Starting University and getting through the first year.

In a couple of weeks time I will be back to university and to say it is life changing is an understatement, im going into the 2nd year of my Extended Media degree, but its my third year at uni as its an extended degree course the first year was similar to a college access course. I have met some fab people and friends for life even though i’m not actively doing as much as some people due to anxieties some have gone on to do greater things. Below is a post from a course friend who started uni last September feeling anxious and suffering nerves afraid of new situations etc but she climbed from her shell and over the year has been amazing here is her own words on what she has done in such a short space of time an inspiration to us all no matter what age you are.

Considering it is home time, I have a lot of incredible things that I am grateful for and that I can reflect upon. This summer I became the strongest and happiest version of myself. I have;

– Flew alone for the very first time
– Lived in Honesdale, Pennsylvania for 2 months

– Worked at a Special Needs Camp

– Came home for three weeks of family time and well-needed respite

– Travelled back to New York alone to see special people from camp

– Flew from New York -> New Orleans and travelled

– Travelled New Orleans -> Miami

– Travelled Miami -> North Carolina

– Took 2 flights on my own from North Carolina to reunite with my family in New York City

– Saw The Phantom of the Opera and Anastasia on Broadway

– Top of the Rock where I witnessed a proposal

– Fell in love with United States of America

A year ago it was overwhelming for me to even leave the house and do basic things without getting anxious. Standing where I am today, I can say there is so much more to life than being trapped by unrealistic thoughts; life is waiting to be lived, you just have to gain the courage to live it. In life there will always be moments where overcoming adversity seems to great of a challenge, but rock bottoms will teach you lessons that mountain tops can’t. I never thought I would be living proof that life can get so much better if you fight for it. This summer has only given me more ammunition to work hard for good results in my second year of University, and to work hard to earn the money to travel more. This summer will be one I will die remembering so vividly, and one I will always look back on with a full heart. I have always prided myself on being a person who refuses to live with regrets, and am so glad that I ignored my fears to create something wonderful. The things that will change you and your life will never be easy, but it will be worth every moment.

“You can be comfortable or courageous, but never both.”

special thanks must go to Sunderland University and the Students Union for all the help they provide be it financial, health and wellbeing or just needing a friendly face to chat too.

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It aint easy being wheezy

Damn You Asthma

As you may have noticed i love getting out for walks along the Durham Coastal Path, but i’ve been absent this last two weeks. I went for a walk couple of weeks ago and found it a struggle to make it up the sandbanks onto the footpath I became extremely breathless, weak everywhere, shaky and sticky, once i made it to the top which isn’t very far at all and not very steep I had to stop to take my rescue inhaler.(ventolin) the car was parked a five-minute walk away so I took my time and kept stopping to take pictures. I bumped into two fellow photographers who noticed that i was out of breath much to my embarrassment. After a brief chat I made it back to the car where I set off for home thinking I had probably done too much that day.

To cut a long story short I have been struggling to breath for the last couple of weeks but as I never go to A&E with my asthma I am totally oblivious to whether I’ve had an attack or not, take my rescue inhalers and carry on stoically or stupidly, make your own mind up. After upping the dosage of my inhalers in accordance to my care plan a week later im still struggling on, no wheeze,  peak flow rate is reasonable but not its best so i made a GP appointment to be told. My chest doesn’t sound too bad peak flow could be better, turns out I possibly did have an Asthma Attack and now have a chest infection so told to take it easy till I recover. On a course of steroid tablets and antibiotics. Moral of the story is i guess I don’t have typical asthma as i have a cough variant rather than wheeze asthma isn’t a one trick pony and can take many different forms so don’t take chances if in doubt get checked out. Asthma really is a killer and it’s not worth taking risks, (note to self)

It aint easy being wheezy.
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Bucket List

As today my other half is at work and im bored of scrolling facebook etc I thought id hit the blog up so pondered a bucket list, or things id like to do before i’m 60 (oh my im getting old). We have already decided a two year plan for when I finish University we are looking to relocate to either North Yorks or to the Scottish Borders as we both love the idea of country living, but its just not practical yet or id move in a heartbeat. Would need a job any offers greatfully accepted.

I will post my list further down but after googling I found this list 50 things to do at least once in your fifties.

  1. Karaoke. (done it)
  2. Go on a road trip with friends. yep id like this one
  3. Dramatically change your hairstyle or look. is pink dramatic enough done that in my thirties.
  4. Learn a new language.  Cheese Garlic Bread Special in Italian is appealing
  5. Formally learn a style of dance. nope
  6. Get a tattoo. already got a few
  7. Travel to an exotic destination. i can go for this one as first holiday next year to Kos.
  8. Go skinny dipping. Only if you want to evacuate the immediate area.
  9. Build something yourself (Ikea assembly, while impressive, doesn’t count). ikea and argos both done, b & q shed, tick
  10. Help fix an issue that has always bothered you through volunteering.  shoot poachers if its allowed.     List supplied from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/things-to-do-at-least-once_n_3028271.html.

Now onto my list

  1. Northern Lights as a keen photographer everyone needs to see this fab display
  2. Write a book. My life story could send a glass eye to sleep but will it sell?
  3. Hot Air Balloon. I would love a hot air balloon ride, i can even provide some hot air.
  4. Exotic Destination is up there. Barbados Bali Jamaica.
  5. Sleep under the stars, hopefully can make this come true with the 2 year plan and move to some dark sky  area.
  6. Model Photography i would love to be brave enough and confident enough to try this.
  7. Safari who doesnt love a safari failing that visit every zoo in the UK.
  8. Sit in the cockpit of a plane or flight simulator maybe the safter option.
  9. Own a motor bike, have owned one when i was younger its always the best way to travel
  10. Own a 4×4. for when the weather isnt kind enough for bike riding.

What is on your bucket list? feel free to leave a comment.

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Back to School With BOKA

Boka is the new all green for go traffic light snack you wont feel guilty about eating.  The full set of green traffic  lights means each bar is super low in fat, saturates, sugars and salts, and only 96 calories in a bar. Named after the Italian Bocca for mouth Boka bars come in four flavours Caramel, Strawberry, Apple Cinammon and Choco Mallow.

It took the creators a lot of trial and error to get the flavours right and I believe they have achieved this. Four green lights means its good to go no hidden sugars or anything else that is deemed bad for you.

The first snack bar in Europe to be low in sugar, salt, saturates and fat. Products are in line with key health guidelines -with criteria set out by the Department of Health in its Change4Life* public health programme aiming to get children/parents eating no more than two 100 calorie snacks per day. Sweet enough to temp even the sweetest pallette away from sugary food and drinks Boka hits the spot leaves you feeling like you have eaten the forbidden fruit with no guilty pangs.

I tried all four varieties but my favourites are Apple/cinammon while my other half likened the choco Mallow to a rocky road cake, High praise indeed. Ideal treats for the lunchbox for adults or little people Boka is a healthy cereal snack for everyone.  https://www.bokafood.co.uk 

So stop squinting at labels and worrying about hidden sugars, and start enjoying delicious snacks… Remember, four greenlights means you’re good to go!

 

To read all about Boka bars check out the blog from BokaFoods,

 

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WORKING LIKE A DREAM: UK’S TOP 10 ‘DREAM JOBS’ REVEALED

The day has arrived after the summer holidays the kids are back to school and the majority of us back to work. Are you in a job you hate and only doing it for the money?, or do you dream of working for yourself. Personally Im dreaming of working in PR once i finish my University degree in 20/20. I have done the dog walking/petsitting one after a few succesful years it went well when I was single but its hard when you have a family to leave them for weeks on end, unless you both do it, it can work.

  • Opportunities abound to be a model, a sommelier, or even just spend all day walking the dog
  • Research suggests daydreamers yearn for job satisfaction and a healthy work-life balance over a big salary
  • Dream jobs allow flexibility as well as enjoyment – and in many cases can command lucrative pay packages

London, 30 August 2018 – Dreams really do come true for a lucky few workers, according to new research from the world’s largest job site Indeed – which has identified 10 roles many of us grew up longing to do but have since abandoned in favour of a ‘proper’ job.

For most of us, many of the top 10 dream roles won’t even seem like ‘jobs’ in the conventional sense – spending days tasting wine, watching football or walking dogs, for example – but while they once may have felt youthfully, possibly naively, aspirational, they are still very much available and attainable.

Many job seekers are now returning to first instincts when it comes to their careers. While making a living will always be important, salary is no longer the dominant driver it was in the past.[1] Among young people in particular, the need for fulfillment and enjoyment often overrides the desire to make a fortune – even when fantasising about a notional ideal role.

As such, these ‘dream jobs’ are coming back into vogue, with job seekers prioritising their own satisfaction, a healthier degree of flexibility and a better work-life balance – many or all of which are key factors in the top 10.

As with any job, a combination of talent, application and perseverance is required to be successful, but that is not to say that anyone should ever feel discouraged from pursuing their dreams of being the next Kate Moss or John Motson – after all, somebody’s got to do it.

Job

Average Salary[2]

Model

£40,624

Fashion Buyer

£31,404

Private Investigator

£29,637

Food Technologist

£26,207

Journalist

£25,146

Dog Walker

£24,219 (£12.42ph)

Sommelier

£23,114

In-ground Football Correspondent

£20,628

Wedding Planner

£19,491

Horticulturist

£17,101 (£8.77ph)

Indeed found model to be the best paid role on the list with the average salary of £40,624, an attractive position in a great many ways – for anyone that looks the part and can walk the walk, this is a no-brainer.

Lovers of animals and the fresh air should consider the role of dog walker. Bringing home £24,219 while having endless hours of fun with man’s best friend, and getting in your 10,000 steps, this job is great for all ages and can be flexible around already busy schedules.

And football fans would doubtless love nothing better than being paid to watch the sport they love, making the role of in-ground correspondent an indulgent and enticing one at £20,628.

Bill Richards, UK Managing Director at Indeed, commented: “Having a job that allows us to feel truly fulfilled is something worth chasing, and it can be mutually beneficial.

“For employers, finding an employee who is entirely suited to the role will lead to more innovative and committed team players whose intuition and drive can lead to better results.

“The jobs we have identified on our list combine leisure hobbies with bringing home a solid salary. By striking a balance between the two, people are able to become masters of their field, and their own destinies. When you spend the majority of your day doing something you love, you will be even prouder of the work you produce.

“By highlighting that many dream jobs are within touching distance, we hope this will inspire people to invest in themselves and achieve fulfillment both personally and professionally.”

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Wedding Weather, what does mother nature hold in store for your big day?

Planning a wedding is a huge responsibility for any bride and groom to be but one thing that is out of everyone’s control is Mother Nature and the weather. On my own wedding day we had ice, snow, sleet and brilliant sunshine and i got wed in January so mostly what we expected the biggest worry was would we even make it to the Registry Office. The Fab peeps at  Monsoon have created a weather forecast to help plan your big day. Using official Met Office rainfall data, we’ve looked back and analysed 86 years’ worth of statistics to establish which days have historically been the driest and which days have been a washout.

According to the calculator April despite being famed for April showers is in fact the driest month of the year with just 2.29mm of rainfall, the 15th April comes up trumps as the driest day of they year.

I have a wedding to photograph in September and was as always preparing for all eventualities but the calculator states 39.08 percent chance of rain that day. So I will be prepared and feedback my findings. You can of course check the calculator if you date has already passed and let me know how wet or dry your big day was.

The calculator can be found here at https://uk.monsoon.co.uk/will-it-rain-on-your-wedding-day

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Madagascar comes to Sunderland Empire

Are you ready to “Move it, Move it? I am that’s right Madagascar the musical will be visiting the Sunderland Empire. From the 28th August for a short run until 1st Sept.  Click on the Picture below for a preview.

 

Based on the smash DreamWorks animated motion picture, Madagascar – The Musical follows all of your favourite crack-a-lackin’ friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.

Alex the lion is the king of the urban jungle, the main attraction at New York’s Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends – Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo – have spent their whole lives in blissful captivity before an admiring public and with regular meals provided for them. Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty lets his curiosity get the better of him and makes his escape – with the help of some prodigious penguins – to explore the world.

Since winning X-Factor, Matt has been non-stop. He’s been recording music all over the world including Miami, LA and Scandinavia. After a top 3 hit with Ed Sheeran penned winner’s single When Christmas Comes Around, he released his debut album ‘Trouble’ in November 2017. His first single from the album, Sucker For You has had nearly 60 million streams on Spotify. After Sucker For You, Matt went back to his Spanish childhood by featuring on Enrique Iglesias’s smash single, Subeme La Radio alongside Sean Paul.

Matt will be joined by cast including Antoine Murray-Straughan, Timmika Ramsay, Jamie Lee-Morgan, Shane McDaid, Laura Johnson, Jessica Niles, Victoria Boden, Matthew Pennington and Darren John.

This wacky adventure for the whole family is brought to life by Selladoor Family, the producers behind James And The Giant Peach, Seussical and The Owl And The Pussycat and Hartshorn – Hook, producers of the Olivier Award winning Rotterdam, Murder Ballad, Urinetown and American Idiot. Madagascar – The Musical is directed by award winning Kirk Jameson with choreography from Fabian Aloise. Designed by Tom Rogers, with Lighting design by Howard Hudson, Sound Design by Chris Whybrow, Musical Supervision from Mark Crossland and Puppet Direction from Emma Brunton.

Join Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the hip hip Hippo and those hilarious, plotting penguins as they bound onto stage in the musical adventure of a lifetime. Filled with outlandish characters, adventure galore and an upbeat score, you’ll have no choice but to “Move It, Move It!”

W

 

With kids tickets starting at just £15, this colourful musical will be a hit with all the family so don’t be disappointed get your ticket today from Kids tickets just £15! Tickets available in person at the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844 871 3022* or online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland*

Disclosure. I have recieved a free pass to share this info thanks to Sunderland Empire

 

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Hartlepool Steam Punk Festival

Everyone knows how popular the Whitby Steampunk event are and now there is a new event the block as Hartlepool hosts the Hartlepool Steampunk Weekend.

 Sept 8th & 9th

Steampunk Weekend, Hartlepool

Free entertainment during the day including Captain Leaky and his steampunk camper van.

The Saturday evening sees and evening of Entertainment inside the Old Town hall. Including in no particular order of fabulousness, local North East band The Pastures, Illusionist Foxee Stole, legendary swamp-dwellering slaughterhouse blues band The Wattingers, multi-talented Greg Chapman (Juggler, Comedian, Unicyclist, Escapologist, Storyteller, Magician….), the very lovely Burlesque Dancer Pansy Cheung, and headline act, The Filthy Spectacula. (I am advised to issue a health warning here – under no circumstances get into a drinking contest with The Filthy Spectacula, hospital food is disgusting.) You can get tickets online, £18 and no booking fees, http://www.crewe-steampunk-convivial.co.uk/?

And for those wondering what the heck is Steampunk the answer is

So, a Steampunk Festival in Hartlepool!! But what on earth is Steampunk?

Well, it is nothing whatsoever to do with mostly absolutely dire 1970’s “Punk Rock”. It is a genre loosely based on re-imagining Victorian Science Fiction and Fantasy, such as the works of H G Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mary Shelley.

You can see it’s influence on television and film productions – the recent Kit Kat Advert’s Time Machine, films such as The Golden Compass, Hugo, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Wild Wild West, and the upcoming new Peter Jackson blockbuster, “Mortal Engines” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRsFc2gguEg&t=48s

It spreads through literature, fashion and music, and best of all it is easy and inexpensive to join in! The basics are probably in grandad’s wardrobe or the nearest charity shop, and from there you can bling it up to your heart’s content as you go along – the only limit is your imagination! And you won’t find a more welcoming and friendly bunch of people. In fact, I’d say it’s probably the most fun you can have with your clothes on!

This is a first for Hartlepool and if its successful it will be back so please attend we need more local events like this is our fab area.

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The Milky Way

Some people would think it mad, some foolish staying out till 3 or 4 am to get a shot of the milky way, but that is what me and a group of friends done last week. ive always wondered in awee how people get these fab photographs. So when my local group decided to have a late night i was up for the challenge. We set off at 9pm in a convoy of 3 cars headed for “Dark Skies” driving along familar roads with street lights then out into the country side crossing single lane bridges that were built for horse and carts.  After and hour and a half we pulled into a car park of which the entrance had hundreds of sheep asleep on it. They werent to happy at being disturbed. As we parked up, about 50 metres ahead of us was a tree the moon was quite low in the sky but not a cloud in sight. Within half and hour the tree was beginning to disappear into the darkness as the sky begin to fill with a thousand stars.

We then began setting up our tripods and cameras while gazing in awe at the fab sight that was unfolding overhead. The stars where multiplying and you could see the beginning of a milky white cloud that is the Milky Way.  This was one WOW of a moment and for a few minutes we all just stood in wonder admiring the stars and noticing the odd shooting star.  In the pitch black cameras ready to start clicking and praying the camera was set up right as altering it in the dark isnt easy, more so when you are use to using auto settings with a flash this is a totally different kind of photography. My camera was set with the lens wide open to let in the light, with the iso boosted as high as i could get it and long shutter speed set at 25 seconds I set about getting my first photo. I was pretty much out of focus when i viewed it back so refocussed on the tree with the help of a torch then the second short was wow i got it. Then it was a case of getting as many as possible as in the distance we could see some low cloud rolling in.  So that was the end of our night shoot but the time had flown by and it was 1.30am, time to head home to bed .

For my first attempt at “astrophotography” i was over the moon almost literally and its given me to motivation to get out more and push my limits and learning. Below are some of my pics taken using a Nikon D5000 and 18-55mm kit lens.

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Digital Scavenger Hunt

The Hunt is on: Students could win a year’s tuition fees by completing digital scavenger hunt

The UK’s largest student accommodation provider is giving students a chance to win a year’s free university tuition, if they can complete a ‘digital scavenger hunt’. The Leap Digital Scavenger Hunt will send digital-savvy students on an adventure around the internet for the chance to earn more than £9,000 – equivalent to a year’s tuition fees – as UK fees remain the highest in Europe.

The UK’s largest student accommodation provider has launched a digital scavenger hunt which gives students a chance to win a year’s free tuition, if they can complete the three-round challenge.

Unite Students is offering £9,250 to one lucky student who successfully navigates the Leap Digital Scavenger Hunt. Starting on the Hunt’s specially created website, contestants will set off on a tour of the internet, pitting their wits against a series of clues as they go.

Students can start the hunt here: https://scavengerhunt.unitestudents.com

Since being introduced in 1998, tuition fees have risen from up to £1,000 a year to £9,250 a year making them the highest in Europe. Fees are currently capped at £9,250 for each academic year*.

The Hunt consists of over 15 stages, spread across three different rounds, and spans the internet from social media to well-known online platforms. At the end of each round students will need to enter the code they’ve uncovered into the Scavenger Hunt website, at which point they will have completed a round and be given the next clue.

The full hunt will begin on the 8th August and students will have until the 5th September to make it to the end of the final stage and make their submission. Once a student completes all three stages they will be entered into a prize draw to win the year’s tuition fees. The winner will be announced on the 12th September.

Entrants must be 17 years of age or above, and have a place secured at a UK university for the coming academic year.

The hunt is part of Unite’s wider The Leap campaign which recognises that making the move to university is a complex life moment. Unite know that the better prepared young people can be for that big leap to university, the more seamless that move will be and the better able students will be to rise to the challenges that such a big life change brings. The Leap campaign urges teenagers and parents to engage and have conversations about The Leap earlier, so their expectations are more closely aligned to the reality of university life.

Unite Students was established almost three decades ago and is the UK’s largest purpose-built student accommodation provider, welcoming 50,000 students each year to set up their new home with them.

John Blanshard, Chief Customer Officer at Unite Students, said,

“Through years of extensive research and insight, we know the challenges involved in making the leap to university. We understand that this is a complex life moment not just for students but for parents too. We also know that the better prepared people can be for those challenges, the easier they’ll be able to meet them. That’s why this year, we’re incentivising our students to take part in our digital scavenger hunt, a fun way to engage with a variety of digital platforms, as part of The Leap campaign. They’ll be discovering different places where we provide useful information that will help support them as they prepare for this next big exciting step in their lives.”