Out with the old and in with the new

I think this is a tale that needs the back story to it. Last January (2012) I decided that enough was enough, I was actively going to try to lose weight. I’m 5ft 4 inches and back then I weighed just over 13 stone. It wasn’t anything fancy, just exercise more and keep a food diary. I’m still following that plan and intend to for the rest of my life as it really isn’t that hard. Back then I went for a short jog every day as my student house was right next to a park. In May I joined the online site MyFitnessPal.com – the best thing I ever did! This way I can accurately track my weight loss, exercise and food diary. I can not recommend the site highly enough. There’s even a smartphone app as well which is ideal for those on the move. I now go to the gym three times a week as I got a brilliant deal at my uni. Anyway to cut the back story short, I’m now one pound away from my target weight of 10 stone and I started my week with the best kind of celebration/motivation way…

On Tuesday my mum and I spent nearly two hours clearing out my wardrobe. Normally it’s a task I loathe doing, but this time I loved it. The vast majority of my wardrobe no longer fitted and in the end I filled six bin bags with clothes. Three were rubbish, two are going to my local Oxfam and one is to sell on eBay or Gumtree. It was unbelievable the amount of hangers that I had left over!

After the hoy and before the spree - look at all the hangers! These trousers were tight on me two years ago!

A delivery then arrived that afternoon from Boohoo.com for me and Mum. She’s kept two dresses and I’ve got three new dresses, a pair of jeans, a tube skirt and a cropped denim jacket. I then went shopping on Wednesday with my best friend in town and bought a crop top, heels, flats and a bag. I also bought some new nail polishes to set off the look. In the middle of the shopping spree,  I went and got my belly button pierced. I promised myself as a teenager that when I had a stomach I was proud of, I’d get it done. Now twenty years old and I am chuffed with it. It did hurt a little but only when it was being pierced. After it was more of an itch I couldn’t scratch. It’s been such a rewarding few days – to see just how baggy my old clothes were (the ones that would actually stay on me!), to experiment and buy new clothes that flatter my slimmer shape and to finally be able to fulfill my teenage wish, which is something I never thought I’d do, has given me such a happy buzz that I wanted to record and share that joy. I hope it motivates someone as I was lucky enough to have the support of my family and my dad is following the same kind of plan so it was brilliant to have someone else who was experiencing the same difficulties as me. Let’s keep healthy!

All part of my new look Ta-da!

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After a manic week, it’s nice to press the pause button

This last week has been possibly the most frantic ,and at times stressful, of my uni life so far. Admittedly, I am only a second year student and next year brings the dreaded dissertation, but I have certainly worked my backside of this week. Basically, in just under two weeks, I researched and wrote a 4,000 word comparison essay on the worldviews of Hinduism and Buddhism. Not bad, especially when I had a whole day of being unable to focus due to sickness and also attended all my lectures and social commitments.

Friday through to Monday were intensive research days of textbooks and articles, with a shift at Oxfam, church and a two hour lecture throw into the mix, while Tuesday to Thursday I wrote the actually essay. The way I work is I choose my question and type up a plan of things I know I want to include and how to link them into the question. While I am researching the information, I quote the textbooks directly into the plan, using a colour key to keep the texts separate and with the relevent page numbers in brackets next to the information. I tried several different techniques of researching for essays, including sticky noting pages, put this is the quickest and easier method as once I’ve used the book, I no longer need to refer back to it. All the relevent info for the bibliography is already typed up in my actually essay document, as this is one of the first things I do when planning. That way when it comes to actually writing the essay, all the information for my footnotes is already there and my workspace is kept tidy, as it simply has my laptop, the referencing guide (you can never be too careful, especially when your two subjects use slightly different styles!), copious but detailed notes and my cup. Nothing else is needed, which is perfect when you have a tiny area to work in! I do have one of the smallest rooms in the house. On Tuesday I was amazed at how much I actually managed to get written (1,500 words) as after my witchcraft lecture, I went for a steak meal at the local pub with my classmates to celebrate the end of term. Wednesday was a bit more draining as I worked my full afternoon shift at Oxfam and by 11.30pm I began to write my conclusion and came up blank. Instead I scribbled a quick couple of ideas and a note explaining the ending drivel to my flatmate who had kindly agreed to read and edit it for me. I then spent Thursday between lectures finishing off my essay, including changing all the Sanskrit and Pali words into their correct written formation (i.e. putting the accents in) while skyping my dad. I’m really happy with what I handed in, although I did have to go to the library before class to print out another copy because my printer made it go slightly stripy and we get marked on presentation. What can I say, I’m picky but proud of what I create! Anyway, it was handed in, I attended my last lecture of the term and I now don’t have any deadlines til the end of May. Happy days!

Turning 24 pages of notes into 12 pages of essay

On Thursday night we went our local pub as a house for food and a drink to celebrate the hard work we’ve all done. I’d completed five essays in the term, the two largest in less than a month, one housemate had just done a presentation on her placement project and was handing in her dissertation the next day and another housemate will be starting her new job on Monday. It was a lovely night out, although my meal was a bit of a disappointment – the steak in my sandwich was too tough and the side salad contained swede. I thought it was grated cheese and it certainly wasn’t! I usually eat the side salad but the swede tainted it. Bleurgh. Apart from that, it was a brilliant way to conclude a busy term.

At least kept it all within the lettuce leaf

At least kept it all within the lettuce leaf

The next morning, I was greeted to a snowy Liverpool. Usually, this isn’t a probably as Liverpool doesn’t really get a great deal of snow, but I was going out that night and getting the train back to Newcastle on Saturday. So I wasn’t all that impressed. Friday was spent packing, then Guides and then off to my friend’s house for pre-drinks to celebrate her birthday. I hadn’t intended to actually go out into town, I was meant to share a taxi home with another friend, but in the end we decided to go out with the rest of them. So I went clubbing in the snow. Without a coat. I’m a Geordie, it’s what we’re known for. However, I would’ve worn a cardie if I’d known I’d be walking around town! We spent most of the night in Baa Bar, and I was barely tipsy (unlike the last time I went out with the theology girls) which is the state I prefer to be in. One of my friends had a O2 deal for shots, so for £15 we got 28 shots. I chipped in my £3 and had three of the nicer looking ones – no irish cream or sambuccas for me! It was also an experience for me because I got chatted up or danced at a few times through the night. That never happened before last year really and in a way I preferred it! Lads can be so creepy at times. Like I caught the eyes of one guy and he started to hip thrust at me on the spot. Just no. Me and my mate were in stitches from it but still. It’s weird. Also when a girl turns her back on you, don’t keep dancing next to her. Awkward. And I really don’t do awkward well.  I got back in the house around 3am, had my mccy’s (chicken nuggets and fries as my treat) and was asleep by 4am. That’s about as close to the typical student life as I get!

Shots 3.30am - technically breakfast

Only to be back up at 8.45am to get ready for going home for Easter. I was out the house just after 10am and my train departed from Liverpool just after 11.20am. The scenery on the way up was lovely and snowy, I spent most of the first train watching the final episode of series two of Sherlock (not going to lie, I nearly cried and I can’t wait for the next season) and started season five of Castle. I love Castle and now that I’m not as busy, I can catch up on all my favourite tv! My first train ended up being twenty minutes late into York due to delays around Huddersfield, but thankfully my connecting train was on the next platform, so no running up and down stairs with a suitcase this time. Usually my other train – York to Newcastle – takes roughly an hour, depending on which stops it does in the middle. However, there was planned rail work around Durham and only one train an hour went to Newcastle, the rest went to Darlington and then had a connecting bus to Newcastle. No way was I doing that, so I was really pleased when I still managed to catch my train, despite the delay. Due to the rail work, my train took just under two hours to get to Newcastle, we went all around the back routes of nowhere. By 4.30pm though I was back home as my mum came and picked me up from the station, and after a lovely meal we were back in town to see a concert. We’d got the tickets half price through Orange Fun Finder and we had brilliant seats. The show was Boogie Nights at Newcastle City Hall with three of The Osmonds in the cast alongside Chico, Gareth Gates and a few other X Factorish people. It was a fantastic show.

Boogie Nights

I’m just having a lazy day today. My mum still has flu, and although she felt loads better yesterday, she’s back in bed today. Hopefully she makes a full recovery soon as it’s been nearly a week. We did a bit of online shopping earlier and I’m going to paint my nails with our new OPI collection that arrived during the week. My stepdad is currently slaving away in the kitchen making his delicious roast chicken dinner and some soup.

Mum surprised me with this lovely giraffe pandora charm for doing so well at uni

Mum surprised me with this lovely giraffe pandora charm for doing so well at uni

My latest phone cover

It’s so good to be home!

I tweet, I blog and now I pin… am I becoming a social media courtesan?

I’m gradually expanding my interaction with social network sites. It started with Bebo, then came MySpace, and for a long time I settled for just Facebook. But then I realised I had things I wanted to say that weren’t really appropriate for various family members that I’m friends with on Facebook, but thought the opinions were witty enough to share with the rest of the world. So along came Twitter. I do love using Twitter to whinge about everything else in my life. It’s like Facebook is my nice side, and Twitter is the bitchy, two-faced version of me. Not all the time I’d like to say! I don’t feel as judged on Twitter because what I have to say isn’t really as weird or mean as half the stuff that goes on there. I use Twitter as my commentator spot when I’m watching tv, or when I’m busy writing an essay I use it to see how well my word count is going in a satisfying (and at times frantic) countdown. Yes, I’m that sad. But that’s what social networking is doing to us! When you think that before social networking really kicked off, people (usually) thought about what they were going to say and didn’t just blurt it out for all to hear. For example, I saw one of those eCards pictures that are constantly floating around FB (another irritating aspect of the network) which went along the lines of ‘I don’t use Facebook, instead I shout out what I’m feeling every five minutes’. You may laugh (I know I did) but it’s so true. Things have changed to the point where people seem to think it’s appropriate to tell the world that they’ve just had toast for breakfast. As if my day was going to crumble without reading that essential snippet of drivel?!

I could on for ages about the irritation of FB, in fact my Dad calls it FaceBake because that is what it feels like sometimes. I only really use it now for keeping in touch with friends and family both home and away. In a way, I guess I’m starting to mature. Especially in comparison to what some of my younger cousins post. The latest bug-bear is that four pictures one word game that people keep asking help for. I’m not a walking puzzle-solver.

So alongside Twitter, I also like Instagram, despite it being dubbed as ‘Twitter for those who can’t read’. You get some really pretty images of nail art and fashion ideas floating around there and I enjoy it for that. Plus it can make my pictures pretty without having to faff on with camera settings etc.

As I mentioned in my very first blog (‘Oi oi let’s see how this works…’) I’ve tried various blog sites in the past and didn’t really enjoy them but I’m really into this one. I also find that sometimes I can’t wait to try to work out how to record the day’s events. Exciting student lifestyle I live, right?!

Anyway my latest sign up in the social media lot was Pinterest. My housemate recommended it to me as I love looking at different fashion styles on the web to see what styles would suit my new body shape. The downside to losing weight is that none of your clothes fit properly over time and you have to spend money on new clothes, but the bonus is that you can carve a new style niche for yourself and be adventurous about what you want to try. After all you don’t have to buy the clothes (or keep them if you order online!) and part of feeling good about yourself is learning what flatters and showcases your new figure. It also becomes a fantastic method of procrastination. That’s something that happens a great deal when you should be working on an essay! Anyway, I’ve now created a board which I’m constantly filling with styles and bits of fashion that I might try when I’m out shopping and it’s so easy to access when I’m out and about (I’m an Android girl – another element of technology taking over my life!). Instead of taking grainy, reflective snapshot on my mobile of various styles I fancy, I can now pin them to my very own portable mood board. Perfect! Admittedly I’m still coming to grips with various aspects of it and I spent ages yesterday evening swearing over the site not doing what I wanted it to do, but I think I’m onto another social media favourite.

So overall, I’d say that the enormous benefits that social networking has for me, such as a simple way to keep in touch with loved ones, constant style and life inspirations and having somewhere to air my thoughts (even if no one know reads it), makes it seem alright for others to post daft (but not offensive!) things, despite the irritation it may momentary cause. After all, life is too short to fuss over insufficient things.

A book, Red Nose Day, a dodgy yogurt and earrings

They all contribute to my blogging absence and all will be explained in time.

For a start, I didn’t blog on Wednesday because relatively little happened. I went to the gym, read through some more of the Hinduism/Buddhism book and then worked my shift at Oxfam. We went in Red Nose Day themed as our manager was doing a sponsored silence. The total amount raised will be announced next week but from the four hours out in the shop with a bucket and a sign, she raised around £110, which I thought was really impressive. The shift was fairly uneventful, and I spent the rest of the evening reading the research book. The only highlight of the day was seeing an old house friend who popped round and cheered us all up, and then there was the announcement of the new Pope. Let’s hope Catholics get a bit more positive media coverage for once. I’m not deigning that most of it was well deserved but we’re not all like that! But meh I don’t really enjoy taking religion/politics so we’ll move swiftly on.

Things took a turn for the worst in the early hours of Thursday morning. as I was quite violently sick. I felt terrible the next morning – weak, shaky, exhausted and annoyed (the last bit being because it mucked up my plans for the day completely). After a moral boosting phone call with my mum, I got dressed and headed out for uni. Now before people get all narky about me potentially infecting others – I was fairly sure I wouldn’t be a danger to others as it was done by eating a bad yogurt the night before. I survived the lecture although I struggled to stay awake – that’s what lack of sleep, no food and walking to uni does to you. When I got back in the house I literally fell into bed and slept for two hours. I woke up to speak/Skype with various family members, which was lovely and perked me up enough to face my second lecture. Again that wasn’t all that enjoyable but I got my attendance mark which was all I really cared about at that point. When I got back in the house, I once more assured my family that I was still standing. My housemate very kindly decorated my nails for me (despite my shaking body) and we watched the Red Nose Day Hell and High Water program. I really enjoyed it, but then anything with Dara O’Brien is bound to be good. It was then once more to bed. The earliest I’ve been asleep in a long time!
Stripe nails

I slept a whole 12 hours! And woke up feeling very refreshed. Turns out that the illness was just what I needed. Almost a wake up call from my body that I was pushing myself too hard and needed to take a break. Admittedly I would’ve preferred it next week once this essay is handed in. But whatever. I got the hint. Well rested and all that. I spent most of the day reading that book and sitting down. Which is a good thing as I was still knackered from yesterday’s lack of food combined with walking to and from uni. The day at my desk was interrupted by the delivery of my new earring tree from eBay – it was becoming difficult to keep them all neat in my jewellery box and a later delivery of some homemade jewellery.  As Friday was the official Red Nose Day, we had an 80’s themed Guide meeting (because it was the 25th Red Nose Day). Cue loads of neon, netting and bad fashion, but it was a hilarious evening and we made our own 3D dinosaur (to match this years nose theme). I got back from the meeting absolutely shattered and again fell promptly into bed. This sleep thing is becoming demanding!

New earring tree already looking pretty full! New Alice in Wonderland themed earrings which arrived on Friday My 3D dino of sugar

And finally onto today – Saturday 16th March. Pretty much the same as yesterday to be honest, other than I finally finished that book(!), located some articles and went to Oxfam to cover an afternoon shift. The shop wasn’t too busy and we had a really pleasant afternoon. Tomorrow I shall be skim reading four textbooks and Monday will be dedicated to the articles. Tuesday and Wednesday will involve lots of writing. So don’t be surprised if it’s another few day before I reappear!

Disastrous waxing and awkward lunches

I can’t wait until next Thursday when things should slow down a bit! Today was another dash around day – gym, beauticians, lunch out, class, tea out, card spree, this, research. Hope I’ve got the majority of to-do list crossed off now. If it’s not desperate, it can be done from the 21st March onwards. My essay is now taking priority.

I did quite an intense workout at the gym this morning – baring in mind that I didn’t go at all last week and I ached from yesterday’s injection – I was knackered but happy with it. Tomorrow I may ache but I’ll be back there tomorrow and Friday morning as it clears my head and I enjoy the buzz it gives me throughout the day. I wasn’t quite so happy when I got to the beauticians. I’ve used the company since I moved to Liverpool in 2011 and usually have no complaints. However they have recently renovated the business and within the one small building they run a hairdressers, gym, cafe and beauticians. In all honesty, it’s become a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ business. When I went in yesterday, I was shocked to find out that the beautician only came in on certain days. Back home, the beauticians often just fitted you in if you just popped in, especially if it’s a simple brow wax. As I mentioned yesterday, I made the appointment for this morning, 10am, and I arrived slightly early (as you do), and previously they would take you straight through. Not so much this time. Instead the beautician was late, and then to make matters worse, she let some of the wax dry. She’d put the wax under both brows, then papered the last brow first! Rookie error. As a result she spent a further five minutes trying to remove the dried wax from my face. Which hurt. I was already pushing it to get a shower in before going back out but this just made it impossible. Safe to say, I wasn’t very impressed but the end result was better than what they were like, so I can’t complain too much. Instead, I am making an appointment to get my full treatment back home in a couple of weeks. At least she didn’t give me scouse brows, which is always a fear when getting them done here!

When I got back in the house I had literally twenty minutes to get changed and leave the house again. Unfortunately not enough time to shower/dry hair/look human again. Instead I did the age-old Guide trick of baby wipe wash to freshen up, and thankfully my hair didn’t look too bad, so no need for the trusty dry shampoo. Sounds minging but it was better than nothing! I managed it, although the eyeliner wasn’t my best and I’m having to use mascara again until I get my lashes dyed, but all in all, it was better than my workout au natural look!

Anyway onto the awkward lunch. I met that guy again from a couple of weeks ago. It’s definitely not going anywhere romantic – he’s in love with our mutual friend, ie. the one who gave him my number in the first place – and we’re agreed to be mates as we have a lot in common. Basically the story of my life. In a way it made things easier for me as I have next to no intention to get romantically involved during my studies. I’m doing too well to try to devote my time/attention to something new, especially on top of everything else I do! Despite this mutual agreement, he still makes flirty comments etc and I don’t deal well in those kind of situations. I’m too awkward! It was a pleasant lunch – we went to my favourite cafe on Penny Lane – but I threatened to make a scene when he tried to pay for me. Friends don’t pay for one another, only special circumstances allow for it. We’d also made a previous agreement, and he only agreed because I threatened to not turn up unless we split the bill or I paid for both. It may seem pathetic but I strongly feel the need to be very clear on the whole friendship boundaries, especially after my last relationship. Basically, I got up to pay, he stated he would pay for both, I got angry and he backed down. He then sulked the whole way to Costa, where he ignored my request and ignored my order. Instead of a medium latte and shared muffin, he increased it to a large and bought two cakes. It stopped his sulk, but I still split the muffin. Why do men have to make everything complicated?! If it had of been with the girls, there would have been none of this drama. However I can recommend the Banoffee muffin, and I’ve decided I’d rather have enjoy the extra calories than drink fat-free milk in lattes.

In class today we studied trial evidence of the Salem Witchtrials. It was interesting but it’s beginning to get a tad repetitive. I get the feeling that my exam (the only one I have this year) may involve a question on Salem. I then went for tea with the girls from History. We were going to share pizzas at the uni bar, but as we were all fairly full, we ordered nachos. It was relaxing to just sit, sharing food and gossip. I didn’t eat all my food, I’m still stuffed now. It was worth it though.

Girly times

Since getting in, I’ve crossed the remaining things off my immediately to-do list. My trains are booked for my trip home for Easter, although it’s going to take me nearly an hour longer than usual to get from York to Newcastle. This means I have to get an earlier train on the Saturday in order to be back home in time for the concert I’m going to with Mum. Admittedly, I’ll be leaving Liverpool not long after 11am, but I’m going out the night beforehand for a friend’s birthday, so I may be slightly worse for wear. I also booked the tickets for the concert as we managed to get them half price. My accounts have been sorted again and I should be getting some new goodies in the post very soon! Now that everything’s been done for today, I guess I’d better crack on with my research. Urgh.

Being a savvy student

There’s only so much waiting a lass can take in one day.

Today’s been a crossing off the to-do list day. I managed to get some housework done before my 11am lecture and thankfully we moved on from Buddhism to Sikhism. I did enjoy studying Buddhism, but the lecturer wasn’t the best and the two hours seemed to go on forever! For Sikhism we have a different lecturer and I felt like I actually absorbed some of the information today. We once more had holiday snaps placed in the PowerPoint – seems to be a running theme in the theology department!

I then had to dash across campus to get to my careers appointment. I’d made it about three weeks ago with the intention of discussing post-graduate opportunities. I’ve been in two minds over which way to go – either a PCGE or MA in history. I didn’t realise there were other methods of getting into teaching but I received some helpful tips and websites to try out, so that’s my Easter homework sorted! I also need to get in touch with high schools located within North Tyneside to see if I can get any experience once uni finishes in May. It’s definitely given me more to chew over, so we’ll see how it all goes. Thank goodness I’m looking ahead – there’s so much paperwork to consider. Only time will tell.

I popped into the beauticians on the way back from uni to make an appointment, so by tomorrow lunch time I will no longer have caterpillars for eyebrows! Ok they’re not that extreme, but I like having defined brows and they need to be waxed before I get too obsessed with my essay. Appointment made, it was a quick stop off at the house before I caught the bus into town. I had to change my coat as I had once more listened to my inner Geordie ,rather than common sense. To be fair, it was gloriously sunny the whole time I was getting ready for class and I could have managed in my blazer, despite the biting wind, if it had stayed sunny. Instead, this being Britain and all that, the weather alternated between glorious sun, flurries of snow, and at times both. It’s meant to be spring for crying out loud!

Anyway, I made it into town and ended up sitting in the walk-in clinic for just under two hours. Two hours to get an injection! Pah, it was almost like nobody had anything better to do. People were even being told to come back later because it was too full. The clinic doesn’t book appointments, so you just have to sit and wait. I did eventually get my injection and I read a fair portion of my book as well, so there were some positives to the wait. However the weather had decided to turn to snow once more while I waited for the bus and due to rush hour, the bus was soon packed. On the note of buses – on the bus into town, a girl in my theology class complemented me on my weight loss and asked what my secret was. Just a little positivity occurring during the hectic day of waiting which should not be forgotten! I told her about the exercising and MFP (see ‘Why make a survey so complex?’ for more info regarding my views on weight loss and the beauty of MFP) and I think I may have motivated another person to try a healthy lifestyle adjustment rather than ‘dieting’.

The rest of my night has been fairly uneventful. I did nearly scream at my housemates over the dishes but it seemed easier to just seethe inside and tidy up myself. At least that way it looks tidy and I know when the surfaces were last wiped. Amnesty was productive in the sense that we have our next plan of action seeing as we only have about five meetings left of this academic year. We’re considering a gaming night during Freshers in the hope of attracting some new members. Fingers crossed we pull it off. I had my first ever Krispy Kreme (can’t quite see all the fuss, it’s just a fancy doughnut) and general discussions seemed positive all round. I’ve planned my essay so I guess I’d better start doing some research. Just a word of warning – that phrase will likely be popping up a lot over the next week!

A well deserved holiday after slogging over an essay

I know I’ve not posted for quite a few days, but that’s because I’ve either been working or without internet. Instead I’ll just give a relatively quick summary of each day I’ve missed, with a short caption at the start of each as a mini title.

Wednesday 6th – Like drawing water from a stone. I spent the whole day writing my essay. The only break was working my shift at Oxfam. I finished the initial draft at 10pm and while my housemate kindly proof-read it, I packed for my weekend away with my mum and step dad. The final copy was finished just after midnight and despite the headache it gave me at times, I’m really happy with the final product. I was knackered by the end of it though!

Motivation for the day

Thursday 7th – The challenge of trying to find a printer at Hope uni! An early rise to try to print out my essay before class, but the uni computers don’t tell you if you are unable to print due to insufficient funds. Highly irritating. My first lecture was on WWII but focusing on the importance of food. It may sound dull, but I was fascinated by the content and may study it next year. It took a further two attempts until my friend and I managed to print out our essays and hand them in. We then went to the pub to celebrate handing them in – food, not alcohol. but still it was a lovely treat. It was then a quick dash back to the house to finish packing and then I took my suitcase with me to yet another dull Buddhism lecture. I got through it though with some well deserved snacks, including a vanilla snuggle latte. I’m starting to really like lattes now. When the lecture was finally over, I then had to get a bus from uni into Liverpool city centre and then another bus to Cheshire Oaks. In total it took just under two hours to get there and then it took another twenty minutes to walk from the shops to the caravan site. Mum met me at the bus stop and we walked back together in the rain, avoiding the frogs as we went. We played a game of Upwords (like Scrabble only you put the tiles on top of one another, as well as on the board, to create words ), Mum beat me by one point! I was that close to winning.

The reason that upwords beats scrabble - fond can get you oodles of points!

Friday 8th – When the Skyfalls, apple crumble. Originally we were going to go on a canal boat and lift but we found out earlier on that it wouldn’t be open until late March. So we were already a bit downcast on Friday morning and the weather certainly didn’t help! It had been raining quite heavily Thursday evening and seemed determined to continue. Instead we caught the bus into Chester for the day and had a look around some of the shops. I do love visiting Chester as it is a beautiful English city rich in history. It’s not quite so entertaining in the rain however. We were going to go in the Cathedral but we had neither the time nor the energy to properly enjoy it. I did purchase a lovely dress in Debenham’s and we warmed up in the pub with a quick drink. It was then back on the bus to the caravan and I am disgusted by how ill-mannered some people are on public transport! Feet should not be placed on the seats in front, people should not push in to the que especially not in front of pensioners, and just a general monitoring of language would be nice. Is that too much to ask for? Once showered and warm, we watched the latest James Bond film, Skyfall, on DVD. I quite enjoyed the film and amazingly I didn’t cry, which is very unusual for me. Definitely the best Bond film of late. We then played another game of Upwords, this time Mum beat my step dad by one point! We may double-check her maths later.

Saturday 9th – The Phannnnntom of the Opera is here! Yet another rainy day. By this point we were all truly sick of the weather as it was once more grey, bleak and cold. I think the cold was the worst bit as it took ages to warm up and then we were back outside. We once more got the bus, this time to Liverpool, and had quite an irritating driver who wouldn’t accept our tickets (even though it said we could use them and I’d used one to get to Cheshire Oaks on Thursday) and made us pay for Dayrider tickets, as returns weren’t available for our trip (yet someone on the return bus got them). Either way, we arrived in an equally damp Liverpool and tried to spend as much time as possible under cover to avoid the rain! We looked at some of the markets, spotted some more curler girls (see ‘Playing tourists’) but were unable to do the Egg Hunt as it appeared that was for last weekend only. We once more stopped briefly in a Weatherspoons (I promise it’s not a drinking problem!) and then Mum and I went to watch The Phantom of the Opera at Liverpool Empire Theatre while my step dad visited the Antiques Fair in St. George’s Hall. The show was absolutely fantastic! It was my first experience of Phantom and I was blown away. The stage was amazing – it moved and opened up – words can not describe how delightful it was to watch! And the singing! Just the right amount of comedy from the Primadona, but the overall vocal quality was out of this world! It took about an hour and a half for the goosebumps on my arm to settle. It was obvious why there was not a seat left in the theatre and it was worth every penny for the performance I saw. The only problem I had was trying not giggle during ‘Masquerade’ as we did it in Gang Show and most people only knew the word ‘FACES’ and sang the chorus as ‘Microwave! Electronic cooking slave. Microwave!’. That kept playing through my mind the entire time. Overall, it was a superb early Mother’s Day treat for my Mum and I enjoyed it just as much as she did. We then met up with my step dad again to try to find a pub to eat in, but due to the Everton/Wigan match, all were packed and unbearably loud. Instead we caught the bus back to the shops and eventually settled in the pub a stones throw from the site. The meal was lovely, and just what we needed after all the walking we’d done. We were too exhausted to play Upwords and instead watched Made in Dagenham. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and it highlighted one of the main reasons I love history – it’s all down to the people who make the changes, why they act in the way they do and the ripple effects of their actions. An excellent story linked to an element of history that many currently overlook.

A variation of a caravan brekkie

Mothering Sunday 10th – Snow, sunshine and music. Instead of rain, we were greeted with sleet this morning. It made a change, but it was still cold and wet. We had a bit of a lazy morning as we weren’t leaving until noon to drive down for my concert. After a lovely lie in and another delicious cooked breakfast, we set off for Sefton Park Palmhouse. It took just under an hour to drive there as we had to try to avoid the Liverpool fans heading for the match in town. The concert was fantastic! We all played brilliantly and the atmosphere inside the Palmhouse was just astounding. We had a really good turn out, in fact the place was pretty full, and the sun finally came out after the first piece – a jaunty Holst suite. Everybody seemed to enjoy it and both my family members said it was worth the trip to hear it. I felt so proud to be a member of the band. My manager also came along and said we played as well as any professional band, which really made my day. As predicted, ‘The Witch and the Saint’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Phantom’ and ‘James Bond’ were the biggest crowd-pleasers and I can’t wait for our next performance in May, followed by band camp in June (nothing like American Pie I promise!). I was then dropped back off at my student house and very little has happened since, other than Beth winning Dancing on Ice, much to our delight! From tomorrow onwards, it’s time to crack on with my next essay – 4,000 words comparing Hinduism and Buddhism. Oh the joys of being a theorian student!

Sefton Park Palmhouse