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Here’s what you missed on Glee

Okay, so Glee is over and we all like to pretend we never ever watched it. But their “here’s what you missed on last week’s episode” was always succinct and upbeat. So I thought I’d steal it for this post. Mwhahahaha. (Please no-one sue me.)

Since my last post I’ve gained the internet, which has seriously improved my life because the internet is a great invention and is how I can actually post this post. My last blog post was on 3G. I do hope you weren’t too bored without me filling up the web with my witterings. Though I’ve gained twitter followers in this time, so I’m guessing some people like my witterings.

Anyway, back to the point. I have internet but life has been happening. And so I’m going to catch you all up on what I’ve been up to.

1. The UCA MA Showcase

As I have mentioned once or twice, my friend Maddie has been doing a fashion MA which culminated in a showcase of her work and other MA fashion/design/photography students at UCA.

This meant I went down to London, straight to Shoreditch, and went to what is possibly the coolest/most hipster party I have ever been to. It was a fashion exhibit in a crumbling warehouse full of very cool, very fashion knowledgeable people. And there was me, in what I’d worn to work.

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“Where is May Morris?” – Maddie’s awesome collection

The exhibition was great. My Dad actually came down the next day to see it in the daytime and Maddie walked us through what everyone had done. Particular highlights (aside from Maddie’s collection obvs) included Martin Garwood’s photography which you can see on this website and Louise Shoulder’s jewellery, which as far as I’m aware is not on a website. But if she ever creates one, I will let you know. Once I’ve bought all of it.

2. Glasgow wedding

The weekend after the fashion show, I was seeing Maddie again, as we travelled far north for the wedding of the year. Our friends Nat and Burly Chris (those are their official names and I will not hear a word otherwise) were tying the knot in Chris’ home town, which meant kilts, bagpipes and a gorgeous church.

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Look how pretty.

The reception was in two parts, with the meal happening in a German brewery and the dancing in the Winter Gardens. It was an amazing day and a beautiful wedding. The best way I can sum it up is that I cried five times. That’s how good a wedding it was. Like I said, Best Wedding of the Year.

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LOOK HOW PRETTY.

3. Morris men in Birmingham

The weekend after that I was at home, pottering about as you do when life has been a bit hectic for the past month. And during this, I went into Birmingham with Beth to explore Grand Central, because the new New Street has opened and it is incredible. But that’s a post for a different time.

After thoroughly exploring, we ended up at Brewdog for a quiet drink, when suddenly a hoard of Morris men appeared. It was the most surreal and most English thing to happen in my life in a good long while.

As it turned out, they were the Morris 18130 who have the aim of encouraging young people to join Morris dancing clubs. They were very lovely and explained stuff to us and even let Beth have a go. If you want to know more about them, they have a decent website here, but in my couple of hours experience of them, all you need to know is that they were great, enthusiastic and seriously very lovely.

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They stole a Beth.

4. Nottingham

The weekend just gone when I should have been writing a blog post, I dashed off to Nottingham for some swing and Quidditch. Aside from a dance with a friend at the Best Wedding of the Year, I haven’t done any swing dance in three months, and it was so good to be back in the (pardon the pun) swing of things.

What was even better than the dancing, which means it was pretty darn amazing, was seeing the friends I haven’t seen in three months. Both swing people and Quidditch people made me feel very loved, and very told off for having booked a hotel room rather than stealing a sofa from one of them.

5. Shrek the Musical

As well as less than 24 hour visit to Nottingham, I also went to see Shrek the Musical at the Wolverhampton Grand. It was hysterical and I would highly recommend it. You know how the first Shrek film is surprisingly good when you rewatch it? The musical was surprisingly good considering I already knew all the punchlines. Fiona and Shrek were both developed slightly further as characters, the Dragon was a very accurate puppet, the songs were super catchy and the guy playing Lord Farquad… Gerard Carey, you were fantastic. Superb. Phenomenal.

Shrek the Musical is basically a pantomime but without the audience participation. And audience participation is my least favourite part of pantomimes. It’s so good. So good. I’d say go see it at the Grand but its run is now over.

In amongst my praise for the show, I also have to say that the security guard at the Grand went above and beyond when he let me stay in the theatre long after everyone else had gone, because it was a Saturday night and he was worried about me waiting for my lift outside.

And that my friends is what you missed in my life. I hope it was worth the wait and that you feel successfully caught up. Any other questions, you know where the comment box is.

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BQC: A Flying Visit

George Weasley: Rough game, Quidditch.

Fred Weasley: Brutal, but no one’s died in years. Someone will vanish occasionally, but they’ll turn up in a month or two!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, (2001 film)

It’s true. Quidditch, even Muggle Quidditch, is a dangerous sport. But the threat of mysteriously vanishing didn’t deter over 400 players descending on Wollaton Park last weekend, all ready to battle to the death if necessary for the honour of being crowned the British Quidditch Champions.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham Wollaton Hall is as impressive as Quidditch skills

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Wollaton Hall is as impressive as Quidditch skills

As I mentioned in my last post, my local team is the Nottingham Nightmares. I’ll can give you three guesses who I support. Yeah, that’s right – Derby. No, I’m kidding. Of course I support Nightmares. Let’s be honest, I live with their team captain. It’d be a trifle awkward if I didn’t. Fair warning: this post will be Notts Nightmares centric. So I donned my nightmares shirt and face paint, and headed out to Wollaton Park in time for the first Nightmares game of the British Quidditch Cup.

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All the things needed to support your team: tutus, banners and nail polish. Oh and face paint, of course.

Unfortunately due to various reasons, the games on Day One were running late, which meant there was still waiting around to be done when I turned up. This did mean, however, that I had time to grab some BQC swag and be introduced to various quidditching people. And then finally, it was time for Nottingham to play Bangor Broken Broomsticks.

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The official programme is so kickass.

Before I go on, I should probably quickly explain a couple of things. Firstly, the snitch is worth 30 points and catching it ends the game. Each time a Quaffle goes through a hoop that’s 10 points. (And if you want slightly more explanation than that, Sky Sports were at BQC and filmed a (at times kind of cheesy) video explanation complete with actual quidditch players and adorable kids, which you can find here.) On Day One, teams were playing the other teams that were in their groups (See here for more details of fixtures and scores).

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Photo credit: University of Nottingham

A Quaffle, a bludger and many broomsticks

I’m not a sports commentator, so I’m sorry but you’re not going to get a blow by blow recount of the match. But I can tell you that both teams played well, but finally Nightmares triumphed, with the score 150*-70. (For the uninitiated, an asterisk means that team caught the snitch.) There was much celebration on the part of the Nightmares, because winning your first game is always a great way to kick off a tournament.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Nightmares celebrating a well deserved win.
(The guy in the yellow headband caught the snitch.)
(He was mobbed by the entire team.)

The second game Nightmares played was against The Flying Chaucers. Flying Chaucers formed just two months ago and brought a fairly small squad to BQC. They played really well, particularly for such a new team, but the final score was 280*-10 to Nottingham. Winning both matches was a solid start.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

The Chaucers putting up a valiant fight.

As the games were running late on Day One, Nightmares only played two games on the Saturday, rather than the three they should have done. However, it was a beautiful day, and I don’t think anyone minded too much. Of course, there were plenty of matches to watch in between Nightmare games and it was a really great start to the weekend.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

“Quidditch face” can strike anyone anytime anywhere.

Saturday night there was a social, where I think everyone I talked to told me how tired they were and they couldn’t believe they’d dragged themselves out, but hadn’t the day gone well? The social was very lowkey due to the excessive tiredness of pretty much everyone, but it ended with a highland dance off, so fun was definitely had.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Nightmares going for a goal against Durham.

Sunday dawned grey and drizzly, but I didn’t see it because I slept through my alarm. I don’t want to say that watching Quidditch is as tiring as playing because that’s simply not true, but man it takes it out of you. I missed the first Nightmares match which was against Durhamstrang. Nightmares lost, with the final score standing at 110*-60. A close match but still a loss.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

A reminder that Quidditch is a full contact sport.

By the time I turned up, it had been established that despite the loss to Durham, Nightmares were through the group stage and into the round of sixteen. This meant playing Derby Union Quidditch for a place in the Quarterfinals. To start off with Nightmares were not at their best, but they pulled it back, with the final score being 80*-40 to Nottingham. Which meant they were through to the Quarterfinals.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Notts giving it all they’d got against the Chimeras.

And in the quarterfinals they were facing Radcliffe Chimeras, who, at the time were both the British and European champions. But Nightmares were prepared for a fight, even when the heavens opened. It was the tensest match I have ever watched. By snitch release (18 minutes into the game) the score was 30-0 to the Chimeras, which meant if Nottingham caught the snitch without the Chimeras scoring anymore, the game would go to overtime which would mean if they caught the snitch again they’d win and be through to the semifinals.

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Photo credit: Donald Stazicker

Solid defensive seeking by the Nightmares’ Seeker.

Sadly, it was not to be with Chimeras both scoring more and catching the snitch, and the final score was 110*-10 to the Chimeras. But Nightmares played fantastically and all of their supporters were so proud of them. And they should be so proud of themselves.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Southampton about to beat out a Chimeras Chaser.

In the end, the final was between Radcliffe Chimeras and Southampton Quidditch Club 1. Complete with a disallowed snitch catch, injuries, and a pitch move, it was both a long and tense match. But finally, finally, finally it was over. With Southampton Quidditch Club 1 as the new British Quidditch Champions.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

You’re going to want to click on this photo to fully see how great it is.

If you want full results plus interesting statistics, you should look here, but the final top rankings were:

1st – Southampton Quidditch Club 1

2nd – Radcliffe Chimeras

3rd – Keele Squirrels

It was an amazing weekend, which was made even sweeter for Nightmares (who came 5th overall) who found out that their performance had secured them a place at the European Quidditch Cup, which is in Oxford, 17-18th April 2015. I hope all players at BQC enjoyed their time in Nottingham, because it was fantastic to have them here. And I’m so proud of Nightmares. I said it before, but I’m saying it again because it’s true. I have high hopes for them at EQC. Because #ibelieveinnightmares.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Photo credit: University of Nottingham

Watch out EQC. Nightmares are coming for you.

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Do you even fly, bro?

So Quidditch is a thing. Like, a real life, honest to god, you can go play it thing. And with the British Quidditch Cup fast approaching, I figured I should probably do at least a semi-explaining blog before you get assaulted with tales of Nottingham Nightmares’ romp to victory. Yes, I have absolute faith in my local team. No, I don’t pay attention to statistics. #ibelieveinnightmares

Nightmares
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Photo credit: Helen Freeman)

Nottingham Nightmares: Looking positively electrifying

Let me begin with please don’t ever ask a Quidditch player if they really fly. Responses will range from sarcasm to stabbing and to be honest, I’m not sure which is worse. You want to face down a Quidkid who’s had tons of practice of answering this for full comedic effect, be my guest. But you won’t come out of it well. I once convinced a guy we fly. He looked so crushed when he found out it wasn’t true.

Muggle Quidditch or IQA Quiddditch originated in the USA in 2005, but has spread across the globe with teams on almost every continent. The basics from the Harry Potter books remain true. Chasers, beaters, keeper, seeker. Quaffles, bludgers, snitch. Mixed gender. Three hoops. Full contact. Broomsticks. Ridiculous commentary from spectators. I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the rules because a) I’m a little hazy on them myself and b) man, that would take a long time. The basics can be found in the infographic below:

Quidditch rules

(Photo credit: Sophie Chrétien/London Unspeakables)

So you may have noticed that I said it’s a mixed gender sport. Much like in books, muggle Quidditch welcomes all genders on their teams. Which means everyone gets to join in the fun and violence. Thanks to the “four maximum” rule, there can only be four people who identify as the same gender on the pitch for the same team at any one time. Not only does it mean the mixed gender nature of the sport is codified in the rules, but it creates a LGBTI friendly space with an environment where people are highly aware of the fact that gender is a spectrum not a binary. If you want to read more about how this plays out in Quidditch in the UK, I recommend this article.

As I believe I mentioned, the British Quidditch Cup is rapidly coming up and this year it’s going to be Nottingham. So Quidkids from around the country will be descending on Wollaton Hall from 7th March to 8th March. Competing teams have been divided into six groups, who will then play a round robin within their group. At the end of the first day, the teams will be ranked based on the results of the round robin, and only the top sixteen will make it through to the next day. Then a round of sixteen, Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and a Final will take place. Standard stuff, right? For more details of the tournament format, see here.

Basically, next week’s going to be an exciting weekend for Quidditch enthusiasts. Watch this space for a blog about it. If you’re in the UK and interested in finding your local Quidditch team, you can use this handy page on the Quidditch UK website. And now, having created a blog post that is a mess of everything Quidditch, I’m gonna leave you with a list of all teams competing in the British Quidditch Cup, because there’s some serious alliteration going on in some of them.

Bangor Broken Broomsticks, Bristol Brizzlepuffs, Cambridge University Quidditch Club, Chester Chasers, Derby Union Quidditch Club, Durhamstrang, Falmouth Falcons, Holyrood Hippogriffs, Keele Squirrels, Leeds Griffins, Leicester Thestrals, London Unspeakables, Loughborough Longshots, Norwich Nifflers, Nottingham Nightmares, Oxford Quidlings, Radcliffe Chimeras, Reading Rocs, Southampton Quidditch Club, Southampton Quidditch Club 2, St Andrews Snidgets, The Flying Chaucers, and Warwick Whomping Willows.

Nightmares 2
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Photo credit: Helen Freeman)

How could you not support them? Look how great they look. 

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A Weekend Full of Gerunds: Swinging and Quidditching

I was meant to bloggerate about Budapest. That was the plan, and I had it all worked out. Do my work, hand in essays, then sit down and write about one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in.

However, the weekend happened. On Friday I went to my first ever social swing dance, which was so much fun. Swing dance is the name for various dance styles that sprang up alongside the swing form of jazz. I got into it via the Swing Soc at university and it’s super fun. The two styles we learn are Lindy Hop and Charleston. Not going to lie, I prefer Lindy Hop; not sure why, just do. I’ll most likely bloggerate about swing more extensively at some point, but the point is, I was out on the town, spinning, triple stepping and trying not to kick anyone, and not writing about Budapest.

But Kat, I hear you cry, that’s only Friday night. What about the rest of the weekend? Well, dear readers, there was an IQA Quidditch tournament in Nottingham. Now, I don’t play IQA for a variety of reasons, but I am a member of the Quidditch and Harry Potter Society and my housemates play (to the point where one of them is the Captain of the Nottingham Nightmares), so I went along to offer support. After getting more uni work done, of course.

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Much mud is involved in quidditch.

(Click to enlarge and see all the pretty faces)

I’m not about to explain IQA in this post, because that’s a post for another time, but the long and short of it is, I spent my weekend watching Quidditch, cheering on the Nightmares and generally not doing much else. So I apologise for the lack of Budapest, tune in next week for more. For now go watch Nottingham Nightmares at British Quidditch Cup last year in this video:

I have been super converted to IQA (watching, not playing) but shhh, don’t tell my housemates. They’ll be way too proud of themselves. Though seeing as Nightmares came second* in the tournament, they’re pretty proud of themselves already. And rightly so. #Ibelieveinnightmares

*Nightmarish Tournament result: 1st – Oxford Quidlings, 2nd – Nottingham Nightmares, 3rd – Leeds Griffins, 4th – Leicester Thestrals

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I’m English. Honest.

So my week starts on Sunday, because I blogged about my trip to Suhl already. Sunday was mainly spent either asleep or at the BC Café. There were board games, including one based on Bruges which I, more through luck than judgement, came second in. Later we played Werewolf, both in English and German, and I suck at Werewolf in both languages. Werewolf, for those of you who don’t know, is a game in which basically, you’re trying to stay alive, while by night, werewolves prowl the village, and by day, the villagers pick someone to lynch. I got lynched, despite being a good honest citizen. Up until the lynching part, it was fun. And to be honest, saying I told you so after they killed me was pretty fun too.

The weather on Monday was beautiful and I braved the sunshine in a skirt with no tights. And got a ton of disapproving looks. Which was fairly disheartening but hey, I wasn’t overheating, like if I’d worn my jeans. I also managed to forget my memory card so I couldn’t print off photos, which was the whole reason I’d gone into town. Well done me.

Tuesday I didn’t have to start till 12, because my first lesson wasn’t happening. Sadly, I forgot this and rocked up at school at 10. Whoops. In the classes I actually had, the kids were going over months and seasons again. They were pretty good, but some of the months have the same spelling in both German and English – it’s only the pronunciation that separates them –  and that tripped them up a bit.

Wednesday was a sport competition day. So I went along to the gym ready to take down points and stuff, but it turned out as the school currently has four, yes four, people on placement, they were at capacity for people to do menial tasks, so I spent a couple of hours catching up on the internet. While I‘m on the subject of placement people, they’re not allowed keys to the school. I think it’s because they’re only here for a month, but they’re not allowed keys. This means people older than me are not allowed keys, whereas I am. And the keys are important! Unlocks the computer room, the staff toilets, the staff room… Also, in the hierarchy of teachers according to the kids, I am no longer bottom. That’s right – I rank higher than placement people. The power’s going to my head.

After my free couple of hours, I had English with class 1/2b, talking about wild animals. Lions, tigers and bears, they already knew. Meerkats and hyenas, not so much. This led to Michael demanding to know how I knew it was called a hyena, to which Janek replied with ‘because she’s English!’. That is the correct answer. I am glad Janek answered for me though, because my answer was ‘Because I’ve seen the Lion King.’ Doing well.
Two hours before tutoring, I realised I had messed up making word searches. I’d put the answers to find in, but hadn’t filled out the other boxes with letters… So I ended up making them by hand. Thankfully the kids thought that was awesome. We did about sport and I almost managed not to mention Quidditch. Almost. I also had to disabuse Luka of the idea that girls can’t like football.

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Handmade wordsearches. I spoil those kids, I really do.

Thursday I was doing maths on computers with class 3/4c again. Was relatively painfree, though they struggle to multiply anything by ten. Or at least, as soon as you give them a number bigger than ten they can’t multiply by ten, while I’m sitting there, willing them to just add a zero at the end.

In the afternoon one of the teachers took my shopping for a swimming costume as an early birthday present (don’t ask, long story) and then that evening the majority of the staff went out for a meal at an Indian restaurant, to celebrate International Women’s Day which was last week. It was very odd being one of the few who actually understood the menu. And not having anyone take the mick because I ordered what I always order.

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These were adorable. And I want one.

In my first class on Friday, I failed at knowing the English names of spring flowers and then explained two worksheets about wild animals. It was a very easy going lesson considering the class I was with are usually at least a little disruptive.

My second class was about houses again. There was a myriad of worksheets for the kids to do and while they got on with that, I tried to translate a song I learnt from scouts, because it’s about an elephant and who doesn’t want to sing a song about an elephant? The upshot is I now have to sing in front of classes next week.

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Behold. The pinnacle of my translation career to date.

In my third and final class I was tasked with conversation practice with a class that invariably doesn’t want to talk. However, all of them did and did it well, and I was very surprised. In a good way. Even Jonnilee, who never wants to take part did. Either they were just in a very good mood, or they like me better/find me less scary than their teacher. Who knows.

On Saturday, I finally went to the Goethe Museum. Ilmenau is very proud to call itself a Goethe town and thus I thought maybe I should see what the fuss is about. For those of you who don’t know, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, playwright and politican during the late 1700s and early 1800s. His most famous work is Faust. He visited Ilmenau several times during his life and wrote a poem entitled Ilmenau, the only of his poems to be titled with the name of the place it was inspired by. It is from this poem that the town takes its slogan of ‘himmelblau’.

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Selfies with Goethe.

The museum was pretty interesting, helped by an audio guide in English and a lovely room steward who kept pointing things out to me and said I spoke very good German. The woman at the entrance was also surprised when I asked for the audio guide in English and checked that I was sure I’d rather have it in English.

I then spent the majority of Sunday in my pyjamas, sewing and watching films, because as I believe I have said once or twice, I am the coolest of kids.