Saturday, 23 November 2013

I won't ask for much this Christmas, I won't even wish for snow

Secret Santa is one of those activities I love and hate in almost equal measure. I work in a really small team which makes keeping Secret Santa an actual secret is near on impossible (although not quite as impossible as its proven to be in my house of three where it took approximately 3 seconds after drawing a name out to work out who everybody else was buying...). Being the person who organised it this year I tried to really implement a no cheating under any circumstances rule as last year the fun was spoilt by one of my co-workers who asked the person next to them what they'd want from their Secret Santa and after hearing that it was a nice and easy bottle of red wine ended up sat with the bag of names until she pulled out the wine drinker- sneaky! Funnily enough, I've ended up with that person pulling out my name this year. I'm really trying not to cheat and give any clues to try and make her work a bit harder this time (I know, I'm cruel!). In my eyes, Secret Santa isn't about buying the person what they think they want, the real fun is in giving them something unexpected that'll put a smile on their face, hence why I like the surprise element!

In case any of you have ended up with a name from Secret Santa who is equally as annoying as me and isn't giving any clues about what they might like (although if my Secret Santa was at all internet savvy she could probably gain a fair idea about what I might like from this post!), I thought I'd put together a few ideas of cheap gifts that you could go looking for to save the inevitable panic buying that usually happens to me with Secret Santa presents!

What ideas have you got in mind for your Secret Santa this year?

All I Want For Christmas Is You- Mariah Carey
(If this doesn't get you in the Christmas spirit, I don't know what will)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

And I'll never look back, just hold your head up

When I tell people that I work with teenage cancer patients, I often find myself cringing as I wait for their reaction. All to often I get a pained expression of sympathy that I have to do such a 'sad' job, and others just look at me like I'm absolutely mad for wanting to work in such a 'depressing' job. Its a good measure of people though, if somebody reacts and says something like "that must be really rewarding" or even just a "ooh that sounds like an interesting job" I generally have far more respect for people with that sort of reaction rather than somebody who has an automatic assumption that my job is all doom and gloom. 

Ok, so there are times when inevitably working in the big bad world of cancer is pretty tough as sadly not everybody has a happy ending, but 99% of the time its actually a pretty brilliant place to work. Cancer patient or not, the kids are still just normal teenagers most of the time and some of them are bloody hilarious... I had one 16 year old yesterday who was telling me that she was planning a house party at the weekend because her Mum and Dad were going out all the while her non-English speaking Dad was sat right next to us thinking she was telling me about how college was going. 

One thing my job really has taught me is perspective. I know so many kids who've had to go through some truly horrible, life changing stuff. I know a fair few who've lost a limb to cancer but they somehow manage to get through that and still come out of it the other end with a smile and a crazy amount of determination to make their future everything they've ever wanted and more, seizing every opportunity because they're just so thrilled they've got their lives back. It really makes me think about things if I've had a bad day or if something is getting me down. Moping about things doesn't get you anywhere- having determination to pick yourself up and make things better is what life is all about. Cancer doesn't have to be the end of the world for the teenagers I work with, and our own problems don't have to be the end of our world either. Life is for living and enjoying, none of us know how long we've got on this planet but we really owe it to ourselves to make the most of it and do everything we can to enjoy it.

Image: Pinterest

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Why couldn't we save you?

Much to my surprise, I've come to realise that I'm actually pretty excited for winter. I've made best friends with my favourite bobble hat again, today I bought myself a new Christmas jumper and I've forced everybody into picking their Secret Santa at work (although on that subject I have no idea what to buy for the person I've pulled out so am now kicking myself for starting the whole present buying process in the first place). 

I'm trying to expand my winter wardrobe by wearing my dresses from the summer layered up under shirts and big wooly jumpers to attempt to save a bit of money before all my money starts being spent on numerous Christmas dinners and trips to the Leeds German Market. This white lace dress was my best buy of the summer so I'm glad it doesn't seem to have any objections to tights being thrown under it and every possible long sleeved item of clothing I own being chucked over it. Definitely £10 well spent... well done Primark.

dress: Primark, shirt: New Look, boots: Topshop, necklace: Urban Outfitters

Something else that makes me happy to see winter rolling in is the ever growing list of gigs I've got booked or am planning on buying tickets for. Peace, Foals, The Family Rain, Haim, Bombay Bicycle Club... and perhaps most excitingly of all I'm crossing my fingers and toes about getting McBusted tickets (all illusions of my musical credentials have gone right out of the window now but quite frankly I couldn't care less... I was a huge Busted fan back in the day so just want to relive those days without the spots and general teenage awkwardness for a night).

Monday, 4 November 2013

Arabella's got a 70's head

Last week, I took a trip down memory lane and spent a week at my old school for a bit of mainstream work experience to help boost my PGCE application. I had a great little week and was amazingly not put off becoming a teacher despite witnessing the teachers' mass hysteria at the impending threat of ofsted and lesson observations in the staff room every day. 

Aside from using my degree for a real purpose (there's a first time for everything...) by explaining lots of English Languagey things to the A-level groups and being told I'd make a great teacher by some year 9 girls (I complimented one of them on her crazy collection of stationary, not sure whether that makes me an outstanding teacher or just a stationary nerd but she seemed impressed regardless), one of the highlights of the week was getting to spend a week looking at the little trends and styles the kids had. 

Back in my school days it was socially unacceptable to carry your books in anything other than Jane Norman and Kookai school bags, having absolutely poker straight hair to the point where you could practically hold a spirit level against it was an absolute necessity and every teenager needed to be seen wearing so many charity wristbands that they looked as saintly as Mother Teresa. 

The kids in school this time around were mostly wearing Kickers, there was always at least one pair of Ray Bans being sported in every classroom and the school bag of choice was a brightly coloured satchel. Looking around, the world seems to be breeding an army of mini-hipsters, but actually I thought that was pretty cool. The kids that were considered 'cool' back in my school days were generally the chavvy girls with tonnes of orange make-up and Lacoste trainers for PE and people unconsciously seemed to follow their choices of horrific shoes and school bags, now it seems the kids that set the trends have a totally different outlook on style and their inspiration and I just loved seeing it. 

People seem to think kids are growing up far quicker as the years go by, and in a lot of ways that probably is true. Despite this, what I actually saw last week was a school full of kids who were acting their own age, not trying to look older by plastering themselves in make up, and cool points being given to the kids who were happy to look 'cute' and a bit 'quirky' rather than 'sexy' and (lets face it) 'slaggy' as seemed to be the case back when I was in school. 

I couldn't decide on an image to finish off my ramblings with, so ended up delving back into the archives and finding a picture of mini-Kaz and co from when I was in Year 11. I have a feeling that if I put my old uniform on again now I wouldn't look much older than I do on this picture...