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Travelling again...

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Edited by Les Haines, Tuesday, 6 Mar 2018, 13:11
Travelling again… Was in Oxford today visiting the Ashmolean Museum, primarily to see any Egyptian stuff around Cleopatra and the Ptolomies. Was disappointed from that point of view, as most artefacts where from much earlier. Was astounded to discover that Ancient Egypt went back 4000 years prior to that, and obviously a whole area of study on its own. Regardless it was good to get a context, and I did see some Egyptian / Roman pieces and got good visuals of many other items. It’s a fabulous place, easy to get to on the train, and I will certainly be going again. 


 I used to live just outside Oxford so it was nice to revisit, walked past the Randolph Hotel, scene of many a fine night, and its completely opposite the Ashmolean.My impression of revisiting Oxford though was that it seems a bit grubby, with the buildings not seeming to reflect their grandeur, and busy traffic ridden streets, but as always, with the lure of interesting side alleyways and streets which seem to promise more interesting things. 


 Been a while since I wrote last as have been busy at home doing domestic things…. and training. Doing lots of turbo cycling because of the crap weather, and working towards being able to compete on the bike next year. It’s a huge motivation for me as I think I can do well, but I think I need to get a year’s good training in first. So, working hard on my fitness. 


 Studying going well, and received my first marked assignment back, very pleased to have passed with a decent mark, and who would have thought, two months ago, I could have written an assignment on Cleopatra, and then on the Christopher Marlowe play Doctor Faustus. I did though and have to say I am feeling pretty proud of myself! Now got a couple of weeks to re write the assignment as asked by my tutor, including a lot of amendments, mostly to the referencing, but will need to get stuck into it and work my way methodically through it, as its quite detailed. 


 Next block of study is Joseph Stalin, and his reputation. Quite interesting but I already was aware of quite a lot of it, and it is heavy reading. Have also discovered YouTube, which seems to be the font of all knowledge, but care needs to be taken for authenticity. Going well though and I seem to be on track. 


 Going to a study day on Saturday 10th March at Aston University. I have been before many years ago, I think when I was studying for my first degree, and am not sure exactly where it is, just that it’s not in Birmingham centre. Hopefully can get the train, and am looking forward to meeting other students, as this hasn’t really happened during this course (am often way) and was one of the reasons that I decided to study. 


 So, home for a few days, then another trip.

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Back home in the UK.....

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So, on my way back home to Hereford, after a week walking and cycling in the mountains around Xabia. It was so good to be in the sun again, even though some days, and certainly in the evenings, was chilly. Blue skies are the key!

 

Had a burst of work last night, and somehow, within about 30 mins, managed to get 500 words down on my Faustus assignment. Not perfect, but just seemed to be able to write it. I think after studying it for three weeks, and thinking I was stuck, it just seemed to burst out! A purple patch!  Gives me something to edit now, as I have another week before it has to be submitted.

 

Going over the Cezanne section again and may take my time a bit more as I want to get a really good look at some of the paintings. I know Cezanne is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve got a weather eye on the future, and may think about studying Art History... depends on where I want to go with my studying….

 

Just finished reading The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell, a fascinating and mundane book, that displays both normality and complete fantasy. Certainly, an intelligent book, that has you thinking and a bit of a Tour de Force on your thoughts. Loved it though, even though some of the fantasy sections are hard going. Will certainly read some of his work again, but not just yet! I’m now a fan!!

 

Being a member of a book club does that though. The books selected to read, not by me, are often those that I’ve never heard of, or wouldn’t choose from a library. But they do seem to be worthwhile reads, and have included Howards End (E.S. Lewis), A month in the Country and The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman.

 

Have managed to fit in Goldsworthy Antony and Cleopatra as well, interesting, but heavy going...did enjoy it, but takes a lot of concentration, and quite hard to process the time scales involved. Seems to me that the Roman Empire was a momentous time, but then it was a long time, and we only ever read about the elite, and the famous, never what it was really like to live at the time. Love the idea that if you were a Roman Citizen, peasant or not, you had some rights

 

One of life’s true pleasures… reading

 

So now sat at Alicante Airport (AeroPuerto) people watching and drinking tapas coffee. Reading and thinking about Cezanne and wondering if there is an art expert amongst the thousands here, I doubt it, as most are fat drunken brits, but I’ll bet there is…. Somewhere

 

Trying to keep a schedule for my retirement. I think it’s important to have goals and aims, and for me these needs to be both long term and day by day.

I have about 9 weeks before heading to my apartment in Spain, so lots to do, but next week want to get back to my gym routine (kept very fit during my weeks away), complete my TMA assignment due in on Friday, go to the cinema at least once. Planning a trip to the Ashmolean in Oxford one day this week, and will attending a discussion group session at some point!

 

Obviously, my weeks are busy! Planning a visit to the North East of England in March, as a friend of mine works on Holy Island and has promised to show me around the land of St Cuthbert. Can’t make my mind up whether or not to drive or get the train. Will be dependent upon costs and do I need to have a car for my visit.

 

Hoping to get a glimpse of Hadrian’s Wall on my visit too

 

Still staying news free, as far as I can, and don’t feel like I’ve become a bad person, more that I feel like a viewer, or spectator, in a great game, with those in Facebook land having these sure-fire entrenched opinions which must be right, and everyone either agrees, or disagrees in an outrage of personal abuse….

I am diluted by my non-participation, and it is a great thing, and brings me peace… but I do have a view always, but somehow feel that not sharing is the way, and brings strength to my convictions… I’ve become a watcher, an observer, of this great shambling minstrel show that is my home country….


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So today...

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I’m in Javea, or as the Valencieenes say, Xabia. Lots of the road signs have been spray painted to show the Valencia version, which reminds me they used to do that in Wales with the signs having both Welsh and English versions. Must say that seem separatists here, not like when I was in Gerona last year…… crikey!

 

Went walking up in the mountains today, drizzle and cloudy, but lots of beautiful olive blossom, and orange and lemons on the trees, a great walk about ten miles. Of course, tried a local bar in the village, bought some local honey, and tapas...the village was called Taberna I think. Also around Partence which is a small village just below a mountainous ridge which we also walked

 

No studying today though, and starting to feel a bit of pressure. The thing I need to do next is reference my Cleopatra essay, as I have the assignment written out in draft. But haven’t even started on my work on Dr Faustus, even though I know what I’m going to say and understand the play well enough. Got about ten days to get it all completed and sent in so it still feels ok… For sure though need to put more time into the study of Cezanne, and need all of my stuff, images / text around me which is always a problem when travelling. Seem to  be studying on the move a lot at the moment and haven’t as yet got a coherent study plan

 

Seemed to me today, being around these mountain villages, that there is a strong sense of community there. Of course, the locals are very welcoming, but at the same time seem very proud of what they have. Makes me sad to see that because it doesn’t seem to exist at all back home. Maybe that’s why I love Spain so much, and its easy, wandering around the orange and lemon groves in the sunshine, paying a few Euros for decent coffee or a small beer…


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Travels again

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So spent the day preparing for a trip to Spain, going to Xabia (Javea) to do some hill walking, great mountains around there. My third (I think) trip there, and a good spot as the apartment we are renting is on the beach, and yet just a few miles inland is a great walking and climbing area. Mt Montgo I think its called. Planning to hire a road bike and get some cycling too...

Studies have slowed down a bit, am well into Dr Faustus now but it can be heavy going, even though I  love it. As soon as I get a chance to see a production I must go!

Went on a local walk yesterday, pretty cold but blue skies and windy. Went to a small Herefordshire village called Marden, which has a beautiful old church, which looks medieval, but was actually completely rebuilt in the 1870s. The spot made all of the more stunning because all of the snowdrops were glinting in the sun. Blew the cobwebs away though.

Still staying news free as far as possible, and better for it, cant be bothered with it all really and does it affect my life, i dont think so. Still cant avoid hearing of the tragedies in the states (my God!), and the winter Olympics is all over the place....

Early start tomorrow, and cant wait to get out of this country.....

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New blog post

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So back home after a great time with my family in Adelaide. Its the only time that I see them so its a bit special. Retirement now means that Im not sure when Ill be able to afford to go again, but Ill worry about that another time! One things for sure, family are the most important thing in life, whatever, so may have to think again about priorities. Its a big step to emigrate as its so final at my time of life, and if I can afford to go, Im certain I wouldn't be able to afford to come back again!

Studies on hold this week as I recover from jet lag, which I think is almost like being ill. Ive tried all ways to deal with it, but for sure its three or four days out of your life. Hard to describe to those that have never experienced it, I liken it to a hangover, without the headache!. The only cure for me, is to just get through it..

Back to the cold of the UK, February and its about freezing most of the time, so depressing. I find the weather restricts what you can do a bit, especially for an outdoors person like me, but trying to make the best of it.

I am making a big effort to stay "news free" as i find it all a bit patronising, I'm certain we are never told what is really happening, so avoidance seems to be working, and every day the sun stills comes up (I think). Have no interest in this country and find the people fat, illiterate and patronising. However individuals I meet can be lovely, so my views are probably based on us as a group...I do think we are now driven by social media, as everyone seems to have an opinion, without necessarily having to do any thinking, or understanding... what has happened to us...

Determined to stick with my study plans, not pushing ahead or dropping behind, and I am making conscious effort to try and immerse myself in culture, theatre, film music etc and find myself able to view something every day...

Managed to get to see the "Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde the other day, something I have wanted to see for ages, and loved its wit and cleverness, even though I knew the story. Then met someone the other day who had played Gwendoline, a great and funny character in the play...

 


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Cleopatra

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Edited by Les Haines, Wednesday, 31 Jan 2018, 06:48

Managed to get 500 words down on the Cleopatra assignment today, after procrastinating for a few days, just sat down and banged it out! Nowhere near the finished article of course but it seems the hurdle is to get past the blank page. Once something is there it seems easier to work with. Almost like you could write complete rubbish just to get going....glad to get it going though and feels like progress..

Still on holiday in Adelaide, returning to the UK next week and not at all looking forward to it. As a regular traveller I always have the same feeling going back, one of disappointment, embarrassment and anger at what our country has become. Something I have learned to live with over the years, and Im ok as long as I live in my own little bubble. Lots I love about the uk, but always outweighed by the crap climate, racist ignorant fat people and the rip off attitude. Ive tried all ways to deal with it, but now I couldn't give a f*** about it... so sad..

One thing to be positive about though, is the visible history, wherever i go, there is always something interesting to see, every village has a very old church etc, and many things go back a very long way.. interesting to see here in Oz "vintage" can mean 50 years old! All relative I suppose...Lots of plans to visit venues related to my course.. a Cezanne film, theatre ( I going to see " the importance of being Ernest"), and a Beethoven concert already booked... also am going to try and get to the British Museum to view the Egyptology there, and someone has told me about a more specific museum just up the road from there (The Petrie?), so a trip to London is on the cards....


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So finally...

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Have finished reading Faustus, the notes and all of the stuff on Cleopatra. Great to see so much material available on line to, You Tube and catch up etc. The problem is going to be staying focussed on  what is required to answer the questions. I am finding the topics interesting and seem to trawl my way around the media picking up snippets... not sure if thats a good thing or not

Course proper starts next week and the seems to be a bit of frenzy on social media and the online OU forums.. all a bit new to me and not sure if it helps or hinders...Im ready anyway and just want to get going. I am planning on staying on the schedule as far as possible, as its best for me..

Still in Adelaide visiting family, strange to be so hot and fierce in January, and the beach life the Aussies embrace so well is attractive, but always seem to include alcohol..

Also, completely enjoying being uk news free..... bliss!

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The next big thing..

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In my OU world is to try and navigate my way through the myriad of tutorials / day schools etc that have now been released. Lots of on line chat about availability and location and how hard done by some people are, but that seems to be a reflection of what people demand these days.. Im quite surprised by the apparent demographic of OU students, and the cynic in me says this is rated to cost, and access to funds from the state.. or not.. maybe its just me

Course still going ok, actually enjoying reading Faustus now Ive got some sort of clue whats going on, and really like the style of language, which I find fascinating... might read it again before attempting the assignment....

Still on holiday in Adelaide ( Seaford) and summer temperatures (its 20th Jan) over 40 degrees.. saw one at 44 today.. pretty hot. The Aussies though... make me laugh. A spade if definitely a fucking spade here... love it!!.... its the way we used to be before our country got broke....



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Faustus on holiday

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Edited by Les Haines, Monday, 15 Jan 2018, 21:18

Still on holiday in Adelaide with my family and certainly enjoying the fine weather as its the height of summer here. 

It seems I have been saying a lot that I am struggling with Faustus, and although I find it fascinating and quite brilliant, I have decided the stop / start / study approach is what is making it difficult. So have decided to listen to it all of the way through in one go, and also try and find a you tube version of the play. Now I have some sort of semblance of understanding I think it would be the right time....

One thing about being so far away from the UK is the lack of news from home, quite deliberate. Am I a worse person because of it? Doesn't feel that way, and the world keeps on turning, so makes me wonder why I take such an avid interest in the news and politics. Quite refreshing for it not to be all around me, and for the constant subliminal messages that the media surrounds us all with.

Great to be with my kids though, who I literally see once a year, since they have emigrated..but Oz seems an expensive place to me..

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All things Faustus

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So trying to get to grips with Faustus, and struggling a bit but am determined to master it, definately better to listen and read at the same time and am making process. Am going to listen/read it through one more time before returning to the study text hopefully tomorrow.. it is a fascinating play, with  a lot of sub text, but so difficult to read at the moment.. would be great to get some tips from somewhere..

Still heavily jet lagged, but it is clearing. Almost like being sick and knew how it can debilitate you, but doesn't make it any easier..sad

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Travelling... and jet lag

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Edited by Les Haines, Wednesday, 10 Jan 2018, 10:57

So spent most of the last two days in the skies of the world.. travelling from Birmingham to Adelaide to see family for four weeks...

This means Ill be on the other side of the planet when this course starts, which I am seeing as an interesting dynamic, but not off putting. Probably, to be realistic won't make the early tutorials but Ill manage somehow.. all worth while to be in blue skies and sunshine, and all of my family whom I only see once a year if Im lucky..

Spent the flight listening to Faustus (which meant i slept a lot!).... only joking. Took the opportunity to listen and read the whole play. I can thoroughly recommend this way of studying. Being able to read the script whilst listening to the performance made the whole thing much more interesting and fascinating, because you can listen to the nuances and tempo of the spoken words....

Completely jet lagged now though.... so a bit stuffed until my brain turns from the mush that is..

Im in Adelaide, in fact Seaford, a town to the south, and have been here many times. Getting used to the Aussies can take a while bit always great fun.. and I love it here 

.Its hot, Im jet lagged and all over the place. Will try and get my notes down on Faustus tomorrow, maybe when Im thinking a bit more clearly...

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So today was...

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Edited by Les Haines, Sunday, 7 Jan 2018, 20:23

Mostly about travelling, drove from Carlton in the Yorkshire Dales, to my home in Hereford, so not much studying.

Did find the arrival of my student card at home a boost though, as now I can join lots of clubs and organisations at a price I may be able to afford. Also will for the first time be able to become a member of English Heritage as a student and therefore much cheaper. 

Still trying to plan out my study strategy and thinking when the hell am I going to be able to do this. And of course head full of Cleopatra! Starting to shake off the (distracting!) thought of Elizabeth Taylor, and think about Cleopatra in her own right. Conflicting thoughts of her as a "destructive sexual predator" versus a ruler and pharaoh of some status. Hard to pick out the bits and pieces to persuade me one way or another. Find myself wanting to know the truth, but not wanting to take on too much, so will stick with the course materials for now...

Also very distracting to see on the video clips the "carry on" version!!.. hilarious!

Hereford cold, icy and continuously dark!!

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Yorkshire Dales and Cleopatra

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Edited by Les Haines, Sunday, 7 Jan 2018, 20:24

Today spent around a small village called Carlton, just west of Richmond Yorkshire.. still here spending some time walking in the dales, but trying to get myself up to speed ready for AA100.

Had a good look through the student planner, and then the penny dropped when i realised the pace of the course! Need to adjust my study times I think as it seems a lot to do. On the positive side, the planner lets you know exactly where you should be at any given time. 

I am going to spend some time trying to get ahead over the next fortnight, and appreciating what a luxury it is to be able to say that having just recently retired. So nice to be able to do so many things... properly!

Also spent some time today putting some key dated into my phone, and tipped my toe into some of the forums... all a bit strange!

Blue sky day in the dales, but getting colder I think. Headed back home to Hereford tomorrow.. not looking forward to the five hour drive! sad

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Richard III

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Edited by Les Haines, Sunday, 7 Jan 2018, 20:24

I know, nothing to do with this course, but on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales, doing some walking. Based in Leyburn, which is just down the road from Middleham, and was able to visit today, in a howling gale and heavy rain. 

Middleham of course is the birth place of Richard III, and so did want to (obviously) visit the castle. Wandered around the outside as didn't want to spend the extortionate price to English Heritage. Was quite an inspiring place considering the weather, and felt a bit awed by what happened to him, being there where he grew up. Lots of tourist stuff of course, Richard III hotel, tea rooms etc, but was worth a visit whilst Im up here. Real history and we are so lucky in this country....

Did some reading in my hotel in the evening, Cleopatra, and typed up some notes. All a bit abstract, and think I need to view some artefacts or something to make it a bit more real. .. still feeling confident but a bit like a rabbit in the headlights though..

Mind you, the local Yorkshire real ale (black sheep,) helps....

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New blog post

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Edited by Les Haines, Sunday, 7 Jan 2018, 20:21

Travelled from Hereford to Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales today, five hours through a storm, so not much studying, but still a bit more organising and at last some access to some of the forums.. great to see also many students taking this course, Im sure it will help..

Taking it easy now i am here and the temptation of the local village pub is too much, so thats it for today...

Of course Ive brought my course materials....

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They don't like Cleopatra do they!

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Edited by Les Haines, Sunday, 7 Jan 2018, 20:25

Early to the gym, in chucking it down weather, and read a bit more having a coffee before hand..

Horace and his Ode... actually found it fascinating more because of the explanatory text in the course book... Spin on a grand scale! Once you put things into context though it becomes more easy to understand.. starting to wonder what she (Cleopatra) was really like though, and do we actually know anything about her that is true.. have today thought that this very first part of the course has been interesting, and this from a peasant who knows nothing!

Dont want to go digging just yet though, still finding my feet on the course...thoughtful

So bloody glad all of the festivities are now over and I can get back to some sort of normality, and as a new retiree, feeling slightly smug, but not a bit guilty, that a lot of people are back to work today big grin


Didn't do any more today, as i am getting ready to to Leyburn in Yorkshire for a few days hill walking.. long journey, I live in Hereford. Got a thing in the back of my mind that Richard III home is near there, but for the life of me cant remember the name of his castle... I will visit, but it might just be a few fields now! sad

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New Years Day

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Edited by Les Haines, Sunday, 7 Jan 2018, 20:23

So this morning went out on my bike in a howling storm! Got soaking wet and frozen! 

Planning on typing up my notes today and to add some dates to my calendar.

Up to looking at the speech Augustus made to the troops before the battle of Antium, but of course the course hasn't officially started yet so dont know where I should be..

Must be ahead though? smile



PM. So typed up my notes on the speech that Augustus made prior to the battle of Actium, then saw something that said Plutarch had writen this piece some 200 years after the event. if that was now, it would be 2218! How does that work? How can it in any way be reliable?.. just a thought though on the fragility of information and how it can be misinterpreted...

No hangover today, post NY eve, which for a very light drinker is a relief! Late night though, about 2.00am. Glad all of the festivities are over and we can all settle down to normality again..

Booked a ticket to go and see Oscar Wilde " The importance of being Ernest' at my local theatre, the Courtyard Theatre Hereford. Not on until February though so a bit of a wait! Not many films on at my local Odeon, unless your four years old, or a Jedi warrior.... where can I go to see films of note?? thoughtful


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Crikey

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Edited by Les Haines, Sunday, 7 Jan 2018, 20:22

Started on BK 1 ' Reputations" and was immediately struck that I am going to have to do a lot of different things at once... not a man thing. Setting up the DVD, watching, reading, making notes, trying to organise my files on my PC, and even spend some time thinking about the concepts..

Crikey.. took my book to the gym, then realised I should take notes as I am reading, and notes will need to be organised in a way to be accessed... did about an hour though, and like a blank page.. made a start at least.

New Years Eve party tonight, maybe Ill be a bit more organised after a  Biryani and four pints of Belgian beer... pretty heavy for a non drinker!

Head full of Elizabeth Taylor.....

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Start....

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Edited by Les Haines, Thursday, 15 Feb 2018, 17:43

So ... here we go. 

A new venture, and although I am qualified up to the yin yang in professional terms, this is a new venture for me... both studying AA100, and blogging.

Have just retired and all other studying in my life has been crammed in around work / life. For the first time I have time to do this properly. I am nervous and have some trepidation about what I am taking on, because i am completely ignorant of what I have briefly seen of the topics.

Received my course materials and have started to work through the Study Companion, trying to make sense of the layout and structure of the course materials, this website and navigating my way around.

First impressions are, it must be impossible to do everything, and at present I have no pressures of times or structures.

Most of this website at present is still closed, perhaps for the best!

So still setting up... do I work on my computer, hand written notes, how  do I coordinate audio / clips etc into a coherent piece of work, how and when do I study.

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