Happy Hallowen 2016

c1fd1e9060fcf9d1e9cd80f5f66b60e9He’s been! He’s been! Sorry, I mean.. It’s here! It’s here! Halloween is really here. In what has become something of an annual tradition here at The Vintage Notebook, I have complied a Halloween playlist to get you all in the spirit of things (see what I did there?)

Whatever you do today, I hope you have a fangtastic day. Groan.

Sig H

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A Walk Among the Graves

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If it is alright with all of you, I would like to skim over the obvious cliché of a person looking as I do spending their time wandering around cemeteries. I know ok? I know. However, if you will indulge me for a while I will hopefully explain why I find cemeteries such incredibly sweet and endearing places to visit.

A few nights ago, when the light was pretty and the leaves were glowing, I headed to East Sheen cemetery to take a look around. The cemetery was opened in 1906 and was originally called the Barnes Cemetery. In recent years East Sheen has become conjoined with Richmond cemetery, however it is the chapel of East Sheen which remains active and conducts services for both sites. It is home to several notable graves, including the Lancaster weeping angel sculpture above, which has been described as the most important funerary monument of the 20th century.

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I was entirely alone as I wandered through the grave stones. Only a clutch of wantonly hedonistic squirrels made any sound as they bundled across tree tops and shook orange leaves to the already littered ground.

hNo shame!

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As I ambled around reading the names of the buried and glimpsing fragments of their lives from the inscriptions, I felt as I always do in such places, that the overwhelming atmosphere was not one of sadness or melancholy, but love. If you are a person who needs tangible proof of love to believe it, there is no finer example than the way in which we treat our dead. It is the overwhelming factor in my motivation to study archaeological death and burial. Not dear reader, because it fits oh so neatly with my aesthetic, thank you. It is because of a stone that was put up by a wife for her husband who died at 45 years old which at the bottom reads, ‘Maggie Darnell, wife, died 99 years, reunited with her dear one’. How can you fail to feel connected to her and their story? The wife who spent fifty-four years a widow and still chose to be buried with her husband. How can you ever doubt the human capacity for kindness and sentimentality in such a place? When I research historical burial customs, it is with a decidedly critical eye. What are the motivations behind an inscription? Prestige? Duty? Some sort of political manoeuvring? But from a human and less analytical platform, many people don’t have such cynical ulterior motives when burying their nearest and dearest, they just have long held affection.

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I have long felt that it is how we react to our loved ones during the death process that displays the best parts of what it is to be human (although animals do have death and mourning practices too, elephants for example are fascinating). How we hold a person’s hand while they are sick and don’t recoil through fear, embarrassment or our own sorrow. The way we decide which clothes they would like to wear one last time. The places we go and the songs we sing to honour them. And the final act; the monument, whether it be a grand granite obelisk or a patch of grass. In the former instance, carved words selected, mulled over and paid for by those who love you so that all the world can see that you were cared for, that you belonged. To be cared for in death, is to be owned, to be loved and to be wanted forever. I don’t see cemeteries as creepy or depressing. I can’t deny that my gothic sensibilities appreciate the sculptures and aesthetic of such places. But I visit, not to fulfil some obvious and well-worn tropes about goths in graveyards. I visit because they remind me of the sweetness of individual humans. They remind me to try and be a better daughter and friend and to actually call that person back four days late because one day I won’t be able to. They tell me to really see those people who have broken into my life like Jack Nicolson with a wood axe and refuse to leave despite my aforementioned failure to respond to people in good time. In essence they remind me of how bloody well-loved I am.

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Hello September Stationary Must Haves

GYPSY_52 - Wildfox

Happy September one and all! If you have been dropping in for a read for a while you will know that I tend to come alive in the autumn months. I can’t explain it, but it has always been this way. Like a bear waking from its slumber I come skipping from my self-imposed summer cave and start rubbing my scent up and down tree trunks, no wait hang on…

Autumn is all things to me; it is a fresh start in the year, a time for magic and love and chilly moonlit walks in fallen leaves. I pack away the three summer outfits I wear on rotation while it is hot and welcome with open arms swathes of wool, tweed and velvet. For the last two Septembers I have felt bereft not to have a new academic year to sink my bear claws into. I adore the back to school spirit and the excitement of new reading lists, berets and stationary. This year I am incredibly pleased to announce that I will be joining my backpack wielding peers once more as I start my PhD research at King’s College London. It has been a few years in the making to get to this point but I am over the moon to be starting, if not a little daunted. I will be continuing my interest in all things Roman and death related by researching grave goods from Roman London. I hope that I do a good job and make everyone who has supported me so far proud. Stay tuned for regular, possibly half-crazed status reports over the next few years.

To mark, not only my own return to academic life but maybe some of yours too, I have put together my favourite back to school stationary purchases that have helped me to stay organised, productive, and most of all frickin’ adorable over my many years in lecture halls.

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1. KiddyQualia Filo Fax Inserts.
I have mentioned these colourful and customisable inserts before I am sure but they are so pivotal to my day to day planning routine that I couldn’t not give them a shout out again. I usually put an order in for these during November so that I have them ready for the New Year. I buy the week to view diary inserts for day to day scheduling, and then lots of coloured plain and ruled paper which I then customise myself for the different sections of my Filofax. I also have the To Do List inserts which I stash at the back and fill in daily.

2. Pilot V Pens
So they may not be the most glamourous pens on Earth but I can’t be without them. I am dyslexic and according to the nice lady who made me do a lot of brain tests a few years ago my main problem area is cognitive sequencing. This is the way in which the brain learns patterns and locks them in to your head. Ergo, my spelling is often bad because when I was learning to spell lots of the patterns didn’t stick in my brainbox. Similarly my handwriting can emerege in vastly different concoctions every time I pick up a pen because the patterns with which I make shapes can be a bit hit and miss. These Pilot V pens have a fountain tip and go some way to control (read, neaten) my handwriting. They come in several different fun colours and are also erasable, a must-have for poor spellers like myself. I always have one in my handbag and several on my desk.

3. Art Deco Notebooks.
Even though my Filofax handles much of my list writing and organising day to day, I still can’t be without a few good notebooks for specific projects. These Deco Notebooks are so gorgeous that I haven’t actually used them yet and instead keep them displayed on my desk. I need to find a suitably beautiful project to dedicate them to.

4. While we are on the subject of notebooks, these Wes Anderson themed ones are another go to favourite. I use one of these as a homework diary. I know, I know, but when you have lots of assessments and reading to get done every week you need to go back to basics sometimes.

5. Desk Planner.
Speaking of organising workloads, a desk planner like this is an absolute necessity for me. I portion off the time I have available for study, mark in big letters when an assignment is due and work backwards from that point. That way I know exactly when to start reading for a particular paper and don’t end up leaving it too late to start prepping a project.

6. Lastly a Paperblanks Diary. I have had a Filofax for about three years now, but before then I was ride or die to the Paperblanks yearly diary. The designs are so beautiful and varied, the paper is lovely and the range of formats means that if you are one of those freaks who favours a month to view, starting in April on paper the size of a postage stamp, you can probably find it.

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Happy spooky studies witches!
xx

Images: Wildfox

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