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July 2014: Hope, BYO and Bournemouth

So, July 2014 brought with it a lot of freedom, especially compared to the revision of the previous months. However, from 2nd to 5th July I decided to give up some of my new found time to help with Hope 2014, a mission run by Holland Road Baptist Church. This isn’t my church, but a friend invited me to come along and take part and so I decided to go for it. Entering the church on the Wednesday morning was pretty nerve racking but people made me welcome and my nerves settled. My first day was spent at Davidgor and Somerhill Schools – laminating and cutting signs for their new classroom followed by gardening. It was pretty tiring, and my back ached, but it was great to give back to the community. The second day was gardening at Davigdor and Somerhill (but in different areas), and my third was more laminating and cutting at Davigdor (with lunch in nearby St Ann’s Well Gardens). This was hard on my knees, but I met a lovely woman (I cannot remember a name, sorry!) with a daughter called Ruby who had suspected scoliosis, so it was really nice to chat about my operation and give some reassurance (and also advice that the consultant I saw at Brighton was rubbish!). My fourth and final day was at Carden School, doing yet more gardening! My back hurt, but I didn’t mind as it was for a good cause. Jonny from Holland Road does a much better job than me of explaining Hope 2014 here: http://hrbc.org.uk/magazine/hope-2014/ (I am in the middle of the photo wearing the fetching purple cagoule)

The following Friday was the final BYO concert of the year, actually the post-tour concert (I didn’t go on tour because of busyness and coach sickness issues). My friends got me a lovely keyring and dish to put my keys in as well as a card to say goodbye because of leaving to go to university, which was really amazing. The concert was good too, especially Lord of the Dance, which is my new favourite piece! And at the end I got a rose for being a leaver, and also bought a sticker to go on my violin case to remind me of the orchestra.

The rest of the month consisted of my final violin lesson (actually during Hope), meeting up with friends and volunteering, as well as two trips away. I went to Bournemouth with my parents, which was great and really relaxing. We had some lovely food, good shopping and a chance to chill, as well as me joining the National Trust – we visited Brownsea Island and Kingston Lacy too. The other holiday was Bredon, where I was an assistant leader (M&M as we call them), and this was far too busy for me to write about here, so will have its own separate post.

Therefore, while you’re waiting for said post, I will leave you with Lord of the Dance:

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June 2014: Exams

So, we’ve reached June 2014, and this was a period full of exams. I had done a fair amount of revision and, straight after half term, my first exam was History – 2 hours on Germany 1900-45. The questions were pretty much as predicted – war economy and the Weimar Republic. I did feel like bursting into tears though as I hated the former and the latter was a question that covered twice as much as the ones we practised. However I soon calmed down and answered all the questions within the time. After it was over I went home, had a break, and then revised for my English exam the next day.

English was a 2 and a half hour exam. To be honest I cannot remember the exam at all, apart from the Language Change question on hair care and everyone needing the loo and only having one invigilator. After it was done I had a whole week and a half before my Maths exams. I took a day to relax and then it was into C3 and C4 revision. I think I must have had a few fun things to do but it was mainly work.

My C3 and C4 Maths exams were OK, although pretty tough, and I smacked my head at the end of C3 on the slanted ceiling! The only exam remaining was S2, my Maths Statistics exam. That was 6 days after my C4 exam, on Tuesday 24th June. It was alright, although I missed out a figure and had to redo half a question. After the exam I had a rehearsal for the school concert the following day and then joined two friends (Laura and Burnie) to go into town. We stopped off at Greggs for some food, browsed the shops, and went to the cinema to see 22 Jump Street. It was way better than I expected and really funny. It was a great way to celebrate end of exams.

You might have been thinking “how did you cope with sitting in such long exams?”. Well, I had permission from the exams officers to take a cushion into my exam, which I did, but it actually was a little annoying. When it was hot it made my back really hot and sweaty too! But it did help in uncomfy chairs!!

The remainder of June was full of relaxation, but I also performed the second movement of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto at the school classical concert. I duetted with my friend Monique, and I think it went really well, especially being nervous beforehand.

June was a very stressful month, but went very well – tomorrow means July and much more relaxation!

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Post-op appointment 4: Tuesday 20th May 2014

Today is the 21st May 2014, and yesterday I had my penultimate (hopefully!) appointment at the Evelina Children’s Hospital.

I’m not sure exactly why, but I was extremely nervous for this one. I was pretty unproductive on Monday, instead choosing to chill out and try and feel less nervous. I went to bed fairly early and woke up on Tuesday morning at 7am, an hour before I wanted to! I was hungry but also nervous, so only ate a piece of toast for breakfast.

By 9.15 we were in a taxi and arrived at the train station in about 10 minutes. We’d left plenty of time so I was able to go to the loo, probably setting off a turnstile alarm because the previous person hadn’t locked it back into place and I was worried about losing my 20p. We browsed Smiths, but the magazine I wanted was sadly absent. Then we got on the train.

It wasn’t too full, and it was a fast journey – we got to London in 50 minutes. After a queue for the toilets at Victoria, we set off on the 25ish minute walk to the Evelina, passing some posh military events (hats and uniforms were out) at Westminster Abbey; a police pavement closure on Westminster Bridge (meaning we had to cross the road twice to get to the hospital); and a fire evacuation at the Marriot Hotel.

Obviously we arrived at the hospital intact and made our way through to the Evelina. There was some research awareness going on but we were far too focused on getting through the appointment to stop. We got to the desk and, after a small blip where she couldn’t find me on the system, we were sent up to X-ray. We waited no more than 10 minutes and for the first time in about three years had to sign a declaration confirming that I wasn’t pregnant (which you’re meant to do from the age of 12!)

We were met by the radiographer I recognised from previous visits, who is always very nice, and commended on my X-ray friendly clothing, although my trousers did have a zip on them and I had to change into my leggings, which I had brought specially. It was all going so smoothly until the X-ray plate got stuck in the machine! However, eventually they got it out and we relocated to another, newer, nicer X-ray room round the corner where they did the other X-ray and we were sent back to Ocean reception.

It was one of the fastest appointments I have done, because we had waited maybe 10 minutes at most when the registrar came out. I can’t remember his name (it doesn’t matter anyway!) and I think he was Greek – unfortunately there was a slight language barrier, his accent was really hard to understand! Anyway, my X-rays were fine, I got over (kind of) my issue with people touching my back, and the appointment was over in a flash. However, then my mum started asking about issues over spreading infections and the consultant (who was also there) started talking about septicaemia and I went into a sort of cold sweat (much like the pharmacy incident in January) and went and sat in the toilets until it subsided.

Once I’d recovered we decided to go up and visit Savannah Ward, as we had thought that I would be transferred (in fact seeing as I only had one appointment left I will stay at the Evelina until I’m discharged). We got up in the lift, but on arrival we noticed that it was a protected mealtime – we’d expected this but weren’t sure if it was 12-1 or 1-2. We took some photos though:

Savannah Ward (Lizard) from the outside

Savannah Ward (Lizard) from the outside

Once we got back down, we went back to St Thomas to get our M&S Food for lunch. As we were going into the shop, who should come out but Hazel Foale, the pain management nurse! I wanted to go and say thanks for the morphine she gave me, but she was on her lunch break so I didn’t. Anyway, we bought our lunch (submarine roll, Red Leicester, packet of crisps for me) and went to sit outside by the fountain – the area where we used to sit had fewer benches now. It was a lovely spot, and I took some more photos!

St Thomas' and a fountain

St Thomas’ and a fountain

It was time to go home, so we walked back to Victoria and had a quick browse in Paperchase (purchases: two notebooks for the librarians at school, which were well appreciated) and then we got the train home to Brighton and then changed to go to Hove. We got back at 3.40ish and it is a twenty minute walk home – I had somewhere to be at 4, so I speedwalked the last 10 minutes and did it in seven! Unfortunately now my legs hurt!

Just to give you an idea of what I do after an appointment, I went down to the church for our youth group revision session, had some Dominos there, then got home just before 9 and watched the Call Centre with my dad.

So, right now I don’t know what my next post will be, but look out for it! Please comment/follow etc! (It’ll be about exams by the way)

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May 2014

I am very behind schedule in posting so I will make this brief. A few notable things happened in May, but mainly I was revising.

BBTB

The first weekend in May, including the bank holiday means Bible By The Beach, a great bible conference in Eastbourne. This was the sixth year, and I am pleased that we have been there from the start. This year was as good as all the others. It was my last year going as a young person and therefore my last year in ‘The Cave’. If you’re thinking of going to BBTB and are worried about your children, please don’t be! The youth and children’s work is amazing and I will take this opportunity to thank Alan and Kirsten and the rest of the Cave team past and present for providing a really fun weekend every year and great, faithful bible teaching. We also had a great time as a family with meals out, shopping and time to chill (and revise).

Once

The following weekend was another busy one, at least on the Saturday, as me and my mum went to see the musical Once. It had been recommended to me and then when I saw that Arthur Darvill was in it, I really wanted go! So, we took time out of my revision and took the train up to London. I was a little nervous as usual, but it soon subsided. We had some substandard paninis in Starbucks and then went into Foyles – there were so many books!! The musical itself was fantastic, a nice story, beautiful music, and an amazing cast. I don’t want to say more in case I spoil it!

Leaving sixth form

I also had the monumental event that was leaving sixth form! We had a lovely assembly to say goodbye with tributes from the form tutors and our old year head. After that we had a year photo and awards voted for by our peers – I jointly won the award of most likely to be head of Newman. We took some great photos too and it was a good send off.

So, that’s about it for May, apart from the very important 20 month post-op, which you will hear about tomorrow!

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April 2014

I am currently writing this during April 2014, and hopefully it will be online in the not too distant future… Anyway, I am now over 18 months post-op – WOW! If my operation were childbirth, I would now have a walking, talking toddler! It’s weird to think how fast the time has gone, and how much I forget!

So, what’s happened this month:

Lower School Assemblies

As part of leading CU, the chaplain at school likes us to do two lots of sixth form led assemblies straddling Easter – one lot about the cross, and one lot about the resurrection. There are 5 year groups, so it’s basically a week of mornings spent doing a 15 minute assembly which ends up being a bit longer because of the notices. It was based around the Catholic Stations of the Cross, which was a bit annoying seeing as I’m not a Catholic, but we basically just looked at it as events leading to Jesus’ death, and events after Jesus rose again. We did three Stations for each assembly, and each station had a bible reading, reflection, and prayer, and we ended the whole assembly with a song. So, in summary, I chose 6 bible readings in total, wrote 6 lots of reflections and prayers, chose 2 songs, and spoke in a total of 10 assemblies, as well as stressing over admin and people turning up and making two powerpoints (wrestling over text size and whether the reading should remain on or off the slide while I was talking).

Basically, I am really pleased that I was able to talk in front of 350 people in each assembly, and to spread the good news about Jesus – it shows how much my confidence has grown!

Revision

Once the Easter holidays had begun I began the joy of revision! Hooray! I found a great revision website (http://www.examtime.com) which lets you make a calendar of revision and share resources, a bit like GetRevising but much better!

My English teacher told us to do 5 hours of English revision per day… I didn’t. Imagine, if I spent 5 hours a day for each subject – that would be 15 in all! I think I managed about 10 hours a week for English and History each, and about 3 for Maths (my Maths exams are almost 2 weeks after the others). Don’t worry about the time you’re spending doing revision though, if you do too much then it might not go into your head, so try and revise in moderation and give yourself plenty of breaks, don’t be afraid to have a day off and try and chill if it all gets too much – however, you will have to revise a bit if you want to pass!

Holiday Club

For the first week of the Easter holidays I helped out at our church holiday club, where I did audio and visual stuff. It went pretty much without a hitch, except for a microphone breaking and not being able to see the projector. There were over 100 children across the week, great talks and leaders, and cake. We had a barn dance on the Friday night, which was fairly well attended, although I mainly went for the burgers and doughnuts!

Fun stuff

I have allowed myself to have fun this month! The main thing we did was see Miranda live at the Brighton Centre, and it was amazing, I will be buying the DVD of her What I Call Live Show, and I recommend you do too if you like Miranda.

On Wednesday 9th April I went to an upcycling workshop run by Traid at Brighton Museum – read about it here: https://wordpress.com/read/post/id/12898346/12260/. I returned to the museum the following week to meet members of the Youth Panel for the Imperial War Museum with a talk about the usage of the Royal Pavilion during WWI – it was an Indian hospital and then a hospital for limbless British men.

I visited the new Waitrose, which was rather nice but I still prefer the old Co-op. I drove up there, and also got some driving practice up to visit my Auntie Sue in Burgess Hill via someone in Haywards Heath, although I still failed my driving test – I was on the same route as my first test, but had the same examiner as in my second test. That knocked my confidence a lot, but hopefully I’ll pass next time.

Oh, and I had lots of food. I went for a Chinese buffet with everyone who does music at church – it was much better than I expected, and I actually ate 3 courses (Mixed Hor D’oeuvres, duck pancakes, and Stir Fried Ginger & Spring Onion Chicken with noodles). It was my friend Lara’s birthday, so a bunch of us went to Donatello’s, which is a great Italian restaurant in town (there was a photo of Miranda on the wall which we all loved), and I had some nice breaded chicken and spaghetti. I also went to Brighton Marina, where there is a Pizza Hut, on Easter Monday with a couple of friends to celebrate one of them ending her Lent fast.

Health

The back’s been a bit annoying, but mainly because of stress rather than any issues. I’m still getting away with not bringing in textbooks etc., obviously I will milk this for as long as possible! We’ve also been waiting for an appointment at the Evelina, which they think will be the last time I go to the Children’s Hospital, but I should be referred to Guys after this. It should be coming up in May. We’re waiting for the publication of Backbone, the bi-yearly SAUK magazine, where I am featured – seasoned blog readers will know that already though!

Well, that’s about it for April (although there are a couple of days left as I write this), so if anything lifeshattering happens in May, I guess that’ll be my next post!

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March 2014: EIGHTEEN!!

So, March 2014 marked the month of my 18th birthday, as well as my 18 month post-op anniversary! However, before all that we had our EPIC weekend away, our last ever one! It was really fun, but was actually only a half day Saturday and then the Sunday and it wasn’t long enough! This year I felt so much better than in January 2013 and obviously my back was a lot better too!

Anyway, onto the excitement of my 18th birthday! We booked a nice meal at the Hilton Metropole on the evening of my birthday, which I was partly excited about and partly nervous about. The only alcoholic drink I had was a glass of wine and had a lovely steak and chips, although not really nice enough to justify the high price. After that, my parents had ordered a massive chocolate cake covered in cream, and to be honest it was a little bit too much. I had a little bit but then felt quite sick so we got a taxi home sharpish. It was alright though because we took the cake home. It was a very nice day.

The following day we had my aunt, uncle and cousins down for a family roast dinner. That was really great and not as stressful as going out. They gave me a Pandora bracelet, which is lovely, but I really wish there was a scoliosis charm for it so I could buy one to commemorate my operation! The other meal I had for my birthday was with my friends, at Cafe Rouge a couple of weeks later. That was great too, and we finished with strawberries and chocolate cream pie at my house.

There’s not all that much left to say about March, so I hope I’ve given some idea of how I celebrated my birthday – feel free to copy if you’re stuck for ideas!!

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Villainous and not so villainous creatures: young volunteer Elizabeth on her Mythical Maze Workshop

escarr15:

Again featured on the library blog!

Originally posted on Brighton & Hove Libraries Blog:

young vols stamp

On 30th August at Hove Library, there was a little corner of the children’s section with a table covered in paper and pencils. No, the stationery cupboard hadn’t exploded – it was the Mythical Maze Writing Workshop!

When preparing for the workshop, I wanted to think of as many interesting and unusual ways to start off a story and so turned to a friend for advice. She suggested telling a story from a villain’s point of view and that was the mindset that the children participating got into. We had great fun creating villainous and not so villainous creatures and characters, including an evil moustache and a giant called Bob. Creating characters was by far the most popular activity but we did manage to start writing some stories with beautiful descriptions of the setting. My personal favourite story began by talking about a “thrilling quest” but I won’t tell you…

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