Shameless plug

Hi everyone!

I’ve recently started a new blog (in addition to this one) related to all things Physics and Chemistry. These are the subjects in my degree so are obviously very close to my heart, and I would love to get more into writing about them to combine two of my favourite things.

I’m going to be posting a news story related to the physical sciences every Wednesday at 3pm, and I also have a variety of pages talking about how the science I learnt at A Level was expanded to a first year university course. It’s the sort of thing I wish I had when I wanted to push myself more in sixth form and read more around what I was learning to deepen my understanding not only for myself but for my UCAS application and interview preparation.

It would really mean a lot if you checked it out – it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s close to my heart and I’m really proud of it. You can see it here. Thank you!!

A weekend in Marsden (near Huddersfield, UK)

This weekend I met my boyfriends dad and stepmum for the first time. It was nerve-wracking and scary, but my breath was taken away by the place we met. I joined them on their family holiday in Marsden, near Huddersfield in England.

We stayed in a little house by the canal and a small reservoir. The sun shined (once in a while) and made the water sparkle. There were lots of locks, which are used to change the water level of the canal so that barges can travel even when the water level would change.

We explored around the area, including the information centre about the Standedge tunnel, which is the longest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain. It is three miles long, and too thin for the horses which used to normally pull the barges, so they had to be pulled along by two men who lay on the sides of the boat and stepped sideways. It took about four hours to get through the tunnel this way! We also strolled up to Close Gate bridge, which was beautiful.

For the rest of the weekend we read our books and chatted, had some lovely meals and cake at ‘Crumbals on the Corner’, which were all delicious, and mooched around the village. We had some strange encounters – a man who asked us to catch his dog for him while he watched from his car, and a very chatty (and a teensy bit drunk) man at the train station.

My boyfriend then came to visit my family for a couple of days. I won’t bore you, but we read, watched a lot of The Flash (finished season 1) and some Desperate Housewives (also finished season 1), baked some cupcakes, played card games, went for a couple of short walks and even managed to squeeze some work in!

My Easter Weekend

Amongst the endless drone of work and revision it’s important to have a rest. I had a lovely weekend, (almost) completely work-free, with my family and in the sunshine (surprisingly, we had a lot of sunshine!).

We went to visit my grandparents in Worcester. Not many people know where Worcester is, but it’s a city in the west midlands in England, and is actually very pretty. No surprise, it houses the original Worcestershire sauce!

My grandpa is quite ill and had recently moved into a residential home, so it was good to be able to be there for my grandma. We had a lot of time inside, playing card games, reading and chatting and it was lovely to be able to unwind. I went for a jog (!), did an Easter egg hunt and had some lovely meals out, but the highlight for me was going to Spetchley Park Gardens on the day that it opened.

We spent the afternoon strolling through beautiful Victorian gardens, complete with a glistening lake, quaint bridge, deer park and Georgian mansion, and even a little church. It really was stunning, and there was even an easter egg hunt for the (not so little any more) kids (including me, obviously!).

Easter holidays

Term is finally over!! (bit of a delayed response, since it finished on Friday)

I’ve done a lot of sleeping, including more naps than I’m proud of, a bit of partying (like, one party) and actually a lot of work.

By the end of this term, as with every other term, I felt swamped with work, with loads of things I’d pushed to the back burner as summatives built up and everything got more hectic. Last term I made the mistake of getting a train home the evening of the last day of term, and it did not go well! I was exhausted, slept on the train (waking up after that’s always stressful!) and was not in the greatest of moods when I finally arrived! I didn’t really let myself have a break either, and started working straight away.

This time, I stuck around for a few days. I had time to celebrate the end of term on the Friday evening and have a proper lie in on Saturday. I had a really lovely chilled day on Saturday, featuring a picnic in my living room, a film and a walk with the boyfriend. I felt rested and ready to get myself sorted before I left.

I spent the next three days making notes from some of my lectures so I wouldn’t have as much to carry home and to make a start on revision. I got packed up, had cosy evenings in with a film or the Wii (I’ve never played on a Wii until this term how crazy?! It’s really frustrating and I hate it). I got home yesterday evening, in a much better mood and ready to have a proper chat with my family, and carry on working today.

I decided not to have a lot of time off at the beginning of the holiday because we’re visiting my grandparents over the Easter weekend and I’m visiting my boyfriends dad later on in the holiday so I’d rather have them off. It gives me slightly over a week off this holiday, which I think is a reasonable amount of time to have a break but get loads of work done for my exams, which are in eight and a half weeks…..

Bellringing

I’ve mentioned bellringing a lot in my previous posts, but never really explained it!

Basically, bellringers are the annoying people making all that racket on a Sunday morning when you’re trying to sleep, or an evening when you’re trying to get some last minute work done. We don’t do the clock bells every quarter of an hour, which is something that disappoints a lot of people I tell. We have practices in the evenings and sometimes go on tours during the day, ring for church services and weddings, and sometime do more extended lots of ringing called peals and quarter peals.

The first step to ringing is obviously ringing the bell. The bell is attached to a wheel, with a rope around the edge. The bell starts in the upwards position for normal ringing, and pulling the rope spins the bell round a complete circle to make one ‘ding’. Pulling the rope again gets the bell back to the original position.

Once that’s sorted, the next step is to ring with other people. At the start of any ringing the band will begin with rounds, which is when the bells are rung in descending order. After this the order can be changed by following the instructions, or calls, of the conductor, or by ringing a method.

Methods are where it really gets exciting! Each method has a pattern that each bell follows, with each bell starting at a different point. At set points in each method there is the possibility of a ‘call’, where something different happens, and then the method carries on, potentially from a different place. Learning the methods and ringing them doesn’t sound amazingly exciting, but somehow it is!

And going to the pub afterwards is always good.

An update

I’ve been looking back at some of my old posts and I used to do loads of little updates, which I haven’t done for ages!

It’s nearly the end of my second term of second year at uni now, and it’s hard work! The last few weeks have been particularly hectic, with both Chemistry and Physics lab reports to do, a massive programming assignment and a few tests. The minute everything started to wind down I got ill, as I wrote about last week. I had to take a few days off to recover, and immediately after the work began to pile up again.

I’m also trying hard to write as much as I can for the university newspaper and blog, which I started doing this term. I’m really loving it – it’s so rewarding to spend an afternoon researching and writing, and having something to show for it by the end of one sitting!

I’ve been looking for internships but so far been unsuccessful. I had a lovely day being interviewed in Edinburgh for one placement, but in the end nothing came of it. I’m hoping I can get some more applications in soon. I really don’t want to spend all summer with nothing to do, and it would be great to make some extra money and get some more experience. I’m hoping to do a lot of writing over summer, and maybe some tutoring.

I’m enjoying ringing still, and have got the boyfriend to join too! I’m the master of the society now, which sounds a lot grander than it is. I run the practices and Sunday morning ringing, and sort out things like quarter peals and striking competitions. I’m also organising a  tour to Birmingham for the coming summer, which is a big challenge for me.

I’ve had to take some time out from brass band, as my Mondays are just too tiring for me to want to go or enjoy it while I’m there. I’m still in concert band, and we have a concert coming up next week. I have a solo(!) so that’s a bit scary.

I’m looking forward to Easter, just to have time to really go through all my notes and do loads of questions. I’m feeling a lot better about exams this year than I did last year, but I didn’t do fantastically in the January exams so I hope it’s not false confidence. Hopefully I’ll be able to have a bit of a rest, and visit my grandparents and my boyfriend’s family.

That’s about all – it’s been a bit of a bullet point tour but it’s actually been quite interesting for me to go through each aspect of my life and think about what’s new!

Being ill at uni

Freshers’ flu was over months ago, but now’s the time those midterm blues hit and everyone’s immune system seems to take a break!

Being ill at uni, especially in your first year or for your first time, can be much harder than you expect. All you want is to stay in bed and be waited on hand and foot, and no-one’s there to do it for you! Not to mention loud parties in the evening keeping you up, a cold house to save on bills and having to actually go out and buy your own soup and drugs.

Having had a very bad cold for the last week, feeling exhausted and freezing all the time, I’ve realised how much having a back-up supply of paracetamol and a few little luxuries can do to keep you going. I think it’s also important to try to keep up on work. Even if I couldn’t make it to lectures I tried really hard to get the notes sent to me and go through them every time I felt vaguely human. In these tough summative times it really helped me stay less stressed, which made me sleep better and feel a lot better emotionally.

Now I’m on the mend, and while I’m still somehow sleeping 11 hours a night, I know how important that sleep is and I know how much better I feel because of it. In the past I’ve neglected sleep as I’ve had so much to do all the time, and now I still have demands on my time but much more of it is more flexible about when I do it, which I’m very glad of.

I was also very lucky having my boyfriend come over a couple of times a day to make sure I was okay and to make me food! Hopefully you have someone in your life who’d do this for you too.