What I Do When I'm Not Doing This...

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Have you ever wondered what I do when I'm not making dresses for the eternal magpie shop

Well... the gentleman pictured above is Mr Magpie, and he is part of a group of doll characters collectively known as Miss Mouse & friends. They have a Patreon-based blog, over at, where you can follow all of their little adventures. You might also have spotted them in the "books, magazines & planners" section of the shop, where some of their Patron Rewards from the past couple of years are now available for sale. 

Next year I'm going to be concentrating less on printed Rewards and more on photographic and other digital content that everyone can see... as well as some more complicated stories for our much-appreciated Patrons.

 University of Reading Herbarium

In October I went back to University... as a volunteer at the Herbarium. I've joined an ongoing project to catalogue a species-specific collection that recently became part of the Herbarium's collections overall. My current role is primarily as a data wrangler. There's a small team of us, doing all the things necessary to get this collection into the database - ideally in such a format that researchers can easily get the data out again and make scientific use of it! 

 Gerard's Herball

In October I also went back to University... as a writer/researcher. Originally, the idea was to start doing some research that would help me to write a series of short introductory books on a variety of topics. The sort of thing you might like to read if you'd just watched a documentary on the telly, and wanted to find out a little bit more about the subject. Somewhere along the way, that idea has escalated into researching for a PhD proposal! I'm currently trying to narrow my thoughts down to two primary ideas (both relating to Early Modern medicine), and then I can start to do some more detailed research to enable me to choose between them. 

(A few years ago I had a different PhD planned out, to do with the publication of anatomical imagery, and how the accuracy of observation was far in advance of medical knowledge at the time. Then Dr Adam Rutherford and BBC4 went and made a whole television series about exactly that, making my proposed thesis redundant. As is often the way, Life intervened, and this is the first opportunity I've had to think again about Academic Things.) 

I have another Patreon-based blog, called "Mrs Magpie Writes", about what I've been up to and how it's all going. Not all of the content is paid-for, but studying is expensive, so every little bit of pocket money is very much appreciated. So far my lovely Patrons have paid this year's annual fee for joining the University library, and I'm saving up to buy some of the books I'm not able to borrow as a non-student member. 

 So, there you have it. 

When I'm not busy with the sewing machine, I'll be busily photographing Miss Mouse & friends, volunteering at the Herbarium, or happily reading as many Early Modern/ History of Medicine books as I can! 

claire with sidesword

Oh, and when I'm not doing any of that, I'm looking at translations of 16th century fencing manuals and fighting my friends with swords. As you do. 

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