What’s occurring

It may only be Thursday but this week has been brilliant! If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter then you’ll already know why I can’t stop grinning. Here’s one of the reasons:

 

Woop!

I did it! All my worrying about dropping down a grade was apparently unnecessary! If you regularly read this blog then you were probably sick to death of me harping on about missing out on a first if my dissertation and exams went to pot. I would still have been delighted with a 2.1, it is a fantastic grade, but I finished second year on a first and the majority of my assessments were coming back within the first bracket as well. I really wanted my overall grade to truly represent all the hard work I’ve consistently put in over the three years. I think part of that comes from slacking off a bit during year 12 (As level), which resulted in a mixed bag of grades that I loathe putting down on job applications because frankly I slipped up academically for one year and I dislike the way it looks on paper. Call me all kinds, but that year taught me some valuable lessons which I have grafted to correct. And it’s worked!

So yeah, long story short, I shall be graduating in a few weeks with a First Class Honours in History with Theology! I hope everyone else is equally as happy with their results.

My other bit of excellent news is that I am only one step away from completing all my requirements to begin my teaching course in September. Admittedly its the most daunting one as well – the dreaded numeracy skills test! I passed my literacy skills test on Wednesday, the day after I got my uni results. I was really nervous for the test because it is the luck of the draw for which spellings and tasks you get. I’d highly recommend doing the government practice tests online before you sit the test because it is slightly different to some of the apps and books (but still use them because you can’t revise too much for these tests!).

This week I became ‘Tawny Owl’. That’s right, I’ve joined the Brownie unit I assisted on the Starquest trip in May and that’s my name within the unit. I’m looking forward to this new challenge, I’ve never worked with this age group before and it’s another chapter in my Girl Guiding experience. Straight after Brownies I now assist with a Guide unit which I have been loosely connected with since I became a Ranger. I’m looking forward to continuing with my Guiding commitments now that I’m home.

My final bit of news is that I start work next week. I’m back in Tourist Information and I know it’s going to be an excellent eight weeks!

Advertisements

An end of an era…

*Warning!* Not only is this post tempting clich√©s, it is also incredibly likely to be rather long given that I’m updating you on just shy of a months worth of socialising (ha) and general shenanigans. But I think it’s allowed, given I’ve just moved home after finishing three years as an undergraduate at Liverpool Hope University.

After my last post at the start of the month, I had two weeks to revise for six hours of exams. I didn’t think the pressure would be too bad, given that it was a seen paper and I usually manage pretty well with exams. This time round though things got a little bit too stressful for my liking. I think it was because I knew that the exams could have a massive impact on my final grade. I didn’t want to throw it away at the last-minute and let myself down. Regardless, I knuckled down and I think, with hindsight, they actually went ok. Three hours was a long time to sit and write continuously, and my blood pressure acted up during both the exams, but stress can do that. I simply had to bite back the panic and use it to fuel my work. I’d still rather take essays over exams any day!

Within an hour of my last exam I was on route to Lime Street station for a weekend at home. It was a wonderful weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my family without feeling guilty over not working. I spent Saturday acting as a Brownie leader at the North East regional event for the Brownie centenary. This was during the hottest day the North East has experienced so far in 2014. Doesn’t sound too bad as it is the North East of England, but we were melting. The event was outdoor and while we all had a great day, there wasn’t enough sunscreen to stop us burning. That evening I went out for a family meal with Mum’s side of the family as my aunt and uncle were visiting from Australia. We had a lovely meal and it was fab to see them but I was shattered by the end of the meal after a day in the sun as a Brownie leader! I got home only to be requested out by Mum to join them at the local pub where they were celebrating a birthday. I went because it was a chance to relax with Mum and my stepdad after months of uni commitments. We had a lazy day on Sunday, mainly dog walking and spending time at the allotment. On Monday I had an interview for my old summer job. I have since heard back that my interview was successful, but I won’t find out where or when I start until my medical and references are returned. I treated myself to a pamper at my local beauticians, including an eyelash perm, before I met Mum at the train station for a cuppa before my train home. The train was a direct one to Liverpool! About time Transpennine started that service up again, just as I’m leaving! Anyway, I left sunny Newcastle behind and arrived in Liverpool just in time for a huge thunderstorm. Terrifying. Honestly, they’re one of my biggest fears, so being on a bus did not help.

The week that followed my trip home was spent in placement during the day and socialising during the evening. Seriously, I went pretty much the whole of my undergraduate degree being a social hermit, only to spend just about every evening of my final two weeks in Liverpool out celebrating. I should however clarify that by ‘celebrating’, I actually mean going for a meal with friends and enjoying a glass of wine with it. That’s my ideal night out, second only to a cosy pub natter. One of the conditions for my September course is that I gain five days observation of key stage two. I currently have four days (due to the interview) and I am finalising the details of another similar placement back home to make up the missing hours. I was in a lovely primary school (I’m being totally honest here – the staff and majority of the students were gems) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It once again confirmed for me that while my heart is set on teaching, it is most definitely set on teaching secondary school history! I fully admire primary school teachers for the amount of knowledge they need, and I enjoyed acting as another teaching assistant when needed, but I’d want to rotate everything around history!

So the socialising. Well Tuesday night was the HisPol Society Ball. I opted to attend this event rather than the official Hope 2014 Grad Ball because frankly the majority of my classmates were going, it was slightly cheaper and looked far more entertaining. It was a cracking night. I have never enjoyed a night out at uni as much as I did that evening. The Ball had a 1920s theme and it was amusing to see how many stuck to it (about a handful, myself included, but I think every lass curled her hair!). Our ticket included a two course meal at Alma de Cuba (which I highly recommend a visit) and the rest of the evening was spent in a speakeasy! I admit, I squealed when we entered the speakeasy – it was behind a bookcase! How could I not?! The jazz band we had were fantastic and I danced the night away without a care in the world. Well apart from being conscious that I had to get the bus to school the next morning! From the speakeasy we went to one of the lads house for a house party, which admittedly flattened the atmosphere of the evening. I left about 1.15am and could have had a lie in the next morning as my first bus didn’t turn up! I was literally just in time for school, but it sure made me appreciate my car even more.

Over the course of the past two weeks I’ve had various leaving meals to thank everyone I’ve met over the three years. My Oxfam meal was cut short for me as I had to dash off to my final performance with Hope Concert Band (the date was changed for concert over Easter, by which point the meal had been booked) but I had a wonderful night out. I also had several meals out with my housemates before we respectfully moved out. We had a ‘girlie meal’ before we went to see Little Mix at the Echo (no surprise, they were AMAZING!) and we went for a house Mexican meal one lunch. I also attended a band BBQ, which despite the rain, was a hoot. I went for a Greek meal with my fellow guide leaders and later in the week pizza and cocktails, and I was treated by another friend to a two course, home-cooked, vegan meal which I thoroughly enjoyed (especially dessert!).

My grandparents visited me for a couple of days in my final week and we had a fantastic time. I thoroughly enjoyed showing them my adoptive city and sharing the places and knowledge I’ve gained. I’m considering doing a little tourist guide to Liverpool on here (alongside the beauty stuff, it will appear eventually I promise!) which will go more in-depth into my favourite areas of Liverpool.

Before the mayhem of packing occurred, I spent Saturday with my Scouse unit at the Big Gig at the Echo Arena. Big Gig is an amazing concert for members of GirlGuiding UK and I’ve been to a fair few over the years. The majority have been in London, and it just seemed like fate for my final Big Gig with 136th to be in Liverpool. It offers a variety of performers, some big names such as Pixie Lott, Lawson and Tinie Tempah (we’ve also had Sophie Ellis-Bexter, McFly, The Saturdays and Rizzle Kicks to name a few in previous years) and some new up-coming artists, including Loveable Rogues who were finalists in Britain’s Got Talent and Leah McFall from The Voice. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I treated it as a rehearsal for Isle of Wight festival (not long now!) and was raving away to Tinie Tempah and Kimberly Wyatt (much to the unit’s amusement!).

I’m typing this back at home as I moved back today. It took me just over a day to pack two years at Newcastle Road away. Even after filling the wheelie bin from empty, and taking a taxi to Oxfam with donations, it was still a close fit getting everything in, but we managed it. A huge thanks to my stepdad who left home at 4.20am to move me out. I was expecting him to arrive just before 8am, and I’m pleased I was up early and everything was sorted because 7.15am he knocked on my door! In less than fifteen minutes he’d played Tetris with my stuff and we were heading for home. By noon we’d arrived (after an incredibly posh service stop to stretch our legs) and I’ve done everything but unpack. Oops. I’ll get round to it tonight and tomorrow. So that’s you all up to speed, here’s some photos of some of the stuff I’ve mentioned and I pinky promise I’ll be better with the blogging for the near future!

What’s occurring

  • It’s been a fairly hectic week and I apologise for how late this post is! Admittedly, I don’t think there is that much to report – the majority of my week has been a mix of uni, research and work – not that different to usual really, but I’ve done a fair amount of research recently.
  • The Senior Section trip to Newcastle went really well! Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have noticed that food and markets were the main features of the weekend, accompanying the gorgeous historical backdrop of Newcastle and North Tyneside. It was a busy weekend, but we did everything on the itinerary! I’ll be planning the next two overnight trips over the next couple of months.
  • My class on Monday was a tour around St George’s Hall, Liverpool, with a local historian. It was really interesting. He knew pretty much every little detail about anything and everything¬†to do with capital punishment in the UK – including match details on the day of the trial. It certainly made for a memorable day trip and I’m still loving all my modules this semester. Let’s hope this continues seeing as I have two essays to write this month!
  • I will be getting back to doing a couple of other posts over the next week or so (other than my usual ones I mean). For a start I received my first set of freebies in the post on Wednesday from the lovely people over at Fair Squared as a thank you for this review. I will review them all in due time! I’ve got a few reviews in mind of some of my current lifesavers and I’m cranking up my beauty regime after being told that I have early signs of aging. I’m 21! Although I had to laugh as my recommended skin care regime was: wash, tone and then moisturise. Essentially exactly what I’ve been doing for the past eight or so years, I just have to remember to do it twice daily…
  • I’m another step closer to getting onto my course next year. I’ve got to call Occupational Health on Monday to finalise that paperwork and I popped into the primary school I’ll be doing my KS2 observation in May. I had to finalise the dates for that and I wanted to see the school/meet the staff etc, just to get a feel of the place. I honestly could not be happier with it! I was very lucky to get it as I struggled to find anywhere back home, but one of the girls in Oxfam has a friend in the school and it went from there. It’s all about connections really. That and sheer determination.
  • I went out on Thursday night – first with the HisPol society and then met my housemate for cocktails in Aloha. It was a cracking night and I’m really happy that my housemate and I met up – it’s been ages since our last night out and we had a hoot! This week I’ve felt very comfortable with my outfit choices. I know that probably sounds weird, but after a couple of weeks being poorly and thinking predominantly about warmth, it’s been fun to just dress for my mood. I’m particularly loving thin scarves snuggled around my neck, especially when I manage to pin my new Alice in Wonderland brooch artfully into the tangle.
  • My running is improving! I know it’s been a bit hit-and-miss what with being ill and/or super busy, but I was really chuffed with my run yesterday and I’m out again with Hannah for our run in the park tomorrow. Any recommendations for comfortable necessities for my 10k would be greatly appreciated.
  • I didn’t completely bomb my gobbet practice from last week. I got a 2.1 which is amazing given I had very little background/additional information to put to the document other than what we’ve learnt in class. It was definitely the confidence boost I needed. Now to just keep improving and absorbing as much information as possible!

What’s occurring

  • My running is improving – I went out with my running buddy on Sunday and I’ve definitely been bitten by the running bug again. I just want my cold to jog on far away because it’s making running uncomfortable. Despite this, I’m still going out as often as I can and once this weekend is over, I’m hoping to go out every day like I did in first year, with longer runs on my planned training days.
  • I’ve had two donations towards my local branch of the RSPCA – if you wish to be generous or just have a nose at adorable pictures of Mabel and Marvin and see updates about my training, then visit my JustGiving page.
  • My SALA portfolio is starting to take shape – I’ve been doing the award since I joined uni as it’s basically an extra acknowledgement of all my volunteering, but now I have to write it all up to match the evidence I’ve been gathering over the years. Originally I was told that Oxfam wouldn’t count, but I’m pleased I stuck with it as now they will accept it. As they should – I’ve picked up so many valuable skills through my role there.
  • I treated myself on Saturday while I was in Oxfam, after doing so well and not buying any new clothes for a while. I bought a Laura Ashley cardigan at an absolute bargain as it’ll be fantastic for when I’m on placement. I got a day-per-page diary reduced significantly down in the sale to make daily notes in (I’ve been eyeing it for while) and a Fiorelli handbag which was also a bargain and is ideal for days when I don’t want to use my lovely Radley bag.
  • Today however was the only dip in my enjoyable week. I won’t go into details, but I will be raising a few issues with some people to try to prevent it happening again. I will not be walked over in this instance!
  • Then to add to today’s chaos, I’ve been triple checking everything for tomorrow’s Senior Section trip to Newcastle. I printed out the train tickets today and I had a pile of 70 tickets, which I’ve sorted into numerical order per train so I know where we are kinda thing. Fingers crossed for an excellent weekend.
  • This week I’ve been a bit adventurous with my coffee. I have the mini set of Costa syrups and I only have the cinnamon one left to try. So far I’m not too fussed on the vanilla or caramel ones, which I was rather surprised with as I have quite a sweet tooth. Instead my favourite is the hazelnut syrup, it makes my coffee taste a bit like Ferrero Rocher, and the gingerbread one is pleasant, it fits the cold weather. I like adding them to hot chocolate as well, but I have to limit myself as to how many syrupy coffees I have – they aren’t the healthiest treats! The other coffee related attempt I’ve made was trying Starbucks Chi Spice Latte. I really wanted to like it, but again it was a touch too sweet for me and then kept hitting my with a bit of spice heat. I finished it, but I can still taste it in my mouth – I had it at lunch and have since eaten two meals – but it’s almost like it’s singed itself into my taste buds.

What’s Occurring

  • I can finally reveal what I’ve been hinting at for the past week – I have accepted an offer back home to study for my history PGCE! I’d gone back to Newcastle last week for the interview on Wednesday and I was prepared to treat it simply as a learning experience. I honestly did not expect to get the offer as there was only one position available and I was up against another candidate. With that thought, I think I relaxed a little bit as I didn’t expect to be chosen, so simply wanted to enjoy the opportunities the day presented. All I have to do now is pass my skills tests, various occupation tests and get five days work experience with KS2. Oh and obtain my degree! I’m so happy and it’s made looking to the future a lot easier now that it appears my hard work is paying off.
  • Alongside accepting my PGCE offer, I received my five years service award from Girlguiding UK at the division meeting! It was a complete surprise – the time has flown by. The timing couldn’t have been better seeing as I’m taking the Senior Section unit up to Newcastle next weekend.
  • I’ve had a couple of cooking successes this week – I bought some chicken thighs and used them in a chicken and chorizo paella and last night I made a big pan of chicken chasseur. The paella was divine – it’s replaced risotto as my favourite ‘show-off’ meal – I can’t wait to cook it for my family when I’m home. I’ve frozen two portions of the chasseur and had last night’s portion with smash (I am a student) and cheesy cauliflower/broccoli in a giant yorkshire pudding. An excellent home-comfort meal, especially given how foul the weather has turned in the UK.
  • After thinking I was finally over my cold from a few weeks ago, I woke up on Wednesday with a sore throat and since then it seems to have inflated. It’s so painful! However, I can’t complain really. My housemate is going through an unbelievably difficult time as her best friend passed away on Monday. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer only last month and unfortunately could not fight a chest infection. She was only twenty-two. I ask for all your prayers and thoughts for her friends and family who have been struck by this devastating loss. You can read her blog (booboochopple.wordpress.com) here – awareness needs to be made about aggressive cancer.

Festive filled weekends

In between two essays, I’ve had two rather busy weekends. The first was two weekends ago when my mum came down from Newcastle to visit me. We had a lovely weekend together and we spent the majority of it out shopping. I picked her up from the station after guides on Friday and we had a catch up before bed. She told me the incredibly sad news that our family cat, Whiskey, had unfortunately passed away last month, aged fifteen. He had a fantastic life and we were very lucky to have had so long with him. I will miss him loads, especially when I go home, but he’s back with his buddies Betty and Felix now. Mum had been forbidden to tell me about it until she came to see me, incase I was on my own because of how upset I’d be.

We spent Saturday in Manchester, and I must say we weren’t overly impressed, but I think that was partly because most of the market stalls were food related. We did get the majority of our Christmas shopping done and after a bit of chill time back in the house, we went to Cafe Sekander on Allerton Road. We had a fantastic meal, completely stuffing ourselves. On Sunday we went to the Winter Arts Festival in St George’s Hall, Liverpool. That was by far the best selection of stalls we saw over the weekend. I bought a couple of mementos of Liverpool for when I move back home. I cooked Mum my risotto for tea while we watched Strictly together, it makes all the difference watching the show with someone else! After church we went back into Liverpool One to see the Christmas lights. They don’t have anything as spectacular as Fenwick’s window, but it was still a wonderful walk along to the Docks and back. We had a lazy day on Monday before Mum had to catch her train back home. We both had a wonderful weekend and I can’t wait to spend more time with her when I’m home for Christmas.

Mum and I by the big Christmas tree in Liverpool

Missing my gorgeous boy already

Then this weekend I was off to West Kirby with my scouse guide unit for Christmas camp. Don’t worry it was indoors and thankfully the weather behaved itself. I ran some of the activities, including making truffles and peppermint/strawberry creams. We always made them at Christmas camp when I was a guide, but these guides seemed completely oblivious as to what they were! The girls were wonderful, they let us get a decent amout of sleep! An absolute miracle compared to last year. We also did plenty of crafts and had our Secret Santa and three course Christmas dinner on Saturday. I think Christmas camp is my favourite camp of the year, the atmosphere and activities are brilliant. It got me in an even bigger festive mood and when I got back from camp, I packed for going home on Friday. I never pack that early, but I’m just so excited for going home and seeing all my family again!

Another regular camp craft – place mat decoration

Soap and flannel Reindeer

Advent and apologies

First off, I apologise for my silence – third year has well and truly struck! I was away last week on a fieldtrip to Berlin and have spent the remaining time on both my dictators essay and PGCE application. I handed in my essay this morning, collected some textbooks for my next one and I’m going to tackle my application again tonight. I had it already to send off last week before I went away, only for UCAS to decide to make the box for my personal statement tiny. While my characters were under the limit and I was on 47 lines, that box claims that it’s 7 lines too long. After spending a week culling it, I’m going to tackle it a fresh once more and see what I can do with it. I’ll be happier once it’s all handed in. Instead I’m taking a breather from all things academic to do a little blogging and I intend to have a full on pamper session tonight.

I’ll start with the weekend before I went to Berlin as it was a bit of a mixed two days. I was pulling my hair out in tears at UCAS in the morning (pathetic I know but I felt like I’d put my heart and soul into it for nothing) before participating in the fashion event at my Oxfam shop. We’d been planning the event for a couple of months and I’m really pleased with how the public responded. Several of the volunteers and I stood in the window for two hours in various party outfits chosen from the shop and we all had great fun waving at the public. Despite the let down from the local newspaper, we still received a fantastic response from the public and the shop was pretty busy for most of the day once the Darby match had finished.

My hair and make up for the window – I am wearing a lovely dress but I wasn’t 100% certain with the hair

The following day involved a trip into Liverpool centre to get some last-minute items for Berlin. Seeing as the washing machine was still out of action, I had to buy a towel and I ended up treating myself to a new outfit – high-waisted jeans that actually fit and a cosy jumper. I’d gone into town with one of my friends from my course as we had half price tickets to see Ed Byrne. After our shopping we had tea at Wagamama’s, which was a pleasant change, and then we went to the Empire for the show. It was well worth the money and we had an excellent time.

From Monday to Friday last week I was in Berlin with the history, politics and media departments from uni. I went to Madrid with them last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I had high hopes for this trip. I certainly wasn’t disappointed! Thankfully the majority of the trip was completely different to my last visit to the city, although it did help knowing where things were in the centre and how to use the public transport. So far Berlin is my favourite place in the EU that I’ve been to, and I’d happily visit it again, especially when the Advent markets are there. We went to several and had a fabulous time. I started on my Christmas shopping and sampled lots of yummy food. There was plenty of free time available alongside optional and mandatory trips during our stay and I definitely got what I wanted out of the trip. For me it was all about the history, seeing as that’s what I paid the money for, and I feel like I could go back and still learn more about the rich history Berlin is steeped with. I could go on and on about the trip, but that would probably take too long. Instead I’ll give you a couple of snap shots of my favourite parts of the trip.

As much as I would have liked to take the weekend off to fully recover from the trip, I had several promises to keep. The first was to attend panto with my guide unit on the Friday evening. I literally landed and jumped on the first bus into town. I adore pantomimes, have done ever since I was a kid, and every year my Scouse guide unit go to see the rock and roll panto. I couldn’t let a little thing like a flight stop me from seeing my final panto with them. It was very entertaining, especially as I still had to get some of the local phrases explained to me. I probably would have appreciated it more, had I not been shattered and a little travel sick, but beggars can’t be choosers. When I eventually got home, it was straight to bed and a well-earned kip!

I spent the majority of the weekend finishing my research and writing my dictators essay. Boy am I pleased to be able to forget about that for a while! It’s been a real struggle as I’ve not enjoyed the topic as much as I usually do when writing an essay, but I’ve done the best that I could on it. On Saturday evening I performed with my university concert band at the Creative Campus and it was such a fantastic concert. I enjoyed it so much and look forward to our next two performances – Christmas staff service and then the Mother’s Day concert at the Palm House. I spent Sunday morning out with several members of the Amnesty Society participating in the 10th Santa Dash around Liverpool. Despite having to get up ridiculously early in the morning, it was such an uplifting and hilarious morning. There were literally thousands of Santas jogging around Liverpool and I hope everyone else who participated enjoyed it as much as we did. For some more information/photos from our outing, have a nose here and you can still donate if you wish here. Many thanks for everyone who has already donated and for all the support we’ve received.

After the Santa Dash

Now the final thing I’d like to mention in this post is my happiness that advent has arrived, although how quickly the year has gone! Not surprisingly after spending the morning in a Santa suit, I was feeling incredibly festive yesterday. I love everything to do with Christmas, although not so much the time and hassle it takes to get gifts etc. Part of the homily yesterday was about it being the time of patience and calm as we wait for the birth of Christ, so I am going to try to relax as much as I can and just enjoy the festive season. There’s so much to enjoy over the next few weeks as Mum is coming to visit for an extended weekend on Friday, Christmas camp is the following week once my final essay of this term has been handed in, and then I have a week to chill and pack before I go back home. And every day I get to open another door on my Ciate advent calendar! Tis the season!

Two of my favourite things – Advent and nail varnish!