Venice, exams, work experience

After my two-week work placement at BBC Newcastle (where my chocolate brownies went down a treat), I went to Venice for a few days with my Mom and Stepdad. We stayed in a lovely hotel on the Grand Canal called the Al Ponte Antico Hotel, where we enjoyed this amazing view of the Rialto Bridge every evening as we sipped apéros on the terrace.

Venice is an absolute wonder of a city. I found myself fascinated with every aspect of it and asking so many questions; where is the nearest hospital and how do they get to it? How do they collect rubbish or deliver big items? What happens when it rains? All things people living on mainland take for granted.

We did so much in Venice but my favourites were the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Dorsoduro. The gallery is Peggy’s old home and features her personal modern art collection and temporary exhibits. There are some beautiful works by Kandinsky and Chagall, as well as some bizarre sculptures in the garden and landing deck on the Grand Canal. The Cimitero di San Michele is a lovely place to visit, despite being a graveyard! It is beautiful and tranquil and nothing like as eerie as say Père Lachaise in Paris. Stravinsky, Diaghilev and Ezra Pound were laid to rest there.

We ate so much seafood! We found an amazing restaurant off the main drag – definitely one not known to tourists but full of Venetians – called the Al Fontego dei Pescatori. The owner and chef is called Lolo and he was so attentive, telling us what was best on the menu that day and recommending some amazing wines. I ate scallop and courgette gnochetti and then a gorgeous tuna steak with a sesame crust.

There are some beautiful islands to the northeast of Venice too, and these are definitely worth a visit to get away from the main hub. Murano is famous for its glass and is absolutely bursting with shops selling jewellery, bowls, glasses and much more. It has become just as touristy as Venice, though, and much of the glass is actually mass-produced in China, but it’s lovely for a stroll around and to look in the independent showrooms.  

Burano, further afield, is absolutely gorgeous. All the houses are painted different colours – supposedly so that fishermen can recognise their homes after a day out on the water.

There is also a sense of sadness, though, about Venice. Many of the buildings are sinking into the water and have become crooked and creaky. It initially adds to the ethereal feel of the place but when you think that in however many years, it may not be possible to live in or visit Venice anymore, it’s really quite sad. But it is absolutely a must-visit city, definitely before it’s too late!Exams

And then after our beautiful holiday in Venice came the horrible mundanity of three weeks of revision and exams. All in all, I think they went well and that’s the MA done and dusted. How time has flown.

Work experience at BBC Radio Newcastle

Tomorrow is my last day of work experience at BBC Radio Newcastle and as my freshly-baked batch of thank you chocolate brownies cool off in the kitchen, I thought I’d take a moment to gather my thoughts and write about my experience. I’m feeling a little sad about leaving. The past two weeks have gone by so quickly; I have done so much, yet I feel like there is still so much I could do there.

For the last few days, I’ve been working on the Jonathan Miles mid-morning show, which has been great fun. The style of the show has allowed me to be more creative than working on the drive-time show, which is very much an extended news programme. The team has so many amazing ideas for future shows that I really want to be a part of developing them and seeing them go out on air.

My first few days at the station were spent going through many online modules, teaching me all about editorial guidelines, health and safety and breach of confidentiality. After all that came the good stuff. I went up to Holy Island in Northumbria with one of the Breakfast show reporters, Fiona Marley Paterson, to see what residents and visitors thought of the big, electronic signs at either end of the causeway placed to display safe crossing times.

I’ve done my fair share of gathering vox pops too, on the Olympics, plain cigarette packaging, and children not playing outdoors enough. I’ve done a decent amount of phone-bashing; following up ideas for stories (some that worked and some that didn’t) and asking guests to come on the airwaves and speak with Alfie and Charlie, the lovely Breakfast show presenters.

And of course, I’ve met some truly lovely people at BBC Newcastle. People have gone out of their way to help me and make sure I’m coping with editing clips on RadioMan and not getting lost in the (at first) terribly confusing ENPS system. (I think I can consider getting used to ENPS one of my biggest achievements from my work placement.) I hope my chocolate brownies go some way to expressing my gratitude for all their help and I really hope I can stay in touch with everyone.

All in all, I have really enjoyed my time with BBC Radio Newcastle and I’m going to miss the buzz of being in a newsroom as breaking news stories come in, as people secure that all-important interview or as a whole day of phone-bashing and cutting audio pays off to form an interesting and entertaining news feature. My work placement with the Kentish Gazette cannot come round quickly enough.