Veronika Decides To Die

A novel by Paulo Coelho.

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is one of his more famous novels, but today I want to talk about Veronika Decides To Die.  My sisters often inspire my choices, such as clothes, music, books.  My eldest sister was reading novels by this author named Paulo Coelho.  I don’t recall which novel of his I picked up first to read, but I remember Veronika…. I read it on a Sunday, cover to cover.  I’m certain I stopped for dinner only and maybe a toilet break.  It’s not a thick book to begin with but it was too good to put down.  Veronika is a 24 year old Slovenian woman….who decides to kill herself.  She wakes up in a mental hospital and is told she only has a few days to live.  Whilst in the mental institution, she releases all inhibitions she had whilst ‘living’.  I predicted the end of this book whilst reading it.

Veronika Decides To Die

Veronika Decides To Die

Published 17 years ago, it still has a great effect on me.  I would recommend anyone to read it, especially if feeling down.  Paulo Coelho himself is a best-selling Brazilian author.  I have read a handful of his books.  He was influenced by pilgrimages such as the Camino de Santiago, a route I would love to explore myself one day.  His books are vivid and imaginative.  They are inspiring and gives you new eyes on the world.  I have a boxset of his books and have decided to re-read them over the Summer.  I am excited to do so.  There is nothing like a good physical book in your hands.


Lights, Camera, Action!

I had a great conversation with a friend about films recently.  Up popped the age-old question, ‘what is your favourite film?’  I don’t have one.  I have not seen a film to date where I have thought, wow, that film is the best I have ever seen.  Maybe I haven’t seen enough films, it’s possible I will never have one.  I decided to have a look at the top 10 highest grossing films in the world.  James Cameron is ruling the roost with Avatar coming in first at $2,787,965,087 in 2009, followed by a favourite of mine, (but not my ultimate favourite) Titanic at $2,186,772,302 in 1997.  For interests sake the following 8 are as follows:

3 The Avengers $1,518,594,910 2012
4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 $1,341,511,219 2011
5 Frozen $1,279,852,693 2013
6 Iron Man 3 $1,215,439,994 2013
7 Furious 7 $1,156,687,512 2015
8 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $1,123,794,079 2011
9 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $1,119,929,521 2003
10 Skyfall $1,108,561,013 2012

Having seen the top 10 myself, the most recent being Furious 7, no doubt grossing highly due to the untimely death of Paul Walker, I agree that these films are good.  None are my favourite however.  They are in most part franchised films/trilogies that have avid followers as it is.  Throughout the top 50, you have a repetition of the Hogwarts devotees, the Frodo followers and the Transformers Bumblebee/Megan Fox worshipers.  The following are the highest-grossing franchises:

Rank Series Total worldwide
box office
No. of films Average of films Highest-grossing film

I loves me a bitta Captain Jack Sparrow I do!! (Say in an accent or not at all).

Things get interesting with the highest-grossing films (adjusted for inflation):

Gone with the Wind $3,440,000,000 1939

Avatar $3,020,000,000 2009

Star Wars $2,825,000,000 1977

Titanic $2,516,000,000 1997

The Sound of Music $2,366,000,000 1965

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial $2,310,000,000 1982

The Ten Commandments $2,187,000,000 1956

Doctor Zhivago $2,073,000,000 1965

Jaws $2,027,000,000 1975

10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs $1,819,000,000 1937

If I had to choose an era of great film-making, it would be the 80’s and 90’s without a doubt, great movies without CGI’ing the whole entire thing.  Actual storylines and plots, not just action scene after action scene.

If I had to choose from the above lists it would be Titanic because the sinking was a reality, it affected so many lives and it’s a tribute, albeit a typical love story, money making movie tribute.

My three favourite F films are: Footloose, Flashdance and Fame.

I’ll end this post with the highest-grossing movie of the year I was born, in honour of the first video on youtube being uploaded 10 years ago today!  If you haven’t seen the Back to the Future films, watch them, they are in my top 10 somewhere.

The Falling Soldier

I often open up my laptop and up pops my Google homepage. I like the surprise of when they have an animation of some sort to celebrate an event or a birthday of someone famous.  I click on them out of interest and end up learning something new.  I sometimes click on external links and end up absorbing information on someone I had no clue about prior to this. This is what happened when I ended up on Robert Capa’s Wikipedia page.

Robert Capa taken by Gerda Taro

I had forgotten about him until yesterday when I was looking for a quote to end my previous blog with.  There were numerous quotes from different photographers.  Only one stood out to me. ”The pictures are there, and you just take them.” This is something I would think or even say.  I saw the name Robert Capa and realised it looked familiar.  That is twice now that I have accidentally been transported to his world.  He was a Hungarian photographer that covered many wars. One such war was the Spanish Civil War.  His most famous photograph during this time period was the Falling Soldier.

It depicts the death of a Republican soldier in mid-shot.  It’s authenticity has been questioned due to evidence coming to light that the photo was not taken in Cerro Muriano but in Espejo, 30 miles away.  Photographs were often staged at that time.  His work included ”The Magnificent Eleven”, which were photos of D-Day.  Here is the Wikipedia link: (



He was with the first wave of American troops invading Omaha beach.  He took 106 photographs, but only 11 survived an accident in a photo lab in London.

Utah Beach

Bomb Crater, Pointe Du Hoc

It is said that Steven Spielberg was inspired by these photos when filming Saving Private Ryan.  He tragically died in 1954 after stepping on a landmine whilst accompanying a French regiment in Southeast Asia.  I never knew anything about the Falling Soldier photograph until I came across it that day.  I find controversies like these fascinating.  Regardless, he was an amazing photographer and literally put his life on the line for the perfect shot.  Included are my own pictures of D-Day beaches which I visited.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

My own picture of Omaha beach

Omaha beach

Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach

Take A Picture, It Will Last Longer….

Sea Mist, Donegal

Sea Mist, Donegal

I love travelling, absolutely love it!  Not so much the queuing up for security and the stress of airports in general.  No I love the hop off the plane, you have reached your destination bit.  The sun hits your face as if you have never felt the experience of it in your life.  Or the wind hits you….depending on what you are into.  One of the things I love most doing is taking photographs. Not so much to share on Facebook and make people jealous, but more so to capture the beauty of this new world I’m seeing for the first time.  Seeing new places and new culture is a great thing, so for me I love capturing the moment I am in on camera to share the beauty of it to others later on, or simply to look back on the images and reminisce.

The Statue of Liberty, NYC

The Statue of Liberty, NYC

I received a present of a Canon camera one Christmas and find it to be one of the best digital cameras I have ever used. It’s a simple camera that is light to carry around and does the job for me.  One day I would love to invest in a deluxe camera, but right now I’m happy with what I have.  Some of my favourite moments I have captured are non-posing type ones, where the person is unaware of their photo being taken.  That is how we live our lives, we don’t go through life posing.  Even selfies are taken multiple times before being published.

The Beatles Story, Liverpool

The Beatles Story, Liverpool

Scenic photography is a hobby of mine also.  The most annoying thing I find about that though is the fact that sometimes you cannot get the real beauty into your mini machine.  They say that taking a photograph of something will leave you less likely to remember that moment as you are viewing it not through your eyes, but through a lens.  On hearing that, I still capture the moment.  I also however put the camera away and try to enjoy the scenery.



The Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum, Rome

I love my little camera but it has not seen the light of day for some time now. The mobile phone camera has taken over quite a bit.  I was at an event and had my camera and felt slightly strange even taking a picture with it.  How times change….

I have a 1TB hard drive that I purchased off eBay some years ago to store all my photographs.  I browse through the albums now and again and smile as I have some memories restored.  I have squeezed in some of my photographs here after spending more than an hour browsing through my hard drive and not realising the time.  If I could put more in I would, but I’ll include them in future blog posts if they have any relevance.

”The pictures are there, and you just take them.” – Robert Capa (1913-1954)

Take Me To The Séipéal

Guilt…guilt is an awful thing to feel, it can stop people from doing drastic things from the guilt that they may feel afterwards, but having done something and feeling actual true guilt after, is hard.  We’ve all done things we’re guilty of, of course we have, we’re human.  Guilty that you stole your siblings toy or sweets or whatever.  I had a reminder of my guilt recently.  It happened last year, when I was in my room on the internet, facebook if I recall, when I heard this howling.  It was quick and I remember thinking, ‘is that Ness?’, my dog, but I put it completely out of my head and continued browsing on the computer.  It wasn’t until the doorbell rang some twenty or thirty minutes later that I realised what I had heard.  I answered the door to reveal my next door neighbour asking if that was Ness at the gate.  My heart sank and immediately without investigating further, the guilt crept in.  I went into shock and denial like I had when I heard him in pain less than half an hour before.  I ran down to the gate and saw his black frame lying down with his head facing the road and his head shaking.  I couldn’t face him, I began to cry for the first time ever that I can remember over a dog.  I kept saying his name over and over so that even though he couldn’t see me, he knew I was there.  His head finally stopped shaking.  My mother felt guilty for letting him outside in the first place.  I think that’s the first time she cried over a dog too.  I proceeded to go to the shed to look for a shovel, which my neighbour retrieved in the meantime.  He took him and placed him in the garden.  After thanking them, I went inside feeling embarrassed that the neighbours saw my tears.  They were equally fond of Ness, as he would fight with their dog daily and I mean daily!  Up and down the side of the house leaving a mark in the grass from his running.  He was terrible to bring on walks too, constantly picking fights with other dogs, but running then if they reciprocated.  We couldn’t even sunbathe without him jumping up on us and trying to play.  The next morning I looked out of the window in the kitchen at the blanket we placed over him.  The radio was beside me so naturally I switched it on, anything to rid my mind of thoughts.  All I heard was…

Take me to church I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies, I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife, Offer me that deathless death, Good God, let me give you my life

by Hozier and I just thought ‘how apt.’  Ness was the most humanised dog I have ever come across.  He had this look where he was almost saying , ‘really? you want me to do this stupid paw thing?’ with his eyebrow raised.  He was a great dog and is still missed.



If I feel guilty about not rushing out straight away when I should have, not looking him in the face when he died, then how can people, human beings, intentionally and so knowingly commit an atrocity.  How can they willingly wake up and intend to kill people on this day?  The tragedy of lives lost in France this week is a wake-up call once again to all of us about how short life is.  How can we still live in a world where freedom of speech, freedom of ideas and expression, freedom of imagination is frowned upon and not only that but use it as a reason for terrorists to kill.  To kill in the name of religion, yet in the midst of it all, killing one of your own if not more.  A celebrity blaming all Muslims, when another puts him straight.  We live in a vicious, cruel world when people literally cannot take a joke.  My opinions are very simplistic as I am not a savvy political nor religious writer or reader.  If we all killed over satire against us and our religion, then we would all be dead long ago.  The coming together of people rallying against this terrorism is astounding, not just in France, but here at home and elsewhere.  Athletes wearing shirts in commemoration and cartoonists artistically creating tributes through their profession is a sombre yet heartfelt tribute to the lives lost in these senseless tragedies.  By tweeting or sharing #jesuischarlie on social media outlets is not my agreeance with everything that they have posted, it is my way of saying, I’m sorry.

Photograph via

Photograph via Charlie Hebdo Website

Semester One…Críochnaithe!!

Ah college..a world of it’s own.  It’s a pity UL isn’t like Hogwarts, near enough I suppose with it’s creepy lecturers and dark alleyways late at night.  No moving staircases though, maybe if they use the budget to do that next time instead of big flag poles and rusty men.  That’s one regret of semester one, no selfie with the rusty man.  Well, we got one selfie with a rusty old man after our last lab… selfie In all seriousness, college is a fantastic place, not just to learn but to meet new people and socialise and have the craic. Semester one was full of surprises, from failed essays to A’cing them…almost.  Making my new friends miserable alongside me for a few hours after learning that wait, college can be hard when you get bad results but sure it was grand for the first essay I’ve written in roughly, oh 12 years or so.  The anxiety and paranoia and sickness I felt clicking on turnitin to get my second essay results only to be pleasantly surprised.  I double-checked the score before I let myself feel any sort of happiness, just to make sure.  It’s a pity the module that shall not be named doesn’t use what I like to call ‘The Rubik’s Cube’ system too.  Apart from studying and results, college is about people.  Oh so many people, walking, bumping, annoying you.  I’m lucky that I met a few that I like and that I think, like me.  Honestly they are more mature than I ever will be.  The laughs we’ve had in such a short space of time, from stupid pictures on back of roll-calls


Check out Turfy’s Tales 🙂

to making up our own words, I mean we are so romonal and free!!  Another fond memory is sitting in Cultural Studies listening to classical music when Ms. Arnold walks in to the theme tune of Darth Vader in Star Wars, wearing a long black jacket and then starts messing about when she realises. I have met some of the nicest people I will ever meet, they made my semester so much fun, so thanks.  From mystery tour shenanigans to surprise visits hence the now famous catchphrases ‘you’re house is soooo creamy’ and ‘Rat-a-tat-tat’ or something, (McCann).  I can message them on Christmas Eve at 2 a.m. to moan about my stupidity, only for them to laugh and then say, ‘don’t worry, because…’

funny pic I’ve got ‘The Golden Girls’ theme tune in my head now.  (Oh Google it, young ones).  Also, cannot say a bad word about the lecturers, I was joking earlier…. We feel like we know their life stories.  Couldn’t ask for a sounder bunch.  Some even try and fix things for you which is quite cool.  If semester one was that good then it will be an epic ride and I personally cannot wait for Semester Two.

Mel XX


Being a mature student at University is….different.  I honestly did not know what I was in for when I applied for a Bachelor of Arts in New Media and English.  I am glad I did though.  So far, it is not as scary as I thought.  It was overwhelming at the beginning.  Do people know I’m a ‘mature’ student? Do I look old? All these questions raised a vanity in me that I did not know existed, well kind of… So from asking questions like what age do you think I am?, a very risky one might I add.  Only to be answered by males with 18, 19?  Nope, guess again or go to Specsavers.  Ok, so mid 20’s?  I have worked out my average age to be 24.  I am happy with this.  It knocks five years off, not ten, but that is good enough for me.   My new friends are ten years younger and mock my old age wisdom.  I like to teach them things about olden times.  A shocker when I found out one never saw Jaws!  I told her to watch it, for the love of God or something.  I also went into the Student Union to get my stables sticker only to be told that my age card was so old, and that it reminded her of her two aunts, one of whom is 30.  30!  30 is not old.  I’m still in my twenties, a mantra I can repeat for the next ten months only.  Maybe I can blag my way into one of those secret postgraduate rooms as I get asked at least once a week if I’m ‘postgrad’.  Apart from old age issues, everything is going great so far.  I joined the Badminton club and am slowly learning the rules.  I actually like it.  Yay!  I also joined the Drama society.  I cannot act to save a life but it’s fun.  A stress reliever.  I have not ventured to Crush 87 yet, I am too scared.  What if the bouncers won’t let me in because I’m too old instead of too young? Hmmmm….. I must chance it once though, to say I’ve been there…ye know.   It’s a Saturday night and being an oldie, I am watching Criminal Minds, love that show, anyways, it seems I can’t get away from Gothic literature as Rossi recounts an extract from Edgar Allan Poe.  Why add Jennifer Love Hewitt though? She looks kind of old.  Yep, contradictory, I know.  Anyways, I am looking forward to being an immature, mature student for the next three and a half or so years.  It should be an interesting 30th!!

Group Communication… A Reflection….

As we are all broke students still waiting on the grant, we communicated freely through Facebook.  We also emailed each other through the student e-mail.  I found their I.D.’s on the group PDF page.  Sometimes I got replies, sometimes I did not.  I could communicate with two members through Facebook and one through student mail when he bothered to be interested.  I don’t even know what one person looks like.  I hope he’s not good-looking.  I saw two members in my first and second lab, but after that we were all assigned to different ones which made communication harder.  Towards the deadline, I was panicking that the work would not get finished.  After a few trying not to be bossy but showing a bit of irritability e-mails, they got the hint, or so I thought.  As I was the only woman in the group, naturally I was the boss, so I made sure those procrastinating boys did some work!  We never actually met to do the work.  By the time the deadline came around, it was myself and Colin who got the work done. I like to do things in good time whereas Colin does things just in time.  Therefore, I learned to have patience working in a group and found that everyone had their own unique way in doing things.  Colin focused on references which is a pet hate of mine as I focused on the information and images.  Together I think we made a good team.  The other members said they would contribute but unfortunately did not by the time the deadline came around.  I am disappointed that they did not, but hopefully they will grow better at group work as time goes by.

A Group Project You Say?….

The Grand Central Cinema, a non-existent magical movie place.  On the 12th of October I ventured out and set on the task of finding this invisible cinema.  Not realising that it was demolished, we (I took my  boyfriend along) took quite some time in finding it’s previous location.  After using the wonderful worldwide web, we discovered where it used to stand and entertain many crowds.  I was a bit sad that the cinema was deceased.  I took the task of taking photos, which proved to be a tad difficult.

The Church

The church

As the reflection of the sun was on the glass atrium covering the church…wait, what? Where’s the cinema?  It was a case of flash or no flash? Different angles, frustration.  Ah that’ll do.  I ended up with some nice pictures of a church (if you squint), behind some glass, that a cinema used to hide.  Here’s a link to Edinburgh Woolen Mill:

…..where The Grand Central Cinema once stood.

photo (1)

There’s a sale on….

Our group made several attempts to meet up but could not agree on an appropriate time so I decided to bite the bullet and take photographs when I was in the city one day.  Go me!