Monday, 30 September 2013

The Final First Day

Today I started a new year of University for the final time. The likelihood is that I will never have the first day of a year of education ever again. It’s a weird and terrifying situation to be in.

Every time I am in the final year of a stage in my education I seem to be told the same thing “this year is the most important year of your academic life” and I suppose this one is. How I do this year will affect whether or not I pass my degree and therefore what job I get in the future. It affects how much money I will earn and therefore what house I live in and also my future family’s lives. Ok I am just scaring myself now…

It’s weird to think that this time next year I will (hopefully) have a full time job and be earning money! I am not really looking forward to the working part but I am looking forward to the money and also not having assignments and exams. The structure my life has taken for the last 16 years will be gone. No longer will September mean a new academic year and I will have said goodbye to lessons Monday to Friday. I am going to have to be one of those proper adults!

Next year will see me experience a completely new start and, although I am looking forward to it a lot, I am also terrified! The money will be a welcome addition to my empty student bank account but were that money will come from I currently have no idea!

Wish me luck!



Sunday, 29 September 2013

Settling In


I have been back at university now for 4 days and during that time I have been really busy making my new room my own. I mentioned in my last post that I was going back to the same house as last year and I have but this year I have had a room upgrade. Three of my housemates have moved out so before the new residents got a chance, I claimed the biggest available room! This year I am going to get three times as much exercise as last year, instead of it only being one step from my bed to my laptop it is now three!!

The first thing I had to do when I got to my new room was to rearrange the room completely. I spent a lot of time in this room last year because we would all watch TV in here with its previous resident so it was important to me that it was my own room and I wasn’t just sleeping in hers. Another reason for the change is that everyone has different requirements for the room, while she had a big desk for all her design work for university I am more focused on the fact I can now have a good view of the TV from my chair…

I am really happy with the way it looks now and with some posters and pictures of friends and family the room was completely transformed into my own. 

Posters and pictures really make your room feel homely because they display parts of you. From your favourite TV programme to you little brother, all of it means the room is full of your personality so I think it is a must for all students and to be honest everyone else too. Although when you have your own house you can make holes in the walls so you can use fancy things like photo frames!

I would love to hear about ways you make your room/house homely so please let me know so we can all share your tips.



Wednesday, 25 September 2013

STUDENT ADVICE: Packing for University

So the time has come again to pack up my life into suitcases yet again and move back to university for the third and final time. Where did the time go, two years ago I was on the same boat I am currently writing this post on about to embark on living alone for the first time. I know everyone says it, but looking back now I can’t believe that first day was two years ago, even writing that now makes me feel weird. Since that first time I have packed my life up and moved on 5 occasions and yet I still forget stuff. I am sure this occasion isn’t going to be any different (update: I am now on the train and have just realised I have forgotten my sleeping bag grrrr!). 

Yesterday morning I laid two suitcases out on my bed and began packing all my clothes into them, well I say clothes, I only have enough clothes, shoes and bags to fill one suitcase, the other is filled with books and a my wash bag, hairdryer extra, but mostly books. I love my books and they always cause trouble when I am trying to pack, look at my giving book human traits. With all this moving round I do I should probably get them all on my Kindle app but I just love the physical books too much. Anyway that is another blog post.

I make it sound like I did it all in one go when in fact I didn’t finish packing until 9pm last night, I get very easily distracted you see. I can’t stay doing the same thing very long before I get bored and do something else for a bit. Like with this blog post, I am currently sat on the boat on my way to Heysham but I probably won’t finish it until I get to my house in Swansea a good 11 hours from now. Although my clothes were packed very quickly, as I said I have very few, I soon got distracted by the many other jobs I had to complete; editing a video, ironing, washing up and of course the things I didn’t have to do like browsing YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (or what I like to call research). I can’t help but think I would have been a lot more productive before such things as YouTube but then I have to remind myself that I would have easily found something else to distract me, probably knitting or something. I mean look at me I started writing a post about packing for university and ended up writing a paragraph on procrastination, is that not the height of irony?

How did you fit all your things into two suitcases you may ask? Well the answer is I didn’t. Being in my third year and living in the same house as last year (different room but same house) means that a lot of my stuff is still there; my pots and pans, bedding and more of my books. I am also lucky in the fact I don’t have many clothes and shoes so that cuts down on space needed a lot. I know some of my friends take 3 suitcases purely of clothes and some of them even have two complete wardrobes.

If you are about to start university I have some packing tips for you:
1.       Don’t buy too much before you go – buy things when your there, especially if you have limited space.
2.       Use space bags! They are amazing, I have used them to protect my bedding over the summer. They suck all the air out to save space and they also stop everything getting damp.
3.       If you haven’t used it for a year you probably won’t use it so don’t take it with you. It will only take up valuable space in your room you could use for lying in when you really can’t face doing that assignment due in tomorrow.

If you are returning to university:
1.       If you have chance, leave your stuff in your next year’s accommodation before you leave for summer. Ok, it’s probably a bit late for that now but a tip to remember for next time.
2.       Remember what you actually used last year and only take that, it will only clog up your room!
3.       Share with housemates, there are some things, particularly kitchen equipment, that you can get away with sharing. As long as you are friends and won’t argue (too much) share stuff, saves space and money.

As I have to travel so far (and over water) I am probably more limited in how much stuff I can transport than you but these tips will still be beneficial to you so that you can fit everything in the car and also in your room when you get there. Remember you have to fit all this stuff in it when you get there!

Right I must go unpack all this stuff now (I told you I would get distracted I am now in my room in Swansea!)

Bye x

Friday, 20 September 2013

Monopoly Run | Day 4 - Radio 1 Stopped Me Puking!

For the third morning in a row I was awake before 7am and after a night around the campfire, this morning was particularly difficult. This time though it was for something much less exciting, it was time to go home. Normally going on the boat really doesn’t bother me but this time I was defiantly not looking forward to it. Over the weekend we had a number of phone call from the ferry company each time giving us a different sailing time, all with the aim of missing the force 8 gale due to set in on the Irish sea. The boat we were due to sail on is called the Manannan which is named after the celtic sea god which once ruled over the Isle of Man. The Manannan isn’t great in rough sea and hence it doesn’t run in the winter! It was built to sail in the tranquil waters of Tasmania and not a force 8 gale on the Irish Sea!

As the boat time was changing so much we decided to leave first thing so we could be in Liverpool for whenever the boat finally left. Thankfully the train journey was fantastic, probable one of the best I have had (and I’ve had LOADS). We had a table seat between the two of us (the others were flying again, cheats!) and for most of the journey the carriage was quite empty.

We arrived in Liverpool about midday and as the time of the boat currently stood at 6pm, I met up with my friend who it at uni there. We spent a lovely afternoon in a pub, it was so nice to have a hot meal inside after a weekend camping and luckily Tom and Laura got on well due to their shared love of coffee. Many cups of coffee later (for them, I stuck to the pepsi) it was time to head to the ferry terminal with the hope that we would get back to the island that night.
When we got to the docks the Mersey (the mouth of a river not even the proper sea) was so choppy it was actually rocking the massive pontoon which held the check-in desks and departure longue! It wasn’t looking good for a smooth crossing. It was time to say goodbye to Laura and go down to the departure longue and await our fate…

At 6pm we finally departed, sick bags already very thoroughly distributed around the boat. The captains announcement was straight to the point, told us the first 30 minutes while we were in the Mersey and the last 30 minutes in the shelter of the Isle of Man would be bearable but the 2 hours in the middle were not going to be pleasant. We were told not to get out of our seats if we could help it to prevent feeling ill yet people all around us we getting up to get huge plates of food from the café. Safe to say we all saw that food again later in the journey.

In general I don’t get sea sick but the sound of others being sick makes me feel awful and that is what I dreaded most. This is when I decided the only way to survive this was to curl up, close my eyes and listen to the radio with the hope that blocking my senses would help. The station I chose was radio 1 for the request show, I listen to this show quite a bit, I find the presenters funny and I was hoping it would distract me from the sound of vomit all around me.

I had been prepared for an unpleasant journey but I was not prepared for what we got. You know that feeling you get after going on a stomach-dropping rollercoaster, well know imagine that for 2 hours straight. It’s ok for a few minutes but when it happens constantly for 2 hours causing waves to go over the top of the ship we are sat, it really isn’t pleasant. Thank god for Dan and Phil and there music in my ears for those 2 hours or I am really not sure I would have made it across with the contents of my stomach still inside me and this is coming from someone who has not been sick since the age of 5 (no, not even from alcohol). Sadly the one thing the radio could not block out was the horrendous smell of sick. The BBC really need to sort out smell-radio!

When we FINALLY got to the Isle of Man and the passengers with cars went down to the vehicle decks there was a massive commotion when they discovered that two of the cars, one being a poshe, had crashed into each our the sea had been so coppy! As I walked through the ship to get off I counted FIVE passengers being comforted by staff I think they all had panic attacks because of the state of the sea. I know none of it was the ferry companies fault and they did a great job of making the crossing as comfortable as possible.

So I was home, feeling slightly ill and had a bag full of soaking wet clothes but I had an amazing weekend and I would do it all again, although next time if the weather could be slightly nicer that would be great thanks!

If you want to hear more about my trip to London and the monopoly run keep an eye on my YouTube channel, I will be uploading a video or two to that soon. You can subscribe through the link below and it will tell you when they are uploaded:


Thursday, 19 September 2013

Monopoly Run | Day 3 - The Run Itself!

The day had arrived, the day that Scout Network Ellan Vannin were going to take on the Monopoly run. When I woke up my alarm wasn’t going off so I assumed I still had some time before I had to get up but when I looked at my phone I was horrified to find it was in fact 45 minutes AFTER my alarm should have woken me up. I had been so paranoid about getting up on time that I slept with my phone right by my head but in doing that I had ended up sleeping on top of it suffocating the alarm. So then began 15 minutes of manically getting ready, luckily I am able to do it fast due to years of camping with the scouts.

Today was a special day for another reason, it was Tom’s 19th Birthday. I have known Tom for 9 years and although he is only 18 months younger than me, I have always thought of him as young. The thought of that little 10 year old I met all that time ago being old enough to leave school made me feel old. It shows how the significance of an age gap changes as you get older.

At 7:22am we were off. First stop was the train station and onto London Paddington and into the capital. We were the 2nd team to set off but luckily it was judged on the time we took rather than the first team back. In order to complete the challenge we needed to take a photograph with at least one team member at each point on the monopoly board and every photograph had to contain a laminated sign that we had been given by the organisers. This was to prevent us splitting up or using a photograph taken on a previous day.

As we saw it there seemed to be two tactics for the day; either find the nearest tube station to the road we wanted and simply hop on and off the tube all day, or group the roads together and do some walking. This is where our secret weapon came in. One member of our group, Andy, new London very well, with that and the fact scouts had defiantly prepared us all for walking we went for the not-as-many-tube-rides-more-walking method this would save us time going up and down stairs, waiting at platforms and navigating the tube network. I must admit though towards the end of the day as we got more and more tired the tube became our preferred method of transport.

As well as the points of the monopoly board we also had challenges to complete and a list of our things to find such as the counters used to play with; dog, hat, boat etc, and free parking, jail etc. For the challenges creativity was encouraged so our aim was to get pictures and videos which were as unusual as possible. To provide more incentive for this there was a prize for the best picture. The photograph we entered was one we took very early on in the day. Lissy had bought us all traffic cone hats (don’t ask me why but they were cool!) so when we found a row of traffic cones we knew what we had to do.

The day started quite slowly as we did all the outer points but this gave us the perfect chance to work on some of the challenges

Visiting Platform 9 ¾

Visiting Baden-Powell House

Free Parking

By the end of the day though we were getting photographs left right and centre. I have to say one of the highlights for me was visiting Buckingham palace, Horse Guard’s Parade and the Houses of Parliament because they are all incredibly beautiful.

Northumberland Avenue

Finding a Solider – House Guards Parade

After an incredibly tiring but enjoyable day we made it back to the campsite in 13 hours and 29 minutes. The winning team was the team to complete all the points on the monopoly board in the quickest time and there was separate prize for the challenges. As we attempted all the challenges (the only team to do so!) as well as the basic board we took twice the time of the winners but we still managed to come third out of 8! We all so picked up the prize for most points in the challenges and best picture, leaving few prizes for the other teams, woops! I’m not sure we will be invited back….

I am incredibly proud of Scout Network Ellan Vannin, we worked very hard had an amazing day and most importantly won loads of medals! Well Done Team!

The Final day of my adventure in London will be posted tomorrow. Be prepared for the traumatic story of our journey home! Also I will be posting a video or two about this adventure to my YouTube channel so if you want to watch that subscribe to my channel so you can be told when it is unloaded  by clicking the link below:



Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Monopoly Run | Day 2

As I always do when I go camping, I woke up as the sun did, something I always find quite magically at the time even if it does mean that later in the day I will be REALLY tired. As you can imagine in a group of 18 – 25 year olds no one else was awake at this ridiculous hour so I took the time to read my book. I am currently reading A Fault in our Stars written by John Green. It is a fantastic book but it left me with red eyes from all the crying and laughing I was doing!

The campsite was great, although it was very small, it had a cabin which had a kitchen! I have never been to a campsite with a kitchen before but what with the weather we had it was very useful! The organisers of the event, TNT Network, had brought two small marquees which were brilliant for keeping us dry in the evening. Having somewhere dry when you are camping makes the difference between having a brilliant weekend and having a miserable one!

I finally persuaded Tom to get out of his tent at about 9am and then we were on our way into London to be tourists until our other team members flew in later on. The London Underground is very different than public transport I am used to, the longest I had to wait was 4 minutes! I am used to sitting on a platform for an hour in the freezing cold but on the underground I was inside and I never had to plan my travel around tube times because they were always there, I don’t know why anyone in London has a car!

The first stop on our London adventure was the new BBC building, to be honest it wasn't intentional, we just got of the tube at a random stop and wandered round. When I saw it though, I got a bit over excited because it was pretty cool to see the place that produces so much of the television I watch. Next we got back onto the tube, this time with a plan, and we headed to the natural history museum. It is a massive museum which has hundreds of dead animals which have been preserved so everyone can learn about them. It does sound quite horrible but it is also extremely interesting. While we were there Tom and I went to the part of the museum dedicated to beetles and a lady got us to sort a selection of them into their family groups. It was trickier than it sounded but with the help of our biology A-level knowledge we succeeded which I think surprised the lady!

Our next stop was the Victoria and Albert Museum but by this time the early wake up time had started to catch up with me. This meant I ended up enjoying a lot of the art from the comfort of the seats which luckily were a regular occurrence around the museum. The final stop of the day was the part I had been looking forward to most, the Science Museum! I love science and I hadn't been there for seven years so I was very excited to go back. I could have spent all day in the science museum but after an hour it was time to head back to the campsite to meet the rest of our team and get ready for the monopoly run the next day.

It had been raining on and off all day but when we made it back to the campsite, as it had the night before, it began chucking it down only this time twice as hard! I got back to my tent to find it in a puddle of water but luckily it hadn't got inside the tent otherwise I would have been a very unhappy Izzy indeed. So with the most rain I had seen since March pouring down around us, Tom helped me to move my tent and put up our team mates tent. My boots are still wet through now!

Finally at 9:30pm our team mates arrived, also very very wet and it was time for the competition briefing when we were given the extra challenges to complete. For the next hour we edited our pre-planned route in order to cover all the challenges and went to bed with planning on getting up very early in the morning so we could start at the start time, 7am on the dot. It was Tom’s 19th birthday so we had to really, ok well that was the plan anyway….

The adventures from the “run” itself will be up tomorrow so watch out for that. I will also be making a video or two about our adventures which will be uploaded to my YouTube channel soon, to be told when that is uploaded you can subscribe to my channel using the link below:



Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Monopoly Run | Day 1

On the 12th September 2013 I set off for a weekend of fun in London. This wasn't a normal weekend in London though, I was going to be camping, and no I didn't know London had campsites either! You may wonder why I didn't check into a hotel so I could have a proper weekend city break, well that’s because it was a Scout Network event (and I am a poor student). Scout Network is a section of scouting in the UK for 18 – 25 year olds, and this weekend we were embarking on an Inter-Network Monopoly Run. This involved competing against other Network groups in the UK to visit every point on the Monopoly Run in the quickest time. There were also several challenges to complete for bonus points which we open in interpretation so I was looking forward to putting some creativity into that!

This was the day my friend, and fellow network member, Tom and I left for London. Living on the Isle of Man meant that the first leg of our journey was by boat something that us Islanders are used to but it seemed to impress the other teams. Getting a boat or the plane is the start of every holiday for me even for a simple trip to London, yet it always makes me very excited. It feels like I am going against nature, like the water was put there to keep me on the Island and yet I am defeating that. Ok, well perhaps I am not actually sailing the boat or flying the plane but there is something about being encased in a metal box for a few hours that makes me very excited for some strange reason.

Once we had conquered barrier of water and arrived in Liverpool we made our way to the station and got there with 50 minutes to spare. What do Network do when they have time to spare you may ask? Go to the pub of course, although this time we were only on the soft drinks. On the train we meet a lovely American lady who had bought an oyster card but barely used it and couldn't be bothered getting her money back so thanks to her and her daughter’s kindness Tom and I saved a lot of money on the tube. (An Oyster card is something you can use to pay for journeys on public transport in London).

Seven hours after we set off we finally reached the part of London we were staying in. The whole journey we kept saying at the next opportunity we would go to a shop and buy some food, in fact we deliberately got to the ferry terminal early to do just that, but we kept putting it off. By the time we got off the tube we were having to drag ourselves along we were so hungry. It was 10:30pm but we expected, this being London, there to be a shop open but after 20 minutes of wandering the streets all we could find was a McDonald's so that would have to do and we would think about breakfast when it came to it.

We finally made it to the campsite at 11:30pm and it started to chuck it down with rain, just in time for us to put our tents up! After getting very wet putting up the tents we finally could go to bed, ready to explore London the next day before the rest of the team arrived and the competition started the following evening. The highlight of that moment was when I remembered I had packed a proper full blown pillow, which is a massive luxury when camping in Scouts!

Well that was the first day of my London adventures, I hope you enjoyed it, this trip was four days long so as you can probably guess there will be four parts. The happenings of day 2 will be posted tomorrow when you can find out what ridiculous things we got up to, so watch out for that. I will also be uploading a video or too about the trip on my YouTube channel in the next few weeks so click below to subscribe to my channel to be told when that is uploaded:

See you tomorrow