19. Manchester: trying on ‘self-care’ in 5 steps after a big submission

Deciding to listen to the good advice I was given at the onset of embarking on my PhD, I opted to follow the rule: once you’ve submitted something substantial, take a week and decompress.

 

The first few months of my PhD have been a whirlwind of new ideas, late nights and piles of reading. It had been three years since I’d written anything so formal, and the gap in between was noticeable. Like an unused muscle, my writing felt crampy and good for only one lap or two around the court. Though working old muscles can be exhausting, diving into the subject that you love is enjoyable and invigorating. After several years of wanting to spend my daylight hours working on something interesting and challenging, the last two months have sped by. With the completion of my first review submission, there was no shortage of things to work on and develop.20171113_172436Deciding to listen to the good advice I was given at the onset of embarking on my PhD, I opted to follow the rule: once you’ve submitted something substantial, take a week and decompress. That can mean many things of course. Understandably, long train rides and walking many miles might not be someone’s idea of decompression, but hey ho.20171127_1540061. Go Find Your Chill

Normally, I am the last person to take advice relating to self-care and relaxing (shudder), but I thought, ‘why not’? Four hours after submitting my work, I jumped on a train to Manchester to visit a couple of wonderful friends who I met during my MSc at Edinburgh. My wonderful hosts, both a current and future PhDs, welcomed and showed me their adopted city. Manchester was a beauty. With plenty of time to explore the downtown and no particular agenda, other than seeing what they love about it, I could relax and take it all in.

 

2. Take in a Bit of Culture

There is something restorative in going to art galleries, museums or creative performances. Even if you don’t necessarily like the art on display, just seeing what creative minds have been/are up to can take you outside of yourself for enough time to relax a bit. At least until the next “BREAKING NEWS” alert on your phone goes off.20171128_123042 When needing to feel some inspiration, or just wanting a quiet space to draw, museums and galleries tend to be my preferred space to do so. Popping into the Manchester Art Gallery allowed me the rare privilege to see one of my favourite paintings in the flesh – Charles Auguste Mengin’s ‘Sappho’ – which was breath-taking and significantly larger than I’d imagined.6The depth of the darkness in Sappho’s gown cannot be done justice with a digitized image, and the highlights looked iridescent in some spaces. Sappho, so often presented longingly and wistfully, is shown powerful, dark and mourning. Her angst and colour palette was a natural favourite for me in my high school goth years.20171127_1736273. Nightime Walks and Christmas Markets

Walking around at night when travelling alone isn’t always the safest choice, so when I have the opportunity for company, it is an excellent way to see another side of a city. As this was my first time in Manchester and it coincided with Christmas festivities, strolling around the streets at night was especially lovely. 20171127_172938While making me homesick, one of the perks of living in the United Kingdom is the on-point Christmas markets. The smells of meat, waffles and mulled wine were amazing. It required all the will-power I possessed not to buy adorable kitsch ceramics, and eat all the treats.20171127_173235-e1513174939446.jpgOnward through town we went, eventually settling into a pub near the university. Ample political debates, methodological discussions and general nerdiness ensued.

4. Treat Yo SelfAviemore 2013 (5)This might seem fairly obvious, but taking 30 minutes out of the day to have a leisurely coffee or popping into a print shop and finding Liam Gallagher greeting cards (nailed it, Manchester) is sometimes the treat you need to clear your head. It doesn’t have to be a big production, but leaving the to-go cup behind and just sitting in nice spaces with friends (or alone) is one of my favourite parts of a solo journey. Seldom do I plan a trip without packing as much as possible into the schedule, but trying it out this month was really rewarding and relaxing.

5. Reflecting 20171128_114301Taking stock and heading home, I was thoroughly impressed by the juxtaposition between new and old buildings in the city. There is a lot of effort to create dynamic visual landscapes, which living in the historic neighbourhoods of Edinburgh, I occasionally forget that skyscrapers, tower block flats and vivid colour are normal to see. Shaking off the last few weeks of 14+ hour work days, and stress that ate normal stress for breakfast, I definitely came back feeling more refreshed, and through that, optimistic. Though only a few days, it was a wonderful stop.20171203_130941_HDRNext stop: BRUSSELS! 48 hours later, my partner and I jumped on a plane and were en route to Eindhoven for a week

 

 

1. Introduction

Inspiration and Memory

1. Introduction

Over the last ten years I have had a multitude of moments where I stood atop a mountain, under arches, lay among ruins, swam in seas and stood face to face with some of the most impressive pieces of art ever made. In these quiet and exhilarating moments, I have often been alone.

I have sketched and photographed these incredible places but often wished I could have shared the experience, the history and the spirit of those moments.

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Isis and Nepthys art commission. 2017

I did not have this hunger to explore until my mid-twenties. Toiling away in employment that offered little reward, I put all of my effort into my education for many years. It was during this time that I seized on an opportunity to study abroad in Greece for 9 months. That decision changed my life, my journey and grew a love of archaeology and travel within that burns brighter every day.
I am now rich in time as I work towards getting myself a professional position within the archaeological community of the United Kingdom, and there is no better time than the present!
I will start this blog non-chronologically, and as time progresses I will hopefully catch up with me!

IMG_20151116_114208299_HDR (2).jpgAqueduct in Rome. 2014

One of the many facets of my studies and travels that has been enriching and interesting to me has been the ability to teach strangers, friends and loved ones along the way about the incredible things I have learned and seen. Beauty for beauty’s sake certainly, but contextualizing and adding the depth of history to a striking vista…well that is a more remarkable thing.

1. Introduction
Aviemore -Scotland. 2014

I will also endeavor to add in the ‘WHY DOES THIS MATTER’, as nothing is more infuriating to audiences when they have no idea why they should care about some dry piece of history or some stodgy/smutty statue.

IMG_7166Sketch of ‘Dama de Elche’ – Madrid. 2014

Trust me.

There is so much more going on than you can imagine!

So, if your interest is peaked, feel free to check out my blog and explore some little known gems alongside some of the biggest, most spectacular sites of the ancient world!

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