justathought

Just the thoughts of a girl.

A Bit Of Everything

I feel like we have a lot to catch up on from the last few weeks, I seem to have been super busy all of a sudden!! A few weeks ago, my mum and I caught the train to stay with Heather, Andy and Tiny Tin Bird for a while. It seemed that whenever they came to visit, I had a lot going on at uni and so didn’t really get to spend a lot of time with them, so it was really lovely to spend some proper time with them and really get to know TTB at the age he’s at now. He’s grown so MUCH!! And not just in size, but in character too. He can do lots of animal noises on command (great fun), is fascinated with snails (ew) and loves to potter about in the garden. He just loves my mum so much, he runs around mumbling ‘Mamba? Mamba? MAMBA!!!’ until he finds her, haha. He’s a little cutie pie.

 photo IMG_0407_zps77ef6f9d.jpg

 photo IMG_0408_zps42d4bdc0.jpg

 photo IMG_0411_zps4d673499.jpg

 photo IMG_0463_zpsa14c7a29.jpg

While we were there, the Tour de France was passing through the town and we went to watch it. There was a lot of waiting, but it was such a great experience and all the masses of people seemed so happy, it was a great atmosphere. TTB was quite interested in the caravan of vehicles going through, but got a bit bored and fidgety after that so Heather took him home. She ran back just in time for the bikes to come through after leaving TTB with Andy.

 photo IMG_0422_zpsd2c3c85b.jpg

 photo IMG_0431_zps5f1fc173.jpg

 photo IMG_0436_zpsd45698fd.jpg

 photo IMG_0440_zpsd6ce32b3.jpg

 photo IMG_0442_zps528fc2b3.jpg

 photo IMG_0443_zpscd150ce7.jpg

Heather and TTB came home with us for the week and we all had such a nice time. It was great to see TTB just pottering around the garden. We took him to the woods which was brilliant (if not a little muddy – he got cross when I wouldn’t take him right into the middle of the big mud patch, but I knew one or both of us would end up stuck!). We also had a lot of fun in a little paddling pool my mum bought. TTB ended up putting all of his toys in it, sitting on the bunny bike thingy and saying, ‘Uh oh, stuck!’.

 photo IMG_0486_zpsd0b60e8e.jpg

 photo IMG_0489_zps6816a333.jpg

I had a lovely time and I think everyone else did too! I’m going away for nearly a week to work in a vegetarian burger van at a flower festival, which I’m not looking forward to one bit – we have to camp at the end of 16 hour-ish shifts and it’s going to be SO HOT! Urgh, oh well, it will be worth it for the money. It WILL! Anyway, I hope you’re all enjoying the sunny weather as much as I am.

 

Guess What…

I GRADUATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s officially not acceptable for me to lie in till 11am, take afternoon naps, get discount on clothes, eat very questionable food and leave anything important until the very last minute. (Although, just because it’s not acceptable doesn’t mean I’m not still doing all these things (apart from student discount, grrr). I can take the judgement.).

 photo 10556388_10152260907288181_5615690318914441072_n_zpsb8223f8f.jpg

Yesterday, I took my final ceremonious trip to Warwick University, donned my gowns and celebrated getting my degree with my friends. It was a great day, and due to meticulous planning on our part and a very efficient system on Warwick’s part,  we managed to fly around the gown-getting, picture-taking, lunch-eating and people-greeting without getting into a single unmanageable queue. The whole day was really well organised and my department put on a huge spread of free cakes, cheesecakes, scones and drinks which everyone seemed to enjoy. After a few departmental prizes, it was time to go into the hall and start the graduation process. I thought it would be quite long and dreary, but there was an organist, choir and brass band to keep us entertained while everyone found their seats, and all the speakers were very good, keeping it humorous and short. It was a brilliant feeling walking up and getting my certificate, and it was also great to see my friends graduating – there was lots of whooping and cheering!

 photo IMG_0537_zpsc1552d01.jpg

After the ceremony, we had a big group photo taken – one formal, and one throwing the mortar boards. Of course, the mortar boards could only be thrown once we’d had the official health and safety talks after someone managed to cut their head open last year – front rows throw forward, back rows throw backwards, then DUCK!!! It was all a lot of fun and good way to end an amazing three years. I’ll definitely miss being a student, anyway!

 photo IMG_0539_zpsc8ae3d84.jpg

h photo IMG_0545_zps4bb43fe6.jpg

I know I’ve been a bit lapse with my posts (even for my great comeback!), but I have lots of exciting, if not a little outdated, things to share such as going to see the Tour De France in Yorkshire and having lots of fun with Heather and Tiny Tin Bird. Hopefully I’ll manage to write these before we all die of old age!

Worth The Hard Work

For people on my course, the last six weeks of University were spent in a laboratory carrying out a research project. In general, these were supervised by researchers at the university and we were looked after by PhD students who were carrying out their own projects. My PhD student was looking into delaying the flowering time of rocket, as once it flowers it doesn’t taste nice and you can’t sell it for salads any more. After working in the diabetes lab over the summer, this seemed slightly less interesting and important to me, but I spent the weeks growing my little plants, picking their leaves, extracting their DNA and running tests on them. Now, let me tell you, when you have six weeks to finish a project, one of the worst things to work on are plants that usually take six weeks to grow. I ended up spending the first half of the project doing menial jobs in the lab, like making up stocks for everyone to use and helping the other undergrad student with her project whilst praying for my plants to grow quickly! As the deadline loomed ever closer, I was eventually able to pick off teeny tiny leaves from the plants to experiment on, but as they were smaller than usual it was really hard to get enough DNA from them for the experiments to work.

 photo IMG_0421_zps9a8ebe74.jpg

This wasn’t the only problem either – for one thing, some of my plants acting as controls to compare to the ones we’d tampered with were stored in a fancy-pants greenhouse with temperature control settings. Unfortunately, one weekend the cooling system broke and the temperature slowly increased until an alarm went off which is SUPPOSED to alert someone to a problem, only no-one responded to it. So my poor little plants got cooked and couldn’t be used. Not only would this be rubbish for any plants, but as they were the controls, it meant none of the plants I was comparing them to could be used either! Pffft.

My project seemed to get worse and worse, with each experiment I was doing becoming contaminated in some way or another. This was caused by a multitude of problems, like the solutions I was using being contaminated with things from before I was working there (and being contaminated with things I was using…), and the fact that the leaves were so tiny meant that the amount of DNA I had wasn’t enough to outweigh the contamination. All in all, there were only a few experiments that actually worked, so I couldn’t get any good conclusions from my work, which was a right pain.

 photo IMG_0424_zps98417a62.jpg

The point of doing these projects was so we could write our dissertations on them, but due to the nature of the projects, we could only write so much as the project actually took place – it’s pretty hard to write about your results before you’ve got them! I finished in labs on a Friday and the 10,000 word dissertation was due in on the Wednesday. That sounds scary enough before you factor in the recommendation of sending it for printing two days before the deadline to ensure you miss the queues, and the fact that I’d committed to a hen do on the Saturday! That left me Friday night, Sunday and Monday morning to write my remaining 5000 words and sort out figures, references and all the fiddly stuff that always takes 10 times as long as you think it’s going to.

I announced I was going to have all of Saturday off, but wake up super early on the Sunday morning and not stop writing until I’d finished my dissertation. So it was at 5:30 am on the Sunday that I began writing and, armed with haribo, pringles and my flatmate’s company, I stayed up all night, continued writing through Monday morning and finally submitted it for printing at 4:30pm – 35 HOURS after I’d started! It was very intense and I’m not quite sure how I did it – I think I only stopped to eat a meal my wonderful flatmate cooked me, and to go to the loo. I had a list of things I had to do and kind of went into a trance just going through it until it was all done.

 photo 10390131_568038349971577_3632536318476429922_n_zps047076c1.jpg

After submitting my dissertation for printing, I had a relaxed day and then slept REALLY REALLY well all night and all morning until nearly 2pm on the Tuesday. Then I travelled into uni, picked up my printed dissertation and handed it in. When I got back though, my flatmate said that our friend had called and said she was really struggling with her dissertation. We ended up heading over there (via Tesco to get Red Bull, ProPlus, Mars bars, cookies and all healthy stuff like that) and helping her to do all her figures, references and basically anything that didn’t require actual writing. Oh, and to stuff her face with sugar and tell her she WOULD get it done in time. This, again, took all night and she treated us to lunch when we went to get it printed. She got it in about 20 minutes before the deadline, after which my flatmate and I went home and slept for about a week.

 photo IMG_0477_zps4cb17e73.jpg

 photo IMG_0478_zps4e3baa20.jpg

Once everything was submitted, we had two weeks before results were out. This was spent mainly catching up on sleep, but also reading in the park, canoeing, going to grad ball and saying goodbye to my flatmate who’s gone to Honduras for a month (I’m not jealous at all. Not one bit. Honest). Finally, on Thursday, we were able to go in and get our results…

 

I ONLY WENT AND GOT A FIRST!!!!!

 

I’m so happy all this hard work paid off, and I’m just relieved that there’s no more waiting and wondering. So now I have to get my act together and start working on PhD stuff. I’ve been talking to my supervisors who ran the summer project that I did and they seem quite keen to take me on. We’re all just doing out best to try and persuade people that they really would like to give us lots of money to carry out the research. So, there’s going to be lots of finger-crossing over the next few weeks!

I’m Back!!

Hello! How are all you lovely people?

I think a bit of an apology is needed on my part for just leaving my blog so suddenly without any explanation or a goodbye, but in all honesty I never made a conscious decision to stop writing, it just kind of happened. I had a bloomin’ busy summer last year, working in the diabetes lab 9-5 and canoeing or seeing friends every day after work. I’d made a promise to myself that although I was working, it wouldn’t stop me doing all the things I would usually do in the summer and so I was just super duper busy. And let me tell you, being super duper busy is also super duper tiring! I was a bit of a zombie the whole time and although I wanted to keep my blog going, I didn’t have the energy to make it good – I would just write something quickly for the sake of submitting a post, add a few pictures and be done with it. It wasn’t fun for me any more, I wasn’t posting as often as I wanted to, and the posts I did write I just wasn’t very happy with. I stumbled on like this through the summer, but when I moved in for my final year at university I spent a lot of time with my friends – sorry, I obviously mean I spent lots of time working, studying and researching for my degree… – and I kept saying to myself, ‘I’ll write tomorrow, I’ll write tomorrow’, and then it got so long from writing a post that it didn’t really seem important any more. So I’m sorry to leave you all hanging for so long! I’ve just finished my final year and I have my last ever summer holiday stretched out in front of me, and I intend to share it all with you.

So, what have I been up to over the last year? Well, lots of things really:

Some friends and I made a Mario cake for our other friend’s 21st birthday. After a lot of thought, we managed to hide a mushroom design in the middle of it too. It was a little lopsided, but we were pretty pleased with it.

 photo 1381621_10151728856188181_1517288402_n_zps40efdbe6.jpg

 photo 1375140_10151728855873181_729625703_n_zps0d04db6d.jpg

 

I turned 21 in November, and the least said about that the better I think! Lets just say I won’t be drinking home made skittles vodka quite so readily again… My mum did make me the most awesome cake though!! Triple layered, surrounded by twirls and filled with surprise sweets. It was SO. GOOD. My friends also made me a pretty incredible doge meme cake (you’ll have to Google that if you don’t understand).

 photo photo13_zpsd2a91d9d.jpg

 photo photo15_zps59c6b052.jpg

 photo 1402336_10151810399368181_2134023011_o_zpsc1a13cf6.jpg

I bought my first ever Christmas jumper with some money my Grandma gave me for my birthday, and helped to cook our third and final uni Christmas dinner. (If anyone’s interested, it definitely takes more than three years to perfect a Christmas meal!).

 photo 996060_10151847009658181_1446167391_n_zpsdf07aef3.jpg

 photo 936064_10151847007963181_36806630_n_zpsabff95d5.jpg

We had a full house for actual Christmas, with my Grandma, Heather, Andy and Tiny Tin Bird all visiting (along with Rachel, Patch, my mum, my dad and me). We had a great time and having TTB around made it even more special, as well as multiplying the number of presents under the tree considerably – you should have seen his face!

 photo 1521943_10151895595073181_1611479492_n_zps6df1af77.jpg

 photo 544595_10151895595273181_1652556832_n_zps930ccdaf.jpg

 

The two terms after Christmas were mainly spent working. A lot. I had lectures and assignments throughout the first term, and the Easter holidays were spent on my own in my uni flat revising non stop. As in, waking up at 6:30 and revising all day until going to bed at 11:30. I wrote so many notes that the skin on my finger wore through by being dragged across the paper! It was absolutely horrific and meant I didn’t get to go home at all. Rachel sent me a very well received revision pack full of snacks, notebooks and pens which was very helpful! Thankfully I was well looked after during the exam period, with my flatmate cooking for me and letting me moan on and on about exams the whole time. The exams themselves weren’t so bad in the end, and despite my attempt at skipping them all by playing snakes and ladders with the calendar, I got through them well enough by predicting what questions would come up. The tactic worked surprisingly well for me and I managed to guess right 90% of the time, luckily! It’s a very risky game…

 photo 10155316_10152080043793181_3007122003213175703_n_zpsff3bdbe9.jpg

 photo 10171101_10152055873578181_946152123_n_zps7dda3e57.jpg

 photo 10304981_10152093662643181_1980157294298284621_n_zpsccb0ff74.jpg

The day after my last of 6 incredibly tough exams, I started work in a lab at uni for my third year project. I had to do my own experiments that complemented that of the PhD student that was looking after me and then write a 10,000 word dissertation on it. The whole process was pretty intense, but I finished it and handed it in and was done with uni work forever!!!

 photo IMG_0477_zps4cb17e73.jpg

 photo IMG_0478_zps4e3baa20.jpg

I also went to my friend, Elena’s hen do. (Elena has recently started blogging, go and check her blog out – especially if you like chickens!). We dressed as sailor’s, did a brilliant treasure hunt around Oxford and then went on a boat trip, it was great fun! Her wedding to my canoe club coach and friend (I should clarify this is one person, not two!) was last weekend, we went to the reception and it was lovely! I had definite bunting envy!

 photo IMG_04421_zpsdd63aed7.jpg

 photo 10473182_10152213920323181_7859781205705506861_n_zps15c61c56.jpg

 photo 10418286_10152213922853181_5860452759589261599_n_zps675d9615.jpg

 photo 10463990_10152213920743181_6060925978250083592_n_zps5ba931d4.jpg

As well as all of that, I baked lots of bread with my flatmate, we bought new guinea pigs and a new rabbit at home, bought the world’s biggest pizza (twice!), did a no-make-up-selfie for breast cancer awareness, and somehow managed to do some canoeing through it all!

 

 photo 1525135_10151934414158181_687757266_n_zpsbaa58132.jpg

 photo 1497645_10151889806873181_676928239_n_zps79a5a4a3.jpg

 photo 1654269_10151966277558181_363163242_n_zps6ca8c06e.jpg

 photo 1460066_10152039295223181_518686290_n_zps0a5773a2.jpg

It’s been a busy, busy few months and I hope you’ll stay with me as I write about the ones to come in a bit more detail. Goodbye for now!

 

We Went Away!!

Last week, my mum and I headed over to West Sussex to spend a few days away from home just to say that we’d been on holiday. Everyone else had been away twice with friends or on canoe club trips, but we’d both been working lots and hadn’t been away at all, so decided to just go somewhere – anywhere! – to get away from it all. We had a pretty horrible journey down, as it rained the entire way, but once we’d booked in to our little Holiday Inn and had a bit of a rest, we donned our wellie boots and headed out to some woodland in the national park for a walk around. There was a (slightly damp) map on offer, but it turned out to be rubbish so we left a trail of arrows instead. We still got lost but after covering what seemed to be the entire wood, we eventually found our car just before it got dark.

 photo IMG_0965_zps448569c0.jpg

 photo IMG_0967_zps9b13d638.jpg

We got back to our room in time to have a picnic tea whilst watching The Great British Bake Off. I’m still loving the show, but haven’t really had a chance to try baking anything from it like last year. The picnic included a can of Pimms and lemonade, a last minute buy that we scoffed at and then ended up buying. It tasted gross, but we were undecided as to whether that was just due to the mugs of the hotel room or not.

 photo IMG_0968_zps6ec53d59.jpg

The next day, we woke up early but lazily before deciding which of the many places around West Sussex to go and visit. We decided on the Wetland Centre in Arundel, which may seem like an odd place of choice for a twenty year old, but I loved it. It was resident to a huge number of different birds that tottered around the place. We went on a boat ride around the lake and spotted lots and lots of water voles, which was lovely. Everywhere we went, we were followed by a chorus of quacks as a few stray ducks waddled behind hoping for some food.

 photo IMG_0970_zps0bd54495.jpg

 photo IMG_0971_zps5575acf9.jpg

 photo IMG_0972_zps618a68c2.jpg

 photo IMG_0976_zpsdf8697c4.jpg

 photo IMG_0982_zps2dd478bd.jpg

 photo IMG_0983_zps2776a07c.jpg

 photo IMG_0988_zpsb110eef5.jpg

http:// photo IMG_0991_zpsbb683374.jpg

 photo IMG_0993_zps32cc462a.jpg

 photo IMG_0997_zps4e7e8978.jpg

 photo IMG_0999_zps86b05397.jpg

 photo IMG_1003_zpsc9efc68c.jpg

Once we’d finished at the centre, we headed into Arundel itself and were greeted by this incredibly stunning castle – isn’t it amazing?!

 photo IMG_1005_zps0a1bcbfa.jpg

We wandered around the town for a while before finding a lovely little cafe to eat paninis and soup in (where we both laughed at the fact that although everything else seemed to be home-made, the soup was obviously just from a Heinz can!). We chatted away and rested our legs before going back to the car in order to go to the one place where I’d been SOOOOOO looking forward to going – THE BEACH!! I just wanted to sit and listen to the roar of the sea crashing back and forth, maybe walk along the sand and paddle in the waves a bit. Only, when we arrived, we found that the sea was so far out and so calm that you couldn’t hear it at all. And it wasn’t exactly a lovely, soft, sandy beach but a beach that had been invaded by seaweed. TONNES of seaweed. We did try paddling, until I remembered that I have a huge hole in both my wellies and my feet got incredibly wet. After that we just walked (well, squelched in my case) along, breathing in the sea air and enjoying the fact that we were AT the seaside.

 photo IMG_1015_zps976bc8da.jpg

 photo IMG_1016_zpsa3cd8195.jpg

 photo IMG_1017_zps73b92a07.jpg

 photo IMG_1022_zps2bf5a844.jpg

 photo IMG_1023_zps458a3666.jpg

 photo IMG_1024_zpsdb3abbf3.jpg

 photo IMG_1025_zps093079c1.jpg

 photo IMG_1026_zps46d884af.jpg

 photo IMG_1028_zpsc82e7e8b.jpg

 photo IMG_1030_zps8196a175.jpg

I left some casual chalk graffiti and then we headed back to the car so we could drive into Bogna Regis and buy some chips to eat on the beach. These were very good chips and the perfect accompaniment for watching the last of the sun disappear. When it got too chilly to be sitting on the beach, we practically rolled to the car because we were so full and went back to our room with tired eyes and achy legs before falling asleep.

 photo IMG_1033_zps163cc52b.jpg

 photo IMG_1038_zps0dff24ef.jpg

 photo IMG_1045_zps84fcc0ad.jpg

 photo IMG_1041_zpsadff1389.jpg

 photo IMG_1043_zps4c7de439.jpg

 photo IMG_1046_zps161b7e50.jpg

 photo IMG_1049_zps2bdb0892.jpg

 photo IMG_1053_zpscaca876d.jpg

 photo IMG_1055_zpsa24be2bf.jpg

 photo IMG_1058_zpsb4ed8547.jpg

We woke up a bit later the next day and reluctantly packed up our things after a brioche breakfast. We drove through lots of different towns and villages on the way back and stopped at one that had a nice looking lake in search of some lunch. We managed to buy some things in Waitrose just as it started to rain, so we quick-marched back to the car to eat bread, cheese and maltesers on the back seats with rain pouring down the windows.

 photo IMG_1063_zpsc472cbe4.jpg

And that concluded our little getaway of 2013. It was VERY nice to be Somewhere Else, even for such a short time, and despite the slightly cold and wet weather, I do like holidaying in England. No, it’s not all hot sun and sandy beaches, but I like discovering little places that are hidden away, usually with lots of interesting little things to do and see. And I like the fact that it really didn’t take that long to get there! I’m looking forward to hopefully doing something similar (if maybe for a bit longer!) next year.

 photo IMG_1065_zpsfe57ac54.jpg

Tiny Tin Bird’s 1st Birthday Party

This weekend Heather, Andy and Tiny Tin Bird came down so we could celebrate TTB’s first birthday. His actual birthday isn’t until next week, but we had our own little party at our house for him on Saturday. Actually, it wasn’t that little – we had 17 adults and 3 children under two years old, which was a bit of a squeeze but it turned out just fine. The children provided entertainment for the adults, either by playing with anything but the toys, throwing food around the room or being fascinated by the apple tree in the garden.

My mum made an A-MAZ-ING cake. It was just fantabidooby! One large base tier of chocolate cake with a smaller top tier of vanilla sponge. It looked great and tasted just as good. (Apologies for the tiny photo followed by the yellow blurry one!):

 photo photo11_zps3f88d579.jpg

 photo P1110422_zps3ba64e38.jpg

TTB coped amazingly with all the attention. In fact, he lapped it up! Everyone wanted a cuddle with the birthday boy and he was quite happy to oblige as long as it didn’t interfere with the very important business of chewing wooden blocks, playing with wrapping paper or generally pottering about. Talking of wrapping paper, TTB was VERY spoiled with all his gifts. Everyone wanted to make his first birthday special and so he ended up with TONS of presents! It made me happy that most of them were books, but he also got a huge handmade wooden toy box, a lovely circus tent perfect for sitting and reading in, a big rug set out with lots of roads for him to use for his many cars and trucks, and a lovely rocking horse among MANY other things!

 photo P1110347_zps900a54d8.jpg

It’s hard to contend with a sister who has a full time job and a reputation for giving perfect presents, so whilst Rachel bought him the circus tent and a very big selection of books I bought a pull along toy telephone, similar to one we had as children, ‘We’re Going On a Bear Hunt’ (awesome book!) and a small toy truck. By the end of the day, TTB was a pro at unwrapping presents and managed to unwrap the truck all on his own!

 photo P1110403_zps8e73acda.jpg

It was also amazing to see him walking around on his own for the first time. He’s recently learnt to walk and is still a bit wobbly and sometimes likes a helping hand, but every so often if there’s something he wants, he just gets up and walks right over to it before turning to us and being like, ‘Yeah, I can walk now – problem?’. I love him :) He’s so comfortable around people and he’s really inquisitive at the moment, he’s so fun to watch! You can actually see his thought process about things like windows opening, lights being turned on and where the television’s gone when he’s inside his circus tent.

 photo P1110406_zpsada7587d.jpg

It’s very easy to think about ‘this time last year’ and what we were all doing, but I’ll save all that for his actual birthday. For now, it was just nice to see him happy and remembering all of us. He still loves his books and he’ll be excited when he realises he’s got lots of new ones to look at before bedtime. All I can say is, it’s my 21st in a month and a half and now all I’m holding out for is a circus tent of my own!

 

Friends or Chocolate?

One day last week, I went to the canoe club straight after work, just like normal. Now, after a full day of work, I got into the habit of taking something for me to eat before the training session and this time I had a Kit Kat Chunky. As soon as I took it out to start eating, one of the juniors, about 9 years old – lets call her Jane – told me how I was her favourite person at the club. In fact she told me I was her best friend in the whoooooooooole world and didn’t I know that best friends have to share everything? Including chocolate? I thought it through and considered the following facts before I made up my mind a) I’d just come from work and was starving hungry, b) I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to feed her sugar just before a training session without asking a parent and c) I was acting as The Grumpus at that moment in time, and so I decided to explain that I was super hungry and gobbled it up myself. Jane wasn’t very impressed by this and told me that our long lasting friendship was over and she would never share any chocolate with me ever.

The next club training session was my first session after I’d finished my placement, so I wasn’t incredibly tired and I hadn’t brought any food with me. Before I even got out of my car, I saw Jane running up to my door – nothing unusual about this, she often comes and greets me when I arrive. As soon as I opened my door, Jane started talking 19 to the dozen, “Did you know I found twenty pence today and I bought a chocolate bar with it, I ate some and then gave some to Peter (one of my friends from the  club, not actually called Peter), do you know why I gave some to Peter? To make you jealous because you wouldn’t give me some of your chocolate the other day, and do you know, if I ever get a pound I’m going to buy lots of chocolate bars and share them all with Peter and give none to you so you get really jealous!”. And with that, she ran off. Then Peter, who had overheard the whole encounter, laughed his head off at the fact that I was being bullied by a nine year old.

All I can say is, well played Jane. Well played.

 

Edit to add: This morning at training, Jane came straight up to me and offered me a piece of chocolate orange. I offered her half of it but she refused, explaining that she’d already eaten nearly all the rest of it. It turns out her mum (Hi!!) had shown her this post last night and she turned into a bit of a celebrity at the canoe club because of it. I’ve since worked out how children work – Fame > Chocolate > Friendship. 

I’ll take it!

The Grumpus

Hello again, how are you all?

I’m sorry for the lack of posts around these here parts, but lately I’ve just not been in the right mood to write a blog post. In fact, I’ve not been in the right mood to do anything really. You see, for the last few weeks I’ve been playing the part of The Grumpus.

The role of The Grumpus, if you didn’t know, is to be unreasonably grumpy and irritable due to lack of sleep and a busy life. Now I know that most people are tired and busy for most of their adult lives, but for some reason it just completely got to me recently. I finished my 10 week summer lab placement yesterday and throughout that entire period there was not one day that I came straight home from work and didn’t do anything in the evening. Admittedly, it was my choice to do all these things – canoeing nearly every day, seeing my friends, going to the pub and what not but I was already giving up the days of my holiday to work full time and I didn’t want to give up the evenings too.

Another characteristic of The Grumpus is to ignore any important jobs or commitments. Send the modem from my old uni house back? Nope! Write a blog post for the first time in a week? Not now! Arrange to pick the keys up for my new uni house? Sorry, I’d rather hide away and read my book. So I’ve basically been a non-functional, snappy, not-so-nice-to-be-around person recently. It’s been great (where did that sarcastic font go?)! Anyway, I’ve finished my placement now and have three weeks off before uni starts again. And whilst I’m so looking forward to having time to catch up on some sleep and actually do some things that I want to do, I will miss the people at my placement. They’ve been so good to me, spending about two hours going through my CV with me, talking about how to increase my chances of doing a PhD and just generally giving me lots of advice.  I’m so grateful to them.

So basically what I’m trying to say in this post is that I’ll hopefully turn back into some kind of normal person over the next few days and I should return to my usual blogging schedule, whatever that was before exams and work and life got in the way.

Right, I’m off to go and apologise to anyone and everyone I’ve encountered over the last two weeks. Back soon!

My Bank Holiday Monday

Today is a bank holiday in the UK, and boy have I been looking forward to it! After eight weeks of working and training, topped off by a weekend of competing and spectating at the national marathon canoeing championships, I was well in need of a lie in. I purposefully planned absolutely nothing for the whole day so I wouldn’t need to worry at all about waking up at a certain time and could just lie in bed all day if I felt like it. I ended up sleeping for 11 and a half hours and it was absolutely brilliant! Once I’d woken up, I came downstairs, had some breakfast, read some of my book and played a bit of Wii with Patch before he suggested that we go to pizza hut for lunch.

I wasn’t sure if going out to eat on a bank holiday Monday was such a good idea, but it’s been such a long time since I’ve done anything with Patch that I didn’t think it could do too much harm. So we drove the twenty minutes into town and parked in the carpark before seeing that pizza hut was pretty full. Almost completely full actually. We went in to the entrance anyway and stood at the front of the queue, and then we saw that there was one empty table for two. Right next to our next door neighbour who was there with her boyfriend. It was at this point, being the awkward human beings that we are, that we decided maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to eat out. We practically ran from the queue and spent a few minutes deliberating about what to do.

We didn’t really want to just drive home again, and by that point we’d gotten pretty hungry, so we decided to get takeaway pizza and drive somewhere nice to eat it since it was a sunny day. As we were waiting for the pizzas to be cooked, we got a text from someone at the canoe club who’s kind of like an uncle to us, asking us if we wanted to go and play golf with him and his son. Yes, we’d love to, once we’ve eaten our pizza. We picked up our order and walked back to the car, only to find that I had a flat tyre. Oh, great. But then I thought, as flat tyres go, this wasn’t such a bad time to get one. We weren’t in a major rush for anything, I wasn’t on my way to or from work, I wasn’t on my own, or on a country lane, or in the dark. We had food, we were surrounded by shops (with toilets should we need them!) and it wasn’t freezing cold. Those are all pretty good things, considering. So I rang the breakdown people and asked for a big strong man to come and change my tyre for me, and they asked me lots of hard questions like my registration number, whether I had alloys or plastic hubcaps (to which I replied, ‘I think I’ve got plastic alloys’. Erm, I don’t think so Alice!) and if I was in any immediate danger. They said they’d be there within 62 minutes to which I immediately added another 15 minutes onto like usual, and me and Patch settled down for our makeshift picnic in the car.

To our surprise, they arrived in 15 minutes – we hadn’t even finished our pizzas! He found a nail in my tyre and told me I could probably get it repaired, whipped it off and put my spare on before rushing off to help someone on the motorway. The timing worked out perfectly actually, as we were just in time to meet our friends to play golf in the very hot afternoon sun.

I can think of better ways to spend a day off, but I’m just very grateful that I got a flat tyre in these circumstances rather than on the dual carriageway in rush hour traffic and the pouring rain on my way to work tomorrow morning or something. Plus, we got to eat pizza and play golf, so that was a bonus!

How have you spent your bank holiday if you’ve had one?

When Icing Goes Wrong

Last weekend was slightly different from normal, because last weekend it was Fairport. Fairport Convention are a kind of folky/rocky band and two of the members lived in the village where the canoe club is. Every year, they headline a big music festival in the village which attracts around 24,000 people and considering the village itself has little over 700 residents, it’s safe to say it’s a pretty big deal each year! You can read about when I worked in a food van at last year’s Fairport here.  For a few days every August, all paddling ceases at the canoe club due to all the narrowboat traffic, marquees are set up by the canal and the club itself is transformed into a kitchen from which we serve breakfasts to lots of the campers. It’s a great way for the canoe club to get some money, but it does mean getting up at 5:20am in order to help set everything up and start the cooking before the first campers arrive at about 7am.

 photo P1110240_zps96889571.jpg

 photo P1110239_zps7c3931aa.jpg

The way it usually works is that orders are taken, the adults cook the breakfasts and the juniors take the orders to the cooks, wait for their tray to be loaded and then take the breakfasts to the customers who are sat under the marquees. Other jobs for the juniors include selling dingbat quizzes that my dad makes, and selling cakes just inside the club grounds. Of course, everyone bakes cakes to be sold and my mum was no exception. She whipped up several rounds of fairy cakes to be sold each day, and I offered to help ice the ones for Sunday on the Saturday afternoon. We weren’t really sure how to ice them, as they were quite small but we wanted them to look appealing to the customers so people would buy them. And then I had an idea. You see, Fairport is usually quite a hippy kind of festival – everyone wears lots of bright colours, so I thought we could try and replicate a picture I’d seen on Pinterest. Something like this.

We picked out the colours we wanted to use, carefully dripped them into a piping bag, added the icing and started to ice the cakes. Only, when I added the red food colouring, I kind of went a bit overboard…

 photo P1110206_zps225d2f05.jpg

 photo P1110215_zpsa353559d.jpg

 photo P1110219_zps9d59e877.jpg

 photo P1110223_zps0106a0a2.jpg

And then it looked like we’d had a horrific accident while icing the cakes; I imagine something along the lines of losing a finger, or maybe a whole hand. Either way, it did not look appealing!

 photo P1110226_zpsfb871490.jpg

We decided to scrape off the icing and try again. We also cut off the tops of the cakes as they’d been stained by the food colouring and when we tasted them, they tasted JUST like beetroot, as that’s what the red food colouring was coloured with. So to make sure we got rid of the beetroot taste of the icing, we added a lotalot of cocoa powder to the icing and made it incredibly chocolatey! We then put half chocolate icing and half vanilla icing that hadn’t fitted in the icing bag before, into a new icing bag and re-iced the cakes. AND IT WORKED!! They looked a LOT better than the multi coloured ones and actually looked slightly appetising.

 photo P1110230_zpsf8901e81.jpg

 photo P1110236_zpsb6b13cb7.jpg

 photo P1110235_zps795fcdeb.jpg

I really enjoy trying new things, even when they don’t turn out quite right. I definitely plan to use this technique again, I really like the way it worked out and how each one is different, although I think my piping work needs a little practise yet! If you have a go I’d love to see pictures of how it turned out, which you can send to justathought92@hotmail.co.uk. Have fun!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers