying them around to Cubs, Brownies, cricket nets and things.  I’ve also got to pack for our holiday, which I promised I would actually take as a holiday….  It remains to be seen how I manage without my research.  There’s plenty of reading material on my kindle, if I get desperate!!!  I’ve got nearly an entire issue of Past and Present downloaded onto it, which I can legitimately describe as leisure because it was a special issue about relics, so not directly related to my research!

I haven’t heard from my supervisor since I sent her my work, so I’m not sure what’s happening there.  I expect I will need to see her this week too.


Last night I sent off the beginning of my chapter to my supervisor, so this morning I am able to start work on an in depth  investigation of the ballads.    I’m glad to have finished with the historiography for a bit, and I’ve been looking forward to doing some of my own research again.  I wonder which one to start with…

<a href="http://www.wordle.Wordle: Untitled

I have been playing about with my blog theme – I’d written two other pages but the theme I was using didn’t show them.  I’m not entirely satisfied with the new one, but at least you can see the page about me and the page about my secondary reading material, which, at the moment, doesn’t have much written on it.  I’m going to carry on playing this evening to see if I can find anything I think is more suitable.  In the meantime, the photo on the header is detail of Framlingham Castle.Framlingham Castle

Just in case any of you are interested, I spent more than three hours in casualty this morning getting my ribs checked out, and having had an x-ray the doctors think they are probably not fractured.  So they’ve given me stronger painkillers and told me to rest, which is fine by me.  And as I have a sedentary lifestyle, I will still be able to do some research.   At least, I assumed I would.  The trouble was that an hour after taking my first dose I started to feel most peculiar: dizzy and woozy and a bit nauseous.  It took me about quarter of an hour to realise that it was probably the painkillers, not the effect of reading Alice Hunt’s thesis, and I settled down for a nap on the sofa.  I felt a bit better when I woke up.  So I guess I’ll have to see how it goes over the next few days.

On the plus side, while sitting around in casualty I finished reading ‘Philip of Spain, King of England’ by Harry Kelsey.  Suffice to say that I will stilll wait for the definitive biography that Glyn Redworth intends to write.

And then I fell down the stairs.  I slipped off the top step for no apparent reason and slid all the way down the stairs on my back.  I don’t recommend it.  For one thing it is, as a friend put it, undignified.  But for another, it’s hellishly painful.  And what’s more, despite the excruciating pain in my ribcage, there is only one tiny bruise, and that’s on my bottom!   I should have been at Bolton Local and Family History Day today, but I wasn’t.  I’ve had a relatively quiet day today, as doing anything for a prolonged period is very painful although I now feel more or less fine when I’m sitting down and resting.


On Monday morning I started the day by reading a couple of posts by the Thesis Whisperer.  The first was on time management, and it gave me an idea.    I’ve wondered for a while whether the way I was taking notes was the most useful and practical, mainly because I suspected that it wasn’t.  So I thought I’d give one of the suggestions a whirl.  So for the rest of the morning, and indeed the week, when I  read I made notes of quotes ready to transplant into my work.  I used nice active verbs and then wrapped the quotes in clever apostrophes and footnoted them.  I wrote my comments in around them.  It feels a lot more useful.  Prior to that my notetaking habit had been to write quotes with page numbers, and to put my own thoughts in in red or italic or both.I also read, and as my parents were visiting on Monday afternoon I decided that although I was unlikely to get any ‘proper’ work done, I would tidy my desk.  As you can see, it was a bit of a tip and needed attention:
Before...The paper on top of the printer is work for the Bolton Historical Association.  Beside the printer are my reference books, pens, flash drives, some old HA lecture programmes and a Geoffrey Elton.  As for the contents of the desk itself, it included notes for my thesis, the instructions for my hoover (it needed a new filter so I’d vaguely considered the need for a part number), programmes for a couple of conferences, some of the children’s pictures and bits of hardware for my laptop.

So I spent half an hour clearing it up.  I asked my dad to order me a new filter for the hoover while I cleared up, and then I put the instructions away!  I filed the notes and conference programmes in the proper places, be they among my lever arch files of secondary reading or my folder of current reading and work.   The HA stuff I put in a plastic wallet and put in the front of its box file.  Sadly, I put Geoffrey the walking space hopper toy in a drawer out of the way, and I tidied up the leads of the mouse and the expansion drive.  The books stay, as I need the thesaurus and Spanish dictionary on a regular basis.  And guess what:

Now it looks like this.  The bits of paper that are left on the desk are the current draft of my essay and my Inventory, as described in the Detox Your Desk post.  I was quite pleased with myself.Now, if I’m honest, one of the reasons that I have a problem keeping my desk clear is the children, and that in itself breaks down into two issues:  the first being their habit of leaving their bits and pieces on my desk and/or presenting me with their pictures while I’m working; the second being that I often have to suddenly clear the dining room table at short notice while I’m working on things – the easiest place to move them to is my desk.  In a way, realistically, my desk is really the dining room table!  But nevertheless, I was chuffed that everything was in its place and I had carefully planned out my work for Tuesday. Tuesday went off quietly enough.   On Wednesday I went into university and worked hard for a couple of hours before going to my Alexander class and then picking up some books from the library and heading home.  Then on Wednesday evening….  bump, bump, bump.

Since my Spanish exam on Tuesday, I’ve been able to get back to a bit of writing (and a lot of reading again).  I’m supposed to have come up with 2000 words by the end of the month, towards which I contributed 300 or so on Friday.  I’ve already got 1000 so it’s getting there.  At the moment I’m reading each book in turn and then summarising it.  It’s not the way I always work, as I have been known to splurge, just putting everything down on paper (or screen, these days) and then chopping it up afterwards and putting it in the right order.

But now, the books are nearly all from the library, and my habit of reading, taking notes and then writing them in where they fit with the sources doesn’t fit the bill.  It’s a historiographical introduction to my chapter, so it’s got to be absolutely spot on and summarised accutely.  However, I’m also putting in bits of my own thoughts about their relevance and where the evidence I’ve found fits in.  It’s nice to be back to writing.

Today I have been at Bromley Cross Country Fayre, with the Bolton HA branch president, representing the branch.  Last year it was really productive, and we talked to lots of people, so we were very enthusiastic about being there again.  Unfortunately this year, a stall location in the back of beyond combined with traffic chaos meant it wasn’t such a well-spent day.  Next week we’re going to the Local and Family History Day at the museum in Bolton.  Hopefully, being a more targetted day in the centre of town, we’ll get a bit more interest.

In the last week I’ve been working very hard on my Spanish, as I’ve had my end of term Spanish exams.  The second written paper was last week, and my last day of revision was kiboshed by my eldest son being sent home from school at 11am having attempted to break the tarmac of the playground with his head.  The size of the egg on his head was unbelievable.  He had scratches and bruising all down the left side of his face. In fact, he looked like he;d been mugged.   After a quick trip to the doctor, he was declared ‘probably fine’.  Not the best preparation for my exam.  I think it went relatively okay, though.

Then yesterday I had my oral exam.  We had to do short presentations and a role play with a partner.   My partner and I had managed to do a couple  of hours practice during the previous week, so that we were fairly confident of most of the role plays we’d prepared.  To our great good fortune we randomly picked the role play we liked best, which even included a few funny bits.  The presentations went okay too.  I almost enjoyed it.  I was, however, very relieved to see the back of it.  It’s only GCSE level, and I did my GCSE when I was pregnant 10 years ago: I just couldn’t remember much of it.  It was very nice to wake up and realise that the pressure was off.  I probably will carry on in September, and if I do the next two years I’ll have the equivalent of an A level.  I find that slightly difficult to believe.  Languages were never really my strong point.