Today’s post is about keeping up with my hobbies while living in the UK.
My primary hobbies since I lived in Guatemala are calligraphy, reading and most recently, taekwondo. I stopped reading shortly after moving to the US but I got back to it earlier this year, I never really stopped doing calligraphy but I’ve been getting into it more lately and I only started taekwondo 6 months before I left the US but I’m planning on going back to it this coming year.
In terms of calligraphy, the trickiest part has been finding the supplies I need. For example, for writing with my fountain pens I regularly use tomoe river paper (which is from Japan). While you can find this paper in the UK, it is significantly more expensive than it is in the US, so whenever I go visit my family I bring some with me. Another thing I use regularly is Noodler’s ink, which I haven’t seen at all in the UK but is readily available (and very cheap) in the US. Whenever possible, I also try to bring some with me but I’ve found some relatively good substitutes for the inks that I used the most (which were just black inks). I also sometimes use brush pens which again, are available in the UK but more expensive. However, I’ve found that there are some supplies which you can actually get cheaper here, for example, I was able to find some kuretake gansai tambi sets on amazon UK for half their regular price. I also recently discovered ali express which is a website you can use to buy things directly from chinese sellers which means some stationary is available cheaper (most of what I use is made in Japan, China or nearby countries). I’ve also discovered a few new things that I’d never seen before, for example, embossing pens and powder which I think are really cool.
For taekwondo I still haven’t started but it seems like I will be able to start from yellow belt rather than having to go back to white belt. While I wasn’t too far along, it’s definitely nice to be able to pick up where I left. I’ll also need to get a new uniform as I was just renting out my previous one. I’ll hopefully have more to say on this topic, the sports park and sports clubs through the student’s union soon!
Reading is an area that I think really benefited from me moving to the UK. There is a relatively big booktube community (book reviewers on youtube) in the UK which is really nice, there’s lots of amazing bookstores (for example Foyles and Hatchards, as well as lots of small independent bookstores like Mr B’s Emporium/Reading Spa), things like the book fairies and lots of stunning editions for books that I love as well as new authors I hadn’t heard of before. Some of the books/authors that I discovered since moving to the UK and really enjoyed are:
- The first time she drowned by Kerry Kletter which is a book about a girl who has just left a mental institution and is starting university
- Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff which is about a ghostwritter who is writing a memoir for a Dutch woman who was put in the Japanese-run intermittence camps in Java and dealing with her own painful memories
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro which is a dystopian novel where people are being made and used for organ donations
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller which is a retelling of the Illiad
- The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss which is a written from the perspective of a father whose daughter is taken to the hospital after she collapsed and stopped breathing. It explores lots of different topics like gender roles, the NHS and fear. I really enjoyed this book and I’m definitely planning to read every single Sarah Moss book I can get my hands on
- Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden which is my new favourite middle grade/YA fantasy series. It saddens me that none of my friends outside the UK know about it or have read it as I think it’s very well written and I enjoyed it more than some series by hugely well known authors in the US (like Rick Riordan, for example)
- Autumn by Ali Smith. This is a book I still have mixed feelings about but I do think Ali Smith is an author worth checking out, even if her writing style might not be for everyone.