Monday, 20 May 2013

Lady of Leisure

As usual my degree and real life have consumed my time in recent months and as always, my blogging fell by the wayside...

I finished my degree just over a week ago, and now I just have to wait a few more weeks to see how much my hard work has paid off. I've been given a conditional offer of a 2:1 to study at University of Sussex for my Masters in Septembers so fingers crossed!

So what have I been up to recently?

Back in the Easter holidays I celebrated my best friend Faith's 21st at her masked ball-themed event.

Molly took an interesting interpretation of a 'mask to reflect you personality'

The birthday girl looking fabulous on the right.

As a belated 21st present, my mum treated me to afternoon tea at the Park Lane Hotel in London, along with my Aunt and Grandma.

It was a lovely afternoon, however I couldn't help but think the portions were far too small! Although you do pay for the experience more than the quantity of food! I'm so glad we got to do it as I've been harping on about afternoon tea to my mum for years.

I celebrated the end of a fantastic three years at university; eating out multiple times and dancing all night in horrendously high heels. It was a perfect end to my student life.

Now my life is starting to get back to its usual routine, I'm hoping to resume a slightly more regular blogging routine! I'll be reading and commenting on your blogs asap (I've been reading them, despite perhaps never commenting!!).

Monday, 4 February 2013

Four More Years

Today marks my fourth anniversary with Hugh. So I give you a selection of our best bits. Whilst I'm not seeing him today or any time soon because of our horrendous work loads, I did want to take a little bit of time out to look back and remember all the great things we've done together. This year we're going to try for a Scandinavian city break, and he's going to take me to my cake decorating workshop with Eric Lanlard (amazing). I'll be spending my summer in Malawi so we'll go our separate ways for a while, but then we both move back home for good after graduation. It's been an adventure  seriously tough at times but I'm pretty proud we've got this far, with over half our time together in a long distance relationship at university. So here's to the next four years and beyond!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

I Am 21!

Wow, so huge apologies for the lag in posting! I don't think I'll ever be a regular blogger, I'm just constantly busy! I'm not complaining as I love being busy. January has been hectic for me;I've been studying for my exams and now I'm knuckling down to my dissertation! Any free time I seem to spend training for my 10k race or enjoying my last few months of university.

I turned 21 back in mid December but as we all know I'm not the best for keeping my blog up to date!

It was my last day of term at uni, and I didn't have lectures so I just had a chilled morning, opened the few cards that had reached my house (Coventry post is notorious for being slow!)

Hugh sent me this amazing homemade card - it rivals the one he made for my 18th!

After a chilled morning, I waited for the arrival of four of my nearest and dearest. We had planned to go ice skating on the outdoor rink in town but it was far too rainy. Instead we settled for some mulled wine and birthday cake at mine...

These sparklers set off our fire alarm. Oops!

Then we got glammed up and headed out to Gatecrasher in Birmingham...

With the girls from back home 
 Faith and Molly, the two best friends anyone could ever ask for

My housemate and best friend Amy,who I wouldn't have made it through uni without!

My dress was an extravagant purchase from Topshop, my shoes were Miss Selfridge and my clutch was a birthday present from Amy last year! I had an amazing birthday, and despite turning 21 almost six weeks ago I still have more plans; the Ritz with my Mum and Grandma and a cake decorating workshop which Hugh bought me!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


2012 was good. I've been taking a break from blogging the last few weeks; my 21st, Christmas and revision have taken over and I just simply have no time for the fun things in life! Last night I did get to go in and I headed out to Flares for a hilarious night out...

 Free champagne cocktails with giant straws

 Attempting to dance...
 Proudly displaying my reservation plaque (now pride of place in my room)
Blazer - £15 H&M (sale)Dress - £18 Topshop (sale)
Clutch - £15 Topshop (sale)

My whole outfit (except the shoes which you can;t see anyway) was from the sales! I wasn't a nutter and got up early for the sales - I just popped into town when I had a spare hour this week.

Last year I...

...completed the Inca Trail Trek, got back to blogging, celebrated three years with Hugh (it's almost four now!), visited my Mum working out in Dublin, joined a running club, went to my first England rugby game and also my first Harlequins game, went to the Olympics and Paralympics, moved into an amazing student house, briefly worked for Coventry City Council before the cuts, ran my first 10k race, then beat my 10k PB by 4 mins to a now swift 57 mins, visited Elise in Paris, took Spanish lessons, spent my 21st in Birmingham, went to Bestival went on fieldtrips to both Swanage and The Gambia, continued to be thrifty, holidayed in Salcombe, volunteered over the summer and realised it could be my future career, applied and got accepted to go to Malawi next summer, and finally... a few weeks ago I got an offer for a Masters at the University of Sussex.

Looking back it was a fab year. I forgot that I had done so much! There were horrible parts too; there were two sad goodbyes but it just made me realise what fabulous people they were and that life is too damn short to not do the things you love, care what other people think or worry about the insignificant. So thanks 2012, you were a rollercoaster.

P.S. - huge apologies to my fellow bloggers - I haven't been keeping up with your lovely posts! Rest assured, there will be business as usual again soon.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tales from The Gambia (Part Three)

Well, here is the final instalment of my adventure!

On the Wednesday we went to Brikama, the second largest urban area in the country. Today was a demographics exercise, where we split into small groups and attempt to map the population of the town. Each group was given a different area of the town and instructed to visit different compounds, asking who lived there and what amenities there were.

Turns out everyone's definition of a compound is different! Number of inhabitants ranged from 4 to 30 people living in one compound. Some thought a compound was one building, whereas others a whole mini community.
We hopped on the bus and briefly visited the Brikama craft market. We were treated to a drum performance (even my lecturer Martin joined in) and a little dance!

I'm always up for a dance

In the afternoon we did get a little downtime... Our group joked that vacation hours were strictly between 4 and 6pm; two hours in the day which were geography-free!

Showcasing our beach volleyball skills...

Thursday was my final day of fieldwork. It was the most important day for my degree as we had an assessment based on our work over the day. Again, we were split into small groups and sent to different villages throughout the country. My group was dropped in Kimo, a village a few kilometres from the Senegalese/Casamance boarder. The Casamance region has faced numerous years of conflict in an attempt for independence from Senegal.

 St Joseph's gardening project

 Coundon Court, a local Cov football team donated 5 teams worth of football shirts

The school visit was so much fun! As the only white girl in my group, all these littlies were yelling "Toubab!!" (white person) at me; fighting to hold my hand, pulling at my hair, bracelets, clothes, anything they could get their hands on. It's a moment I'll never forget when 95 nursery school children came charging at me just to say hello!

This parrot was a pet!! He was so tame.

The brief of the day was pretty broad. Our presentation guidelines were to research the village in any way we liked and then to present a project idea which an NGO (charity) could develop to aid in the development of the village. We designed our project around a previously failed women's garden initiative which had failed because of a lack of sufficient fencing and a reliable water supply.

When the hard work was finally done, we managed to squeeze one proper night out in The Gambia (lecturers and all...)

We never found out what was so hilarious... 
 On a more materialistic level - my dress was £4 from Coventry's Cancer Research and was originally Monsoon!

All in all, my time in The Gambia was simply amazing. It was much more than I expected it to be and was so inspiring. It's made me want to graduate and get out there and start working on local projects and making a difference to communities out there!

Congratulations if you made it this far, I know it was a lengthy post!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Tales from The Gambia (Part Two)

Day three of my fieldwork was looking at farming projects. We visited Sifoe Farm and The Lifebread Project.

Sifoe was an initiative to help farmers earn a fairer wage by providing them with ways to diversify; bee keeping, solar power for example.

Sustainable farming is a huge priority. 

 This clever contraption was boiling water. Sifoe also had a solar cooker where they baked CAKES!

I also managed to buy some Sifoe honey and a pot of beeswax moisturising which worked a treat on my mozzie bites.

After lunch (and very late a la Gambian time) we headed off to The Lifebread Project which is a women's run garden. Again, farm diversification was a huge element as this not only generates more income but helps to improve diets.

The ladies welcomed us with singing and dancing (as you can see I was pulled up to dance). I got to dance with the president of the project no less!

Our bus driver was asked to clamber up his vehicle to grab us some melon to take home.

Day Four was the most exciting by far!

Meeting the head of UNAIDS for The Gambia

I went to the United Nations!! We spoke to the head of UNAIDS. In 2007 the president claimed he had a cure for AIDS, which has scuppered any other chance of HIV prevention in the country. The UN have a hard task of keeping out of his business, if he keeps out of theirs. It's simply a matter of biding their time where the UN hope they can step up their awareness and prevention programmes.

We also visited the Gambian Press Union, which as I said in my previous post freedom of speech is banned. No doubt being a journalist is one of the hardest jobs in the country and many journalists have been exiled or imprisoned. This was particularly relevant to our day as the issue of healthcare (in particular HIV/AIDS) is a very sensitive subject.

Next were visits to private and state health facilities. A British business had invested £10,000 and their man power to build the state hospital a new kitchen...

Here's the old one...

The new kitchen even has fridge storage, something the facility has never had before.

Finally we presented the state facility with some money which had been raised by students who had been on the same trip back in January. It was amazing to see that even a small amount of money will help them so greatly.

There's still more to come on my Gambian adventure..!