Thursday, 17 October 2013

Highstreet Foodweb

If cities are ecosystems and cars, pedestrians, and all the other road vehicles form a food web, cyclists are most definitely at the bottom. Their existence is rarely acknowledged and then on the rare occasions someone notices a bike, it's usually to complain about them. A bit like rats in London; most of the time they're forgotten about but when one is seen everyone panics and calls the exterminator. OK, maybe not the best of examples, but as a cyclist I often feel like I'm treated with the same level of disdain.

I definitely have a number of cycling horror stories, so if you're my parents, grandparents, or anyone who is remotely concerned about my survival as I journey to and from university and prone to worrying, I advise you to stop reading now.

If I had a pound for every pedestrian I've almost knocked over in the past year, I could probably afford to get the tube to university for the rest of this year. Pedestrians will wait for a car but as soon as they see that it's a cyclist coming, nope, not waiting. Even though it may be green for me, I still have to break and swerve to avoid knocking over the London commuters like pins in a bowling alley. Admittedly, most of these aren't near misses, just very frustrating for me considering I'm a cyclist who actually stops at red lights (unlike a number of other cyclists, including a PCSO amazingly enough!) However, I have had someone walk between queuing cars, straight in front of me in the cycle lane. The man didn't do a quick check to his left, or even respond to my (understandably) annoyed "Hey! Watch it!" and just continued chatting into his mobile. You would have thought a London businessman would be used enough to the idea of cyclists in London and there being a number of cycle lanes meaning the cyclists don't have to stop in the queues with the cars but nope, another case of cyclists not existing.

Pedestrians aren't the only culprits, Taxis are some of the worst. Often impatient and stopping in the most awkward of places. I've had at least one, and probably more I've forgotten about, almost knock me over because they've impatiently tried to get into the bus lane and not checked their mirrors. I had a motorbike do something similar with me having to test my brakes to their limit. Last time I checked, motorbikes aren't meant to use the cycle lane however this City Sprint motorbike zoomed into the cycle lane to skip the queue without checking and was mere centimetres from causing some serious damage to either me or my bike. I'm not easily shaken but that was the scariest incident I've had while cycling.

The most awkward bit about cycling in London is the fact that I'm expected to use the cycle lane but most of the time it's either not there, being over taken by half a car, full of pot holes, or has a car, van, lorry, taxi or bus (although to be fair the buses can't help it) sitting in the way. Going round these obstacles isn't half scary as no one wants to let you out of the cycle lane because you'll slow them down, even if it is for a few seconds, and there is rarely any gap. Nevertheless, I need to get round as I'll either be waiting until the drivers finish unloading in the case of vans and lorries, or I'll keep having to stop every bus stop because in London, where bus stops are so close to each other, I am more often than not faster than the buses.

Thankfully, it's not all doom and gloom. Most bus drivers will be patient enough to stick behind you unless it's a significant distance to the next bus stop and a driver or two have been known to make my day by politely letting me out as if I were a car. I could moan more about cars in the cycle lanes and lorries not cyclist space despite bearing stickers asking us to give them space however, on the whole, I quite enjoy cycling. It's nice to get some exercise and pass over London Bridge on my way to university, seeing some of the sights rather than being squished up against someone's armpit on the tube. Until I either get enough money for a private helicopter or teleportation is invented, I think I'll stick to the cheap and healthy cycle to university.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Would you like a book?

Yesterday evening, the American author Maureen Johnson was given a Waterstones shirt and "free reign" of the Oxford Street store. A university friend and I went along to both meet her and try to resist the urge to buy books. That... well.... failed...

You see, I couldn't leave without buying one of Maureen Johnson's books (which she kindly signed) and then, well, I read the back of Every Day by David Levithan and just couldn't resist the urge to buy it. Also, "Let It Snow" was in the same offer so why not get a signed (well, 1/3 signed) copy?!

In the last 24 hours, I've already finished reading Every Day. It's been a while since I've just devoured a new book but each time I do I remember just how much I enjoy reading. Yesterday, as we were talking about books and reading blurbs, it reminded me of the thrill I used to get when I went through the bookshelves of the library, searching for an exciting new read (except with the constraint of money...). I wanted to buy half the books and I feel like I should let myself buy one or two new books a month to read, or at least read a couple of new books each month.

Books are a new world where you can get absorbed and forget your troubles. Time passes in a completely different way with only hunger and tiredness occasionally interrupting. You go rapidly from page to page, absorbing each word, not wanting the illusion to be broken; letting the fictional world become your own and never wanting to leave.

I want to be reminded of the awesomeness of fiction more often so readers, hold me to that and remind me every now and then to read a new book or chuck a suggestion my way!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I'll think of a title later...

I am a queen procrastinator, and I hate it. Most people procrastinate from time to time; those reports you don't want to do or a visit to the doctor but I've been known to procrastinate things I enjoy doing. Don't even get me started on the things I don't want to do.


[proh-kras-tuh-neyt, pruh-]
verb, pro·cras·ti·nat·ed,pro·cras·ti·nat·ing. 
verb (used without object) defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost. 
verb (used with object) put off till another day or time; defer; delay.
1580–90; < Latin prōcrāstinātus (past participle of prōcrāstināre to put off until tomorrow, equivalent to prō-pro- + -crāstināre, derivative of crāstinus of tomorrow; crās tomorrow + -tinus suffix forming adjectives from temporal adverbs); see -ate

What is worse is that I've somehow managed to justify this ability to "put off till another day or time" but doing other things that are useful, but not necessarily the most important. I might have some reading to do for university so I'll go clean the bathroom. Report to write? Go do the washing up. Dissertation to sort out? No problem, go back and do that other less important university reading!

Procrastinating university work sort of makes sense. Insert physiological analysis about being scared of getting a bad mark or doing it wrong so just avoiding the situation. However, where is the logic in putting off writing a blog, playing my flute or doing some painting? I enjoy those activities. I'm not getting marked on them so I can't get them wrong. The flute playing nobody even has to hear if I time it right so what is my problem?

I guess the only way to do it is to force myself into doing these tasks. I mean, once I start I generally go 'oh, that wasn't so bad' or something along those lines. It's the actually starting that I suck at.

And on that note, I'm going to go make myself doing some extra reading for one of my lectures. No clicking around on the internet, no distractions, just the thing I'm meant to be doing. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

With this ring....

I've been noticing recently that a LOT of people have got engaged or married in the past year. From January in fact. Close friends, sisters of close friends, acquaintances, friends of acquaintances, childhood friends I've not spoken to in ages, other friends where the radio silence hasn't been quite so long. Facebook of course, keeps me up to date with 'developments' and probably exaggerates the number. I mean, how many of these weddings and engagements would I know about if it weren't for Facebook? Probably only about half of them.

I guess at 20 I'm reaching the age where relationships aren't just giggly "so and so likes so and so" affairs but serious commitments of many years. A number of these couples I remember when they initially became 'a thing' while others, I'm so out of touch with that I've never even met their significant other to be.

Watching people who have been going out roughly the same amount of time as me and my boyfriend, and in some cases less, makes me think. Here isn't the place to share the outcome of those thoughts (assuming I've come to any sort of conclusion) however I will ask you this: Is marriage peer pressure a thing?

Growing up, the "get a boyfriend/girlfriend, get engaged, get married, have kids" is the overarching life-plan drilled into us, intentionally or not, by TV, books and films. 'Firsts' is always the big thing too; from the first to go up a stage in reading books, to the first to graduate to using ink pen, to first boyfriend/girlfriend and first kiss.

Having so many peers get engaged and married in some ways makes me wonder if I'm 'being slow' and means I'm definitely not 'first' in any stretch of the meaning. However, I just need to keep reminding myself that being first isn't everything. Engagement and marriage is hardly something you rush into and I'd much rather be the very last than be the first and then regret my decision. Nevertheless, I am curious as to where I'll be in a years time....

EDIT: since I wrote this, I've found out my boyfriend's cousin also got engaged this past week. Seriously, is there something in the air?!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Explaining my absence

So, two posts have passed since my period of absence over the summer and I hear you all still wondering: what exactly were you up to?

Well, do you want the short answer or the long answer?

Short answer: Brunei, Scotland, Paris, Leysdown, Crowborough, Roothill

Long answer:

After my two field trips as I've mentioned in my previous blogs, I had a few days breather before flying over to Paris for a short holiday sightseeing. Being under 25 and citizens of the EU, me and my boyfriend spent our time using this to be as touristy as possible at pretty much zero cost. We went round as many art galleries and museums as possible, including the Louvre obviously, seeing the Mona Lisa, Van Gough's amazing artwork including a few of those seen in the Doctor Who episode, Monet's waterlilies, and a huge number of other pieces of amazing artwork, a number of which I spent my time frowning at the plaques, trying to remember if they'd been mentioned in my GCSE art classes. We also went to the Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company, a French games shop, under but not up the Eiffel Tower, and I definitely didn't try to visit as many of the landmarks mentioned in "Anna and the French Kiss" as possible....

After Paris, I headed back "home home" to my parents to spend a week with them, visiting family and just generally having 'family time' seen as it was to be the only week of the summer I was free to do that!

I then headed off to Leysdown on the Isle of Sheppey to spend a week with United Beach Missions. I had a challenging but encouraging and enjoyable time sharing the gospel in the wonderful Sunday School style of the 2.30pm program and running about playing various games in the morning. Unfortunately, the week was interrupted by the terrible news that a body had been found on the beach preventing the use of the beach and shocking us by the lack of concern in Leysdown. Not to mention that our presence on the football field the previous evening meant that we were all questioned (no, the police don't have a box that neatly describes my hair colour). A sensitive and sad interruption to the week but we pray that it highlighted the importance of the message we were sharing.

On a lighter note, after not quite a week at home, I headed off to Crowborough to lead on the same camp as I grew up going to and led on last year. However, this year, I was on catering, having to make sure there was enough food for breakfast, lunch and supper (thankfully someone else was cooking the evening meals!). The catering went much smoother than I expected, even if we were slightly short on cakes and had way too much milk left over! I had an amazing discussion group, some of whom I had last year and it was so encouraging to see how they had grown as christians. I shared my testimony on the Friday which was daunting but some of the comments afterwards were encouraging and then in the evening the traditional midnight feast ensued. My part involved feeding the campers and one of the leaders various nice and not so nice food items in a taste test style including dog food. Well... sort of... *wink nudge* It got a brilliant response!

After a weekend to recovered from the lack of sleep inflicted by camp followed by only four hours on the last night, I eventually headed off to Roothill Camp, the last long distance trip for Noah the car... (More on that another time...) I initially wasn't going to go to Roothill at all what with it being straight after Crowborough however, how could I miss such an awesome camp?!

We (Beth and I) got there late afternoon on Wednesday, in time for Beth to talk about her trip to India with GBM's Envision program and to enjoy two full days of this relaxing but challenging camp to finish off my summer. The Thursday was the annual visit to Littlehampton and, like most years, we got fish and chips, played crazy golf, went on the Dodgems and the Waltzer. Unlike normal, I managed to lose my glasses on the Waltzer.... Josh was mortified that he had managed to knock them off my face however, knowing I had a spare pair in my bag and after having scratched them the week before, I found the situation rather funny! However, we still had a good look for the flying glasses and, on not finding anything, left my details with the fairground people. I'll let you know if I hear anything but I'm not holding my breath...

So that brings us to now, where I'm back up in London, pretended to be productive but actually putting off doing more of my coursework and dissertation research. Summer over and third year looming over me...

Friday, 13 September 2013

Dolphins in the Deep

Remember where I was at the end of July? No? Well, read this blog post first because this is a follow up from that post and, well, you might get a bit confused....

So, I left you wondering, will I see dolphins in the two days left in Scotland? The second day on Mull consisted of a land based tour and the weather wasn't anything special so we didn't see any dolphins. However, as the title of this blog (totally not nicked off an Animal Ark book..) might suggest, the last day was much more promising...

The third day we were out with Sealife Surveys on their boat, Sula Beag. We had barely started the transect when, someone thought they spotted a dolphin a way off. Sure enough, there were a couple of dolphins swimming parallel to the shore. Awesome! I thought, I've seen some dolphins! The thing is, someone else pointed out some more dolphins, and then another few dolphins and soon we seemed to have 16+ dolphins swimming around the boat, close enough that we didn't need binoculars.

Wow, I thought. No doubting I've seen some bottlenose dolphins and the ten year old in me was ecstatic! However, the dolphins must have decided that they hadn't put on enough of a show. Two dolphins swam alongside the boat, no more than 5 meters away at one point. I was barely containing my excitement. I whipped out my little point and shoot knowing even that little thing could get a photo of these elegant creatures.

I felt 10 again. However, this time, instead of reading about dolphins in an Animal Ark book, living precariously through the eyes of Mandy Hope, I was the one seeing the dolphins mere meters away. It was breathtaking. I'm pretty sure our bird sightings dipped at that point because nobody was looking up, only down!

This is the boat's picture of one of the dolphins we saw that day, much better than any I was taking! I'm pretty sure increasing the shutter speed isn't something I can do on my little camera...

I was ready to go home at that point. I'd seen more dolphins than I thought I'd even see, and all without leaving the United Kingdom, however this was just the beginning.

Less than an hour later, a shout of "MINKE!" came from the other end of the boat and, sure enough, a minke whale was surfacing surprisingly close to the boat. We then saw that same whale surfacing after diving another two times before we eventually parted ways.

Of course, a number of harbour and grey seals were seen along with a plethora of sea-birds however harbour and grey seals are slightly less exciting once you've spent some time in Scotland and have spotted some cetaceans!

Essentially, after the dissapointment of the first boat trip out on Mull, the last day more than made up for it. Sure, we may not have seen a killer whale or a basking shark but hey, you can't have everything.

I'll leave you with a group photo of everyone on that boat, grinning away after such a successful day 'whale-watching'. Can you spot me?!

"So long, and thanks for all the fish."

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Mantis in the Shower

In the crazy business that is my typical summer, I somehow slipped from giving you the occasional update to leaving you in the dark. No, the zombie blog hasn't been killed by a stray mortal, just sleeping while I continued to travel about.

As those of you who have been reading know, my summer started with heading 14+ hours around the globe to Brunei in Borneo for a field trip. This already seems like a distant memory, despite being less than 3 months ago. Nevertheless, it's an experience I don't want to forget and hey, didn't I mention I'd share some pictures with you?

Meeting some friends of friends (and some of their friends!) and getting taken on a tour of Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital...

 Trying some of the Local food (this particular morsel tasted a bit like a doughnut..) and in generally being overfed yummy Brunei-an food....

 Finding that THIS was our view for our first week; experiencing the rainforest which is sort of like British woodland but at the same time NOT AT ALL THE SAME. (I mean, so many different sounds, smells, different species of animals and plants where ever you look and an amazing sense of God's creation, despite being surrounded by atheist scientists); and having "ooh! can we catch that?!" being exclaimed every other second in the evenings when insects galore were enticed by the bright lights....

 Getting up BEFORE BREAKFAST to kayak on a swap full of crocodiles, and then heading back out again after a noodle-y breakfast to collect more samples. Oh, and then heading back out in the evening to go searching for crocodiles.....

 Handling tiny bats (this one here is a fruit bat, Latin name of Balionycteris maculata if you care...) and catching, marking and recapturing dragonflies, as well as seeing many other stunning critters everywhere we looked....

Dissecting a fish from the swamp which had a gut length of almost a meter which is about eight times as long as it's body length....
Entering C3 forest (basically forest that's so protected we could only going in because we're 'scientists', had permission, and had rangers with us) and seeing hords of termites and ants absolutely everywhere and getting bitten but a number of ants (the smaller being the more painful!)...

Travelling between sites primarily by boat via a mangrove where we saw this cat snake...

Having tree frogs right next to where we were sleeping and finding a giant spider in the bathroom. Apparently the story goes that one of my friends went to the lecturer saying "there's a spider in the bathroom", the lecturer assumed it wouldn't be that big and went up to see it/remove it by hand only to go 'oh...' and go fetch a rather large jar/measuring cylinder from the lab. Side note: that spider then started to spin a fine web at the bottom of that jar as if preparing to lay eggs so we released it pretty rapidly!

Getting up before sunrise so early  (about 4am!) that with the 7 hour time difference, my friends in England were still awake, but not regretting it at all because we got to see the run rise over the canopy and walk in amongst the highest branches...

 Finding a beautiful mantis in the shower and having bats flight mere centimetres above our heads as they were catching the insects attracted to the lights on the walkways....
Watching my lecturers get so excited over the creatures they found, as well as getting excited myself by giant stag beetles and another giant spider spinning a web on the side of the walkway....

Finally, having to leave the beautiful, hot, sweaty, mesmerising tropics, wishing I could have taken more photos and treasuring the memories and few decent photos my little point and shoot managed to capture for me.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth"
Genesis 1v1

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Cetaceans in the Clyde

Once again, I'm on a field trip. This time in the not so sunny Scotland. For the past week I was on the Isle of Cumbrae at Millport's marine research centre and as of yesterday, I am on the much less sunny Mull.

With two full days left, I've been spending the majority of my time on various boats, looking out across the water recording sea birds, seals and their behaviour, and other marine mammal sightings (which have unfortunately been a lot less abundant than the birds!)

When I was younger, I was obsessed with dolphins. My room in my parents house is still covered in various dolphin paraphernalia and something about the elusive and notoriously playful marine mammals fascinated me. As I've grown up, my obsession has lessened as I've found out about equally (or more) awesome animals however dolphins still trigger that initial childlike obsession.

Unfortunately, I haven't been very successful at sighting dolphins. I've seen a few porpoises (which are close enough) but the spinner dolphin our group saw earlier was on the wrong side of the boat to me and didn't hang around long enough and I was again in the wrong place when a large group of dolphins were seen from the window of the communal area. With only 2 days left, I am very much hoping I fulfil this childhood dream of seeing dolphins but I guess we shall wait and see!

Of course, the lack of dolphins does not mean I haven't had a great time. We stopped off at one of the islands with a tremendously large colony of puffins and the sight was immense. Seeing so many birds fly about in almost a swam and being able to see their behaviour up close (not too close I must add, we didn't want to disturb them!) was incredible. Hopefully I have a decent photo on my camera!

Scotland is lovely. It's nice to be back here however, after almost a month of mainly being away from home, I have to admit I am very much looking forward to going home, being able to go to church on a Sunday (rather than spending it working!!) and spending some quality time with my boyfriend.

So long blogger, I hope to see you soon.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Leaving the tropics

Today is my last day in Borneo. Soon I will be jumping on a canoe then a minibus then another boat to get back to Bandar Seri Begawan before jumping on a long haul flight back home.

The past two weeks have been amazing and it will be weird to go back home but I have to admit I'm rather looking forward to seeing everyone and sleeping in my own bed!

The thing I'll probably miss the most is the abundance of awesome insects and creatures popping up around every corner. Mantids in the shower, massive spiders on the walk to breakfast, giant moths near the laundry room, and tree frogs just beside our accommodation. Everything at home is small and relatively boring in comparison!

However, I have to leave at some point. So, goodbye Brunei and hello England!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Enjoying the rainforest

For the past week and a half, I have been in Brunei, Borneo, on a field trip studying tropical ecology. In fact, I'm still here now, looking out from our accommodation at the rainforest which is currently living up to it's name. Yes, if you hadn't guessed, it's tipping down with rain. Thundering too at the moment but I don't think the name is going to be changed to 'thunderforest' any time soon.

We are currently at the Kuala Belalong field studies centre which means we're in forest pretty much untouched by anyone except animals and biologist. Trust me, it is stunning. As I've been walking around the forest and travelling along the river, it's amazing to see all the beautiful creatures, all the bright colours and vivid greens, how much larger everything seems to be compared to the British counterpart and how much more painful it is when they bite you...

I'm hoping I'll have some amazing photos when I get back to a place with internet that doesn't slow down to snails pace whenever it rains or more than 2 people are using it but for now you will have to take my word. Moths larger than my hand, ants that could rival some of our British spiders in size, spiders that could rival our blue tits and sparrows for size and birds that come in all colours of the rainbow. Oh, and did I mention the bats? So small yet fly so elegantly as they pick insects out of the air.

Sure it's ferociously humid and it took most of us a week to acclimatise fully but I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying myself. Kayaking around a peat swamp searching for crocs, setting camera traps, going into forest barely touched and off limits to the general public, waking up to the sound of cicadas, falling asleep to the sound of barking geckos and almost tripping over a massive moth on my way to bed. Part of me doesn't want to come home.

However, Sunday is fast approaching, home time looming, and I want to enjoy as much more as I can fit in without exhausting myself too much. Canopy walk tomorrow morning at 5am is currently on the agenda!

See you soon England!

Monday, 10 June 2013

We're all going on a summer holiday

My exams are over, and now my summer is spread out in front of me like a wide river that needs to be crossed and I've barely dipped my toes in. If you hadn't already gathered, I have an awful lot planned for the next few months. I think I'm spending more time away from home than at home and I have no idea when I'm going to have a chance to see many friends and family. Nevertheless, this summer is going to be exciting.

I've only ever flown once before (a trip with school to Poland) and this summer sees me doing three return flights, one of which is the long journey over to Borneo. I still haven't quite processed the fact that I'm flying to pretty much the other side of the world in less than a week. I have all the things I need to take, flights are booked, last meeting was today, however, it still seems unreal that I'm actually going to be leaving the UK. Maybe by the time I'm all packed properly it will seem more real. I guess we shall see.

Of course, Borneo (Brunei to be more specific) is only the beginning of my summer. The first of two third year field trips which will both be a mixture of fun and work. I'm currently unsure of the ratio... Nevertheless, these two trips alone take up practically a whole months worth of summer and that's before you include the usual volume of volunteering and a four day trip to Paris. Busy doesn't really cover it.

Unfortunately, this means I'm going to be away from my home church(es?) for most of the summer. At the most I'll have two Sundays in London and the same applies for Kent. More annoyingly, four of those Sundays will be swallowed up by travelling to, from or during the two field trips. I love my university course but I do wish I didn't have to miss so much church to join in on the field trips. On a more positive note, three of those Sundays will be taken up by plane journeys so I can still listen to sermons. Talking of which, can anyone recommend any particular sermons and give me a download link? I never know where to start!

Therefore, although I have only just started getting back into this blogging malarkey, I cannot guarantee regular updates over the summer. Sure, I'll have a lot of exciting things going on but who knows when I'll have time to tell you about them?! Maybe this is the year of the scheduled posts....

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


In my embarrassingly long absence, I have had a rather large number of comments. Well, by large, I mean more than the odd one or two from friends that I know read my posts. Unfortunately, these haven't been wonderful new people who have discovered my blog hoping for me to post more. Instead these have be spam.

Most spam is just annoying. I don't want to look at your website, even if that link is genuine; what I want is constructive discussions and feedback. Nevertheless, before I have a tidy up and delete these comments boosting my comment numbers (probably reporting them for spam), I thought I'd share some of the funnier ones.

Some of the posts, like this one look like they might be genuine... but it just seems too stilted...
Good dаy! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it's new to mе.
Anyhow, ӏ'm definitely delighted I found it and I'll be bοok-marking 
and checking back often!
 However, most of them it's just so obvious that they haven't read the post and that, in fact, they are probably a bot.
Write more, thats
all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on 
the video to make your point.
You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on 
just posting videos to your blog when you could
be giving us something enlightening to read?
This one was  posted on Settle ALL THE PLACES! Which, is most definitely not a video... But thank you bot for calling me intelligent... I think...

Ok, it felt like there were most spam post than this but the rest were much of the same, if anything duller. However, after a comment spring clean, I urge you to leave comments. I'd like to think actual intelligent comments will encourage me to blog more... I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Examinate, examinate

Exams are pretty much unavoidable if you want recognition for any form of education. Whether it's a food hygiene course or a university degree, there is bound to be at least one exam. Between May and July, students everywhere can't ignore that fact as they sit at individual desks in sports halls and classrooms across the country, trying to focus on the paper in front of them. Of course, I'm no exception.

At my university in London, everyone has around 8 exams, all approximately 2.5 hours long. If you're lucky, you have them all nicely spaced out over the whole of May; if you're like myself and a number of others on my course, you'll end up with a clump of three in,a row. Always helpful for knowing how to order and organise the revision.

The thing about exams is that I'm never very sure if they're the best way to test the knowledge we should have gained over the year. Sure, they're the easiest way to standardise marks and bulk assess but are the people who get good grades the people who will be the best employees or are they just the ones who are best at memorising and conforming to the system?

I'm not saying I have an alternative.far from it. Coursework can only test some areas and there simply not enough teachers for each student to be individually assessed over the year. However, with the age of the internet, you can find any journal article you need without searching the shelves of the library and a lot of text books are now ebooks, almost eradicating the need to step into a library or memorise facts quite so precisely. There's an ongoing debate whether this is making us lazy or just helping us focus more on what we're really interested in but I have to admit, I'm yet to use the university library for books...

Whatever your opinion on the accuracy of examinations, I think most people agree that they are stressful and unenjoyable. So, as I head home from exam 5 of 8 I'll ask you: is there another way to test our assimilation efficiency?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013


In the silvery light of the new moon, rats scurried over the abandoned tombstones of blogs past. Every now and then, a new stone would appear, already covered in cobwebs, cracks showing through the mist, but no one was there to see them come. The only movements in the whole graveyard were the scurrying and flapping of unwanted rodents, taking refuge in a place long forgotten. A grey mist covered the whole site, hiding the edges. If anyone had been there, they would have assumed that the graveyard went on forever: the shrivelled grass, withered plants, moss covered tomb stones and the deathly silence. Almost everything was thought dead in the graveyard. This dilapidated  deathly place was where blog ended up accidentally  abandoned by their owners and stagnating in the air of forgotten musings.
Today, the graveyard seemed to be the same as every other day. The sun still couldn't quite break through the clouds, the rodents present as ever and the silence almost deafening. Until, a scratching noise broke the never-ending silence. The rodents ran in panic away from the personal section of the graveyard, scurrying in every direction as a grave marked only as shifted conspicuously. The ground began to shake and the ground beneath the grave seemed to be rising up.
The noises got louder and louder. The scratching became a deafening roar, joined by screams and moans. First one hand then another burst through the vibrating ground until a fully formed, yet somewhat decaying, blogger burst through the ground.
"Braaaaaiiinnnnsss" moaned the blogger, slowly but surely heading towards what she hoped was the land of the living. For today was the day that the zombie blogger attacked....

So, technically, this blog is dead. It had an official funeral and everything however, I have decided to bring it back. I mean, I didn't really intend to let it die in the first place however I guess life got in the way and then I got out of the habit and then... well, just imagine your own excuses, they're probably on the long list somewhere.

Technically, I should be revising. I am half way through my second year exams (4 down, 4 to go) with another exam tomorrow afternoon. However, after a very stressful exam this afternoon and a feeling of relative preparation for tomorrow, I decided now was as good as any other time to revive this stagnant blog.

It has been way too long. I mean WAAY too long... I've finished first year and almost finished second year, move from university to (rather leaky) private accommodation and  have been busy with goodness knows how many things.

However, the main reason I've wanted to revive this blog before the summer is because I am going to be VERY busy in the summer and, as this includes going to Borneo, I am hoping to keep some memories of this summer in more than just photos. It would be nice to be able to look back and see how I felt, what I experience when my camera wasn't in my hand, and what events I thought were most important at the time. This is going to be a big summer, not only because I'm doing so much but this is potentially my last proper summer holiday as I have no idea what I'll be doing after university.

So, keep on bugging me and don't let me slip up so badly again!

I hope to see you soon,