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.

 

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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

Adventures

My first alphabet post and I thought it would be relevant to do it based on my recent ‘Adventures in Berlin’ trip. So here’s some of my photos of the trip:

And here’s some relevent links to:

The only other thing I really wanted to share a link to but now can’t find the website for, is the River Cruise, but I would highly recommend one over taking the Hop-on bus, especially if you already have your transport tickets (for the tube/normal buses), as it is far more relaxing and offers a different viewpoint of Berlin’s sights. We picked up our cruise directly outside the DDR museum (see hands-on for more information).

I hope you have enjoyed my last section of holiday blogs, and when in doubt on an attraction, Tripadvisor it!

Recovery and the wonders of nature

Apologies about the delay in the last holiday post – I wasn’t fully connected to the airport WiFi when I was trying to upload it. Yesterday was tiring. We left the hotel not long before ten am (Berlin time) and I arrived home in Newcastle just after eleven pm (UK time). Needless to say it was a long day but everything went smoothly. So smoothly that I had nearly two hours to wait before my train back! I struggled to stay awake but I’m pleased I did – I spotted a den of foxes as the cubs were out playing! They were adorable and made me a little weepy because we use to see the foxes around our fields all the time when we walked our dog Betty. I still miss her but I was chuffed to have spotted the foxes. It’s amazing what technology is stopping us from seeing, as I could have been completed absorbed in my tablet rather than watching the rain pour down the window and have missed them. My dad picked me up from the station and it was lovely to see him and just have some one to chat to. I don’t even know how much sense I made as I rambled on about the trip I was that tired. Once I got in the house I ate the tea Mum had left me, waited for them to come back from dancing, gave them their gifts and fell into bed.

It was a real struggle to get up this morning, I could’ve slept for hours, but I would have felt dreadful for it and more importantly I was back at work. My next day off is Sunday and I’m looking forward to my lie-in! Once I was on my bike it was easy enough to slip back into the routine. Good news is that my contract has been extended by another week as they need me to cover more shifts. I’m not complaining – the job is different every day and quite enjoyable for something that isn’t teaching history! On my way back home, I interrupted a kestrel’s snooze and it flew alongside me for a bit. Another wonderful glance of nature’s finest.

As I’m writing this (trying desperately to stay awake), I can hear the rain pattering outside and it’s made me realise that most of the nature I’ve spotted recently have been in the rain. Maybe everything is trying to absorb as much of the rain as possible after the insane heat we’ve had for the past few weeks. Mind I’ve not been in the UK for a week and I know the weather has been patchy at best up North. However when we landed in Manchester yesterday we flew some pink clouds, which baffled us until we turned the corner of the runway – we’d landed in a rainbow! They’re one of my favourite things about the rain – even if you end up drenched to the skin, there’s still some colour in the sky and a fresh smell in the air. It’s not all doom and gloom!

Starting from tomorrow I’m going to try to complete one of my summer to-do items – an alphabet blog a day. So tomorrow’s blog is hopefully going to be a selection of photos and tourist stuff from my Berlin trip. I fully intended to do that tonight but I got side-tracked by the rain and I need my energy sleep. I may even have worked out how the gallery format works by then…

Day 1: Drama, delays and fussy eaters

Today was a long day. I was up at 5.40 this morning to get ready for the train. Everything went smoothly this morning for our train trip (although two were pushing the time limit) but there was an accident on the motorway which delayed our main leader a fair bit. They still made it with plenty of time but it caused a slight panic. Originally we were getting a direct flight from Manchester to Berlin but the company changed our flights to Manchester – Munich – Berlin. The flights went well, we got a snack on both sets of flights and only had a fifteen minute delay in Munich which we made up. I was asked for my age on the flight as I asked for a glass of red wine – only to then forget how old I was – but it turned into flirtation which was amusing and a grill way to start the holiday.

Once we had our luggage, we were greeted by a member of the North West county team who took our group photo (we looked a bit more awake by then I imagine) and directed us to our hostel. It took an incredibly hot bus and train trip to get to the hostel, and then we had to walk around the building a while as we tried to locate the entrance. The hostel itself is wonderful – I’ll put a link up later on as I would highly recommend it – with spacious rooms and en suites. We couldn’t be bothered to venture too far out for tea so went to the restaurant on site. Everyone enjoyed their meal (the calzone was a bit of a let down as it was just ham and cheese, no sauce!) so much so they were selecting what they wanted to order tomorrow!

Tomorrow is going to be a day of getting to know Berlin, so we’ll be on a tour bus and doing a historic walk. I hope to make my promise at some point over the trip and I’d love to do it on a historic site to make it even more memorable. In the evening we are going to a chocolate factory which sounds ace. It’s another earlyish start tomorrow so it’s off to bed for us now.

Getting ready for a Girl Guide Adventure

Technically I’m writing this while in Berlin but yesterday I spent the day preparing for and travelling down to Liverpool. The morning was a bit of a rush as I was at the dentist (I have all four wisdom teeth in without even realising they’d come through!) then dashed to Newcastle to get all the guide train tickets before getting my watch fixed and meeting Grandma in Wallsend. I had a lovely day out with my mum and grandma as we went shopping for a bit in Shields along with a light brunch of scone and tea. It was a really pleasant day out – I really enjoy spending the day with my family, even more so now that I’m limited to having only two days off aweek.

It was a slightly rushed evening as there was a problem with the metro when I was travelling to Central Station. We had just started to move from the platform when the driver had to slam the emergency breaks on without warning. I never quite worked out what the reason for our delay was (the driver apologised profusely the whole time but the reason was a bit crackly over the announcement) but I still made it to the station with thirty minutes to spare. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful aside from when I boarded the train to be pushed back by impatient commuters. Clearly ladies first/common courtesy doesn’t exist in a commuters world! It was lovely to see one of my housemates for a bit in the evening and have a decent catch up. All I had to do was get a decent nights sleep and wake up in time in the morning…

I’ve got another two and a bit months to fill…

I’ve found that while I’m cycling to and from work I start to work up different mundane lists (therefore you have fair warning that a few may be appearing in this blog). One of the lists that I keep coming back to is what to do during my rather extended summer holiday. Here’s twenty that I can remember and I’m sure the list will expand even as I cross items off!

  1. Finish the baby blanket for my cousin’s imminent new arrival
  2. Visit the Austen exhibition at Belsay Hall
  3. Visit the Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham
  4. Take my niece to Stephenson Railway Museum for the day
  5. Spend the day at South Shields Ocean Beach – I did this a few years ago with a group of friends and it was a brilliant day out
  6. Cycle to Newcastle with my Grandad (I’m old enough to do the pub bit now!)
  7. Try some new cycle routes in the area
  8. Do a walking pub crawl in Newcastle (but only proper pubs)
  9. Day trip to York – including the less touristy sites for dissertation research
  10. Make a dent in said dissertation research
  11. Visit Hadrian’s Hall (and not just the bit at Segedunum!)
  12. Have a picnic
  13. Go to an open mic night or something similar
  14. Go speed dating – more to be able to say I’ve done it than anything serious
  15. Do an alphabet blog per day (likely to begin in August)
  16. Try and read at least one ‘classic’ novel – maybe an Austen or Dickens novel
  17. Make a start on Dad’s list of recommended films
  18. Try something new at least once a week
  19. Try to spend as much time with the people who matter
  20. And overall enjoy the time off as much as possible

I guess it’s fairly obvious from this list that I’m working in Tourist Information and with only two days off a week I’m going to be pretty busy over the summer. However it is my last official summer holiday as an undergrad, as this time next year I should be graduating (fingers crossed!), so I want to try to make the most of my extended recovery time. Here’s hoping for good weather, company and health!