Thursday, 1 October 2015

Dying To Survive

I started this post way back when my AS exams had drawn to a conclusion, but never found the time to finish it. I thought I'd (finish and) share it anyway, since I haven't gotten round to blogging at all this summer - this typically British summer - which I guess is pretty sad. I think it's fair to say that I've had a lot on. But hey! Kick back, relax, and enjoy.

Oh, and you mustn't forget to have Don Henley's very fitting anthem playing in the background.

Here goes:

It's no secret that the end of Year 12 is an extremely exciting time.

Being exposed to a number of challenging A2 topics is a welcome delight having learnt and relearned the same AS topic over and over, until you're sick of reciting Hooke's Law, SUVAT equations and the definition of structural isomerism. But best of all is the fact that I hereon have ten free periods a week!! I've also dropped biology, so have finally found time to start teaching myself further maths.

Is it not scary though that the decisions many of us are in the process of making determine a large part of our futures? It's only the rest of your life, right?

I've been to a few open days now. And I have to admit, although being completely physically and mentally draining, they are on the whole pretty good fun! Especially when they're accompanied by the great weather that we were so recently been blessed with. Before the abundance of rain and thunderstorms, that is!

The issue I've been faced with is the fact that I simply can't make up my mind! It's exactly the same problem I have when trying to order from a menu at a restaurant. Scampi or ribs? In the space of two or so years, I've gone from sports science to chemistry & molecular physics, to computer science and now just straight physics.

And my choosing of an establishment hasn't been any more straightforward either. Fortunately, I now have five universities in mind, three of which I know that I will definitely apply to.

En route to the university (Bath)
I can almost picture myself cycling around the picturesque city of Bath, riding in search of its most scenic routes and then returning to the homely campus after a brief stop at the pub. Imperial College is good, I suppose, but the university itself is a little too spread out for my liking, Don't hear me wrong, they offer an incredible course, but for me it just seems a little too London. I've got my whole life to do that.

I hate to say it, however there is an undoubted stigma attached to applying to the University of Oxford. I ultimately talked myself out of the process due to the opinions of other people, but the open day was absolutely spectacular. The result was that I returned to my original view and have since being doing my utmost to prepare for the fast approaching application process.
Worcester College

It was difficult not to fall in love with the beautiful colleges, lively city and abundance of hidden greenery, especially when you're visiting on the hottest day in July - sorbet in one hand, cocktail in the other. The drink was a mistake, mind you; we [mum and I] had been under the impression that I was ordering from The Slug & Lettuce's non-alcoholic beverage list, but that turned out not to be the case when the bartender proceeded to add a healthy amount of vodka to the drink. Oh well, what a deep shame it was!
Christ Church College (I think...)
Aaanyway... I was pleased to discover that Oxford isn't all that it's made out to be regarding snobbishness, and that the students/professors/lecturers we spoke with were surprisingly normal, and dare I say, friendly people. I know! I bet you didn't see that one coming.
Definitely Christ Church College

It was also on that day that bodies of the victims from the Sousse attacks returned to RAF Brise Norton. You wouldn't normally think more of it, other than maybe when you're scrolling through the BBC News feed on your smartphone, to only five minutes later be laughing hysterically at some gag the LADBible had posted. It was utterly sobering to actually see the caskets - not just on the news, but to be stopped at a roundabout while the bodies of actual people drove past. I could say a lot more on the matter, but I'm not sure I want to even begin. It's utterly fucked up.
Jesus College?
Fast forward about a month, I've taken up an awkward crouch inside the muggy confines of our Devon-pitched tent, hovering over my iPhone screen in nervous anticipation as my AS results loaded with what seemed like an infuriating lack of speed.


Relief, the sole emotion. I was utterly relieved. Nothing more. To be totally honest, I struggled this year, what with leaving a large part of myself at our previous swimming club, along with trying to deal with family and further health issues whilst also wanting to excel academically. But the half metre high stack of past papers still sitting in our new kitchen, much to Mum's displeasure, yet almost as a reminder of what you can achieve with hard work and dedication, obviously paid dividends.

It turns out biology ended up being my best overall result, despite those string of reaction videos I previously shared. So they must have decided against penalising me! Who would have thought that, eh?!

On second thought, maybe the examiners enjoyed my videos so much they decided to award me extra marks... What a theory that would turn out to be were it true!

We found the coolest little shop in Teignworth
A harbour, somewhere (probably Torquay)
Holiday in Devon was host to plenty of firsts - let's just say that the content of my 30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 10, for example, no longer applies. I also went surf-kayaking for the first time, and body-boarding/supping, even, was something I hadn't ever tried my hand at before. It's probably a good job really, since I managed to tip myself and mum off the stand-up paddle-board, straight into a patch of water in which only a matter of minutes earlier we had spotted literally the largest jellyfish ever sighted by man. And I'm not even kidding - it was enormous!

Pretty sure this is Appledore
The weather for it wasn't overly great, but it was by no means as wet as Wales was the same time last year. However, I think stopping off at a locally owned pub by the name of 'The Thatch,' after a day out venturing up to the gorgeous Puttsborough Beach more than made up for it. The food - served with a Thatcher's Gold - was excellent and the waiting staff were even better (if you get where I'm going with that one, hahaha)!

Dawlish Coastline (not Puttsborough)

I'm not sure what we were expecting weather-wise to be perfectly honest, because although I lost all sense in my backside after about two hours into the eight-hour journey, we were still in rainy-old England. Mind you, it was nice just fooling around in the salt-water with not quite not a care in the world, but certainly the closest I've come to it in recent times.
Being absolute rebels!
Can you believe that August 2015 also marks the date that we took a day-trip to Torquay, where I devoured my first-ever Cornish pasty?! No? Well, certainly by about the fifth, myself included. In addition, to wrap up one of our more successful fishing days of recent times, I somehow managed to catch myself a reasonably sized carp! It sounds brilliant, so long as I omit the fact that it was my first and only catch in six hours of miserable rain. I suppose it comes as no surprise then that I decided to stay back at the tent the next time the boys went.

Pensive Evie
Torquay Wheel

Lively Evie!

I almost forgot! Our Uncle Adam took me and Seb to Twickenham the day we returned for the England vs France Rugby World Cup warm-up game in what was one of the coolest birthday presents I can remember receiving.

Before the match, donning our new shirts and (not our) pints of Guinness

Plus, to top it off, we won!

Inside the stadium

There is another upcoming never-before experienced event that involves cameras in certain places, however this is not one that I'm looking forward to as much as I did the others... I'll spare you the details, but I am thankful that I may finally have some answers as to why I've been feeling the way I have been for so long now, and why - at times - I wasn't able to enjoy the break as much as I would have liked to have done. I can only hope. Oh, and the general anaesthetic will be another thing I've never been subject to before either.

Although I'd love to say that the summer holidays lulled me into a bliss sense of nonchalance, that is far from the case. I struggle to fathom how those six weeks have passed so rapidly, it seems as though we broke up only yesterday. I do now, however, have an essentially completed personal statement in its 47 line entirety. Considering the fact that I started off the holidays with a four page essay, I'd say that's pretty good going! But honestly, it felt like an absolute bitch of a never-ending task.

This was one of the most infuriating tricks of the UCAS form:

The bane of my life

So once that's been sent off, it'll be one more thing to tick off my seemingly never-ending list of tasks. Accompanying my university application is the fact that I passed my driving theory test first-time and have also started driving the actual Cambridge test-route that I have booked for January.

These next few months won't go by without their rewards though. Talking of ticking things off, we were lucky enough to see Razorlight (or at least what's left of them) play a selection of songs from their pretty nostalgic back catalogue at a local festival. I may have said it before, but this has always been something I've wanted to experience in-person, so I'm really glad that it has finally become a reality. Although I sung my heart out to and went mad for pretty much every song they performed, it was a pretty magical occasion to hear everyone reciting the lyrics to America in unison. Damn it was good!
Johnny Borrell absolutely nailing the classics! (Think this was America actually)
Since I've been working a fair bit recently, I decided to treat myself and my brother to a couple of other concerts. Roughly a year on from their absolutely incredible Asymmetry tour, Seb and I are attending Mallory Knox's 'Homecoming' tour at the Cambridge Junction tomorrow evening, as well as Catfish and the Bottlemen at the Cambridge Cornex in November. James is coming along to that one too, and a couple of us are also seeing Half Moon Run play London in October!

Mikey and Joe

If anyone is interested, by the way, I'd quite like to go to Our Last Night's 'Younger Dreams' tour on October 27th, but as of yet haven't found anyone able to come along with me... James and I have however already booked Boardmasters festival 2016 tickets, which we're super excited about! Less so is our upcoming half marathon, for which neither of us has trained all that much for. But back to next year - it's looking as though our summer road trip may finally become a reality!

It was also really nice to finally meet up with all my good friends from swimming properly since leaving, and it just so happens that it was on the day that marked two years since our famous London adventure. And I've got the train tickets to prove it! Even more of a coincidence is the fact that I wore exactly the same t-shirt I was wearing on that excitable day, which can only conclude one of two things. Either there is some weird higher force of some description, or I definitely haven't grown since I was 12/13.

My train ticket from that fateful day

Oh yes. All this talk of bands has reminded me!


... is our (mine, Seb's, Kian's and Aaron's) recently thought up
 band name, however the actual music side of things hasn't really taken off yet, despite an abundance of awesome album artwork and logo ideas hahahaha! One of the main things I'm struggling with is my choice of an electric guitar. I currently have my sights set on the Yamaha Pacifica 611VFM, although I have also been tempted by some sort of Fender Tele and a couple of PRS models - so, calling all musicians/guitarists, I'm open to suggestions!
Early album artwork ideas (please don't steal it, ty)
So I guess this is where I sign off, seeing as I'm on shift from 18:00 this evening. I do intend to add some photos to this one, but they will have to wait until I get a good block of time free. So keep an eye out for those!

Catch you later.

Written: Some time in July '15
Finished: 29/09/15
Published: 01/10/15

Mallory was fucking awesome!! Just an all-round great show, it was nice to see how much they've progressed since playing The Cresset last year, plus Mikey stage-dived right on top of me and Seb! Despite feeling a little worse for wear this morning, I also finally sent off my UCAS application. How exciting!

Mikey mid-Lonely Hours
Coldplay's Ghost Stories found itself as my as my walking home soundtrack today, after sitting in our school's sixth form study area for the best part of four hours this afternoon completing question after question on binomial expansions/approximations, parametric equations and exponentials. Strangely thankful for a slight breeze that sent a chill straight through my cosy hoodie, and metaphysically restyled my hair, I picked up a penny in the fading summer sunlight, of course thinking it would bring me some much-needed good luck, as A Sky Full of Stars and O rang out in the background.

I then however realised how lucky I am already to have everyone around me that I do - teachers, friends and family alike. Things are slowly (very slowly, I can assure you!) but surely starting to fall back into place. By no stretch of the imagination have I found these last 18 months easy, but they sure as hell would have been a lot more difficult without these people. So I'm utterly thankful for that. I now just need to grow a pair of balls and get talking to some of the new year 12s!

This surprisingly happy mood has absolutely come from outta nowhere, but, I can honestly say, it's great!

(PPS: More pictures/edits coming soon...)

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