Warsaw: the Botanical Gardens

When we were in Warsaw a couple of weeks ago, we spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the Botanical Gardens, part of the University of Warsaw.  A short bus ride from our hostel, the gardens were the perfect haven after a few days’ sightseeing in the bustling city. We spent a lovely few hours reading on a secluded bench amid the trees and flowers.

It was one of the times recently when I’ve felt most relaxed – it was lovely to just switch off and just be in a beautiful place.  It’s moments like that which really nurture us, I think. When I wasn’t daydreaming, I powered through much of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling!), which, incidentally, I LOVED and would thoroughly recommend.

If you happen to be in Warsaw and would like to visit the gardens yourself, the  website can be found here.  There is a small charge to venture inside – I can’t remember how much it was, but I’m pretty sure it worked out at less than £1 in the good old GBP.

Here are some of my photographs which I took – take a botanical wander with me!

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This is actually the beautiful open boulevard just outside the gardens themselves

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Listening to I like this one by Joe Stilgoe, Waitress Song by First Aid Kit, Everyone is Gay by A Great Big World and Sister Rosette Goes Before Us by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

The Friday Frame {15} ‘A’ for Adventure

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Everybody loves a good quote, especially in a bookshop. This particular nugget is from the Waterstones in Covent Garden (well, Flaubert originally…). I had ten minutes to kill before an interview so I sought refuge surrounded by books: the best place to hide from the real world for a little while. Especially in the travel section.

Listening to: Style by Taylor Swift, Time Machine by Ingrid Michaelson, Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars, Irregular Heart by Schuyler Fisk.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Escape to the Cotswolds

Picture the scene: it’s just over a week before history final exams begin. The most exciting thing that happened all week was finding that someone had stuck googly eyes onto the picture of the Greek philosopher in the library. You’re beginning to try to draw elaborate mind maps in your sleep, and all of your major life decisions revolve around transforming yourself into the ultimate revision machine. Bed at 10pm is completely necessary, and smoothies with spinach in (i.e. that taste like grass) have become your fuel in a desperate bid to avoid caffeine crashes.

Then, suddenly, your boyfriend tells you that his parents have offered to take you both away for a few days to the Cotswolds, the beauty spot just a few miles down the road. But, he continues, that would probably be far too stressful: can we really afford to take the time off at this point? Er, YES? Anything to escape the dreaming spires of expectation, colour-coding and mountains of books.

And so we ended up taking a weekend away at the perfect time. Here are some photographs from our mini-adventure: hum the theme tune to The Great Escape as you flick through them and you’ll get a sense of the thrill we got from sneaking away from Oxford in the height of revision season.

On the first day, we were in a small village called Burford when we emerged from one of the shops on the main street to be greeted by a strange sight, even by rural English standards. 17th century soldiers and musicians appeared to be marched down the centre of the road wielding peace flags. A man standing outside a shop selling an alarming range of different sized baskets (think, hot air balloon size) met our confusion with an explanation that it was ‘Levellers’ Day’. We were none the wiser, but when I googled it back at the hotel it turned out that the parade was commemorating an incident from the English civil war, when three Leveller soldiers were executed in Burford churchyard by Oliver Cromwell. The Levellers were a revolutionary group who advocated civil rights and democracy, and every year Burford plays host to a procession and series of debates relating to freedom and democracy in honour of these men.  You can find out more here.

After a night in the beautiful Dial House Hotel a walk around the grounds of Sudeley Castle was the perfect way to spend a sunny morning: it was just beautiful, the perfect antidote to dusty libraries set against a clear blue sky.

By the end of a lovely, sunny weekend we were feeling much better, and returned to Oxford as ready as we ever would be to face the dreaded spectre of the Final Honours School, but more on that to follow.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.

Inside the cover

In my never-ending search for new ways to procrastinate, I’ve recently spent hours poring over both the printed and handwritten dedications in the first few pages of books. I love the sentiments that they reveal: even in serious academic books, they represent a moment when the author lets their guard down and reveals the emotional dimension of their hard work. And the handwritten notes which you sometimes come across are a prime opportunity to daydream about the stories of those who wrote them, and those who received the books as gifts. Here are some of the dedications I’ve come across in libraries and on the bookshelves in my own home, that have made me smile.

This one seemed a good way to start: New Selected Poems, 1984- 2004 by Carol Ann Duffy. This was a present from my Dad a couple of Christmasses ago, and he included a note with words to live by. Of late my Dad has subscribed to the school of thought that gasps in horror at the thought of actually writing in a book, and this note was tucked into the front cover instead. (See evidence of his younger and more reckless self writing in a book below! *gasp*)

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‘I have never found any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve.’ Baron de Montesquieu. With love to Bex from Dad at Christmas 2012

I came across this beautifully romantic dedication in a sociology book I was reading for my thesis research: Hidden Rhythms by Eviatar Zerubavel. I think it speaks for itself.

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To Noga, my starlight

Next, a discovery I made in my Dad’s study: Painting from A to Z by James Lawrance, a book which belonged to his Dad, and was given to him during his apprenticeship as a Painter and Decorator in the 1950s. My grandfather, who I never met, has written his name and the date in the front cover, in a smudgy blue ink. I love this little piece of family history, and it’s also a pretty comprehensive guide to all things decorating! Polychrome staining, anyone?

A to Z

1956

J Daley, 20/6/56

The next book was on the bookshelf in my room, but it actually belongs to my Mum, and is one of her favourites: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. First, can we all please appreciate the fabulous 1980’s cover art, an image from the 1984 film of the same name. This book was a gift from my Dad to my Mum on what would have been their first wedding anniversary in 1988. They still watch the film together every so often- awwww.

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To Heather, With all my love, from Joe x Happy Anniversary 1988

And an amusing one to finish: The Procrastination Equation by Dr Piers Steel. In an effort to become more focussed before exams I got this out of my college library, and opened the front cover to discover that the irony of having this book available in a library where people are meant to be working on other things had not escaped those before me.

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STOP READING THIS AND DO YOUR ESSAY

Explore more weird, wonderful and touching things found in books herehere and here.

All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014.