Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Homework management

I'm still getting into the swing of completing my homework as I receive it. While I've so far always completed my homework in a timely manner (and I intend to maintain handing it in on time!), I've been somewhat neglectful by completing it on the day before it's due. Yes, I finish it, but I should finish it on the day I receive it or the day after, rather than cram a pile of homework into one or two days.

I've finished and sent in last week's Employability assignment and have almost finished my English homework. My Sociology homework isn't supposed to be difficult and I haven't yet started on yesterday's mathematics homework. My Tuesdays and Wednesday afternoons are free, both of which give me extra time to complete any work I have.

Monday, 29 September 2014

The couples at the back of the bus

I encountered an amusing happenstance on my return bus journey this afternoon. When I boarded the bus, I sat at the back, where it was empty; within a minute, not one, but three couples - all of whom appeared to be close to my age - then sat at the back with me; this meant that all of the seats surrounding me excluding the one on my immediate left were occupied by happy couples.

Just as I was thinking about how I was the odd one out, one more person boarded the bus: a woman, who could easily have chosen a seat close to the door but instead opted to come to the back and sit next to me. Now, she and I looked like a couple among the other three couples; I didn't look out of place anymore!

Neither the woman nor I spoke to each other for the duration of the journey. Some might call that a missed opportunity but there wasn't any moment that would have prompted a conversation and her sitting next to me didn't necessarily mean that she wanted to talk. At any rate, I was amused by how I went from an empty back of the bus to being sat among three couples, to having having a woman sit next to me, which gave us the appearance of us being a couple sat with other couples - all of which happened in the space of a minute.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Manchester (2)

Yesterday, I travelled with a friend to Manchester to attend a meetup. We travelled via train, which made my Manchester trip the first time I've used the railway system to visit a place other than London. The train was packed, which meant that my friend and I were forced to stand until half the people on board exited at Sheffield, the middway point of the journey.

I brought my umbrella with me because whenever I've read about Manchester, it's most noteworthy aspect is that it rains much of the time there. When my friend and I left sunny Nottingham, I wasn't to be disappointed when we arrived in Manchester:

It was sprinkling. It wasn't enough to require me to use my umbrella but nevertheless, I was glad I had it with me.

The pub at which the meetup was located was crowded and noisy, as there was a football match playing on the establishment's television. The meetup moved into the pub's garden area; by this stage, the weather had cleared and it had become a sunny day...by Manchester's standards. We all had a pleasant afternoon out in the pub garden.

This is a random street in the centre of Manchester; I have no idea what the name of the street is or its exact location. I took this when the five remaining members of the meetup, which included me, were on their way to another pub to have dinner. For some bizarre reason, the pub the meetup was initially at had closed its kitchen and some of us had had nothing to eat.

After dinner, my friend, one of the other meetup members and I all made our way back to the train station. On the walk back, I ensured that I took a photograph of this building, which is called the Beetham Tower. At 168 metres (551 ft), the Beetham Tower is the tallest building in Manchester and, on a clear day, can been seen from several of the counties surrounding Greater Manchester.

This is platform 5 at Manchester Oxford Road, which was the station where our train back to Nottingham was located. Our train itself departed from platform 4, which is off to the left.

I had a great time in Manchester; it's an interesting city and I would like to go there again. My visit was dampened somewhat because of the football match, as the bellowing football fans in the two pubs made it almost impossible to hear anyone talk. Next time, I'll endeavour to visit on a day that doesn't coincide with a local football event!

Saturday, 27 September 2014


I have just returned home after spending the day in Manchester, which is a city in North West England. I will post a couple of pictures and write a little about the day tomorrow. At the moment, I am tired and would appreciate something to eat!

Friday, 26 September 2014

"Comeback" - Ella Eyre

My artist of choice at the moment is Ella Eyre; I like this song of hers in particular:

It's "Comeback"; the track is intended to come from Eyre's as-of-yet unnamed debut studio album. Eyre rose to prominence in 2013 as a featured artist on British band Rudimental's song "Waiting All Night". In 2014, she has established herself as a solo artist with her songs "If I Go" and now with "Comeback".

The pronunciation of Eyre's last name has occasionally caused confusion: some people say "ay-er" whereas others say "air". The majority prefer the latter, so that's what I use when vocalising her name.

As for the music video to "Comeback", it's enjoyable enough. While I have no tolerance for a cheating partner, I do think that vandalising a cheater's house and burning their car is an excessive response. Even if the cheater does deserve it, vandalism is a criminal offence!

This must sound clichéd now, but I honestly do look forward to hearing more from Ella Eyre. I think she's fantastic.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Sharing baking

During the break in class this afternoon, I shared some of the brownies I baked on Tuesday. I brought 38 with me and about half of them were eaten; the reason some brownies remain is because I wasn't able to offer them to everyone.

The verdict on my brownies? Everyone who had them seemed to enjoy them and I was delighted whenever someone - my teacher included - asked for seconds. I think the best compliment about your cooking is when someone wants more of it.

I hope to bake either cookies or a cheesecake next; it just depends on what type of food is both moderately fancy and easy to transport. It'll be a short while before I bake anything again, but I look forward to the next time.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The bus card

I received my bus card this morning. I went down to the college library with three friends to check whether or not we had any stationery. We did, but it wouldn't be present until late in the afternoon; rather than wait, we opted to pick it up tomorrow instead.

After I left the library, I visited the student finance services desk to check the status of my application for help with transportation funding. I applied back on enrolment day but a couple of weeks later I received a form asking me for additional information. When I went to the desk today, one of the ladies there informed me that my application had been approved and that my bus card was ready. She also said that a letter had been sent out yesterday to me; when I receive it, the letter will tell me to collect the card, but since I already have it, the letter is moot.

Now that I have the card, I no longer have to worry about paying for bus trips to the college and back. The only transportation expenses I'll have will be for personal bus journeys.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Primary cook

I achieved something this morning: I baked chocolate brownies by myself. I was not assisting anyone else with their cooking: the cooking was solely mine. I baked four trays of brownies, which brought me to a total of 79 brownies. There was a fifth tray of them but I accidentally dropped it on the floor; that mixture became brownie bits rather than actual brownies, but they still taste great.

I fully intend to share these treats. There is no way that I can eat all 79 of them and the fragments; if I did, I would probably be physically sick and be sick of brownies. Fortunately, it was my intention from the start to share the brownies.

I am pleased that I have now cooked something entirely by myself. Sure, brownies aren't particularly difficult to make but one has to start somewhere!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Narrowly on the bus

I narrowly made it onto both my buses today. This morning, it was my intention to catch the bus at 12:00 but I was instead able to make the 11:45 ride. The bus was delayed by the traffic for a minute, which provided me with enough time to run down and make it. I was exhausted, but at least I had an earlier bus. The only problem was that I was sat in the hottest part of the bus for the whole journey; fortunately, a lady a few seats in front of me opened a window for herself and the wind blew down to me.

As for the second bus, when I saw it driving up the road by the college as I left the building, I thought that I would miss it and be forced to wait twenty minutes for the next bus. Astoundingly, despite my being delayed, I managed to make it to the second bus, albeit narrowly; another minute and I likely would have missed it.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Plant pot of mud

I have spent much of today performing garden work for my grandparents. In particular, I was emptying dead or dying plants from my grandfather's collection of potted flora. While this might sound easy, most of them were fairly large plants with established root systems within each pot. It was almost a battle to extract some of them.

In one case, the plant itself came out easily, but the dirt inside was practically stuck to the inside of the pot. To remove the dirt, I soaked it to transform it into mud, after which it was still stuck to the pot; thus, I had to scoop the mud out by hand. You can imagine how filthy I was after emptying a plant pot full of mud; I had created a mud pie, but it was not one that I would have recommended anyone eat.

I completed the work and now I'm all clean. I have some more garden work to do, which I'll do over the next few weeks.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Spider abundance

The mild weather means that we here in the United Kingdom are to expect an influx of spiders over the next few weeks, as there are more instects available for them to eat:

I have wondered why I've been seeing more spiders than usual, even before I left Northamptonshire. Provided that the spiders keep to themselves and stay away from beds, I'm fine with them being in the house!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Results of the Scottish independence referendum, 2014

Voting in Scotland for the independence referendum ended last night at 22:00. The counting lasted throughout the night and at 6:00 today the result was announced: the No side, known as Better Together, secured 55% of the vote and thus, was the victor. Scotland will not secede from the United Kingdom to become an independent nation. As I wrote the other day, I supported a No vote, so I am satisfied with this result.

The immediate effect of the referendum's result, besides the union remaining intact, is that Alex Salmond will be resigning from his positions as the First Minister of Scotland and as the leader of the Scottish National Party. Negotiations to grant further devolution to Scotland will be starting soon and there has been talk of devolution in other parts of the United Kingdom, such as England.

There are two consequences that I don't want to occur from the No vote: firstly, I don't want any violence; a demonstration by the Yes camp has already taken place. There has been enough violence in this country in the past and it doesn't need any more. Secondly, there should not be a second referendum: the people of Scotland have already rejected independence and they should not be forced into more votes.

The No side is entitled, for today, to celebrate its victory; however, once the parties have finished the healing needs to begin. After over two years of campaigning against each other, the two sides need to re-unify as one Scotland and as a Scotland that is still a part of the United Kingdom.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Taxi vs. Bus

A few days ago, I witnessed an odd event when travelling back home on the bus. My bus was approaching a junction after departing from one of its stops and it was the bus' right of way to cross the junction; however, a taxi coming from the other direction made a turn that took it in front of the bus, which meant that the bus had to stop to avoid a collision.

This was followed by a vehicle hooting its horn; I wasn't able to tell if it was the bus or the taxi that hooted, but I did see my bus driver throw up his hands in confusion once his vehicle was no longer in motion. He was evidently surprised by the behaviour of the taxi driver. The rest of the journey home went without incident.

I have no idea what the taxi driver was thinking by cutting off the bus. While small vehicles can easily outmanoeuvre larger ones, I don't think that taxi vs. bus is a wise competition. In the event of an accident, the bus (or other large vehicle) is almost certain to emerge as the winner.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Scottish independence referendum, 2014

Tomorrow, Scotland is holding a referendum on whether or not to become an independent country. The referendum has come about because in the Scottish Parliament general election of 2011 the Scottish National Party, which is in favour of independence, won a majority in Scotland's parliament and subsequently passed legislation to hold a referendum.

The vote is only being held in Scotland, although the decision will affect the entire United Kingdom. I would vote "No" to Scottish independence if I could participate in the referendum. The main reason is the same reason as to why I would be against any US state becoming an independent country: because I do not want to see the breakup of the nation. Scotland and England have been united for more than 300 years, which is longer than the United States has existed.

I am also concerned about the economic consequences. No one really knows what the effect of Scottish independence would be on both Scotland the remaining United Kingdom. The immediate effect would likely be the pound (the UK's currency) dropping in value. Several businesses have stated that they would pull out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote, which would lead to job losses in Scotland.

There's also the matter of how Scotland and the remaining United Kingdom would be viewed by the rest of the world. I saw it suggested on the news the other night that the United Kingdom's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council could be in question, although I don't think this should be an issue given that Russia inherited the Soviet Union's seat after the latter disintegrated. Many nations already view the United Kingdom as an irrelevant ex-empire and an independent Scotland could reinforce that image. Then again, this could be a plus if it meant that Scotland and the United Kingdom wouldn't involve themselves in any more foreign conflicts.

All things considered, I think that Scotland should vote for the status quo: to remain in the United Kingdom. This country's government has promised greater devolution for Scotland were it to vote No tomorrow, so Scotland will have greater autonomy regardless of referendum's result. Great Britain is a small island; I hope the family stays together.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

"Superheroes" - The Script

My song of choice at the moment is this one:

It's "Superheroes" by The Script, an Irish band. I first became aware of The Script in early 2010 when their single "Breakeven" was popular on US radio; as such, I associate "Breakeven" with my final months in the United States.

"Superheroes" also holds feelings of change for me: it materialised on the radio during my last month in Northamptonshire, so I associate it with moving on and going to college. I hear it once a day on average because it is a popular song at the moment.

The Script are also the favourite band of a couple of my cousins, who have gone to see the band perform. Should you ever want to attend a live performance by The Script, my cousins would recommend it.

Monday, 15 September 2014


My fellow students and I had a proper mathematics class this afternoon. While mathematics is amongst my worst school subjects, I actually enjoyed this lesson because the teacher had a clear teaching style and because he started us off with mathematical basics (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).

The teacher also focused on rounding and negative numbers. The latter is always something that I've had trouble with but after today I feel as though I have a much better understand of it than ever before. If all our mathematics lessons will be like this one, I think we'll be okay.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sheffield (2)

Here are four pictures from yesterday's visit to Sheffield. The primary reason for travelling to Sheffield was to view the student accommodation for one of my cousins; most pictures I took were of the accommodation.

This is Sheffield Hallam University, as viewed from the entrance to Sheffield's train station. The other university in the city is the University of Sheffield.

This is a Tesco Extra; Tesco is the largest retailer in the United Kingdom. Prior to visiting Sheffield, I had never been inside a Tesco Extra before; Tesco Extras are massive - way larger than the regular superstores. The above store also had a built-in parking garage and the shopping area was above it.

This is a bricked back street near the centre of Sheffield. I took this in the evening when we were walking to a pub for our dinner.

This is a street that is located in the centre of the city. Like the centres of other British cities, there is an abundance of commerce in the middle of Sheffield.

I think my cousin is going to have a great time in Sheffield during their stay at university. They have decent accommodation, are attending a respected educational institution and have easy access to local amenities.

Saturday, 13 September 2014


I spent the day in the city of Sheffield, which is located in the county of South Yorkshire, with my East of England relatives. I have a few pictures of Sheffield for tomorrow's blog post.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Speaking up

Today's English class was a proper lesson; there were no assessments or mini-inductions. We began to learn about the techniques that speakers use to convey their messages, such as hyperbole, metaphors and personalisation. We analysed Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" and a speech made by King George VI at the outbreak of World War II for metaphors and similes; we worked in pairs while analysing.

Until this afternoon, I hadn't contributed much to classes and had only answered my teachers once or twice each. In today's class, I spoke up on multiple occasions and had valid points to make (I was the person who brought up the aforementioned hyperbole, although I think I might have gone on about it a million times); one term I named was onomatopoeia.

I definitely enjoyed the lesson. I look forward to having many more similar to it.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Full house

The class had a full house this afternoon: anyone who had been in at least one of the previous classes was present today. We had a minor recap of last week's work but nothing too deep and we didn't have any sort of mini-induction. I expect a minor recap tomorrow but I think that we are properly getting down to business now!

Of course, this means that the workload will increase and that we'll receive additional homework. I have nearly completed the work I was given yesterday; all I need to do is clean up the wording a little and then send it to my Employability teacher. Best to tackle homework as soon as possible; if it were to build up I would start falling behind, which I do not want to happen.

I hope that we'll have a full house in every class (or at least in the vast majority of them) from now on; I still don't know the names of all of my fellow students. There is a small group of them with whom I get along extremely well, but it would be beneficial to know as many people in the class as possible.

Also, during my bus ride back home, the vents on the vehicle were open, which allowed in the breeze. What was even better was that my seat was located in a place that caught much of the breeze; I had a comfortable and cooling journey back, which was ideal for this hot day.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


During today's Employability lesson, the class was given its first piece of homework: a short essay (500 words) about the various methods one can use to find a job, such as looking online or through newspapers. We're not just writing a simple list: we have to go into some detail about each method. It's a harder task than I thought it would be but I'll get it completed before the deadline, which is next Wednesday. It's the first homework - outside of homeschooling - that I've had in over seventeen years!

Part of the lesson was dedicated towards induction - although nowhere near as extensive as what we had last week - as we had five new students appear in the class this morning. I'm hoping that we now have everyone who was accepted onto the course; we don't need any more mini-inductions! One of my fellow students and I were talking this morning about the inductions we've had.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The distant power plant

Remember the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station? Here it is from a distance:

I've been wanting to photograph the power plant from this vantage point for several days but I didn't have a good enough chance to do so until early this evening. I'll see if I can photograph it at an earlier time on a day when the sky is clear.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Fourth class

Today's Mathematics class was surprisingly short. The math teacher wasn't present; instead, another teacher was there, who gave us all a math(s) assessment. Unlike the assessments that we all did last Friday, which we completed on computers, this was done entirely on paper. We all finished this new assessment in either just under or just over an hour. After that, we all left.

None of us could work out why we had another math(s) assessment or why that was the only task we had to do this afternoon. While no one had any complaints about the day's low workload, one student was concerned about what would happen if someone scored low on the assessment, such as if they would be removed from the course. I think I did okay; I think I had a better performance on the written test than I did on the computer-based math(s) test.

With any luck, next Monday should include a proper mathematics lesson, to be taught by the proper teacher.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Ducks in white water

My grandfather and I visited Holme Pierrepont this afternoon. We watched these two ducks - likely a mating pair - peck food from the bottom of the white water course area:

I didn't photograph the couple together; they were both too busy eating to move closer to each other.

Holme Pierrepont was busy today; there was a boating event taking place. The event was over before we finished our walk around the main water area.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Two bus events

Two notable events happened yesterday on the bus:

The first was that I witnessed a driver change-over, which I hadn't seen before. When the bus pulled in at the Nottingham main bus depot, the driver collected his items, said goodbye to his former passengers and then exited. The new driver then boarded the bus.

As for the second, remember the bus driver who remembered me? He boarded just as the new driver took over; the difference is, the driver who remembered me was riding as a passenger, not as a driver. I suppose even bus drivers sometimes need to use the bus as well, huh? He said hello to me as he walked past, so I'm guessing that he remembered me for a second time; if not, at least he was being friendly.

I've now been riding the buses in Nottingham for long enough now to start recognising some of the drivers, besides the one with the good memory.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Third class

My English class was today. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this lesson as much as the previous two; this was because two thirds of it were towards an assessment while the remaining third was the actual lesson. Our teacher had to put us through an assessment for English and Mathematics; the entire class was taken aback by this because we already completed the assessment prior to applying for our college course.

I was disappointed that my results in English this time around were lower than what they were when I underwent the assessment back in April. While I acknowledge that I didn't read some of the questions properly and answered in haste, there were some mitigating factors for me reduced score: the questions were different, so at least I didn't secure a lower score with the same set of questions. Some of the questions were poorly worded and would have been more open to interpretation in non-assessment situations. There were also a couple of software bugs that were preventing students from correctly answering a couple of the questions. As for my performance in the Mathematics assessment, it was only slightly worse from April. On the bright side, the assessments will give the teachers insight into where we all need improvements, so the two hours spent on this new assessment will benefit us all in the long run.

Our teacher was, once again, great. She was more strict than the previous two but in an entirely pleasant manner. She had a mini-rant about the use of mobile phones both in and outside the class; there was a funny moment, however, when a phone rang and it was hers! She apologised and is determined to not let that happen again. It also wasn't her fault that everyone underwent a second assessment.

I don't have any further classes for this week, given that tomorrow is Saturday. I return to college on Monday, which is when I have my Mathematics lesson.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Second class

My second class at college occurred this afternoon; the lesson was Sociology, which I will have every Thursday. The first half of the lesson was another induction, which my teacher was trying to avoid because the Sociology exam will be in May rather than June; it was also about the two field trips that students on my course will be able to take.

The first trip will be to London and will be in mid-October; the trip involves visiting some of the museums there, such as the Imperial War Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The second trip is a visit to Auschwitz in Poland. There are some fees involved for both trips: I will be able to pay the fare for London but it is not financially possible for me to visit Poland, so I have to rule the latter trip out.

The second part of the lesson involved the class being split into groups and debating how to build a new society on an island if the rest of humanity were to be destroyed. There were no right or wrong answers; however, our teacher did present arguments against anything that we thought would help build and maintain this fictional new society (she did say that she would play devil's advocate), and she pointed out aspects that me missed, such as the construction of toilet facilities. The entire class enjoyed the debate.

As for the teacher herself, I liked her. She was effective at getting her points across and she knew how to appropriately add humour. I had an idea of what to expect from her because she helped me with one of my forms on enrolment day.

Tomorrow's subject is English! I've been good at that subject in the past and I'm hoping that'll hold true for tomorrow and every English class I have afterwards.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

First class

My first class at college was this morning. My lessons on Wednesdays will focus on employability, such as practising CV writing and teamwork; however, as this was my group's first day, the time allocated for the lesson was an induction/introduction to provide students with information. We had a brief tour of the college, followed by a short lesson about the library and its resources. When we returned to the classroom, we then got to know a little bit about our fellow classmates, and discuss our hopes and concerns about our course.

I liked who will be my teacher for the employability classes; she was patient, calm and helpful, and was effective at using humour to deal with problems. I also like how students are encouraged to ask questions; as I am new to the British education system, I will find this useful.

My only criticism of the day is that I don't feel like I really met any of my fellow students and thus, didn't make any friends. That being said, this was the first day and I'm hopeful that I will make friends as the school year progresses and people become more comfortable.

We are expected to have a heavy workload, which I was anticipating. It is possible that this will cut into my time to blog; if so, I will end up missing days, which will be a first for me. I didn't expect to maintain a post per day for this long, so if I'm reduced to writing only two or three posts a week, it's something that is far overdue.

Overall, I had a good time at the college this morning. I'm curious to see what tomorrow and Friday will bring.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

"Self Control" - Laura Branigan

In the mid-2000s, I was introduced to this song from the 1980s, which was in my parents' record collection:

It's "Self Control" by Laura Branigan, which comes from her third studio album, also called Self Control. The song was a major hit in Australia, Canada, across Europe and in the United States in 1984. "Self Control" was co-written by Raf, an Italian singer; he co-wrote it with Giancarlo Bigazzi and Steve Piccolo. Raf's and Branigan's versions of "Self Control" were hits simultaneously.

"Self Control" and "Gloria" are Branigan's best-known songs. In 1993, Branigan released Over My Heart, her final studio album. Sadly, Branigan died over a decade ago on August 26th, 2004, at the age of 47. The cause of her death was a cerebral aneurysm.

Interestingly, an instrumental version of "Self Control" was used in a modded version of an ancient (by computer standards) DOS game. I heard Branigan's original before I heard the game instrumental.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Bloggers Blog Party - August 2014

August 2014's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party post features five images:

Saturday, 2nd August: This is the smoke from the fireworks at the Nottingham Riverside Festival. It was on this night that I learnt how effective the low light picture setting on my phone's camera is.

Saturday, 9th August: My brother had some chocolates left over from his birthday, which occurred several weeks earlier; he shared these these two Mint Aeros with me.

Friday, 15th August: My old pair of earbuds, which, as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, died. It can't be seen in this picture, but there is damage to the plug. The only part of the earbuds that I kept are the muffs, which I transferred onto my new pair.

Thursday, 21st August: These two food items are gifts that my mother bought me for my move to Nottingham. Hot chocolate and soy sauce are an interesting combination, don't you think? (Don't worry, I like both, but not together.)

Wednesday, 27th August: When Dad, my brother and I were out on our walk, we encountered this trailer-mounted diesel engine water pump by the bank of the Trent. It is unknown if the machinery still works.