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


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:



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!

Domestic goddess in training

What better way to break up a day of study by baking! I’m not giving the recipes out this time partly because one is tweaked from the student cookbook I use, From Pasta to Pancakes, so it’s not really mine to share, and the other because it was a cheat bake.

One of my all time favourite bakes to make is banana bread. I have many fond memories of making/eating this with my mum and it’s an ideal way to use up battered bananas. In fact, we use to knock the bananas about a bit in the hope that Mum would get the hint and make it. When my bananas started getting a little brown, I decided I was going to make it at some point over the weekend. When it came to making it, I didn’t have enough banana, so I added 150g of mixed fruit alongside a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I didn’t completely mush the bananas into the mixture, and I think I’ll do it this way in future because the result is a gooey slice with quite an intense banana flavour. The additional fruit gives it a citrus tang which is also rather pleasant. My aunt adds chocolate drops instead of mixed fruit for another delicious banana bread combo. I’m going to try that next time around. I’ve now got eight slices in the freezer to treat myself to over the next few weeks. I would personally recommend that cookbook just for the banana bread, but there are many other recipes in there that I use throughout the year including a delicious cottage pie and I intend to try the roast dinner. If you are interested, you can purchase it from Amazon here.

Scrummy banana bread with a twist

Whilst the banana bread was baking, I moved onto my next project – bread. Now this is my little cheat that I’ve mentioned before. I use a packet of bread mix because it works out cheaper than having to buy a bag of bread flour each time I wish to make a loaf, plus it takes out any additional faff, because lets face it, making bread is fiddly enough. This time round it was parmesan and sun-dried tomato bread and it smelt/tastes amazing! I’m still a novice when it comes to making bread and there’s still room for improvement given that once again the buns came out more like boulders. But just like last time, I know how to improve this mistake. Whereas my water and room temperature were too cold with the last batch, this time I made too many out of the mixture. Ideally you’re supposed to get ten out of this mixture, and I should have just stuck to the uneven eight that I had rather than make them smaller and pray they’ll rise. I was a bit disappointed with it because my bread doubled in size during proving, showing that I had got the hard bit right! I just mucked it up a bit with my portion sizes. They are really tasty though and I had a little giggle at my method of keeping the room warm (I’ve been given another technique to try next time).


Not a bad way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon between studying documents on Fascism in Italy really.

Two and a bit months filled…

Remember that summer list I posted back in July? Well it’s back and compiled into one list (rather than the two original ones) and I have to say that given I only had two days a week off for most of the holidays, I think I did alright with it. Some of it can be put on a back burner until either Christmas or next summer. I’ve struck off the ones I completed and linked them to the correct post (if one exists) for further reading.

  1. Finish the baby blanket for my cousin’s imminent new arrival – unfortunately this will be completed in time for Christmas
  2. Visit the Austen exhibition at Belsay Hall
  3. Visit the Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham – I’m gutted about missing this as it was a once-in-a-lifetime event, but the cost and time it would need was just unrealistic when you consider doing it on public transport
  4. Take my niece to Stephenson Railway Museum for the day – I think this will have to wait until next year
  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 – and again this will have to wait although we did go to South Shields for Sound Waves…
  6. Cycle to Newcastle with my Grandad (I’m old enough to do the pub bit now!) – and a lovely day out we had
  7. Try some new cycle routes in the area – I went to Blyth, work, Killingworth and Lemmington on my bike
  8. Do a walking pub crawl in Newcastle (but only proper pubs) – this will definitely be completed soon!
  9. Day trip to York – including the less touristy sites for dissertation research – again I reckon by the end of the year I’ll have made the visit
  10. Make a dent in said dissertation research – well it was a struggle but I’m getting there!
  11. Visit Hadrian’s Hall (and not just the bit at Segedunum!) – sadly this didn’t happen despite the glorious weather
  12. Have a picnic – technically I had one on my lunch break by the seaside. Yes it wasn’t quite what I imagined but I still had one
  13. Go to an open mic night or something similar – The Suggestibles were about as close to this as I managed but then improv comedy is very similar
  14. Go speed dating – more to be able to say I’ve done it than anything serious – so nearly went on Thursday but I’d already made plans. Gutted. That could’ve been a hoot.
  15. Do an alphabet blog per day (likely to begin in August) – just click on August 2013 at the side and read all you like
  16. Try and read at least one ‘classic’ novel – maybe an Austen or Dickens novel – I read Persuasion by Jane Austen and actually quite enjoyed it although Ann did at times grate on my nerves. You may be able to find my review on it if you flick through the Goodreads widget to the right.
  17. Make a start on Dad’s list of recommended films – I watched Van Helsing and Hansel and Gretel, both of which I really enjoyed
  18. Try something new at least once a week – I think between the Graze boxes and general interests I’ve managed this fairly well. If you want to read any of it just click on the ‘Try something new’ tag on the right
  19. Try to spend as much time with the people who matter – I certainly did this as much as possible
  20. And overall enjoy the time off as much as possible – again I think I did this fairly well, especially once I was working and only had two days a week to do what I wanted
  21. Make a phone sock/case and maybe a new tablet case. The phone one is of greater need – It still is the greater need and will be made once the blanket is complete.
  22. Read a steam punk novel – I’ve read a few without realising it, but I quite enjoyed Soulless by Gail Carriger and have a few others lined up. It’s not a bad genre.
  23. Attend part of the EAT! festival – And what a let down I found it. Maybe next year will be better
  24. Improve my photography skills. I might have to settle for just taking some fairly nice pictures instead! – I took some lovely ones done on the Quayside and of St. Mary’s Lighthouse
  25. Have another shot at nail art using either the stamps or pens – I settled for just painting them pretty colours and then using Leighton Denny Cocktail colours to change the overall colour.

15 out of 25 isn’t bad all things considering. I’ll make a proper list in advance next year.

Peddle power and sore bums

I finally managed to go on my cycle ride with my Grandad. We cycled along the Quayside onto Lemmington. My whole journey covered just over 35 miles as I had to travel to and from my grandparents house.

I had a wonderful day out with my Grandad as we had lovely weather and enjoyed each others company. Grandad told me an awful lot about the local history as we cycled along the 72 Hadrian’s Way route. I found it fascinating and fully intend to make the trip again with Grandad and hopefully with Mum. We made a turn-around at the Keelman Pub in Lemmington to refuel before we made the return trip home. Due to the amount of hills on the way, we decided to take the Coast Road route back as it was mostly on the flat.

Still it was the longest route I’ve ever done on my bike and I certainly felt every bump on the way back. Mind, I didn’t feel the pain the next day which was a surprise given how tender I felt once I got off my bike!

Third year hasn’t really been all smooth sailings so far…

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve not been having the most successful start of my third and final year at uni – my course options were incorrect and then my timetable was late and also incorrect… yeah I haven’t really felt all that encouraged by this start. Then today seemed almost like the icing on the cake.

Everything this morning was going really well – all my stuff fitted into my cases, I saw everyone else I needed to see and we got to the station in plenty of time. Good job we did as when I checked the departure board, my train had been cancelled! No reason, nothing. Nada. I was fuming! I had two large cases, a rucksack and a handbag – all because I thought I was on the one train back to Liverpool. Thank goodness I went to see the East Coast guy who told me that I had to get the next train to York and then change there onto my original train. Not ideal, but at least I was going to get back.

All this was rather heavy and difficult to lug around

When I was in a spare seat in first class (I’d paid the extra originally so I could fit all my luggage nearby me) I was in awe of the luxury. I’ve never been in first class on East Coast and it was lovely – plush seats and a complementary meal and drink! Transpennie need to seriously consider their first class in comparison – the service I experienced on that train was truly worth the additional expense. Anyway, there I was trying to calm down and enjoy the trip when a rather rude ticket inspector got me all riled again. Sure he might have been doing his job, but he didn’t have to be so inconsiderate! He told me that I was on the wrong train (not my fault I was told to get that train) and that he should kick me off or make me pay for the ticket! I think he realised that I was close to kicking off about it all so he was all ‘But I’ll be nice and let you stay on board’. Dang right he’d let me stay on seeing as I was told to get that train and if I’d got the other train I’d have missed my original train. Not a happy bunny.

Anyway the rest of that journey went without a hitch and I then I had to find my original train at York. I found it alright, but it was then further delayed. It had been sitting there for ages and they waited until ten minutes before we were due to leave to clean it out! We didn’t end up boarding until the time we were meant to leave and then we were told we had to wait a further fifteen minutes in Leeds. I just ignored all the additional anger that could easily have built up and just read my book. Everything can be made better with a good book.

So yeah, in the end I made it back to my scouse house in decent enough time. Tomorrow I have my first lecture although I need to sort out my timetable first thing in the morning. Things look like it isn’t all going to that bad – after all I’ve got the next two days to sort things out and get everything in running order.

Heritage Open Days

(I started writing this on the 13th and can’t be bothered to change the tenses etc)

Between Thursday 12th and Sunday 15th September, all across the country various free events are being offered to the public. Last year I was working for the majority of the days, but I managed to go visit Tynemouth Lighthouse with my Grandad. This year, I wasn’t meant to working, so I booked us on a few tours on the Thursday and Friday as I’ll be celebrating my 21st over the weekend.

Yesterday I met my Grandad outside Central Station and we walked down to the Quayside. We were slightly early so we had a half in one of Grandad’s favourite ‘old man pubs’. It was a lovely little pub, very quaint and traditional. A definite one to include in the daytime old pub crawl I want to do with my mates before we go back to uni. If you go you have to check out the stained glass windows when you visit, they are gorgeous. It was the quickest half of cider I’ve ever drank though as we realised we had to be at the Swing Bridge in five minutes.

The Swing Bridge tour was really interesting. I knew the guy who did the talk as he Freemasons with my stepdad. The bridge is one of seven which cross the Tyne and it’s a fascinating piece of machinery. Even to someone who wasn’t got a clue about engineering. As the name suggests, the bridge rotates to let the river traffic through. We were given a demonstration of the hydraulics and another moving section but I didn’t fully understand/can’t remember properly what they did. Unfortunately the bridge didn’t swing when we were there, but it is an impressive sigh to see.

From the Swing Bridge we walked along the River Tyne to The Quayside which is a Lloyd’s/Weatherspoons for Curry Thursday. Nothing quite makes a day out in town with my Grandad like having a curry and  pint whilst being surrounded by some of Newcastle’s history. The pub is in a rather old building which still has some original features such as the pulley system outside the river-facing window which was used to haul up the goods from the boats. It’s little snippets of history like that that I grew up on and is probably one of the reasons why I adore the subject so much.

Once we’d filled our tummies and quenched our thirst, we walked back up into town towards the Central Station to go to the Lit and Phil. It’s correct title is The Literary and Philosophical Society, but it is known locally as the Lit and Phil. The history of this building is simply fantastic. We both really enjoyed the tour and are considering becoming members as their book collection is phenomenal! Our tour guide was lovely and it was very informative.

The next day we cycled to The Rising Sun Country Park. Now I’ve been walking through the Rising Sun since I was a bairn as it’s right next to my grandparents and my Grandad worked in the Pit there. Needless to say, I’ve been brought up with stories of the Pit and educated on the various wildlife that lives in the country park. This time though we went down to participate in a guided walk with the Friends of the Rising Sun. It was very informative and relaxed, we both had a wonderful time. Between the childhood memories of birdwatching at the Swallow pond and walking up the Pit Heap, and taking in the beautiful greenery of the Park, it’s still one of my favourite places to walk through.

Next year I would like to do the Guildhall tour in Newcastle as it looks really interesting. We’ll see what happens…