Maths, mud, graduation, Rubgy Sevens and everything in between!

Oh my days has it really been that long since I last blogged?! Where has the time gone?! I know I’ve been rather silent in my blogging lately but I’ve barely had a day to myself! I’m going to try to keep this post rather short but seeing as it’s been a while, I may ramble a tad. But then if you’re a regular reader you’ll already know to expect that!

  • First off I have passed both my skills tests and all going well I start my course on the 1st September! I am so excited and relieved that everything is finally pulling together nicely. I passed my first skills test (literacy) the day after my uni results were published and then had the maths test the following week. Both were booked for 8am so I had no time in the morning to worry myself over the tests. Best of luck to everyone else who is either sitting these tests or waiting for exam results! My only honest advice is be realistically positive about it and that things happen for a reason. I honestly believe that I am were I am through a combination of determination, perseverance and fate.
  • I completed the Pretty Muddy 5k event in Gosforth Park with my cousins three days before graduation. I was warned by my mum that I was not allowed to get any visible bruises, in other words ‘don’t spoil the graduation photos with bruises’. I came back incredibly muddy (the bath as soon as I got in the house was heaven) but with no injuries, and the same went for my cousins. We sure did kick cancer’s ass that day.
  • Graduation was fantastic. The sun was shining and everyone had a marvellous day. I stayed at my friend’s house and we had a right laugh celebrating all our hard work. Unfortunately my dad couldn’t be with me that day, but I’m hoping that next year, all going well, he’ll be with me in person, as well as my mum and stepdad who attended with me this year. Bless ’em they travelled to Liverpool and back in one day because of the dogs. It was a long day for me and an even longer one for them! Made worse by a two-hour delay on the M6. All that aside, we had a fantastic day, one that I hope to never forget!
  • Only a couple of days after graduation and I was travelling up to Edinburgh with one of my best friends to attended the Commonwealth Rugby Sevens Finals. We stayed in a lovely hotel in Edinburgh and commuted to Glasgow to save money. We both had a cracking time and I think I’ve found my sporting buddy! The atmosphere was amazing, both teams got cheered on regardless (although the Scotland v England match was tense) and it was one of the greatest evenings yet. I’ve always preferred rugby over most sports and I was so pleased to have gotten tickets, especially once we got in the arena and saw how brilliant the view was from our seats. Right at the top, in between the try posts. We had to race through Glasgow city to catch the last train back to Edinburgh (otherwise we had to buy new tickets) but we  made it and had our evening meal at 1.30am! Chips and curry sauce has never felt so satisfying. I’m currently saving up to visit my aunt in Australia in time for the Commonwealth games over there.

So that’s the big bulk of my summer ‘holidays’ so far. I only get two days off a week so most of the time is spent catching up on paperwork and family. I’m enjoying my summer stint a lot and I can’t wait to attend summer school in two weeks time as a final preparation before my course properly begins. I hope to at least try to post every couple of weeks with updates etc.

The obligatory motor board toss

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A brief emergence back into reality…

Hello and apologies for my lack of blogging recently. It’s not looking to improve over the next couple of weeks either as I have entered into the challenging process of writing my dissertation. So far I’m over half way through it, with just over 7,000 words written into an introduction and two chapters. All that’s left is the final chapter which I’m currently researching and then the conclusion. I’ve actually really enjoyed researching it and the writing up bit hasn’t been that much of a chore. Without my family and friends there’s no way I’d be feeling as happy with it as they’ve been incredibly supportive and don’t complain when I send off a chapter for them to read over. In fact, so far the feedback has been positive and they appear to find it interesting to read, which is always a bonus!

I’ll give you a quick little update of what’s happened over the past few weeks in between writing my last undergraduate essay and this dissertation.

  • I went to the National Archives in London with uni the week before we broke up. It was a fascinating trip and I loved being able to handle the original government papers. I found it really useful for my dissertation research, although some documents I couldn’t access because someone else was using them. The only negative about the trip was the length of time spent on the mini bus. I’ve managed 48 hours on a coach to Croatia but 9 hours cramped into what was essentially a glorified school mini bus was not comfy. It took us longer than expected to get to London due to traffic and given that I’d been up since just before 6am, having only had a few hours sleep the night before as I was finishing off my final essay, I was a tad grumpy. Also I get really travel sick and there was no windows to open for fresh air. I wasn’t sick, just felt nauseous which I think is far worse, but I did see some wonderful wildlife when I was gazing out the window – several Red Kites and some Muntjac Deer – I thought that was pretty neat and I live in a fairly rural area.
  • I spent the last two weekends of term in the caravan with my parents. The first weekend I travelled to Chirk to visit them before my Mother’s Day concert at the Palmhouse, Sefton Park. We stayed at Lady Margaret’s Park  which was beautiful. Very peaceful and the walks were fantastic. We must have walked well over ten miles on Saturday as we walked the dogs along the canal and then we left them in the car to sleep whilst we walked over Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Llangollen. I’ll admit it was pretty terrifying but I got some fab photos. The concert went really well on Sunday but it was boiling in the Palmhouse. It is essentially a massive greenhouse and when it’s slightly sunny outside, the temperature just soars inside. Mam and Alan loved the concert though.
  • The second weekend I moved out for Easter and travelled to Bury, Manchester to meet them. The site was again wonderful – a very good dog walk and there was a steam train which went passed the site a few times a day. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy their fortnight holiday, especially the dogs. Honestly Mabel and Marvin were on their best behaviour! Then we came back and they’ve turned into disobedient doggies again. I blame the rabbit season. Being Lurchers, it is in their nature to hunt, and Mabel was trained before we adopted them to hunt rabbits. It’s difficult but we are making progress with them.
  • Anyway the two weekends out from Liverpool were just what I needed. I feel like I haven’t stopped working since the start of March on essays etc but the hard work does appear to be paying off. My Capital Punishment essay received a first, which I’m absolutely ecstatic over. I just really hope the final essay and my dissertation also do well. I’d hate to fall at the final hurdle. When I get back to uni at the end of the month, I have two days between my dissertation deadline and the exams being released (history are lovely and give us seen papers), so I fully intend to chill between those days – catch up on my tv and blogs, spend some time with my friends without going for a library visit… Just to reset my brain as I’ll then only have two weeks before my exams and then it’s all over! Three years of hard graft and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • When I returned home, I’ve had the joy of insuring my car. That’s right nearly two years after I passed my test, I’m finally driving again. There was no point in paying over a grand to be insured on Mam’s car while I was at uni because I’d hardly get the chance to drive it, but because I’ll hopefully be driving to Peterlee for the majority of the next academic year, I needed a car. My grandparents bought a new car last month and they’d promised me their old one once I’d passed my test. It’s a lovely red Suzuki (called Susie) and I’ve driven quite a few times over the past week and a bit. Mostly with Mam as a comforting passenger, but I did my first solo drive on Saturday evening and I’m going out again on my own tonight. Everything’s going well but my goodness car insurance is ridiculously expensive – the cheapest I managed to get (including breakdown cover) will cost just over £1,100 overall as I’m paying it in monthly installments. Some wanted to charge me nearly £3,000!! The joys of owning a car.
  • This week is the start of my social life again. I’m out tonight to finalise the Queen’s Guide Award trip I’m doing with three others from my Senior Section unit here. We’re going to London on Sunday so we just want to get all the details clarified and deal with paperwork etc. Tomorrow I get to spend some time with Mam and then in the evening I’m out with my best friends for a much-needed catch up. I’m also heading out for lunch today after I visited the Lit & Phil to get some more books for my chapter with one of my best friends from primary school. I’ve had a wonderful time since coming home fitting in seeing my family, including my cousin who was over briefly from Ireland, between working hard on my dissertation. On Good Friday after mass I’m going to my Auntie’s for a big family meal. I’ll get to see my Aunt and Uncle who live in Alnwick and my cousins with their 9-month daughter. I honestly can’t wait!

So that’s all that’s not been reported recently. I do intend to get back into regular blogging once my work load reduces, as I have quite a few ideas currently on the back-burner. Mind, the site does still get a handful of views each day, which always brings a smile to my face knowing that somebody, somewhere in the world, has stumbled across GeordieGiraffe and is having a gander. So thank you for that.

 

What’s occurring

  • As I mentioned in last week’s ‘Feel-good’ post, my life for the next couple of months is going to revolve around uni. After my loss of confidence last week, I’ve had my pep-talks from my family, friends and tutor, and everything is back on track, although I do still have mild panic moments. This is just the normal have-I-left-it-too-late panic, and while I know that I haven’t left it too late, I also need this background concern to remain in the background to let me know that I can’t ignore it any longer. That’s what got me into my panic in the first place.
  • Anyway, I’m one essay down, with only one left to do (by next Wednesday), then it’s just my SALA portfolio to be handed in, apply for my summer job, and write my dissertation. Third year may be manic, but apart from last week, I think I’m dealing pretty well with it all. I’ve broken all my tasks into bitesize chunks which I cross off once complete as a visual reminder of what I have achieved and what’s left to do. Add to that the copious amount of incense sticks or oil burning going on and my room is a clean, organised, and peaceful area to work in and I’m much better with giving myself sensible breaks/work periods/goals. I then tend to reward myself as I go along (usually with an episode of Castle).
  • I also use exercise as a way to relax and clear my head. I’m going swimming at least two mornings during the week and go out for short runs several times through the week. I managed to injure myself on Monday (apologies for the slightly gross photo I instagrammed, but I had to show you just how bad it was). I kicked the wall whilst on my final lap – no biggie, I’ve done it several times – only this time I chipped part of my toenail and skinned the top of my toe! Just from kicking the wall. It bled for the most of the morning and since I’m allergic to plasters and my blood doesn’t clot as quickly as it’s supposed to, I had to resort to wrapping a cotton pad around my toe. It’s a bit better now – no more bleeding unless it gets caught – but it needs to get back to normal in time for summer sandals!
  • I went home briefly after class on Tuesday and returned this afternoon as I had to sort out some paperwork for my PGCE, I had my birthday present of tickets to see Miranda Hart at the Metro Arena and a funeral to attend. My next door neighbour lost her battle with breast cancer last week and it was her funeral today. We’ll all miss her in our neighbourhood and that was shown in the turn out to her funeral. I donated to breast cancer research with my #NoMakeUpSelfie – I’d been nominated and I thought it was a fitting way to mark the celebrations of her life – spreading the word through photos in a harmless and fun way and I know Brenda would have laughed at it. Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed Miranda Hart last night. It was so funny and honest. It worried me a little bit how relatable I found her show! Overall I had a wonderful stay at home, it was just the refreshing refuel I needed, but it’s back to work for me now.

Feel-good Friday – ‘Lovestoned’ (Live Lounge Cover)

More than any other week, I’ve needed all the motivation, support and encouragement possible from my family and friends. I hit a confidence wall on Wednesday and I’m still recovering from it now. Mentally that is, I’m not injured or anything, just the typical third year panic I gather. Seeing as that has been about the only thing that happened this week, I’m not going to bore you all with the details of it, so there won’t be a ‘What’s occurring’ post this week.

Anyway, this feel-good choice is taken from one of my recent Oxfam finds – Radio 1 Live Lounge Volume 3 – and the first time I heard this track I just melted. It’s a goose-bump, spine-tingle song when they sing it, but then I get that feeling for the majority of their album, which I still listen to. The Hoosiers (yeah remember them?) covered Justin Timberlake’s beautiful ‘Lovestoned’. I think it’s my favourite JT song from the ‘Futuresex/Lovesounds’ album (another of my favourites). It’s worth a listen to, that’s for sure. I’m currently waiting for four more Live Lounge volumes to arrive in the post after I found them cheap on Amazon, so we’ll see how many other beauts await me.

What’s occurring

  • And so begins the mad rush towards the end of third year of completing assignments. I have two essay due this month – criminal punishments on 17th and civil war on 27th. I also have to hand in my SALA portfolio on the 28th. The final assignment – and the largest – is my dissertation, which is due on 30th April. So yeah don’t expect many additional posts outside the norm until the middle of May once my exams are done and I’m simply waiting to graduate. Once that time goes, I’ll inundate you all with all the reviews etc that I wanted to do, but simply have had to put on the back burner for now.
  • Therefore the majority of my week has been filled with research, but I spent Thursday evening and most of Friday with my auntie who visited me whilst she’s over from Australia. She treated me to a night at the Radisson Blu down on Liverpool’s docks and it was such a luxurious stay. I think I may have scarred her with my first year digs the last time she visited, hence why she booked us a room there. I arrived first as she was travelling from York, and I made good use of the pool and sauna after work. We then had a gorgeous meal at the hotel, looking out onto Princes Dock, and a couple of yummy cocktails. The only negative thing of the trip was that our room was boiling, even when we had the air con on max! It spoilt my sleep a bit, but the morning swim and sauna followed by a breakfast buffet made up for this. After uni, I met her in town and we had a wander round Liverpool. I had a fantastic time with her, and I fully intend to go back to Oz within the next few years to visit her.
  • I purchased some running kit during the week. Finally I have managed to find a pair of running trainers which do not abuse my feet! I also bought some running trousers, crops and gel heel cushions to make the run even more comfortable. As my training is gradually increasing in both distance and duration, I bought a bottle to carry during my run. We’ll see how I feel carrying it.
  • Two firsts occurred during this week. I actually made and enjoyed ‘proper’ pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and I participated in World Book Day. Previously I’ve always been at my Grandparent’s on Shrove Tuesday and Grandma makes both sweet and savory pancakes. It’s like a two course pancake banquet. I just use to eat the fillings rather than them and the pancakes. I made sweet pancakes this year, but I can’t wait to be able to properly participate in the family celebrations next year. As for World Book Day, we just use to get a book voucher, rather than all this dressing up malarkey. To be honest, it annoys me the amount of people who dress their kids up as film characters. It’s called World BOOK Day. My other issue was that I have too many favourite characters! Even though it was a day later, we made the Guides dress up for it. I went as Detective Eve Dallas from J. D. Robb’s ‘In Death’ series. This is seriously one of the best series ever and every woman needs a Roarke in their lives. He beats Darcy. Hands down.

What’s occurring

What a hodge-podge week it’s been! So far it’s going better than last week (as I alluded to in this week’s Chalkboard) and I go home tomorrow for the weekend, so I’m hoping it continues to improve.

  • My paid work has increased – I’m now signed up to get a set four hours a week at the new apartment builds in town – which means that I can start saving my wages as well as anything left over from my weekly budget. I know that four hours a week doesn’t sound like a great deal but when you add up the eight hours of classes a week and my minimum of six hours voluntary work as well, it all begins to add up.Chuck in research and I have very little free time, hence why I now have everything stuck to my wardrobe – daily planner style – it’s making life much smoother.
  • However, I am penciling time out for either my blog or general me-time. My current favourite break between research is to catch up on all the blogs I follow on bloglovin – you can follow me, see if we share common blog interests and read my blog all on that site.
  • Along with discovering some fantastic new blogs this week (particular favourites are Two Nerdy History Girls, College Prep and The History Girls), I’ve been listening to some new music. I’ve been on the hunt for some different music to accompany my fitness training and I’m currently loving Bastille’s ‘Bad Blood’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Prism’. I’d recommend Bastille for chill-out music as it’s not quite as up-beat as my usual music, but they sound amazing. Katy Perry doesn’t really need an explanation – it’s very feel-good. I know that some tracks from both with be appearing some time soon in a feel-good Friday post.
  • Another aspect of living on a budget I’ve found enjoyable is trying to come up with different meals using things already in the house to reduce my spending. Admittedly my cupboards and freezer are now practically empty, so I’ll be replenishing them on Monday, but it’s made me realise what I actually had in. I made pancakes for breakfast on Sunday (making extra to warm up Monday morning) which was a first and I think I’ll make them occasionally as a special treat. I think my favourite meal I created was tuna lasagna – very similar to tuna pasta bake, but I added cannellini beans, lasagna sheets and topped it with a cheese sauce. That was mainly so I could empty out my cupboards/freezer and I’m looking forward to browsing my cook books for more potential recipes to try/adapt.
  • I went out yesterday evening after my Oxfam shift with two friends from my course into Liverpool. We had a browse around the shops then went to see ‘Wolf of Wall Street’. I personally did not enjoy the film that much – it was too long, the plot was hazy at best and it just did not appeal to me in any way. However the set of films we aim to go see next month (how quickly has February snuck up?!) are all either history related or children’s animation – much more my taste!
  • After having a horrendous cold over the weekend, I’m definitely on the mend now. All that’s left to go is my runny nose (the worst bit really) but I imagine that will go some time next week. I’d have rather I was totally heathy for going home, but beggars can’t be choosers. At least I managed to read a fair bit … shame it wasn’t for my dissertation!
  • I’m very excited about my trip home tomorrow. I have to pack between now and swimming later as I want it all done before bed. I’ll be getting my usual set of trains, although due to a slight timing issue, I had to pay extra to get my train to York. The plus side to that expense is that I’m going first class so Transpennie had better have improved the service since last time. If not they’ll be getting another snotty email! I can’t wait to see how my babies have grown and to see the rest of my family. It was Mum’s birthday on Wednesday and Grandad’s birthday is tomorrow, so there’ll be some form of celebratory gathering I’m sure.

All things dog

I’m currently reading The Search by Nora Roberts and one particular quote stuck with me a couple of nights ago. It’s a romantic crime novel, something I love from this author (as those who look at my Goodreads feed will notice) and I picked it up at my local library when I was home. It’s particularly relevant at the moment because the female protagonist is a dog trainer so I’m picking up little tips and tricks for trying when I next go home. Anyway here’s the quote by Samuel Butler which was tagged onto the start of part two of the novel:

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.

I’ll admit it made me a little homesick reading this because I’m missing out on Mabel and Marvin growing up – Mum keeps sending me photos on WhatsApp of them. She’s knitted Marvin a little jacket for when he goes on a walk because he’s grown out of one, but is still too small for his proper coat, and the weather back home is apparently dreadful. The other photo is Marvin’s new ears – he’s gradually getting big boy ears rather than his adorable floppy puppy ones. At the moment only one has gone ‘adult’ but the other is supposedly catching up!