A New Adventure

Archive for the ‘Home’ Category

A moment to reflect

Hook Editorial Team 2015-2016

Hook Editorial Team 2015-2016. Photo source: Greg McKinney

I am taking a short break away from my dissertation. I have a lot of thoughts whirring around in my mind and I want to give them a chance to settle into some sort of logical order.

Since Hook shut down for the summer, I have been maniacally busy constructing my portfolios for submission. The final print made a dent in my printer credit… 110 pages give or take. That was a lot of writing! The dissertation may be something like that too.

I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed. Three years ago I was working full-time, anticipating the excitement of a new adventure and now it is drawing to a close.

I will take all the lessons learned and apply them to my writing in the future. It will be a little daunting without the safety net of the tutors for guidance. I am so pleased that I look the opportunity to leave my safe life and experience university and all that it offers. The adventure has opened my mind, kept my outlook youthful and given me confidence to move on to another chapter in my life. So with this ending there is a new beginning.

I will just say finally, good luck to all the 2013-2016 journos and many thanks to all the tutors in particular Dr Hayes Mabweazara, our course tutor and my dissertaion supervisor.

See you all at the Falitzers.

Time Flies

The long summer break has flown by.  This is the beginning of year two of my amazing adventure.  Autumn has crept up on me and I cannot believe it is already week three of the semester. No longer the newbies, we know our way around campus, we know each other and the tutors and we know what is expected in order to complete our assignments.

This semester introduces three new modules; Media Ethics and Human Rights in Journalism, Newspaper and Magazine Journalism and Journalism and Film. There are also induction training sessions to enable us to use equipment such as video recorders and cameras; big, chunky professional looking stuff!

In Newspaper and Magazine Journalism the brief is to create an online magazine – quite a daunting thought.  This is a group project and we have already had our first meeting, decided on a concept and thought of ideas to write features and news stories.  In due course we will be having instruction on creating a website.

With all that and half the library relocated into my sitting room, and a job ticking over I think have enough going on to keep me out of mischief for a while.

Here Comes Summer

As the long summer break approaches I am thinking of things to do to occupy myself. I plan to read a lot; books for fun as well as books on how to improve my grammar and write better features. The first on my list is Q and A by Vikas Swarup, better known by its movie adaptation, Slumdog Millionaire. This is my book group’s choice for the month and I can’t wait to get into it.

My garden also needs some attention. I am not fanatical in this area but I do like a splash of colour and to do my bit to support the bees. Fortunately the garden is small and easy to manage; three terraces, mainly patio with borders and a few pots. The first task will be weeding and Peter has agreed to help with this.

Early Spring  yellow crocus

Early Spring
yellow crocus


The kitchen windowsill is an ideal substitute for a greenhouse and we planted a random selection of seeds over Easter. These should be ready to plant out by the time Peter gets back in early June. Then all we have to do is settle down and watch the slugs devour the scrumptious baby plants as they have done year after year. This will be followed by a hasty visit to the garden centre to replace what I can and fill in the gaps. I may invest in some cheap supermarket beer and make traps to drown the little blighters. At least they will experience a happy journey to oblivion.

We have no plans to jet off this year so unless we win the lottery it will be a quiet summer spent at home (visitors always welcome). I am looking out for a nice garden furniture set, maybe a bistro style and I am hoping for some fine weather to sit out and relax. It has been an incredible year since starting at university. I am so happy that I made the decision to go for it.

Student visit to Malawi

Student Plans Alternative Holiday

By Julia Conway

A student from Penryn is making preparations to spend a month of his summer break working in Malawi on a sports outreach programme.

Robert Banks, 22, a former Penryn College pupil has just completed his second year at the University of Gloucester where he is studying towards a degree in Physical Education and Sports Coaching.

The Sport Malawi initiative uses sport as a vehicle for community development with particular emphasis on youth, inclusion and HIV prevention. Mr Banks said: “I’ve done all the different lads holidays, I thought it’s time to put my degree to some use and give something back to the people who have been less fortunate than I am.”

A group of ten students accompanied by three lecturers begin their journey with a 16 hour flight to Lilongwe on 12 June. They will then travel north to Mzuzu, an eight hour journey on mostly dirt roads. “We’ll be staying in the old university chapel, basic accommodation. We’ll have to cook on an open fire and the electricity goes off at night,” added Mr Banks.

The team will travel daily to schools in rural areas to hold sports activities and workshops for children aged five to 18. The team supplies much needed sports equipment and kit to the schools. They also help with community projects. “Last year they built a room to put the sports equipment in,” said Mr Banks.

Established in 2008, Sport Malawi expeditions have been running for seven years and have grown year upon year. It is estimated that more than 2,500 Malawi participants have benefited from the activities. At the end of the expedition the Sport Malawi team plan to go on a safari and go fishing on the lake.

To raise funds Mr Banks has participated in a 24 hour sponsored cycle, cake sales and packed bags at supermarkets. He has set up a donation page available at:


Robert Banks after completing the Cardiff Half Marathon

Robert Banks after completing the Cardiff Half Marathon

Ends: 316 words

Shelterbox to the rescue

Published in Flex Issue 4 February 2014.

flex shelterbox 2flex cover


A Helston charity is providing vital support in the Philippines assisting families in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Shelterbox, a humanitarian aid organisation, provides rapid response worldwide following natural and man-made disasters. David Crook, 63, a volunteer for the past six years said: “Our ethos is to provide shelter, warmth, dignity and hope in the shape of a green plastic box.”

The Super Typhoon tore through the Philippines archipelago on November 8 2013 with wind speeds reaching 195 miles per hour. Mr Crook added: “This is the largest storm to make landfall. We estimate 11 million people have been affected with 1.8 million people displaced. “We have 11 response teams in the area; three teams were already in Bohal responding to the earthquake of October 15. The building they were in collapsed around them.”

Shelterbox volunteer David Crook. Photo source: Julia Conway

Shelterbox volunteer David Crook. Photo source: Julia Conway

Volunteers at the warehouse on Water-Ma-Trout Industrial Estate pack boxes with equipment including a family size tent, cooking equipment, water containers and purification, blankets and a children’s activity pack. A team of ten can pack a typical consignment of 224 boxes in two hours.

Mr Crook said of one victim whose home was destroyed: “Jeremiah and daughter Jingle Heart have moved into a Shelterbox disaster relief tent. They had been sheltering from torrential rain under a sheet of tarpaulin, but now they can keep dry.”

Shelterbox was founded in 2000. Their first consignment of 143 boxes was deployed to help earthquake victims in India in January 2001. Since then they have worked in 85 countries, responded to more than 200 disasters and provided temporary homes for about 1.25 million people.

To find out more about fundraising, voluntary work opportunities or to make a donation contact www.shelterbox.org.



Another Anniversary

On this day in 1981 I left home to join the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  I had outgrown the small town of Llangefni in North Wales and was impatient for independence and fun.

In truth, I had been impatient from about the age of 14.  My older brothers were leaving home at two year intervals, heading off to university and my parents probably hoped that I would follow the same path.  I was a tad rebellious, but not a naughty child.  I put this down to being the youngest of four and the only girl.  I spoke my mind and fought for every step of independence… to go to youth club, or the Friday night town hall disco, or for a sleepover at my mates house after the Menai Bridge fair!  Every stage was a battle.  My parents, being parents, just wanted to protect me and I was aware of their concern and love but I pulled away and rebelled just the same.

During the punk scene I bleached my hair and dyed it luminous orange.  My father didn’t notice for 4 days!   I swore at my orthodontist and stormed out of his surgery when he accused me of breaking my correctional appliance on purpose.  In my defence, I had been doubled over with period pains and his accusation was wrong!  Once or twice I deliberately stayed out past the “be home by…”  time that had been imposed on me, a bit mean, I know.  It’s the pushing boundaries that teenagers just do.

My parents (and many of my friends) must have wondered what on earth I was doing when I applied to join the Forces.  I suspect many thought I wouldn’t last more than five minutes!  My hair was hurriedly dyed back to mousey brown when I had a date for an interview. I passed the aptitude tests and medical and then went on a list until they had vacancies for a Radar Plotter.

I finally received the letter giving me seven weeks notice of my start date.  I was ecstatic on the outside and terrified within.  I spent my last few weeks in Llangefni playing pool at The Market (local pub) trying to be all big and grown up, then playing Pooh Sticks down at the Dingle (the local woods) with Rona (best mate forever) at the weekends.

I remember the anxiety that I masked of going away from the safety of home and the train journey from Bangor to Paddington and on to Reading on my own.  My mother packed my case following the strict list that had been supplied. Her last chick flying the nest.

I could write a book on the experiences that followed.  Basic training in HM Forces has to be experienced to be believed, but it was the making of me.   It smoothed out my rough edges, challenged me physically and emotionally and moulded me into a fully rounded young adult.  I still kept my personality and my sense of humour.  That was essential to the ordeals we endured, but I matured with the teamwork and the camaraderie and came through it a much better person.

I have a few photos to share of that time…

shoe cleaning

This was considered adequate clothing in mid February for probationary wrens!

agr testing

Gas mask testing over, just time for a quick pic!

wrens daunless

A formal pic of Victory Division… not much smiling going on!

passing out march

Passing out parade. We don’t look that happy but trust me we are!

leaving dauntless

Leaving HMS Dauntless. I don’t smile much in these pics but then  I never was much of a morning person!

Wrens Reunion 2013 015

Three of us back together last November at the reunion. Amazing.

Narnia Comes Home

I am in a reflective mood as the end of my first term at university comes to an end.  I have had the most amazing time and urge anyone who has not tried it to give it a go.

From my perspective, as a mature student, I began with two lives. The one that deals with domestic issues, pays bills, does the housework and maintains a job alongside the academic learning, the mountain of reading and the deadlines to be met.

As I drive or walk to campus I seem to be transported through a sort of portal to Narnia!  I would not be at all surprised to see unicorns or talking lions on my travels through campus!  While there I have been absorbed and engaged in the learning process and when I leave it is like stepping out of the wardrobe and back into my own reality.

Recently I have felt that the two worlds have become blurred at the edges, they are meeting, crossing over into each other.  I am blending the new with the old.

This week I will hand in two completed portfolios.  It has been challenging. I have had a few health issues to contend with as I tried to follow the recommended readings and submit news stories. But I got there in the end.

Newswriting has been my favourite module so far as  I felt more in my comfort zone.  The feedback on stories came in weekly and I have been able to learn from my mistakes and grow from that.  My most recent story was quite  challenging as I chose to write about a local charity, Shelterbox.  They provide tents and equipment globally to people affected by disasters such as the latest  Typhoon in the Philippines.  I interviewed a volunteer at the charity. It was hard to imagine the devastation. I am human, I am a mother and I have emotions. I would like to think that a well written news story will raise awareness for such a cause though it is difficult to remain detached and report the facts.

As Christmas approaches, if you have a spare couple of quid, perhaps I could suggest a donation to www.shelterbox.org


Merry Christmas to all.

Reading Week?

It’s approaching the end of Reading Week and I am reflecting on what I have achieved.

Not much reading, that’s for sure!

However, I can tell you what a fun week I have had and how things are progressing.

Last Thursday was a rare day off as the lecturers were on strike. This gave me chance for a lie in as I went down with bronchitis after the latest cough/cold virus. I felt rough all week and had to go to the doctors (again).  Later in the day I had to pack and sort out the house as I had a weekend away planned.

The biennial Wrens Reunion at Mill Rythe Holiday Park in Hayling Island, Portsmouth was the venue. I missed the last one due to work commitments and was looking forward to meeting up with old friends.

I didn’t feel very well on the Friday, so was slow to get up and moving but I finally got on the road at midday. Traffic was awful, weather was foul and I finally arrived at 19.10. I had missed dinner so dumped my stuff in my “cabin” (this part has quite a nautical theme) and went to the bar. I bought a bottle of rose wine and was given a pint glass of ice cubes, and a small tub of pistachio nuts!  I got down to the serious business of catching up with Lizzie, who I haven’t seen since basic training 32 years ago, Joanne who I last saw at a reunion 17 years ago and many others, all faces from the past. What an amazing night! The atmosphere, the camaraderie, the laughter. I was transported in time.

The entire weekend was just incredible. We connected with a group who had joined in the 1970’s – 10 years before us and joined in with the daytime activities and went for maximum enjoyment. The food was good, the evening entertainment was a blast, I could go on and on! One highlight was caught on video by some kind person… An impromptu marching squad assembled on the tennis court and were taken through the paces by a serving Warrant Officer.  My friends and I went to watch, but then decided to join in. I will post the video here for your amusement. I confess I had a small problem with left and right and my cardigan kept slipping off my shoulders so there are some unusual arm movements not usually associated with marching! Once or twice I adopted a sort of stroll style. A crowd drew in and applauded our efforts. Now we are on youTube!  No reading was achieved other than the menu!

On Monday I drove to Swansea to visit my mum.  I met up with my lovely son and got a tour of the student house and met the housemates.  What a lovely bunch they are. Still not much reading getting done!

However, aware of the next writing assignment due to be submitted by Friday 12.00 I was galvanized into wandering around the local area, looking for something to catch my interest.  I found a lead that I thought sounded ok.  A local fish and chip shop were celebrating their 40th anniversary and offering chips at 1973 prices… 5p, 7p and 9p a bag.  I rang them and the owner invited me to come for an interview. The queue was half way up the street, it was manic, but they granted me an interview! I was even given a complimentary sausage and chips to go home with and can honestly say say they were pretty good! I wrote up the story and sat on it for a day just to go back and re-read it and check grammar, spelling and all that. I submitted the story before driving back to Cornwall today.  Fingers crossed.

While chilling out in Swansea I was explaining the Uni Learning Space to my mum and went online to show her (she is now a silver surfer with an iPad and Wifi at home). I noticed an email from my tutor showing that feedback had been given for the previous news story  and I opened it  with a slight sense of trepidation. I clicked on  the links and saw that  I had done really well, a couple of silly punctuation mistakes… I still have to get to grips with commas and speech marks but the story content was good. That was a real boost.

On my way home today I called in at work to pick up a key to open up tomorrow. An 11 hour day looms ahead. The boss is poorly and is in hospital and so I have to offer a bit of support and take the weight off those who have been keeping things going while I went off on a funfest! I don’t see much opportunity for reading over the next couple of days as I have a couple of shifts to cover but I’m sure I will achieve the minimum and have a few late nights in the week to come.

I feel much better for the change of scenery and despite the 700 miles I have clocked up over the last week I am feeling refreshed and clearer about other modules and the tasks ahead.


28 Days Later

This seems appropriate as there have been a few viruses travelling through campus during my first few weeks and I have succumbed to one or two.  Particularly memorable is the Norovirus  type tummy bug that brought my bathroom and I closer than we have been, and I love my bathroom.  It is the best room in the house, having had a major overhaul two years ago, but I have spent more time there of late than I would have thought possible!

Also of course is the symbolism that I have now been in Uni for nearly a whole month, and am surviving to tell the tale!

This week I bring: ” …good tidings of great joy”, (The Bible. King James Version Luke 2:10-14) while I simultaneously try to practice the Harvard referencing system in preparation for the essays to follow!

This week ‘Self Generated News Story 1’ was submitted as part of the module ‘Writing for the Media’.

The pressure was on, we had to go to Falmouth and write a real story.  It seemed appropriate  to write about the ‘Oyster Festival’ which was taking place last weekend. There was a deadline.  Things were now happening and becoming real.

My initial story was way over the word count  of 150 words.  I have too much to say, about everything!  So I had to cut and cut again.  The deadline was 17.00 on Friday, but as I was working that day I had to submit before finishing for the day on Thursday.

I took advantage of the gap between lectures on Thursday to finalise my story and submit before grabbing a much needed sandwich.  I now wish I had waited until after the next lecture…

It became apparent in the afternoon lecture that the preferred ‘House Style’ is to precede a quote with a colon, I had put a comma before my quote. Eek! Oh No!

So I thought, OK, lets not worry about that, I can explain that slight variation, I’m sorry and I won’t do it again!  But there is worse to come!

Having never submitted anything online previously in a Higher Education Institution and unsure of whether I had submitted at all I pressed the button twice.  I even asked a member of the IT staff if they thought I had submitted my story, Oh boy, did I feel like a plank!

It was only when I checked the ‘Learning Space’ a sort of campus online holy bible – to be checked as often as possible during the day, that I saw I had email confirmations of my submission (TWICE) and realised that I had indeed sent my assignment TWICE (Oh the shame, cringe!).

While on the portal, I noticed that next weeks assignment details (an expansion of the story we wrote last week) were available.  Only then did I learn that a ‘Source Sheet’ (the people we interviewed and their contact details) should be copied and pasted at the end of the main document.  I had submitted mine as a separate sheet! (Oh no, more shame!)

I am trying to be philosophical, I can’t be the only numpty to have misread so many signals, can I? I will take on board all the lessons learned and all that.  I am trying to incorporate all the modules, all the suggested reading, the whole new environment and culture I find myself in, so I hope I can be forgiven for being a bit of an idiot on this first task. I will get better, I will learn fast, I AM savvy to what is happening around me,  honest!

All I know right now is how little I actually know!


Where to begin!

For someone planning to use the written word to convey news and information as a career,  I am finding it difficult right now to express the experiences of the day.  I could reel off adjectives and witter on for hours but bed is calling!

When I woke this morning it was with the expectation of a child on Christmas Day.  The walk to campus can perhaps be summarised better with music.  The tune in the subject header was what I was humming on the walk there….  Relive my walk and click on the link.

As an induction day there was a lot to take in.  A whole intake of students and tutors to get to know and  buildings to get lost in, I have made a good start there!  It will all take time.  We are already working on group presentations due at the end of the week so I will be less visible here  for a while…. Thank goodness you all sigh!

I am going to keep this brief and sign off with another tune that summarises how I feel in general today.