Thursday, 30 June 2011

Today has been an epic see-saw of a day...

10:30am - Time to collect results. Disappointed with my dissertation mark, but not surprised.
10:35am - Pick up module results for the final 2 modules. Only, one has gone missing.
11:20am - Still no sign of my assignment, despite four different people now scouring the university for it. all lecturers on strike today.
12:05pm - My friends all go out for lunch without inviting me. "Friends"
12:20pm - Realise the ramifications of them having lost my work if it doesn't get found. Lots of tears.
12:21pm - Send panicky email to module leader. She says she is on the case.
1:45pm - Results emailed through. Gutted, actually, gutted. I've been bordering on a first for my entire degree and slip up at the final hurdle. 2:1 it is then.
1:46pm - My school ring. They have had a teacher pull out for September and wonder if I would perhaps like to teach year 3 instead next year. Very happy, year 3s are my ideal year group and I could not be happier!
2:50pm - My headteacher rings to tell me about a dangerous, nasty family who live on my road. And oh yeah, their son is in my class.

What a fucking, awful day. Excuse my French.


Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Decision making and being quite terrified.

I have always known I am dreadful at making decisions.

Unless I have a very strong preference either one way or the other, I need a second person to help me make the decision, to help me balance my logic and generally to confirm/dispute any 'vague ideas' I might have about whatever I'm deciding. I knew, therefore, that this would be something that I have to get over as I move out this week and take on all responsibility from everything from furniture, bills to choosing which cereal to buy. The cereal issue, in particular, is one I always find difficult. I mean, you walk down the cereal aisle and there are so many choices, all of differing tastes, prices, nutritional value, ones which are more filling, ones which are branded, ones which are not... and it isn't something that I have a strong preference for, I like lots of different cereals, and therefore I have always been quite ridiculously overwhelmed by this ordeal.

(Slightly dramatic but it really is one of my anxiety triggers).

So it's no wonder really that I have spent nearly 3 days selecting all my furniture. And even in doing that, I needed my Mum's opinion on a few things, but finally I did manage to come to a decision and place my order today. That was an ordeal in itself, and it will leave me pretty-much housebound for a fortnight whilst I wait in for deliveries, but I actually have my own furniture. Furniture I chose and furniture I now have to live with whether I like it or not - I only have myself to blame and, that thought, I find very scary. Which is why, I guess, I find making decisions about expensive things difficult and why I usually try to avoid it.

But no more! It will be one of those things I have to do and have to get used to whether I like it or not which, let's face it, is the best way to get over stupid little hang-ups like this.

Although I do have to go food shopping and choose some cereal on Saturday...

Shall I just have toast for breakfast?

Anyway, in other news, the managing agent rang me yesterday to say they had painted every wall, door and ceiling in the flat, that it was being cleaned today by a "team of professional cleaners" and that the door and chain were also being fixed today. Which is great news, and a great comfort to see I have such pro-active managing agents who are straight on the case of any problems. He said he would ring back to confirm it had all been done and other than insisting that he goes round to personally inspect the property, which clearly was not done before, I'll finally be ready to move in on Saturday.

Just the case of university results day tomorrow...

As if I'm not anxious enough this week.


(As literate as ever...)

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

So, I've moved!

Although, surprisingly enough (I did think things were going far too well by my standards) my luck has run out and the flat was not much short of a disaster.

The letting agents went on and on to me about the conditions of my deposit, "we expect it to be returned in the immaculate condition you find it in today" blah blah blah and yet when I turned up, the place was disgusting. It stank of smoke, the whole place quite frankly needs repainting (which I'm annoyed about because, surely if the previous tenant lived there for five years, it would of COURSE need a lick of paint before anyone else moved in) and to say it was "immaculate" in terms of cleanliness was so far short of the mark you couldn't even see the mark. The kitchen was disgusting, the carpet needed more than a damn good hoover, and the bathroom quite frankly needed industrial-strength bleach across the whole thing. Clearly in the four weeks since I looked around nothing has been cleaned in the slightest and as a consequence it was rank.

So I put on my grumpy face and marched back to the agents (who manage the property) and, armed with a list, demanded that it will all be sorted by the time I come back with the rest of my stuff on Saturday. Which, whilst it seemed like an inconvenience at first, having to traipse all the way back down to Devon for this week, is now a blessing in disguise. I wouldn't have slept on that floor if you'd paid me, and I told the gentleman who deals with my property as such. He was very apologetic and confirmed that he would have cleaners, painters and decorators sent out for the next day and that I could ring on Thursday to confirm but it would all have been dealt with by then.

So on Saturday, I will finally move all of my things and have my furniture delivered into a "pristine" flat which will not even need a hoovering, or so I am told, and I can finally play house. Cannot wait!

Although, now I'm stuck on hold to various companies to sort out the boring details about bills. It has at least given me time to write this though, I've been on hold to EDF for nearly 40 minutes.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Why it's OK to be single.

Recently, every form of social media that I come into contact with contains either various public displays of affection (and I've already had a rant about that), discussions about weddings or, seemingly the other half of the population, moaning about being single. This, coupled with my disdain at advertising which often asks, literally, "are you 22, single and lonely?" (this is an actual advert on facebook) leads me to think that I must be mental. I love being single, and yet, society makes me feel ridiculous and like some sort of social deviant for feeling this way: Why am I not chasing after my Prince Charming? Why do I not cuddle my pillow and cry myself to sleep at night because I'm lonely? Why do I not go out intent to pull guys and feel absolutely gutted if I don't? Why do I not sit and cry my way through love songs?

Mainly because, and I'm sorry to say this guys, but being single is a hell of a lot more fun. And I mean a LOT more fun. You can say what you want, tell me it's because I haven't met the right guy or whatever, but I don't believe you. Being single rocks - I can do what I want to do with my evenings rather than have to consider a partner's obligations all the time, I can see my friends more often, I can make big decisions about my future without having to think about someone else, I can buy the furniture I want for my flat and, most importantly, I can starfish when I sleep at night and the duvet is aaaaaall mine. It has made my life a damn sight easier than it has ever been before, and I truly believe these last four months have been the absolute making of me and will continue to be. Nothing I have done in the last few months I could have done with a guy in tow so for me, right now, being able to be completely self-indulgent (and not in a bad way, you know what I mean) has made my life what it is.

Who knows how long this will last before the novelty starts to wear off but, now, I look at all of my friends who are coupled up, moving in together or engaged to be married and think how great it is for them but how that would have been the worst decision for me. I had all that handed to me on a plate in February but I walked away and I'm glad. Being single works for me and I think it has the potential to work for everyone. Even if is isn't what you want, the doors that open to you as a consequence are so immense that you have the opportunity to move on to bigger and better things.

To quote Marilyn Monroe, "sometimes good things have to fall apart so better things can fall together".

I just wish society saw this point of view and people stopped asking me how my love life is going and then feel sorry for me when I say I have no-one around. Because, seriously, what is there to be sorry for when being single means:

  • Having all the duvet and sleeping like a starfish every night;
  • Not having to put up with snoring!
  • Being able to watch what you want on TV regardless of how girly or trashy the programme is;
  • Choosing girly furniture and having cushions around without moaning;
  • Being able to go shopping on Saturdays, not stuck at football (I like football, but not all the time);
  • Seeing your friends a lot more, or at least spending an hour on the phone without being whinged at;
  • Not having your mood or confidence dictated by someone else;
  • Feeling no pressure in life, from when to get up to when to move in together etc;
  • Making meals for two and eating it all (I really should be fat...);
  • Not feeling guilty for spending a week's rent on shoes;
  • Not feeling obliged to share every single thought you have;
  • Being able to go 3 days without shaving your legs (I don't do this often but sometimes...);
  • Having a lazy day in on your own. We all need time to ourselves on occasions;
  • Not being given the third degree when you're seen in a facebook picture with another man, God forbid;
  • Not feeling obliged to have sex;
Ok, I could go on for ages and I need to go out now...

But moral of the story: relationships can be great, but so can being single. So enjoy it whilst it lasts. I know I will.

Summer bucket list

So I'm taking part in Mama's losing it and her weekly writing prompts again! This one was a nice challenge (50 is a lot) which has taken me nearly three days to write but it gives me focus for the 8 weeks I have free this summer.

50 things you want to do this summer
  1. Have a bloody amazing 'last night' with the girls; 
  2. Decorate my classroom ready for September; 
  3. Sort out my flat to make it into a home; 
  4. Learn my way around where I live and find how to get to everywhere I need to; 
  5. Buy a bike! 
  6. Meet up with S one evening; 
  7. Maybe meet up with L? 
  8. Catch up with NJ whilst she still lives in London; 
  9. Go to the cute tea shop Stefany at Influence recommended; 
  10. Go to Greenwich market; 
  11. Go to Brick Lane market; 
  12. Go to Camden market; 
  13. Go to the pizza place in Covent Garden that has unusual toppings; 
  14. Visit the Tate gallery; 
  15. Go on a day-trip to the seaside; 
  16. Visit Fortnum and Mason to their bizarre food hall; 
  17. Have a night out in London! 
  18. Read at least two classic novels; 
  19. Read at least five other books; 
  20. Start making my Christmas presents; 
  21. Shop for a graduation outfit at Bluewater shopping centre; 
  22. Meet/see a celebrity! For no reason other than I'd like the anecdote; 
  23. Use a nightbus in London; 
  24. Make a pizza from scratch; 
  25. Sing at a kareoke night (to tick it off my general bucket list); 
  26. Take up kick boxing again; 
  27. Have my hair re-styled; 
  28. Get a tan! Natural or fake, not fussy; 
  29. Have a champagne cocktail; 
  30. See a stand-up comedy show; 
  31. Learn how to make different flavoured bread; 
  32. See a west-end show; 
  33. Try my Mum's family recipe for sticky toffee pudding; 
  34. Take up running and try to maintain my fitness level; 
  35. Make home-made lemonade; 
  36. Meet at least one of my new neighbours (just because the rural girl in me doesn't want to totally fade); 
  37. Go for a walk along the Thames from my house; 
  38. Go on a bike ride along the Thames from my house; 
  39. Bake and decorate a cake; 
  40. Buy myself some nice new smart clothes for my first day as a teacher; 
  41. Go to visit my Nan for the day; 
  42. Go to visit my Dad for the day; 
  43. Go on a week-long detox (next week); 
  44. Actually unpack everything! I don't want any boxes lying around by September; 
  45. Have a picnic on the southbank; 
  46. Do not get involved with any men. At all; 
  47. Try sushi; 
  48. Have my first skype date in two years; 
  49. Make some new friends! 
  50. Get into a routine of keeping in touch with my current friends and family. I don't want to be forgotten... ♥

    Wednesday, 22 June 2011

    Music for my mood.

    I've just sat and downloaded a lot of new music and meticulously organised my Ipod into different playlists. Whilst this was a task borne primarily from procrastination from packing (as do 90% of my daily activities right now), it also served a purpose for me.

    You see, my music tastes vary according to my mood and as such, most songs on my Ipod remind me of a certain time in my life or a certain event. For example, there are various tracks which remind me of driving with the windows down across Bodmin moor to work; there are others which remind me of moving in 2007; there are others which remind me of dancing round a hotel room feeling like nothing in the world could bring me down, that my whole life was working out for the better and that everything would be amazing... I could go on with this list for hours. They aren't necessarily songs which are to do with moving, work etc, they are just songs which were perhaps popular at the time or which made it to my ipod 'current' playlist around then. And so I decided that, based on this, making a playlist which will see me through this coming week is actually fairly important as it will become the soundtrack to my new life and then, in the future, when I feel down, I can crank up these tunes and remember the optimism and excitement of moving.

    I also have a photographic memory, so there will be a song which reminds me of driving away for the last time, there will be a song which reminds me of unpacking in my new home and there will be a song which reminds me of waving my family goodbye at the door. And those are pretty important memories which deserve a damn good soundtrack. A calm, relaxed soundtrack to help me wind down from the excitement, and one which I can call on in the future to chill me out when I feel life is getting on top of me.

    Plus, it needs to be a damn good soundtrack because there will be lots of cleaning and sorting to do and, lets face it, that sort of thing is a lot more interesting when you can sing at the top of your lungs, spin around and lip-sync into a can of furniture polish.

    Tuesday, 21 June 2011

    Tasty tuesday

    This is a nice, hearty casserole which can be served with rice, potatoes and green veg or just simply in a bowl with a big chunk of crunchy bread. It's the one my family request me to cook, so it must be good if it passes their standards!

    Again, please excuse my photography, my camera is still with the manufacturer.

    Mediterranean chicken casserole.
    Serves 4

    4 chicken legs (I have used 1 drumstick and 1 small chicken thigh per person, it depends on what is on offer)
    2 whole peppers, one red, one yellow/orange, cut into chunky strips.
    1 tin of cherry tomatoes (NOT normal chopped/whole tinned tomatoes)
    1 large red pepper cut into chunks
    2 tsp of chilli powder
    1 large garlic clove, crushed
    1 chicken stock cube made up with 175ml of water
    2tsp olive oil.
    100g pitted black olives

    1) Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.
    2) Fry the peppers and onions in 1/2 tsp of olive oil for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute.
    3) Remove the peppers and onions from the frying pan and set aside in a large, oven-proof dish.
    4) Return the frying pan to the heat and add the rest of the olive oil. When hot, add the chicken pieces to the pan and fry, turning frequently, until golden brown.
    5) Place the chicken pieces on top of the onion and peppers in the oven-proof dish. Pour on the tin of tomatoes and add the chilli powder. Stir lightly and put in the oven to cook for 30 minutes, covering the dish with a lid/tin foil.
    6) After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and add the olives. Stir lightly again and return to the oven for a further 40 minutes.
    7) Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

    This also freezes well, so rather than halving the recipe for 2 people, cook the lot and freeze what you don't eat. Then simply defrost on the day you wish to eat it and reheat for 45 minutes in the oven.

    Monday, 20 June 2011

    Never mind the rain...

    Despite the fact that the rain has been torrential here for the best part of three hours, there is still an air of summer around today. We may be sat in a dark living room in warm jumpers, but yet there is an air of optimism and summer excitement in our family.

    Mainly because Wimbledon is on. This is the annual fortnight of tennis which brings with it short-lived enthusiasm for tennis in the UK, a boost to the sales of strawberries and a good excuse to spend whole days sat indoors watching the television. And watching it, despite the rain, reminds us that it is finally summer.

    Summer is always a pick-me-up for me. I hate the winter, I hate dark evenings and as for the 'cute' evenings when you cuddle up on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a good film, they are nice the first time and maybe, at a push, the second time. But any more after this and it is just plain boring and miserable. Summer is all about getting outdoors, socialising, watching the natural world bloom and look glorious before our eyes.

    And traditionally it is a time of change. Leaving school, graduating from university, moving to new jobs and the such like all happen in the summer for new challenges to await us in the autumn. This is, of course, no different for me this year and I don't think I need to explain how excited I am about this because it has been the subject of far too many posts of mine lately.

    Furthermore, today, I did most of my packing. At the weekend I did the shopping which means I have all the utensils and appliances I will need. And as such, today, the count down really is on - in seven days time, a week today, I will be in my flat. My flat, with no-one else to answer to, with my own things and with my own life in front of me so that every decision from next Monday onwards will be about me. And it's lovely to be able to have such a selfish outlook on life for a change because I have spent far too long riding in someone else's wake, letting them lead me down their pathways and finally I am free of that. I can truly find out who I am, what I want and who I am going to become. I can lay my own path.

    This is what summer signifies for me, more so now than ever, and it is wonderful to fully embrace this. And, as you all know, I can't wait.

    However, my tennis racket is already packed. My enthusiasm for tennis will have to extend to reaching for the remote, not the racket. And drooling over Nadal, of course...

    Saturday, 18 June 2011

    Life would be easier if emotions were objective.

    I don't think emotions are particularly clear-cut. When do you go from being unhappy to depressed; from happy to content; from jealous to angry/happy? And in those situations where you can't put a title to what you are feeling, does it matter? Surely it is just a word, which is inherently objective, and that can never fully explain anything so subjective as a feeling. Besides, us humans are so complex, how can one single elicitation ever do that justice?

    The reason I'm asking these questions, which lets be honest, are a bit crazy and rambling, is because of a situation I find myself in today.

    A couple of weeks ago, I posted briefly about a very messy night out with friends from uni. What happened on this night was that my friend pointed out a guy on our course and said she thought he was 'hot'. Now, this friend has a boyfriend of seven years. However, they are not very happy together and for this reason she has been making such proclamations about almost any guy who walks past, so I thought nothing more of it. Besides, this was the first time she had mentioned this guy, let alone commented that she thought he was hot, and what could she do about it anyway? Spend all evening making him think she would have the guts to cheat on her boyfriend with him before bottling it (and rightly so) and going home?

    She does that a lot, but whilst this is never a good thing, it is even less of a good thing when it is with someone we know. So I told her to stop drooling and we changed the subject.

    Later on, however, I ended up chatting to this guy about uni, our future jobs etc and then we hit the dance floor. He made a move on me which, I'll be honest, I reciprocated. My friend then kicked off, ignoring me for the rest of the evening except to call me every name under the sun and to accuse me of always needing to be the centre of attention (which hurt). She went home and I stayed out with said guy and a few other friends from uni.

    I managed to smooth things over the next day with my friend, although I didn't apologise. After all, what did I have to be sorry for? But, to her credit, I think she realised this and she seemingly backed off. Yet every time I click onto my facebook and he has posted a status update, there is always a flirty reply from her or the two of them are making plans to meet up. And this gives me little pangs in my chest, which I assumed were guilt (given that I have since started sleeping with him in the purely casual arrangement I've mentioned in passing) but actually, seeing someone else flirting with him may actually be giving me little pangs of jealousy.

    You see, when I last went over to his house, after fooling around for a few hours, his brother came home unexpectedly. We therefore had to dress rather quickly and we then spent another few hours just lying there talking. We get on really well like that, we always have done, so I just assumed that was the friendship side of things. But after an hour of chatting I realised we were actually cuddling. I didn't realise at the time, it just seemed natural and comfy, and even when I did notice, other than having a brief panic and working out an excuse to go home early, we stayed sat like that.

    It was nice. Really nice, and I've almost been craving to be back there since then. So with that in mind, it perhaps seems likely that I have felt jealous when I've seen someone else flirt with him. The fact that she is one of my best friends is perhaps irrelevant, and actually, I have gotten far too involved. It's not guilt over sleeping with a guy she likes in secret, it's actual jealousy over the realisation that he isn't just interested in me.

    I think I've mentally crossed the casual boundary. I think I need to get out.

    Damn. Typical...

    Friday, 17 June 2011

    Public displays of affection and my sick bucket.

    Maybe I'm just more sensitive to it now that I'm single, or maybe it is on the increase because it's the summer and everyone is happier, but on every social networking site I click on (facebook, twitter, blogger, BBM etc), I seem to be bombarded with streams of people gushing about their other halves. Whilst I admit this is perhaps coming from the bitter-and-single camp (although I don't think I've pitched my tent in the 'bitter' field quite yet), this is something which has always bothered me.

    Whenever I have been with someone, I view how I feel about them as private and certainly not something which I should be bragging about on facebook. Perhaps I've just never had those strong feelings for someone which I feel the need to scream about from every hypothetical mountain-top, which I haven't, but I just do not see the point of it. If you love someone, tell them, not all 300 of your facebook 'friends'! And I can definitely say that if someone I were seeing posted endless facebook statuses about missing me or about me being their missing puzzle piece (this is an actual quote from one of the vomit-inducing statuses I've had to endure this week), I would be on the phone dumping their ass within seconds. I'm a romantic and passionate person but that is an intimate side of myself which I would only ever share in private and I do not expect to be almost forced into a reciprocal PDA, and over facebook of all mediums? How tacky and impersonal.

    So the point of this post? A call to anyone reading this - if you are guilty of this, for the sake of all your facebook friends, STOP IT. If you love your boyfriend/girlfriend, TELL THEM, not me. I'm happy for you, don't get me wrong, but otherwise I do not care.

    And, to this end, don't get me started on people who post song lyrics. This is even worse. If you must make me reach for the sick bucket, at least do it from your heart, not your Ipod.

    /end grumpy woman rant.

    Happy weekend all! I'm hitting the shops to kit out my little flat tomorrow. Exciting, and no doubt calls for my first photo post (although I still do not have my camera back from the manufacturer)...

    Thursday, 16 June 2011

    If social media died tomorrow...

    Today I'm writing a link up with Mama's Losing It and taking inspiration from one of her writing prompts. I've been a follower of hers for a while now but this is the first time I've written for her link-up so if you have found your way here from her site, welcome and I hope you enjoy.

    If Social Media died tomorrow, describe another hobby you might get into.

    If social media died tomorrow, I don't think I would be the only person who would be absolutely gutted. Facebook, in particular, has been such a prominent feature in most people's lives for so long that I doubt many of us could live without it, arrange to meet our friends or keep up with each other's lives without it. I think it would have seen off a lot of my friendships when school friends went to university and now, as I leave university, would mean I would lose contact with even more people. I won't get into the debate as to how many of my facebook friends I would actually miss if that happened, because I think we all acknowledge having 'friends' on facebook is well over-used, but I think facebook has meant I have been able to keep in contact with more friends than I could have other wise. And as such, going back to the prompt, if social media collapsed tomorrow and I had no facebook, twitter or blogger to update, I would be very bored!

    Of all my current hobbies, which have admittedly been side-lined recently due to final-year degree study, I think my crafts, sewing, baking and reading would be the ones I would instantly pick up again. Reading in particular would, at the moment, be the way I passed evenings when there was nothing on telly, but my obsessions change on an almost weekly basis. For example, last week I spent four evenings baking and trying new recipes, yet this week I've eaten beans on toast and pasta sauce from a jar. So maybe with more time to spend on these hobbies I would find myself developing more of a passion, rather than almost-fleeting interests which seem to run on a cyclical basis, but who knows. I may also spend more time keeping fit and hitting the gym/swimming/trying new sports and activities, but I think I do this to the best of my ability and time restraints at it is.

    However, I think it is worth considering how much more free time would it actually give me? If we couldn't catch up with a friend via exchanges on the internet, would it mean we all went out to socialise more? Would it mean we would spend more time on the phone chatting to friends? I spoke to a friend following this train of thought as recently she disconnected herself from facebook for six months and she agreed. She said that she found she had more time to go out and see her friends and then, the time she then spent with them brought them much closer together because they had much more to talk about and could go into much more detail about their lives. But she also said that due to everyone else still using facebook, she began to feel distant so felt the need to re-register. So whilst at first, being without social networking would surely enhance some of the long-lost ways to communicate, it does rather limit the social circle you can keep.

    And anyway, I think if social media collapsed, I'd have to use some of my free time to get a second job. After all, the supplies for my crafting, the gym membership, the phone bills and the cost of going out to meet friends would soon add up and being skint right now would limit how well I could keep up with friends. And maybe that's where social networking wins because, right now, I'm skint but I still sit in my living room and chat to my friends regardless of where they live and whether we can afford to go out for a coffee. And I imagine as my life changes over the coming months, being able to keep in touch with my friends back in Plymouth at the simple click of a button will become even more important for me.

    So lets hope that social media never dies because I've made far too many amazing friends over the last few years to lose contact with them all completely. But maybe I will switch off the laptop tonight to knit or read the evening away, as maybe I need more of a healthy balance rather than having an existence which is either/or social media or other hobbies.

    Wednesday, 15 June 2011

    The "goodbye"s have started.

    I said my first goodbye last night, to my Rainbow and Brownie unit, after we realised we would have to cancel next week's meeting. It was really very sad, I love those crazy little kids and I'll miss them and our adventures. In the last three years we've been on pack-holidays, we've had an over-night stay at the National Marine Aquarium and we've spent days at theme parks, making dens, carol singing, going to jamborees... I could sit and list the things we've done all night, and just feel more and more sad with each minute. I really will miss them and the other leaders. To say my Tuesday nights will feel empty now may only be a slight over-exaggeration.

    One of the girls in particular I will miss, S. I've known her since she was a Rainbow and I've watched her grow up despite her battles. She has severe ADHD and this has always meant she has struggled to integrate. She latched on to me a couple of years ago and I've had the privilege of working with her since then, either encouraging her participation or finding other things for us to do. We've had some fun making things from kilts to fairy dust and, acting on the spur-of-the-moment, running around the church doing crayon rubbings, and it's so nice as a teacher to have time like this with a child like her - if she were in my class I would, more than likely, be so concerned that her reading and writing were below expectation that I would never have time to embrace her interests and channel her creativity like this and we have had the most fun doing it.

    Maybe that's a point for my future professional development, maybe I need to approach children like her in this way despite the formal education which would only ever constrain her progress. Maybe I should treat all children like S sometimes and just give them time to do what they want. Although in the foundation stage things tend to be more like this, but it's still a point I need to consider for next year. And maybe, just maybe, I should take a life lesson from her and give myself time to just do what I want, rather than feeling the need to fit into a routine. I know routines are one of my anxiety-management strategies, but maybe it's time to push past this and embrace life and it's spontaneity. Maybe S has helped me more than I will ever help her.

    This is exactly why I love working with children.

    And this is exactly why I'm not done with my voluntary work yet. Yes, it will be taking a hiatus for the next few years for my career to take full focus, but I will come back to it. Children keep you young, they keep things interesting and they open doors you forgot were even there. So call it a goodbye, but it's only a goodbye for now. This lot will all be grown up by the time I come around again, but I will go back. Girl guiding is a wonderful organisation, it brings so much to children and I'd highly recommend volunteering - it will bring a lot to you too.

    I'll miss all of you sweethearts.

    Tuesday, 14 June 2011

    My little blog has had a makeover

    And doesn't it look cute! Let me know if there are any little blips which need to be ironed out, although looks pretty good to me. Credit to Yellow Savvy Designs, thank you.

    Now to start the make-over of my life (ok, a tenuous link but I'll run with it):

    To Do (this week)

    • Sort out all of my uni folders and box what needs to be kept ready for the loft;
    • Sort out my things from the loft and bring them down;
    • Box up my books and DVDs;
    • Box up all the kitchen things I have;
    • Sort out the dumping-ground that are the drawers under my bed using a charity bag and a box;
    • Box up all my DVDs (except for my Scrubs boxsets, they are the soundtrack to my boring days);
    • Sort out the boxes in my wardrobe, streamline with a bin liner and pack.

    Now I realise this was a boring blog post for any readers, but if I didn't write it here then I would have forgotten something. Now, off to find some boxes...

    P.S. Enjoy my Tasty Tuesday post below, it's my favourite one so far!

    Tasty tuesday

    This brownie recipe is, if I do say so myself, absolutely to die for. Probably literally, given the amount of butter, chocolate and sugar but hey, if you wanted a low-fat, healthy recipe then I doubt you would have even got this far. So indulge and enjoy.

    PS. Excuse the photography, my usually shoddy skills are worse seeing as my camera is with the manufacturer for repair and this is the best I could muster on my blackberry.

    Chocolate Chip Chocolate Brownies
    Makes 12-16 slices.

    150g dark/cooking chocolate (ideally 70% cocoa solids)
    150g butter
    80g milk chocolate (cut into 1cm square chunks)
    80g white chocolate (cut into 1cm square chunks)
    100g plain flour
    1tsp baking powder
    3 large eggs, beaten
    175g caster sugar

    1) Prepare by setting to oven to preheat at 175 degrees celcius and line a 30x30cm tin (I used a roasting tin) with lightly buttered greaseproof paper. (If like me you don't usually see the point in greasing greaseproof paper, then you will struggle to get the brownies out).
    2) Put the dark chocolate into a large mixing bowl with the butter and put over a saucepan of boiling water and stir until melted.
    3) Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and baking powder.
    4) Gradually fold in the flour and chocolate chunks, sieving the flour into the mixture as you do so.
    5) Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared baking tray and spread evenly using a spatula.
    6) Place in the oven and bake for around 20-25 minutes.
    7) Let the brownie cool in the tin before removing and serving.

    Sunday, 12 June 2011

    Every girl needs a GBF.

    (GBF = Gay Best Friend, if you didn't know)

    I personally do not have a gay best friend and even my girlfriends/mother/step-mother refuse to come shopping with me because I'm so damn fussy. I guess you could say I'm a girl who knows what she wants, and if what I try on looks great but isn't what I had in mind, I'll still put it back so for this reason, I drive most people insane. This means I generally go shopping on my own, which usually suits me but when you need that second opinion, it does make shopping a bit of a drag.

    This is why I like Sunday mornings and shopping afterwards, because on E4 every Sunday they show two or three repeats of various shows with Gok Wan who, lets face it, is like the fairy godmother GBF we would all love to take us shopping. And in watching his programme and seeing how he gets women who have much bigger body hang ups than I do to love their bodies purely through the way they dress, it gives me the ideas and inspiration to go shopping. I always seem to dress much better on those days too, and on more than one occasion have grabbed and filled a charity bag simply trying to get dressed purely because of Auntie Gok in the background!

    If only he could be there preaching the body-image message from my little tellybox every morning. This is why I need a GBF. Or even a normal friend who doesn't want to kill me within a few shops. I need someone to reassure me when I step out of my comfort zone that it looks fab or to tell me it was a bad idea, and I need someone to point out things which I would never dare to try but would actually look great. Applications on a post card please.

    Did I mention that the bus route which runs outside my flat in London goes straight to Bluewater shopping centre? As if I needed more of a reason to want to hit the shops, GBF or no GBF...

    Saturday, 11 June 2011

    This is what Saturdays are for.

    Lie in.

    Going to the gym.





    A pile of magazines.

    Falling asleep to a film.

    Just perfect, even on my own.

    I'm proud of myself for having learnt how to have free time on my own. I've always enjoyed my own company in small doses, but usually after a few hours I tend to find myself going over things in my head and working myself up to either being depressed, anxious or worried. Yet, this week I have spent probably 80% of my time on my own and shy of a few small examples of this, I have actually had a very nice, calming week. I'm caught up with everything, I'm relaxed, am able to relax more easily (which to me are two different achievements) and am generally feeling pleasantly content. I've picked up a few hobbies which were forgotten or pushed aside because studying and work came first, and am definitely enjoying my freedom.

    Let's hope this lasts, as I sense it will be quite a quiet few months after the move!

    Now write and post-date some Tasty Tuesday posts... I've done lots of baking in the last week and have a few to share with you all. If only I had my digital camera back.

    Friday, 10 June 2011

    Driving through time.

    I hate driving through Plymouth. Each and every place in this stupid city reminds me of something I've lost, something I should have done or a mistake I've made. I drive past my flat and drive on or past the roads I used to curse daily to get to it and I'm reminded of the mistakes I made. I drive along a road near the city centre and I'm reminded of my horrible school experience. I drive past certain shops and am reminded of arguments, I drive along certain roads and I'm reminded of crying during my driving lessons when my instructor shouted at me, I drive along a certain road and am reminded of one of the best things I ever did but can no longer do.

    I know this sounds strange and a bit depressing, but driving through Plymouth late last night and seeing my whole life play out as I drove along the A38 didn't make me feel sad. It made me reflect on my life, on all those mistakes and bad times and how actually they have led me to where I am today. If I didn't hate this town, then the alternative would be to become one of them; to have no hope, no drive, no ambition and to be happy with exactly what I have, regardless of what my dreams once were or could have been. Mistakes help you learn what you really do want, they help you to recognise your flaws so you don't make the same mistakes again and they help you to move forward to better things. And that is exactly what I intend to do this month when I move.

    And so, finally, that desire I had last night will be fulfilled - just keep driving, drive as far away as possible and don't look back. Leave the mistakes behind, take the lessons from them and move on to the better things you couldn't have otherwise had. Because, really, were they even mistakes/bad things? If they have all led me to this point, where I'm happy and have a promising future full with opportunities I can't even imagine, would I wish to have never been through it all? No way.

    Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that.

    I think I'm some sort of sexual-deviant.

    They always say you should never sleep with someone on the first date. And that's not just one of the rules society has developed for itself over the years, nor is it just my being prude, but it is because sex creates certain emotions which basically make you feel more connected to your partner. This, obviously on a first date, is a negative thing as often it will make you feel connected to someone you are not really that interested in.

    However, this is how it should be, yet I seem to suffer with the opposite problem. If there is a guy I like and really fancy, as soon as I've slept with them suddenly I just want to get out as quickly as possible, I feel really awkward and I would quite like to not see them again. Which is ridiculous, I was literally enjoying their company three hours ago, yet now I am basically panicking.

    And I think it is worth pointing out here that the quality of the sex is not an issue. I mean, it can be absolutely lost-count-of-how-many-times-I-came amazing and this still happens.

    I never used to have this issue with sex, and I want to know where it has come from and why I have this issue now? It's almost like I'm scared of how much more intense things get after sex that even in a sex-buddy scenario isn't working around my fears and problems.

    And actually, I do know where this issue came from. It was from an ex who made me feel like sex was his right, almost like a possession, and his justification for demanding sex regardless of whether I wanted it or not would be "that's what boyfriend and girlfriend do". He was a lovely boy, remind me why I wasted 5 years of my life with him? Oh, and then to top it off, he slept with me an hour before he dumped me and kicked me out of the flat we shared. To be honest, I'm probably doing well not to have joined a nunnery, and really, it's no wonder I now have issues with sex and it's no wonder I'm scared afterwards so feel the need to build up some walls. I guess it's self-defence, and I guess in time it is something I will get over.

    At least, right now, I'm having some amazing sex whilst I get over this crap. I'm sure this will help ease the pain.

    I mean, seriously, there are no words to describe how amazing the sex was...

    And now I'm just bragging. I'll go to bed...

    Wednesday, 8 June 2011

    Doing nothing all day is exhausting!

    As expected, less than a week after finishing university and I'm bored! I'm such a nightmare when I'm bored, and although I know it's normal to hate being bored (I mean, who likes it?) but I do my own head in when I have nothing to do. There's only so much crappy daytime telly a girl can watch and only so many small chores which can be dragged out to cover an entire day. I thought I'd have a lot of things to do, I thought sorting out my things would take a while but other than one big job, it's all done! And that job will be on tomorrow's list, at which point my decent into a dull summer will be on. Other than the move, of course, but even the excitement of that can only be dragged out for so long.

    I was chatting to a friend about this earlier, and he kept telling me to stop whinging and enjoy the time left rather than sulking about it. And I really need to listen to his advice and find some things to do and spend time with my friends, after all, I'll soon be moaning that I haven't seen them or spent time with them for ages, so I really ought to be making the most of the time now.

    I admit this sounds a little bit like I'm dying as opposed to moving, but still, I do need to make the most of my last long summer before entering the world of work. Although having some money would help, I really am going to be skint this summer and the Bank of Dad is on holiday in Ibiza for the next few weeks. How sad is that? My 53-year-old Dad and 62-year-old Step Mum are off clubbing in Ibiza (and yes, they are there to go clubbing) whilst I'm stuck at home doing nothing? I'm not sure who comes off worse in that, me for being skint and pathetic for staying home, or for them still going clubbing at their age? Although why not, as long as they enjoy themselves.

    Anyway, I digress, although I'm not sure what the point of this post was anyway. I guess it was to remind myself not to get stuck in a rut of wallowing in boredom and to get out and do things. So yes, do that.

    Tuesday, 7 June 2011

    I have somewhere to live!

    I finally have a flat in London! My moving date is the 27th of June and that will be the day I have been waiting for - every single decision I've made in the last 4 years has been building up to this and now I'm 20 days away from having everything I've ever wanted, and this flat really is the icing on the cake. Don't get me wrong, it's not massive, but the kitchen is lovely, the bathroom is nice, the bedroom is spacious and the living space is nice if not slightly compact. I couldn't take any photos of the inside because the current tenant had boxes packed up to the ceiling, but, check out the view:

    Plus, being right on the river bank, it is so quiet you wouldn't know you were only 20 minutes from central London... other than being under the flightpath for London City Airport, but everywhere in the area is (obviously) so I can't hold that against it. And anyway, even when I sat and ate my lunch on the benches opposite I only counted 4 planes in 45 minutes, which you wouldn't even notice after a while. On top of all this, it's a ten minute walk to my school, probably only 15 minutes walk to the train station or a 5 minute bus ride, and even better, there is a sports club down the road which runs the kick boxing school I used to be a member of before it closed locally, which means I can start going again! I'm so excited I just want to scream and dance around!

    I have literally never been this excited in all my life, I just want to run out and buy all my furniture, accessories and kitchen stuff now! I know it will be a pain to move it all but I can't see myself holding out this long. Plus, there isn't a Tesco/Ikea very nearby so it might be worthwhile doing, especially seeing as I now have the opportunity to do three trips in the car when moving rather than just two.

    Ok, I'm going to get up and sort my life out so I can justify getting excited!

    Plus, I have another date on Wednesday, if you can call it that. This all followed a very messy night out with the girls to celebrate graduating, but I think that story is best left forgotten and this whole thing kept pretty quiet. Which would usually not be worth the hassle, but I'm now moving in less than 3 weeks and, if I thought London was a long way, he's moving to Cairo to teach in August, so this is as short-term as is humanly possible and, to be honest, is basically about sex and right now that suits me fine.

    So heres to an exciting last three weeks in Plymouth before I finally escape this hell-hole and get everything I've ever wanted. Finally :)

    Thursday, 2 June 2011

    I am now a graduate!

    Well, assuming I haven't completely failed any of my recent modules, I have finally finished my last piece of university work and therefore am ready for my cap and gown! It's a wonderful feeling, truly amazing, and I am so proud of myself to get to where I am today. Because, lets face it, I did this on my own. My family have been unsupportive to indifferent at best, in fact, if they had their way 3 years ago I wouldn't even have done this course and left with a career and a job which I love, so really, this is an amazing personal achievement and, hell I'll say it again, I'm really proud of myself.

    Now just the graduation ceremony itself to look forward to... oh yeah, wait, I can't look forward to it because my Mum is still sulking because my Dad is coming, no-one cares enough to want to take me out for a celebratory lunch afterwards and all in all, as usual, the day will be over-shadowed by the petulance of others, no-one will be proud of me because they will all be too busy sulking and I'll end up going home (which, fortunately by then will be in a city 200 miles away) on my own to celebrate with a bottle of vodka. maybe wine, if I'm feeling flush.

    Anyway, as I'm trying not to indulge my grumpy side in a rant about how much of an outcast I have been made to feel by both sides of my family this week (and yes I do realise that sentence in itself was a mini-rant), I shall instead write a list of all the things which I have to be happy about and to look forward to. This always cheers me up.

    1) Going out with the girls to celebrate tomorrow night;
    2) Buying a nice dress (despite not really being able to afford it) to wear out tomorrow night;
    3) The local festival on Saturday afternoon;
    4) The beautiful weather forecast for said event;
    5) Going up to London to flat-hunt;
    6) (Hopefully) finding a flat in London and arranging to move;
    7) Finally having time to have a proper sort out and, I suppose, start packing;
    8) Having time to read a non-educational book;
    9) Having time to finish my knitting (yes, I know, I'm practically an old woman);
    10) Moving to London!
    11) Having my own flat and going shopping for lots of nice furniture;
    12) Living near my best friend again;
    13) Starting my new job and meeting new people;
    14) Getting my own classroom;
    15) Having lots of time over the summer to explore London;
    16) Meeting up with some old friends over the summer;
    17) Getting excited about the impending hen-do being organised for next year...

    The list could go on, but that has definitely put me in a better mood. So bring on the summer, bring on the sun and bring on the fun times... I'm free!

    Wednesday, 1 June 2011

    Virus-creating computer geeks, I am smarter than you.

    I managed to trick my computer so I could run a systems restore and save it and, to be honest, I feel like I have my arm back. It's a sad thing to admit, but I couldn't live without a computer now and the thought of having to do so, even for a few days, was physically mortifying. So now it's packed with anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software and hopefully nice and safe, I can go back to my primarily internet-based existence.

    But seriously, what would we do without a computer these days? How would I do my 2500 word essay due on Friday? How would I keep in contact with my friends without bombarding them with texts and phone calls? How would I be managing to house-hunt in London whilst living 200 miles away in Devon? And whilst you could argue I could still do those things without the internet/a computer using a pen, paper, a phone and a car, it would all take a lot longer, would be a lot harder and generally I would only be able to do one thing at once as opposed to all the above within the space of an hour. And that's just what I've done/used the internet for today: what about tomorrow, the next day... it really is scary how we've come to rely on these things. Because, actually, we are so dependent on them now that we do need them to maintain our current lifestyles, and I'll say it again, it's sad but true. But they say technology moves us forward, and so I suppose we do have more components to our lives as a result, and I couldn't imagine living the lifestyle our parents did aged twenty-something.

    Anyway, in other news, I got an Olympic ticket for the Athletics next year! I'm very excited, the chance to go to the Olympic Stadium will be a once in a lifetime opportunity and it will be amazing to be in London and share in the excitement. Mind you, either side of the event I have a ticket for, you won't catch me within 200 miles of London - the whole city will be in a state of absolute bedlam, but still, for the one day I will be there amongst the crowds and packed onto the DLR from Woolwich, it will be an amazing, exciting and uplifting event I'm sure. Bring on next summer!

    The Olympic Stadium - aerial view.