Wednesday, 29 January 2014

D of E: Winter Training

My training for my Duke of Edinburgh (D of E) expedition has started and I’ve already done two of them. My first one was in October and I just had my second one in the middle of January. We get told that they’ll spread our training days out throughout the year so we get a good taste of all the different kinds of weather conditions that we might have to face and how people camp in them.

So, my past two training days have generally been around about the winter time so I’ve been trying to find the easiest way to get through these training days and feel as warm as possible and still get as much out of them as possible.

One of the most important things I could say is wear layers, as many layers as you can manage. It can feel slightly uncomfortable as first but trust me, you will be thankful for them in the long run. Especially, if like me, some of your training days are near the coast. I normally end up with a vest, a thin v-neck jumper, a hoodie and then a waterproof coat. For me, that doesn’t tend to be too bulky but it stops me from feeling cold. A waterproof jacket really is your best bet for any training day to be honest because you never know what the weather will be like and you know for sure that the rain won’t seep through the material.

Getting a flask of tea or coffee or hot chocolate or really any drink that’s warm s a huge help. Whether you keep it in a side pocket of your bag so you can drink it as you go along or just in your bag so when you take a break for lunch you can drink it. It’s surprising how much it can actually help you out. It warms you up pretty quickly.

Hats, gloves and scarves are always a good idea. I only really tend to take my gloves and a scarf and then I‘ll just use my hood. But extra heat is always a good thing. It just makes your experience a whole lot more enjoyable and you don’t mind training for that little bit longer then. Hand warmers are a good idea too, just to stick them into your pockets because I tend to find that even with gloves on, my hands get numb quite quickly.

Clear plastic pockets are a good idea to take with you as well if you have a map or know that you’re going to be given to them. It just stops them for being oaked by the rain or twisted around by the wind. It just ends up keeping them a lot tidier.
Winter training days can be pretty hard to get through but if you got prepared you’ll find that you’ll enjoy them a lot more and get a lot more out of them. 

Monday, 27 January 2014

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day is in memory of the journey that thousands of people have taken and are still taking. It’s day where we step back and take a moment to remember those who lost their lives due to genocide. This year, we take a moment to look back and remember the journeys people have taken during this time. Whether it be their journey to camps, to refuge or to freedom. 

Today has been playing a lot on my mind lately. There’s a lot to think about and sometimes we get so caught up in our own journeys in life that we forget the journeys of others. So, lately I’ve taken a real step back to remember these things. 

I’ve been alive for around about 134,420 hours, and I have been lucky in quite a few ways when I look at that number. I have been lucky enough to have that many hours in my life and as well as that, I am lucky enough to say that those thousands of hours that I have been living have been filled with demons that I have beaten and with memories that I love looking back at. But there are people that were my age who didn’t have the chance to say that.

I was in an RE lesson last year when we were learning about Anne Frank and the Holocaust and it really made me think. When we think of mass genocide, we look at it as a whole. By learning individual stories, we start to really understand the matter at hand. We start to see genocide, not as just a group of people being murdered but as an individual being murdered. You see this one person, who has a family, friends, people that they love and are about and that’s when it really hit home for me. I really did start to think of these people as individuals. People who were about the same age as me, older and younger than me, they were all a part of this genocide. These people all had dreams of their own, things that they wanted to do with their lives. They were aspiring to be teachers, doctors, scientists and so much more. They were looking forward to starting a new school, to having a child, to having grandchildren. They had a life with dreams that they were chasing that got torn away from them. 

A lot of the time I find that the hardest part to deal with. I’m in a part of my life at the moment where I’m starting to really focus on what I want to do in the future, where I’m personally finding I’ve kick started everything that I want to do with my life right now and it’s scary but still exciting. I would hate for that to be ripped away for myself, I would hate for that to be ripped away from anyone because they never got the chance to carry on that journey. They never get the chance to live through all their dreams and that’s what I’ve been taking my time out to remember. 

So, whether you light a candle or take some time out to remember those who had suffered in the holocaust, I hope that this Holocaust Memorial Day we can all just take a small moment to remember the journeys millions of people had no choice but to take.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

H is for: 'Hall of Fame' by the Script ft. Will.I.Am

This week’s song is Hall of Fame by The Script ft. Will.I.Am from The Script’s album ‘#3

There is noting that I hate about this song. When it first came out I fell in love with it. I remember it coming out just after the Olympic had finished and listening to it on one of the music channels.

This is one of the songs that whenever I listen to it, it always makes a shiver run down my spine. In a good way. It gets me extremely emotional but it really makes me want to fight for my dreams. It’s such an inspiring song.
I love the combination of the Script and Will.I.Am, it works perfectly together and they sound amazing. It just makes me think that it doesn’t matter what you do, for someone you’re going to be in their Hall of Fame. That there are so many more than ones just for celebrities.

No matter how many times I listen to this song, I never seem to get tired of it. It’s on my playlist for whenever I need some inspiration to get through work.

Leave your thoughts and comments, on the song, below. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Happiness, Hope & A Whole Load of Positivity

Recently I started the 100 Happy Days challenge and there’s been a lot of things that have been going round me as well that made me want to write this post. 

Happiness, hope and positivity; I think they are three things that we tend to lose focus on in life when we get swept away with everything else. I know that it tends to happen with me sometimes and I don’t think that should be the case and for me, I don’t want that to be the case anymore. There are always going to be things going on in my life, there are always going to be things to do and deadlines to meet but I don’t want that to rule my life for the next fifty odd years. I don’t want to get through each day thinking about everything that’s gone wrong and that’s what the 100 Happy Days challenge has been teaching me. 

For the people who don’t know what challenge is, basically, you take a picture every day for 100 days about something that has made you happy that day and it can be absolutely anything. You then upload it to your preferred platform and tag it with #100happydays or whatever you choose your tag to be when you fill in the form and you can sign up here

This challenge has basically taught me that no matter how bad a day has been, there will be something in it, no matter how small that would have made you happy. Whether it be the way your hair looks, food, buying a new book or just coming home after a long day in school or work. It makes you stop looking at everything as a whole and start viewing your days as little things and those little things soon become the big things.

The thing is, with life things aren’t always going to go your way. There are going to be times you don’t always get what you want or where things just seem to being wrong constantly and you haven’t got a clue what to do next. You just have to look at the smaller things in life, find the smallest things that make you happy. Things that other people find stupid but still make you happy. 

You’ve got to be able to hold onto hope, know that things may not be okay now but you can get through it and you will get through it. There is always one saying I say to myself and my friends when they are going through a rough patch, “Storms don’t last forever,” and they really don’t. Bad things will happen but they won’t always be there. They are going to end up passing but you have to be able to hold on a believe that. 

I don’t think people realised how much positivity can actually change your way of thinking. I’ll admit this is something that I struggled with for a while but I am getting better at; being negative about things can sometimes lead to negative things happening a lot and you don’t even realise all the good things in your life. But when you have a more positive frame of mind, more positive things will happen to you and you’ll start to notice them more. 

Life is full of amazing possibilities, it’s full of small packages of happiness that are always there for us but sometimes you just have to look harder to see them but it’s not just about the happiness that we can find. Sometimes we should try and make other people happy. It’s hard to find the little things if no one if there to even tell you that there are smaller things to make you happy. Sometimes you just need someone there to be able to guide you in the right direction. Not everyone has that person, sometimes you have to be the one to be there just to give them a little push is all.

Happiness, hope and a whole load of positivity, that’s my saying from now on. 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Music Challenge: G is for 'Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy?' by Fall Out Boy

This week’s song is Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy? By Fall Out Boy from their album ‘Take This To Your Grave’.

Firstly, I just want to comment on the title of this song, and every other Fall Out Boy song to be honest with you. They always seem to be a mile long but I always love reading them.

My sister started to listen to Fall Out Boy when I was quite young and because I was often around when she listened to it I always picked it up. So, as I got older I ended up taking their music off my sister and putting it on my iPod and this ended up being one of my favourite song of theirs. 

I would love to say that I know all the lyrics to this song but like with all the other Fall Out Boy songs there are points where I genuinely have no clue what they are saying and sing whatever I think it sounds like. 

I love the beat to this song though but the problem I find with it is that I always want to get up and just flail to it which isn’t always the best idea when I’m in the car or in my ICT lessons. But still, this will always be an amazing song to me that I can listen to no matter what mood I’m in. 

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, on the song, below.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Book Review: The Shadowhunters' Codex

'Since the thirteenth century, the Shadowhunters’ Codex has been the one and only manual for Shadowhunters looking to brush up on their demon languages, learn proper stele use and learn exactly what a pyxis is. Featured in both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, this guide is a necessity for any young Nephilim on their journey to becoming a Shadowhunter. This is Clary’s copy, and as an artist herself, she’s sketched pictures of her friends and familythroughout the book, and scrawled helpful advice on the margins. Of course, she couldn’t exactly stop Jace and Simon from adding their thoughts either.'

After reading the first five books in The Mortal Instruments series and knowing that I was going to buy The Infernal Devices at some point I really wanted to get my hands onto the Shadownhunter’s Codex once it was published. I am a naturally nosey person when it comes to books and learning more about the book world so I was glad when I got it as a Christmas present. 

This book did not disappoint me at all. Throughout the pages you feel as though this is something the Clave has actually wrote down from the way the language comes across. Instead of the usual story writing style that Cassandra Clare usually uses throughout her books, she and Joshua Lewis slip more into an instructional guide which makes you feel as though the Codex is a real thing. 

There was an immense amount of information in the Codex but not enough to make you want to fall asleep.. There was a lot of new information though that gave you a real insight into how much effort was actually put into creating this whole world of Nephilim and Downworlders and the amount of research that was put into it. 

The notes that were scattered on the pages from Clary Jace and Simon were really amusing to read and you could see that in the process of putting together this Codex, Cassie Clare definitely did not forget the true personality of her characters. Even in these short notes you were able to put together the type of person each one of them was. The only gripe I do have with the notes were that a lot of the time it was hardtop know where she wanted you to read them. 

One of my favourite aspects of this Codex is the fact that towards the beginning of this book Magnus Bane has his own section of writing. Throughout this small section his sarcasm was seeping through while still being quite informative. 

The only problems that I really had with the book is that there were some sections, like Magnus’, where it cut through a sentence and the sentence wouldn’t carry on for quite a few pages then which made you lose the flow of reading. The notes were also a little hard to read sometimes since you couldn’t really tell where she wanted you to read them. 

Overall though, I am still extremely glad that I had this as a Christmas present and it’s made me understand the Shadowhunting world a lot better. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of Cassie Clare’s series’. 

Rating: ★★★

Saturday, 11 January 2014

F is for: 'Fast Car' by Tracy Chapman

This week’s song is Fast Car by Tracy Chapman from her album ‘Tracy Chapman’. 
I was really surprised when reading up on this song that it was actually released in April 1988 and hit the charts again after it had been sung by one of the Britain’s Got Talent contestants. 

I absolutely love the feel of this song. It’s so calming and mellow and an easy listen. It’s a great song for me to listen to after a hectic day when I just want to calm and wind down. It’s that nice acoustic sound that I never seem to get tired of listening to. 

The whole song just tells you a story that I personally find quite upsetting in a way but I still do love this song. It’s kind of out of the ordinary stuff I listen to but that’s what I like about it. 

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comment, on the song, below. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Starting GCSEs

Me along with thousands of other students this September have started a two year process of GCSE’s and have just gotten through our first term. It can be both a daunting and exciting thing.  It’s a start of a very long two years which will only ever pay off if we work for it and with the first term done and over with, I think we all have had a pretty good taste of what the subjects are now like. 

It’s okay to be taken aback by the shocking amount of coursework and homework that you get. It’s okay to feel a little overwhelmed by everything that’s happening. It’s a natural feeling. I mean, it’s the first time we’ve really stepped into anything like this, we can’t be expected to always keep a level head about it but there does come a point where you just have to try to. 

The start of GCSE’s does mean the start of a very long road, as to whether or not we are able to enter further education or whether or not we will be able to get a job after leaving school. That thought alone can leave you panicking a little bit and stressed out. 

Some of your GCSE’s may be sat this year and for some people they may all be sat at the end of Year 11. I know for me I’m going to be sitting my Maths Foundation Tier, English Language, Welsh Full Course and my Chemistry, Physics and Biology exams for Core Science. Which does mean that yes, revision notes are going to have to start being made and that the outcome of my results this year will determine what happens next year within those subjects, the more that I can pass this year means the less exams that I’ll have to sit next year and that’s probably the same for a lot of you out there. 

Revision timetables can help you organise
what you do with your time.
These are possibly the first set of proper exams that you would have sat; I know that they are for me. Don’t panic about them, it’s more than likely that these exams are going to be sat about May/June time of this year, you’ve got a good few months where teachers will make sure that you go into the exam knowing the material that is likely to turn up. All you have to do is make sure that you’re absorbing as much as you can in class and then making sure that you’re making revision notes and then looking over them when you go home. 

Try and get homework done as soon as possible, if you can try to at least start it the night that it’s been set. I know that a lot of them time you’re shattered when you come home from a full day at school and all you want to do is just relax for the rest of the night. It’s that mentality of ‘I’ll do it later on’ to ‘I’ll do it tomorrow night’ but it’s a pretty huge probability that you’re going to end up getting even more homework tomorrow and putting the things that you had gotten that day behind to do the homework that you had before. 

Personally, I’ve found that’s it’s just being able to organise yourself and prioritising things that you know place above other things that are going wrong. Looking at the next two years as a whole is frightening but looking at it week by week helps you get through it. Just be positive and believe in yourself. 

Good luck guys!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

E is for: 'Explosions' by Ellie Goulding

This week's song is Explosions, another amazing song by Ellie Goulding from her recent album 'Halcyon Days'. 

I stumbled across this song soon after hearing 'Anything Could Happen', when I heard the song on the music challenge.The beginning of the song caught me and made me listed straight away. It's not really something that you I'm used to hearing but it worked perfectly with the song.

As the song progressed and I listened to the lyrics it wasn't really long until I fell in love with it. The bridge section of the song has to be my favourite song because of all the imagery I get in my head. All I can imagine is this beautiful kingdom that is being destroyed by these floods and then all this glass just showering on them as they watch it and she knows she has to go. 

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments, on the song, below.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Looking Back At: 2013

We’re officially into a New Year! The prospect is both exciting and daunting to me. I have a whole year that is completely blank and waiting for me to write my memories across but I also have a whole year that already have my memories on it and I want to share some of those things with you guys.

You might have seen this around but basically, last year I bought this jar and from January to December I’e kept sticky notes by it where I write my memories and put it into the jar so I can open it up at the end of the year and look at what I’ve done. A lot of the time I tend to forget what actually went on that year and it leaves me feeling a little upset since it felt like I’ve just wasted a year but when I properly sit there and think about it there’s actually a lot of stuff that I have done but just got clogged up with some of the other events during the year. 

So, here we go!

The first post-it-note, which I think is probably one of the most important of the year says that I’ve started to realise the toxic people in my life. It’s true. 2013 was really a year that I started to realise the people in my life who weren’t really treating me great. I really re-evaluated the people that were in my life and whether or not they were doing more harm than good and took some action about it!

I went to go and see The Script live in March, which was absolutely fantastic! It was the first ever concert I’ve been to and I went with my sister. We had an amazing time there, the atmosphere there was something that I’m never going to be able to forget.

I’ve felt a lot more confident within myself this year. I’ve felt as though I’m able to do a lot more and haven’t put myself down so much. The whole confidence thing has really helped do a lot of other things and it makes me feel as though it’s going to help me do a lot more things during 2014. 

This was the year I was finally allowed to re-style my hair. I think that was a huge boost in my confidence as well. I’m not a shallow person and I don’t believe that looks matter in a person at all. But being able to have my hair the way I wanted it just made me feel a lot more comfortable within myself. 

I got onto the Duke of Edinburgh award in my school! That was a huge accomplishment for me, since 165 people applied to do it and only 30 were able to get through. It was such a good feeling when I saw my name up on that list with everyone else’s. I was so nervous after my interview that I really didn’t think I was going to get on. So, that is probably one of the things I am most proud about.

I had the amazing chance to go to Italy with my school was fantastic. Italy has always wanted to be one of the places where I have wanted to go. I have so many memories from there. It was unforgettable and completely and utterly amazing. The country is so beautiful and I was so glad I had the chance to go out there and see what it really was like.

I’m officially a grade four violinist! Which means I’m half way through all of my grades. I was surprised I wasn’t shaken as much as I usually do during my violin exams. So that was something I definitely was extremely happy with. 

My sister and I went to TFIOS Live where we met John and Hank Green and they signed my sister’s books and a book for me. As well as that, Maureen Johnson asked them a question that I had submitted. I was basically jumping up and down in my seat and everyone just went “Awwww” when she asked the question as well. 

I also had the honour of being one of the three student speakers to present the Children’s University Awards. The awards basically go out to young people who have done a lot of volunteer work and/or have done a lot of hours of after school. They always ask three pupils from one school to help present all the awards. My school was picked this year and I got asked to help out. It was really nice to be asked to do it and then see all these young people go up to get their awards. 

Some of the awesome
cosplayers at LeakyCon
The final thing but one of the best things of the year was the fact that I got the chance to attend the very first London Leakycon! I went with my sister and we had such a laugh there It was unbelievable. I got the chance to take part in so many different workshops and panels. Some of which just made me laugh and some of which taught me some really important things. While I was at LeakyCon, I also got the chance to attend the very first concert Starkid have done in Britain, I got autographs from the Starkid cast, some of the Harry Potter cast and from Hank Green. It was such an amazing experience and I made so many friends there! 

So that was my 2013. To say it was a good year is an understatement. It is a year that I’m upset to see leave but I know that I’m going to make this year just as memorable, if not more! So here’s to a great 2013 an even better 2014.