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29 August 2015

A Second Family

[This was written for the Dorchester Youth Theatre blog but I thought I'd share it on my internet space too]

Walking into a room of strangers is always daunting. When you’re an 11 year old with no friends, no knowledge of the area and the belief that moving to Dorset would be ‘oh em gee the end of my life’, that feeling of daunting is multiplied. I’d always loved drama and singing, attending various groups back in Bedfordshire and always doing well in school plays. So when my parents found out about Combined Arts Week ‘CAW’, the play-in-a-week workshop, they signed me up straight away. We were new to the area and it was the perfect way to make friends before the school term started. But my eleven year old self saw it as suicide, I cried and I begged and I held onto the car door, but somehow I’d made it, and there I was in this room full of strangers. 

The first days flew by, I did exactly what my parents knew I would do and I slotted right in. CAW prides itself on being a programme with no main parts, and they’ve always stayed true to this, but I’d had my eye on a particular part during the script read through and was delighted to have been given it in my first year. There were plenty of other kids who were new, but for the most part CAW is full of children who return every year. And for good reason, after a week of intense singing, acting and dancing, (being rhythmically challenged, I have no idea why I signed up for extra dancing), the girl who walked into the room on the Monday was a lifetime away from the girl who ended the Saturday performance begging her parents to sign her up for Dorchester Youth Theatre, the weekly term time group responsible for CAW.

Combined Arts Week is a family. It’s the annual event where everyone cancels their plans and makes sure they’re available for this one week of every year. One-timers are a rarity at CAW and for good reason, Pete and Julian, the Directors, come back every year with more original scripts and content, each year as wacky and exciting as the last. The volunteers, consisting of family and ex-members (you never truly leave), work through the summer preparing for the first Monday and then relentlessly through the week all the time with a smile of their faces. And of course Combined Arts Week couldn’t run at all without its dedicated members, who return year in year out, full of enthusiasm, ready to welcome everyone into the CAW family, even the 11 year old girls from Bedfordshire. 

Without Combined Arts Week, I wouldn’t have met some of my closest friends. I’ve experienced first hand the impact being a part of such an incredible group can be. Nobody expects too much of you, if you’re having fun and doing your best that’s all that matters. We’re not Stage Coach wannabes and everything is a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s the reason so many people hold a special place for it in their heart (and their annual calendars). 

And so the 11 year old girl who first walked into the room of strangers is now a 20 year old girl walking into a room of family. 9 years later, my younger sister has been involved, I’ve roped friends in through the years, my mother is the chair woman and we really are CAW/DYT through and through. And it might all seem a bit sad if it wasn’t for the fact that everyone is. We’re a community, we’ve seen people come and go of course, but the friends I met on my first day are now some of my best friends. I am so grateful for the opportunities, confidence and second family joining CAW gave me. And from speaking to friends and watching, 9 years later as a volunteer, one little girl on the Saturday, minutes after the final performance, saying to her Mum it had ‘Changed [her] life’, I knew she wasn’t exaggerating, because it changed mine too. 

Ciao for Now!

28 August 2015

Life Lately

Today week has been one of those lovely catching up weeks. Nothing to stress about, lots of coffee-ing and lunching with friends and just general getting back on track in life. Last weekend I was lucky enough to go to Brighton, my favourite place in Britain, to catch up with friends and just have a generally lovely time. The weather (for once) didn't even disappoint, and we were able to drink Pimms in the sun and bask in the glorious weather. Unfortunately the beautiful weather only lasted 24 hours and we woke up on Sunday to the sound of rain, which has lasted ever since. But despite the awful 'summer' weather, I decided to make the most of my indoor time and have spent the week  catching up on the papers, writing lists, doing odd jobs and watching endless Suits, which I started on Sunday and am already on Series 2 of. Disgusting but also a life goal of many. 

This leggy blonde pictured above is Saffron, one of my best friends, a cross between Blake Lively/Taylor Swift and the hospitable human who put me up for the 2 nights. When we weren't watching Les Mis and drinking wine, bonding in pyjama's about life and love, we were on the streets of Brighton. It was so lovely having my own little tour guide, we went to a delicious terrace cafe named Kensington's for lunch, dipping into some incredible vegan nachos.

I will confess, with catching up also comes a lot of wining and dining. Perhaps too much. From eating triple cooked chips with Abbie to having a Mexican night with Emma and Emily, my stomach actually hurts from how much has been consumed this week. But how could anyone possibly say no!? Somebody is clearly enjoying it, no holding back here ladies...

Alongside all of this nattering, I am also preparing to at last return to University! This summer has at times felt like it's flown by and at others dragged so long I thought September would never come. But with it only being a couple of days away, I can safely say I am ready to return to the castle, and bloody excited to start 2nd year. I picked up the keys to my first house with 5 of my best friends, have started sorting adult things out like bills (bills!?!?!??)  and am already gearing up for Freshers week recruitment for the various societies I'm a part of. There is no rest for the Wicked!

I hope you're all enjoying the last week or two of your holidays! Let's hope the sun comes out just once or twice more before we can all truly admit defeat.

Ciao for Now!

12 August 2015

100 Calorie Chocolate Brownies

Yes you read the title of this correctly. It's an utter dream come true isn't it? Me and my mum are going on a bit of a health kick at the moment, just making sure we know exactly what we eat and trying to reduce and cut out all the unnatural rubbish from our eating habits. But tonight is The Great British Bake Off. And everyone knows, when you're watching GBBO you need to have cake with you. It's practically a rule of the programme. So I went scouring on the internet and came across this incredible recipe over on Rosie's blog.  What a genius.

Gooey in the middle and slightly hard on the outside, just the way we like it. 

All you need is: 
180g Low Fat Yoghurt
60ml Almond Milk (or soy/skimmed)
64g Cocoa powder (the good stuff, not hot chocolate)
43g Rolled oats
64g Natural based sweetener 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (celsius), throw them all together in a blender and pour into a greased baking tray for 20 minutes! Rosie added a few pecans, I added a few chopped hazelnuts but feel free to adapt this however you like- just beware the 100calories applies only to the brownie mixture, so any marshmallows or white chocolate thrown in is extra! 

I'm not claiming this recipe as my own at all but I wanted to share it with all of you!

How delicious do they look?

Ciao for Now!

11 August 2015

Working Hard or Hardly Working

Coming out of studying and into summer is both a blessing and a curse. I had a holiday right at the beginning of my summer, so I knew as soon as I was back home, it was back to the real world, finding a job, earning some money and getting out of that horrendous over draft. 

I was hoping to go to Camp America over this summer, but as always, funding really is an issue so I thought I'd go for something closer to home. And thank goodness I did. This week I finished working at an English language school in Bournemouth, nearly seven weeks of excursions, mini adventures and a whole lot of sitting in cafes whilst the children had free time. Usually I don't record my life in this way, but I thought the last month or so has just been too ridiculously great to ignore, hopefully if any of you are ever in two minds about taking a job like this, you can be rest assured it is completely and utterly great. 

Although the job is swings and roundabouts (if something goes wrong, it can obviously go very wrong), for the most part life has been dandy. Not only meeting incredible colleagues, but incredible kids from all walks of life.

From punting down the river in Oxford, to sports days, to playing games and eating ice creams on the beach, working as a Sports and Activity Instructor is probably one of the best hands dealt when searching for a summer job.

And of course, I can't end this post without writing about the people I worked with. Mainly because this post was enforced by Meike and Katie, but also because working at the school without such an amazing team would have been both pointless and boring. 

(My Ninja Turtle costume took hours to make and Bill and Ben's 10 minute costume still turned out better)! In the words of the infamous David Guetta, we absolutely 'work hard, play hard', and it does in fact feel like partying is sometimes our job... especially when manning the Under 18's disco. 

Sadly most of our contracts are coming to and end, and mine finished on Saturday. So the job hunting for the last month of my summer will continue. But working with all these incredible people in such a great job should definitely be recorded, so this is a little ode to the last 7 weeks.

I hope you're all having amazing summers (or winters, for those down under).

Ciao for Now!

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