Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Windsor Castle

Last weekend was a rather busy one for me. It has been quite some time since I shared something other than a review, so I thought I'd share some photos with you all.

I spent all of last weekend in Surrey visiting family, and my sister and I decided to go on a little trip to Windsor Castle. I have visited Windsor Great Park previously (which is beautiful and I highly recommend visiting) but we had never been to the castle. I wanted to go because I wanted to see the Shakespeare exhibition, and my sister came along because she's very much a royalist and wanted to look around.

We managed to arrive just in time for the Changing of the Guard, which was very lucky as we didn't plan this before arriving. After watching this, we joined the longest queue in the world to buy tickets. I absolutely recommend buying tickets in advance. We queued for over an hour to get in (which wasn't too bad considering how long and disorganised the queue was). We paid £18.50 each for a student ticket, so it is expensive to visit.

The Queen was in residence, so the Royal Standard was flying over Windsor. It was really quite windy so we got a good view of the flag. After we bought our tickets we headed straight to St. George's Chapel, which was recommended in the information booklet. I was very excited about seeing the chapel, and I was not disappointed. Photography was sadly not allowed anywhere inside the castle or the chapel, which was frustrating. The chapel was stunningly beautiful and intricately designed. I highly recommend looking up some photographs of it on Google. It was probably my favourite part of Windsor. It felt very tranquil and solemn, which was to be expected. I'm not religious, but the atmosphere of churches and chapels. I was a little sad that I hadn't bought any change with me to light a candle (it was 30p to light a candle). It was also rather quiet compared to the rest of Windsor. Some of the tombs were incredibly simple and others were rather extravagant and impressive. Walking past the grave of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour felt a little surreal.

We then moved onto the castle itself. We saw Queen Mary's doll house on display, which was very impressive (and probably larger than my actual house!). The Shakespeare exhibition was next which was one of my favourite parts of the day. It focused a little too much on Elizabeth I for my taste (they scarcely mentioned James I which I found a little odd). They also had the First Folio on display, which was a highlight for me. I begged the steward to let me take a photograph, but she refused (and followed me around the room afterwards just in case). My sister managed to sneak a shot of it with her phone, which I'm grateful for even if it is blurry.

The actual castle itself was spectacular. The details were astounding; the ban on photography felt especially torturous because of this. I tried to sneak in a few shots, but I couldn't capture the magnitude and the splendour of the rooms.

Windsor Castle was definitely worth a visit, albeit an expensive one. I don't think it is somewhere I would revisit because of the cost, but I am glad to have visited once. I'm especially pleased that I managed to see the Shakespeare exhibition, but I do wish the library had been open to visitors.

I thought I'd end this post with a photo of Bree playing with my Aunt's dog in the garden. They adore each other, and it was just too cute not to share.

I hope you are all having a wonderful week. I'm hopefully going to post a few more reviews soon, depending on how busy I am with work (I'm going to be changing jobs in the next few weeks).

Have you visited anywhere interesting lately?

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Ophelia Wears Black by Segovia Amil

 I very rarely buy poetry collections by one writer. I usually prefer anthologies as it is more likely that I will discover something I enjoy, and I like introduced to the poetry of several different writers at once. However, I knew I needed to read Ophelia Wears Black by Segovia Amil as soon as I saw it.

What drew me towards Ophelia Wears Black? I think it was a combination of the Ophelia reference (Hamlet will always be one of my favourite plays and I have always been fascinated by Ophelia), and the cover. I adore the cover of this book. The white design against the black cover is incredibly striking. It does tend to get a little dusty though, as you can see by my pictures! 

Ophelia Wears Black is split into four sections, ‘The First Blush’, ‘On Solitude & Abandon’, ‘Burials’ and ‘Blood of the Seed’. The latter two sections are my favourite, but I enjoyed poems from all of the sections immensely. I think I preferred the latter half of the book as it delves a little more into the role of death within life and the profound beauty within death and darkness, whilst the first half features more ‘coming of age’ poems and focuses more on adolescence. My favourite poems in the collection are ‘Winteress,’ ‘With My Dead’ and ‘February’, as I feel that these poems speak to me personally the most. The book also offers an introduction to the poems, which is an insightful read on the background and inspiration behind these poems.

The poetry within explores several binary oppositions. Darkness is contrasted with light, heat with frost and detachment with immersion. Even the poetry itself is simultaneously simplistic and complex; it delves into themes of gravitas whilst remaining accessible and personable to the reader. There's something about this book that makes you feel like the only person in the world. However, despite exploring these themes of detachment, there is a surprising level of intimacy in this collection. I haven’t quite been feeling myself recently and I have found a great deal of comfort inside Ophelia Wears Black.

I cannot think of single thing that I do not like about this book. The poetry is sensational, dark and cathartic, and the photographs complement the poetry beautifully. They find the balance between mystery, intrigue and beauty without detracting from the poetry. The tone and style of the poetry is also continuous throughout. It's almost impossible to consider these poems as separate entities; they are brush strokes on a painting that sets the atmosphere and tone of this book. It is eloquent, elegant and remarkably heartfelt. You become seamlessly immersed in her world from the second you open the cover. I found myself completely absorbed from the second I turned the first page to the second I finished it. I always reach for this whenever I feel like I need some time alone with my thoughts. There’s something remarkably therapeutic about reading this. It reminds me that it is completely acceptable to make peace with my own inner darkness. It clarifies the nature of darkness itself, blurring the boundary between the joy of life and the inevitable pull towards death. It is dark but empowering. It's perfect to curl up with after a stressful day. I lose myself within its pages almost instantly. 

I adore this book. I think I will be reaching for this for many years to come. I do wish that it came in hardback, as I am almost certainly going to wear out this copy. I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes my favourite literary purchase of the year as it truly is a captivating read.

You can purchase Ophelia Wears Black for £16.53 from the Book Depository.

Have you read anything interesting lately?

Disclosure: I bought this book myself.
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