Friday, 12 July 2013

Who Knew.....

....that trying to go back to university could be so difficult? Getting the place on the course turned out to be relatively easy (thankfully I didn't have to go through UCAS and such, but achieved my place by going directly to my chosen university and applying for a place) its everything else that is proving incredibly trying. I'm hoping my experience detailed below, will help someone else who is struggling in this situation.

My main obstacle seems to be receiving funding, either from the university itself, or from Student Finance. Due to already having a BA, and wanting to achieve another one, most funding options are closed to me. Going on to another BA course is classed as doing an Equivalent Level Qualification, something seemingly frowned upon in the eyes of Student Finance. 
The first port of call when investigating funding options was to go directly to the university. They offer a scheme where if your household income is less than £42,000 per year, £7,000 of fees are waived, and you also receive £1,000 cash and £1,000 in your student account. As I only work part-time, and am classed as an independent student, I fit the majority of the criteria (others include being a permanent UK residence and being accepted onto a full-time course) Brilliant......or so I think. The final criteria is based on where you live, as in coming from a low income area which generally has few university applicants. Unfortunately, due to living in Canterbury, a relatively affluent area, I failed this criteria and therefore could not be accepted onto the scheme (It does seem somewhat ridiculous that something as simple as that could potentially ruin someones chance at university) 
Thankfully, I managed to find a solution. On the Student Finance website, I found the following:

Exceptions - graduate entry medical and dental degrees

Students who start their course from September 2009 onwards who already hold an equivalent or higher level qualification will only be eligible for Maintenance Loan if their new course leads to a qualification as a:
  • Medical Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Veterinary Surgeon
  • Architect
  • Social worker
  • or if the course attracts an income-assessed Healthcare Bursary (NHS course)
BINGO! Something of a happy dance did occur when I saw this, especially once I had spoken to an advisor who took my details, and said it would be fine. So, 34 pages of forms later, I now have a 6 week wait to find out how much funding I will be able to receive. 

I have to admit that after the initial set-backs, there wasn't a part of me not willing to fight for my place. I know a lot of people would have given up long before now, but something occurred at a recent university Open Day. There was not only a tour of The School of Architecture (the level of the work has officially panicked me!) but I also attended a talk on the architecture course. During the talk, we were informed of the different modules that we would study across all 3 years. This lit a passion in me that I had relatively forgotten. The excitement of studying some of my favourite architects in the very first term is phenomenal. Along with design, we will be taught the history and culture of architecture, as well as technology and environment. I know that the workload is going to be massive, but its something I'm looking forward to. 

Time management is definitely going to be a key factor, so a new diary has been purchased in preparation! 

Friday, 10 May 2013

To Pastures New

This week has reminded me how much a hate moving house!!! Having spent 5 days packing up the flat that the boys share (my belongings were done in about 2 hours, save the kitchen items) I have since spent 4 days helping move things, sorting through boxes and bags in the new place, and cleaning the old flat (mine will be done on Saturday) I can honestly say I've never known a move to go on for so long.....and I very VERY much hope I won't have to go through another house move for a very long time!

Even though I'm not officially living with my significant other, nothing really feels like it has changed. I know that we were practically living together in the months leading up to the move anyway, but being my first time living with a partner, I wasn't sure if something would change. I mean, obviously not expecting massive drama-filled-fireworks type of be honest I don't really know how to describe it. It is amazing to have all of my belongings with me now though, instead of constantly having to pop back to my place to pick up specific items. And, moving has helped me re-discover items I'd forgotten I owned. Is like buying them all over again, but without the expenditure!!!!

I must admit I have become very house and interiors obsessed recently, as soon as we knew where we were going to be moving to. We even did a trip to Ikea, and I am very proud to say that I did not purchase everything in sight. The inspiration has been amazing, and that, along with Pinterest, is fuelling my ideas for turning the new house in to a wonderful home!

Pictures will be posted once everything is all unpacked and we've settled in and really made it ours.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Quiet Times

I know I said I would primarily use this blog for my creative passions. However, due to recent medical issues, I seem to have lost a lot of motivation. Currently I am stuck on crutches, having had a fall back in February. An MRI in March has revealed a cyst in my left knee. Whilst that would not have caused the fall, it may be causing the pain and tenderness that I still have in my knee. Since then, I have been having acupuncture to release the tension and pain in my knee, and am booked in to see the orthopaedic department at the hospital next Wednesday.

Getting out of the house has been an issue for me. I am very much one of those people who if I don't have a reason to go out, I won't. And needing to get out every day isn't necessarily a good reason for me to venture outside, especially given the bad weather in recent weeks.

One thing I have been enjoying is jewellery making. It is very much a side project, something to keep me occupied of an evening, but I've received a lot of really good feedback.

Above is currently my favourite creation. I found some old comics in a charity shop, and along with some cameo components, I made a Bananaman cameo bracelet with matching banana earrings. This is my first attempt at using the cameos and I'm incredibly pleased with how it's come out.

In the meantime, I've also had a birthday (thankfully incredibly quiet and wonderful) and a trip to Norfolk to see my Dad, step-Mum and younger brother and sister. All-in-all I'm trying to stay as positive as possible. I have a house move to look forward to, as well as starting university, and hopefully getting back to work soon.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Breaking Bread

Today I took my first journey into properly making home-made bread, ie. not using the just-add-water mixes that you can get in Tesco. G has a bread maker, and had suggested using that, but I wanted to really make it by hand and learn to get it right on my own steam.

So, I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, my sundried tomato and onion bread!

I followed a basic recipe that I found online at 
and also utilised the professional fountain of knowledge known as my head chef boyfriend.
After the initial proving, we punched the bread twice to remove the air, or bite back. I then transferred the dough to a bread tin (with some leftover to make some rolls) and left it to prove for another hour before baking. For the added flavours, I used half a white onion and 3 sundried tomatoes.

For my first attempt, I'm incredibly impressed with myself. The loaf has risen nicely, has a good crust, and tastes delicious. Is something I will definitely continue with, and when I'm a bit busier with university and such, I shall learn how to use the bread maker.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Getting My Craft On

Due to being pretty immobile at the moment (crutches really aren't as fun as I remember) I seem to have a huge amount of time on my hands at the moment. I've been helping G where I can with his LARP costume ready for the first Empire event this weekend, and one of his requests got me back in to my crafty ways. He was after a Saxon-style beaded necklace to go with the rest of his costume. Having looked at examples online for inspiration, below is what I came up with for him. 

I had a lot of the components lying around anyway, and raided The Bead Pot on Palace Street, Canterbury, for some more beads and the clasp. G loves it and it goes amazingly well with the rest of his costume. 
This has opened the floodgates, and with Pinterest for a tonne of inspiration, I've been playing around with some designs.

This is my first experimentation back in to the world of jewellery making. I love the classic Rockabilly symbols in the charms, and would look lovely with a day or evening outfit. I've also started some cupcake earrings which are still very much a work in progress. They're pretty simple at the moment, and I want to add some more detail to them.

Below are a couple of pictures of some items I've picked up from charity shops and eBay to create some more designs. I'm thinking of cutting up the classic 90's comics and using them to make comic book cameo pendants, having found the equipment at a bargain price. Have also got inspiration for a Swallow charm bracelet, but that is still very much a pipeline dream at the moment.

Some baking has occurred too, however no photos were taken before the cookies and cakes were demolished by myself and the boys. I have posted the links to the recipes I used, both of which were simple to follow and made for amazing treats!!!!


Monday, 18 March 2013

First Anniversary

Yesterday was my first anniversary with my significant other. To celebrate, we decided to do a day in London. Given that I am currently on crutches, this took a lot of planning on Friday, deciding where we wanted to visit, and arranging wheelchair reservations where possible (generally all of the main tourist attractions will lend a wheelchair, they only require a call in advance)

First stop was to The Design Museum, close to Tower Bridge on the South Bank. I've wanted to go there for years and even had it on my list of things to do before I turn 30.

Unfortunately half of the museum was closed, due to an exhibition change. However, the collection that was available to visit was excellent. It was amazing to see original architectural plans for everyday items, such as telephone boxes. The exhibition was incredibly varied, showing classic items through the ages, including chairs, lighting, and electronic items. The museum is moving in a couple of months, and I'd be happy to visit again at the new location.

After a trip across Tower Bridge (no photos I'm afraid,  due to the pouring rain) we went to The Wellcome Collection. I had never heard of this before, and was pleasantly surprised.

The Wellcome Collection houses the medical curiosities and inventions collected in the 1800's by Sir Henry Wellcome. There is such an astounding variety of objects housed there, showing both part of the original collection, as well as more modern medical items and medical art. It is definitely somewhere to visit, whether interested in medical curiosities or not.

Finally we went to The British Museum. I hadn't been here for nearly 10 years, and had forgotten how vast the collection and building actually is. Unfortunately we were unable to view the entire museum, but we managed to visit key collections.
One key feature for me was to see the main hall. It was designed and built by Sir Norman Foster, one of my favourite architects. Under a geometric domed glass and steel ceiling, the large spiral staircase houses the gift shop as well as part of the main cafe. The hall is huge, and a fantastic focal point for such an eclectic collection of exhibits.

Despite many aches and pains today, yesterday was absolutely amazing. It was fantastic to finally see The Design Museum, and experience new and old places. I love being close enough to London to be able to visit relatively regularly, but far enough to still get the tourist-y day trip experience.

*for more pictures, see my Facebook page

Sunday, 10 March 2013

CREAte Open Lecture

At the end of last week, I received a reminder of a CREAte Open Lecture up at the Kent School of Architecture at the University of Kent. They tend to hold a lecture each month, on varying topics, hosted by a variety of guest speakers.

This past Monday, off I went up the hill to see Sir Terry Farrell talk about the Thames Estuary/Gateway project. Sir Farrell is a leading modern architect, having designed and built buildings around the world, including the MI6 building and Charing Cross station in London. He was appointed head of the Thames Estuary project in 2008, and has since turned the project on it's head.

Above: The MI6 Building, London.

Normally I am incredibly apprehensive of lectures on topics I don't have a lot of background knowledge on (as my boyfriend constantly tells me, I can, at times, have an incredibly short attention span). However, I was pleasantly surprised. Despite is being quite a short lecture, only 45 minutes including questions at the end, the subject matter was interesting, and I found it relevant to my life and the area that I live in. 
The main aim of Sir Farrell's vision is to get back to nature. The Thames Estuary area is 40% nature, including water, and holds the largest group of nature reserves in the country. Whilst the government brief was essentially to extend London out in to Essex and Kent, he felt that the natural benefit of the area needed to be respected. 

Above: Sir Terry Farrell's initial design vision for the Thames Gateway and Estuary

Unfortunately an overall scheme has not yet been completed. Compiling the information from local authorities in the Thames Gateway area is a huge task. Each local authority has an idea of what they want to do to benefit their residents with their land. However, several main ideas were addressed during the talk -

- Turning the Medway towns in to one large city. The five main Medway towns - Chatham, Rochester, Strood, Gillingham and Rainham, are all centred around the dockyards, which are unfortunately no longer in use. Developing this area in to something of a city centre would transform the identity Medway, giving it a previously unknown solidarity
- On the Greenwich Peninsula, using the Millenium/O2 Dome as a seed to grow local and national business in the area to make it an economic hub.
- Develop the Isle of Dogs to become a proud place, full of activity, including using the water as parkland for water based activities.

Each of these ideas would have a huge knock-on effect in Kent and Essex. Whether or not they are positive ideas, or if they will even be put in to practice, is something only time will tell.