A “lovely” family day out

Not.

I’m currently sat on my bed, in a pig onesie, eating a bar of dairy milk to recuperate, and if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about our disastrous trip out, I don’t know what does.

Maybe I’m exaggerating slightly – besides the mud, getting lost and a lot of barbed wire, it was lovely really 😂

Shoutout to my dad for being my personal photographer!!

So, since it’s half term, my family and I decided to go to Saltburn, a pretty seaside town; there’s not loads to do there, so we figured we’d just have a walk around, buy some chips for lunch and then go to the neighbouring town of Redcar where there’s a delicious gluten-free cake cafe (my mum is a coeliac – allergic to gluten – so finding nice places for her to eat is always important!). From my town, Saltburn is about an hour’s drive away and honestly, that was probably the highlight of the day.

As you can see, Saltburn is very pretty and picturesque so we decided to have a wander along the beach after getting some chips for lunch – very nice!! I’d say we walked for about a mile then followed a sign up the cliff – a sign which said “coastal path” – to go back to the car.

Clearly, my definition of a coastal path was very different to whoever inscribed that sign 😂I personally would say a coastal path conjures up images of a gravel lined lane, surrounded perhaps by some grass and straw-type plants (‘straw-type plants’?! Says the a-level geographer? Tut tut cara, you should know better!), a slight breeze, blazing sunshine and spectacular views. The reality of this so-called coastal path was quite a contrast – picture some patches of land that may once have been fields, but are now so sodden and waterlogged they’re more like lakes, flimsy wooden stiles and a lot of barbed wire, and you get a pretty accurate image.

After trudging half a mile or so in this horrible sticky mud we were slightly worried about our safety, given that we were 200 metres above sea level and slipping around on precarious cliff tops. Being the outdoors-adventurer type of family (again, not) we reverted to the ignorant optimistic approach – surely it can’t get any worse?”

Ah, but of course it can.

We carried on regardless, and met another family along the way with a child about 7 years old, who’d just lost his shoe to the mud and was crying saying that he wanted to go home. I honestly don’t think I’d ever empathised more with someone. I was seriously starting to wonder whether the air ambulance would mind if we asked for a lift, but luckily we didn’t have to resort to that 😂.

As you can just about make out, the hollows in the mud show how deep and sticky this stuff was! Like, our shoes were nearly being sucked off and that’s not an exaggeration; I feared for my Nikes. But, there were some amazing views!

Still, we carried on; at one point, my dad ripped his coat on some barbed wire, my brother nearly slipped down the cliff and my mum wasn’t so happy about our decision to come this way. Somehow though, all four of us managed to stay on our feet – sure, we slid, skidded and splashed but nobody actually fell over.

Eventually we got to another field/lake, and there was no way to go over the fence around it – and even if we could have somehow straddled it, we’d have needed swimming costumes on. At this point, we gave up our pretence of being hardy Englishmen and turned back.Add another 2 miles or so of trudging through the mud, then another 2 finding a lane back to where we’d parked the car, and you get one very tired and unhappy family 😂luckily, we’d parked near a Sainsbury’s so a much needed Wispa bar was bought – always a silver lining, hey?!

Maybe I am being, in typical characteristic style, a little over dramatic, but it was a loooong day. And to top it off, we didn’t even get to the GF-cafe!! 😦 looking back already though I can tell it’s going to be one of those trips that stays in my memory for a long time – maybe not completely for the right reasons, but it’s another story to tell in the future I guess!

Cara xx

(By the way – I upgraded my blog! And I’m very happy with it so far, although expect some more little changes in the near future)

Sixth form or college?

The decision to go to go to sixth form or college is tricky enough, without having to contend with other questions – do you move sixth forms? Which college? Art college? Normal college? Which subjects?! It feels like the decisions are endless so I’m here today to just share my opinion with you! Obviously, the decision I made is not a one-size-fits-all choice but it’s never a bad thing finding out someone else’s opinion, and especially not somebody who’s only recently gone through the experience!

So – me. I was fortunate enough to get the grades needed to go to a sixth form, starting September 2017. In my area there are quite a few – the one joining to the school I was already at, a joint sixth form between two schools in the nearby town which has around 1500 students (!!) and 2 others, although the only ones I really considered were the first two. Similarly, there are three colleges nearby, plus an art college and an art uni. I picked the sixth form adjoined to the school I’d been at since year 7, and I feel very happy here, but I’ll go through the processes of my experience later.

I didn’t really consider college because I felt that a sixth form would be more structured and personal, and the impression I get from my friends who decided to go to a college is that it’s so much more independent and co-existent – whereas I know 95% of everything about 95% of the people in my classes, you’re lucky to get to know 5% of the people there. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: a fresh start is sometimes exactly what I feel like I need! But I figured that the workload would be tough enough as it is, nevertheless trying to make new friends, getting to know my way around the campus etc – but again, if you feel like a fresh, more liberating start is what you need, college is a perfect way to get this.

I don’t know if this is just my school, but the vibe I got was that’s it’s a *softer* option to go to an art college, and therefore we, as students, were given virtually next-to-no information. The whole application process revolved mainly around attending the sixth form linked to the main school, and every assembly we had about post-16 options was just our sixth form being sold to us. Obviously, I know as a school they need lots of students but I also felt it was quite unfair for people who definitely knew they wouldn’t be going to our sixth form, or any sixth form – although I personally wasn’t considering any option except sixth form, some of my friends were and they felt they weren’t getting the right information. That’s partially the reason I’m writing this post – if this is an occurrence in most schools then I feel compelled to give at least my experience of the system! If you’re not looking at sixth forms, I would definitely, definitely recommend going to as many open days as possible, looking at reviews of colleges/art unis online, getting hold of prospectuses or try and get in touch with current or ex-students to get a feel for the place. Schools try to persuade you to stay at sixth form, particularly their sixth form, but if you don’t feel it’s right for you, don’t be sucked into feeling you have to go there.

Maybe you have an idea of where you’re going to go next year, but you’re stuck for what subjects you’re going to take? I found this to be the biggest problem I had, and I also struggled somewhat in the first few weeks of September. The best advice I can give here is just take the subjects you enjoy, because honestly, it’s so important! Sixth form or college takes up 2 years of your life so you might as well choose subjects that you like.

Saying that, it’s also important to bear your post-18 choices in mind. If you’re like me, you’ll know kiiiinda where you want to end up but not really, so don’t let this completely sway your decision. It’s a good time now to start thinking about what uni you’d like to go to – if you’d like to go to uni, that is – and what subjects you’d need for courses there, or what job or apprenticeship you’d like, but I like to think that you’ll end up doing what you were meant to do by making any choice. My point there is that even if at the time maybe you’re unsure of your subject choices, don’t stress too much about them – yes, they’re important, but you’ll end up where you want to go regardless.

I feel like I’m quite an *experienced* person to talk about A-Level choices, since I’ve dropped 2!! I started in September taking English Lit, Biology, Geography and Art, then really disliked Biology and swapped that for English Language – which quickly became my favourite subject! In about November I think, I also considered dropping Art, which I followed through with at the beginning of January, because I felt it was more important to concentrate on 3 subjects. Whilst I do miss the creative subject, I enjoy the more academic-based subjects more, so I think dropping Art was the right decision. My story shows that even 4 months into a course there’s still leniency – if you’re not happy, there’s no point forcing it, so don’t think your decision is the be-all and end-all.

I hope this post perhaps steers your mindset a little bit closer to a decision: I know it’s tricky – you haven’t even sat your GCSEs yet, never mind got the grades to go to sixth form or college! Whatever you do can be changed so remember that – your final decision might not actually be your final decision!

Did you know?! You can also follow me on Bloglovin’ now: cara’s camera

We’re on Thin Ice.

If your Twitter feed looks anything like mine, I’m sure you’ll have noticed Donald Trump’s uncanny habit of voicing a very controversial and usually somewhat outrageous thought, normally accompanied by a backlash of equally controversial replies. A few weeks ago, he once more completely disregarded global warming as an issue, saying that New York, which was in the grip of record-low temperatures, could do with some of “that good old Global Warming”.

Despite the President of the USA writing off climate change as “a hoax”, “created by and for the Chinese”, the colder-than-average temperatures the East of America suffered are a direct consequence of global warming – it sounds contradictory since it’s global warming, but the snowstorm intensified because of the increased volume of water in the oceans, mainly due to the melting of ice caps and expansion as the water heats.  In the future if we continue doing exactly what we’re doing now, we can expect a lot more extreme weather – intense snowstorms, killer cyclones – you name it, we’ll get it.

Global warming isn’t exactly a new concept; in 1896, Svante Arrhenius thought that the burning of fossil fuels could increase the earth’s temperature, although it wasn’t until the 1930s that anybody paid much attention to his theory.  Since then, the burning of fossil fuels has increased massively with advancements in technology and manufacturing, meaning that the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere have inclined too.  Only now are we feeling the full, furious force of global warming.

2016 was the hottest year recorded since 1880, and since 2001, sixteen out of the 17 hottest years ever have occurred.  By the end of this century, scientists are predicting the earth’s temperature to have risen by another 6˚c.  Whilst it may mean you have to pay less for aeroplane tickets to exotic hot countries to get that perfect tan, this shows the effect human activities are having on the planet and the figure is only going to go up unless we do something drastic about it.

Speaking of aeroplane tickets, the two-million people per year who visit the Great Barrier Reef will now be looking at much more bleached and damaged coral than there used to be – two thirds of the Reef has been damaged by water temperatures becoming too high.  The sea levels are rising too, at the fastest rate for 2000 years due to the thermal expansion of the water and the melting of the ice caps.  Scientists say that, since 1979, the Arctic sea ice coverage has decreased every decade by between 3.5-4.1% – in more accessible figures, in 1980 there were 7 million km² of Arctic sea ice, similar in size to Australia, whereas in 2015 the coverage amounted to just under 4 million km², just slightly bigger than of all the countries in the European Union put together.

Similarly, skiing could be a much shorter luxury holiday for many, as scientists are predicting that by the end of 2100, ski resorts in the Alps could have 70% less snow.  The increase in global temperatures will result in more precipitation and humidity instead of the fine white powder, affecting the economy of many countries who rely upon winter sports for income and species adapted to live in those conditions.

The future sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it?

Even more so when wealthy and educated countries like the USA intend to pull out of the Paris Agreement, a convention designed to try and limit global warming to 2˚C this century – when I said Trump is controversial, I meant it.  Set up in 2016, the USA was among the first of 195 countries to sign up to the Agreement (being one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases) but after Trump’s repeated claims that global warming is a “hoax”, he stated that it was his wish to leave the Agreement.  Although the loss of such a powerful contributor to global warming will make an impact, predictions show that the even meeting the target of 2˚C will only delay the worst consequences, and that as an entire population we need to do much more.

Of course, we can all introduce little things into our daily routine to help combat and mitigate climate change, independent of national and international efforts. As a hot chocolate addict, I know of some schemes that help the environment as well as your pocket.  Global coffee chains such as Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero have introduced reusable cups, discounting the standard price and therefore leading to a decline in the number of disposable paper cups being sent to landfill.  In the longer term, renewable energy resources will undoubtedly become more popular; as the price of fossils fuels rise, using sources such as solar and wind power will be more pocket- and eco-friendly.  Smart Cars are also being gradually introduced, weaning drivers off the tradition diesel or petrol-fuelled cars and increasing the use of biofuels. Carpools are also a viable option – you save the planet and get the chance to socialise, so what’s not to love?!

“Reduce, re-use and recycle” is probably a programme you’ve heard of but if you check your waste, to what extent do you reduce, re-use and recycle?  My guess would be not as much as you could, and this is a really simple way to help mitigate global warming, without straining yourself too much.  Do you really need that bottle of shampoo, when you already have 4 bottles open?  Can you really do nothing else with that empty yoghurt pot than throw it in the bin?  The three Rs are an easy method of contributing to the sustenance of the planet, and it’s one that you should definitely make a conscious effort into maintaining.

Unless we all begin to make changes in our everyday choices, the future looks very bleak indeed.  No matter what Trump says, the earth is increasing in temperature and it’s because of human activity, although with small, subtle, eco-friendly changes we can begin to make a difference.