Monday, 22 December 2008

Tea drinking and counting marbles, amongst other things, in 2008!

2008. A year full of marbles, more learning, turning eighteen, and going, via church, to the pub. With a few tears, and much merriment i finished my time at Groby community college with plenty of giggles and embarked upon quite a long time of doing basically nothing much until the time came to embark upon possibly the biggest adventure of life so far. Times have been far harder than I thought they would be, and yet life at university has pleasantly surprised me, being someone so reluctant to go when September 2008 finally rolled round.

The first month of the year, as I remember it contained a few A level module exams, which meant lots of tea drinking and a disproportionate amount of time spent quoting Keats, whilst 'drowning' as Martyn would say 'in the swamp of confusion' and longing for the helicopter of clarity's rescue. I did clearly at some point realise that in order to pass my a levels I needed to spend less time listening to singing vegetables tell bible stories, watching dancing on ice and writing false letters of complaint to maplin electronics. I decided early in the year to definately get baptised and I adopted the marble jar method (one marble in the jar for every half an hour of revision completed) in order to try and achieve a bit more academically. I have now passed this encouraging technique on to my next door neighbour at uni. So I buckled down, kind of, and along the way engaged in some mildly controversial online debates as a result of various 'religious' blogging escapades and also encountered a fair bit of degree course related confusion, having sent ,my UCAS application off the previous December. I went for a couple of university interviews, including Cardiff, which was a bit posh, and Reading, which was my original favourite. As I look over past blogging escapades it's amusing to read my January wonderings about whether or not pharmacy is an even worse idea than Archaeology. (And oh look at me now!) Of course, to remember all of what has happened this year it is very necessary to look over past blog writings. In doing this, I remembered that we brought new year in, with a little bit of novelty value, having a party in the house of our school's principal. It was a very good time all in all, though when my dad appeared my drunken friends decided to nickname him meat-loaf. My Dad looks no more like meatloaf than our cat looks like hitler! I have also found that in January; I half seriously considered creating a political party, with Rory as deputy prime minister and voice of reason-to stop my renewable energy policies getting too decorative. Also, Alison, Sian and I recieved a hilarious response from the HQ of maplin electronics, following a ridiculous time wasting merry procrastinating letter we had previously written one friday afternoon after a near miss in a Keatsian 'swamp of confusion'- accusing their christmas catalogue of gross sexism.

At the conclusion of 2007's roundup blog, published on New Year's eve before I headed off to number 44, i had indeed made some vague 'resolutions' which will be reviewed later.

Early February brought amongst other things, the performing arts festival at Groby Community College, which was great fun as ever. It's so strange that i wont be there in 2009 for more singing and musical frivolity. Sian and I made an almost perfect performance of Radiohead's 'Hight and Dry' and Sam, Sarah, Michael and I sang our last as a quartet, a slightly interesting rendition of the beautiful Locus Iste. We couldn't sing it right at all of course, but Tor, our legendary music teacher as ever didn't seem to mind and encouraged us in the way that only Tor can, saying that no one could have noticed the way we, due to being completely unaccompanied, did somehow manage to change the key halfway through. In february half term, the churches in Groby ran a holiday club for primary school aged children, called Chattabox, at which I had the joy of helping out as a leader, especially as I am now old enough to remember going along to Chattabox myself all those summers ago as a much younger child. Each morning we coloured in, painted egg-boxes, watched bible story videos where the characters had outrageous accents, made valentines cards, played with the parachute, and revived many of the old school songs we used to sing, including 'The Chattabox Song' and 'Oi Oi we are gonna praise the Lord' to name a couple of favourites! On the 27th I visited the University of East Anglia, for pharmacy fun, a guided tour and an interview with Dr. Desborough, not really knowing that this is where I'd end up!

March was a bit stressy at times, with exams approaching, but there were plenty of fun times, including Beadie's fancy dress party and general giggles at college. I took grade 7 piano, which i would later find out i had failed, but it was, in the end, of little grievance to me. I dressed up as cruella de ville in honour of Beadie's 18th birthday, and we hit a mexican restaurant for the Nicola's. I lazily and reluctantly dragged myself along to my last university interview, Nottingham, but apparently managed to somehow manage to impress them with chatter about harps rather than diabetes, which was quite a relief to my then unenthused pharmaceutically ignorant self. Looking back, i must have rambled about all sorts, similar to my blogs in the month of March, but it all turned out for the best. One thing amongst the many things I think I've learnt in 2008 is that although as christians we believe God has a plan for us, and think that there might be a 'right' place for us to be, there won't always be lightning bolt moments, and God isn't, most of the time, just going to write us a letter telling us exactly what universities to apply to, if any.

I think I was pretty much waiting for God to write 'UEA' in the clouds for me, but in the end, I know I would have been waiting quite a while! I've realised that choosing which uni to go to, has always been my choice, and I'm now sure that I couldn't have made a 'wrong' choice. God's ultimate plan is for me to learn to love and serve him more,putting other people first, prioritising his word in order to become more like Jesus, and telling others about his great love. I think that as long as I'm willing to trust God, knowing that this is his ultimate plan for me, I can do good stuff to serve God wherever I end up!

In April, I headed, with The Scotts, The Smiths, and Megan, to spring harvest! Another excellent time as a tagalong with someone else's family, singing and jumping up and down, church family fun and fellowship at butlins with crazy golf, water slides and much dangerous rioting on chucklevision buggies. I loved hearing the Watoto children's choir, taking tonnes of notes and lingering longingly around the christian bookshops. One of the best discoveries of 2008 has to be the 'Kids Praise Party 3' CD that has since been used with all ages at Groby's various youth groups. You can't get much better than a song containing Noah,Moses,David,Daniel and Jesus to demonstrate God's awesome faithfulness through history, especially with the appropriate actions, props, and Chris stumbling on to play Jesus whilst wrapped in a parachute (as ever this role falls to the male with the longest hair present at the time).

Over the easter weekend, there was snow, and on Good Friday, I went with my family to see Christ in The Centre for the first time, a massive passion play performed in the city centre. Some of my younger and older friends from church had parts which made it even more exciting, as I met up with friends to watch it all happen from the haymarket car park balcony. It was one of my favourite days of the year, and so wonderful to hear the city centre singing 'In Christ Alone' before going for lunch together in debenhams cafe and watching it all over again on the news later that evening. In April I was pretty radjy at times, still wondering what to do with my life and worrying over imminent A levels and the whole prospect of change.

Our final months at college were full of sunshine in the beer garden with coloured pens, and text books. For those not in the know, 'the beer garden' was our nickname for the greenhouse like area outside at college, enclosed within four glass walls containing picnic tables with big umbrellas, where we would sit and revise/'revise'. For a while, time spent doing anything but learning chemistry was wasted and counting marbles into an empty jam jar became the only way to incentivise my life. The phrase 'bang it up bang it out' was coined, describing many hours of quick and efficient revision in the social lounge. The last few weeks were an emotional and surreal time, as words can't describe quite how much I enjoyed my time at Groby community college, but we didn't waste them- cramming in an awful lot of learning, with plenty of giggles too. It was an academic fest for a few months although I forgave myself for not revising on my eighteenth birthday, the final saturday of silly season, as Roger my piano teacher would describe exam season. I went with my parents to The Big Session Festival, where we spent the day in the sun, before seeing Seth Lakeman and Allison Moorer amongst other acts open for Steve Earle in the evening. It was a great day, before the final emotional hurdle of our last week of exams. On the 19th June, I sat my last exam, and said my official goodbye to Groby, beginning the longest ever summer holiday, which was filled with more fun that I could possibly begin to summarise here.

Starting with a pool party, the summer was filled with lots of late nights,day trips,tea parties,dressing up and holidaying. I made music with Sian for our last Groby college concert, did an acoustic night in Desford, went on a day trip to alton towers, spent a 'week of awesome' with Ellyn when the other girls were in Ibiza,and spent many a night dancing in the city of Leicester. Michael bought me loads of red roses before a double mate date, before we accidently stumbled into a gay bar. I discovered Fan Club..possibly the best place ever?

At the end of June, I was baptised at Kirby Muxloe Free Church, because I wanted the opportunity to celebrate being a christian, and also to share a bit more about my faith with my friends, who hadn't necessarily heard the gospel. It was, as described by my oldest friend Margaret who would sadly pass away only a month later, a very happy day, and I am so glad that I decided to do it then, so that she was here to share the time with us. The bible says that we should get baptised as a symbol of the new life we have as Christians because of Jesus' death and ressurection for us, and having been baptised myself I can now say that it is an awesome thing to do if you are a christian. Of course, being a really happy day, there was a definate call for a party-in order to celebrate the salvation we share! I think the day of my baptism saw the house as full as it has ever been-it really was madness.

In July I went with my family and further discovered Kefalonia for two weeks, meeting up with Helen there, as we made sure to make the most of the strange co-incidence by which our families had booked simultaneous holidays in places so close together! We swam lots, around a massive rock, and reflected on the joy of 'meeting up in Kef'. Over the two weeks there we saw loads of the sights, took lots of photos and I accidently stood on a sea urchin, which freaked me out a bit.

Our return to England meant a return to general madness. I spent a sunny day with friends at Bosworth water park, where we had a few death rides on dodgems and an epic rowing disaster on the water whilst loads of families looked on laughing. In the evening, reconvening for impromptu fancy dress fun, i realised the ridiculous extent to which i was sunburnt, and the morning after a novelty night spent in the principals bed, Sian, Ellyn and I stood classily on the curb outside Onestop in Kirby waiting to go home. To our shame, we bumped into Polly's mum, Jenny, who enquired as to whether it had been a 'good session'. I went to see the Kirby Players 'Snoopy the musical' before drinking an apparently excessive amount of rum with friends at Chris' house. Unfortunately, this wasn't to my advantage when i remembered the next day was due to be spent at the library.

In the middle of August, you might have spotted some friends and I looking rather excited over our exam results in The Leicester Mercury. I managed to achieve an A in English, a B in Chemistry and a C in Physics, results which, being enough to get me well into my first choice university, both surprised and delighted me. Soon after the photograph had been taken, we headed to the park in Kirby, via The Castle, of course, where we stopped for lunch. Reconvening in the evening, we had a great night out at Fanclub, one of my favourite places to be in the world where post A level euphoria was definately in the air. Still uncertain about actually wanting to go to uni, I ignored the fact that I knew I was soon leaving and enjoyed the last month of the holidays all the more, going the day after the Groby College Year 13 Prom, as a leader to Bonsall (godcamp,for those not in the know) and learning a hundred things whilst i was meant to be teaching them. God's awesome provision, answer to prayer and the gift of christian friends, who are actually our family, to name a few learning points. This trip had me climbing a big wall, spending yet another day at alton towers and wandering round a village in derbyshire with a mummy and jasmine off of aladdin whilst dressed as oliver twist, amongst various escapades. Each night we took a different theme, learning about God's grace, the power of prayer, the persecuted church, what jesus would do and what it means to be Fully Reliant on God.

I officially finished my job at New Parks Library on the 30th August, which was strange, especially realising that I'd made it nearly a whole two years with a proper job! I was sadder tha I thought I might be, although I know that I'll be returning in the holidays, and I have done already, to earn some much needed money. By co-incidence, the same day marked the last weekend before Rev. John Hall off of Groby United Reformed Church retired from being a minister with us. So it was a weekend of endings, church BBQ-ing and piano playing, sad but full of joy. In many ways, things in 2008 for me, have all changed. But reflecting upon it all having returned home for the christmas holidays, it seems that actually, things aren't all that different. My primary identity is still a christian, who values the same gifts given to her by God, the same friendships, although many more, the singing, the dancing, the family and the same nights out in the shire of Leicester.

Another church type outing occured on the first weekend in September, when eleven of us rowdy youths got on a barge and went, well, nowhere much. Unfortunately we picked the weekend with the most torrential rain, which made going anywhere along the canal in our hired barge largely dangerous and illegal. Despite our dissapointment over this, we didn't bail on the barge trip, and had a great weekend all the Thurmaston. We went on a walk to Asda, had coffee in Starbucks and spent plenty of time discussing whether or not its alright to pray and ask God to improve the weather. We visited a random church, which was good fun, and we talked lots about moving on to University, and the various other things people are now upto. We had a laugh, it was at times hilarious, and so and great to spend so much time together.

The beginning of September meant saying goodbye (for a while) to Quest and Rock Solid, two of the monday night youth groups at church that I've been helping on the leadership team for the last three or so years. More times for sad endings and looking forward to finding a new church, and places to serve by helping out in Norwich. I've been to a fair few churches here in Norwich (I conclude this blog well into the new year upon my return to the fine city) but won't go far enough to name one as 'home' just yet, although I know that one day soon I will. In sometimes scary, and often difficult times during my first term, it has been such a support to know that through his never ending grace God has provided people around me for general support and encouragement from the churches and through the Christian union, both in terms of my faith and general life.

There were many nights out to mark our last week of the summer holidays, visiting Leicester's favourite watering holes, and consuming lots of tea too. As you can infer, it was a busy time, but as the end of the summer approached I didn't particularly look forward to heading off to university- fear of change plagued me a little, although I did think/know that I would begin to love my time at uni almost as much as home.

However, I won't lie, and say that I wasn't terrified the first few weeks, by excessive pharmacy and the general madness of change, because I was-and I wondered for a while what on earth I was doing! Sustained by the sure knowlege of God's amazing grace and provision however, I manned it out, and as much as I do love being at home, I won't deny either that UEA is wonderful. I live with some great folk and I've made some friends who I know I'll keep for life, especially those I have met through Christian Union and those I have bonded with over the sheer mentalness of being a pharmacy student at UEA. Life there is, in many respects, just the same as it is at home...fairly regular fancy dress nights and a continual church pub church club routine. The phrase man it out has never been so well used, and I'm really trying hard, and doing quite well with my course, even enjoying a guided tour around a drug factory, wholesalers and rising from my bed at 6am following a night out to trek to London for a British Pharmaceutical Students Associaton conference. My exam results so far have been good- somehow! And by the Grace of God only I will carry on, only dependent on him as far as all things pharmacy go. I have even managed to scrape through the biology modules....a previously disasterous no-go zone. Physiology and Pharmacology...Cells and Life molecules...ahhhh!

Chinese and wine are fortunately/unfortunately as regular an element of my diet as they ever were, and tea is as abundant as ever it was, and still is, in Groby. I've enjoyed hanging with my friend Lorna, from Groby, who is also at UEA, and loved an encouraging weekend in Great Yarmouth at the CU houseparty, roaming the beach and making faces familiar. I was visited by my family, then Chris, and I came home once for a whirlwind weekend of family and friends., visiting the URC a couple of times, the castle and of course Fanclub. Although I have missed home lots in my first term, I have grown to love Norwich as a second city- A Fine City.

Gigwise, much like 2007, 2008 has been a quiet one. I feel I'll need to step up musicalness in 2009. Ultimately gutted to have been away in Great Yarmouth on the night that Jools Holland visited UEA, I'll just be waiting a little longer for that one, and jumping at the next chance I have to see him here, which hopefully won't be too long. The Pogues dissapointingly avoided nottingham on their christmas tour this year- much to my upset, having made myself a great promise to go this time around. Next year, for sure. I thoroughly enjoyed The Big Session Festival at Demontfort hall on my birthday, where we saw a range of folkheads, including Ruth Notman, Seth Lakeman, Allison Moorer and Steve Earle- all excellent quality, especially Mr Earle. For me, this has been the year of Frank Turner discovery, and I had the good fortune to come across him at UEA too, supporting The Levellers. Their music made me sacrifice pharmaceutical maths revision in favour of dancing, and that is indeed what happened. Whilst I feel like my musical ability is slipping away slightly from lack of practice whilst at uni, I love singing. Not having a piano under my fingers all the time definately means that it is necessary to try and compensate a little using my voice, as well as one can.Any opportunity is taken to bang out a tune, as my flatmates well know by now!

The Christmas holidays have been excellent fun. Coming home to catch up with friends in Leicester has been really great, and the time has flown by. The 'Bros and Hoes', some of my best friends made at Groby Community College, had a christmas party, which I arrived to following our annual family outing to the Pantomime in nottingham and a nice meal out, just in time to head into town..Fanclub, of course. The Urban Saints leaders social took us to the Coach and Horses for skittles, pub grub and catching up, and on Christmas eve of course, the annual church crawl took place, with some piano playing. It was great to get along to the December 3SE (Third Sunday Evening youth service) on the 21st, where I also played the piano and my grandparents all joined us over christmas, my granny from Scotland staying a full week.

I finish this 2008 round up on the 11th of January, following my return today to UEA, after a last ladies night out in Leicester, we went to Life, a club likened quite rightly, once and forever more to a 'meatmarket'. A definate highlight of the christmas holidays has to have been the 'European Invasion' of the Bro's and Hoes. Arranged by my good friend Jack, sixteen of us were reunited,after a whole term scattered around a bit, on a (kind of) classy holiday in france. We have stayed the last week in the french holiday house, chateux if you like, of his mother and father who have been so good to us, providing transport, croissants and local information. Caroline being the headteacher of our old school, is actually, definately, the best teacher ever. She didn't even seem to mind that six of her ex students went straight for her ivory bedroom and plonked ourselves in her bed, crammed in like the grandparents in charlie and the chocolate factory appreciating the three B's; beer, bread and bed. There were very long walks in the cold sunshine to the beach,the shops, and lovely meals alltogether by candlelight. However, of course, for much of the week, with eight eighteen/nineteen year old lads, the tone was pretty low. An old school game of truth or dare saw many downings of disgusting 'shitmix'es, Loaksey's head down the toilet, the ultimate resolution of the long standing question 'Lick or be Licked?' and a slightly disturbing comedy video of Jack in the shower. Putting all this aside however, there were pleasant, classier moments too. Life can't get much better than sitting in front of the fire on the ultimate ivory tower leather chair with a duvet and a glass of baileys,in Torville la Chapelle (!), reminiscing with friends about favourite moments of 2008. The highlight/lowlight of the holiday, has to be the most epic night of all our lives, spending the first nine hours of 2009 wandering the streets of Paris waiting for the first train home..trying to ward off all the muggers and rapists really was a team building exercise! Despite being dissapointed by the eiffel tower's ultimate anticlimax- a complete lack of fireworks, we agreed that the epic night was worth the gamble, and retrospectively, hilarious. It was great to spend so much time together, especially having been deprived of eachothers company for so long over the last couple of months, what with all those inconsiderate universities,jobs and things. A great way to see us out of 2008 and into 2009.

There have been many moments of pure hilarity, and I've travelled fairly far and wide across the country and beyond a little bit. Skegness, Yarmouth, Bonsall, Thurmaston to name a few 'Godcamp'-y destinations, to France of course, which was a great place to spend part of the christmas holidays, and to Greece again, one of my favourite places to go.

It has been a year of uphill academic struggle, getting to the top of the mountain and breathing a sigh of relief, only to (after a long holiday of good fimes) arrive at uni and start all over again. I've loved beginning the studenty lifestyle and had loads of giggles, trying lots of new things- for instance laundry, cooking and generally looking after myself, which have times been scary but I am learning. Remembering that I began 2008 with not much of a clue how the year would end up, I'm thinking ahead to 2009 and wondering what on earth is in store for me just around the corner. So far, I'm back at uni, I've had a catch up and a cup of tea with a few friends and more of the same will occur I am sure. Same old, same old! It's time for dinner soon.

How is 2009 going so far? Well, just over a week into the new year,my rough 'resolutions' are being trialed and tested already. I thought I'd look back at the ones i noted down vaguely at the start of 2008 and evaluate the extent of my success/failure in terms of keeping them..

''..New Years Resolutions? Hopes for 08? A few..''

Don't ever drink enough again to make self throw up in teachers garden…success! dignity intact.

Learn things as I go along in school, rather than waiting til exam time to learn the things I didn't pay attention to the first time
….almost nailed this one!

Spend less money buying pointless things and books I wont ever read off Amazon…Yes! although probably only due to lack of job and regular income.

Get to a decent grade 8 piano standard..quite the contary with the epic failure of grade 7..oops!

and get fully competent on Harp…progress but not to 'fully competent' level yet!

be less of a technophobe…no improvement as technology still advances faster than me!

Read more books…enevitable, as university is just a bit academic, tho I'd like to do more for fun

Become a better chemist enevitable due to finishing A level chemistry and getting into the pharmacy zone

Impress all the uni's at my interviews...yes!

and find some serious life direction...well, I'm doing a degree aren't I, and developing proffesionally?

Not a bad effort, even if it was all a little subconcious. And so..what shall I aim for in 2009? In France, we discussed a couple of times, whether or not we had new years resolutions. It seems to me, that not many people seem to make them any more. Apart from all the people on loose women, GMTV and This Morning that is, who were talking detox dieting,health farms and sports bras for most of last week, whilst I enjoyed the luxury of doing actually nothing. I've only got some vague ideas- and I suppose, these ones will probably be the ones which apply for the rest of my life...(as I write, it is the 11th Jan, and I've actually already failed a bit at all of these but I'll still try at least)

-Drink Less
-Pray more
-Put other people first.

- and 'ALWAYS be ready to give a reason for the hope that I have' off of 1 Peter 3 verse 15

-Be a biology queen- be the one that people ask for biology advice.
-Blog more frequently
-Get my life organised better so that I can fit more into it.

-'Work hard and cheerfully at whatever I do' off of Colossians 3 verse 23-24

And here I will conclude, knowing that this is probably the longest blog I have ever written, or will ever write, although I haven't counted the words or anything. It's been a great year for various reasons, although there have been bad things and sad things too. I could have written so much more but if I carried on i think I would jepordise any chance I have of becoming that biology queen, or getting my life better organised so I'll be able to fit more into it. *sigh*

Lots of Love for 2009 :D

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Home, sweet home!

Having returned yesterday from a crazy term at university, and somehow surviving entirely unscathed, I sit on the sofa, enjoying the fact that we actually have a sofa, watching the new ridiculously large new television bought in my absence. It's literally like being at the cinema!
I'm just having a rest and taking the time to recover from this afternoon's fairly successful and stressful family shopping trip before it's time to go to the castle this evening. Having also been to church at Groby URC this morning, it is so clear to me that really, my life hasn't changed all that dramatically at all.

Knowing I've got plenty of work to keep me ticking over these holidays, and a good few christmas carols to brush up on, I really shouldn't continue slobbing around like this for the entire of the christmas holidays, but the temptation to do so after such a mental term is very strong. However there are places to go and people to see in abundance and probably plenty of Happy birthday Jesus balloons to blow up amongst other things. We've got an annual trip to the pantomime and Granny will visit us from Scotland. I've got to catch up with everyone, make sure i spend enough time at church, and also the pub, and learning, and of course I've got to bang out a few days working at the library because I've never been so poor!

Its going to be fun times I think.

I can't quite believe I'm home. It was pretty sad saying bye for a while to flat 15 Colman House, and the friends I have made over the last few weeks at UEA- it isn't until you look back over it all that you realise what great relationships you have formed. I am so thankful to God. I wont pretend there weren't terrifying moments, but God's amazing grace and provision has been enough and more for me, in every situation. You really notice when you find yourself completely on your own, the need to rely fully upon God for everything, and i think i've learnt to do this a lot more recently. I've met tons of my brothers and sisters in Norwich, who have all shown so much kindness and encouragement to me, and I've learnt lots already from their company. Pharmacy is so hardcore, the workload is epic, but with Christ who gives me strength, I can do anything, Including physiology and pharmacology, physical biochemistry, pharmaceutical maths and much more!

I cant wait next term to be involved in UCCF's FREE gospel project, especially during the Christian Union's mission week. I'll be getting to help out with the distribution of 2500 free copies of Mark's gospel..what an amazing opporunity! Its so exciting, though I know its going to an epicly busy term!

All in all, university is awesome. Home is awesome.
I'll be more eloquent once I've slept for a couple of days and my brain turns back from mush into something that works. I'll probably end up ranting about the current traller site proposal uproar in Groby. But for now, this is all. x

Friday, 5 December 2008

Pharmacy ball, and photos from home.

Mum and Dad at Swatlands Indian restaurant, Glenfield 28/11

Me and Alex

First of all some photos of my weekend at home 28th/29th November...
After an emotional reunion at The Castle (below), the 'Bro's and Hoes' took an incredibly excitable taxi trip into Leicester's classiest hang-outs. (aka. Soarpoint & Fanclub.)

I feel like a bit of a loser tonight, as for the first time in a while, I'm in, alone, in my flat, just hanging. Me, myself, I and my computer. Of course there is a little bit of unurgent work to be done, but not tonight- oh no! no Pharmacy for me.

Last night was the Pharmacy ball, which was great fun, with much merriment, lovely dresses, dancing and 'free' wine. Everyone looked lovely, and of course, there photographs were taken in abundance! We were served a very nice three course Christmas dinner at the Ramada Jarvis hotel. The festivities followed a physical biochemistry coursetest, containing all sorts of nasties reminicsent of A levels, including kinetics and half life. Around me then, there seemed to be lots of drowning of sorrows. Having realised they've never seen me drunk, the pharm girls tried to use wine as a weapon against me, but thankfully, I was too wise, and remained all round pretty dignified.

Today, I woke up late and hung around the flat until it was time for pharmacology, followed after a brief fish finger filled interlude, by a biology fest. I learnt about myoglobin (which stores oxygen in muscles i think) amongst other things..its such a clever little thing! I made a cool thing out of sausages for dinner, and had a few cups of tea. After all of this, and finding that I'm actually, for the first time I can remember, alone with nothing to do for at least the next 24 hours (apart from maths revision of course).

So for now, i'll say goodnight, whilst thinking about giving out free copies of Mark's gospel, and the best way to transform my green dress into a christmas tree costume amongst other things, as my brain has pretty much been turned to mush due to the first 11 weeks of life as a pharmacy student! I can't believe we're entering into the last week of term! Where is my life going!

Lots of love

A few photos following from the Pharmacy Ball!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

A tale of two cities

Having spent an awesome weekend back home in Leicester and returned to wonderful UEA on Sunday evening feeling a bit sad, I’m now wondering where on earth the last 4 days have gone. Of course they’ve vanished in a whirlwind of mad essay writing, really shoddy surprise keyboard playing at the CU christmas carol service, chinese takeaway, lap reporting and thinking about physical biochemistry revision. Every time I think I’m the most unprepared I’ve ever been for an exam, another one comes along a week later and tops it. I’m feeling thankful to God this evening for bringing me to UEA to live with Sunny , who so willingly taught me integration and differentiation this afternoon, even though I’m pretty sure that this exam is still going to turn out an epic fail.

Being at home in Leicester was at first strange, but then really good fun. A meal out with my family, a shopping trip with the parents, hot chocolate in the john lewis cafe and a night out on the town with the Bro’s and Hoes, just like the good old days- starting off at the castle, and bundling a bunch of people into a taxi in the wee small hours of the morning, holding the contents of an undisclosed friend’s handbag so she could throw up into it. Good times. I went to Church and held new baby Alex, born since i’ve been at uni, and caught up with loads of people I’ve missed. My grandparents came to visit from Luton, and I had time to sit and cuddle my cat on the sofa, although admittedly not much of it due to a fairly crazy schedule!

Back in Norwich things continue, and I realise that basically, my life at UEA is effectively the same as life in Leicester. It consists of learning, going out with friends, drinking tea with friends, having the odd deep and kind of meaningful conversation with friends, church and Chinese takeaways, church and going to the pub after church, sleeping..eating...

The only difference seems to be that I’m learning at university. I learned lots at Groby, but by the end of the summer holidays, although i remembered banging it out and all the good times, actually learning stuff and applying my brain seemed a distant memory- to the point where home was purely associated with hanging around in fields, singing the odd folk song, pottering between various churches, pubs and my house- where plenty of visitors would always come for a cup of tea and a chat. I’m remembering good times and looking forward to more of the same over Christmas!

Anyway, I should do less of the writing and more of the snoozing, as tomorrow will be a busy day, and the Pharmacy Christmas Ball means that tomorrow night, post physical biochemistry exam, at the Ramada Jarvis hotel, will be an even busier night I can imagine! I’ve a new dress, and I can’t wait!

Photos of recent times to come soon.xx

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Photos of recent times.

I thought I'd share some recent scenes from my life with you.

When the Pringles came to UEA!

*singing in the snow*
Jesus' love is very wonderful...

so high you can't get over it

so low, you can't get under it

so wide, you can't get round it

oh wonderful love!

As white as snow

It was a partially productive weekend of fairly high spirits. Fairly high spirits due to a combination of having survived the epic ordeal of week nine containing an insane amount of work, meeting up with a friend who'd come to visit UEA and some pretty heavy snowfall here. I now sit up later than I probably should, contemplating over a cup of strange fruit tea, the many things in life that I don't understand, such as logarithams and why really horrible things happen to 'good people'. It's fruit tea because I thought I'd take the opportunity whilst at uni to branch out a bit with my tea, but the only real reason to drink on a regular basis would be if you've got no milk. (It's better than black tea but not as good as normal tea with milk).

So, as often is the case, It's all quiet here in flat 15, though I can hear the boys next door not long back from the gym. Having half planned to go out into town, I was dissapointed to find everyone else bailing (lame!) but suppose that I should really be saving money for the mental weekend at home in leicester which I hope will come quickly, despite needing to borrow Bernard's watch again to fit in all the work I need to get done before I bail on Friday's lectures and compulsory workshop in favour of a train home to my lovely bath, cat, family and friends in Groby. I think that all original plans I had for a quiet weekend at home, bathing, sleeping, relaxing and recouperating were clearly very foolish- of course this is going to be an old school mental weekend of church-pub-pub-club-church isn't it?!I'm wondering whether or not I'll get the time to look round Leicester in search of that lovely miracle green dress I've been after for years, in time for the pharmacy ball next week..a big day all round, what with a lab report due in and yet another, this time even more threatening physical biochemistry exam! *sigh*

And so, yes, contemplating the things I don't understand. I never quite realised how many of those things there are before coming to university, where I appear comparatively to know so little. Logs, and redox potentials are back to haunt a kind of nostalgic way I suppose. In the laundrette today, where by happy coincidence we ended up having an excited gathering in honour of Sally's birthday, I ended up perusing some of Katie's notes on Keats. 'Thou still, unravish'd bride of quietness!' brought back many a memory of classic Friday afternoon English lessons in room 47 and made me wonder for a moment why on earth I wanted to be a scientist when I could very well waffle on about poetry for three years. However, realising that my next task in life to overcome is actually to write an Essay contributing 10% to one of my modules, I remember why I decided to be a scientist..I'm simply not a fan of essay writing!

Tomorrow, somehow, amazingly, wonderfully, marvelously, I don't have to go to any lectures until 3pm. 3pm! This is a once-a-year day! I'll celebrate by eating breakfast (I can just about remember what that's like..), hanging around in my PJ's until such time as I really can't put off the library visit any longer, and getting down to the cheery task of writing an essay containing wise words on a disease of my choice, cheery stuff I know.

Ahhhh. need sleep. going to sleep tomorrow, just a little longer than normal. :-)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

I can do all things..

With a previously unimaginable 'to do' list this week, my mood has been oscillating at a relatively high frequency from 'mitochondria drowning in sea of cytoplasm' to 'helicopter of clarity'. As my very first term at University draws closer to its end, I can look back over the last nine weeks and be so thankful to God for the friendships I've made and the fun I've been having, and for his continual provision for me every day. I didn't fail my Physical Biochemistry coursetest, and somehow, I didn't fail Physiology either...all Glory to God who has kept me smiling even when the outlook has been a bit grey. Like this morning, when on the first attempt at my labreport, I determined the percentage of caffeine in a pro plus tablet to be 187%. (If only!).

However, whilst I managed to bang out the Physiology with style, approaching tomorrow's Cells and life molecules coursetest worth 20% of the module is somewhat like staring death in the face. Because this week has been so taken up with IPL (that's interprofessional learning), PBL (problem based learning),placement (a trip to a drug factory!), an epic lab report and seemingly 101 other things too, my revision (i say revision, everyone knows i am learning all this brand new) has been put off until today. Now, I've never had quite so much stuff to learn in one day. I say this, whilst procrastinating a little more, but there's only so much you can do, and what i should be doing is sleeping, ready for an early start and lots more last minuite learning..its the only way to go! It's been an intense couple of weeks- so much so that I'm starting to feel like a recluse, and am very much looking forward to a few mental nights of merriment over the weekend and into next week. A couple of birthdays, a 'day glo rave' themed club night, CU christmas carol singing practice, hot chocolate, and a trip to the cinema ensure that the coming few days should be good fun.

Last weekend was awesome- Chris, fairly unannouced decided he'd come to visit, and it was a lovely visit- with a wander round sharing some sights of Norwich, dinner cooked for Katie and I, late night chatting, wine (oh, how i realise i have missed wine!) and of course Church on Sunday morning. After sadly seeing him off to the station, my spirits were lifted by yet another amazing student lunch provided by the good people at Kings Community Church. I returned home to my masssiiive pile of work full to the brim with quality grub, yet another reminder to me of God's never ending grace!

What else to say? Ah..Monday took a minibus of slightly annoyed (because we wanted to revise instead of go on a pharmacy students to Napp Pharmaceuticals..a big drugs manufacturer in cambridge. Despite bad timing, the day before our chemistry coursetest, I really liked the placement! On arrival, we were treated to a couple of talks by important looking men over free food; on the company itself, and then on the different stages of Drug development. I genuinely found it really interesting. Then we trekked downstairs to be given a full guided tour of the factory- donned in oversized lab coats, special safety shoes, goggles and hair nets we were shown oodles of painkillers being made from their raw materials, coated, packaged etc- it was coooool. Then, to put the icing on the cake, quite literally, free tea, and cake! What more could you ask for in a placement really?

On Tuesday after a heavy day of last minuite revision, an epic fail chemistry coursetest and lectures in lovely pharmacology, I was pleased to end the day at Christian Union, although less pleased to have to bail on hot chocolate handing out in favour of my bed. Wednesday morning was IPL oh the joys, and action group, and football- which was awesome, especially so beacause of the wonderful weather- i really do enjoy it.

I'm looking forward to going home in 9 days! Just for the weekend, but I think i will bail on friday afternoon lectures in order to make it home in time to chillax on my sofa with Winston and have a bath a bit before bed, or alternatively having a cheeky dance at Fanclub if I've got company? These are the things I have missed, and of course, I look forward so much to seeing a few people who're at home at the minuite. I love university, but it might be cool to hang out in a kitchen where it smells nice and there isnt rice encrusted into everything for a while.

Anyway, time has marched quickly on. I'm not scared about my exam tomorrow really, though failure could occur. But those of you who pray, please remember my imminent cells and life molecules trauma tomorrow at 4pm. I know that 'I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength'.

Though I continue to worry about how on earth I'll fit everything into the days of the week, pharmacy and otherwise, I know that I needn't. When things are rough I know the most important thing is the fact that I know God's amazing love for me, so great that he would send his only son to die so that I can be have a real relationship with God. This fact, reguardless of my mood, never changes...which means I can, and should always be joyful in light of God's grace.

'Always be full of joy in the Lord.I say it again- rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.'
Phillipians 4.4-7

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

A quick hello.

After a weekend with my parents here visiting, I've been enjoying the luxury of actually having food in the cupboards and a choice of what to eat following a family outing to Morrisons. After the initial and eneviatble car journey induced parental stress of their arrival, it was a great weekend- in reflection I can't believe i hadn't seen my parents in seven weeks! Although having met up with my family now makes me miss them more, it means that home and university life appear to be starting to merge together now, where before they seemed two entirely seperate worlds. I guess that the more I make the journey to and from cities, the more normal it will become that I now have two homes, although I'm still sure, although Norwich is indeed a fine city, that there is no place quite like Leicester.

With coursetests and assignments flying round left right and centre I've literally spent the last couple of days eating, and working and drinking tea. I'm trying to get the entire physiology of the body to fill my head before Friday, whilst also to juggle maths for tomorrow, chemistry and another biology test coming up next week. The classic Groby phrase 'bang it up bang it out!' has never been more applicable. I'm just off to christian union, so I'll cut this one remarkably short, and say I'll write more later :)

Monday, 3 November 2008

Power made perfect

2 Corinthians 12.9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

I'm feeling a bit too lazy to put many proper paragraphs together, so this could be a short and sweet entry. Somehow, by a blip in the timetable of death, and ultimately by the grace of God, I've had the entire day off today. Whilst it hasn't quite been the uber-productive day I imagined it might be, I had a long lie in and spent a couple of happy hours with my physical biochemistry notes preparing for Thursday's coursetest before pottering off down to the UFO (that's Union food outlet) to get some bread and milk etc, all at hideous prices when compared with the wonderous Iceland. After a successful lunch, and a perusal of the newspaper (i thought i'd get myself in the know this week) I have at least attempted my lap report.

On Saturday, following Friday night at the LCR, I arose in the wee small hours of the morning in order to catch a train for a fun filled at a BPSA conference in London. For those of you not down with the excessive acronyms life at UEA contains, that's a night out at the union club, and a day in London at a British Pharmaceutical Students Assosciation times. It was really interesting, though an awful long time to be sat down listening to people talk about various things to do with pharmacy on a saturday, not to mention that somehow they thought that finishing the day with a calculation quiz would be fun!? We had dinner at Nando's before heading back via the tube then the train to home in Norwich. This week has been a week of pharamcy blues for a fair few of the girls on my course- they say it is just hitting them just how much work we've got- and it is true, it is a soul crushing amount, especially considereing my serious lack of biology knowlege. I am plodding onwards, although not looking forward to the physiology and pharmacology course test next week. Unfortunately, i thought that the adrenal gland was in the brain...would you put your healthcare in my hands?! Sometime between now and next week there needs to be a serious biology fest.

So this last week, has been a mixture of fear and joy. Joy because despite how hard I'm finding some things, it is clear to me that I am learning even more to depend upon God's grace. I was talking with a friend the other day, and realised properly, for the first time- that God's grace and provision is made even more apparent to us when we learn to fully rely on him for everything, and in times when we find things difficult. This must be what it means when we read 'My power works best in weakness'. The more I struggle, the more i realise that I must depend upon God, and the more i depend upon God, the more I know daily his awesome provision and never ending grace- even in the little things, like conversations and cups of tea at just the right time. In the immortal words of the proclaimers (the scottish band, rather than the church in Norwich) 'the less I believe in me, the more I believe in thee'!

This evening, another example of God's grace for me, I've spent the evening with my friend Zoe from biomedicine who shares the same trauma due to our upcoming coursetest in physical biochemistry. She brought biscuits and we giggled as we talked about our many physical biochem problems and went through recent questions together.

Last night we watched a ridiculous film called Mystic Pizza, starring julia roberts and made about 20 years ago. Katie's girly choice- and lots of giggles, but all in all, a film where nothing actually happens. Lots of faffing around with relationships- I bit like Jane Austen, but less reserved.

Tomorrow, or I suppose in the early hours of Wednesday we'll find out who the new US president will be. In all honesty I haven't been following it at all over the last few weeks in the UEA campus bubble, but today I bought a paper to get informed on the matter- it made a change to actually choose which paper to buy rather than to get the one that which is giving out a whopping great bar of chocolate (the telegraph) a bottle of fruit juice (the independent) or a cereal bowl (the guardian) for free outside the union shop. Tomorrow, the LCR fancy dress club night is themed 'Stars and Stripes' but i think i'll be spending a few happy hours at home doing my lab report. I might stay up to give out hot chocolate though, which will make me tempted to go to the bar afterwards to watch the election results on the big screen until 6am- despite my first placement on wednesday. We're visiting pheonix, a pharmaceutical wholesaler, so it shouldn't be too taxing, and hopefully there will be some free food involved.

Anyway, its half past 11, by all means this could still be an early night for me, and i intend to go to bed within the next five minuites. So for now, goodnight. xxx

Monday, 27 October 2008

UEA Christian Union Houseparty! (and other things)

After an afternoon in the fake pharmacy learning about drugs and inevitably pasta for dinner I thought I'd write a blog. Life at the University of East Anglia is somehow becoming (almost) normality, I'm feeling way more settled. Having become fully competent in the laundry department, branched out a little in the kitchen and survived a week without my parents in the country to ring with ridiculous questions like 'is it okay to cook mince from frozen', I suppose I'm just feeling a bit more grown up. The last 6 weeks have been in many ways quite a steep learning curve for me. I'm keen to learn how to do everything entirely depending upon God's grace.

For example, I think that I'll always be a worrier when it comes to learning. When it comes to Physiology, and basically anything vaguely biological (which you can imagine is quite alot!) I am literally clueless, giving academic insecurities plenty of room to run around in my brain and get in the way of all the long similar sounding words for different types of cells that I'm trying to learn. If I am honest, it is terribly easy for me, in the middle of an epic friday afternoon of molecular cell biology, when everyone else seems to know the difference between their eukaryotes and their prokaryotes, to wonder what on earth I am doing at university at all! I know however, from my last years at Groby, it's just a case of banging out loads of hardcore hours in the library- though I must add this is of course easier said than done. I am taking great encouragement from Colossians 3 verses 23-24 which say ‘Work hard and cheerfully whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord and not for men’.

Here more than ever I’m recognising the need to be dependant solely on God for everything- to know a God who created everything, knows my innermost faults and yet still loves me the way I am is incredible. The same grace that saves me from death and brings me into a new relationship with God, is never ending- God keeps giving and giving.

Another ongoing challenge for me is to do everything ‘without complaining or arguing’ the bible says. When I’ve had a rough day or I’ve got a challenge ahead of me i find it so easy to slip into whiney mood. But when I look at Jesus, who willingly died on the cross, my daily struggles seem so pale in comparison, and I realise, looking at what God has done for me- that I do have reason to rejoice always, regardless of the situation.

I could go on writing and writing about the things I am learning, both pharmaceutical and God-related, but I’ll quickly tell you about recent goings on before I run off to have a cup of tea and a girly chat.

The couple of weeks have been fairly chilled out- not many mental nights, but there has been some very wet football training, hardcore pharmacy, rock gospel choir singing, a couple of church dinner parties, a good few tea drinking sessions and the odd late night giving out hot chocolate to drunken club leavers engaging in at times some fairly heavy theology. This weekend was the i Union annual houseparty weekend, in Great Yarmouth! It was cold, very cold, but i still paddled in the sea, and we went on the pier. I was both challenged and really encouraged by the talks focused on God’s grace, and pleased to be able to help out in the music group too. It was awesome to spend time getting to know people a little better and I’ve come away with a good few learning points, humbled I think, and far more aware of just how much I continually need God’s undeserved favour, and just how much I can aim to change my attitudes and behaviour. You’ll see the photos on my facebook I’m sure.

This weekend I’m looking forward to Friday night- dinner with the church girlies, followed by the pharmacy social then LCR..I hear also that my good friend Tasha is coming to visit UEA and so I look forward to giving her a big hug and catching up if at all possible under the excessive noise of very drunk people sticking to the floors of the union club. Saturday brings a BPSA (thats the British Pharmacy Students Association) conference in London! I thought I’d show some enthusiasm and check the scene, although I’m not quite sure how fun this will be, especially having to rise at ridiculous O’Clock to catch the train. Never mind. Fun times approach anyway.

For now though, I must say goodnight, because its teatime for me.
Lots of Love

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Hello, Nowich!

It's the strangest feeling in the world to look back over three insanely quick weeks which have happened entirely without the slightest hint of a blog. I have been so busy, and time has passed very quickly like the roller coaster at great yarmouth pleasure beach. (We're visiting there in a few weeks time, Christian Union weekend away!). It seems a lifetime ago that we pulled up at UEA after a three hour drive and I scrambled out of the car and went to collect my keys, clutching my handbag full of last minuite essentials and my seriously cool dennis the menace folder containing highly important health forms and accomodation information. A bunch of older students were kindly on hand to help my family and I transport the masses of stuff I brought with me out of the car and up three floors of Colman House into flat 15, room L. Whilst the car journey here seems a horrible and distant memory, time here has gone so quickly- in a whirlwind of meeting new people, induction lectures, LCR club nights and church visits. Life at home in Leicester feels like a different world- the UEA campus is such a bubble! I've ventured out into the city a fair bit though and have discovered that Iceland is the place to be, creating for myself a golden iceland rule (never buy anything for more than £1!).

Coming to university is probably the most challenging experience I've ever had. At times I've been really homesick, more than I thought I would be. But It's been on the whole a really positive experience, and university is starting to feel a little bit more like home. I love UEA already- not quite yet in the same way that I love Groby Community College, (I'm not sure that love will ever be equalled) but the campus is incredible. The lake is beautiful- somehow the weather has been half decent for us, and there have been some amazing sun sets. On the campus there are literally hundreds and hundreds of bunnies hopping around all over the paths, and sometimes in the mornings, when it is bright and misty, I can watch the occasional hot air balloon going over the hill I can see from our kitchen window. I'm getting used to it now- but I really miss home. I'm happier now I can envision a routine emerging from somewhere- and I'll be even happier if i can somehow miraculously rediscover that hardocre work ethic that A levels contained. I really want to do well at my degree, but I'm quite scared and not feeling all that confident in my scientific abilities to manage it all- so this is going to be some challenge. Especially when our timetable is horrific to the point it made one of my flatmates genuinely shout in horror. In true style, I've pretty much filled my week up to the brim with stuff, but I'm hoping things will calm down soon enough. Not to say that I want life to get any less crazy- just that I'm so glad that Groby taught me to work hard play hard- I just want to rediscover that work ethic!

There is so much I could say, that I could write on and on forever. I nearly cried paying for an excessive amount of hefty pharmacy books in waterstones the other day, then practically broke my back carrying them back up three flights of stairs. I've been so wonderfully welcomed into the CU girls football team, despite possibly being detrimental to the cause of good football, and my lack of even semi-appropriate footwear! I've been 'church-hopping' quite happily with some really good friends I've met along the way, and gladly recieved quite a large number of free student meals so kindly made for us by churches here there and everywhere in Norwich! I'm so pleased that I've come to Norwich. It really is a fine city!

The Cathedral here is beautiful. In fact, there are two Cathedrals! And a Castle! I've seen the riverside only briefly in the dark, and so I can't wait to see it all in the day. There are cobbled streets with small special shops, and there are two big shopping centres! Norwich is much bigger than Leicester, but still feels like a small town. I can't wait until it's all familiar to me.

The oncoming workload, which is kind of already upon me but i’m just ignoring it, is one of epic proportions. I need Sue Woolhouse (my old physics teacher) here to spur me on with stickers. I told mum that I’ve been having problems getting down to do some actual work so she did what all great mums would do..sent me a parcel containing a sock full of marbles. The marble jar method lives on! With my coloured pens at the ready, I’m ready to learn...well, kind of.
By the end of Fresher’s week, as I’d been told would be the case, I’d met hundreds of people, but knew no one really. I’ve found it so much harder than i thought i would, and I’m still looking forward to when everywhere becomes familiar. I remember feeling exactly the same on my first few days at Groby Community College. I couldn’t wait to just be a student, rather than a new student, to feel completely at home and to know my way around. But I know now as I’m entering into my fourth week at UEA that although it will take longer,after the same familiarisation process, I’ll probably love UEA just as much as Groby CC. Despite being desperate for familiarity in my first few days at college, I found myself in my last few weeks wishing to be a new student again, with everything ahead of me. I keep having moments of bizarre realisation and I remember where I am, and that I’m doing a degree. Its like ‘woah, what, I’m actually old enough to be at uni?’. How have I got so old?
The Christian Union here is really exciting. At the first meeting there were so many people crammed into a really small space-but it was excellent to see so many smiling faces. The talk was on the book of Esther, which was excellent as I’ve been reading Esther recently, and we were swept along afterwards by some older students to the Wine press in the city, where it became evident that the church-pub-church routine I’m so used to at home isn’t going to be any different in Norwich. The older students from CU have been so good to us- it is exciting to come to a group of people who are so clearly up for glorifying God through what they do. After the last couple of Tuesday night fancy dress LCR’s (basically union club nights) I’ve joined a group of people who give out free hot chocolate to people leaving the LCR. Such a great idea, and it’s so exciting the conversations you can have with strangers through such a simple act.
University life is in so many ways exactly what I thought it would be, but in some ways different. I’ve lived on pasta, and decided as a rough guideline that its best only to buy groceries that cost no more than a pound from Iceland.
Today was Saturday. I spent the morning in bed and woke up at the ridiculous time of 12.45pm, did two and a half hours of biology, because i know nothing about biology yet, and got dressed just in time to miss the union food shop opening hours. Sad times. I’ve just spent the evening at a CU girls football social, where we ate lots of sweeties and watched she’s the man. I came home via Katie’s flat for a cup of tea and a giggle.
Today being Saturday means that tomorrow is Sunday, time for church- which I’m really looking forward to! I’m going to Kings Community Church in the morning, though I don’t know If I will make it my home. In some respects I know it doesn’t matter where I go as long as I go willing to learn and to serve, and their teaching is tops. But I want to choose the place where my small offering in terms of service to the church can have the biggest benefit to whichever church I go to. I’d like to know that I can really do something for my church in Norwich.

Anyway, things here are fun. This week I’ve been for a Chinese all you can eat buffet with the Revelation Rock Gospel choir, Christian union, a wild west fancy dress night, helped give free hot chocolate to the masses, dropped into Po Na Na’s a couple of times which was fun although I’m keen to check out some of the other clubs in Norwich next week, despite a hectic timetable. I’ve left a note in the kitchen to try and persuade my flatmates we need to spend more time together and order pizza which seems to be partially successful so far, and it’s the birthday of one of my coursemates this week which calls for dinner out once again. Unfortunately this means i’ll almost definitely miss the CU cocktail party but It’ll be good to go out with the pharmacy girls. I am still keen to do things I haven’t done yet, like see riverside in the daylight, look around the castle and check out the pub-scene which i’ve heard is wonderful. Sadly Michael says that he can’t visit on Seth Lakeman weekend which is unfortunate because i haven’t yet met any folkies here...hopefully I’ll find a folk loving friend before then! Mum and Dad say they might visit me in a few weekends time. Although every lecture leaves me wishing I’d brought with me my a level notes I really cant go home to get them, the train fare is apparently obscene, and I fear that going home would make me really quite homesick again!
I keep having moments where I find being at university completely and utterly surreal. I can’t quite believe I’m old enough to be here yet, and slowly I’m mastering small tasks one after the other.! next adventure..chicken and rice. I hadn’t realised quite how bad my food situation has become, until just now. I’m yet to open my massive tub of rice (haven’t yet progressed from pasta to rice!) but I’m thinking its time to branch out, really learn and get some curry on the go...although I may have to call upon the assistance of someone else to help me get started. For the next few days, apart from a couple of mini frozen £1 pizza’s from Iceland, i basically have have is a couple of yoghurts, a banana, some crumbly wheatabix,a few fish fingers and lots of baked beans/tinned spaghetti. Should have gone food shopping but i couldn’t wake up...good old student lifestyle!
I’ve made a good few friends here, from seemingly all over the place, a few closer than others. To begin with, I felt quite lonely, but now I feel as though I know lots more people. Looking round at the university itself I couldn’t be happier about where I’ve chosen to study. Even the concrete buildings look good to me and everyone has been really friendly. The lake, and the rabbits are amazing, and somehow every day here the sky is an amazing colour.

I think I’ve written quite enough, although I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface when thinking about everything that has happened over the last 3 weeks. I was going to keep a seriously up to date scrap book (summer style) detailing everything I do ever at university this year, but I think this was somewhat ambitious. I guess it won’t be until I get home at Christmas and have to tell everyone everything that I realise just how much there is to tell. Life in Norwich and Life in Leicester feel at the moment like two completely separate lives, although I’m in contact quite a bit with home. There are so many thoughts and feelings that I’ve thought and felt the last few weeks which won’t even be remembered never mind mentioned when i get home to Groby at Christmas, simply because so much more will happen before I go home that they’ll be masses of things to say to people. Its very strange. The simplest things will have to be explained.

So there we are. My first UEA blog. Hello, Norwich! I’m sorry (mainly to myself) that its taken so long, but there’s a brief snapshot of how life here works, I never want to stop blogging, but things have been so crazy. I definately need to get down to some serious work. But for now, let me say, goodnight. x

Friday, 26 September 2008

Goodbye Leicester (20th September 08)

Almost a week ago, Mum Dad Alex and I piled all my worldly possesions into our family car and headed east towards the University of East Anglia, which has been my home for the last 6 days. Looking back it seems a lifetime ago already, but everything here still feels a bit new and weird. Anyway, on the way here, this is what I wrote (sorry for the delay.)..

I’m being very geeky with my laptop out in the back of the car as we’re parked at Leicester Forest East Service station. Today marks the end of the longest summer holiday ever, and we’re off to the University of East Anglia, my new home! Saying ‘see you at Christmas’ to all and especially the cat was more traumatic than I expected it to be. Embarrassingly, I cried my eyes out when we took Winston to the cattery yesterday for his holidays, as the rest of my family are off to Norfolk for the weekend after dropping me off a t uni. It finally dawned on me yesterday that I won’t see my closest friends or people from church for quite a long time- its mental finally being parted from those people who have been your closest friends for years. Still we can’t be accused of having wasted any time over the last few months, which have really just been big one long party. Celebrations aind Lamentations in honour of the last week at home together in Leicester haven’t exactly been minimalist either, these last few days comprised of more nights out than in, lots of dancing, tea, church, public house visits and general merriment.
Despite the shoddy weather and the impending doom of leaving home, it’s been an awesome summer. From the moment I put my pen down after finishing the epic phillip larkin exam essay to the moment my head hit the pillow last night, following an emotiod. nal last farewell Deb and thegang-it has been fun times. Also, a pretty productive time.. I’ve been a leader at Bonsall, and spent the weekend on a lovely rainy barge in Thurmaston, left my first ever job with more money than i started with, been baptised and passed my grade 6 singing exam with quite a few more marks than i needed. I’ve stayed up all night and crawled into work in the morning, got some good A levels and my picture in the paper, written an article for the church magazine, slept in the principal’s bed (she wasn’t there) and on the whole withstood intense peer pressure from certain friends to become a drunken mess. Despite this there have still been some seriously late Saturday nights, of course followed by ridiculous Sunday morning music practices. We’ve said goodbye this summer to John Hall, our minister at Groby URC who is beginning retirement, but not without a standard awesome church party, BBQ, prayers and lots of singing. I’ve learnt a few new songs, read a couple of books here and there, danced to music from the 70s 80s 90s and 00s, had a few lie ins and a few horrendously early mornings for one be reason or another. I shared a week of awesome with Ellyn while lots of the other girls lived it up in Ibiza, and I’ve been bought ten red roses. I’ve walked the streets of Derbyshire dressed up as Oliver Twist (Standard), met up Helen whilst on holiday with the family in sunny Kefalonia and kept track of all this on a calendar, accounting for each day so I can scrapbook everything in due course.
So after a summer of madness, it’s time for, well more madness I presume. I’m more scared than i thought I would be, but I know that I’ve got an insane amount of prayer support from home. Deb has given a mug to me this morning, with a bible reference (John 3:16!) on it...a late baptism present, but what an object to bring to uni with me! I’m currently crammed into the car with all my worldly belongings besides my bed, piano, and the few cuddly toys and Christian books which had to be culled and sadly left at home. After a dilemma and a half, I decided to leave my guitar at home in favour of the harp, an all round less useful instrument but less disruptive to the neighbours I think. We have now reached another service station, Travelodge Swaeyesey apparently, and all this writing about musical instruments has just made me realise I’ve forgotten my soul survivor digital item of vital importance in the home!
So it’s time to say Goodbye to Leicester, and Hello Norwich! It is now time to say goodbye, for now, to the recently adopted church-pub-church routine. Goodbye to the Castle, and the Stamford Arms. Goodbye late evenings on the swings, at Groby pool, picnics in Bradgate park and stargazing in the field. See you later, wonderful people of Groby College, and churches together in Groby!

From the back of the car in the service station car park I can see quite a few cars with kids my age in and cars full to the brim with stuff similar to ours, and a ‘Modern Jesus Army’ minibus..maybe I should just join them and forget this uni business? I feel a bit ill, maybe from hunger, or nerves, or most likely because I’ve been staring at a screen in the back of the car for far too long. Seriously though, I don’t want to go, and I do. I’m not really sure, but either way, the sun is shining, and this is the day that my God has made!

And whatever happens, God is bigger than everything, and if my God is with me, whom or what can I be afraid of!
Goodbye Leicester!

Monday, 15 September 2008

'This is a sign of the covenant I am making between me and you'

Genesis 9:12

I am seeing rainbows everywhere. I love seeing a rainbow appear in the sky so imagine my joy today where I've been at Urban Saints all evening, staying for all of our Monday night youth groups where we've covered the story of Noah and co. not once, not twice but three times with varying age groups. In the space of a few hours we've created a big colourful ark poster full of animals (above), made bracelets of rainbow coloured bracelets, made rainbow badges, decorated cakes forming a rainbow from skittles and acted out the story with an array of children in pairs doing animal impressions, amongst many other colourful activities. I loved reading the story to the youngest children (I love reading aloud) and then was granted the privilege of being the wife of Ham (Noah's son) in the drama. All good fun. You really haven't lived until you've built an ark out of chairs and stood with your church friends inside it wearing a waterproof jacket to represent Noah and co. for the educational entertainment of small children.

I feel like I should be a Noah expert,but I've still got lots of arktastic questions hanging about on the tip of my tongue for another day. If you think about it long enough, you realise that when God asked Noah to build the ark, he probably wasn’t that cool with it straight away. If God asked me out of the blue to make an ark and then find a pair of every animal out there, I'd be like 'sorry...whaaaaaatttt!?'. It's a strange request, so I bet Noah was pretty baffled. Still, he went and did it- taking some serious faith i think! It was really refreshing to hear the response of one of our children today when Deb asked the group of primary school children what they would do if God randomly and unmistakably asked me to build him an ark. I had to admit, alongside other leaders, that I'd be thinking twice about the whole situation, but she was on the ball. She answered immediately, as if the most obvious response in the world, 'Well I'd go and build it'. What a simple response, and yet wise words from a seven year old who often teaches me! Perhaps this is what Jesus meant by becoming more like a little child!

If I didn't love seeing the rainbow so much I'd say it has been Noah overkill this afternoon, what with hearing the story three times, acting in it, singing about it, cutting out animals..etc. but I doubt the rainbow will bore me, I just love the colours. And this is before I even begin to think about what it stands for. A sign of God's promise- the passing of his judgement, His awesome love and faithfulness always!

It has been another lovely day, beginning with the visit of Mawbs and Sian before we headed to college to see the photos Helen Brown (assistant principal) has from the prom and results day. We caught up with Fran, our old english teacher and I popped in briefly to see Aimee my singing teacher which was lovely. Mawbs went off to work at one, and Amy joined Sian and I for lunch at mine, consisting of beans on toast, followed by a 'Banana surprise' - my improvised dessert created from angel delight (banana flavoured), bananas and kit kat (both grated and intact.). Effort went into this I can assure you, presentation in Brandy glasses was key to the surprise. After casual viewing of Loose women and Airport which were more background noise to our somehow quite in depth discussion on how to put the world to rights, Bo came to collect me and we visited the co-op to buy dinner before heading up to Quest for the arktastic evening of Noahness.

It has been kind of sad this evening, today being my last Monday in Leicester and therefore my last Quest and Rock Solid sessions for a while. I’ll miss regular moments like today when we had to spring spontaneously into action to act dance and sing the parts of Noah, Moses, David, Daniel and Jesus- again for the entertainment and education of those younger than ourselves. I will miss ‘Chris/Tom (nominal male)...can you be Jesus again please..?’, and having dinner with my church family as today was my last until Christmas! I, the girl who never cries at much, even found a few tears welling up when saying goodbye to big sister Pat this evening! It is the end of an era, without sounding too cheesy, but I know that on my departure I’ll never be short of love or prayer from back home, and judging by the example of my elders such as Chris, Tom, Ruth, Becca and the rest of the gang, I will most definitely be back in a big way at Christmas for church Chinese and a whole lot of Christmas services!

This year I have really come to appreciate that my church friends, really are my family. As cheesy as it might sound to say 'Brothers and Sisters' the truth is that as christians, we believe we are part of God's family, his children. And because we are all Children of God because our relationship with him is restored through the death of his son Jesus, my friends who are christians, truly are my brothers and sisters! And i love them!

photo taken on the 7th september concluding our weekend on the barge!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Yesterday, Today and Forever.

A new blog. How exciting :D

Feeling the overwhelming urge to be a bit more cool and sophisticated (but only a bit) as student life quickly approaches, I’ve discarded the email address referencing my pre-teen love of Pop Idol’s Gareth Gates and discovered a website where I might be able to learn how to include photos within my blog.

The longest summer holiday ever is nearly over! Spending three months doing everything and nothing has made me quite lazy and my blogs less frequent. I need to learn to write again and also recover all the science which has slipped into the back of my mind and become obscured by biblical Sudoku puzzles and poems about cats. It isn’t that I’ve lost my love of writing, but I thought maybe I could do with a change of scenery to revitalise my enthusiasm for excessive blogging. Also, I really love that picture of the rainbow!

It has taken me 4 years to grow a bit tired of writing everything I do into a blog but I’m determined to keep it up because it’s good. It’s just that I am starting to slightly bore myself by writing ‘...then I went to church...then I went to The Castle....then I went to fanclub’, seemingly allll the time, as much as this sort of routine has proved a great way to spend the last few weeks.

Having said all this, as I recount the last few days, I realise that they have inevitably involved all of the activities above. This being our last weekend at home in Leicester seemed to give us a licence to go a bit more mental than usual, starting Friday night at The Castle and ending at Fanclub, visiting soarpoint along the way. Unbelievably, It has only just struck me ober the weekend just how much youth in general subscribes to this bizarre excessive binge drinking culture- I realised this whilst watching Joycey’s lone and rapid intake of two whole pitchers of some cocktail...absolutely unreal.

The last two days have been wicked. After a lovely lunch in town on Friday with Chris we wandered around the new shopping centre for a while before visiting the home department of both John Lewis and TK Max. We excitedly explored the kitchenware sections discussing what sort of teapots and chopsticks we would buy were money no object, and spent a very long time assessing what we do and don’t need for uni (ie teapots and chopsticks). We somehow ended up at one of those ridiculous knife selling demonstrations in Debenhams and narrowly avoided getting a great bargain on some knives, advertised as ‘the sharpest knife in the world’. We did however, pick up a free ‘magic spiral vegetable cutter’ each and a free ‘juicer to the couple over there’ which definitely needs to be on a timeshare. After narrowly escaping the lure of the bargain knives we quickly came to the conclusion that actually neither of us need or can afford any more kitchen accessories. It was so lovely to wander around town with no real purpose or money to spend- like the good old days before Saturday jobs when Saturday was penniless window shopping day. Friday brought standard fanclub fun, with a couple of embarrassing moments when drunken mess Jack kept throwing us literally onto the dance floor. (yes, full on lying down..cringe.)

On Saturday I headed with my parents to ASDA, to buy a terms worth of university essentials such as can opener, cheese grater, baked beans, pasta, rice and party rings. We got ridiculous amounts of shampoo and things like that, a tea tray to match my teapot, oven gloves...the list goes on. Then I went with mum into town and she bought me some really nice clothes and some really swishy red boots. My parents are so very good to me. I also got some socks- with my favourite things on. Actually amazing..two pairs with piano keys on, two pairs with teacups on, two pairs with rainbows! Last night we headed to Helen’s where most people appeared to be drinking ‘ecstasy’ - a truly disgusting bright blue concoction of spirits less than seven I believe. Sure death. My sobriety, is still going pretty well- I wisely steered well clear. I really do prefer dancing to sitting on a kerb, and from a past rather embarrassing experience I really do prefer semi-sensible conversation to being sick on people’s grounds J

After a short time a huge 28 of us (i think) piled into taxis and piled out again at soarpoint (de ja vu) before heading to Mosh, where I honestly saw most people that I know. It was fun times, with some good dancing. I met a man who asked me to marry him which was a bit odd, but my only real (mild) hassle was my painful choice of shoes, but such is life.

Today has been pretty cool too. Although it has been quite upsetting to say goodbye and ‘see you at christmas’ to a few people already, like my Nanny. It’s weird. I’ve thought about going to uni and being there, but not much about leaving home and not being here. It’s weird because people are getting all a bit sad now about going and I can’t decide if I want to be leaving or not. I’m excited and terrified at the same time, in about equal measure. Or as Martyn, my old English teacher would say, I am oscillating at a high frequency between the extremes of hope and despair, drowning in the swamp of confusion whilst the helicopter of clarity is nowhere to be found. Okay, it isn’t quite that dramatic.

I can’t wait to meet my brothers and sisters at a church in Norwich and the university Christian union, but i’ll miss those at home so much. They are truly fantastic, and to me they are an example of how I should live as a Christian. Their love is so big, because it love comes from God. Today Deb made Tom, Ruth and I stand up whilst people prayed for us in church, which was really a nice thing to do, if a bit embarrassing. It is so wonderful to know that I’ve a wider family who somehow love me unconditionally and who are so keen to offer me and the other young ones so much encouragement and support. I don’t want to say ‘see you at christmas’ yet, but tomorrow will be the last time I see lots of the leaders and the young people from youth group for a while. It will be my last official Quest, and Rock Solid- I cannot put into words how much being a youth group leader has helped be over the few years. I might try but it is getting a bit late...maybe a job for tomorrow? It is good, soooo good to know that when we go off to uni there is a serious amount of prayer going on for us back home.

The best thing is this: When I move to uni...loads of things will change. But, God, he never changes. Jesus never changes. And what he has done for me, never changes!

I often think that one of the best things about our God is that he is unchanging. His love is everlasting and his grace is never ending. The world around us changes and we will change, our homes will change, our relationships will change, but the truth God's good news will never change. Therefore we can rest assured that whatever happens If we want to accept what God has done for us, then our salvation is never going anywhere. God's promises are true, and so once we are christians we know that nothing will ever seperate us from his love. God is forever faithful.

Here are the words to a song we sang today.
It is very famous, and rather old I imagine. The words, they are wondeful.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Summer and winter and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.