Picture of Hannah and Pau-l Louis

I appreciate this is a late review, but I have been extremely busy coupled with illness and painting my bathroom! However, it is the last season of GIRLS! Me alongside many other viewers will be sad to miss our favourite 4. Here is my review of the first episode.

In short, this episode sees Hannah being published, her going off to write about her experience at a Surf retreat in Long Island, Marnie going through a divorce and is trying to make it work with Ray. Finall,yRay after being found that he cannot stay at Marnie’s finds that Jessa and Adam have taken over the flat so shack’s up with Shoshanna instead.

I am glad to see that Hannah seems to have landed on her feet job wise (she never really was cut out to being a school teacher!), what I was shocked about was she seems to have gained some sought of fashion style. I loved her yellow mustard jacket (which I really couldn’t pull off myself!) and those black sunglasses! A real laugh out loud moment was when Elijah casually asks Hannah if he could borrow her room for her weekend to hold a small orgy. Marnie’s face when Hannah is completely fine with it is such a picture. Even more funny is that Elijah is holding the orgy to get himself noticed in the acting world, Marnie asks ‘why don’t you just take an acting class’ and he responds with ‘I am just going to fuck my way to the top’.

I appreciate that GIRLS is a programme that wants to show females making bold choices and liberating themselves but there were so many unnecessarily naked scenes in this programme that it felt like Lena Dunham is making a point for making a point’s sake. No one needed to see her bathing her vagina in the sunlight. No-one needed to see Jessa and Adam eating yogurt naked in the sitting room.

Marnie in her bedroom talking to Ray in bed

I think everyone was sad that Marnie started kissing Dezi. Dezi is such a tool! Marnie interests me a lot as a character and I feel has learned a lot about herself in New York in the way that she is not as perfect as she thought she was. At the moment she wants Ray to move home as her ‘online therapist’ suggested (of course Marnie has an online therapist) but that has pushed Ray to live with Shoshanna It will be interesting how her relationship with Ray turns out this series.

When Hannah was at the Surf retreat she falls for the instructor Paul-Louis, after her faking injuring her arm to get out of surfing, and a crazy night out (an absolute must see because her dancing is hilarious) and trying to have sex in a bunk bed. She spends the day with him. Paul-Louis opens up her mind to the fact that some of the best plans are sometimes the ones that you haven’t made yourself.  Hannah, completely smitten, is willing to leave New York behind for him, however is in a open relationship and has different ideas. This upsets Hannah. The irony that Hannah who is (or tries to be) very liberal and open minded about everything but prefers her relationships to be monogamous.

Paul-Louis talking to Hannah in the bar

We didn’t see much of Shoshanna this week, throughout Girls she is the one that has had the most growing up to do. From her time at NYU (remember her failing the glacier module so she couldn’t graduate with everyone else!) she was the girl that seemed to be doing everything right but life was working against her. She is very naive. Now that Ray seems to be staying at hers it will be interesting to see how there friendship between them plays out.

What did you think of this episode? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Best Sites for Blogging and Social Media Beginners- BecBec

Being a beginner to blogging and social media can be really scary. There seems to be so much information out there and so many different ways to do things. As a beginner, it can be daunting with the pressure of producing an amazing blog layout, photography and content all in one go. It is enough to make you want to give up!  I am still learning about blogging and social media therefore to save you time I have shared a few tools and websites below that I use:

Social media scheduling tools

Hootsuite a well-known scheduling tool. I use the paid version at work and the way the dashboard is set out is simple and it is easy to use. What I do not like about Hootsuite is that it still turns the Twitter images into ow.ly links so you have to click the link to view the image, which I view as a barrier. To get round it I schedule Twitter posts with images on Buffer.

Buffer is another social media scheduling tool. The free version is ok but you can only post ten posts on each social network on this compared to Hootsuite where you can schedule more.

Websites to learn about social media analytics

Kissmetrics– is a helpful website that focuses on social media analytics. There is an infographic section on a variety of subjects ranging from how to get more likes on Facebook to how colours affect conversions.

Social Media Examiner– If you are looking to up your social media game. This website is good. With many how-to blog posts and posts going into great detail about how to make the most of those figures.

Buffer blog – Another reason why I like Buffer is the social media blog. I read this a lot for when I want to try different things with the social media at my work place such as A/B testing.

Best website for wanting to find twitter chats in one place

Design that fits – If you are based in the United Kingdom this site lists as many Twitter chats as you can possibly think of. Personally I take part in #bloghour and sometimes #weddinghour both of which I found through the site.

Best sites for finding royalty free images

Sellfy – This blog post lists a wide range of high-quality images that you can use for free to get you going. It is a really good blog post and one of the few I have seen where you can really use the images for free.

Best websites for editing your images

Picasa – Second only to Adobe Photoshop in my opinion. This application I have found to be really useful when I am using my laptop (which is so old if I loaded Photoshop onto it, it would just crash) for editing photos. Picasa 3 is so easy for cropping, adjusting light and straightening photographs and is free to use.Canva -This website I have used for work is good for creating Facebook and Twitter headers. With so many design options, it is really good for those without Photoshop or have limited design skills to make professional looking designs.

Befunky is a website that I discovered recently where you can make lots of different photo collages and upload them for free. You can also create Facebook and Twitter headers with the photos.

VCSO cam – Lots of bloggers use this to touch up their photos for Instagram and social media. I downloaded the app and found that the filters were a lot better than Instagram. It is just as easier to use too. My favourite filters are B1, C1 and P5.

Best site for blog design

Pipdig – Biased, I know, as my blog design is by them. They offer really good professional, modern blog designs that are very reasonably priced. What is also a bonus is that they will add the template onto your site free of charge. The customer service is fantastic, I have tweeted and emailed them on two separate occasions and they have got back to me within about two hours.

Best sites for blog advice

I Can Build a Blog – I have mentioned Dana before on here as her blog The Wonder Forest is one of my favourite blogs to read. Dana has created another whole website dedicated to building a blog from scratch. Again simplicity is the key and Dana has the habit of answering all those blog questions that newbies have.

The Nectar Collective – Similar to I Can Build a Blog, The Nectar Collective focuses on growing your blog through from the basics to advance. The website is designed well and in my opinion a good example of how good design aids the reader around the site and makes them stay longer. It is essentially the website of my dreams.

Zoella – Not her whole blog site but this post (an oldie but still a goodie) on how to edit your photographs was one of the first I read. Zoella was producing great blog photography long before anyone else and is the perfect starting point if you really don’t have a clue.

Best book for blog ideas

Not a website but a book, 365 blog topic ideas: For the lifestyle blogger who has nothing to talk about by Dana Fox of The Wonder Forest. It does what it says on the tin. A no frills book which has a blog topic idea on each page. It is really good for dipping in and out of or if you get stuck with something to write about.

Those are the sites and book I use. Do you have any other sites to add?

 

Studying Geography at University
Me in my graduation gown 🙂
(Image Source: Authors Own)
Studying Geography at University
Throwing our mortar boards in the air!
(Image Source: Authors Own)

Today seems rather fitting for this post as it has been three whole years since I have graduated from university. In England, it usually takes three years to complete a bachelor’s, therefore it has been a whole degree cycle since I have finished. I studied a BA (Hons) in Geography and got a 2:1 and a certificate for best final year performance and although I work in Marketing now (yes completely different career path) I did enjoy my course and took some skills that have helped me. If you are interested in studying Geography at university or just want to read about my experience then read on.

Why Did I Study Geography?
Geography was by far my favourite subject in school. I got an A at GCSE and B at A-level. I had an interest in the world for a very long time exacerbated by the fact that I had only been abroad a couple of times when I was young. I wanted to see more of it! I decided to study at Staffordshire University for a number of reasons including all field trips were free ( which is a massive plus as you will see later), the area to live in was cheap (as it is based in Stoke-on-Trent), the lecturers seemed really friendly and because I had studied Geography for so long, I felt comfortable in continuing the subject rather than starting a subject I had never studied before.

What Was The Course Like?
In the first year, the lecturers focus on building your skills so everyone is up to the same level.  This included creating maps on Adobe Illustrator, a field trip to Cannock Chase where we had to take lots of soil samples! An overnight field trip to the Peak District where we had to look at the pro’s and con’s of placing a fictional reservoir at a place called Edale and a module in human Geography which focused on the slave trade. I wasn’t keen on first year as it felt that there wasn’t enough human geography. This was intentionally done so people could swap to physical Geography they could, but frustrating for those who knew early on what they wanted to specialise in.

The second and third years were more focused, I remember a module called Cities where we explored how they were functioned and built. A module where we looked at financial districts around the world and how they worked. There was a module called Investigating Geography where we honed our research methods and built a research project. I took a module called Geographical Information Systems (GIS) which is an absolute must if you want to go down a Geography/ environmental type of career, as it combines mapping with data. I mapped land uses in Stoke- On-Trent as one of my assignments. The annual field trip was to Bangor in Wales where we looked at sand dune formation and how and why seaside towns are formed as they are and what impact has this formation has on tourism.

In my final year, I studied this topic called Refugees and Immigrants. It was by far one of my favourite modules. It looked at world migration movements and why people migrate, the implications and there was an in-depth view into the terminology used in migration.

In addition, I undertook two research projects- my dissertation which was exploring Staffordshire University students’ attitudes towards the environment and researching if the Times of India reported on certain environmental issues more than others. The second research project of which I had to be interviewed by my lecturers as it was a research project where you worked alongside your lecturer. I was quite pleased to get this as I was up against people I knew and I am very competitive. Finally there was a field trip to Barcelonia!

What Were My Lectures Like?
The lectures were a mix. So modules such as Cities were very much taking notes and reading in your own time afterwards with essays and an exam. The field work was very hands on. Lots of data recording and taking photos and bagging up soil samples. There was a lot of group work and presentations, presentations I think are really important as I have done far more presenting at work than writing essays.

I remember my course being very organised. You knew the dates for everything in advance and you knew what was expected of you. If you were not sure about something, the lecturer’s door was pretty much always open. That is particularly important as I have heard some proper horror stories of lecturers not turning up, personal tutors not being helpful or in some cases the course not existing when people arrived to study.

What Would You Have Done Differently?
Looking back I would have definitely got myself a placement in the holidays (although I did work full time as a cleaner, so I wasn’t sitting around and doing nothing) and worked part-time during term time. In my current role where I occasionally read application forms, a placement really makes you stand out, as it has shown you can apply what you have learnt in lectures. As much as I enjoyed being on a sports team I feel that at university, it shouldn’t be treated like an extension to school and that having a job where you are dealing with customers shows interviewers that you can work in a variety of difficult situations. It is a lot harder to show this being part of a sports team.

I should have done more research into what occupations you can go into after Geography and what people did with their degree. Afterwards when I was researching I found there were very few geographical and environmental roles around in the area where I lived. When you find yourself looking at graduate schemes a lot of companies won’t accept applications from those with Geography degrees as they prefer someone with English or Business Studies or Marketing. So keep that in mind.

What Were Your Opinions Of Your Course?
Overall I thought the course was good and the lecturers were always really supportive. I did enjoy the content and the field trip in Barcelona was really fun. I do think (and although I am speaking from experience of my course, it could apply to others) that there were missed opportunities where my course could have gone from good to amazing.

In my first year, I remember in groups we had to produce a poster advertising this new fictional reservoir in Edale. Rather than just creating a poster we could have done a whole marketing campaign on it. We could have had lessons from the business department on marketing. Since I am in marketing now it would have given more of those ‘transferable’ skills that these employers crave rather than just a poster done on Publisher.

I didn’t appreciate it then, but I am so glad the field trips were free. I have spoken to people who studied at other universities and they would have to save up £800 to go on this compulsory trip. With rent and living expenses, it is a lot of money on top to think about. I appreciate Barcelonia is not that far away compared to some far flung places other universities go on (one of my friends went to Africa for his final year trip) however I would rather go to somewhere in Europe and not pay rather than go further afield.

What Did I Do With My Course?
Soon after I graduated I managed to get an internship at the SU for a year. After that I moved into marketing where I am currently at now.

Why Should You Study Geography?
If you want a career in the environment or have an interest in the world around you Geography is a good subject to study. If you are very data driven GIS is good route to go down. Geography is a good subject to build quite a few skills such as writing, data collecting even design. However these days I recommend you have at least a basic idea in what you want to do with the degree and work your way to meeting this target.

So there we have it. Three years of my degree condensed into one post. I hope you can see a glimpse into why I studied Geography and what I thought of the course.


Image of It's your time you are wasting
Frank Chalk is a teacher in a fairly poor inner city school- a school where the kids get drunk, take drugs and beat up the teachers… when they can be bothered to turn up.
He confiscates their porn, booze and trainers, fends off angry parents and worries about the few conscientious pupils.
 
Terrifying and hilarious, IT’S YOUR TIME YOU’RE WASTING is Chalk’s real- life diary from the front line of the modern edukashun system.

I have had this book a number of years and it is one of the few books I have read over and over again. I bought it at a time when I really wanted to be a teacher (before I saw sense). It’s Your Time You’re wasting was published by a small book publisher Monday Books, known for publishing real life books. The book narrated by Frank Chalk (not his real name, probably to save his sanity) goes through the tale of his time as a supply teacher at St Jude’s which is based in the Cherry Tree Estate. He tells us tales of sloppy staff and even sloppier school children all of this which is punctuated with descriptions of the Cherry Street estate so you get to understand why the children behave like they do.

The story is easy to read as it is in a chatty style, there isn’t any chapters as such, there is just one tale after another all following each other (I have noticed this is the style of writing in other books Monday has published). The author doesn’t feel sorry for himself either, you just let the story wash over you as you find yourself laughing and sinking into despair at the naughty children and feeling really sorry for those poor children who are just trying to get on with life.The book hit a chord with me because you can see through Frank’s eyes how the education system has failed the children. This is through two ways. One the lack of support at home. Frank visits a few children homes to tutor them and he see’s the effect of constant TV, fast food, the lack of books and interest from the parents resulting in the children being disengaged with anything that is longer than two minutes. The result of this being children who vandalise school property, not being able to understand school work and being downright nasty to anyone.

You could argue that his book reinforces stereotypes, through the names of the children and the description of the council estate. But this is the reality of modern Britain as it is repeated through books like this one and on programmes on the TV such as Tough Young Teachers. So disillusioned is Frank with the school that he tells parent’s of a child to move to a better school. However, I feel that the author is realistic and what comes across well is Frank wants to teach but with the children not accepting responsibility, there doesn’t seem the point.

To conclude, this book is well worth a read if you want to while away an afternoon or want some escape. If you truly hate your job this book may also be of use, as by the end of reading you may think your job isn’t too bad 😉

 

This post is about the second part of the Trek America Westerner 2 trip that I went on at the end of March/ beginning of April. Read what happened in the first seven days here 😀

Going on a trek but not sure what to pack? Read here.

Day Eight (Death Valley)
The next stop after Vegas was Death Valley. It was an awesome place to say that you have been there but I didn’t really think it was that hot! (we did go very early in the morning so that may have been why!) Not a lot happened that day due to it being another long day of driving. We stopped at a campsite (Lake Isabella/ Kearn River KOA) which was in the middle of nowhere! However, that gave us a chance to chill before Yosemite!

 

 

 

Day Nine (Yosemite National Park, California)

After a long day driving, we arrived at Yosemite and went straight to Mariposa Grove which is home to the giant sequoia’s. These tree’s being true to their name were huge and the whole place had a whimsical feel to it. Afterwards, as it was late, we put our tents at the campsite and just chilled.

 

 

 

 

Day Ten (Yosemite National Park, California).
All morning it snowed. It was so thick, it is quite hard to believe that there was snow in California. I trekked up to Nevada Falls although we didn’t quite get to the falls before we turned back as the snow was falling thick and fast. We stayed in a hotel that night as it was so cold. It was that cold that the next day the camp leader informed us that the coolers had retained there ice! Although it was pretty special that we saw Yosemite in the snow, I wished that it hadn’t snowed because we didn’t get to see the park in its full glory.

 

 

 

 

Day Eleven (San Francisco)
We were all excited as we were heading to San Fran! Before the trip, I had heard others rave about San Francisco however it wasn’t a place I was thinking ‘yeah I really want to go there!’.
We headed over to the IHOP for pancakes American style. It was such a disappointment, as the pancakes tasted really soggy. bleurgh. Once we were all fed we travelled over to the Golden Gate Bridge for the obligatory pictures. We stayed in a hostel which was in the Tenderloin district which is one of the poorest parts of San Fran. One thing which I wasn’t prepared for in san Fran but also California was seeing the amount of homeless people on the street. A lot of them were high on drugs as well and I didn’t feel safe at times. On the first night, my partner and I along with some of the trek decided to go on the sunset cruise around the Golden Gate bridge. It cost roughly $45 dollars each and was really good value for money with unlimited drinks (including alcoholic drinks) and nibbles. It was a really special moment that I will remember for a long time.

 

Day Twelve (San Francisco)
My Birthday! My partner and I went to Alcatraz for the day. Alcatraz in a round about way was an unexpected highlight. The history of the island (I knew it was a prison but didn’t know about the native American Indians occupying the island after). We went on the tour where you are given a headset. Again I recommend this as you learn so much about Alcatraz and the tour was spoken by people who had lived on Alcatraz- this ranged from prisoners to guards to children of the prison guards. I had a nice Indian meal in the evening to celebrate my birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Thirteen (Monterey Bay and the Coastal Highway).
This day was quite sad because we all knew we would be leaving soon! We started the morning leaving San Francisco early and heading to Monterey Bay. Monterey Bay is famous for cannery, fishing and John Steinbeck’s famous books such as Cannery Row. It was very quiet and a world away from the West Coast I have gotten to know. Our route was down Big Sur on Highway 1. I had never heard of Big Sur before but the whole route contained stunning sea views. We took a walk across the path to McWay falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The McWay falls were gorgeous. It is essentially a waterfall falling onto a beach which is inaccessible to the public. It is one of those little places where you would never go there as it isn’t a tourist must see you hear about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14  (Venice Beach and Hometime)
Home time 🙁 We got driven to Venice Beach and had a couple of hours around there. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Venice Beach. It was very busy with street groups and people selling items everywhere. On the beach, people were continuously roller blading, running or walking. I also got to see Muscle Beach. I have always been intrigued with the area after seeing it on Don’t Tell the Bride and I can tell you I wouldn’t get married there! We stopped off for doughnuts and then we all bid farewell and got dropped off at our hotels.

 

What did I think of the trip?
I am really glad I did the Trek America trip. I never did the ‘Gap Year’ experience so to have a taste of it for two weeks was fantastic. I didn’t find the camping too bad- at the end of the day it’s camping it’s not going to be comfortable or glamorous. It is camping with tents and not hostelling, Trek America do make it clear on the website, but some people on our trek did not know this.
I definitely felt that I had experienced the west coast.

A couple of things I do wish I saw was the Neon Sign graveyard in Vegas, Had another day to experience San Fran (I was poorly throughout San Fran and stayed in bed the afternoon of the second day) and stayed at the very tacky Madonna Inn!

I will go into the experience of camping in another post but felt that the logistics of the trek were fine. In terms of we didn’t spend horrendously long times in the van or too long in a rubbish place. If you do want to experience Los Angeles properly however I would book either an extra day or two before or after the trek. I didn’t do this and wish I had as we literally drove through LA, Beverly Hills and Hollywood and I wanted to go on the famous star’s home tour and try and get closer to the famous Hollywood sign.

Are you booking a Trek America tour or heading to the West Coast?

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