Writing cliches: The Ever-growing Tea Collection

A well-known cliche says that writers drink a lot of hot beverages, and if we are to believe the writers’ blogs’ homages to steaming coffee, that’s very true. Countless instagrams of pretty mugs, neat notebooks on coffee tables and writing dens with window sills filled with old coffee-cups, tells us that no writing can ever happen without a cup of something warm next to your laptop.

Originally I thought I’d try and steer away from this cliche; that I wouldn’t mention tea or anything like that in my posts. However, as my veins are basically flowing with equal parts blood and strawberry infusion, this did not work all that well, and my mugs have started popping up in images here and there.

That’s why I figured today I’d just live the cliche I am, one hundred percent, and take you on a tour through my favourite teas; the brews I need to wake up, to write, to curl up on the sofa.

So make yourself a good cup of something you really like, and let’s get started!

Andrea’s Ultimate Tea Tour (with overly enthusiastic and staged summery pictures)

Twinings’ Pure Peppermint:

I don’t drink coffee, but I need a cup of this every morning. Either as a five minute moment at the kitchen table before I face the world, or as a cosy treat in a travel mug on the 06:35 bus to town. Just boiling water, no sugar or anything, preferably in a big, “open” mug so the taste really gets to do the “swirly thing” that tea needs to do.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Lipton’s Blueberry Muffin and Infusion’s Turkish Apple Tea:

I’m always here for a good fruit tea! The blueberry tea in the picture is one I drank buckets of on camp as a youth leader for the first time, and every time I drink it I still think of that wonderful weekend a good 6 years ago. It’s also just a really really good tea. It smells and tastes more like muffins than blueberries, and it’s got a really round taste.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

This Turkish Apple tea is also a really good fruit tea. I found it in a tiny tea shop in Camden, where the lady running the store spent almost 45 minutes telling me about and letting me taste and smell all of the teas she had in the shop. Such a good time!! It’s the strongest tea I’ve ever had when it comes to pure taste, and it’s made out of dried apple and pineapple and other fruits. It also smells divine.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Both of these teas do need a little bit of sugar for the taste to really get through, but they’re both the ones I always serve people who say they don’t really like tea. Most people end up surprising themselves and loving them!

Twinings’ Camomile&Honey and Picklecombe’s Lavender Honey:

Okay, so I’m aware that that jar of honey is not tea. But it is Lavender-infused honey and deserves an honorable mention here! It’s also really good in tea, and on its own in warm water. The proper star of this section though, is the Camomile&Honey tea from Twinings. I’m usually not a fan of camomile teas, but the honey is the overpowering taste in this blend, and it’s so warming and soothing. There is no better tea to curl up with after a long day.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Dorset tea’s Strawberries and Cream and Twining’s Glow:

Strawberry tea! My two favourite teas are both strawberry teas, and I always have to restock them when I’m visiting Harvey in Swanage as that’s the only place I’ve been able to get my hands on them.
The Strawberries and Cream one is a hug in a mug – warm, cozy, comforting and sweet. It also turns bright red, something I greatly appreciate. The countless shirts I’ve stained with it, however, really don’t. It’s the perfect companion to an evening in with your favourite book and fresh bed sheets, and I’ve always got a couple of extra unopened boxes waiting in the pantry.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

The last strawberry tea, and the last tea on this list, is Twining’s Glow. It’s a green tea with strawberries and aloe Vera in it, and it’s one of those teas you feel healthy after drinking (I know that’s not a thing, but the feel is definitely there). Much like the earlier mentioned Peppermint tea, this doesn’t need anything added. It tastes strangely like strawberry lipgloss (only so much better, of course,) and is the perfect cup in the morning, if you want something with a bit more taste to it.

Writing tea/cozy tea/sleepy tea/energy tea
Big mug/small mug/coffee cup mug

Well, that got longer than planned! Thank you so much for listening to my ramblings, I can get really passionate about tea, as you might’ve understood. There are of course a billion more wonderful teas, but these are my everyday essential beverages. (Also, I don’t know if I really need to say this, but just to be safe, this post is 100% not sponsored in any way, I just really like tea!)

Do you need any hot drinks to function?
Are you a coffee or a tea person?

Have a wonderful day,
-Andrea

Journal #8

Shakespeare wrote about a Midsummer night’s dream, and on June 23rd (in Norway, at least) we celebrate midsummer night’s eve. Not the longest day of the year as I’ve always believed, but one day past the sun turning; when the night is one minute longer than it was the day before. We celebrated yesterday the same way we’ve always done, and I spent the day pondering how traditions stay the same, how we appreciate the things we’ve always done; my own midsummer night’s dream.

I dream of what I’ve always seen on an evening like this, of bonfires and burnt popcorn, of dogs off their leads and children learning to swim. I dream of grey haired locals playing saxophone from the back of a truck and gulls swooping down to peck at waffle crumbs left on the ground. I dream of shoes put away to dip our feet in the water and the taste in your mouth of knowing that you have all of summer in front of you, endless possibilities for tan lines and sun burns and morning teas on the veranda. I dream of post cards sent and letters received, breakfasts with the ones I love and skype calls with the ones I miss. My midsummer night’s dream is of those nights that never end; when you bring blankets and lanterns and candle light out into the garden, to watch sun sets and sun rise, when you watch the bats soar and smell the jasmine flowers, when life is floating and there is nowhere you need to be.

Midsummer’s night is a night when you remind yourself of how strong nature’s forces are, that we’re all part of nature, and in later years, that we can’t control it no matter how hard we try. On midsummer night’s eve we gather our families and celebrate that we’re out of the cold winter months and that we’ve got all of summer ahead of us. We sing songs passed down to remember that those we have lost are always with us, in the wind and the trees and the stars.
It’s a day where you pick wildflowers and put them under your pillow and where you’re grateful for what you have, what you’ve lost and what you’ve yet to gain.

We are a family of four, and my favourite time of all, is all of us together around the table outside. Yesterday, we sat there for the better part of three hours. There was tea, there were blankets being shared, words floating through the air. There is nothing you can’t talk about when it’s past midnight and it’s warm enough to never go to bed.
My midsummer night’s dream is a wish for many more eternal light like this one.

-Andrea

Writer’s Log 4

Writer’s Log 4
21/05-2018

Mission Log
Today’s goal is to finish the Creative Voice-Creative Piece.
I’m in Swanage for the time being, staying with Harvey. He’s in the process of applying for jobs and I’m writing this piece, to hopefully finish my degree with a bang. Most likely my last ever creative piece at uni. So weird!

Andrea Wold Johansen Writing Nook Swanage

10:35 I’ve got this.

10:42 So, I just went through everything I wrote about in my last Writer’s Log, and I may or may not have scrapped it all. Didn’t really resonate anymore, it was too much backstory and not enough actual story. Will keep it and maybe put the backstory in as an appendix though, or just use it as something to reference to as I’m working on it.

11:17 Scrapping what I had might actually have been the most useful thing I’ve done with this story! Ended up creating an entirely new storyline, and now the protagonist has a proper mystery to solve. “Kill your darlings,” and all that; even if you like something you’ve done, if it doesn’t move or add anything to the story, it doesn’t belong in it.

12:00 So, this story has taken a completely new turn, and I’m loving it. It now starts out with a teacher fleeing into England’s last existing forest (in the year of 2187), to hide a 100-year-old forbidden dream journal. This is gonna be a ride.

12:22 This feels more and more like a speculative piece, and when it’s done, submitted and marked, I kind of want to post it here. At the moment I’m trying really hard to not make it into a Technology-is-scary story, though, it’s more a comment on how we as a society overwork ourselves and where we might be headed if we keep it going like this. The technology parts are just a bonus!

13:03 Rocky demanded belly rubs, so I had to take a break. It doesn’t matter if you’re well into writing or if you’re in the middle of a good “flow”, there is always time for belly rubs.
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13:15 Since I started the day by deleting everything and had to start again, I’ve changed the goal of the day to 1500 words. Should be doable.

13:45 I’m really struggling with updating the writer’s log today, but that’s actually not a bad thing. I started the writer’s log series to keep myself accountable for how I spend the time I set off as “writing time” and to keep track of how well I’ve been working, but today I’ve just been busy writing and writing. I’ve been banging my fists against a bit of a creative block lately, so suddenly just having the words flow out feels really good again. Not gonna worry too much about the earlier stated goal for today, but I’m having a really good time writing now.

15:05 Okay, Rocky is demanding pets again and I’m feeling good-tired from having been at it since about 11. Gonna call it a day and just keep working on the plot in my head until I can get some more words down!

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Also, just found this image again from June last year (while looking for some research on my laptop), and I have to admit that I do miss the hair a bit…

Recap of the session:
Did not reach either of my goals (1. to finish and 2. to reach 1500 words), but still, a very productive session! Starting from scratch gave me new drive to keep writing, and I’m a lot happier with what I’ve got now. Now it’s actually an interesting story with a proper action and character-driven plot, instead of just being musings about how the world ended up being as it is.

Mistake of the day: Accidentaly. Acidentaly. Acidentally. ACCIDENTALLY!

Wordcount of the day: 1367

Writing location: My favourite ever writing nook looking out over Swanage bay.

Phone breaks: Not a single one, my phone is very battery-dead at the moment.

Beverage of choice: Started off with just a Yorkshire tea, but have switched over to this green tea one of my flat mates brought from Hong Kong. I’m normally not a fan of green tea, but this is really good!

Mood before writing: I’m not entirely sure where to find my plot after the 1000 word long backstory I wrote last time??”
Mood during writing: Delete everything. Start afresh. See what happens.
Mood after writing: Need some time to really figure out how to use the plot to explain how this world works, and how to use the characters to show how not physically (and genetically) being able to sleep would affect an entire population. This is gonna be fun, though!

Question of the day: When you write, do you start by planning out the plot or the setting?

-Andrea

17th of May

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Not really a writing or book related post, but yesterday was the 17th of May, Norway’s Constitution Day. I celebrated the day in London, my first time ever not celebrating it at home with my family, and it felt weird not being enveloped in old traditions and places that stay the same. It turned out to be such a great day, though, Cathy came along, and it was so much fun being able to “show” off the traditions I’ve grown up with, if on a smaller scale. Beautiful bunads, marching band songs, flower crowns and Norwegian flags as far as the eye could see.

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There was a parade, speeches, lots of music, waffles, ice cream and food. All the things you need to really make the 17th of May the day it is.

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There is something I really like about the fact that on one day every year, the entire population of Norway, both at home and abroad, put on their nicest clothes and meet their family, only to eat ice cream and play games all day.

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The focus of the day and what many of the speeches were about, was belonging. How we as people always belong somewhere, how hopefully everyone feel at home in a group, be it their nationality, their faith, a community. What really hit me, though, was when the Minister of Culture said that “Belonging somewhere doesn’t mean that that has to be the only place you ever feel at home; we can all belong in multiple societies, we can all belong in different home countries.” Right now, as I’m kind of in the process of coming to terms with leaving England after these three years, that felt oddly comforting. I keep saying I’m leaving England behind, but I’m not really, am I. England’s still gonna be here, the friends I made along the way will still be here, it will just have to be the sowing grounds for new memories, new experiences, new challenges and victories.
Aha, didn’t think a day all about eating ice cream could get so deep, did you!

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Celebrating with Cathy was also so much fun; she waved her new Norwegian flag higher than anyone, and marched in the parade with newfound vigour. I showed her Norwegian waffles (Sjømannskirkens Vafler) and we had Solo, the Norwegian equivalent of Fanta. I’m well aware of my Solo-bias, but it’s actually a lot better than Fanta, haha.
Then we had some 17th of May Fish and Chips, which is one hundred percent not traditional 17th of May Food, but they put a little Norwegian flag on it and we ate while listening to happy people chatter, watching bunads walk past, and seeing all the kids play games; sack races, potato racing and quoits.

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A day I felt a bit anxious about going into, because of the weight of the traditions I’m used to and not being able to be a part of them, turned into an absolute fairytale and a memory I’ll take with me forever.

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(Have a Cathy marching towards the Winchester-bound train, post ice cream and festivities)

Gratulerer med gårsdagen, alle sammen, and Happy Birthday, Norway.

-Andrea

“The Bellerophon”

The best part of doing a Creative Writing degree, is that you get to play with so many different genres that you may never have explored on your own. One module I’ve really enjoyed this semester has been one about writing Historical Fiction, a type of fiction I’ve never had any proper experience with. It took a while to get into it, to see all the possibilities and understand the amount of research that’s necessary to write good historical fiction, but I got there in the end, and it ended up being one of my favourite modules out of all three years at uni. I think what I’ve come to really enjoy about Historical fiction in general, is that it just shows how people have always been people; we’ve fallen in love, we’ve been angry, we’ve been awkward and hopeful, for as long as we’ve been around.

I started off the semester by thinking I wanted to write my piece about Jeanne de Clisson, the Lioness of Brittany, a badass lady who basically became a pirate out of revenge, in 1340’s France. However, research makes you fall down weird rabbit holes, and somehow I ended up reading about the British prison hulks on the Thames, in the late 1700s-early 1800s. I also got into reading about the Battle of Trafalgar (something we learnt very little about in History in Norwegian schools), and I found out that a lot of the prison hulks were “retired” battle ships. Imagine serving out a jail sentence on a ship you once fought for your country on, was a thought that just couldn’t leave me, and I started spinning this story about a man who was sentenced to jail for desertion, and ended up serving his sentence on the same ship which he had tried to desert from. It became a short story I really enjoyed writing, and it was fun to be able to try out a bit more “pretentious”, old-fashioned language. Hopefully not too pretentious or old-fashioned though, I feel like there is a fine line between creating a feeling of “old”, and just boring your readers, when it comes to Historical Fiction.

However, if you want to read the piece, I’ve put it here under the “Read More” bar.

Thank you!

Question of the Day: Do you like historical fiction? If so, why?

-Andrea

“The Bellerophon”
Read More

(A very Little Piece of) Winchester

Andrea Wold Johansen, B1
The Winchester Book Shop; Three floors of second-hand books to get lost in.
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You can’t not follow that sign, can you.

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“Halls” to get lost in, behind the Winchester Cathedral.

Andrea Wold Johansen, C2

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The sun set on the Winchester Cathedral, an evening in early spring, is something everyone should experience at some point.
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St Giles Hill; where you go to escape the city.

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Where walkways, trees and winding ivy go hand in hand.
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The Itchen Way, that can take you all the way to Southampton (if you’ve got good shoes and a packed lunch).

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Andrea Wold Johansen, S1
The Hospital of St Cross; a quiet place tucked in by the Winchester Water Meadows

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The last functioning Alms House in England, St Cross still stands.
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With old hallways, halls, kitchens and wonderful gardens, and a great view of St Catherine’s Hill.
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Cream tea at Cafe Winchester. The best one there is.

 

-Andrea

“Yellow Flowers on the Kitchen Table”

We met in 1952, and I remember her dress from the first day of college. It was red and I asked her out a week after I saw her for the first time. She declined. We still talked though, and I still noticed her. Noticed how no matter how hard she tried to pin her hair away, it would always fall into her face, and how her eyes always wondered why to everything. Then, a year later, after we’d had a bit more time, almost set fire to our homeroom together and passed all the exams we’d studied for, her red pen next to my black, she asked me out. We danced a slow dance by a jukebox, listening to Nat King Cole.

     It’s very clear our love is here to stay, not for a year, but forever and a day. Read More

The Sound of Winchester

 Everything we humans create start with an idea, a desire to make something, to change something.

This year, a group of second and third year students at the uni wanted to create a student-led magazine, to capture the “sound of Winchester”, the vibe of the students and what they’re up to. It became this wonderful magazine that comes out every second month (at the moment), and it features student fiction, poetry, articles, information about societies and things happening on and around campus, plus a great section called “Humans of Winchester”, inspired by the photo blog Humans of New York.
Their second issue is out today, and it’s so cool to see all the pieces come together.

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Look how pretty this issue is!
The first picture is borrowed from their Facebook page, which you can find here.

And I’ve been so lucky as to have a short story featured in this month’s issue, along with some wonderful poems, stories and articles by other students. Really worth a read! Especially since you can get it in the SU shop for a pound.

-Andrea

“After Nils-Øivind Haagensen”

jeg skal holde deg til du sovner

she puts her hands on his face,
strokes dry skin and chapped lips

hva om jeg ikke sovner

354 days clean
nearly a year of no burning throats or broken nails
and clinging to porcelain life lines

jeg skal holde deg

“why today,” he thinks
but “don’t hold me,” he says
as he expects her to shove his shivers away
but she doesn’t

I`ll hold you till you fall asleep
What if I don`t fall asleep
I`ll hold you 

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This is a poem from a creative portfolio I handed in for a second year poetry module. It’s always weird to look back at old writing, but I guess that’s a good thing; progress and learning and all that jazz.
The single stanzas in between the verses make up my all time favourite poem by Norwegian poet Nils-Øivind Haagensen. The last verse is the poem translated.
It  simply goes:

jeg skal holde deg til du sovner
hva om jeg ikke sovner?
jeg skal holde deg.

And that’s it. No title, no capital letters or any sense of who the characters speaking are, still it’s got such a strong story to tell. I love it.

-Andrea

Writer’s Log 2

WRITER’S LOG 2
26/02-2018

Mission Log:
A short (but important) rationale session

10:59 I need to write a 2000 word rationale about a 8000 word creative piece. It is due in nineteen days, 1 hour and 1 minute. Normally I really enjoy writing rationales for creative pieces, but I’m struggling with getting started with this one. Maybe it’s like a head space thing. I’ve got lots of research already done (I really love research) and a lot to talk about, but it’s a bit scary to write about such a “big” assignment. I can do this, though!

11:11 Not writing-related, but it’s actually, proper snowing today! A nice view from the library. Also, 11:11! Make a wish!

11:29 Had to do a bit of “paperwork”, send some emails (5 emails, to be precise) and figure out some dates for course related events. But now I’m really getting started.

11:36 This is going okay, have finished the introduction plus the first couple of paragraphs. Tips to anyone wondering whether to go to uni or not and/or wondering what kind of course they should do: creative writing. It lets you write about your favourite books into academic essays. There’s something special about being able to quote lines that gave you chills when you read them as a child, and as I’ve basically based my entire creative piece around the book Mio’s Kingdom, that means getting to use quotes like “If only the trees hadn’t grown so close together, […] if only the darkness wasn’t so black and we weren’t so small and alone.”

12:17 Got distracted by an article I’m writing for a  Student Life magazine at the uni. It’s a feature article with lots of pictures and 500 words, about wonderful places in and around Winchester. Not rationale working, but still writing!

12:34 Finished the piece for the article instead, now I can tick that off the list too.

13:12 Done with writing for today, am heading into town for coffees with Jeanette! It’s gonna be great to see her again and to catch up. But first, raiding the library for more books, research is absolutely the best part of essay-writing!

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Recap of the session:
Not the most productive session wordcount-wise, but great for research, decluttering the brain and for crossing things off the old to do list.

Mistake of the day: More typo of the day. “Thing” is now spelt “thign”. Every single time.

Word count of the day: 635 (plus 548 words on the article, to be fair)

Writing location: Library, top floor, computer 48. Not as ideal as computer 57, but it’ll do.

Phone breaks: Getting better!

Beverage of choice: None. I forgot my tea at home and can see it just waiting on my desk, slowly getting cold. It’s a tragic story, indeed.

Mood before writing: “I am stressed”
Mood during writing: “I am significantly less stressed now that I’ve started working” Mood after writing: “I may not have finished my rationale, but I got a lot of other things done”

Question of the day: Any tips for being productive when a thousand things are running around in your head at once?

-Andrea