Come Join Me Over Here!

Hi there!

I'm glad you've come to read my blog, but unfortunately I don't live here any more!

Feel free to trawl through my archives or look up my posts on Scoliosis which will always be at home here, but when you're ready please come and join me at my new home:

See you there!

Catherine Ann x

Monday, 30 June 2014

Happiness... It's OK to not be OK.

Just found this post saved in my archives. I wrote it when I wasn't OK, and I wasn't OK for quite a while. I'm feeling better now though, I hope you'll be pleased to know! I think perhaps I didn't post it because I have a rule not to write blog posts when I'm feeling too emotional, in case quality is compromised or it becomes too personal. But I think this one is alright, and I'm going to share it now for anyone who's feeling... not OK. 

Nobody likes a whiney so-and-so. It’s not fun to mope around all the time, is it? You don’t want to be that one person who always complains or gets upset.

But sometimes, just sometimes, that’s OK.

Remember that you’re not going to be happy all the time—and you don’t have to pretend to be either.

There are very few, if any, truly evil people in the world. But what people can be is careless, selfish, plain silly… that goes for all of us. This means there are plenty of occasions when humans make other humans feel like crap, and for whatever reason think it’s OK to do so.

What should we do when this happens? When a stranger is mean, it’s easy to just decide: Oh, I don’t like that person.

But when it’s someone you have to spend all your time with, it can be the scariest thing in the world to say, “I really don’t like the way you…”

And in an ideal world, you shouldn’t have to. In an ideal world, you and I should be able to tell when we’ve done or said something bad. When we’ve let someone down. When we’ve made someone unhappy.

And if we do, we apologise, and life goes on, and maybe it goes back to normal and maybe it doesn’t.

However, if someone thinks they’ve done the right thing, but someone else ends up getting hurt, it’s necessary to tell them that the way they’re acting isn’t OK. That we’re not OK.

It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to our friends.

Being part of a relationship which might be a little… unbalanced is a very tricky situation. When you feel like you’re giving and giving, and that person isn’t there for you, then it should be OK to let that person know.

Whether you tell them it’s not OK—and in this case, we need to tell people right away, not let things build up inside till we go mental (ahem)—or decide that you’d be better off with people who treat you right, you need to be proactive.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to hurt and hurt but pretend to be OK, because saying you’re not OK is too much effort.

But the bottom line is this: the world is full of people trying to be happy, and sometimes that means that the happiness of others suffers.

Don’t be the one who sacrifices someone else’s happiness, but don’t be the one who makes that sacrifice all the time either.

You have the right to spend time with whoever you want.

You have the right to get upset.

Just not forever. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Summer Watch and Read: The Casual Vacancy Review

Last week, I read my first ever “new” book since the onslaught of the Leaving Cert. I’ve been so tired from studying in the past few months that I’ve only had the time to re-read, dipping back into old, comforting favourites.

I was so excited to sink my teeth into something new, so I got started with the Casual Vacancy, by JK Rowling.

I must admit it was a bit of a summer love affair: I took the book everywhere with me, I fell asleep next to it, I woke up in the morning and opened it up again. I read it in three days straight. It had me totally hooked and if that’s not the sign of a good book, then I don’t know what is.

Blurb: “When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. 
Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. 
Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems. 
And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? 
A big novel about a small town, 
The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

In case you haven’t heard of it (where have you been? Even I’ve heard of it!), The Casual Vacancy is JK Rowling’s first book to be written outside of the Harry Potter Series and its additional books.
Not much was given away by the title, but basically the book delves into the lives of various people and families from a small English town where the Parish Council is God and gossip and secrets are traded like currency.

For me, living in the Irish countryside, this was all very familiar indeed.

Rather than focusing on one or two main characters, the book offers glimpses into the lives of about a dozen people, yet somehow we get to know them all thoroughly through the little snapshots Rowling offers. It’s really fascinating to see how various people’s lives can intertwine and effect one another—or not, as the case may be.

In this way, it was very reminiscent of the work of Maeve Binchy—if you enjoyed such novels of hers as Evening Class or Circle of Friends, then The Casual Vacancy is probably for you.

However, the sheer number of characters mane the story a little hard to follow: I found I had to keep flicking back and reminding myself that “he’s her son” and “they work together” and so forth, but the best thing to do was just to relax and get on with reading the story—everyone became familiar soon enough.

The book is certainly not a bundle of laughs, if that’s what you’re looking for! It begins and ends with death 
and in between deals with issues such as addiction, bullying and poverty to name but a few. It also presents a negative view of family life and marriage with couples constantly involved in power struggles, or one person finding their partner is no longer the person they married. While at times, it felt like the author was almost trying to be controversial or shocking, it also serves to make the story very realistic and eye opening—imperfections are dealt with in total honesty. No character is idealised or given the “Hollywood treatment”, which I find I appreciate a bit more in my old age (!).

I found the four main teenagers in the book to be a little predictable: they obsess over the opposite sex, hate their parents, hate themselves… they practise and enjoy all of the things an adult these days might presume teenagers do. That being said, Rowling’s perception of youth wasn’t far wrong. Teenagers can be fairly predictable.

I think the thing that fascinated me the most, and probably the most uplifting feature of the story, was the huge effect Barry Fairbrother has (or had) on the lives of the people of Pagford. He is just a drop in the ocean, as it were, and the alarming ripple effect he has caused within the community is sadly only noticed after his death. We only meet him when he dies, but he seems to have been an extraordinary person and who has had a huge impact on the teenagers and adults we meet–often positive, occasionally negative.
That said, he is the exact opposite of this: he is totally ordinary. It really brings home the message that we don’t appreciate how important each and every seemingly insignificant person is in this world, often until it’s too late. I think we should all try to be a Barry Fairbrother, is that’s possible!

Overall, I’m not bursting to read this book again right away, but I’m not one to pretend a book isn’t amazing when it clearly is. I was addicted to this book and the story is really well written. All elements are tied together nicely, the plot is tight and the writing style is, as was expected, second to none. JK Rowling certainly hasn’t disappointed, nor would I have expected her to.

I was delighted to find that The Casual Vacancy is being made into a TV series in the next year or so! I think it’s a brilliant idea as I’d love to see all the characters brought to life onscreen, but feel that the story wouldn’t have held its own as a film. It appears that Sir Michael Gambon is to play the character of Howard Mollison—I can’t imagine him as such an unpleasant person (spoiler alert, we hate Howard!) and it seems like a desperate attempt to cling on to something Harry Potter, but of course the man is a great actor, a total chameleon, and will bring all his skill and charisma to the production.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this review. It’s the first I’ve ever written for the blog, and it’s been great fun. Let me know if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on books, TV shows, films or even products!

Catherine Ann x

Friday, 27 June 2014

Food, Glorious Food... Lemon and Pepper Roast Chicken

This is more of an idea than a recipe, but you’ll thank me for it, I promise! The most beautiful roast chicken. I’m pretty sure real chicken connoisseurs would cringe at my fake chicken flavouring, but you know what? It was tasty.

A whole raw chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 lemon
1 chicken stock cube
Sunflower oil and assorted veg if desired

1)      Place the chicken in a deep roasting dish.
2)      In a small bowl or cup, mash the stock cube and as much pepper as is desired into a paste with the olive oil. Then use clean hands to rub this into all visible parts of the chicken.
3)      Quarter the lemon into long wedges and place them one at a time inside the chicken (you know, up it’s… don’t be shy).
4)      This is optional, but I like to chop up some veg and add it to the roasting tin with a splash of sunflower oil. I used carrots and onion this time. Perhaps add them halfway through the cooking process so they don’t get cremated!
5)      Cook at about 180°C for a minimum of two hours. Occasionally, open the oven and use a tablespoon to spread any excess oil over the chicken.
6)      Voila! Serve with boiled or roast potatoes and your favourite veg for a Sunday favourite.

My apologies, but I don’t have a picture for the sole reason that I carried this to the table with the urgency of a nurse carrying a scalpel to a surgeon and we all dug in right away.

No time for a photo shoot… I guess I’ll just have to make it again! 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Friends and Foes... Breaking Up

I’d like to address a bit of a double-standard I’ve come across when it comes to friendships-vs-relationships-of-the-romantic-variety.

First of all, I do think that especially for young people, a friendship is a more important thing than a relationship. We all know that we probably won’t marry the person we go on our first date with, but we may well still be in contact with our best friend from school. Also, we all need a group of friends to support us, whoever they may be, more than we need to be in a romantic relationship.

I’ve noticed, however, that it’s a lot easier, or perhaps I should say more socially acceptable, to break up with a boy/girlfriend than it is to break up with a friend, and this is a priority I can’t understand.
I like to think that if I ever found myself in an unhappy or, God forbid, abusive relationship with a boyfriend, I would be able to break up with him (though I can’t imagine how hard that must be for people). I’m also certain that my friends, family, and even anyone who knew I’d broken up with him would be understanding. They wouldn’t want me to stay with someone who was hurting me, or who simply wasn’t “the one”.

Why is it so hard, then, to end a friendship? You can’t really “dump” a friend, or if you did, you would be pretty harshly judged for doing so. Often a girl might be in a friendship that is physically or emotionally abusive (or both) but can’t extricate herself from it—or when she does, people see her in a different way and assume it’s she who has the problem if she just “ditched” or “stopped talking to” someone.
Comments are thrown around by misunderstanding friends and strangers that “girls will be girls” and “that was a bit dramatic”—when really, the termination of an abusive or unhappy relationship is in order to remove oneself from drama.

I’m referring to girls here from experience, because I know that girls often feel judged and are usually worried about what others might think, but it occurs to me that it might be even worse for boys. It’s sort of more acceptable, I think, for girls to dislike other girls than for boys. Who knows? There might be tons of boys in friendships that make them unhappy. Perhaps someone might enlighten me.

Friendships of all shapes and sizes end naturally all the time: someone moves away, starts a new job or school, or people just develop different interests, and drift apart. Any ending is sad, but often necessary as it paves the way for a new chapter in one’s life. When someone ends a friendship deliberately, all I ask is that you don’t judge them. Treat it with the same seriousness and sensitivity you would give a romantic break-up: understand there was a good reason, have the grace not to talk or gossip about it to them or anyone else, and realise that the only person who knows the ins and outs of a friendship is the person in it. 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Food, Glorious Food... Chicken Curry!

The original inspiration for this recipe came from a Home Ec book. I changed things around and used my new, edited version from my Home Ec Junior Cert. It got an A, so as I say to everyone, if you don’t like it, you’re wrong. Anyway, the other day I decided to Jazz it up even more, adding different veg and serving it with bright yellow rice. Yum!

This recipe served four people fairly large portions (it only took three of us to eat it… let he who was not sinned cast the first stone).

2 chicken breasts
1 large onion (I actually used spring and baby onions as they were in the garden)
4-6 large mushrooms
Half a red pepper (the half you didn’t use in your quiche!)
1 tin pineapple
2 apples
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chutney (mango is nice, this time I used papaya and orange)
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt (I used Glenisk, as per!)
1 litre of chicken stock

Rice to serve. I use half a cup of rice and one cup of water per person. I threw in some turmeric while the water was boiling to give it a vibrant yellow colour. It doesn’t have an effect on the taste, it’s just SO PRETTY.


1)      Put the rice on to cook first, if you’re cooking from dry, as it will take the longest.

2)      Dice the onions, mushrooms and pepper, then put them in your largest saucepan with the olive oil. Then chop up the chicken and do the same—chop chicken last before cleaning the board to prevent “Sam and Ella Poisoning”.

3)      Sweat these over a low heat ‘til the chicken is white all over and the vegetables are soft.

4)      Meanwhile, make up the stock. I usually use a stock cube and a litre of boiling water in a large jug. This time I used the frozen stock cubes I had left from Christmas—though technically they were turkey!

5)      Chop the pineapple if it’s not already in cubes, and drain it. Peel the apples and chop them into cubes as well, and add all fruit to the pan.

6)      Put the flour and spices into the pan, stirring them into the fruit, veg and chicken. These will not only add flavour, but thicken your sauce.

7)      Stir the chutney into the stock, then pour everything into the saucepan and stir continually for a few minutes, before bringing to the boil, then simmering for about 20 minutes.  

8)      Taste the curry and add the yoghurt to taste. It primarily gives a creamy texture, but also cools it down if you can’t stand the heat!

9)      Serve alongside your pretty yellow rice. You might also like to sprinkle chopped coriander or sliced almonds on top, to give it an extra special touch.

What I love about this recipe most of all is the tenderness of the chicken. It is cooked once, with the oil, and then cooked again during the simmering. It melts in the mouth and is just perfect.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your spices to suit your own taste—that’s how I got the ratio of cumin and chilli just right!

Enjoy! Xxx 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Food, Glorious Food... Summer Vegetable Quiche

 I really should stop putting “summer” in front of these titles, since there’s nothing to stop you from cooking them all year round! These are, however, some of my favourite things to enjoy in the summer. I now have lots of free time to spend in the kitchen, and cooking is helping to lift my mood after the exams, so you can expect many more recipes to come. I do hope you’re enjoying them, and let me know if there’s a recipe you’d like to see.

I usually made a Quiche Lorraine, but after a gorgeous vegetarian quiche at a café recently, was inspired to make one of my own, incorporating this lovely Goat’s cheese which my mum bought at the weekend and I highly recommend (why am  suddenly a sales rep???).

I’m not usually a fan of these sort of “fancy” adventurous cheeses, but this one was really nice and creamy, without the pungent flavour that might turn some of you off. Give goat’s cheese a go… I dare you!  

A quiche dish. I usually use a deep pie dish, but made this one in a ramekin as my favourite pie dish was in use! It was very nice for a deeper quiche.
4 eggs.
Milk (a splash).
One medium onion (I used red)
Four large mushrooms
Half a red pepper
Black pepper
Olive oil
Basil (fresh, a few handfuls, optional but lovely)
3 or 4 cherry tomatoes
A small slice of goat’s cheese (optional)
A cup of cheddar cheese, grated.
100g plain flour
25g butter (or spread, marg etc)
25g lard


1)      Preheat the oven to 200°C (180 fan assisted).

2)      Begin by making the pastry. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl, then rub the lard and butter into it. It’s possible to just use butter, but lard makes the pastry crisper. Continue to rub the fat in (holding your hands high up above the bowl to let air in) until the mix resembles breadcrumbs, or the top of a fruit crumble.

3)      Add a splash of water to the bowl and gather the mix with a butter knife until you’ve brought a dough together—use your hand to form it at the end if necessary.

4)      Sprinkle plain flour over the dough, a rolling pin and a chopping board. Roll out the dough until it’s large enough to fit your dish. It needn’t be a perfect shape.

5)      Grease the dish with a little lard or butter and place the pastry inside, making sure it covers all the edges. Don’t panic about how it looks as it will soon be covered.

6)      Prick the pastry with a fork (to prevent it bubbling in the oven) and place it in the oven to cook for 20 mins, until brown.

7)      Now get started on the filling. Chop up the mushrooms, pepper and onion and add them to a frying pan along with the basil leaves. Fry together in a tablespoon of oil for a few minutes until the onions are soft.

8)      In a large jug, beat the eggs together with a splash of milk and the pepper. Add the grated cheese and mix (this will not be a topping as in a traditional quiche—we’re going to decorate ours instead).

9)      When the pastry shell is ready, remove it from the oven (carefully!) and transfer the cooked veg onto the pastry. Then pour the egg mixture on top.

10)   Halve the tomatoes and cut small pieces from the wedge of goat’s cheese, if you’re using it. Place them in a ring, floating on top of the quiche as shown. Do so gently to ensure they don’t sink!

11)   Put the quiche in the oven and cook for 30—40 mins, or until the egg is totally solid.

Serve with a fresh green salad or eat on its own! This may also be enjoyed cold, perhaps for a picnic. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Food, Glorious Food... Summer Strawberry Smoothie!

In my opinion, a smoothie recipe is futile on a par with a recipe for a cup of tea. If you’ve made a smoothie before, you’ll know that there’s nothing more to it than bunging everything in the blender and pressing the button.

In any case, I was so excited to use the fresh strawberries that my dad has grown in the garden and thought this blog post might inspire those readers who might be smoothie virgins, or who haven’t quite gotten into the swing of summer yet, to have a go!

This recipe serves two big portions, or three non-greedy portions (who are these people???).


7 or 8 fresh strawberries, ideally straight from the garden but you could use frozen and omit the ice.
Four ice cubes
Two bananas (overripe ones work well, so it’s great to use up those brown speckled ones I hate)
1 cup orange juice (Literally any sized cup within reason, we ain’t fancy here)
1 cup natural yoghurt

I thoroughly recommend Glenisk Organic Natural Yoghurt for this, and any other, recipe. It’s absolutely gorgeous, nicer by far than any of its competitors I’ve tried. It has a thick, creamy texture and lacks that rather acrid tang that many natural yoghurts include. I bought it in Londis but think it can be widely purchased throughout Ireland. 5 stars, we get it all the time, and I’m not even being paid to say this!

1)      Rinse and halve your strawberries, and slice the bananas.

2)      Add everything to the blender—measure the yoghurt in the cup first, then use the same cup for the orange juice so excess yoghurt is rinsed out (this is the part where Dave Lamb of Come Dine with Me says sarcastically “ooooh, top tip!”).

3)      Put the blender on “pulse” for a couple of seconds to crunch up the ice and berries, then just leave it on a low strength for about 10—15 secs or until everything is… well, smooth.

Et voila! Perfect to enjoy outside or for a healthy start to the day with your cereal. The colour wasn’t as gorgeous and pink as I’d hoped—our strawberries often don’t have that GM red blush, but they taste a lot nicer.

I really loved drinking this outside whilst reading “The Casual Vacancy” by JK Rowling. I’m hoping to review the book here when I’m finished, but in the meantime you can track my progress on : catherineannmk

Hope you’re all making the most of the sunshine, while it lasts! xxx 

Monday, 16 June 2014

What's In My Bag???

I thought this might be a fun post to celebrate the start of the summer holidays—I’m drafting it out in my garden as it’s such a gorgeous day! I realise most girls my age do this “tag” because they’re beauty bloggers/bloggers and what to tell people which products or accessories they use regularly.
Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about beauty products so instead thought it might be fun to do a brutally honest post about what’s really in the bag I haven’t cleaned out in… ever. Here goes!

The bag I use most often is this roomy yellow leather one with a green suede lining. I can’t even take credit for choosing it or tell you where it’s from as it was a gift! I’ve had it nearly two years now and it’s been well loved as you can probably see. I should really give it a bit of TLC in the near future!

So the first thing is this notebook I got early this year. It’s now being used to note down ideas for my latest project (yes, there’s always a project) so it’s going everywhere with me!

…he’s not actually in my bag, he’s just being nosy. 

This green leather purse came with the bag and I use it as much as I can since it's small enough to go anywhere--however I often carry my main purse which actually fits all my cards and change! 

This came attached as well and is for secret emergency supplies. 

Vouchers for swimming lessons I never used as I can already swim, and didn't happen to have €99 knocking around. 

A ticket to a play. 

These are the only "beauty" related items in my handbag right now: there's an emery board, a pot of rose Vaseline, a Nivea chapstick and some Elizabeth Arden lipgloss (I apply all my other makeup in the morning and then as far as I'm concerned it's done for the day--you can take me or leave me). 

There's also a nearly empty pot of Clinique "moisture surge extra-thirsty skin relief" which I've had for absolute ages and am in love with. It's a moisturiser halfway between a cream and a gel. It always cools down my skin, as well as keeping it soft and moist. I feel all hot and yucky if I get too tired so this is ideal for waking me up on long trips--I plan to repurchase soon. 

Look who's bored already!

This lovely bracelet I forgot I owned. 

A map to a friend's school drawn by my mum to give to someone else's mum! The things they do...

Crow gave me this notebook last summer. So far I've only used a few pages.

Numerous sachets of sugar--I always take them from restaurants and currently have two boxes full in the kitchen. Who doesn't, right?

Crumpled receipts for:

  • A pair of tweezers last July.
  • Coconut water last June.
  • Japanese rice snacks three weeks ago. 
  • Tights and knickers last October. 
  • Bobby pins and hair ties last July.

A letter I wrote to my friend in England ages ago and completely forgot to send... Yeah. 

Train and bus timetables. 

Instructions for a Sharp Scientific Calculator. Totally read those. 

A leaflet for Glendeer Pet Farm (must go this summer!)

A shopping list from last December

An artist's business card.

I always seem to have ribbon about my person and have no idea where it all comes from. 

A lemonade bottle lid with sentimental value. I've had it over a year now. 

Look at all this debris ruining my gorgeous bag!

 So you'd think that after all this, I cleared out all the rubbish, sorted my possessions carefully and stored a select few important ones in my freshly cleaned handbag.

Yes, of course I did.

Happy summer, guys! You'll be hearing a lot more from me soon (not a threat). xxx

Sunday, 15 June 2014

School... Leaving Cert: What's the Verdict?

As many of you know, for the last two years I have been studying for my Leaving Cert exams. They finished on Thursday and I’m delighted to have survived the experience. Can’t wait to relax (and blog) a lot more this summer.
Here’s how they all went.

Wednesday was English paper 1. I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow account, but I wasn’t really fazed by the Heaney surprise. I had expected him to come up in the poetry, but hadn’t planned on relying on him as I figured it would be quite a hard question. I enjoyed the comprehension and Question B. I did my personal essay on “moments of uncertainty” and thought it went rather well, if a little rushed! It’s a bit scary sending off paper one because it’s so hard to know how you’ve done—there’s no right and wrong in English, really, and a lot depends on the corrector’s opinion.

I wait with bated breath.

Thursday came English paper 2, and not a sniff of Heaney…. Except on the unseen, which I think was probably a benefit as we’re all pretty used to his style. I’d studied Macbeth and did the question on his relationships being power struggles. I loved the question and think I answered it better than in the mocks since I remembered to refer back to the question at the end of each paragraph! For the comparative, I did General Vision and Viewpoint which used to be my least favourite mode, but I liked the question on the day and was pretty pleased with my answer, even if it was a bit lengthy. I was then delighted to find Dickinson on the poetry section as she’s my favourite poet and I got an A on her question in the mocks. Again I was tight for time at the end, but think it went rather well.

Friday was Maths paper 1. I tried my best at the higher level paper, and that’s all I can say about it! Overall, I was surprised and pleased at how much I was able to answer.

Monday was a busy day with Maths paper 2 and Irish paper 1. Again with the maths, all I could do was try my best! There were easy parts and hard parts as usual, but surprisingly I found it harder than the first paper. I liked the questions in the latter part of the paper on the economy etc, as I do business studies and understood it fairly well.

The Irish essay titles were great. I really think there was something for everyone. I did the essay title about the years of your youth being the best years of your life—disagreeing, of course, so I could rant about An Mean Comharsaide, An Coras Oideachas, An Cúlú and so forth! Thought it went really well. I’ve only studied Irish for six years so was delighted to have a solid oral exam and essay under my belt. PLUS I actually understood the listening test! All smiles on the way out of the exam hall.

On Tuesday came Irish paper 2 and Biology. Paper 2 was always going to be more challenging than paper one, but I found the comprehensions OK. Was pleased to see Dís come up as I’d done well on it in the mocks, even though I don’t recall ever actually reading the story! Next was, of course, An Spailpín Fánach. I thought it was OK but struggled to use lots of quotes in my answers due to the complex language. I hope I made up for it in connecting with the poem! I was as stumped as everyone else with the question on “poetic meter”. I just said something about how it was traditionally a song! My class did the dánta breise, and Fill Arís wasn’t too bad, but again I struggled with quotes and the translation section. Had really been hoping for Colmáin as on my mock paper, or even Caoineadh Art Uí Laoghiare as we studied that most recently!

Overall, the papers, my teacher, and the weighting of the marks made for quite a successful Irish exam. I think things will be OK.

Biology was a nasty piece of work if ever I saw one, and I was glad to see the population of Twitter agree. It’s not a subject I’ve ever wanted to do exceptionally in, and I hope that by having a go at most questions I’ll have scraped by. I think it goes in everyone’s favour that the whole paper is essentially made up of shorter questions, so you don’t have to remember reams like you do in History or English.

Wednesday was always going to be the worst day of my life: two very challenging subjects, both of which I wanted to do very well in, with about an hour in between. No thank you. French and history. Yuck.

I found myself really enjoying the French paper. I was able to answer most of the listening questions, with the exception of when a student in my exam hall hit his pen against the table—in an ostentatiously loud fashion—on the exact same sentence each time it was played! That 0.00089% of my mark will haunt me for eternity. I found the comprehensions easy enough to follow, and the written pieces gave lots of opportunity to show off what I knew: smoking, technology and whether teenagers have too much freedom were my choices, and I remembered to vary my tenses which I hadn’t done in the mocks! The oral had gone fairly well for me, but it’s such a vague layout that one never really knows until results day!

History was a bit of a pig’s ear, as they say. I had studied hard at it and was confident that I knew my stuff, but got stomach pains in the exam which made it hard to concentrate. I also think I was just really tired, simple as that. The first blow was when the Belfast Blitz came up as the DBQ, when I’d spent so much time studying the Treaty Negotiations… but in the end, I think that worked out to my advantage. I often ramble in essays, so limited knowledge meant I was able to just include the plain facts in what I thought was a very nice contextualisation question about the impact of the War on Belfast.

The Northern Ireland section questions were ghastly, considering most of what my class studied were based around the case study questions and their relative chapters. I cobbled an essay together on cultural and religious identity, which heavily featured (surprise, surprise) the Apprentice Boys. I left that one ‘til last but unfortunately was fretting about it throughout the rest of the paper. For my European question I was delighted to see the Jarrow March come up, and I did the question on the Moon Landing for US history, which went so well in my mocks.

I had lots of knowledge but somehow just didn’t like the way the exam went. I think it was nerves and exhaustion, but I just seemed to be writing rubbish and didn’t get time to plan things or check them through. I was pretty upset about it when I got home, but as I went through the paper with mum and dad, we all concluded that I had actually written a whole essay full of facts for each question—which can only be a good thing! I’m very proud of my coursework which is worth 20% of the final grade, so I remain hopeful. What I will say in my favour was that I wrote a huge number of paragraphs, around ten for each essay. Since the cumulative mark can be out of twelve for each paragraph up to a total of sixty, a large number of paragraphs is a huge bonus.

Thursday, and it was all over in a flash with my last exam, business studies. I have to say, I was over the moon with how it went. We’ve had the course finished for ages, and my only problem in the mocks really was that I didn’t write enough. Some lovely questions came up and this time round I was writing right up to the end of the exam. I think that probably went the best out of all of them. Finishing on a high!

So this is the last you’ll hear about my exams, because I’m totally ready to put them all out of my head for the summer—save for a top secret project I’ll be working on! I’d be interested to know how your exams went if you did any, so please do let me know in the comments below!

Hope you all enjoy your well-earned rest as much as I am.

Catherine Ann xxx  

Saturday, 14 June 2014

School... What I Learned

On Thursday the 22nd May, I finished school for good. In my six years at secondary school, I don't think I got much of what you'd call an education--it's all about rote learning for the Leaving Cert. But I did get the kind of education everyone gets without fail, no matter where or what they study. I got an education in life. Here are some things I learned in Secondary school.

1) Sometimes, people are mean. There's not always a reason. They just are.

2) For every mean person, there are ten wonderful human beings who would do anything just to make you smile.

3) A lot of teachers are just in it for the paycheck.

4) There are some for whom teaching is a genuine vocation. They put their heart and soul into not only preparing pupils for exams, but also in preparing us for life. They want us to succeed and become happy, healthy individuals. It's not just a job for these people.

5) Some people lie.

6) The truth always wins through in the end....even if it takes forever

7) Life requires extremely hard work.

8) Anything you work for will be worth it

9) Nobody is ever going to help you

10) ...unless you ask.

11) As much as you'd like them to and as hard as you try, not everyone is going to like you.

12) A hell of a lot of people are going to love you.

13) If you think things are too good to be true, they are.

14)  Drama is never a good thing... Unless you're taking school plays!

15) If you're wondering what everyone else's problem is.... You're probably the one with the problem.

16) Friendship is actually a choice.

17) You're always in control.

18) You're never in control.

19) Real life isn't anything like the movies.

20) Sometimes, it's better.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

No Man's Land

It’s Sunday night, about twelve hours before my next exam, and I am… writing a blog post.
I’ve sat three Leaving Cert exams so far, and will sit the remaining seven over the next four days (no, I’m fine).

In the time before the exams, I completely switch off and I don’t know why. I feel like I’ve tried so hard and put in so much effort for the past two years that my brain is at full capacity, exhausted. I can’t concentrate any more.

I suppose, though, at this stage, what’s done is done. I’m not going to learn any more maths in the next four hours. I’ve got my flash cards, I’ve got my notes all highlighted, I have enough Irish in my head—hopefully—to get me through.

It’s an odd feeling of helplessness and inbetween-ness at the moment. There’s nothing I can do about English papers one and two right now—they’re in a sealed enveloped waiting to be corrected and to decide if I get the A that I really need. There’s nothing more I can do about it now: there’s no such thing as reading over my notes one more time, let alone reading over and editing.

It was the same feeling after finishing my Irish and French orals—first delight and relief, then the realisation that I’d done something totally irreversible and irreparable.

I need to get two A’s and 3 B’s in total to get the place I want at University. The subjects I might be able to get an A in are French, History, English and Business Studies. I was pleased with the results from my mocks, but it’s very hard to push up that extra few per cent to 85. I think especially with English, so much of it can depend on the person who’s marking the paper—not that I’m planning on blaming them! Well… maybe a bit.

I think it’s such a huge anti-climax that two years of work culminates in just a few hours of exams. In English, we—well, those of us who weren’t relying on Heaney—studied the works of between five and six poets, only to answer a question on one on the day. While I was delighted Emily Dickinson came up, it was a bit of a strange feeling that I would never get to use the knowledge I’d gained of Seamus Heaney—who, you’ll know if you’ve been on the internet in the past week, didn’t come up, Philip Larkin, Thomas Kinsella and WB Yeats.

This is just an example, of course. Knowing you could have got away with just studying a single topic makes for somewhat of an anti-climax.

I feel totally out of control right now. There is literally nothing more I can do now… and that’s really, really scary. That’s why this blog post probably reads really poorly—I’m distracted and very, very bleh. That’s a thing, right?

Meanwhile, I know I’m going to have to keep busy this summer while I feel even more helpless waiting for my results.

I’m going to be working on my new website, which is really exciting. I’m currently compiling a survey so I can decide what I, and you, want it to be. I’m also going to be taking hundreds of photographs. I’ll also need to design a banner for the site, I think. Which means it will need a name!

Getting prepared for college is going to be agonising when I won’t even know where I’m going. I am, however, going to be making all sorts of lists as well as customising/upcycling/collecting some new clothes to take with me. That means you guys can look forward to some craft posts!

I’ll be spending as much time as I can with my best friends and family, but I’ll also be taking some alone time. I want to figure out who I am, sans-leaving cert.

I’ve also compiled a summer watch and read list, which I can’t wait to add to and take from. First stop: Game of Thrones!

There’s a ton of other stuff too, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

For now, let’s hope I get to sleep tonight! And if you read this poorly-put-together and unedited post, I'm sorry. xxx