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July 21st, 2012

…another door opens.

Come rain or shine, the sands of Seaham allow for the most cathartic adventures by the sea. During the summer break, this is how I like to spend my time; the freak rain storms have come as a bit of a blessing for me. However, I’m counting the days until Autumn is upon us and the new term is underway.

With two years left of undergraduate study left, I plan to squeeze as much as I can into what is, at the end of the day, quite a short amount of time. Although it is with a heavy heart that I am closing my time with Lives Online this week, the spring in my step would like to inform you of my next project: blogging for the Faculty of Education and Society.

As a student of English, I’m looking forward to being able to dig deeper into, and gain more opportunities with, the Department. It’s also going to be quite exciting to have the chance to explore the other two departments that lie within the Faculty. On top of all of that, it means I am also provided with further opportunities to write and blog; I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful opportunity, for which I will be eternally grateful.

It is for all of the right reasons that I am torn. The aim of this final blog post was to lay down my future plans, both immediate and distant. Well, I can, in a heartbeat, tell you my plans for the far off future: my greatest career aims involve becoming a future Loose Women panellist, and writing for Woman’s Own magazine. Of course, what else?! I don’t believe in having a single career title as I live for experience, but as long as I’m writing for some periodical or another, I’ll be happy. I also aim to travel as much as possible: Ireland, Greece, America, France, Germany. However, I can only truly see as far as 2014 without confusing myself.

This is not a bad thing as such, as it means that my course has affected me properly; I care too much to ignore any thoughts of studying literature in some form at Masters level. However, my head tells me to look into the MA Magazine Journalism course here at Sunderland. Which will it be? I’ve yet to decide that, but I’m going to attempt to put those thoughts aside for the moment and focus on what lies ahead immediately. Besides, the following two semesters bring very fun modules in the forms of Irish Drama and Romanticism, so that’ll be nice!

I just know that the next two years are going to set the foundations for the rest of my life. For one of the first times in my twenty years, I’m feeling very positive about the future.

Amy x

July 21st, 2012

As one door closes…


July 6th, 2012

Oh ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road…

Being from Aberdeen, I love it when Scotland comes to Sunderland. Early evening last night, I heard the beautiful call of bagpipes luring me to my window. It was down below that I saw the answer to the sweet music: bagpipers were blowing outside the museum. Combining the cleansing chill of the evening air with the mist that settled perfectly over the pond in the park, it truly felt as though Scotland had come to me. (Or, given the fact that my friend said “They’re coming to take you away,” perhaps it’s more apt to say coming to get me!)

I’m not entirely sure why Scotland came for a visit. It seems that there was an event being held within the museum, in the pottery room – my favourite room – where you can find the Robert Burns bust and the Byron jugs! A few very posh cars had lined themselves up outside. Whatever the reason, ahl tha’ fit wis missin’ wis th’ lashin’ rain oan ah ken ah’d hiv bin back in bonnie wee Scotland.

Amy x


July 5th, 2012

“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…”

It seems that Mowbray Park is a wonderful ground for birds to dance and play. On a recent duck-feeding adventure we stumbled upon little swan babies, as well as some very cute ducks. Even the seagulls were spending a rare moment being amusing, so I thought I’d share some photos with you from the visit.

Amy x

July 2nd, 2012

Department of Culture’s Research Blog

Ever a fan of interesting emails, I was quite thrilled to find a link to the Department of Culture Research Blog sitting in my Inbox.  The blog, managed my Dr Angela Smith, is designed to inform readers of the “latest research news from staff and postgraduate students in the Department of Culture.”

As well as frequent blog posts containing news and information about past and forthcoming projects across the department, you will also find details regarding upcoming English research seminars. Contained in the blog is a variety of useful links that will take you to sites both externally from the University of Sunderland and internally, opening up research options further.

Click here, or visit the link below, to visit the blog. It’s full of interesting and useful information that should not be missed!

Amy x

June 30th, 2012

June update! (2012)

June has been both quiet and hectic in equal measure. Feel free to give the video below a watch to find out what I’ve been up to.


Amy x

June 27th, 2012

A Vision so Spectral will connect and affect all…

If you take three motivational talks, an afternoon of wondrous workshops, and a programme packed with mystery and magic, stirring it all together in a large cauldron, what do you get? Spectral Visions: The Gothic, of course! 26th June 2012 saw the arrival of the long awaited conference at St Peter’s campus, University of Sunderland. It promised to be an “exciting day conference […] designed to ‘lift the veil’ on the enduringly popular genre of ‘Gothic’.” The big question is though, did it deliver?

To put it simply, yes. Yes it did. Setting the mood for the rest of the day, Dr Alison Younger (Programme Leader, MA English) launches us to the genre of the Gothic, introducing us to some of its creatures, Professor John Strachan (University Northumbria) then taking us through a combination of Surrealism, and Romanticism, and the Gothic. Towards the end of the day, a fascinating talk titled ‘The Dark Side of Macbeth‘ was delivered by Professor Willy Maley (University of Glasgow). I think it’s fair to say that each of the three varied focuses proved to project an inspirational and intriguing experience from which a great deal could be plucked.


A selection of workshops ran in the afternoon, designed to introduce attendees to the style and atmosphere of the teachings of MA English. Delegates were able to choose from options such as Wuthering Heights, run by Dr David Fallon, and Dr Susan Mandala’s ‘Prehistoric Fiction: The Monster Within?’. On a personal note, I’d decided to opt for Colin Younger’s ‘Ghost Stories of the Northern Region’, something I knew I’d find fascinating. However, I’d not quite anticipated the great level of enthralment the hour-long session was to bring. Have you ever experienced a discussion throughout which you’re bandying around a hundred thoughts per second? It’s riveting! For the A-Level students, additional workshops were run, covering topics such as ‘American Gothic’, Frankenstein, and ‘Scottish Gothic’. Whatever your interests, there was certainly going to be something to cater for them.


This all sounds marvellous, but what if I told you a meal was also thrown into the mix? Yes, that’s right. Lunch was provided, free of charge (yes, free, the very price of attendance at the conference itself!). We’re not just talking a sandwich and a juice box, either. So, after watching a video clip of the slicing open of an eyeball, (thanks for that, Professor John Strachan, sincerely!), delegates were able to gorge in preparation for the afternoon’s timetable. A-Level students were also able to explore the campus and gain a stronger feel for the university itself.


Providing enchantment in endless instalments, Spectral Visions was nothing short of a complete success. Attendees ended the day oozing with inspired and motivated energies, while all those involved in the piecing together of the intricately spectacular event could bask in the glowing light of prosperity. Eloquent and divine, Spectral Visions will forever remain unforgettable.

June 21st, 2012

Newcastle Museums!

Last week my friend Emily and I decided to take a trip through to Newcastle. After a bit (okay, a lot!) of clothes shopping, we visited the Hancock Museum and the Discovery Museum. I’d been to both as a child but couldn’t really remember them. The Discovery Museum was quite interesting and provided a lovely little walk through of the twentieth-century (Teletubbies pasta shapes, anybody?), and also had a wonderful little exhibit that looked at the history of theatre in the North East.

The Hancock, however, is like no other museum that I’ve been to. It covers almost every single period in history going, and I finally got my wish of seeing a large* dinosaur! To add to the fun, there is a tank with real fish, a Mouse House that provided endless immature fun, and also a sheep on a roof. Both

Both museums are free, but do contain very tempting gift shops! They are well situated in the city centre, with the Hancock being just behind the Northern Stage, just off of Percy Street, and the Discovery Museum a few streets away from the Tyne Theatre. Next time you’re in Newcastle, do make sure you give them a visit. They’re marvellous!

Amy x

Hancock Museum:

Discovery Museum:

*In fairness, it was probably only lifesize. Can you imagine a large Tyrannosaurus Rex?

June 19th, 2012

Olympic Rings!

I wasn’t able to see the Olympic Torch passing through the streets. I didn’t think this would bother me; I’m not a sports person, and I’m very much one of those “why are we pumping so much money into this that we cannot afford when we won’t gain it all back from the tourism?!” people. However, I realised that I was filled with a little regret that I’d let the flaming stick make its way through Sunderland without making much effort to see it. To make up for this, I decided I had to go and see the Olympic rings on the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. What do you think? Even I have to admit that they’re quite special!

Amy x

June 6th, 2012

Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

It wasn’t until a a month or two ago that I discovered a museum had been sitting right on my very doorstep. I love museums, and Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens is quickly becoming one of my favourite places. Just across the road from the central library on Fawcett Street, it is in a wonderful location (I’ve visited some museums in very peculiar places before!), and the free entry means that there is little excuse for not paying it a visit. I am just ashamed that I’d lived in Sunderland for some six months before I realised it was even there. You can visit the museum website here, and I’ll include some photos below to give you a little look at what’s in store. There are many wonderful exhibitions covering a wide variety of history, including local and natural, as well as a lovely art gallery. The winter gardens, too, are absolutely beautiful. Plus, there’s a gift shop! It’s definitely worth visiting, as soon as possible if not sooner!

Amy x

Student Profile:

  • Name: Amy McLean
  • Age: 19
  • Studying: English and Film BA (Hons)
  • Hometown: Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Ambitions: To achieve success as a TV critic and entertainment journalist and to travel the world

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