• Zoom and bust: Back to the Future #3

    6th Jan 2021 by

    Just as the cockroach is adapted to survive nuclear apocalypse, so my blog limps on through this third lockdown. Yes, it’s been a few months of silence for my fans* on our isolated patch of the web. In agricultural terms a fallow period has passed. But now we can rejoice and plant turnips once more,… Read more

  • It’s fine, fun is overrated anyway

    7th Apr 2020 by

    Greetings from the Year Abroad I am now conducting from my bedroom: a year abroad insofar that it is no longer a Year, but a strange, shapeless vortex of timey wimey stuff, and abroad in the sense that it’s not abroad, but is in fact a suburb in North Yorkshire. What have I been doing,… Read more

  • Questions of travel, by Elizabeth Bishop

    31st Mar 2020 by

    Since we’ve all been temporarily prevented from travelling further than ‘another government-mandated walk around the block? Well, it’s not as if I’ve got much else on…’ , I thought this would be quite a useful poem to think about. It plays with the excitement of travelling, at the same time as it questions its necessity,… Read more

  • We escape lockdown corona crisis in France

    17th Mar 2020 by

    And so we enter the event I am calling ‘The Second Fucking Time I’ve Had To Flee A Country On The Year Abroad.’ (TSFTIHTFACOTYA for short?). It’s all happened pretty quickly. On Friday I sent an e-mail to the company I was supposed to work for in Beaune, in which I (oh, innocence) wondered whether… Read more

  • The holidays, and halfway through.

    2nd Mar 2020 by

    (n.b. I wrote this while I was quite tired, so some of it might sound like I was smoking something fruity. I wasn’t.) For Part 1 at Cambridge, we studied the nouvelle vague classic, Agnès Varda’s Cléo de 5 à 7h. This film, which follows Cléo through her day, represents time as an elastic quantity,… Read more

  • Visiting Romans in Vienne

    22nd Feb 2020 by

    When in Gaul, do as the Gauls do. Something like that. Last weekend we found an opportunity to prance around like it was 47BC, in the little town of Vienne. After some confusion over where we were meeting, how to get from the ENS to the station, then how to get from the metro to… Read more

  • A day in Grenoble

    8th Feb 2020 by

    I decided to go to the Alps. Although I have been in Lyon for just over a month, my life here so far has been steadily horizontal – far from the breathless climbs that pushed through every day in La Paz. Skiing was pretty much out of the question; despite my parents paying for private… Read more

  • Belgium: Brussels, Ghent, Courtai.

    2nd Feb 2020 by

    There are several reasons for visiting Belgium. Mine fall into two categories: Food (see – frites, moules, waffles) and Nice Old Things. This time, however, a third motivation presented itself: Following my Boyfriend Around Cities While he Makes Notes on 19th Century Statues for Some ‘Interesting’ Historical Project. Plus waffles. For attractions which elude me,… Read more

  • London – Lyon by train

    12th Jan 2020 by

    I actually travelled York – Lyon by train, but it sounded better with the alliteration. And although both Yorkshire and London firmly believe themselves to be at The Centre of The Universe, even I must concede that London is probably (marginally) more globally important. So London will be where the journey starts. After a 1st… Read more

  • Post-election poetry: Enemies, Wendell Berry.

    13th Dec 2019 by

    Enemies If you are not to become a monster,you must care what they think.If you care what they think, how will you not hate them,and so become a monsterof the opposite kind? From where then is love to come—love for your enemythat is the way of liberty?From forgiveness. Forgiven, they go free of you, and… Read more

  • Night Mail, W.H Auden

    28th Nov 2019 by

    (To be read out loud) Night Mail This is the night mail crossing the Border,Bringing the cheque and the postal order, Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,The shop at the corner, the girl next door. Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:The gradient’s against her, but she’s on time. Past cotton-grass and moorland boulderShovelling… Read more

  • On not doing anything

    19th Nov 2019 by

    (Disclaimer: Noting that anyone with a bit of free time is pretty lucky, and that many people, from CEO banker wankers to security guards on night shifts, don’t usually find themselves unexpectedly back in the suburbs due to political crises in South America, with too much time and an excessively restful sleeping schedule) Having cut… Read more

  • Two poems from Wendy Cope

    16th Nov 2019 by

    As I attended the kind of school where you call teachers by their first name, it should be of no surprise to you that there are printed-out poems in the staff loos, for reflection during excretion. This was where I came across Cope’s most famous poem, the Orange: The Orange At lunchtime I bought a… Read more

  • How to become fluent in any language – in just 3 easy steps !

    4th Nov 2019 by

    What is the internet trend that most annoys you, Flora? Glad you asked. After Men Explaining Things To Women on Twitter, and People Oversharing Online, I do find my fists clenching at one particular theme of clickbait content: Youtube videos and blogs with titles such as ‘How I learnt Italian in 1 month!’ or ‘How… Read more

  • Peru with my MUM! Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu

    2nd Nov 2019 by

    What sweeter news is there than hearing your flight has been rescheduled from a reasonable 7AM to the middle of the night? I relish nothing more than waking at the witching hour, and so it was with a merry and well-rested heart that I flew to Lima. Fortunately, I was able to share my joy… Read more

  • Dream Song 14 (John Berryman)

    25th Oct 2019 by

    Two mystery messages arrived in my university inbox today, passed on via two of my close friends studying languages at Clare. They read: Dear friends, This is a collective, constructive, and hopefully uplifting exchange. It’s a one-time thing and we hope you will participate. We have picked those we think would be willing and make… Read more

  • 10 minutes from tear gas

    23rd Oct 2019 by

    ‘There is a risk that demonstrations will turn violent at short notice. You should avoid large crowds or public demonstrations and do not attempt to cross blockades.’ read the Gov. UK website, in the ‘Safety and Security’ section for Bolivia. I read all the guides several times, making sure to prepare for any eventuality, and… Read more

  • Dealing with annoying people : the sitcom method

    22nd Oct 2019 by

    (Inspired by my Dad’s great wisdom)* You’ve been locked in a conversation for over half an hour, during which time you have been blessed with the knowledge of: your interlocutor’s detailed opinion on their own hairstyle, the many times they have been wronged by their mother, and their disgust for that genre of music, and… Read more

  • The Bolivian Amazon, and a parasitic infection

    19th Oct 2019 by

    Keen to absorb the local cultures of my adopted country, I developed a parasitic infection. What better way is there to take in a country, than by literally ingesting and secreting its lifeforms? It’s merely compensation for the generosity extended to me by my host nation, becoming a host for its inhabitants. Getting a parasitic… Read more

  • A weekend in Cochabamba

    8th Oct 2019 by

    La Paz is great. Really, it is. Unless you count the noise and the pollution and the cars honking and the graffiti and the 3,600m altitude and the occasional whiff of urine – then you might decide you need a holiday. Ingredients for a successful break usually include some or all of the following: food,… Read more

  • Lake Titicaca and the birthplace of the Sun

    2nd Oct 2019 by

    Again I found myself awake before 6am – but this morning I was on time. Guided by the light of the Inca Gods and the services of Vicuña Travel and Tours (‘Follow me in the social network’), we were soon bumping up and down the roads of La Paz. Three bus changes and a certain… Read more

  • How to avoid stress (a short thought)

    30th Sep 2019 by

    I’ve made a resolution: I’m no longer using the following – stress, stressed, I feel stressed, stressed out. `Walk down any street in the world*, and you’ll invariably find at least 17 people on any street saying (often unsolicited) justhowmuchworkthey’redoing and justhowstressedtheyare. They’ve got 25 projects to complete before breakfast ! 5 families and 16… Read more

  • A protest, a party and turning 21 in La Paz

    24th Sep 2019 by

    Well, I’ve achieved what very few have managed before me, and reached the grand age of 21. 21! Only a few months ago I was 12 (etc…), doesn’t time fly (etc.,..). My birthday celebrations started a full month ago on my fake birthday (August 24th), when Jake took me on a surprise birthday trip to… Read more

  • La Serena

    7th Sep 2019 by

    A slick 7 hour bus journey from Valparaíso was passed in the greatest luxury (USB port? Reclining seats? A coffee machine?!) and I arrived in the coastal city of La Serena with relative ease. As in Valpo, you find a city that is both beautiful (old buildings, many churches, street art) and incredibly busy, polluted,… Read more

  • What I might write, and thoughts on my internet sphere

    5th Aug 2019 by

    ‘Representation of self is drastically changing. And of course on Facebook it’s all embellished, stylised selves anyway. But my popularity on the internet has to do with the fact that all of these fake selves somehow recognise each other and have some unifying sensory organ for authenticity.’ – Werner Herzog, in the Guardian, 2016. Your… Read more

  • The essential Cambridge in spite of Cambridge

    29th Aug 2021 by

    There is an ancient tradition at the University of Cambridge amongst art students, which I honour here today: taking a cool-sounding quotation from an intellectual source, and repurposing without context. My title for this post is taken from F.R. Leavis in Two Cultures (no, I haven’t checked the citation, on the principle that I’ve graduated.)… Read more

  • Instagram nostalgia

    29th Nov 2020 by

    Just a place where I’m keeping my old Instagram photos … I like taking pictures, but I do not like flogging myself on the internet, so these are from an old account. Fine, it probably aren’t in the Correct Chronological Order of My Life, but then again, it’s not as if memory retells a particular… Read more

View all posts

Flora Bowen

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.