Sunday, 31 May 2015

Mock mathematics test

This evening, I underwent a mock mathematics test. During the private bonus lesson I had with my Mathematics teacher on the Wednesday prior to half-term, my teacher gave me two papers from past exams to complete: Non-Calculator Mathematics and Calculator Mathematics. I opted to do the former, as Non-Calculator Mathematics will be the first of the two Mathematics exams.

I don't think I performed badly; there were a few questions on which I was stumped and there were a couple that I blatantly answered incorrectly. I'll see if I can go through the paper with my teacher tomorrow.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Third half-term over

The third and final half-term break for my Pre-Access course has concluded; I am now back in Nottinghamshire and next week I face two of my three remaining exams: English and Non-Calculator Mathematics. I've been revising for the latter all week although I have performed some revision for the former.

My course is approaching its conclusion. There little of it left.

Friday, 29 May 2015

The forgotten anniversary

Until just now, I had completely forgotten that this week was the four-year anniversary of my blog; the 24th of May marked that date. Granted, I have been busy with other things, such as revision, but this is the first time I can recall forgetting the anniversary of the creation of Air Nice-to-Livelands.

Once again, thank you to everyone who reads my blog and thank you to the friends I have made from blogging.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Bloggers Blog Party - April 2015

It's almost a month overdue but here is April 2015's pictures for the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party. Sorry again for the delay in posting them:

Thursday 2nd April: A view of a side road on the avenue on which my college is situated. This was during the last day of the second term.

Saturday 4th April: Two posts! My brother and I encountered this purple barrier in the afternoon; usually such barriers are orange, so a purple one took us by surprise.

In the second picture, it's a homemade hot cross bus, baked by my mother and brother.

Sunday 5th April: A road, countryside and houses near where my mother lives.

Thursday 9th April: Just another train at Nottingham station; this was when I was about to travel to Northamptonshire on the afternoon after my Macbeth control.

Thursday 16th April: At a store near my mother's house, I bought these two giant...squares, of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate. It had been a long time since I last saw chocolate bars this size!

Saturday 18th April: Our old friend, the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. I took this on the day I returned to Nottinghamshire for my third college term.

Sunday 19th April: A bowlful of amaretti, which are almond-flavoured biscuits/cookies. I don't recall ever eating them before.

Friday 24th April: One of my friends at college kindly brought in these gingerbread men for the class during the break of that day's Sociology lesson. She gave me these three to take home with me and I wrapped them all up in a napkin.

Wednesday 29th April: This was a small protest, which occurred just outside the Nottingham Council House. They were demonstrating against austerity.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Overdue blog party

Tomorrow, I shall post April's pictures for the Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party. I had thought about posting it tonight but I became caught up with other tasks. Sorry about the lateness of April's post and for how I have yet to post pictures from my long walks in early March; the latter hasn't been a priority because longer walks superseded my original "long walks".

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Remembering my own phone number

In recent months I have, at last, learnt my own mobile phone number. This doesn't sound as though it is a huge achievement but there are two reasons why it has taken me this long to memorise my number:

1. I don't phone myself. As such, I don't see my number appear in my phone address book.

2. I haven't had any incentive to learn my number because it is stored in my phone's "About device -> Status" menu. All I've had to do is look there.

However, now that I have learnt my number, I no longer need to peruse my phone's settings to find it. This can save anywhere from 30 seconds to more than a minute of time.

What about you? Do you know your number by heart or do you have to research it first?

Monday, 25 May 2015

Custard and jam doughnuts

I like jam doughnuts:

At a major store here in the United Kingdom called the Co-operative, shoppers can purchase a bag of jam or custard doughnuts for 75 pence or two bags of doughnuts for £1. I certainly don't want to buy masses of doughnuts but it's pleasant to have them occasionally.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


I posted this on Facebook during the time of my Sociology exams:

While I haven't had to re-learn my course in a couple of afternoons, I have had to conduct last-minute revision. In the case of my current mathematics revision, I have had to revisit items I learnt early on in my course and I will re-study some of the more recent parts of the syllabus, too. Much of this half-term break will be spent revising.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Ireland marriage equality vote

Yesterday, Ireland held a referendum on whether or not the country should change its constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry. Not only did the people of Ireland vote for marriage equality but they did so by a convincing margin on a high turnout. There was no close 51%-49% result, which I was expecting, and no low-turnout election with a win for the "No" side.

I'm glad the margin of victory for "Yes" was overwhelming. Hopefully, it will mean that "No" won't try to initiate a second referendum to overturn the first.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Third half-term break

Today's English class marks the end of the first half of the third term. The college and many of the nation's students overall have next week off.

Personally, I think this half-term break is ridiculous; it wasn't that long ago when the Easter break ended. On the bright side, there will be more time available for revision.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

No class today

It was bizarre not having to go into class today, given that Sociology finished a week ago. The last occasion when I didn't have to attend a lesson on a Thursday during term time was in the Poland visit week, when our Sociology teacher was leading that trip.

I can't say I like the feeling; no, not at all, because it's another reminder that my course is coming to an end. Plus, as I've stated numerous times, I enjoy being in college; I've never been a fan of the "days off" and not going in on a day when I feel I should be there just doesn't seem right.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The evening walk

For the first time in a long time, I went for an evening walk. Not a walk down to the bus, like on my nights out, but an actual lengthy walk in the evening. My day at college was productive and the weather was lovely, both of which put me in a good mood. As a result, I felt the timing was right for me to go for a walk after dinner.

I walked for an hour an a half, which brought the time to 9:10pm, and it was still light outside. One of the benefits of living in the United Kingdom is that in the summer, it doesn't become dark until after 9:30. The walk was very much worth it; there were a few people about and I listened to some music while walking.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Centre motion

What do you think of this picture?

It's of Nottingham's city centre while I was on my bus and the bus was in motion. Save for some minor blurring, I think this picture turned out well. Not bad for a random snap!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Aching foot

As a result of my recent walk to Hucknall, which I am fairly certain is my longest walk to date, I am in pain in my right foot. I thought the pain would have ameliorated over the course of Sunday but it hasn't; I limped to my bus this morning and back to my house in the evening. I think the problem is that I've been walking so much with my current shoes that they are becoming unsuitable for long hikes.

My Hucknall walk on Saturday was worth it, though, and I intend to complete the walk again. At some point I will need a new pair of main shoes!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Dark Trent

My grandfather and I were out for a bit last night bat watching. While out, I photographed the Trent:

I've never seen the Trent this close before at nighttime; I used the low light setting on my phone for this capture.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Hucknall, mach 4

I complete my third successful walk (fourth attempt overall) to Hucknall today. I left in the morning and walked all the way there; after eating a little in Hucknall, I walked all the way back from the town to the Broadmarsh, rather than take a bus to the Victoria Centre like I did on the previous two occasions. When I returned to Nottingham's city centre I took a bus back home.

I estimate that I walked 20.5 miles today, which would likely make today's walk my longest to date.

On the way to Hucknall, I photographed this swan family. They were not at all bothered by my presence.

This is a The Threes bus. The Threes is a major bus route operated by Trentbarton, who also operate the main bus route where I live; however, my buses are green rather than orange.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Two down, three to go (2)

Susie raised a point in her comment to yesterday's post. She asked if my Sociology teacher should just throw out the question. Unfortunately, while that would be ideal, the contents of the exam are not up to her.

To my knowledge, all exams are national, so when, for example, my class was answering the second Sociology exam, everyone else in the nation who has been undertaking a Sociology GCSE this year would have done their exams at the same time we did. Individual teachers don't set the exams; there are national organisations that carry out this task. My teacher can complain but I do not know how likely she is to succeed in having that question discounted.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Two down, three to go

The Unit 2 Sociology exam is now complete. That's it for Sociology; that part of the course is now over, so the class is now down to three our of four of its subjects. I won't be studying Sociology full-time again until later this year as a part of my next course.

The only disconcerting part of today's exam was when we encountered a question about something we hadn't covered in our syllabus. Our Sociology teacher intends to complain about this, as the question discussed something that people studying higher-level Sociology would know, not students at GCSE level like my classmates and me. The whole class received 0 marks for a 4-mark question.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Sociology revision (2)

Tomorrow afternoon is when my college class will undergo its second Sociology exam. This paper will include questions about crime and deviance, social inequality and power. Once this exam is complete, there will be no more classes related to Sociology for the remainder of this course.

I am alarmed at how close the end of the course is. After the first Sociology exam, the end still seemed distant but after today, it now feels closer than ever.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Banana peel-shaped wet floor sign

In the Broadmarsh this afternoon, I encountered this:

A wet floor warning sign in the shape of a banana peel! I've yet to slip on a banana peel, though.

Monday, 11 May 2015

One down, four to go

The first of my final exams, the Unit 1 paper for Sociology, is complete. I think I performed well enough to obtain a C, which is a passing grade, although it is my hope that I have secured a higher mark than a C. The test lasted for an hour and a half, I answered all questions and I had some time to go back and modify a few of my responses.

On Thursday, it'll be the exam for the Unit 2 paper for Sociology but all other exams are not until June.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Sociology revision

Much of my weekend has been spent conducting revision for Sociology. This is because the two Sociology exams I have to undertake are next week: one on Monday and the other on Thursday. These are not simple tests - they are proper, final exams. Once they are complete, the Sociology aspect of my current course will be finished and I won't be doing the subject again until my next course.

From what I understand, the first exam will focus on what sociology is, on the family and on education while the second covers power, social inequality, and crime and deviance. I've spent quite a bit of time on revising research methods, as that was one of my weaknesses in Sociology, and on how to answer some of the harder questions.

Last week I completed a mock exam and scored a B- on it; while that doesn't sound great, that result came from me not conducting any prior revision and a B- is still a passing grade. My teacher also provided me with plenty of notes for me to study.

I will not know the results of any of my exams until mid-August. I am uncertain as to why there is such a long delay.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Representation disparity

One discussion that has emerged from the recent election is the issue of how MPs are elected. The current system here in the United Kingdom is that MPs are elected on a first-past-the-post basis, which means that whoever has the most votes, regardless of percentage, wins. The reason this is now being talked about is because of the significance of the non-"Main Three" parties (parties that aren't the Conservatives, Labour or the Liberal Democrats), in particular, how the Greens, Scottish National Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party all performed.

Look at these statistics:

UKIP: 3,881,129 votes (12.6% overall, 3rd place) - 1 MP
SNP:  1,454,436 (4.7%, 5th place) - 56 MPs
Greens: 1,154,562 (3.8%, 6th place) - 1 MP

The five million people who voted for the Greens and UKIP, who combined make up over 16% of the turnout, are represented by only two MPs. By contrast, each SNP MP represents roughly 26,000 people. To compare two other political parties:

Liberal Democrats: 2,415,888 (7.9%, 4th overall) - 8 MPs
Democratic Unionist Party: 184,260 (0.6%, 7th overall) - 8 MPs

While both parties have 8 MPs each, each Liberal Democrat MP represent over 300,000 people whereas every DUP MP averages around 23,000 constituents. Regardless of what one thinks about any of these political parties, there is a severe imbalance in the amount of people each of them represents.

How could this be addressed? The best method would be introduce a system in which parties receive seats based on their vote percentages; for example, if the Liberal Democrats win 8% of the vote they would win 8% of the seats - not 8 seats out of 650.

It'll be interesting to see where the discussion will lead. It's unlikely, however, that there will be any major electoral reforms, as it's not a priority of the new government.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Results of the United Kingdom general election of 2015

The results are in and they are not what anybody was expecting. A close election had been anticipated between the Labour and Conservative parties, as well as another hung Parliament. As it turned out, Labour lost significant ground and several of its high-profile members were voted out while the Conservatives surprised everyone by obtaining a majority in the House of Commons, albeit a narrow and vulnerable one.

After the results were clear, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage all resigned as the heads of their parties (Labour, Liberal Democrat and United Kingdom Independence Party, respectively). Labour endured a net loss of 26 seats, the Liberal Democrats lost 49 (down to 8) and UKIP, while actually achieving its best election result to date (third in the popular vote), only won one seat and Farage promised to resign if he didn't win in his target constituency of South Thanet.

Besides the outright Conservative win, the other surprise of the election is the strength of the Scottish National Party victories in Scotland. Scotland has long been a Labour stronghold but the SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon, was successful in securing 56 of 59 seats up there, which is the highest amount of MPs the party has possessed to date. Labour's losses in Scotland were only partially offset by Liberal Democrat defeats elsewhere in the nation.

The Greens surpassed the one-million-votes mark for the first time in a general election and placed sixth overall in the popular vote; however, the Greens, as with UKIP, only have one MP, which is the seat they won in 2010: Brighton Pavilion, held by Caroline Lucas. The British National Party was fifth in the popular vote in 2010 but was reduced to irrelevancy in this election.

The next general election is expected to be in 2020, as set by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, unless a motion of no confidence passes against the government, which would trigger an early election.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The polls have closed

It is now past 22:00, which means that the polls have officially closed. I do hope, however, that anyone who is still in line to vote will be allowed to; if there are areas with higher than expected turnout it would be unfair for said voters to be turned away.

The first election result, which is usually in the constituency of Houghton and Sunderland South, might be announced in the next hour. How people voted there might provide some insight into how the nation as a whole has voted.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Hours to go

There's not much more to say at this point. The election is now only hours away, polls are still indicating that there will not be a clear victor and all main parties stand to lose ground to smaller ones. Results will start to arrive in around 24 hours time. My brother has stated that he will spend the night following the election but I will be going to bed; he'll text me notable results as they come in.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The latest batch of fallen cherry blossom

The cherry blossom has been falling over the past week; here is some I encountered when out on a long walk:

While I haven't photographed any yet, puddles filled with blossom are fun to see - like little craters of pink petals!

Monday, 4 May 2015

The United Kingdom general election of 2015

On Thursday, 7th of May, the United Kingdom will be voting for its next government in the first general election since May of 2010. While there will be local elections running concurrently, unless anything remarkable occurs in them all eyes will be on what happens to Parliament.

What is the predicted outcome of this election? Indeterminable. While it's likely that we'll have a hung Parliament (when no party controls the majority of the seats), predicting which party will win the greatest amount of seats has been extremely difficult. The two main parties, Labour and the Conservatives, are roughly tied in the polls and both are facing setbacks due to smaller parties.

The United Kingdom Independence Party has been averaging between 14% and 16% in the polls; while this doesn't seem like much, it secured around 3% of the vote in 2010 and because it is a right-wing party, it has the potential to split the right-wing vote and usher in a Labour landslide victory. At the same time, the Green party is polling at around 5%, which could offset some Conservative losses, but perhaps more concerning for Labour is polling in Scotland, which suggests that the party could lose nearly all of its seats there (40+) to the Scottish National Party.

The Liberal Democrats, the smallest of "main three" parties, are polling behind UKIP and stand to lose many of their Members of Parliament including Nick Clegg, the party leader. Having a party leader voted out would be an embarrassment, to say the least. The Liberal Democrats have performed poorly in polls since they entered into a coalition with the Conservatives in 2010. If large amounts of Liberal Democrat voters switch to Labour, this could shield the latter party from damage inflicted by Greens and/or the SNP.

With all this in mind, the exact outcome of this election is almost impossible to estimate. 2015 is certain to be both the closest and most unpredictable election in decades.

This will be the first time since 1992 that I have been present in the United Kingdom during its general election. Naturally, I missed the elections of 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2010, and in 1992 I was too young to know anything about the election, anyway.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Two evening bus views

On my two recent nights out, I ensured that I took at least one evening photo on each of my buses to the city centre:
As can be evidenced from these photos, it was sunny with some clouds on the first night and completely overcast on the second. Surprisingly, the images also show that the first night was blurry while the second featured laser lights across roofs.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

The nights out (2)

I'll soon be heading out for my second night out in a row. I shall be going, with my college friends, to a new buffet restaurant for dinner. If the charity night and the class trip to Poland aren't counted, this will be the first time we've been out together since just before Christmas. I'm looking forward to it!

I was treated to a pleasant surprise on my way home after last night: the card payment scanner on the bus I rode back was broken. As a result, the driver told me to just "take a seat" and, thus, my return journey was free!

Friday, 1 May 2015

The nights out

Well, this is an interesting development: I am going not for one but two nights out, tonight and tomorrow night. I'm going to a meetup at a pub for this night while tomorow my college class and I will all be going out for dinner together.

A year ago, the thought of me having even one night out was unthinkable. Two? Shows how much I've changed since I've been at college.