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April 06, 2009

On blogging and the like.

To quote from my Dad’s blog:
“I have been a poor blogger recently”. Although the “recently” in that sentence is pretty redundant.
Life has continued without my little updates to the world. The trouble is that whenever I think of something interesting to write for the world to read, I’m never near a computer, and when I am sitting in front of my laptop screen I can’t think of anything even vaguely interesting to fill this little box with.

Many things have taken place since my last post. Easter is nearly upon us, and term finished weeks ago.
I have had my last ever lecture, which was a strange experience. I must now just learn all the material from a year to cram into 9 exams next term. 5 of them are in the first week of term, and I’m still not sure if that’s a curse or a blessing.

I have also done quite a bit of singing, including my first pro gig in Coventry, with the Finham Choral Society . It was the Mozart Requiem, which was quite good fun (I think it’s a great piece of music), with the added bonus that the conductor now has my contact details.

The first week of the Easter break was spent in Officer Training, which was great fun. It did mean that I spent an evening running around campus dressed in bin-liners, a big paper strawberry, and a pair of girl-boxers on the outside of my trousers, masquerading as Strawberry Man during one of the social events. Fun times.

Last week was spent equally in Cottenham and at home with my darling Charlotte. We wandered round a lot of places, had some nice walks, and generally enjoyed each others’ company.

At this precise moment I am in Cornwall with the lovely Charlotte and Mr. Jon Parker to sort out lots of things for UWCC Tour in July. I can’t go on this tour because I will be in training, but it’s going to be awesome. We’ve got lots of places to go and visit tomorrow so that everything runs smoothly in the summer.

I had a million and one other things that I thought of to write about but, naturally, they now all escape me. I might carry round a little pad to jot things down on in the future.

That’s all for now. Another update to follow…when I next update.


February 23, 2009

Exhausted and Elated

That was my answer to the question “How do you feel?”, which I was asked by two student journalists at about half 1 on Sunday morning.

This last week has been good.

Campaigning like that is the most knackering thing I have ever done. I am more tired than when I cycled to Paris last year.

However, on the coach home from the London gig (more to follow) I did get numerous texts and phone calls congratulating me on getting elected to the Sabbatical post of Societies Officer for the academic year 2009/10, which really does make it all worth it. I had taken some drinks for the coach journey home (I would either be celebrating or drowning my sorrows) and promptly cracked one open!

The coach got back to campus at about 5 past 1, and I wandered into the Grad@Cholo to see if there was anyone still there. I had a chat with the chair of elections group, and a couple of the winners, before getting collared by the aforementioned journalists. Providing answers to difficult questions at quarter to 2 in the morning (whilst slightly inebriated) isn’t easy!
Once I’d been released by them, I went to bed. I didn’t even have enough energy to drink my champagne.

That wasn’t the end of it though – during lunch the following day I got another phone call from these people to tell me I’d won by 8 votes and then ask me in the same breath how that made me feel. Journalists are peculiar people.

It still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’ll be running the Union next year, but it’s definitely exciting!

Moving on from the elections for a bit, the Chamber Choir also had a highly successful concert with the newly formed Chamber Orchestra on Saturday night at LSO St. Luke’s in London. I had a great time, and it sounded brilliant. There apparently will be a recording of the gig coming out soon.

And in the less good news, I have managed to break the screen of my phone so I can take calls but making them or reading texts it completely out I’m afraid.

Sleep is good. I might have some more of it later.


February 15, 2009

On the spade and the socks

For those not on facebook, you will not know that my two most recent statuses have been:

James is desperately trying to get hold of some socks…
and
James now knows that you can’t peel a windscreen with a spade.

There was much comment on both of these.

I’m afraid that the windscreen one is really very boring. Another friend of mine had a comment on his status which said “and never peel a windscreen with a spade”. I quite liked it so I used it. There’s really nothing more to it.

The socks one is much more interesting. Yesterday I received a parcel containing 76 pairs of socks. They are for use in my election campaign (which I’m not really allowed to mention). I am running for Societies Officer, often abbreviated to “Socs”, hence the socks.

Back to the strange world of actual reality rather than facebook, the reader will (hopefully) be pleased to hear that I am well. Lectures are still going on, music is also still going on.

More excitingly, next week I will be campaigning like crazy in an attempt to get everyone to vote for me as next year’s Societies Officer for the Union. It’s going to be a tough race, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Friday was the Music Centre Ball, which was brilliant. Photos are going up on the aforementioned Facebook for those who are lucky enough to be classed as my friends. I had an absolute whale of a time.

New Day Octet also had a gig last Friday (as in 9 days ago) in University House, which was very well received. It was really enjoyable!

And yesterday was another Hymnos gig in Lapworth church. It went absolutely brilliantly and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There was a curry afterwards which I did not attend, needing to get up this morning to do lots of useful things, but I’m sure everyone else had a great time.

That’s it for now, campaign prep to be done!


February 04, 2009

This is starting to get silly

OK, I think I’ve worked out the system now.

I post a blog, wait a few weeks ‘til some comments appear, post again saying how rubbish I’ve been and promising to be better, post once more if you’re lucky, and repeat.

Let’s actually try to improve on this.

Term 2 warmed up very briefly but since then it’s snowed. It’s slightly depressing how much the snow just completely shut down the country. On Monday, not a single bus ran in London. not a single bus!

Besides lectures, the major event of this term is going to be elections for the Union Sabbs (Sabbatical Officers) for the 2009/10 academic year.
I’ve almost finished my manifesto for the Societies Officer, which looks pretty good, but to be honest the elections can be a bit of a lottery so fingers crossed!

I’ve also been playing quite a bit of bridge this term. Yesterday was our second round Portland Bowl match, which we won, so we’re now through to the quarter finals. One more match and we get to go to the finals weekend in London, which would be exciting.

Plenty of singing is going on – Chamber Choir has done a couple of gigs for One World Week and there was an Armonico Consort concert last Saturday which I really enjoyed. The main UWCC concert this term is in LSO St. Luke’s in London where we’re doing Bach’s Magnificat and Dove’s Koethenermesse, with the newly-founded University Chamber Orchestra (which is AWESOME!) I’m the tenor soloist in the Dove, so if you happen to be in London on 21st Feb come and watch it!

Next update in four weeks :P
(Well, hopefully less than that)


January 07, 2009

Term Begins

And so Year 3 Term 2 has got underway. And it’s bloody cold.

We’re all settling back into the routine of lectures, which at the moment are all in the introductory phase so they’re not too difficult! Although Complex Analysis went at a frightening speed, and the lecturer talks very quietly and mumbles a lot so I’ll be sitting near the front for that.

We’ve played our first bridge match of the term, which we (unfortunately) lost but it wasn’t a bad effort and we were winning after the first half, which is something.

Life goes on elsewhere – music is starting up again with Chamber Choir’s first meeting on Thursday and Opera holding auditions for The Marriage of Figaro over the weekend. Call me a skeptic, but I’m not certain that we’ll be able to rehearse and perform that in 8 weeks: In my humble opinion it would be better cast in a couple of weeks’ time (to give people the opportunity to properly learn the audition music) and then perform it some time in term 3. I know this clashes with exam timetables but there’d be Easter to learn everything and the pace would be much easier.

The two performances we did of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (with ensemble 1685) went very well. I got quite a few comments on my solo aria which were nice to receive too.

This is my last term of lectures, however, so I need to make sure I prioritise carefully and don’t overload myself because there are these things called finals in the summer which are worth more than half of my entire degree, and it would be good to be properly prepared for them.

Outside academia, I have just found all my receipts in my bag to claim money back from opera have got wet after my water bottle froze and then thawed again. Curses.


January 03, 2009

Musings of Y2k9

And so, we start another year, and watch 2008 fade away into the distance.

But Let me take a moment to reflect on the last 12 months and what may be to come and look forward to what the next 12 might be sending my way.

Well, memories of 2008 then. Where do I start? It’s all whizzed past but I have at least managed to fill it with quite a few things. Some things I will always remember from the year:

The year started off in the second term of my second year, with, among other things, Algebra II with Dmitry. Aaah fond memories of understanding NOTHING in a lecture. Still, I’m glad we did that module, because it did help get me to learn more independently and prepare for lectures and stuff. Third year gets a lot more abstract, and this also helped with that. Although it’s still not great because I have a practical brain which likes to visualise things.

I will most definitely remember singing in Macbeth. Singing in a full Butterworth Hall as a soloist with full Sypmph Orchestra and 250 singing in the chorus was an experience I really will never forget. It was such an incredible buzz. It was also one of the experiences which made me seriously consider going for a professional singing career. Top ten nights of my life that, it was just great.

Term 3 brought exams, which was about when I realised degree level maths is really quite tricky. In all honesty, I didn’t do enough work to do myself justice, and my grades slipped a bit. This wasn’t ideal, but did make me change my work ethic for my third year, so hopefully more good things will come out of it than bad things. It also meant that I transferred to the three year course, which again I don’t see as a bad thing.

Also in term 3 was WSO’s run of HMS Pinafore. It was the first show at Warwick where I have done nothing except perform in the chorus, which made a relaxing change.

After the end of exams came my second highly eventful Arts Festival week. Thomas came to visit, and we went to see a lot of things. Both of the WSAF weeks I’ve experienced so far have been awesome and I will remember them for years to come.

Then the summer arrived. Well, the British “summer”. And with it came UWCC Tour and degrees, along with my most memorable experience of 2008.

Tour and degrees were both awesome. We went to Belgium and had great weather, sung in the Brussels Conservatoire, ate incredibly good chocolate, drank (a few too many) really good beers, and generally had a whale of a time. The beauty of tour is that it follows straight on to degrees so there were two weeks of Chamber Choir mayhem, during which you become a really close-knit group. I will always remember the treasure hunt put on by Juliet and Sarah.

Then in late July, I cycled from London to Paris. This really was an incredible, even life-changing experience. I met so many great people, and we were all taking on a huge challenge together. The sense of teamwork and friendship that came out in just three days was incredible. I can recommend it to anyone, and can honestly say that it will change you for the better.

September brought the 120th birthday party which I will also never forget. The months of careful planning, the week of general jobs and preparation before the event, and then the day itself, with loads of friends, old and new, and a whole roast pig. I think we still have some pork in the freezer!

And so on into October and my final year of university, with more maths, and two more operas, (mounds of music in general really). Dido had a very high level of production and was a joy to be involved with, if a little stressful. Plus it was my first performance in Covent Garden. The Zoo, together with Cox and Box, took itself slightly less seriously. I have never been so stressed as I was over the props and set for Zoo, but Cox and Box was the most fun I have ever had while on stage. When else does one get to lob a bread roll into the audience?

Chamber Choir reconvened with lots of new Freshers for the new year, and I had the pleasure of meeting Charlotte, who is a fantastic companion and always fun to be with. I certainly hope we will be sticking together for a long time.

Chamber Choir’s concert will also stick in my memory for a long time – Coventry Cathedral was packed and is an amazing place to perform.

We all had a good Christmas and a quiet New Year, and now I look out to 2009 – what will it bring?

2009 is my final year as a student, after 21 years of learning I will in June this year graduate from university and move on into the real world, all things being well.

Forgive the cliché, but University’s just gone so quickly. It feels like barely yesterday that I was moving into my first year room in Westwood, and I’m now worrying about things like jobs and a house and stuff. All a bit scary really.

There will be more music this term, I’m sure, and I will stand down as CC Librarian near the end of term, which will be a bit of a relief. It’s a good job, but it doesn’t half eat time.

There will also be the Sab elections, so I will be getting my act together to run a (hopefully) coherent and successful campaign to get myself elected to a Sabbatical position for the 2009/10 academic year.

But all that is to come, so let’s just get out there and see what life throws at me in the next 12 months.


December 30, 2008

Stop world, I have blogged!

OK, I concede, there is not a worse blogger in the entire country. 3 months is a pretty ridiculous blogging gap.

Since my last update I have done loads, including being involved in three shows (including performing in Covent Garden), a term’s worth of maths, and had plenty of laughs.
I am currently in London playing bridge at the year-end congress. The Swiss pairs event did not go well, but we performed slightly better in the men’s pairs yesterday. Today is teams which we are hoping will be better still.
A New-Year Resolution of mine for 2k9 will be to update this blog frequently, so start checking back again, or I will have lost all my readership for ever!

Expect another update in the New Year,

Love to all

James :)


October 04, 2008

Fire alarms and oily hands

I’ve been cooking. It’s very nice and relaxing.

Before we get on to that, a brief update on the life of the James.

Term has begun; we’ve had our first week and it has been a raging success. I like many of my modules, although I missed all of Friday’s lectures due to feeling too ill to attend them. Friday was spent in bed reading though, so it was not all bad.

Chamber Choir has lots of new members and is all very exciting. Paul let in loads of people so I now need to go and generate some more music for them all, which is a slight inconvenience. They are all great however. I even managed to get myself married (on facebook) to one of the freshers. We had a social after the first rehearsal on Thursday and all had a good laugh.

Opera Warwick (the new name for Warwick Student Opera) had their first meet yesterday, and also has lots of new members, which can’t be a bad thing. Auditions for Dido are over the next week, and we’ve now had our first Cox and Box rehearsal, at which I discovered that actually learning my music beforehand appears to have been over-preparation.

On Monday night we had the first bridge match of the season, which we (unfortunately) lost 7-5. Still, it could have been worse and it’s early days.

Today I bussed onto campus (a luxury) and the Octet had its first rehearsal of the year. It sounded great (considering three of us were in nowhere near good voice), and we’ve got some really good music to do. We’re hoping to spend a weekend doing some recording next term.

On returning home, I did some work, sorted out some of my music (still a lot to go though!) and cleaned the bathroom. When it came to supper time, I had some wraps that I needed to use the rest of, so I dug around in the freezer for a bit and found some pork chops. I still vaguely remember buying them (because they were on offer) in term 1 of my first year. So I chopped one of them up and stir fried it with veg and soy sauce and ginger and it was mighty fine.

Wondering what to do with the others, I decided to have a go at making a marinade. So I’ve now got two pots in the fridge, one with a curry-style concoction in it and the other with a weird mix of things inspired by Chinese cuisine. Both look and smell very tasty, and both were satisfyingly squidgy to mix with my hand. Although I had no idea what I was doing, so heaven knows if they’re going to taste OK.

It was, however, great fun to be creative.

Tomorrow holds the delights of a bridge exec meeting, along with the first meeting of the club. Should be a laugh. Then it’s home for pork curry or chinese-style somethng or other…


September 25, 2008

Inundated

Wow I really do feel popular! Many requests to keep posting. I guess I should write an update then :P

I’m in the Maths computer room at the moment, deciding on modules for next year. It’s not going very well so far. They give us far too many to choose from (as in, about a hundred), and I’m not the most decisive person at the best of times.

I have now moved back in to my Leamington house, as have my three housemates. It’s the same house and people as last year, which is nice. Plus, it means that I can’t be too bad to live with (always a bonus), seeing as they’re all prepared to put up with another year of me. I even managed to tidy everything away, catalogue my music and go to Asda before I took the car home. So I now have 16 litres of fruit juice under my bed waiting to be drunk.

Since my last post we had the 120th party, which was, as far as I could tell, a huge success. Everybody I talked to had a fantastic time, there was enough food to sink an aircraft carrier, and we each had a big cake. Mine was totally wacky, which I feel suited me down to the ground. The hog roast was HUGE, and even we were forced to admit defeat by a considerable margin. I doubt it will all have been eaten by Christmas. It was nice to see lots of people :)

Being back in Leam it’s now a chance to see everyone uni who I haven’t seen since June (unless they came to the party, of course) before term starts on Monday. It’s really strange – most of the people in the years above me have now left and gone to get proper jobs and other scary things, and I’m going into my third year. It feels like only yesterday I was a fresher, all young and carefree!

Music’s already seriously underway, despite the fact that term hasn’t started yet. I’ve just spent quite a few hours sorting out all the Chamber Choir folders for next term, and I’ve been cast as Box in Cox and Box which is one of Opera Warwick’s productions for next term.

This evening I’m off to play some bridge ahead of our first league match of the season which is on Monday.

So, ahead of me lies a busy year – music, bridge, cycling (yes I’m going from Leam to campus again this year!), and to top it all off, my finals. Then who knows what I’ll get up to? I certainly don’t!

I make no promises as to when my next post will be…


September 10, 2008

OK OK I'm here!

I never knew this blog was so popular. That’s three whole readers!

I am still here, still alive, still able to type, even while stationary.

Life has been relatively quiet since returning from Portsmouth. Plans for the birthday party are in full swing. We put up the big tent thing today, and it looks like it’ll do the job nicely. I also got a parking ticket from a very mean attendant, who stood there and did all the paperwork really slowly as I waited to drive off. That was less of a success than the tent.

Last weekend was the Coventry [Bridge] Congress, and was an overall success. We (Ant & I) won the pairs on the first evening: a very pleasant surprise indeed! So now I have a trophy to my name, which is nice! The Swiss pairs was… less of a success, but we came just one Victory Point (out of 140) below average in the teams, which is definitely not bad.

That’s about it really – lots going on in preparation for Saturday, so I’ll get back to that now and blog about it later. Probably much later, but hopefully on Sunday or Monday.


August 22, 2008

Blogging on the move

Well at the moment I’m in Paul and Robin’s car on the road to Wales. I’m going to be thrown out at Newport Station to catch a train home, but I think it’s quite exciting that I can connect to the internet at all, so I just thought I’d let my readership know.

Technology is a wonderful thing.


August 19, 2008

I'm at work now. What better time to blog?

And here, as promised, follows my diary of the epic journey to Paris on two wheels. It might take me a while to type it all up, so here goes:

Wednesday 23rd July
1807 hours
We’re off! And already I’m running late. The train was a few minutes late leaving Solihull. The journey has begun. I’ve already cycled about a mile to the station, with a big pack on my back, kindly loaned to me by Thomas. I can’t wait til tomorrow morning!

2232 hours
Made it safely across London thanks to the Hufton’s map. Didn’t even manage to get lost! London is a very busy city and full of drivers who don’t seem to have ever encountered a cyclist before, which is slightly worrying. Still, I only had to swear at one driver and he really wasn’t watching where he was going.
Sue cooked a fantastic sausage cobbler for supper, and we ate it outside in their garden as it got dark. She kept trying to persuade me to eat more, and I could hardly turn her down. I’m now getting ready for bed for an early start tomorrow, but I can’t get to sleep. I feel like a four-year-old awaiting Christmas day, I’m so excited. Alarm set for 6:15 tomorrow morning.

Thursday 24th July
0520 hours
I woke up about 5 minutes ago (sunlight streaming through the window), glanced at my watch, and saw it was quarter past the hour, so was ready to get up. Then I looked again. Oops. Still, at least I’m not going to be woken up by a nice bleepy alarm clock. Mind you, getting back to sleep isn’t going to be doable, so I’ll get up and pack all my rubbish back up into Thomas’ rucksack in a minute or five.
Thanks are due to Joe for the use of his bed. It is very comfortable. I can vouch for it as I write.

0754 hours
I’ve just cycled to York House and arrived early, which is a good sign. Plus I can add an extra ten miles onto the distance I’ve travelled than most people can. There are already a lot of people here, so this will be a short update before my bag goes in the van. It’s looking sunny, which is promising, although I’m going to get hot. I’m about to go inside and meet everyone else. I wonder if they’ll believe that Marmite have sponsored me?

1817 hours
I. AM. EXHAUSTED.
It’s been a hard day. We started off in groups (I don’t quite know why but I’ve been placed in group 2 (of 6), which seems a little ambitious. I kept up with them though. Just.) and the group I was in – groups 1 and 2 combined – went first. There was a biiiiiiig hill before the first stop and we took it really quite fast. It rather took it out of me. Fortunately there was water and muffins at the top.
After that, The people lunatics who decided to go in group 1 left a few minutes before us, and we got into a decent rhythm for the next leg. By the end of it though, the weather really had got hot and we were all glad to stop for lunch. A couple of chicken bagels, some crisps, an apple and a chocolate bar later, we were ready to leave again. I was persuaded to go to the cycle shop over the road to buy a bottle with a bike clip so that I could lose the rucksack off my back, and what a difference it makes. I really had no idea, but it’s so much easier without any of the weight (and heat) on your shoulders.
The tea stop was at the top of a monstrous climb, which about four of us lead right to the top. I drank more than a litre of water in the two minutes after we got there. It was the peak of the afternoon sun, and we were veritably boiling in our own sweat (loverly image for you there). From there I gave mum a ring and blamed her for my participation in the whole adventure. We had a bit of a wait for a couple of the other members, including two who had got lost and managed to find their way to a pub. Smooth move, in my opinion.
Happily, after the stop, during which we got nuts, bananas and cake, we got to go down the other side of this hill. Dan (who had a computery gadget thing) told us that we broke 40mph down it and I really wasn’t surprised. That bit was very fun.
Then we were cycling for a bit and all of a sudden I saw a sign for Leigh Park, and I realised we were pretty much in Havant, which was quite exciting. I texted Robin as we passed a sign for the shopping centre with the ever-awesome Netto in it. Then I could see Portsmouth, recognisable by the Spinnaker Tower, and I realised quite how close we were to the end of day 1. We had a pause just outside Portsmouth (literally just a pause of about a minute) and then rode the last few miles to the Hotel, where we are now. I’ve just had a shower and changed, and dinner starts at 7pm. I’m now off for a well-earned drink with the rest of the group in the bar. Being in a higher placed group than my roommate (whoever s/he is), I got here first, and have consequently claimed the bed for tonight. Mwahaha.

2133 Hours
Supper was gammon with serve your own veg. I served myself a lot of veg. It was good. With the exception of the gravy, which was just salty beyond belief. And then a large slab of chocolate cake with cream. Yum yum. We ate quickly so most people are still downstairs, but I’ve come back upstairs to finish off today’s entry and grab an early night. Tomorrow we leave at 5:15, so my alarm’s set for 4:30. Ugh. Still, at least there’s no cycling for a few hours after we get up. My roommate’s called Jacob and is a bit of a legend. Right, all there is to do now is to watch the end of Mock the Week before going to sleep.

Friday 25th July
0456 Hours (BST)
Have got up, showered, packed my stuff up, and packed my day-bag for the ferry. My cycling clothes for today are in there, along with yesterday’s crossword and a pen. It’s going to be a good journey. Breakfast is being served by the van from 5am, and my bike’s already in the van ready to leave, so I’m ahead of schedule. Onward!

0640 Hours (BST)
We’re all looking a bit like we’ve got up very early after doing lots of physical exercise. The ferry port is full of slightly dopey-looking characters, myself included. Fortunately, nobody forgot their passport so there haven’t been any major dramas or anything yet. Ferry leave in 20 minutes. We should be called any minute.

0833 Hours (BST)
We’re well into the Channel, and we’ve left England behind us. Breakfast was a yoghurt, banana, muffin, apple, and carton of juice. I got persuaded to take an extra muffin (not difficult, let’s be honest), which I’m saving. I think I’m going to have a sleep in my seat, seeing as I’ve failed spectacularly with yesterday’s crossword.

0something Hours. I can’t work out if it’s meant to be English or French time.
Ferry’s just pulling in to the port in France. Ready to disembark! Longer update to follow at the end of the day.

1736 Hours (France. What’s the Acronym for French Time?)
A good day’s cycling. Slightly easier than yesterday in total. It was a bit cooler, which was definitely nice, and there weren’t so many hills. Those that we did have were a little easier as well. Quite a lot of the journey, especially at the beginning, was on cycle paths too, which was a nice change from roads.
Today we took to the “Sign-Sprint” game. Whenever you see the sign with the name of a French village on it (specifically the ones at the start of the village, the equivalent of “Welcome to Townsville” signs in the UK), it was a mad dash towards it. I was doing OK in this game, and then everybody else gave up. So I won. It was a nice way to keep yourselves occupied as we whittled down the miles. The hotel is quite nice. Group 1 has been here for more than an hour, and have had a few drinks. They’re a bit of a laugh.
Less of a laugh, the two leaders from our groups (the others aren’t here yet) have just gone for a run. A long run. They are both officially insane.

2314 Hours. (Still France)
The meal tonight was really very good. We ate in the place next door to the hotel. It was two people’s birthdays, so they each got a cake with a firework in it. Not a little sparkler, a full-blown firework. A guy from the BI Foundation had a quick talk, and we’ve raised between us £87 000 already [that is, before we all left – Ed], which is awesome! I am now very tired, but we do have a later start than most tomorrow (it’s staggered starts so that we all arrive in Paris at about the same time), so I’ve got a bit of a lie-in. Well, ‘til about 8. Which is comparatively late. Some of my group has gone clubbing, so I’ll probably be in a better state than most of them!
I’ve now also got my red and white jersey, which is, of course, the only reason I took on this challenge in the first place. I originally had a small one, but that really was very small, so I’ve gone up to medium now. The two guides spent two and a half hours on their run, and ran more than half a marathon. The men in white coats are waiting for them in Paris.

Saturday 26th
0818 Hours (France from now on)
Have just woken up as Jacob left. Time to pack and breakfast before we leave. It’s the big day, and I can’t wait.

Sunday 27th
0044 Hours
Have just got to my room after an amazing amazing amazing day. I shall never forget it.
The cycling was the easiest day (despite it being the longest. Clayton (our guide) said that it’s amazing how quickly your legs get used to it, and it really is. I couldn’t believe it) – we started off on about 35 km of almost totally flat road. We got some really good teamwork going, working really efficiently and all slipstreaming each other. It was awesome, probably the most enjoyable bit of the cycling itself.
We overtook all the other groups and got to Versailles first, where we stopped for an icecream. It was a proper icecream. And very very welcome. It was amazing to stand looking at the monstrous palace (from a long way off) and think “we cycled all the way here from London”.
We then managed to get lost going into Paris, and then all of a sudden we were pretty much in the centre, cycling toward the Arc de Triomphe. All the traffic stopped as we cycled past which really was great, and then we went down the cobbled surface of the Champs-Élysées. There was the sprint finish to the Eiffel Tower, where we were sprayed with champagne (being some of the first under the bubbles) and then stopped amid huge celebrations in the great Meccano structure’s shadow. I rang quite a few people to say I’d got there and then we had a big celebration meal together. The food was a little disappointing, although the chocolate tart was something else. I’d earned a reputation as a gannet by then, so I ended up with about 6 people’s on my plate. I, alas, was unable to finish them all. They were a bit good though.
I’ve just got in from the meal and celebrations with my medal, and I’m now going to sleep. See you tomorrow. Probably in the afternoon.

1115 hours
Morning!
I have breakfasted once. I may go again with Jacob in a bit. My lunch is baguettes with cheese and ham which I half-inched from the breakfast. It is good. I’m off to see the final stage of the Tour de France later. I can’t wait!

2300 hours BST
What a day. It was roasting hot at the tour. There were many hours of waiting round, but it was worth it when the riders finally came past. I bought a Tour de France T-Shirt and cap because I wanted them. They’re a bit naff, but does that really matter? I like them and they’re a good momento.
Most of us slept on the train on the way home, myself included. I now have another 40 minutes or so of train back to Solihull, and then I shall cycle home. It’s been an exhausting but incredible experience. I have met some wonderful people, done something I never believed I would be able do, and done it in a unique team of lots of people. It’s been so much more awesome than I’d imagined it would be. Three days ago at York House I wouldn’t have guessed it would be half as amazing as it actually was.
Would I do it again?
The ride, certainly. But the fundraising was hard work and constantly on my mind. So probably not. I’ll have to find something else for next year…

So that’s my (slightly edited) journal of my mini Tour de France. It really was an incredible experience, and I’d recommend it to anybody in a flash. I’d better go and tidy my bit of office before we go home now though.


August 18, 2008

Bridged Out

I have played enough bridge to last me the next couple of weeks. Ten days is quite enough.

I’m at my sister’s in Havant now, working at the place she works for a couple of days to keep myself busy and stop myself doing nothing all day.

I’ve also recently started thinking about the future. The great unknown. What on earth am I going to do with myself? I only have 10 months before my third year of uni is up, so I really should start planning for after then. It’s all a bit scary to be honest.

While at work tomorrow, I shall (finally) put up my stories from Paris (I’m not getting paid so I’m allowed to take an hour off to blog properly for once) for you all to read. I also need to remind Robin to ring people about her tyre. No doubt one of us will forget. But hopefully one of us will remember.

The weather is PANTS. It feels like November, not August! There is nothing else to say on that matter.

Fortunately, I’ve managed to keep myself really rather occupied so far this summer, which is much better than lounging around doing not a lot. I feel one should always be doing things. There’s lots for me to do in the next couple of weeks. But if Thomas won’t answer his phone, I may have to eat him.

That was very hastily written and is consequently quite bitty. I promise a longer, more structured and better thought out post tomorrow, but for now you’ll have to make do with that jumble of random thoughts.


August 14, 2008

Brighton!

I’m in Brighton at the moment, playing at the EBU’s summer bridge congress. I’m having a great time and learning a lot very quickly, which is good. I don’t get much access to the internet though, so blogging about Paris has unfortunately had to go on hold. However, I will write about it soon, I promise!

In the meantime, I’m playing bridge. Looooots of bridge.


July 31, 2008

Just to keep this blog ticking over…

..I am still here. I survived the journey to Paris. I even wrote a journal thing on the way and will post it soon. However, I was promised pictures and as yet none have materialised so I’m waiting for those to put them up.


June 28, 2008

Cleaning and tidying…

Well, the end of this year really has snuck up on me, and now it’s all hands on deck to move out and go back home for the summer.

I would now like to declare that we have one of the cleanest bathrooms in the whole of Warwickshire. Although the colour of the water that I used to mop the floor was really very disturbing.

It’s all now down to tidying (ugh!) and packing my room up, deciding what I can leave here and what needs to come home, and generally shutting up shop here in Leam for the next 13 weeks. There’s a lot of paper floating round at the moment that would benefit from my attention, so let’s get to it.


June 27, 2008

Results Day…

Results are out!

It’s strange: the end of this year has really snuck up on me. A week ago I was still taking exams, then with the busy nature of wsaf I haven’t really stopped to think about it. We really finished very late on in the year.

Anyway, onto the results themselves.

I got a 2ii overall, which to be honest, is only to be expected given my work ethic over the last two months. Fortunately, I think that getting a mark lower than I really wanted has made me realise just how many bad habits I’ve been getting into – not getting up til 10 or 11, procrastinating to avoid work, spending too much time on trivial things, and having a REALLY messy bedroom (Yes, it really is distracting, which is rather shaming really).

Fortunately, it has made me promise myself that I am going to really work my hardest to knock these bad habits on the head before I let them completely take over, so hopefully the effects won’t be too serious. I know that if I work properly next year a good 2i shouldn’t present any problem at all, and if I dedicate myself to it I am definitely still capable of getting the first which I really feel I should be getting. Let’s be honest, I know I’m intelligent enough to get one, but I’ve just been letting myself get far too easily distracted from what I should be doing.

This year it slipped from my vision that what I’m actually here to do is a degree, and all the rest of the stuff is a bonus. I don’t want to give things up, but it might do me good to occasionally turn down an opportunity. Maybe. Once in a while. (This is going to be difficult isn’t it?).

For now though, it’s getting into the habit of keeping myself tidy, getting up at a reasonable hour, and not procrastinating, and with some dedication I’m sure I can manage that. Here’s to next year!


June 10, 2008

Algebra II – Groups and Rings

...Was a total and utter catastrophe. A disaster of monumental proportions. I have never sat such a ridiculously difficult exam in all my days.

Fortunately, this was the opinion of everybody I spoke to after the exam, so hopefully it won’t be too bad once it’s been marked. I just struggled to do any of it.

Still, it’s over now!

Right, on to final Metric Spaces revision for tomorrow…


June 09, 2008

This is a small revision break

I am in the Library working (very intensely) for the dreaded looming monster that is our Algebra II exam tomorrow afternoon. It’s our hardest module, and it doesn’t seem to be going too badly, which is good news.

And now for a more serious entry than usual, with more than just a report on life, the universe and everything.

It’s strange – these exams are on some fascinating maths, but I have never felt so disinclined to work towards anything. I’m just not inspired at the moment, which is really disappointing. And as a direct consequence, the two exams I’ve sat so far this session haven’t gone well. It’s not a problem: provided the rest of my exams go OK (I’m discounting tomorrow Algebra exam from “the rest of my exams” because the module has literally about three times the content of any other module and it is unlikely to be a pleasurable two hours), I should score a 2.i and be on track for a good result.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life post-degree recently, which has, as well as providing a good distraction from revision, been very enlightening. When I came to Warwick I knew exactly what I wanted to do: work hard, graduate with a good degree, go and work in london ‘til I reached 35, then retire and do whatever I wanted (having worked like a dog for 15 years to acquire the means to do so).

It is, however, just like all things in life, not quite that simple. Being at university has, without a doubt, been an incredible experience (and I hope it remains to be), which I have enjoyed immensely. It has also been a vast voyage of self discovery, and very enlightening – the amount I have learned in the last 2 years (both academic and otherwise) is simply staggering. And that’s now not what I really want to do any more.

A financial career is now less inspiring to me: there are so many more exciting, interesting jobs I would rather do when I graduate. Some need a degree, some don’t (although whichever I choose, I still want to graduate with a decent degree).

It occurred to me about 6 months ago that what I really want to do is sing. It’s my passion, my favourite thing, what I look forward to every day. Although the question of whether I’d still love it if I did it all day every day or whether it would be worth keeping it as a hobby remains to be answered. There’s only one way to find out though. And I’d feel pretty rubbish if I got to 30 and thought “I wish I’d tried to get into singing as a career”.

The one other thing I’m wondering at the moment is whether to stick on the four year MMath course I’m currently enrolled on or whether to change to the BSc and graduate after three years. The four-year course has the obvious advantage that I get to spend another year in this fantastic place. Although lots of my friends will have graduated, and the workload will be greater, so I’ll have less time to pursue other opportunities. The trouble is, I see an opportunity, I always want to grab it. And I don’t always have the time to dedicate to it to do as well as I want to in it.

Sorry, that’s all come out in a bit of a random order as it tumbled out of my head, but I’m not doing an essay subject so I hadn’t done a plan before I started.

Still, that makes me feel a bit better. Here’s to some success tomorrow!

OK, back to the revision for now…


May 31, 2008

Some unexpected niceness

I went to Broadribbs (the local bike shop) today, in a quest for a bolt to replace the one that fell off while holding my rear mudguard on. I wandered in and presented them with the other one, and the produced two which would probably do the job.
Then, most unexpectedly, I was informed that I didn’t have to pay for them. So a gain all round really. So that was good.

Also went to Tesco today. Going shopping on a Saturday afternoon has its advantages: there was LOADS of reduced to clear stuff. So I now have sufficient food to hold a barbecue in the freezer.

That is, enough stuff in the freezer, not that I would be holding a barbecue in the freezer. That would be cold.

That’s all for now. I’m off to bed.