It’s all foreign to me…

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Hello, ola, bonjour, hei! and all sorts of other foreigny goodness!

Been a while since my last post and for a very good reason too…

A few days ago i made the decision to attempt to complete something i have always wanted to do…learn another language!

Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, i am a British person attempting to learn a foreign language, a native English speaker choosing not to always rely on a Foreign person knowing English.

A bit of background first though:

When i first went to High School, (this is how it was done at my school, not sure about other schools around the UK) all the kids that were in my year group, were split into two groups, you had no choice what group you were put in, you were just told your class and given your timetable. 50 % were taught German and the other 50 % French. I believe this was so that different classes could be scheduled so there were no clashes on timetables.

 

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I was in the group that was to be taught French and you know what? i was actually alright at it too! I didn’t have the top grade or the worst grade, i was nice and comfortable in the middle being able to hold a bit of a conversation as well as read and write, so all in all i done quite well in French. Could i have done better? Yes absolutely, whilst i did study and got an acceptable grade for my 4 year French class, i know that i probably could have pushed for a little bit more which would have given me a better grade (just the next one up from mine) which would have allowed access to the further 2 year Higher course which you do in the last 2 years of school.

But…and this is where silly teenage Nicky rears her ugly head…

I chose to centre my entire universe around what grades i needed for joining the Navy straight after school. Now i know what you are thinking ‘but Nicky, surely in the Navy you will visit places like France where knowing the language would be very useful indeed?’

Well…you are correct!

In my infinite wisdom (at age 15/16) i decided that i was going to concentrate more on the grades i though would be more beneficial for joining the Navy, so subjects such as Maths, English and Physical Education whilst i let French and a few others fall by the way side. My whole attitude at school was ‘who cares? i’m joining the Navy so wont need half of these subjects’. 

In fact i’m embarrassed to admit that i may have used that ridiculous line a lot of kids have used ‘i’ll probably never go to France anyway so why should i learn it?’

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Yep the stupid was strong in this one i tell you!

So i spent 13 years in the Navy travelling to all these amazing exotic locations and you know what? I did go to France…several times! Along with several West African countries that speak French (i had no idea!), oh how i wished i was fluent so that i could talk to the locals and make sense of restaurant menus, plus there is this strange feeling of being a part of an elite club that knows what everyone is talking about whilst your friends don’t have a clue.

Back to the present!

So i can’t really remember what happened the other day to spark this fire in me to begin learning again, just that once i got started i was hooked and have been spending several hours every night on Doulingo and Memrise learning and testing myself. If you are considering learning a new language then i highly recommend these 2 websites!

Ah but i haven’t went back to learning French (not yet anyway), i  decided to start fresh with Norwegian. The reason being, i wanted a new language that i felt would hold my interest in the long run (i love Norway and would move there in a heartbeat) as well as an ‘easyish’ language to begin with. (Norwegian is considered relatively easy enough for English speakers to achieve along with French, German, Spanish etc). Another benefit to learning Norwegian is that it provides a good foundation and stepping stone to the other Scandinavian languages (Sweden and Danish) as the 3 are quite similar.

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I am debating wether or not to study French casually alongside my main study of Norwegian. I still remember a lot from my French classes that i reckon i would be able to pick it back up in no time at all. I started watching language videos on youtube and there was one from Babbel a language website that had a guy who could have a conversation whist switching between several different languages! It was pretty bloody amazing!!!

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I feel like i have a new thirst for learning languages now which is strange because i’ve never been too fussed about it till now, it’s strange when you realise something new about yourself when you thought you knew everything about what makes you tick. Life has a way of making you surprise yourself sometimes.

So my plan is, by this time next year i will be able to speak confidently, read and write in Norwegian and hopefully if i feel comfortable enough have started on a second language (possibly French but toying with Danish or Swedish, French would be a sensible idea though).

I get the feeling that i will always be learning something throughout the rest of my life, i will always want to learn something new, it could be a new strange hobby that my ‘adult’ self has decided to explore and you know what? that’s fine by me!

 

Av for en te…

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My 3

So for this post i thought i would give you an insight into what makes me…me!

With a list of my top 3 anythings, hopefully this will let you get to know me better and what makes me tick, enjoy 🙂

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Top 3 things little Nic wanted to be when she grew up:

  1. Book writer (i was too young to know that the proper title was author haha) – I loved the idea of making stories and drawing the pictures in the books. I actually still love that idea.
  2. Athlete – I grew up watching my dad compete in marathons and other running events, (he was good!) so i always thought i could follow his footsteps into the World of sports (i didn’t! haha) i can run but nowhere near his level.
  3. Something to do with Dinosaurs – I like to believe that (most?) little kids had some sort of fascination with dinosaurs like i did. Once again i was too young to know the proper name for it but i wanted to do something that involved digging up and learning about the Dinos. I actually still love Dinosaurs to this day, Triceratops is my favourite! 🙂

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Top 3 places i have travelled to:

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  1. Antarctica – What more needs to said about the greatest continent on Earth? Not only did i get to visit all three of the important Huts (Shackleton’s main hut, Discovery Hut and Scott’s Hut) but i actually got to go inside them. I got to see the Ross ice shelf, visited Rothera and McMurdo research bases (plus a whole load of other foreign ones), i got to not only visit Deception Island but a small team of us got to camp out overnight with the leopard seals all around our camp. Once the sun actually went down and the sky cleared we could look up and see the milky way so clearly, it truly was one of those once in a lifetime moments when you realise just how small we really are in this universe of ours. I know i’ve rambled on quite a bit about Antarctica but i can honestly say, hand on heart that it has forever cemented itself a place in my heart and soul as my favourite place on Earth, it’s not just about the scenery, (although it is incredible!) it’s also the magic of the epic tales of true courage and survival by the likes of Shackleton and Scott’s teams back in the olden days of pure and dangerous exploration.
  2. New York –  A place my folks and i have loved for years, my mum mainly because she watched ‘Home Alone 2 Lost in New York’ too many times! I love the way the City is just constantly on the go, the history especially Ellis Island (You will find that i am a true geeky tourist at heart!) I love going around a new City and exploring museums, churches, parks, anything and everything! I believe that if you are gonna spend all that time and money traveling somewhere then you should make it worthwhile and learn the history of that place, learn about the people, make the most of every opportunity you can get!
  3. New Zealand – Now this one is important for a very special reason. New Zealand is one of those places that i had never had any real interest in visiting! Yep that’s right, everyone has those places that they’re not fussed about going and for me it was the land of the Kiwis. I never had any real reason for not wanting to go, it wasn’t that i didn’t want to go it was just i did not have any interest in the place. Well, as it turns out…i bloody love it! I went there with the Navy on the same trip that took me to Antarctica, we had to go there as it was a planned stop after a month or so down the ice so i thought ‘meh, it’s free  and it’s another tick off the list so i’m not complaining’. When the ship first arrived in Lyttleton port we were given a traditional Maori welcome, a Powhiri from some of the local folk. After that i just did my usual delve right into the local culture and exploration of the surrounding area as well as travelling to Christchurch and i gotta say they are some of the friendliest people i have ever met! I learned a lot about Maori culture as well as Christchurch’s history and how they have rebuilt themselves after the earthquake, much respect to them for how they have rebuilt their city.

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Top 3 Fears:

  1. Death – Yep i know a lot of you are thinking ‘There’s nothing you can do to stop it so why worry?’ or ‘It’s just a natural process of life’ or possible even ‘When you’re dead you’re dead, you can’t feel anything and you wont know you’re dead because you have ceased to exist’. Yes, i have heard all of these things and yes i know it is just the natural order of life, we’re born, we live and we die and that is how it has been since time immemorial, however! That does not mean i have to like it! I guess it’s the whole not knowing what happens when we die that scares me, i hope that it’s not just a simple case of ‘cease to exist’ and become nothing as the thought of that seems almost too much to comprehend. I’d like to believe our souls carry on to another place, for the record i do not believe in God, but i do believe that this ‘thing’ we call a soul must be more powerful than to simply die when our meaty shells are withered and gone.
  2. Losing my loved ones – I suppose this ties in with my number 1 fear. I guess this is also something that most folk would rate as a top fear, losing a parent, child, sibling, friend, partner etc Quite morbid i know but this is the sort of stuff i dread.
  3. Spiders – They are just c**ts!

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Top 3 wishes:

  1. Immortality – Partly due to fear #1 but also due to the fact that i am genuinely interested in how civilisation as a whole will evolve and change in the future. What technology will mankind create? How far into space will we travel? Will we ever inhabit other planets? Will we ever meet or find true unprecedented evidence of life out there in space? These are all questions i would love to know the answer to. If i was immortal i would also be able to travel every inch of this planet and see everything i had ever wanted to see, experience everything i had ever wanted to experience, learn new things, meet new cultures, there is just so much to see and do on our small planet but just never enough time.man-spirit1
  2. That all my friends and family lived in the same place – I live in Scotland but due to my time in the Navy, i made friends from all over the UK. My best mate lives down in Cornwall (South West England) along with several other very good friends, i have buddies in London from when i was based there in 2009, friends in Portsmouth where i served for several years (some navy some civilian) and all the rest scattered all over the country. When i left the Navy i decided to return to my home town as i wanted to be closer to my family, the only downside to this is that i am so far away from all my friends i made over the last 13 years that i have to make plans to travel to go see them when i can. A simple pop down the road and around the corner to visit and have a brew is just not possible.
  3. To go back in time to when i started school – This might seem strange, why would i want to go back and do school all over again? Well i suppose it’s because i know it would be completely different. I would love to go back as a kid just starting school with all the knowledge and hindsight that my life experience has given me so far. I don’t believe it would alter my career choices at all, i would still have joined the Navy etc but i know that my attitude would be different. All through school i was an incredibly shy kid that never spoke up for myself and at high school got picked on because i never stood up for myself. My grades weren’t bad per se but i know i could have done so much better! So if i ever got the chance to go back i would throw myself into my studies and get the grades i know i’m capable of, i would talk back, take less of the crap and probably knock out the folk that tried to pick on me (this is the Navy side of me coming out!) I would have just worried less about the stupid trivial crap that teenagers worry about at school and just concentrated on my studies and exams. But hey, hindsight is after all…a wonderful thing!

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To be continued – My 3 part 2!

Off for a brew…

 

11:00 11/11

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

From Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, written in September 1914

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So i’ll probably not get a chance to post this tomorrow morning so decided earlier was better than later.

Regardless of whatever political beliefs you hold or your feelings on war itself, please take a moment during your busy day to think and reflect on all those that did not make it back home and those loved ones that were left behind to grieve.

Tomorrow whilst going about my business, i will be wearing this (and my poppy) with pride, if i can get Red to let go of it!!!

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Off for a brew…

Things have changed a bit…

Today’s post is sponsored by my good buddy travelling minion who i got in Dubai and is currently smashing in my brew…

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So my thoughts today are centred around a discussion i was reading earlier on a student forum. If anyone is interested in the website then let me know!

I had posted a thread asking advice about re-doing my maths (see previous post!) and whilst i was waiting for a reply i thought i’d take a little nosey through the rest of the forum. First off i have to say it is quite a useful and informative forum, what with various threads ranging from everything from specific school/college/university courses, grades, employment ideas to family, friends, health and fitness, relationship, sexual health and a myriad of other different topics of conversation. All very useful indeed, pity we didn’t have this when i was at school!

So the thing that caught my eye was…a poster (high school i believe) mentioned something along the lines of doing homework about a certain subject but having problems with a specific question and they had no idea around this. A few folk commented with answers/explanations, use google etc but then someone else then suggested ‘just send your teacher a message on facebook or a text’…

‘Message your teacher on facebook or send a text?’

What the actual Faaaaargh???

HOLD UP,BACK UP A SECOND, REVERSE, WHAT THE DEUCE?

Right folks i know a lot of stuff has changed since i left the hallowed halls of my high school but am i reading this correctly?

I then further perused the forum and found that nowadays it’s appears normal to have a teachers email, mobile number or even as a ‘friend’ on FaceBook.

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I just don’t understand this, since when did this become normal? Yes i am aware that a lot of today’s high school kids have grown up with social media as a staple in their life but seriously why would you add your teacher on facebook or even have their number?

I know social media has taken over a lot of our lives but i genuinely believe there should still remain certain boundaries between students and teachers. A lot of folk were saying they had their teachers contact details incase they had problems with the subject or didn’t understand something in class etc

I’m sitting here thinking ‘Well if you are struggling with something in the class then wouldn’t it be best to ask your teacher for help right then and there? Seriously if i was a teacher i would be pissed off if one of my students messaged me out of hours, i know teachers put a lot of time in on evenings and weekends to mark and prepare for their classes so i would have thought that ‘home’ time for them would be pretty damn precious. Also if you are having personal problems that you don’t want others to know about then wait till after class and talk to your teacher in confidence, it’s not that difficult.

Another thing worth noting is that if you have access to social media then you obviously have access to other wonderful sources of information: Google, YouTube etc etc There is also the possibility of messaging your friends or even asking members of your family.

Now chances are there may be one or two of you reading this that disagree with me or even  are/were a student that had a teacher as a friend on Facebook, i’m not saying that it’s right or wrong just that it is something i don’t quite get, (maybe i am just an old git and should get with the times? …meh) Maybe it is a valuable resource for today’s students, i don’t know, i personally believe though that if i was at school now then i certainly wouldn’t be texting or messaging on facebook.

It was cringey enough speaking face to face! 🙂

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On that note

Off for a brew…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember remember the 5th of November…

Evening all!

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So i wasn’t planing on doing a post about the 5th November/Guy Fawkes/Bonfire night thing, first off because number 1. i’m not out watching the fireworks as it’s too damn cold (i am in Scotland after all!) and number 2. I didn’t have any real opinion or thoughts about it that i wanted to chat about.

However…after listening to the fireworks going off continuously in the distance for the last hour and a half, it gave me some interest.

I should really start off explaining first off what it actually is as i think some folk either don’t celebrate it or have probably not even heard of it. Truth be told i’m not sure what other countries around the world observe this particular day, i would imagine it would be mainly the UK and the Commonwealth. I also believe films such as V for Vendetta have helped expose it to more people i guess?

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So, here in the UK every year on the 5th November we have ‘Guy Fawkes night’ or ‘Bonfire night’ and it all started back in 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the Houses of Parliament in London. To celebrate King James l surviving the gunpowder plot, bonfires were allowed to be lit around London (in modern times you’ll probably see an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire). Modern day fireworks are used to give a grand display as if the plot had actually went ahead and blew Parliament up. There is a lot more history and backstory related to this fascinating event but i wanted to keep the post relatively short and lighthearted.

Of course nowadays whilst the day is still commemorated, the event is more of an organised family thing with city councils putting on organised firework displays up and down the country.

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So who else observes this strange day?

Also how do you feel about celebrating this day?

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Off for a brew…

 

 

Throbbing Thursday…

‘Throbbing’– Something that can be described as cringey/bit too keen or even possibly irritating/annoying. I have had one of those days. ‘Today has been proper throbbing’

The reason for this day being…a wee bit gash, is due to my recent bad news from a job application i had submitted a month ago. Now, i left the Navy in September with certain plans in mind and a clear understanding of what i needed academically for this new job i wanted.

Unfortunately, almost 16 years after leaving school i have just found out that my math grade…is below the requirement…bugger.

Now i would just like to stand up right now and make a confession here folks…

My name is Nicky…and i cannot for love nor money ‘do’ Math.

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I truly cannot even begin to fathom fractions, decimals are dicks and don’t even get me started on percentages. It’s not like i have always been rubbish at Math, in fact at one point in High school i was in the right class for me, everyone was at the same stage, we were all progressing at the same rate, no one was being pushed too far or left behind, the teacher was really good as well and for once i genuinely felt happy and comfortable in a subject i was always weak at.

So where did it all go wrong i hear you ask?

Well apparently i was doing so well that i got pushed up into a more advanced class…great, absolutely…erm…great. Now don’t get me wrong i was proper chuffed to bits that the teacher felt i was good enough to get into the top class, it gave me a little boost you know?

Unfortunately, my ‘chuffedness’ wasn’t to last long, as i found myself slowly, little by little falling behind in a class i was just not ready for. Eventually leading me to lose all confidence and get put down into an even lower class than what i started off in!  To top it all off, if i had remained in that original class…i would have eventually gotten the grade that i am now 16 years later having to study for!!!

Hindsight is an incredible thing, i heard it often throughout my teenage years but never really took much notice of it, i imagine a few other folks have had that same experience.

Now something i will always do (and i believe the military ingrained this into me) is if i ever mess up or make a mistake, then i’ll always be the first to hold my hand up and say ‘yep, that was my fault, i cocked up!’  I would never expect someone else to take the blame for my failings. So whilst i don’t blame the school or the teachers (who were just doing their job) i just wish that i had been either kept in that original class or returned to it after it was obvious i couldn’t keep up with the workload.

This is where hindsight comes in…

As an adult, there is a helluva lot i would like to say to my ‘High school self’!

That may be the understatement of the year! (I will probably go more in depth in a later blog about this scenario as i think i’ll get a good rant out of it!)

I would say to teenage me…

First off, put that down it’s not yours.

I would tell me that i need to speak up, i know it’s difficult and doesn’t feel right or natural  but you need to tell the teacher you are struggling otherwise they wont be able to help you.

Secondly i am aware that Math is your/our weakest subject, that is why you need to concentrate MORE not shy away and keep quiet when the teacher asks questions and you just hope the bell hurries up and rings.

This subject is what will cause you the most problems in future, most if not every decent job nowadays requires a decent level of maths grade, just because you have the minimum required to get into the Navy doesn’t mean you should stop there and rest on your laurels, because believe it or not at some point you are going to leave the navy to pursue a different career choice and that choice needs a better grade than the navy did! (You’ll still have a blast in the navy though!)  traditions-drunk-sailors-tradition-demotivational-poster-1283194325

I’m not saying these things lightly or for fun, believe me Math is the last subject i would relate ‘fun’ with, but unfortunately employers look fondly on certain grade levels…never mind the fact that i have completed 16 successful years as an adult (still alive and kicking!) with 7 of those years as an air engineering technician working on Naval aircraft (very skilled and technical job) without ever needing to use anything more than basic maths skills…

This is not me being ‘down’ on math or anything but realistically speaking in all my time as an adult in the big bad world, i have never needed to use any math more advanced than basic adding/subtracting/multiply/divide. Percentages maybe at a stretch but certainly not pythagorus, what is the area of the circle, formula etc

Now before anyone jumps on me for saying that last bit let me just clear this up: Yes i understand why that may be useful for other folk, say someone who is interested in pursuing a career as an architect maybe or some sort of engineering, but myself personally have never required such skills.

But i am digressing…

An important point to make is that while you’re at school, you have all the time in the world to study for Math, you don’t have a job or a house or any money worries to fret over, that’s what the parental type folks do. You are being given all this time during the day to get this stuff squared away, yes you have social things on in the evenings or weekends every so often but you still have all this opportunity to study and get good grades and it’s practically right there on a silver platter for you. ‘Adult me’ has to think about work…to earn money…to pay for a car, a house next year, everyday things and so on and so forth.

So now, young teenage me, here i am 16 years later feeling absolutely gutted that the job i so desperately want is now set back a good 2 years whilst i try and get this damn grade improved at college.

Yes folks, hindsight is a hell of a thing,

On the plus side i now have 2 years to train for the fitness test!

SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS!    🙂

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Off for a brew…

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Whatever Wednesday ;-)

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Tonight it’s ‘Whatever Wednesday’ and this blog is sponsored by my mother’s amazing brew making skills (yep i like it milky…i am a heathen) in an extremely old Slipknot mug i’m pretty sure i’ve had for at least 10 years i think?

Brew is being guarded by Lance Corporal Red, he’s pretty nails by all accounts.

shadowsfall_threads      Music wise i have Shadows Fall currently flowing sweetly through the speakers. Saw them at Download Festival a few years ago (ok maybe quite a few years ago now!) For anyone that hasn’t heard of Download, it’s a pretty decent 3 day metal fest that takes place in June every year at Donnington Race Track in England.

So a little bit about me…

I was born and grew up in Dundee, Scotland, which is an ok-ish place i guess…it’s not the most fancy place i ever been but the family are here so here i am too!

I left home at 20 to join the Royal Navy in 2003 and after 8 weeks basic training at HMS Raleigh (Torpoint in Devon) i officially passed into the RN as an Air Engineering Mechanic.

From there i went on to Initial Training Group at HMS Sultan where the Navy trains the Marine and Air Engineers. I learned all about aircraft, theory of flight, electrical, radio and mechanical systems and a whole other bunch of stuff! The thing that made my time at Sultan stand out though was that it was there i met i girl who was several weeks ahead of me on the senior course and who i happened to be sharing a 4 man room with, that girl would become my best mate and we would over the years share a hell of a lot of adventures, stories and drunken escapades!!!

After my course at Sultan i then went to a navy air station down in Helston, Cornwall to learn all about my new chosen aircraft, the Merlin Helicopter.

I would spend the next 7 years at culdrose working on 824 and 814 squadrons, enjoying the Cornish life (seriously if you’ve never been to Cornwall – GO! Helston has a delightful tradition in ‘Flora Day’ where the whole town gets involved and has a parade, music and dances around the streets, there is a whole town party atmosphere and best of all…the pubs open earlier and you can pretty much walk out of one pub with your pint, sit out on the street with everyone to chat, watch the parade or just have a bimble around and you can guarantee pretty much EVERYONE you know will be there getting on it!

I loved my time down in Cornwall, it’s an amazing place and has a real laid back feel to it, but unfortunately i had to leave to start my next phase of my Naval career which was train to become a photographer!

That’ll do for now, i’ll continue on next time!

Off for a brew…

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