Month: January 2018

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I picked up this little number from my Gran’s little library when we visited on Boxing Day. It was the title that peaked my interest; I have a secret love of all things witchy, magical and supernatural. The blurb is so brief, it doesn’t really give anything much away, but I had a strong intuition I’d like it, so into my handbag it went.

Blurb

A world of witches, daemons and vampires.

A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future.

Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

Review

I loved this book!

I started out attempting to read just one chapter a night as part of a new bedtime routine, but by the 4th or 5th chapter I was having to force myself to put the book down, and eventually, I just gave up trying and flew through the ending.

The characters are so well rounded and fleshed out with great personal histories. The chemistry between Diana and Matthew, the book’s main characters, is palpable, and you just end up rooting for them from the very beginning. Diana’s fiery personality is admirable (even if does get her into trouble) and Matthew’s protectiveness, although a touch excessive, is so touching.

I actually loved this book so much I’ve bought myself my own copy, and copies of the sequels. I’ll let you know how much I fall in love with them as I go.

Find it here: Goodreads | Amazon

My Favourite Photographs of 2017

I know it’s now 2018 and I should really be looking forward to the future, rather than back at the year that’s past, but I fancied a quick trip down memory lane, just to help jump start 2018.

January

Singing or surtitles, which do I prefer??

A post shared by Lauren Julia McKinney (@lauren.j.mckinney) on

I spent the beginning of the year sat on the top tier of the New Atheneum Theatre in RCS, surtitling the Opera Department’s production of Handel’s Agrippina, a tale of intrigue, plots and schemes set in Ancient Rome. I enjoyed the experience, and it was great to have a bird’s eye view of the inner workings of an opera production. It truly was an enriching and insightful experience.

February

In February Rosie and I took one of our toss-of-a-coin adventures, this time to Brodick in Arran. The rail and ferry fare were actually pretty reasonable, and anyway, it was a trip taken with some wonderfully fabulous company. We got some really gorgeous shots as the sun cast a (freezing) golden light over our surroundings, and we got to see some local wildlife, including these swans and some rare sea otters just off the shore of the beach.

March

There wasn’t really much that happened in March, and, uncharacteristically, I didn’t take that many photographs. I was bogged down with essay deadlines and prepping for my end of year exam. One highlight, however, was that RCS was recognised as one of the Top 3 Performing Arts Schools in the World, and students got free cupcakes to celebrate!!

April

April 2017 was the year my mum turned 50! There was much celebration, including a family meal shared at Orocco Pier Bar and Restaurant, and then Afternoon Tea for the ladies at Cromlix House Hotel (Andy Murray was a no-show though).

Dad turned 51 a week after mum’s birthday, but grumpy won’t let me take any photos of him, so we’ll just have to settle with this little spread of prezzies and cards he got instead.

May

May is a hard one to choose just a selection of photographs because May was my adventure month, where I decided to just up and venture off somewhere. As a result, I have so many great photos that I really don’t know how I’m going to choose some favourites.

At the start of the month Mum and Dad trotted off on a wee trip away for their 25th Anniversary, and Mark disappeared off to Belgium for a Karate Trip, leaving me all on my lonesome. After finishing work one afternoon, I decided I didn’t want to just go home and sit on my tod, so instead, I hopped on a train out to Pollock Country Park for a lovely, sunny afternoon out. Following your adventurous instincts can really lead to some great days out.

Millport and the Isle of Cumbrae means a lot to my family, and it used to be that most years we’d take a trip down and cycle the island, but as time’s gone on and we’ve all got busier, that stopped happening. On another of my ‘why not’ trips in May, I hopped on the train at Glasgow Central and off I went.

June

I snapped this little rose on a sunny day at the stables with Mum. It just makes me think of peaceful sunny days with people we love.

July

July was NYCoS time! I love NYCoS time! It’s like one big, dysfunctional, musical family. I didn’t post much to Instagram much in July though, even with all the lovely photographs I took.

These little guys live in my aunt’s back garden, and are the cutest garden ornaments ever!!

August

It now seems that every year, August is my most manic time of year. There’s always something going on. Last year I took part in the Aberdeen International Youth Festival with RCS Voices in the first week of the month. A week of glorious sunshine, lovely people and phenomenal music.

And that was just the start of it.

Next up was a week of madness and mayhem known as Piping Live!, the international piping festival that takes place at The National Piping Centre every year. That was a week of late nights, Scottish music, and pipes. Lots of pipes.

To finish off my mad fortnight of music, I performed the Brahms Requiem with NYCoS in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh. On two hours of sleep. That part … was not fun. I had a two-hour nap in Costa’s whilst Jasmine sat next to me doing admin. The glamorous life of an operatic diva, y’know.

Next up was a holiday in the Scottish Highlands with the family. I love the Highlands, my spiritual home. So many wonderful photos were taken, but the ones on Instagram were my favourites.

Finishing off my chaotic August was our annual visit to the Blair Atholl International Horse Trials with Mum. We lucked out well and truly with the weather that day!

September

September was a quiet one, but it was the month I headed back to RCS for my 3rd year of Undergraduate Study. We kicked off the year with some Handel, Mozart and Beethoven in a concert with Thomas Dausgaard and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is perhaps my favourite choral piece ever, and I was so excited to get to perform it again.

October

I love this photo!! Creds to Helen Corlett for her superior photography skills. This was taken at girls night at Rosie’s new flat, where we got to indulge in Rosie’s fabulously decorated window seat.

Oh, and enjoy Rosie’s cooking, of course.

November

I obviously get my adventurous spirit from my Dad, because this (rather chilly) visit to North Berwick was an impromptu idea from him.

The day after my visit to North Berwick, I flew down to London for my first ever girls holiday with the wife, and Katie introduced me to the wonder that is Cioccolata Fiorentine from Carluccio’s in St Pancras International Rail Station.

I couldn’t talk about my trip to London without including this Selfie.

There was a cold snap right at the end of November, and I couldn’t resist heading out into the Park to try out my new camera.

December

I kicked off the last month of the year with some Prokofiev. RCS teamed up with Scottish Opera to mount the Scottish Premiere of Prokofiev’s opera ‘The Fiery Angel’. Months of hard work and taxing rehearsals really paid off – the show was a great success.

I think the highlight of December, or quite possibly of 2017, was the fact that I passed my driving test!! Rosie the wonder bought me a new friend to keep me company on my long journies, aptly named ‘Broom Broom’.

My final concert of the year was in Hillington Park Parish Church, with some of the most talented young women I know.

Christmas was full of food and family, and the week in between Christmas and New Year just bled into one long period of time, but I could not have gone into 2018 without a final day out without my darling best friend.

You’ve made it!

Phew, that was a long one. If you’ve made this far I thank you for having stuck around this long. 2017 was a year full of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Here’s to 2018, and hoping it’s even better than the last.