The Bike

As a congratulations present for my GCSE results, my parents recently got me a bike, in the hope that I don’t spend the rest of my school life glued to the chair in front of my desk. We don’t have a bike rack because none of us have got on a bike for several years so we crammed it into the back of the car, folding up every possible seat, and squeezed in around it to go to a forest that has a road through it but where the cars only ever go at 10mph so I could get the hang of it again.

It was an enjoyable experience! Although I can’t actually signal without feeling as though I am about to be hurtled to the floor, I’m sure I will pick up the knack in due course. A total of five small insects flew into me (and I mean actually into me – like, two in my eyes, two in my nose and one in my mouth) but my helmet stayed on and I had a lovely time – especially when I saw an enormous doe in the trees who just stopped and looked at me before chewing on her tail. Although if anyone is after beginner cycling advice, then I will just say that I wouldn’t recommend cycling over a cattle grate without a sports bra on.


The “Easy” Steps to Clearing Out

Does the idea of tidying up your home strike you with dread? Do you feel slightly sick when you catch sight of the Hoover taunting you in your peripheral vision? Do you feel a slightly frantic obligation to clear, tidy and clean before the beginning of term starts up again? Then look no further!

1) Assess the situation one room at a time. Should this alone make you feel slightly overwhelmed, make a hot beverage immediately and take several soothing breaths, unless this will just make you more aware of the horrifying amount of dust that has been circling you and your family since you did this in 2014. Even if you don’t feel like this is calming you down, try to avoid reaching for the wine just yet, as it will probably result in you laying down on the sofa with a packet of crisps cheering on athletes in the Olympics and crying vehemently that this is indeed the year you will get that fit.

2) Tidy before you clean. It sounds obvious but many have gone before you who have dusted each item and then turned in dismay to see a fine coat of gloating dustmites reappearing within minutes. Look for places to put things that are easily accessible. Should something not quite fit, throw it with considerable vigor into the largest pile of mess you can find in the hope that fairies will take pity on you and tidy it up for you. (Perhaps after you finally give in and get through a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc you will see them at work.)

3) Now for the cleaning! Everyone’s favourite part! For this you will need the Hoover (I know it’s scary after all this time apart but it’s going to help you), a slightly damp cloth and a duster. If this is a spontaneous decision to clean then you may well find yourself creating a make-shift duster out of the pair of knickers that you have always loathed, or perhaps now is the time to bid goodbye to the ill-considered purchase of a bandana in early 2015.

4) For the braver amongst us, once the room is tidied and hoovered, and all the junk you can’t quite bear to part with yet is in somebody else’s wardrobe, you may decide that today is the day you Hoover the stairs. This task is not for the fainthearted; should you be like my mother at all then beware as the tired machine flings itself down the steps at you, and ignore the neighbour children’s stunned gaze as they hear brand new expletives fly from your mouth. In the style of my mother, then begin a lengthy rant where you proclaim that it is a useless piece of machinery and suggest multiple reasons why (they dont have to make sense; in fact, it is better if they dont).

5) Go to the fridge and retrieve the wine. If anyone should comment on your hair, the amount you are sweating or if “you’ve missed a bit”, you are well within your rights to subject them to several episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Dinner Date, or any other programme you will very much enjoy but they will despise, after a lengthy rant involving the phrases “if you ever got off your backside”, “if I had a penny for every time…” and “I’d like to see you try!”.

And just like that, your house will be looking spick and span!

Pride 2016

I’m a day late, but this needs to be posted. Yesterday was national pride day, and it is so important that everyone recognises the importance of this day because it symbolises two things; how far we’ve come in reaching equality in our society (because there’s a lot of people that have done a really cracking job in getting us to where we are today) but also how far we have to go. Everyone should be accepted in our society, whoever they are, whichever group they identify with the most, whatever they look like and no matter who they love. Diversity is such an important part of our society; it’s what makes us interesting as a community, and I think allows to function better as a society. No one should have the right to make someone feel as if they are less, just because they are different.

This video brought tears to my eyes, I recommend you watch it (you’ve probably already seen it). It perfectly shows everything I’ve tried to put into words. Love sees no race, religion or gender – so why on earth should we?

The Biology Exam

You may have seen in the news that AQA went nuts and gave a insanely hard biology paper to unsuspecting students that caused a great deal of controversy on social media.

I was one of the unsuspecting students.

Naturally, when preparing for a biology exam, you revise biology. It is quite a safe assumption that the biology syllabus would be involved in a biology exam. Alas, it was not the case. To quote an excellent and concise headline that demonstrates how articulate we British youths can be, “I studied the menstrual cycle for months, only to get asked about p***ed up rats”.

The exam board have sent an email to several teachers justifying the paper, saying that it was quite justified to ask a business studies question in a biology paper, that they did consult the syllabus when writing the paper, and that a question about 15 year olds drinking, involving a graph depicting the preferred alcoholic beverages of the different genders, did not promote under-age drinking.

They neglected to refer to the issue that they asked a six-mark question (the highest marks available for a question on this paper) on something that, in the syllabus, we are specifically told that we don’t need to know (luckily I am a giant nerd and found the function of certain foods in the body interesting so learnt it, but it was unfair to ask a question on it).

Upon opening my chemistry paper yesterday I was surprised to see that the first question was actually relevant to the subject, and found myself checking to see if I had not been inadvertently given an RE paper instead. It transpired that I had not.

The Weather

After a series of days in which I journeyed home through rain, hail, snow, gale-force wind and then blinding sunlight (in the space of an hour), which I believe came to the delight of every sarcastic British twitter account in existence, we are now experiencing gorgeous weather. It is joyful to sit in the garden in clothing that would have been described last week as at best “optimistic” but most probably “insane” and marvel at how my skin has quietly gone from last summer’s shade of pale to so pale that it is actually glowing in the sunlight.
As per tradition, I am sitting and enjoying the smell of the village’s barbecues, which will soon be followed by the smell of meat that is on its way to charcoal, a series of expletives and the soothing tones of spouses assuring one another that there is indeed a pack of fishfingers in the freezer to have instead.
Alongside the sound of the soft breeze in the trees is the sound of paddling pools being filled, followed by the muffled cry of adults as they topple into the water after trying to close all the airholes and declare vehemently that the wretched thing was much easier to inflate last year.
From now on, people in sleeves will be seen as weak. Everyone will be wearing last year’s sun glasses that they found beneath a pile of questionable swimwear, scratched to the point of no return and with a slight sheen to them from the bottle of sun lotion that inevitably exploded when they were trying to manouvre the load of buckets, spades, towels, small children and steadily melting icecreams onto the beach. It’s rather relaxing, really.

The Easter “Holiday”

It’s rather amazing what a person can accomplish when the ordeal of ploughing your way through a day of school and all that it entails subsides and you are given a poorly named “holiday”.

However, despite copious amounts of work (which I would rather have than not have, I am very lucky to have such a good education) there are some perks to being at home. For one thing, I can wake up when my brain thinks I’ve had enough sleep, instead of being wrenched into consciousness by the angry beep of my alarm clock.

I can enjoy a peaceful breakfast without calculating the maximum amount of liquid I can consume without spending the morning negotiating with my teachers the part of the lesson in which they would let me leave the classroom and go to the toilet. I could spend my summer holiday serving my country, but when it comes to the capacity of my bladder, my teachers are very much the experts. I’ll give them some credit; it is enjoyable to watch fellow classmates in the same situation as they rock from side to side and have looks on their faces which make you wonder if this will be the day in which the hypothesis “you are old enough to hold it” frequently tested by teachers will finally be proven to be wrong.

Along side this pleasure, I can sit at my desk and enjoy the view of the garden when I look up from my work, and marvel at the gravity-defying squirrel who often comes and hangs at awkward angles from the tree to nibble at the bird feeder (who we have named Tim, after the astronaut Tim Peake).

Gravitational Waves – Belated Post

I am well aware that these were discovered (well, their existence was officially proved) a few weeks ago but I’ve been really rather busy these past few weeks dealing with the irrelevant time consuming project that is my Mock Exam Fortnight and all the stress and comfort eating that it entails. While lying on the sofa basking in self pity one has when¬†blessed with the sort of cold that makes you occasionally forget about the presence of your nose, I sat staring at my phone waiting for scientists to make the eagerly awaited announcement that these waves are, in fact, the real deal, and that Einstein is even more of a genius lad than we had thought.

So, what are gravitational waves?

My knowledge (and enjoyment) of physics is basic at best, but when it comes to astronomy I am a bit of a nerd. My very simple understanding of gravitational waves is that when an enormous gravitational event occurs, such as a star exploding, then these waves are produced, in the same way that ripples go across a pond when something happens in the water.

The waves that were picked up by scientists were produced when black holes that had been orbiting one another collided; black holes are so extremely dense and have such an enormous gravitational pull that for two to collide would (an did) have an enormous impact. This impact was gravitational waves, which actually compress the space they pass through, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, means they are pretty powerful.

How did they prove it?

Physicists built two 4km long tunnels with sensors at either end; these sensors could detect the shortening and lengthening of the tunnel when gravitational waves passed through them – and they did. And then scientists and nerds like me became hugely excited and enjoyed sharing the news to people who responded with blank faces until we explained what we were talking about.

I hope that has made things a bit clearer for people who had heard of these waves but didn’t know what they were, or has amused real scientists who can see that I know pretty much nothing when it comes to the Physics World.