Category Archives: Uncategorized

Snapshots: Hexham in the Autumn

This is my favourite season and not because it also happens to include my birthday. The colours, freshness and frankly beautiful sunrises as I drive to university make me want to whip out my camera along the dual-carriageway.

I’ve not managed to get out an about as much as I’d like but here a couple of my favourite photos from the last month or so.

World’s Largest Underground Trampoline

I discovered while reading the in flight magazine on a Ryan Air flight that there is a series of trampolines…..in a cave.

I know….exciting right?!

Located near Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales,  the giant trampolines are strung inside a huge cavern twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral linked by 60ft slides!

I am definitely going to have to check this out.

Trampoline2-web

Active Citizen?

Earlier in the year I spent three months volunteering in India. I went for a number of reasons but the outcome has had quite an impact on my life since returning to the UK. I’ve come to realise that people talk a lot about been proactive and engaged with society. They are quick to deliver heart felt opinions, share their thoughts on news articles, criticise politicians. But what are they actually doing in their own community? What am I doing in my community?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to go on a rant about how everyone should donate 10% of their wage, give up their Saturday morning to serve at a soup kitchen. I mean these are great thing to do and by all means go ahead I’m just thinking about what it means to be an active citizen.

Scotland is soon to vote on it’s independence. I wonder how many Scots have thoroughly researched what a vote either way would mean for them, for Scotland and for the UK. It is a huge decision and been able to exercise a right to choose is wonderful but I don’t think it should be taken lightly.

Been an active citizen can come from the smallest thing but I believe everyone should take an interest in their Local. What is going on around you can often be strangely hidden but it doesn’t take a lot to discover it and do something positive.

While walking in the Lake District last weekend we came upon a group of volunteers working to clear the small gully’s dug across the path to allow the natural flow of the water to continue down the mountain without turning the path into a little stream. As it’s coming up to winter this will make a big difference to all those continuing to walk in tougher conditions, keeping the path free of more mud, water and Ice. Taking the excuse to stop for a rest we chatted and these volunteers are just people who enjoy fell walking. They come from all over the North of England to help out. It’s not a lot but it makes a difference. And the smallest things can make a big difference in the long run. Even if it’s just to the few brave adventurers who walk on through rain, wind and snow.

As for me, well since returning I have taken a lot more interest the world around me. I’ve always been interested in politics and society but I’m making more of an effort to actively contribute.

 

I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realised I am somebody. (Lily Tomlin)

 

Life Update

Hello again fellow internet people,

I started this blog I suppose as a kind of online diary as well as somewhere to share and record my favourite photographs. I’ve had a week away in Kos, Greece (pictures soon to follow!) with no wifi but I’m now back and connected again!

Update on the job front – Still nothing. My telephone interview was successful however they appeared not to be as impressed in person ! Onwards and upwards!

I am now thinking about purchasing a new camera. Partly to keep me occupied in this hopefully brief unemployment interim but also because I feel its time for an upgrade. My current camera is slightly battered from all it’s years of use and miss-use. It’s hard to narrow down exactly what i want! Right now i’m thinking some kind of Bridge camera. I want the quality but not the bulk. It all very techy…..we’ll see what I end up with!

Any suggestions on camera’s much appreciated !

 

 

Preparing for a Telephone Interview

GOOD NEWS – I’ve got a telephone interview!

First reaction: OMG I HAVE A TELEPHONE INTERVIEW!!

After 10 minutes: OMG….I have a telephone interview. What do I say.

I’ve been looking for a job for a while now. About 95% of my applications aren’t even responded to. 4% I get a polite rejection email explaining that after high levels of applicants I failed to meet the necessary requirements. The other 1% I get telephone interviews.

This time I’ve made it to my top 1% 🙂

Now I think about it, I hope I’m not jinxing it by writing about it.

I don’t mind telephone interviews. This could be because I’m quite happy talking to people on the phone (I used to be one of those people calling you up to complete surveys…sorry everyone).

I reckon telephone interviews are just a chance to for employers to see how confident you are. Yes, I know they give you questions and see how you deal with particular scenarios but if you sound confident, polite and positive they’ll like you no matter what you say (within in reason I suppose). They can teach you the other stuff. When you start you’ll be given protocols, a line of management to follow.

You need to make them think, yeah I could see myself working with this person. They already have your application and think you might have the required skills or they wouldn’t be phoning you.

So switch on the confidence, add a dash of humour and a sprinkle of charm and I’m sure you’ll fly through to the next stage.

And don’t worry if you embarrass yourself. It’s a phone call…..no one knows what you look like right?!

Unemployment and Keeping Positive.

Hello my fellow Internet People,

I am unemployed. Not by choice and not by lack of trying. That’s just the way it is at the moment.

It is FRUSTRATING. STRESSFUL, DISHEARTENING.

Trying to fill my days is a battle at the moment. A battle that if lost I fear will not end well. Negativity, poor self esteem a lack of confidence are all things I fear will slip in and make my chances of actually getting a job even less likely.

Looking at the news, Youth Unemployment stats are everywhere. And now I have a whole fresh new batch of graduates to compete with!

I look at job advertisement and have to constantly stop writing myself off before I’ve even sent in an application. ‘Its something I’ve never done before, its out of my comfort zone, I might not tick every specification they have, I’ll have to learn something new’.

If I reject myself, an employer certainly will.

Off course i’ll have to learn something new, of course i’ve never done it before. I’m (almost) fresh out of education, I’ve never had a ‘proper’ job before. But I have to realise that that’s ok, employers want entry level applicants. Or they wouldn’t advertise for it!

Keeping positive is the biggest challenge. And keeping busy is a great way of doing that.

Volunteering offers a great way to keep busy, meet new friends and fill that gap on your CV while you wait for your perfect role. It also makes you feel pretty good about yourself. I’ve had a lot of fun volunteering over this last year. Possible too much, it might have gotten slightly in the way of job hunting.

Other ways I’ve found to keep positive is having something to look forward to. Plan a weekend with your friends, organise a family get together or plan a holiday! Have something exciting to look forward to once a month makes a huge difference. And I’m not saying only be social once a month, I mean doing something different once a month!

Or start a blog! The littlest thing really can make a difference to your outlook and that will ultimately help you sell yourself positively to employers and get that job you dream of.

….Hopefully….I’m still waiting on my dream job….any job really.

But really you just need to sit down and write the best application you have ever written. I believe finding a job is a numbers game. Sooner or later it’s going to be your lucky day.

We can only hope its sooner rather that later. I am quite optimistic though 🙂

A day in the life of a volunteer

One of the biggest things I wanted to know before going abroad to volunteer was what exactly would I be doing.

What would I eat? Who would I live with? What should I wear? How much teaching would I do? Would I do it all by myself? Would I get to explore the area?

Those questions can never be fully answered before departure. Everyone’s experience will be different. But here is an honest account of what I experienced on a typical day volunteering.

(To give a little background before I jump straight in I was placed in a rural community with three other English volunteers for 3 months. We worked in pairs to form two teams; the health team and the livelihood team. We were also joined by two national volunteers who knew the area, the language and the general set up.)

So………..

Generally we would wake up around 9am. Morning showers were a distant dream…a bucket of cold water sufficed. On a good day this came straight through the taps but more often than not we had to take a trip to the well and haul some out. Many a bucket was lost down there before we got the hang of it/bought stronger rope!

Our national volunteers would arrive at our flat at around 10am (bus dependant). We would then go over our plan for the day (if it was a Monday, spend time time planning the weeks activities). Typically we would spend the morning planning lessons or events and visiting local leaders/teachers/health professionals etc to ask permission to carry out workshops, invite students to events and maintain our presence to build up a good working relationship. Mornings were also spent carrying out questionnaires in local villages.

After lunch we would teach in schools. We developed workshops which lasted around 3 hours. Split into our two teams we would rotate students so each class had a health and livelihood session. We would then head back to our resource centre to hold informal lessons and games with any people that turned up.

We would head home around 6pm. The evening was then spent writing up the days events, walking into the village to buy dinner, playing on the roof with the neighbours children and watching netflix (if the power was on!).

This is just at typical day, we did many one of things such as maintaining kitchen gardens, holding events, meeting with various local social groups as well as a lot of exciting things like traditional weddings and weekend trips around the region.

As someone who can’t even handle a jalapeno on a slice of pizza I was seriously worried about the food. Spice is not my thing. It hurts. But, the food was ok, even sometimes quite enjoyable! We had little/no variety day to day. For breakfast we usually fried of some eggs and toast or dosa. Lunch was my favourite meal of the day; parotas with sambar was my go to dish. Alternatively chicken biriyani was available. Evening meal tended to be veg fried rice or chapati’s. Idli is traditionally served with most meals to absorb the sauce. Only your right hand is used to eat food.

Clothing is also something to consider. Women and men have to be covered up. It seemed odd to us that women had sari’s that showed off their stomachs yet it would be rude and shameful to have your shoulders or knees exposed. All women wear saris, as a westerner, and not a girly girl, my preferred choice was shorts and a t-shirt.  This did attract some looks, I suppose it looked to them like I was wearing a young boys clothes! But you can’t go wrong with some maxi skirts and loose fitting tops if you don’t want to invest in a sari. (I still can’t figure out how to put a one on).