Category Archives: Open University

2014 – Year in Review

Well. Where do I even start? It’s been an….interesting year, full of highs and lows and everything inbetween. This year, I:

– Finally finished my degree with the Open University, gaining a 2:1 Bachelor of Science (Hons) after seven years of study
– Ticked off a lot of ‘firsts’, including travelling on a ferry, a tram and the Eurotunnel
– Attended not one but two rowing training camps and lived to tell the tale
– Went on a whistle-stop tour of Belgium
– Volunteered at the London stage of this year’s Tour de France as a Tourmaker
– Volunteered at a local half marathon as a Racemaker
– Had my volunteer interview for the Rugby World Cup 2015… watch this space!
– Ate Party Rings biscuits for the first time in about twenty years after they made them vegetarian
– Rowed in WEHORR (Women’s Eights Head of the River Race) on the Thames, for the first time
– Had one of my necklaces featured in a magazine for the first time

I’ve spectacularly failed to do any of my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions but I’ll discuss them anyway!

1) Enjoy the moment
This one started well, but I it’s going to take me a little longer than expected to train my brain not to worry about the consequences of my actions so much. There were glimpses of success at various points this year but ‘enjoying the moment’ needs to become something I don’t consciously think about.

2) Eat well and add to my cooking repertoire
The stress and sheer boredom of writing essays propelled me towards my kitchen oftener than it should have, with ‘just making a snack’ (invariably something unhealthy) offering good opportunities for procrastination! However, I did make a point of going through all of my recipe books (more procrastination) and mark the recipes that I would actually use. So I guess the plan for 2015 is to work my way through some of them and see what new dishes I can add to my diet. I also need to find some new ideas for lunches to take to work because I’ve got stuck in a routine with it. Any suggestions?

3) Write more blog posts
I think it’s quite obvious that this one didn’t go as planned! It’s been a pretty quiet year for doing anything in my spare time other than study. My final course was in Design and was at third-year university level, the combination of which meant that not only was it quite difficult, I had to come up with design ideas for every essay, and my final project. All that thinking takes up a lot of time you know! Also, I spent so much time looking at a screen and trying to extricate thoughts from my head into coherent essays that, to be honest, my laptop and I needed to spend a little time apart…

4) Have more fun!
Fun was occasionally had this year, in between work and training and study and worrying about the future! Everything took over my life more than I expected and didn’t leave much room for anything else. Looking forward to next year, there should be lots more opportunities to cut loose a bit – if I am only brave enough to take the leap.

I’d like to apologise for the blog silence this year. I’m definitely looking to get back into making stuff next year: edible, stitched, laser cut, who knows. We’ll see where life takes me 🙂



Day Thirteen – 30 Days of Creativity

Today’s theme is ‘bicycle’. I ran through a few ideas including:

  • painting with bike tyres
  • arty shots of a bike from various angles
  • some kind of typography print

Alas, my bike is being mended at the moment, so the painting and photography options were out. I pondered how to do the print but, like Day 11, I’m still trying to build up a collection of appropriate software on my new laptop, so although it sounds like a massive excuse, I just don’t have the tools at my disposal to do the job to the standard I require of myself yet! Fingers crossed someone buys me the latest version of Photoshop at some point…

After all that, I decided that it would be nice to share something that I created for my last Open University course: U101 Design Thinking: Creativity for the 21st Century (an excellent course by the way). Our final project was based around the idea of ‘healthy environments’ and I chose to investigate simple ways in which an office environment could be made healthier. One requirement was to produce a poster encouraging people to do something healthy, so I invented an imaginary company bike scheme and came up with this simple-but-hopefully-effective poster:

Get on your bike!

Other ideas included a little welcome pack for every employee, including items such as a pot plant, a pedometer, a list of desk exercises, a daylight lamp, a bowl for healthy snacks, a fruit loyalty card, and personalisation options such as a photo frame, a fun name jigsaw for decoration and a desk makeover allowance…and there was also a foray into the concept of lunchtime clubs such as singing or running, in an attempt to get people away from their desks, socialising and perhaps learning something new! I should try and actually implement some of these ideas where I work, shouldn’t I?


The many faces of a banana

I’m about halfway through studying for a degree with the Open University and have just started my latest module, U101 Design Thinking: Creativity for the 21st Century. It’s a new style of course for the OU, which to me has generally stuck to standard academic subjects (Maths, English, Modern Languages, Classics etc) and hasn’t really got into aspects of hands-on art and design. It’s only the second time this course has been run so it is very new indeed.

They sent through an interesting welcome pack (which I tweeted about because I was so excited about it) which contains all kinds of interesting items. The course will apparently encourage us to think of these items as more than, say, just a pencil, or a piece of paper, and use them in unusual ways. To this end, the introductory work for the course involves doing weird and wonderful things with the Welcome Pack. I thought I’d share with you the results of one of these tasks in my picture ‘The many faces of a banana’. We were told to take a picture of a banana inside the Welcome Pack box, which has a lovely green background, and then pick our favourite. As you’ll hopefully come to discover through this blog, I love taking pictures, especially those where I have to try and make a mundane object look interesting (check out my Houseplant Art as one example of this). I need help to pick one of these banana portraits to use in my course, so please let me know which you prefer.

The many faces of a banana

The many faces of a banana

 If you’ve taken any interesting-pictures-of-a-mundane-object, I’d be interested to see them. Might even make a blog post featuring my favourites…!