Friday, 13 July 2018

My experience of NCS Phase 1

Team Goose Green Red- from the top left: Ella, Alex, Ewan, Hugh, Ben, Lauren, Megha, Saskia, myself, Sarah, Charlotte, and Sunny. Also, Grace and Adam not pictured.

I LOVED my first week of NCS. I'm going to start on that note so that you'll understand the tone of my writing. There were a lot of challenges. We were all pushed so far out of our comfort zones that we didn't recognize ourselves. It was wonderful

I first met my group on Monday morning before heading to the camp. I struggled with my suitcase through the carpark and met my first two teammates. Sunny, our group leader, introduced herself, then I met Saskia and Adam, who isn't pictured. Our team bonded instantly and I still believe to this day that we have the best team. Before getting on the bus we did loads of team building games which was a welcomed substitute to the standard 'tell me about yourself' conversation. After squeezing our luggage onto the coach, we got to know each other a lot better. Though we all had very similar personalities, there was also so much to learn about each other. We're from all over the world, from Saudi Arabia to Canada, to Ireland to Australia and Scotland to Norway! I loved seeing the small differences between us all and learning what each person was interested in. We quickly got used to our differences and learned to accept and grow from each other. Nonetheless, calling courgette zucchini and flip flops thongs still makes no sense haha!

We were staying at Canberra Farm in Doncaster, which is spookily squeezed between two prisons. As soon as we got there, we were given a mess tin and told to look after it for the week. Our first meal was soup, which we were given with no cutlery. As it happens, we were expected to bring our own even though it wasn't on the itinerary. I think you can imagine how funny it was seeing about one hundred people try eating soup from a mess tin sans spoon. It's the little memories that stick. Thankfully, we were able to loan a spoon and fork from the tuck shop for a pound and found every other meal a lot easier! After the challenge of setting up our army tents and unpacking, we had a barbeque for tea. In the evening, we had time with our group which NCS calls 'reflection', which is honestly one of my favorite parts. I adore my team and love having a laugh with them. We had to share what we enjoyed and what we found challenging during the day, which we unanimously agreed was soup without a spoon and meeting new people! 

I shared my tent with some of the girls from my group, which meant we grew even closer. I have so many memories of huddling in the tent and laughing until we were blue in the face (granted it was also very cold!) which I know I won't be forgetting. Despite the other groups being noisy, I slept straight away and was awake early enough to make breakfast in time. We sat with our group for meals and always had a little banter while we were there. I still believe that mess tins make baked beans taste better. After washing our tins, which is more difficult than it sounds in lukewarm water, we were told that we were the going to be the first team to face the survival camp. This was definitely the most challenging aspect of the week, but also the most humbling. We were told to only bring water and a waterproof jacket with us, leaving everything else behind. Camp Cammando was only a short walk away, which made staying there even more challenging. 

Our instructors were ex-military and knew what it meant to survive in the elements. Our toilet was a bucket in a tent and our only shelter was a single sheet we tied to some trees. Though all of us struggled to cope with the extremity, we knew some people had to live that way for months at a time. At least ours was only twenty-four hours. We built a fire and kept it going through the night and lay ferns on the ground to sleep on. There are so many skills that I've picked up from that day and hold close to me still. The biggest challenge was the hunger that came with having no food until six-ish and even then it was an onion, a carrot and a vegetable stock cube to go around the whole group. It took a long time to cook over the fire, but I can honestly vouch for the fact that being so hungry made it the best meal I've ever eaten. We also had no knife to cut the vegetables, so Kira and I made do with the edge of a spoon. Everybody took to the challenge differently, especially the boys. Some refused to eat it, while others gave up their portion out of kindness so that we got a slightly larger portion. Gentlemen still exist ladies :)

We went fishing using a stick with a hook attached, which I managed to get stuck in my finger, of course. None of us got very much sleep that night and most really struggled with the smoke. Breakfast on Canberra Farm tasted the best the next morning and our next activity seemed a lot less challenging. We had a four-mile walk to Hatfield Activity Centre where we went canoeing and raft-building. We managed not to capsize once and worked as a team to complete each challenge. The following day was a navigation trail around the nature reserve and used D of E style maps to find each clue. Our instructor was one of the most inspirational men I've ever met and told us the story of how he lost his leg when he was in the army. It was turned into a film called Kajaki, which I'm excited if a little nervous to watch. We used walkie-talkies to communicate with the instructors, which was hilarious when one group *accidentally* played Highway to Hell and tuned into a Russian radio channel.

The last day consisted of an army-style assault course where we crawled under netting and pulled a land rover by a rope. Six of us had to eat maggots and were blindfolded while others directed us over hay-bales with a mess tin full of water. Through each and every challenge, I loved my first week of NCS and can't wait to start phase two on Monday. Goose Green Red was awarded the Elite Platoon, quite deservingly to be honest. I am so, so proud of my team and know we will ace the rest of the programme. If you're thinking of signing up for NCS, I would definitely recommend just going for it. The people you meet will become amazing friends and the lessons you learn will stay with you for a long, long time. I'd also recommend the survival programme, purely for how unique the experience is.

Lots of love,
Marti xxx

Friday, 29 June 2018

Bye, bye year eleven!

Yes now Berland
To be completely honest with you: it's only just set in how much I'm going to miss school. There were so many rules and procedures that drove me to hate school a lot of the time, but I also met some people that I struggled saying goodbye to. As I write this, it's Friday night, and our prom was yesterday. I'm trying not to cry. Our last day was terrible. It lead me to believe that I would never want to go back again. We were ushered out of school straight after our last exam on the 15th of June, without having said goodbye to anyone or sign shirts. It just felt like they were finished with us. Bye, bye year eleven! But, now I feel different. Our prom was beautiful, and everybody was relaxed (and gorgeous!!). We had a chance to reminisce on old memories and talk to the teachers we hadn't seen in two weeks. Bearing in mind I had some teachers for multiple hours a day, everyday, it meant a lot. 

I saw a different side to the teachers I didn't think I had a lot in common with. They genuinely wanted to know what I'd been upto, what I had planned, and told me how nice I looked. It meant so much. The thing that made me the most teary-eyed was knowing that two of my teachers had voted me for Prom Queen. These were teachers who truly knew me for who I am. There's no amount of makeup, or jewelry or coats of nail polish that could change that, which shows that true beauty comes from inside. Letting go of people is probably the thing I struggle with most. It's something I'm learning, but these teachers sure haven't made it easy haha!



I've left year eleven with so many beautiful memories and know that even if I never see these people again, they will have a place in my heart forever. I am so, so grateful to have left school feeling content, if a little nostalgic, knowing that I can tell my kids that YES, they do have to go to prom :))

Wishing you all a long and happy summer holidays,
Marti xxx

P.S.Big shout out to all my friends, teachers and classmates, especially Charlotte H, Ebony, Harriett, Shannon, Charlotte L, Lisa, Serena, Ms Villkhu, Miss Firth, Mr Berland, Mrs Barrett, and Ethan (my prom date ;)) 

Friday, 22 June 2018

Filey Seafront

"There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more."
-Lord Byron 

A few pictures from Sunday :)
All my love,
Marti xxx

Friday, 15 June 2018

What's new with you?

I'm hoping that as I start typing, things will start to unravel and form some sort of sense. I'm counting on it, but I'm not sure how confident I feel in my ability to string a sentence together. Here goes...

Man, things have been crazy. I've just finished my GCSEs, which I am so,so grateful to be over. I've been sitting mocks since I started year eleven in September, and have gotten used to spending any free time doing revision. I've gotten to the point where I've almost forgotten what I like doing haha. I had routine, and it worked. It's strange breaking it, but it's also one of the most liberating things in the world. It's crazy to be able to do things without worrying about many equations I can remember. I like it a lot. 

Things have been so hectic that I can't even remember if I told you that I'm starting an apprenticeship in August. I applied in January and was offered training at a travel agent after two interviews. I'm very excited but also a little scared. My prom is next Thursday, and my sister's graduation is soon afterwards. I'm taking my little bro for McDonalds :) My cat keeps stalking my hamster, which is terrifying, but I'm hoping they'll make friends. I'm still working at the stationery shop until I start at the travel agent, as well as volunteering at the library and museums. I'm really hoping that I'll still be able to keep my blog updated, even if it's just a little word vomit every few weeks. I just feel like everything's happening so fast, and even if it's leaving me a little windswept, it's exciting. 

I'm in the process of writing some better quality posts, but here's a little fill in :)
Lots of love,
Marti xxx

Friday, 25 May 2018

Exam season

A little poem about exams :)

Over eating,
Evening sleeping,
Lesson cramming,
Summer planning,
Early morning,
Cancelled plans,
Inked up hands, 
Hushing teachers,
Emptied pockets,
Unwrapped lockets,
Snapping pencils,
Abusing stencils,
Plastic seats,
Funny tweets,
Wonky tables,
Torn up labels.
Months of waiting,
Confidence flaking,
Just a number,
Worth it...I wonder?

Hope you enjoy the unnecessary picture from Padstow :)
Lots of love, 
Marti xxx