Mims' Musings

Posts Tagged ‘LilMissFirefly

ImageGraduation was always going to be a happy day. I’d worked hard for 3 years, achieved First Class Honours, my parents looked like they were going to burst with pride, and we all scrubbed up well in the cap and gown. Just before the ceremony, I was surprised when I started feeling this knot of terror in my stomach. I quickly realised it wasn’t about getting up on stage, I’d even worn tiny heels to avoid falling flat on my face. This anxiety was something else completely. It was about what this graduating business symbolised. Mainly that this meant the end of my nice stable routine of commuting, assignments and complaining, and that I had nowhere to go in September.

For a while I forgot about the horrible feeling, enjoyed the day and felt quite proud of myself. However, it’s never gone away. In fact I can feel it right now.

I felt the first twinges of this bluesy feeling when he had a particularly demotivational careers talk in our final year. They showed us the statistics of what last year’s graduates are doing now. Barely any of them were in a job that has anything to do with English or Creative Writing, many of them were working in retail or bars. We were told if we were lucky we might get a job in a museum, which is what I was doing before I spent £21,000 on a degree.

I was determined not to let this get me down. I knew that I’d have to make looking for a job a priority. I started looking for a job way before I graduated. I always knew that it was going to be hard. I’m a realist and I’m not kidding myself about the struggle I face as a graduate, with a Creative Writing degree. I signed up for as many useful websites as I could, wrote a killer cover letter, polished my CV and set up a good routine of applying for as many paid and unpaid positions as I could.

The same week as I graduated I went to the Jobcentre. I knew it was going to be hard but wasn’t quite prepared for the extremity of their attitude towards graduates. Just before my first interview I overheard two of the ‘advisors’ talking about how they hate graduates, because they assume that they’re better than everyone else and don’t deserve help when they wasted so much money on a ‘piece of paper’.  I took a deep breath and went through the interview as if I hadn’t hurt anything, but saw the face fall when I mentioned that I was a graduate.

A week later I had my first sign on day, my advisor was an hour late to see me after eating her lunch, chatting to her friend the security guard, and not checking to see if I was there to see her at all.  She used a really rude abrupt tone with me throughout the session, demanding to know why I hadn’t worked during my degree, dismissing my answers as not good enough excuses. I had to repeat my answers several times, there were several points at which she seemed to be judging me and I felt intensely uncomfortable. By the end of the session I felt belittled, and like all of my confidence had been knocked out of me.

By the time my third interview rolled around I was dreading it.  I’d applied for double the amount of jobs than they required from me per week. The woman I saw was actually quite friendly, until she casually said that she can’t sign someone on if they’re on drugs. I was completely baffled about what she meant, and then she said “Well you’re clearly stoned, your eyes are bright red.” I was so shocked. I quickly explained that I had severe hayfever, showed her the medication I take for it, but by then the damage had already been done.

This post graduation feeling can be described as a general feeling of hopelessness. This generation has been brought up to expect the worst, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I’ve always lived by the motto that ‘Success is the best revenge’, but in this case it feels like the path to success is going to be like going uphill during a rock slide. I’m determined to get a job as soon as I can, and as far away from the Jobcentre as I can, but I’m yet to receive any replies from my applications. I was prepared for that, but combined with Jobcentre’s attitude towards me, my morale is lacking a bit! The sense of not knowing what’s next is really unsettling.

I would love to know if other new graduates are having similar problems. Please comment with your own experiences, and hopefully there’ll be some good news stories too!


Did you spot the bird in the picture? Even I didn’t know it was there until I just loaded it up on the laptop. There’s another one below as well. (10 points to whoever spots it first).  Our last 24 hours of the trip started of beautifully, walking around the gardens at Kirstenbosch. Immediately we realised we should have done this at the start of the trip and spent more time there, it looks like an awesome place to picnic.

Below is a selection of pictures from the gardens, enough to produce my own ‘Protea of Africa’ Calendar. There were some truly beautiful things in that garden, including the King Protea which there’s a picture of below (it’s the really massive one), and the raspberry coloured Protea which is so rare it doesn’t have a name and could only be found on this one path we went down. At the gift shop I bought an egg box full of indigenous South African seeds and soil to grow them in, so hopefully some of them will survive at home.


Here’s me in my new rugby top, I’m sure you can all see the sense of relief that I’ve survived this epic journey. I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t feel like it’s flown past it feels like I’ve been away from home for an age. But now I’m excited to get back and see what lies ahead on my return. For one thing there’s the 800 page Mandela book to get on with!

Our last leg of the trip has all been based in Cape Town, so we’ve had a good chunk of time to explore Cape Town itself and some of the places near it.  On our first day in town we went to the Company Gardens for some lunch, where they had a display of Bonsai trees. Some of them were really impressively sculpted, and some of the trees were over 90 years old. My favourite one was an Olive Tree, although it did make me slightly sad that my Bonsai tree died!



Of all the times to forget to put my memory card back in my camera, the day we went up Table Mountain was the worst. Shocking in fact.  I did take some with my camcorder but I haven’t transferred them yet. However, I do have this great picture of the mountain which I took from the Waterfront. We were whisked up there in a Cable Car, and you never quite believe how high it is until you see it from the bottom again. It was a moment where the world below felt extremely small, but completely worth it. Although the mountain looks flat from ground level, it’s surprising how hilly it can be as you walk around up there. In fact due to my colourful history of ankle injuries I decided not to trek around it too much, but had a few hours of total silence on peace sitting on a rock catching a tan.


Another must-see in Cape Town is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, but not released from prison as many people think. We caught a ferry there from the Waterfront, then there was a 45 minute bus tour of the island, and we were then led around some of the prison blocks by an ex-inmate. The above picture is of the actual cell that Nelson Mandela was held in for 18 of the 27 years that he was inmate number 46664 (number 466 in 1964).


Having visited Alcatraz in San Francisco, I was surprised at how comfortable and somewhat beautiful Robben Island was. not at all like the imposing rock I was expecting after connecting it to Alcatraz in my head! Before catching the ferry back I bought a copy of The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. The gift shop rubber stamped it with a thing saying ‘Purchased in Robben Island’, which made it feel that bit more special. I look forward to reading it.


The following few pictures are of a few things we’ve done whilst based at my Uncle’s house in Cape Town. Below is the Rhodes Memorial, which doesn’t convey how windy it was when we visited it, a penguin that we saw in the Boulders area, a striking picture taken from Chapman’s Point, the Boschendale Winery, and a flower we saw growing in one of the vineyards.





Tomorrow will be our last day of adventure before we head home on Monday, by the time we get home we will have been travelling for 24 hours straight, so who knows what will happen in that time…

So, on we trekked down to Ballito, where my Uncle has a holiday house. We had a day up in Durban where we walked from one end of it to the other, (which turns out to be quite a long distance!). This is me in front of the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, which was built for the World Cup.

We were lucky enough to go in the SkyCar up the arch of the stadium, which gave us a great view of Durban. We were impressed with how beautiful the beachfront area is, but also surprised how quiet it was. This is why we ended up walking so far, in the search for a ‘town centre’.

We stopped at the International Convention Centre in Durban for a convenient toilet break, and I was delighted to find something called the Durban Peace Quilt on the walls. There were several quilts made up of panels, all in different shades of blue and with some lovely peaceful images. It really made me want to bump quilting up the list of crafts I want to learn!


Unlike underpasses in London, where they tend to be half brothel/half toilet, the one in Durban is decorated with lovely tile displays of native flowers, the best named one being the ‘num-num flower’. I have to say, whichever creative soul thought of altering this flower should be commended, it definitely put a smile on my face!

After nearly a week in Ballito/Durban/seeing family near there, we moved on to Port Elizabeth where we saw more lovelly family, then began driving along the Garden Route to Cape Town. I’ve decided to include this picture because what happened next was our stop in Wilderness, at the Wilderness Beach Hotel. The rooms were nice enough. But what I may as well have been spotting in those binoculars, was in fact a TERRIBLE MEAL. At the hotel restaurant we waited an hour for our food, which then varied between Lukewarm to Freezing cold.  During the wait I’d lost the will to eat, then when my meal came the pork filling was cold, but I struggled on, took a few bites and realised the meat was rare. Then realised you can’t eat pork rare. I wasn’t very well that night.

We then had another stop before reaching Cape Town, in a place called Swellendam, where we had a great meal at Powell’s Coffee House, completely making up for the previous night’s disaster. Next door to the restaurant was a wedding shop where they were sewing dresses, if we weren’t in such a rush I would’ve spent hours in there!. We then arrived at my Uncle’s house where we’re now staying with my Uncle, Aunt and two cousins until we head home. This picture was taken today at Hermanus, where we had a great lunch and even spotted a few whales.

Although I would be lying if I didn’t admit I felt a little twinge when I saw this reminder of how far away from home we are!

So onward to the last part of our jouney we go. On the agenda are Robin Island, Table Mountain and I’m sure some adventures with my cousin who we’ve been playing poker with (note the lucky hoods!). Stay tuned for the next installment…

A mainly visual post today. Including highlights of our trip in the Victoria Falls area: the sunset cruise on the Zambezi, the Victoria Falls themselves (note the pretty rainbow!), the walk with Lions we did, Gem squash (if anyone knows where to get these in London please tell me!), the beach in Ballito where we’re now staying, and the souvenir from my Dad’s Aunt Maureen’s birthday celebration!




For more information on the charity which runs the lion walks, please go to:








So, here we are. After a tiny stopover in Paris, we travelled for 10 hours to Johannesburg.  Dazed and disorientated, a gathering of ‘Chefs on Tour’ at the airport didn’t help! Around 50 chefs, all gathered and waving flags, can be quite surreal to the weary traveller.

Pictured above is Johanessburg’s equivelent to the Oyster Card from what I can tell, called the Gautrain. We got the yellow line from O R Tambo airport to Sandton (just about visible in the picture!). As we were riding this cool looking gold train, my dad told me that it was built in the UK. As I observed how clean it was, how incredibly comfortable the seats were, and how fast and smooth the ride was, I couldn’t help but think, if it’s built in the UK why don’t we have anything that good?!

As we were staying overnight in Sandton City, we spent the afternoon in Nelson Mandela Square, where there’s a mighty impressive statue of the man himself! We spent hours going around the Labyrinthine shopping mall, watching a bit of the South Africa vs. New Zealand rugby game, then we all watched a movie.

Today we caught a flight from Johannesburg to Livingstone, Zambia. Then spent most of the day going through border offices, first at the airport to enter Zambia, then at the Zambia border to leave it, then a few minutes later at the Zimbabwe border to enter it! It was quite an experience. But well worth it once we got to our hotel…

This is part of The Kingdom Hotel, near the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. In this building is the Casino and gift shops, then when we’re staying is the pool, about 10 blocks of accomodation and a huge restaurant.

This is what’s known as the ‘Gorge Bridge View’, (not because it’s Gorgeous like I thought….), it’s about a 5 minute walk from our hotel and as you can see, it’s amazing! On the left side there’s a bungee jump, and a zip line that goes all the way across, which I’m actually semi-tempted to go on.

Just behind where this gorge is, we could see the spray from the Victoria Falls themselves. Tomorrow we’ll go see them properly- exciting!!!
And so ends the first installment of our African Adventure….make sure you don’t miss the next installment, subscribe! (enter your email address in the top right)

From the moment the ‘bar lights’ floated down to their position above the Donmar stage, I knew Anna Christie was going to be something quite unlike anything I’d seen there before. Once my ear had fully tuned into David Hayman’s accent, I was completely immersed in the captivating, yet simple, story of a Chris, the  Scandinavian barge captain (Hayman), whose estranged daughter, Anna (Ruth Wilson) comes to visit him. During a storm, Mat Burke  (Jude Law) is rescued by Anna and they fall in love. As neither Chris or Mat realise that Anna had been working as a prostitute, they lock in a battle to ‘possess her’.

Ruth Wilson gives a spirited performance of the protagonist. Portraying her as a strong, ballsy, sassy, witty young woman, who appears to be in charge of herself. However, Wilson also exquisitely shows Anna’s vulnerable side, one that is traumatised by her past. By the end of the show, the audience is rooting for Anna to be happy. A testament to both Eugene O’Neill’s creation of a likeable female lead who is a prostitute, and the way in which Wilson embodied the character perfectly.

Jude Law’s performance as Mat Burke was one of intense electricity and raw physicality, which perfectly contrasted the innocence of a sailor looking to settle down with the pure anger that resulted from the sense of betrayal, as Anna peels the final onion skin off her emotional barrier and reveals her past.  This performance shows Law at his very best, fully shedding any past stigma of ‘good looking leading man’ syndrome and coming into his own with a refined command of the stage.

David Hayman gave a truly endearing performance as Chris Christopherson. Making the audience laugh with the character’s superstitions and personality quirks, and pulling at their heartstrings as he emotionally breaks down.

Although the acting would have been enough to do this play justice, the production and scenery made it perfect. The Donmar stage was transformed beyond recognition. The audience audibly gasped as it rose to an alarming angle, so high that the top of the stage was nearly level with the Circle seats. The storm scene was immense, and not only visually striking but so much rain was used that the audience could even feel the coolness of the water.

This production was the perfect marriage of visual and acting prowess. The perfect execution of an ambitious play, and the like of which I hope to see much more of at the Donmar in the future.


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