I’m back I promise!

My sincerest apologies readers! I knew it had been a while since I last blogged but I honestly did not think it had been nearly two months! That is simply not acceptable and I am going to make a firm effort to post at least once a week. The reason behind my absence is my teaching course. I’m about six weeks into it now and I’ve finally settled into a form of routine. We all know I’m all about routine which is why, unfortunately, this blog has suffered from my neglect. But as I’ve said, no more! I want this blog to reflect my current thoughts and interests, so expect more reviews on beauty products (I have a load to share) and historical and teaching interests.

Just a quick run through on everything that’s happened since I last blogged:

  • I started my teaching course in Peterlee so my confidence in driving has greatly improved, I’ve made lots of new friends and I’m thoroughly enjoying being a trainee magpie (ideas not physical stealing of course)
  • I turned 22! And yes I did spend the majority of the day singing that Taylor Swift song. I also spent the morning on a WWI walk around a local cemetery, despite having been horrendously ill the whole weekend with a bug (I’d been sent home from school I was that ill).
  • As you might have guessed from how I spent my birthday, I’ve taken full advantage of being home by signing up for lots of different historical talks. It’s amazing once you start looking how many free talks there are in the area! So far I’ve been to a variety of talks from the Tudors to WWI. I’ve got quite a few lined up over the next month or so, and I’ll probably mention them in future posts.
  • My social life has picked up thanks to my course. The fact that I’m home also helps as I’m catching up with all my school friends as well.
  • I’ve also got a couple of trips lined up over the remainder of the year (isn’t that a scary thought – 2014 has flown by!). The first of which is in a couple of weeks to visit my uni friends in Liverpool for a mini girlie reunion.
Miss Nichol-WIlson - check out my teacher face!

Miss Nichol-Wilson – check out my teacher face!

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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!

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

  • 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

  • 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.

Feel-good Friday – ‘Transylvania’

I was doing a music cull/expansion on my phone last week and when I created my playlist this tune had to be included. It’s one of my favourite McFly tracks and I always associate this with when I saw them at the Royal Albert Hall – Dougie played the organ for the start (huge fangirl moment). I also love the historic reference in it – it seemed incredibly apt for this week’s feel-good tune.

Enjoy!

* I did this post then tried to find the original video on YouTube only to discover that it’s been deleted! Half the fun of this song is the video, so I had to settle for this version – it’s the original video with Spanish subtitles – it’s as close to what I wanted as I’m going to get.

What’s occurring

  • I received my two essays back and I was absolutely over the moon. As I mentioned last week I was more concerned with my Dictators essay but I was graded a mid 2.1, which I was bowled over by. I was not expecting anything as good as that, especially after the lecture we had that in my mind discredited everything I’d written. But then that is the joy of history – providing you have substantial evidence to support your theory, you can’t really be wrong. Then on Tuesday I received my next essay. My maritime essay was awarded a first! That’s bumped this year up to a first overall so far – the pressure is well and truly on!
  • On Saturday night my housemate and I were incredibly spontaneous and bought tickets for the Isle of Wight festival in June. We’d discussed the possibility of going to a festival before Christmas and decided to have a nose around to see which we would enjoy. Next thing we knew we were set on that one and booking it! If we enjoy it this year, we’ll get the early bird offer next year – we missed out it by two days which was a bit gutting. This summer is going to be amazing!
  • I’m back into a proper fitness regime now. I survived getting up a 6.10am on Monday to go swimming and thoroughly enjoyed the early exercise. As for the gym, I’m doing a combination of running and toning to try to prepare my body for the Liverpool Spring 10k. Thankfully my blisters have nearly healed over.
  • I tried an interesting dessert on Sunday evening. The house fridge/freezer stopped working on Friday (the new one is due tomorrow) so I had to use up as much of my stuff in the fridge as possible. This week there’s been four people sharing one fridge/freezer which has been a bit of a squeeze. My dad suggested this little recipe to use up the last of my creme fraiche. I love using it on pasta, but this is a sweet dish. Simply add a sachet or three teaspoons of drinking chocolate to over 100ml of creme fraiche, stir and freeze. I used Options Go Bananas and it was a lovely treat – a bit like frozen yogurt really.
  • My uni courses swapped this week – I’m now studying Criminal Punishment in England since c.1800 instead of Modern European Dictators and the English Civil War instead of English Maritime Expansion and sitting in on A Taste of War instead of Post War Russia. I know I’m going to love all three.
  • I’ve started back at work again this week – a couple of shifts a week with make a huge difference to my budget and saving!
  • Last night I went to Mei Mei in Liverpool for the Oxfam Christmas meal – it was a lovely meal and such a laugh! I’m going to miss the girls so much when I move back home!
  • I’m really excited at the moment because I’ve just bought and decorated a new travel cup. I like taking a hot drink into uni with me, but the one I was using before had a tendency to spill on my hand if I walked too quickly. I spotted this groovy little cup online and have hunted the Starbuck stores in Liverpool (because I refused to pay an extra £4.50 for postage). I finally found it today. It’s a small ‘Create Your Own’ tumbler from Starbucks. Now I’m not a huge fan of their coffee (more of a Costa girl) but the lids are really impressive – this one should manage a lot better with the quick walk to uni! I struggled a bit with the design, purely because it got scratched when I was trying to take it out. I drew a quick idea the other night using a few quotes I’ve pinned and added some doodles. It’s definitely my coffee cup!