Saturday, 11 October 2014

Oh no, and that's how summer passed


Hello world! Sorry for my non-existence in the blogging world lately! As some of you may remember, I started a PGCE last month to set me off on my merry way towards becoming an English Teacher. Since then, I've been a busy little bee finding my way around my first placement school as well as having loads of Uni stuff going on too. I'm absolutely loving it though, I'm learning a lot and I can't wait to get stuck in teaching my own classes now. I've amazed myself with how organised and let's face it nerdy I've become since starting the course, somehow I'm almost enjoying writing my first essay... Being a big grown up person I've found it a lot easier to motivate myself to do work than I did when I was doing my undergraduate degree and have found myself thinking "Why did I never do this at Uni?!" so often over the last few weeks. So I thought I'd put a little list together of things I wish my 20 year old self knew or did, and hopefully it might help one or two of you out there too!

- Putting in the graft, doing your reading and writing your assignments is a billion times easier if it's a topic you're interested in. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my English Language degree, but sometimes no matter how much I tried, reading about corpus linguistics and other, erm, fascinating topics just wasn't ever going to fill me with much enthusiasn. Obviously there'll be some elements of your degree you'll like better than others, but think carefully when you're picking your modules (and even your course!) to make sure you're going to have enough passion to push yourself through.

- There are actually a lot of hours in the day. Ok, so I'm living a very different lifestyle to the one I had a few years ago, three years of working full time waved a sad farewell to midweek nights out, but if you have time off USE IT. I spent so many hours rewatching Friends and Come Dine With Me and just doing anything I possibly could to avoid work (including one time when my housemate and I spent HOURS throwing a foam lemon to each other instead of writing our essays...), but being used to working full time, I've been trying to get up at a reasonable time on my days off and then either packing myself off to the library to work for a good few hours or setting up a fort in my bed to work from there. It makes it SO much easier and you'll find you've got more time for fun in the evenings if you make use of your days.

-Kind of linked to that last point, but making the most of your time at Uni is so important. I did little bits and bobs with a few societies in second and third year but didn't get involved in anything in first year. Now I'm a postgrad, I keep thinking of loads of different societies I'd join if I had more free time to play with. Make the most of it while you can. Once you've got a busy full time working lifestyle ahead of you you'll wish you'd done all the exciting things you don't have time for anymore.

- Weekly planners are your friend. On one of my big stationary binges a few months ago, I bought a weekly desk planner from Paperchase. Now, not having a desk, I've had to find my own uses for this (mostly just throwing it into whatever folder/notebook I'm carrying around that day) but I've been using it religiously each week to set myself tasks each day and to remind myself when certain pieces of work need doing by. So simple, but it works so well and there's something really satisfying about scribbling things out once you've done them.


Anyone else out there got any tips you'd give to their younger self?



Monday, 8 September 2014

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow

(image: Pinterest)

Two leaving dos, three last days and countless goodbye hugs later and I've finally left my job. I've spent the last three years in a job I absolutely love, helping teenage cancer patients to stay engaged with education during their treatment.  Although I technically finished my job at the end of August, I was asked to come back last week, challenged with the task of handing over my job and everything that went with it to my replacement. It was so strange to be introducing somebody else to all the families I've spent so long working with and saying "as of next week, this is who you'll need to speak to instead of me", there's a part of me that is itching to phone up the office and check that she's remembered to speak to so and so about what we discussed last week, or to ask her to check with such and such's school about the whatdyamacallit. I've never been in a position where I've left a job I truly cared about before, and it has made me strangely protective of it. 

I'm trying really hard to put my slightly obsessive attitude towards my old job to one side and let the new girl have her new beginning there in peace, whilst in the meantime I focus on my own new start. This week I've got my induction and registration day for my PGCE and in a few weeks I'll be let loose in front of gaggles of secondary school students whilst I try and teach them English. To say I'm scared is an understatement, but I'm also incredibly excited. I've gone from a job where I felt like an expert, and suddenly I'm at the bottom of the ladder again. But actually, that's not a bad thing at all, I'm excited to challenge myself, learn lots of new skills and become an expert in something new.

So here we go. Teaching, I'M READY FOR YA.

(If somebody could remind me of this positivity in a month or so when I'm drowning under piles of lesson plans and marking it'd be very much appreciated...)


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Life lately...

Well hello there internet, its been a while! I've still been living an internet free existence, and I've resorted to spending my time in various coffee shops around Leeds, eating cake and catching up on important internet based things (mostly New Girl and GBBO...).

Since I've been without wifi for so long, some of the posts I'd have otherwise written seem a bit redundant now so instead I thought I'd do a bit of a whistlestop tour of my summer to bring all you nosy people out there up to speed with what I've been up to over the last month or so.

Harewood House


Mama and Papa T managed to squeeze a day trip to see little Kaz in a few weeks ago (anyone else's parents have a busier social calendar than them?). Considering I've lived in Leeds for 6 years with such a huge stately home and park practically down the road, I'd never taken a visit except when I did a Color Me Rad run there a few months back (but we were too busy throwing paint around to pay too much attention to the surroundings!). The weather was bloomin' beautiful and we spent hours and hours wandering about the grounds. I love a good family day trip, especially when we end it in one of my favourite pubs for tea.

Big Reunion


Its been three whole years since graduation now (although I still have difficulty coming to terms with how old that makes me...), and somehow it had been two years since the five faces above were last in a room together. We finally managed to pin everybody down to a weekend in August to meet up and catch up on the gossip from the many, many months that had flown by. We spent ages running around Asda picking up plentiful supplies of hummus, popcorn and any other picnic food we could get our hands on before heading off on a trip to Temple Newsam to see the animals at the farm. After eating our body weights in cocktail sausages, making a few furry friends and playing running around after a frisbee we headed back home to get ready before an evening of bowling and ping pong at Roxy Lanes and Roxy Ballroom. Normal bars just aren't enough for me anymore, unless there's some sort of drunken sport I can participate in I'm just not interested! 

Corfu



The big activity of the month was a well deserved summer holiday to Sidari in Corfu. We mostly spent the week eating unimaginable quantities of saganaki, drinking crazily cheap cocktails and gazing longingly at a God-like Greek waiter at one of the restaurants. All the stereotypes of a Greek holiday right there. My personal highlight of the trip was the waterpark as I have the holiday requirements of a 10 year old, the 25m freefall slide was one of the best/scariest things I've done before... mostly scary because my bikini top came undone somewhere along the way down the slide. The people at the bottom of the slide don't know how lucky they are that I had a sunburnt back and had put a t-shirt on to cover it up...

 Back home

The week after my holiday I had a few more cheeky days off work and headed home to see my parents. I did myself proud and managed my first solo mission on the motorway to anywhere further than Ikea (which is about 5 mins down the motorway from where I live...) all the way down the M62, through the centre of Liverpool and back to my Mum and Dad's house. I mostly just enjoyed being able to sing along to my driving playlist without fear of people spotting me at traffic lights! Whilst home I had a yummy meal out at Bill's, caught up with my friend about her wedding preparations and had a look at Liverpool from the top of the Cathedral before driving back to Leeds (and missing my junction on the motorway because I was too busy singing along to Biffy Clyro).

Leeds West Indian Carnival

My Bank Holiday Monday was spent in the rain, feeling grateful for my nice warm coat and many layers of clothes whilst watching lots of people in very minimal costumes parading down the streets of Leeds. The Leeds West Indian Carnival is one of the biggest in the country, and since I wasn't at Leeds Festival this year (sob) I was around to go and have a nosy with friend. The costumes were incredible, and despite the rain there was a brilliant atmosphere (which may have been partly due to the crazy amount of people I spied swigging vodka and rum straight from the bottle as they danced down the parade route!).

Alton Towers


My buddy and I took a trip to Alton Towers last week. I hadn't been for a few years and was bouncing around like a child (see, I really am a 10 year old...) the whole way there. Considering it was still the summer holidays, we didn't have to queue all that much, except for The Smiler where we spent 90 minutes queuing under the ride watching endless carts of people whizzing past us. By the time we'd got to the front of the queue my knees were knocking together and I was starting to question why I'd ever wanted to go on a ride with 14 loops in it, but I wasn't planning on letting an hour and a half's worth of queuing go to waste. And OHEMGEE it was so worth the wait. Well done Alton Towers, you did good with that one. 


Congratulations if you made it to the end of this mammoth post! Normal service shall hopefully resume on here once my wifi has been fixed.


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

So that you'd leave me alone in Leeds again


On Saturday, my buddy and I tried to have a little road trip to Ilkley lido to make the most of the rare outdoor swimming pool friendly weather we've been having. Alas, we got there to find out they'd stopped letting people in at 12.30 as it was so busy (it was 12.35 when we arrived...). Instead we went for a wander and an ice cream whilst we formed a back up plan to keep us entertained for the afternoon.

So we hopped back into Betty, my awesome new car, and drove to the fruit picking farm in Horsforth (with only a slight detour thanks to the satnav thinking that the farm was down a residential street in the middle of a housing estate...).  All that was left in the fields was raspberries as the strawberry season had just finished so we set off on our merry little way to the raspberry fields. The man at the stand told us that the raspberries were becoming harder to find but that there should still be plenty for us to fill our basket with. He was right, but we did have to keep disappearing into the depths of the bushes and branches to find anything worth picking- hard work when the weather was so crazily hot! We were very proud of ourselves when our dedication finally paid off and we wandered back to the man with a basket full of yummy looking berries. There's just something far more satisfying about picking your own fruit than pulling it off a shelf at the supermarket, and they definitely taste better too!


On Sunday, I realised I had a humongous box full of raspberries sat in my fridge as we'd not managed to make a real dent in them yesterday. Worried that they were going to quickly go past their best, I sarted plotting ways I could make something exciting and raspberry based.  I decided to experiment with ice lollies as it was far too warm to be slaving over a hot oven. With no recipe in front of me I tried to turn my lovingly picked fruit into tasty lollies. And actually, they seem to have worked pretty bloomin' well! And being the kind-hearted soul that I am, I'm going to share my secret recipe so that you have an excuse to go and pick your own fruit too!



Raspberry Lemonade Lollies

Ingredients:
250g raspberries
juice of one lemon
1-2 tsp honey
1tsp caster sugar
about 100ml lemonade

To make:
Weigh out your raspberries and mash them together until it forms a liquid. 

Seive the smushed up raspberries to separate the juice from the seeds (I then added some of the seeds to the bowl to make the lollies seem a bit more 'natural' without it being totally overrun with seeds but that's just personal preference).

Squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl of raspberry juice, add the sugar and honey and mix together well.

Pour the mixture into ice lolly moulds (I got mine super cheap in Primark!) so that they're about two-thirds full then top up each mould with lemonade.

Put in the freezer until frozen then sit out in the sunshine and enjoy :)
  

If anybody has any more summery ice lolly recipes then let me know- I'd love to try out more ideas!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fever, why won't you explain?

On Friday, I had a cheeky little day off work which turned out to be brilliant luck as it was such a sunny day! I'd been planning on meeting Mama T in Manchester for the day to do a spot of holiday shopping (14 days to go!), but when we realised that the Liverpool Giants were starting their journey around the city on the Friday I decided to travel a little bit further so we got to see something a little different. 

The Giants have been to Liverpool before a few years ago, but I was away the last time so didn't have a chance to catch them. I'm really glad I got to see them in action this year as it was simply incredible! I'd have loved to see more over the weekend if I'd been at home for longer than just the day as it would have been great to see the whole World War 1 story unfold. The Giants are big Marionette puppets controlled by lots of pulleys and complicated mechanisms that make them walk, blink and even snore- even without getting a picture of the whole story it was really fascinating to see them in action and really lovely to see such big crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of them (although the crowds weren't so lovely when there was a 40 minute queue to get back into the train station at the end of the afternoon!).









Liverpool really has made a name for itself in terms of culture and arts events these days, its bloomin' lovely to see huge events like this taking over the whole city and bringing a great atmosphere along with it.

Friday, 4 July 2014

And everyone's buying bicycles

Leeds and the rest of Yorkshire is awash with yellow at the moment. The Tour de France is starting here tomorrow and heading around this beautiful County before heading down to London and over to France where the real action starts. I've been brought up watching the Tour as my Dad's a bit of a cycling fanatic but its always been one of those things that has mostly passed me by (my main memory of it whilst growing up was that the constant cycling on the telly throughout July getting in the way of me watching Saved By The Bell..). 

This year's a little different though. Seeing Leeds being given a bit of special treatment and having lots of cycling themed things popping up all around the city centre has made me far more excited about the whole thing than I would be when its just on the tv. I love big events that brings loads of visitors to your hometown... it makes you appreciate how awesome it is when you see the crowds of visitors enjoying themselves! 




Last night, there was a parade through the city centre ahead of the Opening Ceremony at the arena. We got let out of work ridiculously early to avoid the road closures (these really weren't going to affect me given that I walk home from work but who am I to pass up a 3pm finish?!) so I got there nice and early to save myself a space right at the barriers for when the teams headed past. The atmosphere was brilliant and it was great to see lots of the cyclists up close- they were clearly loving all the attention the Leeds locals were giving them!





It was a brilliant opportunity to take lots of snaps- I'm glad I thought ahead enough to take my camera to work with me that morning! I've been instructed by Papa T to take as many photos as I can over the weekend as my Mum 'accidentally' booked their holiday right over this weekend which meant he couldn't come over to see it all himself. I'm secretly trying my luck with a photo competition that Yorkshire Building Society are running as I think if I won the prize so my Dad could go and see the final moments of the Tour when it gets to Paris later this month it would make up for the fact that its his grumpy daughter, who would have much rather watched Nickelodeon than cycling, who's getting to take pictures of it all instead of him! 



(This isn't a sponsored post, however I did get told about the competition and since I was planning on taking loads of photos this weekend anyway it seemed like the perfect thing to get involved with!)

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lighting the cracks in the road

image: Pinterest

This afternoon I went to the funeral of a 15 year old cancer patient I've known for most of the time I've worked in the world of teenage cancer. It was incredibly sad to be at a funeral for someone so young, but I think every person took away a really positive message from the day. He'd always been a massive inspiration, and will forever stick out in my mind out of all the kids I've had the chance to work with as I'd never met anyone with as much spark and love of life. 

Since being told he wasn't going to get better around this time last year, he had set about pursuing a bucket list, with everything from swimming with sharks to going to his prom being on there. With the help of his friends and family he managed to complete an incredible amount and had some brilliant adventures out of it. Top of his bucket list was to go to America and visit New York, which amazingly he managed to do just a few weeks ago despite being so ill by this point. As a celebration of his enthusiasm to grab life by both hands and achieve everything he could in the time he had, his family arranged for a bucket to be placed at the front of the crematorium. They then proceeded to hand out post it notes to everybody so we could all pledge to start our own bucket lists and make a promise to him to do something new or aim for a particular goal. The post it notes were then going to be put into the coffin with him so we'd all be sure to keep our promises. 

For any curious people out there, my promise was that one day soon I'd make it to America too. Partly for him, but also for my Uncle Stuart who also visited New York before he died back in April. Since both people absolutely fell in love with the place, I feel like its only right I go and see what all the fuss is about someday!

Even at his own funeral he managed to be a huge inspiration, with every single person there coming away from there feeling inspired to go out and live their dreams for someone who couldn't do that for himself any more. 

What's at the top of your bucket list? I'm nosey and would love to know :)



Sunday, 22 June 2014

I'm just trying to put the world to rights

Yesterday was a bloomin' beautiful day. For me it summed up what summer weekends are all about, wandering around, sitting in the sun drinking cider and spending quality time with friends. My lovely friend Coral bought me a voucher for Afternoon Tea at Harvey Nicks in Leeds for my birthday and we finally got around to using it (three months later!) this weekend and so we decided a day of fun around Leeds was in order to make the most of the celebration.

We started off the day in Roundhay, one of my all time favourite places in Leeds, for a nosey around the Farmer's Market, croissants in an awesome little deli and a wander around the park (complete with an ice cream too of course!). Roundhay is one of those places I've always turned to for a bit of city escapism since moving to Leeds as its easy peasy to get to from town (always a bonus back when we were poor students who didn't know anywhere else to get to via public transport!). It seemed as though half of Leeds had the same idea as us today as it was crazy busy, but its one of those places that's so vast that you barely notice the other people at all.



top: Topshop, skirt: Primark, sandals: Topshop, necklace: Primark

After a lazy afternoon we headed back into town for our trip to Harvey Nicks. We've eaten in the restaurant before and I love the atmosphere in there- its fancier than the sort of places I usually visit, there's no denying that, but its not snobby at all and the food is beauuutiful. Afternoon Tea was just lovely, we missed the explanations of what most of the cakes were as we were too busy admiring the pretty stand of treats in front of us, but wowee it tasted good! Plus they get extra points for letting me have a lemonade instead of a hot drink as I'm a peculiar sort of blogger who hates tea and coffee... 





Our final stop of the day after having a lazy wander around a few shops was to The Pour House in Granary Wharf for a cider in the sun. One of my favourite places to sit on lazy sunny days is a patch of grass right by the canal on the other side of the canal to this pub and I've spent many days gazing over there and vowing that I'll visit soon. It beats your average beer garden hands down as its a great place for watching people and the barges on the canal. I've already made plans to go back for food soon...





I love days like this (mostly because its largely revolved around food...). I feel like we packed an incredible amount of stuff into one afternoon but at the same time had the perfect relaxing day to unwind from the crazybusyahhh week I've had. Hope you've all had a good one too!





Thursday, 19 June 2014

I'm a little too young with not enough time

During my laptop free life, I made possibly the easiest, tastiest treats ever known to man and it caused me a lot of sadness to know I couldn't instantly share the joy with all of you chocoholics out there. Fear not, because I've been saving up all of my excitement about these beauties for all this time ready to post about once I had a working laptop at my fingertips. 


I'm talking about Oreo chocolate truffles. Three ingredients, no baking, no fuss, what more could you ever need in life? 

To make these beautiful little things, all you need is:

two 154g packets of oreos (I used the ones with chocolate creme just to add a bit of extra chocolatey goodness)
1 tub of Chocolate philadelphia (they work just as well with just ordinary cream cheese but once again I decided a bit of extra chocolate wouldn't go amiss)
150g milk chocolate

To start, put the oreos in a plastic bag (or whizz them in a food processor if you're fancier than I am) and take out your frustrations on the biscuits with a rolling pin until the oreos are ground into fine crumbs. 
Pour the ground up oreos into a bowl with the cream cheese and mix together until it is all combined. 

Take a small amount of the mixture and roll into a ball. Repeat this until you have used up all of the mixture. 

Put the balls into the fridge for 30 minutes or so. 

Just before you remove the balls from the fridge, melt your chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of water or in the microwave.

You've got a few options at this point. You could easily add lollipop sticks to the balls to turn them into cake pops as this will make the coating a bit more even all over or just leave them as I did and hope that the lucky recipients of these treats are too busy enjoying the taste to notice the imperfect presentation. 
Coat each ball in chocolate and then put back into the fridge for about 30 mins until the chocolate has set. 

Remove from the fridge about 10 minutes before serving, you could even go crazy and cover them in glitter like I did (yes, I was hoping the glitter would hide the parts where the chocolate coating had come off!)


See what I mean about them being easy to make? You'd be crazy not to give them a go! 


Sunday, 15 June 2014

I want someone to be, and someone to drive around town

Whew, this feels strange. I've been stuck in the dark ages for the last few weeks as my faithful old laptop decided to throw a paddy and corrupt the entire hard-drive. I finally had to give in and buy myself a shiny new laptop this week and so after hours in PC world discussing the pros and cons of different models with the salesman (which ended in me just saying "look, I want this one because its purple") I'm back in the 21st century and back in blogland. Hooray.

This weekend, I had a lovely visit from one of my favourites. She brought her car down to Leeds so that we could do something other than spend the day in Topshop (aforementioned new laptop has ruled out shopping from my life until payday rolls around). We ended up in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park since it was a lovely, warm day. I'd been there once before with Mama and Papa T and really enjoyed having something interesting to look at other than a view as we wandered around so thought it'd be the perfect place to head to for a picnic and a bit of fresh air. 

Here's a few snaps of some of our favourite sculptures, we had a lot of fun pretending to be trendy art students trying to make ourselves seem knowledgeable and artsy to the people walking past.







We followed our trip to the Sculpture Park with a night out in Leeds which accidentally turned into an evening of watching the England game as even the most unsporty bars had big screens up. It was surprisingly fun, mostly because none of us had our glasses on so we spent the first 20 minutes or so convinced that we were a goal up... whoops.

(Anyone else feel really nostalgic about The Kooks having re-emerged? I feel like I'm 15 again!)