three weeks postponed exams

On Monday, the government announced that the A-level and GCSE examinations will be pushed back by three weeks –https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-54508851. This is not a sufficient amount of time to catch up on 5 months of missed school. The government needs a Plan B!

In my three extra weeks instead of ‘revising’ I am going to:

  1. sing happy birthday repeatedly and consecutively 181,440 times
  2. watch the film Pandemic on loop 328.7 times
  3. catch up on some sleep
  4. procrastinate for 10 hours, finally revise for 2 hours, eat and sleep for 12 hours. repeat
  5. listen to ‘I’m still standing’ by Elton John 9,969 times
  6. if I were to go on a mission to Mars, I would only get 7.6% through my journey (or 3.8%) before I’d have to turn around to take my exams)
  7. read the Great expectations by Charles Darwin roughly 49.5 times – though I am sure I’ll get bored of reading it by the third time

But one thing I cannot do is catch up on 5 months of missed school work 🙁

if you have read this far please can you fill in this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/326066

SAAL Design Photo book

I was recently offered a voucher by Saal Digital for a substantial discount to use on one of their “Professional Line” Photobooks. I thought this would be a great way to showcase some of the photos I have enjoyed taking over the last few years, including my experiences going to the World Scout Jamboree last year.

I chose the 21 x 21 Photobook Professional Line book and chose glossy paper with a leather titanium cover surface. This photobook came with a gorgeous acrylic cover.

I found it very easy to design the inside of my photobook and used the free design software they provided – “Saal Design Software UK” – however, you were able to upload a PDF or use their app instead. I downloaded the software and was greeted with a screen to select your chosen photobook design – I believe you could change the photobook design later if you changed your mind. Once I chose the Design Professional Line Photobook, I selected the 21 x 21 size before opting for the leather titanium cover surface and the glossy paper.

From here, I was given the option to use the software completely from scratch, use the One Minute function or to use their Auto Layout function. I opted for the One Minute function as I was able to add photos, use the auto layout feature and still make changes to my photo layouts: comparatively, the auto layout function was mostly automated with not as much customisation.

I then started to add my different photos into the software making sure to frequently save my photo book. It was very easy and simple to use – I could drag photos onto the page or select images from my folders. The software told me the quality of each image which ranged from poor to very good as I zoomed in and out of different images. Overall, my photo book used multiple designs; from one double page containing 1 single photo, to a gallery of 18 images, to 3/4 images per a page. On the more crowded pages, the images were still clear and of high quality.

In the end, it took me around 6 hours to design and sort. I spend a few hours over the course of a few days sorting and designing each page – if I were to create a similar photo book again, I would definitely recommend having all your selected photos in one selected folder to make it easier to add your photos. Once you have used one photo, the software shows a tick in it’s top right corner to show that you have inserted that image.

Once I was happy with my finalised photo book, I added in some text before uploading my book and pressing ‘save and pay’. This led me to a screen confirming I was happy with everything before it prompted me with payment and shipping options. I got free shipping and it came in just over a week. Below are some photos of my photo book:

As you can see from the images, the photo book is beautiful. The quality is stunning and the images are of very high quality. The 21 x 21 size is perfect to have placed on a coffee table or showcased on a shelf. I would highly recommend purchasing one of these books to be used as a holiday album, wedding album, as a birthday gift or just as a simple photo book.

Overall, my ratings are as follows:

SAAL Design Software UK: 9/10 – this was very efficient and easy to use however, to improve I would add a few more different auto layout designs for 5+ photos

Shipping: 10/10 – this was quick and it was not damaged when it arrived

Quality of photo book: 10/10 – it was breath taking to look at and flip through each page

Price: 8/10 – it can be a bit expensive however, it is definitely worth the price (I got a £100 off voucher but they are frequently doing £15 off vouchers to decrease the price of purchase)

In conclusion, I am sure I will purchase more products from them again. Let me know in the comments what you think and if you would like more reviews from me.

If you would like to check out their products visit:

https://www.saal-digital.co.uk/

30 km Charity Hike for Sue Ryder

A week ago, I participated in a charity hike for Sue Ryder. This was a 30km hike around my county and we went up 4 hills. Throughout the hike we experienced a fair few problems including one of the public footpaths being covered with stinging nettles and overgrown plants (meaning we had to change our route which then coincidentally passed a McDonald’s). Later on in the hike, we also changed our route and took shorter footpaths in order to gain time back after having to backtrack ourselves early on. Finally, we finished slightly early due to being 2 hours behind our schedule.

Overall, we hiked for around 11.5 hours on on average walked around 46,500 steps. After 5 months of lock down and being unfit, this hike was very challenging however, I am very proud to have taken part. We were lucky that the weather stayed nice and dry with the temperature staying around 20 degrees (centigrade) for most of the day. As we climbed up our last hill, we watched the sunset which was very beautiful. Throughout our walk, we spotted many different animals including a Peregrine Falcon, playful and energetic dogs, horses, cows, sheep, alpacas/llamas, bunnies and squirrels. We also saw a Halloween skeleton on a back gate.

Summer 2020

Tomorrow I will be returning to school for my very last year (year 13), I am slightly nervous and I have written this blog post to recap my summer.

  1. Caught up on some school work – this included some of my maths and chemistry which after taking my online course, I became behind
  2. Read quite a few books – such as Red Rising, Red Queen, The Summer I turned Pretty, reread the Selection series and more
  3. Watched Netflix – including Scorpion, iZombie, the Order, Vampire Diaries etc.
  4. Home and Away via. My5 – I’ve been getting very behind on this show but it is amazing
  5. Did a tiny bit of revision – this was reading my flashcards through from year 12 and creating a few more resources
  6. Visited my family – this was lovely as I had not seen my family since Christmas
  7. Met with some friends – I was able to catch up since lock down and even saw my friend who moved to Manchester
  8. Watched too many movies – including Chalet Girl, Camp Rock 1&2, Feel the Beat, The Kissing Booth 2 and more
  9. Took some photos – I learnt some new skills and practised star photography with Comet Neowise
  10. Played guitar – learning some new songs and chords
  11. Spent time in the garden relaxing
  12. Stroked my cats
  13. Went on a 30km charity hike – blog post coming soon
  14. Wrote some letters
  15. Tweeted for changed to my ALevels in 2021
  16. Played on my Switch – changed my island in Animal Crossing New Horizons and visited my sisters island
  17. Celebrated my sisters 14th birthday – in my eyes she is still 12
  18. Practised french plaiting my hair
  19. Created a photo book – blog post also coming soon
  20. Went camping by the seaside
  21. Cooked lots of different meals – including pizza, burgers and coffee cake
  22. Attended some virtual camps
  23. Attended virtual open days

Goldfish Ratings

Goldfish are one of my favourite American snacks (not real goldfish!). Since it has now been over a year since I returned home from America and Canada, I am reminiscing this snack so today’s blog, I will rate each goldfish flavour.

Goldfish flavours I have tried:

Cheddar – 9/10 a classic snack which I always 100% will go to

Colours – 10/10 these are the cheddar flavour but in colours of red, blue, green and the classic orange: what’s not more to love

Baby Cheddar – 99/10 these are so so cute and are a smaller version of the Cheddar snack (by the way they don’t taste of babies)

Extra Cheddar – 5/10 these did not live to the high standard of the classic cheddar flavour

Pizza – -4/10 my dad84 first brought me these back from the states and I can still imagine the horror of them

Goldfish flavours I have not tried (once Pepperidge Farm sponsor me I will be able to give better ratings – please sponsor me):

Original – I have heard these are just plain goldfish and do not know what to do with this information 7/10?

Whole Grain Cheddar – the thought of whole grain sounds too healthy 2/10

Whole Grain Pretzel – similar to the above they sound healthy but may taste better than the Cheddar version so 4/10

Parmesan – a mix on the classic cheddar 3/10

Cheese Trio – a pic a mix but with cheese goldfish sounds funky 7/10

Pretzel – dad84 has tried and gives them a 7/10, “nice and pretzely but weird cause they were goldfish”

Ranch – I do not like ranch so I do not have high hopes but will give them a shot 2/10

Grahams (inc. honey, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, s’mores, hot cocoa, vanilla cupcake, cookie ‘n cream, chocolate chip, french toast, strawberry cheesecake and honey bun) – some of these flavours sound amazing, the next time I spot some of these flavours I will give them a try 9/10

Nacho – Similar to ranch, I am not entirely sure what these will taste like so 6/10

Queso Fiesta – I think these are cheesy and spicy so if there is a good balance they should be nice 7/10

White Cheddar – I have tried white cheddar popcorn and did not really like the flavour 3/10

Sour Cream and Onion & the Salt and Vinegar flavours – I do not like these flavour normally so, I do not think I will like this as goldfish 1/10

BBQ – all BBQ flavour snack taste good so I expect good expectations from Pepperidge Farm in this goldfish variation 8/10

Cupcake and Fudge Brownie flavours – these sound amazing to try 10/10

mixed versions (inc. pretzel & xtra cheddar, pretzel &honey mustard,. chocolate mint pretzel~) – due to these being a mix they all sound fairly nice 7/10

puffs (inc. cheddar bacon, mega cheese, salsa con queso, buffalo wing, twisted grilled cheese, sizzlin’ hot wings, BBQ) – some of these flavours sound really good and others not as much so on average a 6/10

Cheeseburger, Seasme & Mac and Cheese flavours – these sound interesting to try and might be similar to the pizza flavor I’ve tried 7/10

x-treme zingy chilli lime and x-treme screamin’ hot flavors – these both also sound interesting and spicy hot with the zingy chilli lime flavour reminding me of a sauce which might be a Nandos so 8/10

Christmas, Co-world Treasures, Space Adventures, Beach Ball, Princess, Cars 3 and Mickey Mouse – these area all different shapes and colours of the cheddar flavour (I believe) so a 12/10 as different shapes are really cute

a year later

24th World Scout Jamboree Closing Ceremony

One year ago, I returned home from the best summer of my life. Over 21 days, I made new international friends, learnt about different cultures and was able to share my stories. Since my return a year ago I have been on a reunion camp, raised funds for EJ2020 (let’s not talk about that), met up with my Shropshire friends, been on a day trip to Poland, become Maths captain, written some more blog posts, been in lock down and finished year 12. I am still so grateful that it was COVID-19 and not COVID-18 but I never expected a year after returning from WSJ the world would be a completely different place.

love and hugs, 84 and Blue

Last day of year 12

Two weeks ago, I went back to school again for my last official day at school in year 12. I got mini lessons from each of my subjects where we discussed some of the work we completed over the past few months as well as completing some practice questions. The day was slightly similar to the week before when we went into school, keeping 2 metres apart etc. However, the timings of the school day were slightly different. Sis84 also got to spend an hour at school on the same day I went in, she thoroughly enjoyed seeing some of her friends.

Since going into school, I have completed an online Cyber Course where I learnt skills such as Penetration testing, Encryption, Open Source Intelligence and Digital Forensics. It was a virtual course across the country and at the end of the course we got to do some ‘Capture the Flag’ activities which my team did not do very well in. Overall, I learnt many new skills and am inspired to look into Cyber Security in the future.

Finally, I have also completed my EPQ project on left-handedness. In the last official week of year 12, I completed my presentation (again virtually) as well as handing in my final essay.

All this concluded my year 12 and I am looking forward to seeing how year 13 turns out!

Microwavable mug-cakes

The final result

This week at Beavers we learnt ‘virtually’ how to make mug cakes. Here is the recipe we used.

Ingredients (dry)

  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Ingredients (wet)

  • 1/4 cup + tablespoon of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Ingredients (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon of mini chocolate chips

Instructions:

1/ place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together

2/ add wet ingredients into the same bowl and mix until smooth

3/ place into a microwavable mug (you may have to scrape sides of bowl to get all mixture into mug)

4/ sprinkle chocolate chips (or extra ingredients) onto top middle of mixture – no need to stir them in

5/ with a microwave of 950W place into microwave for 70 seconds or for an 850W microwave place in for 80 seconds etc.

The final result

6/ take care when removing mug from microwave as it’ll be hot

7/ if your cake does not feel ‘cakey/spongy’ place in microwave for an extra 10 seconds

8/ wait for cake to cool down before eating

First day at school

2m spray painted signs

This week I went back into school for the day. It was very weird to be back after 107 days without being inside the building. Yes, you read that right, 107 days defeating Phineas and Ferb record of ‘104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it …’.

When I arrived at school, there was a strict layout in place and so we entered through the main school gate. We were always 2 metres apart and even got to wear our own home clothes! On top of that, it was a late morning start at 9:30 am compared to the usual 8:30 am start.

Kahoot winner

For the first half of the day we did some well being activities discussing how working at home has been going and how it differs from being at school. We had a one-on-one with our form tutors and also did a kahoot about lock down news (where I placed first). The second part was creating SMART targets within each of our subjects.

Some signs placed around school

For lunch, we were able to sit outside in our bubble and caught up over the past 3 months.

For the second half of the day we completed some UCAS work. We also discussed what we needed to do over the summer holidays such as writing our personal statements and researching universities as well as different courses. During this I also had a quick EPQ meeting with my supervisor. This led to the end of the day where we used the one way system to leave school.

Sitting outside at lunch

Our classrooms were set up with desks being 2m apart as well as only having a small number of students (I had 7 other people in my bubble). Overall, the day was very useful allthough it was very weird being back at school again after so many months of learning from home.

Online Stravolution

Blue looking at the online site

Over the past weekend I completed online Strategy and Evolution. For the past 2 years I have helped out with Strategy and attended Evolution as a participant. The weather has usually been warm and sunny during this camp and this year also lived up to the warm weather.

Blue painting my nails

During this weekend we would complete different activities on the Saturday earning points as a team. Different activities would include; nail painting, obstacle course, wire maze, first aid, bag check, ring toss etc. For the online version we were set 15 activities to complete. These included; spending a night outside, nail painting, first aid, drinking a pint of water, designing a new weapon, making ice cream, creating your own campsite, etc.

Blue and I both participated together and Blue tried to paint my nails in triple blue. I really enjoyed participating and so did Blue and we cannot wait until we can go camping again.