Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year's Eve 2014

Here in the United Kingdom, it's slightly over three hours until midnight and the end of 2014. Not much is happening here at my grandparents' house; we're just watching television.

As I've written elsewhere this evening, 2014 has brought several transformations upon me, the most significant being my moving to Nottingham to attend college. The minimum goal for 2015 is to build upon 2014's successes and to not withdraw from what I've done this year. I've achieved much in the past twelve months - especially in the last five; I do not want those gains to be reversed. Not at all.

Oh, and just to address how I'm not doing much this evening. Honestly, one of these days I'll attend New Year parties again. In the meantime, I hope that everyone is enjoying whatever plans they've made for New Year's Eve and Day.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

"Greatest Time of Year" - Aly & AJ

The final song I'm posting for 2014 is this:

It's "Greatest Time of Year" by Aly & AJ, which is their only single from their Christmas album, Acoustic Hearts of Winter. The song was used in the film The Santa Clause 3 and the music video uses clips from said movie. Prior to this evening, I don't recall ever listening to the song; it's pleasant enough and I ought to listen to Aly & AJ's other Christmas music.

I've written a few posts that mention Aly & AJ but the most extensive piece I've done about them is called "Aly & AJ", which I wrote over three years ago.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Everyone returned (nearly)

Nearly all of my visiting relatives have returned home now; the sole relative still here is my Hong Kong uncle. He will leave on New Year's Day and be back at his home on the 3rd of January. I'm glad he'll be present for a short spell longer because it means there's another person around during my break from college.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Lincoln visit December 2014 (2)

As promised, some pictures from yesterday's Lincoln trip:

This is the view of Lincoln as we were driving in. The camera on my phone gave the landscape a far bluer appearance for this photograph than the vicinity was as seen through my eyes.

After the light level increased, the blueness disappeared. This is an early-to-mid-morning picture of the cathedral, taken from where my uncle parked his car.

This is an image of the cathedral, taken close to the mid-afternoon. I cropped the picture to cut out the car plates, which were obviously visible.

This was taken slightly over an hour after the previous picture. I cropped this one, too, for the same reason as the previous image and because there were faces present. Note how occupied the parking area is in the third and fourth pictures compared to the second!

The only negative aspect to this Lincoln visit was my throat and coughing. On more than one occasion, when I stepped into a building from the cold or vice versa, I would start coughing; same if I talked for long periods and yes, my voice has yet to fully return to me. Otherwise, it was a fun trip.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Lincoln visit December 2014

I spent most of today in Lincoln. While much of it was spent in either shops or my cousin's university accommodation, I photographed the cathedral a few times and I'll be sure to post the pictures tomorrow. It snowed last night and the snow drastically altered the Lincoln landscape.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Day after Christmas 2014

I managed to have a better day yesterday than I was expecting. There were around twenty people at my grandparents' house for the gathering, a figure that includes my brother and parents, who spent the day up here.

As active as yesterday was, the celebrations aren't over yet! While my brother and parents returned home last night, the rest of us will soon be spending the day at my other Nottingham relatives' house. I think we're going to be treated to some Indian food, to which I am looking forward.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable time at Christmas.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

"Winter Wonderland/Don't Worry Be Happy" - Pentatonix featuring Tori Kelly

For the Christmas Day music post, it's a Pentatonix song:

It's "Winter Wonderland/Don't Worry Be Happy" and it features Tori Kelly. As ever, I think it's another wonderful piece of music from Pentatonix; I truly think that they're a highly talented band.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

It's Christmas Eve here's not really much to say. My grandfather and I are watching a Pixar film, and anyone who isn't in bed is elsewhere tonight. I hope that everyone - people beyond my family - is looking forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Everyone here

Well, everyone who is supposed to be staying for Christmas is now here; my Hong Kong uncle and East of England relatives arrived over the course of the day. The only other people who are coming are my parents, brother and other Nottingham relatives but they're all visiting on Christmas Day, rather than spending any nights here.

As for me...I won't go into the realm of broken record, assuming I haven't reached that point already. Today is the best I've felt since my cold began so I am more optimistic about how I'll feel on Christmas Day.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Everyone arrives

Tomorrow, other relatives will start arriving here at my grantparents' house. The first will be my Hong Kong uncle, who will likely be staying until the end of the year. After him will be East of England relatives, although they're spread out across the country and it's not known in what order they will appear.

The only negative factors that are still looming over this Christmas are my health and my grandmother's. She is in the last stages of her cold and I'm still battling mine; granted, I feel better than I did a few days ago but I'm still burning through tissues and my voice has yet to recover (the fact I've almost lost my voice is a new one for me; that just hasn't happened before). On the bright side, I am sleeping again and a robust rest tonight might be enough to eliminate the remaining worst of my cold.

I'm hoping that we're both past the infectious stages, too; I can't see me and my grandmother being popular if we spread our diseases to everyone else!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Caroline Flack

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the defeats of Mary Landrieu and Pixie Lott, the former an incumbent American Senator and the latter a British pop singer/dance competition contestant. In the case of Lott, I mentioned that she was my favourite to win Strictly Come Dancing; however, once she was voted out of the show, my allegiance switched to Caroline Flack, a TV presenter.

Well, Strictly Come Dancing ended last night and Caroline Flack won:

My grandmother and I were delighted with the result. Flack earned a perfect 40 score from the judges in the semi-final and then went on the score three 40s in the final, which marked the first time a Strictly Come Dancing contestant has secured three perfect scores in the final and won the competition.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

"Wham Vs PSY - Last Christmas, Gangnam Style" - Paolo Monti mashup 2012

This is one of my favourite mashups, which consists of a Christmas pop song and a regular pop song:

It's Wham!'s "Last Christmas" merged with PSY's "Gangnam Style". I discovered it two years ago and immediately regarded it a well-constructed mashup. The video, which is a merger of the songs respective music videos, has also been perfectly assembled.

I never thought that George Michael and Korean pop would make a fine musical combination.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Lord Voldemort in the mirror

When I looked in the mirror yesterday morning - the morning after the Christmas party - I saw the face of Lord Voldemort* staring back at me, albeit a Lord Voldemort with plenty of hair. I had heavily red eyes and extremely pale skin. I appeared as though I'd spent the previous evening downing a gallon of vodka or some other strong alcoholic drink.

Ironically, my death-like appearance had not been induced by alcohol and partying. No, it stemmed from something completely irrelevant to both: cough medicine.

That's right. Prior to going to bed on the night of the party, I consumed some cough medicine, which my grandfather had bought for me earlier in the day. The immediate effect of the medicine was to cause me to cough harder than ever before and the coughing kept me awake until 3:30am. I finally managed to fall asleep (an achievement in itself, given how many sleepless nights I've experienced recently) sometime after then but the intense coughing combined with the limited sleep caused me to look downright awful in the morning.

*I am referring to the book description of Lord Voldemort, which lists him as pale and with red eyes.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Party success

Last night's party was a success. Everyone enjoyed themselves and, to my knowledge, there have been no complaints about the night. About the only gripe I had - and it's nothing to do with the party itself - was that I was coughing somewhat excessively, which added a moderate filter to my enjoyment of the occasion. Other than that, it was awesome. As I've said before, until yesterday, I'd never been to such an event before; it was all a new experience. People dancing on tables!

I do have one suitable picture to post here but it can wait until December's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party feature.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

About to head out

As I won't be posting here later, I'll just say now that I'm about to head out to attend my class Christmas party. I've never been to anything like it before so it should certainly be an experience! I'm sure I'll take a few pictures but I doubt that I'll be posting any of them - especially if any contain people.

Still, I'm sure I'll have something to write about later. Until then, bye for now!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Drinking tea

I am not a tea drinker: I am a staunch supporter of coffee. I almost always look forward to my one-cup-a-day mug of coffee; however, for the duration of this cold, I haven't drunk any coffee. The only warm drink I've ingested has been tea.

That's right, tea. The sole reason I have been drinking tea is because of its medicinal purposes; I figured my cold would vanish quicker if I consumed tea, both due to its cold-curing natural ingredients and because of its warmth when it travels down my throat. In addition, I usually only drink one cup of coffee per day; I've been drinking up to three cups of tea a day. I would estimate that I've drank more tea in the past five days than I have in the past matching number of years.

Of course, I'll return to coffee once I have vanquished this tedious cold. It just goes to demonstrate how one's everyday behaviour changes to combat an illness.

(And yes, I have been drinking tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Points if you get that reference!)

Monday, 15 December 2014

"Santa Tell Me" - Ariana Grande

Today's Christmas song is "Santa Tell Me" by Ariana Grande:

"Santa Tell Me" appears to be a standalone single, as it hasn't (yet) been assigned to an album or an extended play. "Santa Tell Me" was released exactly three weeks ago, which makes it - like Alex G's  "It's You That I'll Miss This Christmas" - both a new and an original song.

Grande's music on the whole is pleasant enough, although I do not possess any of her albums nor do I intend to anytime soon. The video is somewhat risqué and the two-minute-long outtakes segment after the music is fun. Overall, "Santa Tell Me" is a truly enjoyable Christmas track.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Note about yesterday's blog post

I just wanted to say that I am sorry for the complaining and the whining nature of yesterday's post. I'd been feeling terrible all day and was annoyed over having my two recent college classes negatively affected by my sickness.

Things are looking up: I do feel much better at the moment but it's too early to start celebrating. To help ensure that I am able to attend college tomorrow - or at the very least, don't end up having another sucky day there - I'm going to go to bed early. I have nothing pressing to do this evening (well, other than everything I was going to complete over the weekend but haven't been able to) and so my time is best suited, for now, in bed.

Night night!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Badly-timed sickness

On Wednesday afternoon, I started to develop a cold, which caused my Sociology and English lessons of this week's classes to be extremely stressful and difficult. Never before had I struggled so much at college as I did on Thursday and Friday. For English, my teacher told me to leave early but I managed to see the lesson through to its conclusion.

This cold couldn't have come at a worse time. I am supposed to be baking a cake tomorrow and in the next few days I was going to start handing out Christmas cards but if I don't improve rapidly when I retire later, they will both have to wait. My last three classes of 2014 are next week and the Christmas party for my class is on Wednesday; I cannot even begin to fathom how angry and disappointed I will be if I miss the party due to being ill. It's just not acceptable.

I spent much of today resting and if I need to do the same thing tomorrow, I will. I really want to minimise or knock this cold on the head before Tuesday - preferably before Monday - rolls around. On the bright side, I feel better today compared to yesterday, so I am hopeful that I will recover in time.

Honestly, of all the moments to be sick, why now?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Santa driver

It appears as though Santa has sought employment elsewhere this year! When I was waiting in line for my bus back home this afternoon, he was waiting alongside the line; once I boarded my bus, he wished everyone a Merry Christmas and then relieved the driver. We were delayed slightly in starting our journey because the former driver wanted, in his words, a "selfie with Santa". I think he was successful is obtaining one.

As for why our driver was dressed as Santa, I heard a woman say that having drivers dressed as Santa was something that the bus companies around here sometimes do at this time of the year. It's a fun novelty!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Just a week to go

It's astounding to think that this time next week, the Christmas holiday will begin, which will herald in the end of my college class' course for 2014. Sociology will be the final lesson of the year whereas our last English class is tomorrow. It's strange...early September dually feels as though it were a long time ago and not that long ago at all.

College doesn't start again until the 7th of January, which will be our first Employability lesson of 2015. Where has the time gone and to where is it disappearing?

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

"It's You That I'll Miss This Christmas" - Alex G

For the second Christmas song of this month, it's "It's You That I'll Miss This Christmas" by Alex G:

Alex G performed "It's You That I'll Miss This Christmas", which is an original track from her, on ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas. It was posted to Alex G's YouTube channel close to the end of November, hence why I hadn't heard of the song until this evening.

I enjoyed "It's You That I'll Miss This Christmas" and its respective music video. In the case of the latter, I found it amusing for someone to perform a Christmas song on the sunshine-blanketed Santa Monica Pier.

As for Alex G herself, I have known about her for at least a couple of years. I discovered her YouTube channel when I listened to a cover song or two of hers, although I can't remember which songs they were. I follow her channel but I haven't listened to much of her music.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Smart clothing

My cousin and I spent the afternoon clothes shopping...for me. Next week, my class and I will be having a Christmas party at a fancy venue and I needed to purchase some smarter clothing than anything I had in my attire collection prior to today.

Within half an hour, my cousin and I found a suitable pair of trousers for me. The difficult part was finding a decent light, smart jacket to match it. Over the course of the next two hours, we experienced little success in searching for something to fit with the trousers; the three jackets that would have matched them were too small, too large and too expensive, respectively.

Finally, around twenty minutes before my cousin needed to leave, we searched around one more store. In there, we located some ideal suit tops that were in line with what I wanted and they matched the trousers well. My cousin was concerned about the price of them (they were above £50 but below £100) but I received a significant discount for the top I purchased.

I am mildly concerned that the clothing I have purchased is a little too smart for the venue of our party but as one of my friends with whom I was texting said, it's better to be decent than indecent.

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Christmas village

Remember the Christmas village I posted a picture of in November's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party collection? Here are two more of it:

I'm not sure when the village will be dismantled; I'm hoping to visit it again before that happens.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Mary Landrieu and Pixie Lott

Within less than 24 hours of each other, two women whom I've been observing in the media these past few weeks were voted out of their respective races/competitions: Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and pop singer Pixie Lott.

The result of the United States midterm elections in Louisiana sent Senator Landrieu, a Democrat, into a run-off with her opponent, Republican Bill Cassidy; under Louisiana law, if no candidate attains 50% of the vote on election day, a run-off must ensue. The run-off occurred yesterday and Landrieu lost; she secured 44% of the vote. With Landrieu defeated, the Democratic Party no longer holds any Senate seats in the Deep South.

Just over an hour ago, on the British celebrity dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing, the programme's public vote relegated pop singer Pixie Lott into this week's dance-off with Simon Webbe, who is a member of a British band named Blue. The vote among the judges was 2-2 but since head judge Len Goodman voted to keep Webbe, Lott was defeated. Lott's loss is shocking because her performances have consistently won high marks and because she led in the overall leaderboard.

As for why I have been watching Strictly Come Dancing, since it doesn't sound like the sort of show I'd follow, it's because my grandmother likes it and when I'm present, she's not watching it alone. Plus, Lott was my favourite to win the competition. My new choice is TV presenter Caroline Flack.

I should also note that the title of this post, "Mary Landrieu and Pixie Lott", has to be amongst the list of "oddest people combinations", given that the two women are completely unrelated people for a multitude of reasons.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The new - or unnoticed - bench

When walking to college a couple of days ago, I noticed this bench along a main road:

I am 99% certain that it has replaced an old bench that was there as recently as a week ago. That or I have somehow been missing a bench for three months now. What brought it to my attention was the shiny gold-coloured lion's head on the side.

As a bonus, I thought that the image of the bench was worth enhancing through the HDR filter on SnapSeed.

Friday, 5 December 2014

"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" - Alvin and the Chipmunks

For my first Christmas song for this month, it's "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" by Alvin and the Chipmunks:

"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" was originally released in 1958. As for Alvin and the Chipmunks, I recall watching a cartoon of them on television when I was a child; I think I watched it from 1996-97.

In my recent post about Christmas songs, my friend and fellow blogger Jessica suggested that I highlight this track. Thank you, Jessica, for your contribution to this year's tracklist!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

"United State of Pop 2014 (Do What You Wanna Do)" - DJ Earworm

Last night, I was delighted to receive a notification that informed me that DJ Earworm had released his annual "United State of Pop" song and video:

It's "United State of Pop 2014 (Do What You Wanna Do)". DJ Earworm's mashups are usually centred around one or two songs and this is no exception: the main two in this track are "Animals" by Maroon and "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift - and to a certain extent, Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty" - with the other songs built around them.

Keeping consistent with previous years, the criticisms of the song are, to be blunt, utter nonsense. Most - as usual - are based on it "not being as good as before", in particular, not as good as the 2009 release; there were also a few hateful comments about Taylor Swift. I also saw a comment somewhere complaining that it only features American songs; given that DJ Earworm is American and uses songs that were number-one there, this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Plus, he has created mashups composed of non-US hits.

Trolling aside, there is nothing wrong with "United State of Pop 2014 (Do What You Wanna Do)". It's different to DJ Earworm's previous mashups but isn't variety to be encouraged?

Finally, 2013's version is here, which features a link to 2012's.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Bloggers Blog Party - November 2014

November 2014's selection for the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party; November was a plentiful month for pictures:

Saturday, 1st November: I captured this awesome view of the sunset. I don't recommend aiming a camera - even a cameraphone - at the Sun but in this case, the clouds had obscured our local star enough for me to photograph it. I also like how deep the colour of the green grass is.

Sunday, 2nd November: My grandfather, brother and I were in Lincoln on this morning, as we were taking my cousin back home. My brother was annoyed that it was raining because it was his first time in Lincoln and he wanted to take some pictures.

Friday, 7th November: This was the first day when I noticed Christmas decorations appearing in public, such as here in the Broadmarsh.

Sunday, 9th November: My grandfather created and baked these oat balls as a late-night snack. The oats contained nuts and apricots; he added the latter as a substitute for sugar.

Wednesday, 12th November: This is the back of a pub called Via Fossa, which will be the venue for a charity group project I'm currently involved with in my Employability lessons.

Friday, 14th November: In this English lesson, my teacher was encouraging us to come up with alternate words for the word "walked". The goal was to expand the vocabulary of the class.

Monday, 24th November: I saw, for the first time ever, this mural on a wall at the bus depot. Either it was new or I hadn't noticed it before.

For dinner on the 24th, my grandfather prepared a stir fry for everyone. Stir fries are one of his specialties.

Wednesday, 26th November: A friend of mine and I went to the cinema on this day. On our way there, we walked through the Christmas village that has been constructed in the centre of Nottingham for the holiday season. It mostly consists of rides and shops but it's fun.

Thursday, 27th November: One of my friends brought in chewy chocolate chip/chunk cookies, which were delicious, for the Sociology break.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


A couple of years ago, I came across "scolionophobia", which is a rare word. What does scolionophobia mean? The fear of school. Another term for it, which I learnt about just now, is didaskaleinophobia.

Over two years on from when I discovered the term scolionophobia when on a search for words, I can say that I do not have it in the slightest. As I've said before, I love attending college and my favourite days of the week are when I am in class. There is no fear present here!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Worst gym moments

Here is a video from Buzzfeed about the 11 "worst" moments at the gym:

If anyone here uses a gym, have any of these ever affected you? I haven't used a gym before so I wouldn't know, although I can understand how one person hogging a water fountain would be incredibly annoying - not just at the gym but anywhere.