The NCS Experience – Part One

Sidenote: I am currently on half term, but I am on NCS which is demanding most of my time and has reduced the amount of time I’ve had to write my blog posts. However, I shall explain all below, and there are more posts on the way.

OK, so before I start, I feel as though I should explain a little about NCS. NCS stands for the National Citizen’s Service, and gives 16-17 year olds in the UK the opportunity to go on a residential activity course before working together in a team to create an event to benefit the local community. After seeing it promoted by a variety of British vloggers on the video site YouTube, I decided to have a look and get involved. So here’s what I got up to for the first part of my NCS journey.

After doing packing the night before, I woke up to do the normal routine of breakfast and Candy Crush (of which, after re-downloading, has – as predicted – taken up most of my social life) before picked up my friend Jasmin (she’s got a blog too – jasminwbu.wordpress.com, check it out. It’s good!) and her friend Steven, both of whom were going on NCS too, to our designated pick-up area. Our suitcases were placed in the coach in the best place possible (it was rather cramped in fact, after apparently 200 people across the region were going). Not all on the same coach of course, but you know what I mean. Suitcases are huge . I then had a quick read of a book as the last few people arrived (the book of which conveniently arrived in the post the same morning). Bag and other objects in the seat on my left, ad notepad on my lap, I wrote and chatted to my friends on the 3 hour journey, occasionally looking at the view so as to prevent possible travel sickness.

Well, it was roughly a three-hour journey there when it came to us arriving at Kingswood Activity Centre in Norfolk, of which, upon arriving, we sorted our luggage before being introduced to our team and leaders in our first “team time” session. In this session, where I found out I was in Jade Team and we created our team rules, we also had a game/icebreaker to help memorise each other’s names…

Then it wasn’t long before we were told about our dorms, and with the incentive of first come, first served, people dashed to nab rooms they wanted, with one dorm in the whole building having an electrical socket (the rest were in the hallway). After that was sorted, it wasn’t long before we went to our first activity – a pool party.

At first it was a simple swim-about, but soon lead to an intense water polo match which lasted for a while before the activity ended. Then, after that, the next activity was caving, which initially had a worrying reputation assigned to it on arrival, with rumours that people who went caving entered claustrophobic spaces, with waist-high water and extremely muddy conditions. However, I “faced my fears” (something which NCS actively encourages) and took on the activity.

Despite being 6 foot tall, I was almost able to stand up. Whilst in the cave, we played hide and seek in the dark (of which I was one of the few seekers, and waited to be found until I later realised the game had been abandoned – awkward) and told ghost stories before venturing back out into the outside world.

Another thing I established was how much free time we had in the evening. To my joy, this gave me a lot of time to write my book ideas down and sit reading my book in the hallway whilst my phone charged.

Onwards, onto day two. This saw me do much more activities as we had a whole day. “Indoor Initiative” saw us be presented with tasks which we had to solve in groups, which was always good for someone who likes logic and challenges/puzzles. Next up, abseiling and rock climbing, which, after doing before, seemed simple enough, but on the rock climbing, the problem of blindfolds were introduced to highlight the importance of communication (very clever). With help from my peers, I reached the top – yes! As well as that, by far one of the most funniest activities of the day was that of the team races. These usually consisted of a relay, but with a weird task to do as the basis. For example, one of them was running to the end of the hall thinking they’ve won the lottery, and walk back crying their heart out when they find out they’ve lost the ticket, for example.

That concludes day two, onto day three. This, after finding out what activities we were doing, became very exciting. After quad-biking and fencing being two things I wanted to tick-off my bucket list, I was excited to find out that I was doing that on the day. The quad biking was good, and similar to that of go-karting, except the change in terrain. Regarding fencing, it was much more fun and required stamina and concentration. Both were great. Alongside that, we did Bushcraft (however, as this was on Monday this week, and since that was the day of the supposed “storm”, we couldn’t do many things outside), which involved creating tent pegs and other helpful survival tips. In terms of teamwork, our Team Time saw us all work on our Team Banner, and since there was a dance-off later on in the evening, we prepared for that at every opportunity (my role being the “DJ”, and playing the songs for the others to dance to). In the end, we never found out who won, but there was a sense of pride in all of us, and we knew we did well. Lastly, was a disco, which was fun as I felt involved. At points where I became bored, I would read or talk to friends, both being good. It was a good day.

And finally, the last day: day four. This was far more laid-back, with activities such as a variation of hide and seek, football and ultimate frisbee all being on the list for the day’s activities, it was deemed as a more relaxing end to our residential. Near the end, we had our last lunch (oh, and talking of which, the food at the activity centre was amazing) before going on our coaches back home, and so that concludes part one of NCS, bring on part two – which will be up tomorrow.

Liam

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Why I’m NOT doing NaNoWriMo…

So, it is exactly 12 days till NaNoWriMo, or “NaNo” for short. But, after seeing two articles about NOT doing it this year, I’m following the idea of not doing it this year…

Why? Well, the articles did have an influence on my decision, but there’s also other factors. First off, is that there is an element of rushing to the whole process (50,000 words in one month is quite manic), which, as my current WIP is one which I would like to take seriously, I’d rather not do.

Also, NaNo encourages “pantsing” in order to finish the novel, which isn’t always great for someone who has gone back to plotting a lot. Linking with that, having to refresh my memory every day to keep me up-to-date on my progress can take a chunk out of my precious NaNo writing time.

As well as that, there is a certain degree of pressure when it comes to NaNo. There’s that certain rule where you must write every day in order to to complete the novel, and it’s that which can destroy the fun of writing for me. When it comes to my writing as well, I’m known to give up on ideas should I get a lack of motivation, so making writing a chore is not the best option for me.

But on more valid excuses, I have just started my A-Levels which would demand a lot of my time, and I also have other things which are more important, so my actual writing time won’t be much, and of course, education matters (as much as a possible career in writing can be nice…)

So instead, I shall be taking my time on my current WIP, and shall always keep you updated… But regarding my return to NaNo, maybe next year…

Liam

Doctor Who 50th Trailer (REVIEW)

After it was released on Saturday, the trailer for Doctor Who‘s 50th Anniversary episode, entitled The Day of the Doctor, has created some excitement. However, a few fans have been left confused and annoyed at how the teaser video has done little to reveal what the teaser episode involves.

The video, seen above, shows a collection of villains throughout the 11 doctors. So, with that in mind, is the video more of a flashback than that of a teaser?

First of all, when it comes to the pictures that Doctor Who on Twitter released in previous months (which I mentioned in this post), is there anything that can be suggested which coincides with this?

As well as the team at the BBC releasing the trailer, they later teased further by writing a post on their site which showed 11 things they noticed in the trailer (which, after searching for reference, appears to be no longer available). From memory, there are 4 things they mentioned which are of interest and may feature in the episode.

1. The Tardis Key:

According to the comments on the BBC link, back in previous episodes of the programme, the key would signify when the TARDIS has fully repaired itself. How this could be related to the 50th anniversary episode is through a rumour that the episode could span back to individual episodes. In particular, one question was raised about the episode going as far back as to the Pandorica episodes, and about why the Tardis was destroyed in that episode. Could it be that the key prompts this?

2. A Dalek Spaceship:

The Daleks already being confirmed as appearing on the episode, with a nod to the Time War. But what else could be suggested from the trailer is that London will be involved. Since the Dalek ship can be seen hovering around Big Ben, it could suggest that previous filming around Trafalgar Square and the image of the Shard in the trailer could be linked. Also, after Daleks were around Big Ben earlier this year for a special occasion (though I don’t know what), perhaps it could be that the Daleks take a visit to London perhaps?

3. The Master’s Screwdriver:

Once again, this could either be for flashback purposes, or a hint at the anniversary, but could The Master possibly return? Or, at least, could the screwdriver make a return?

4. The Fob Watch:

A subtle prop that has been appearing every so often is that of the fob watch. Seen in the episodes where the Doctor becomes human (named after his alias John Smith) to protect himself from an enemy. In this episode, entitled Human Nature, the Doctor’s memories and Time Lord self are stored in the watch. As well as that, The Master also uses the fob watch to create his own human version of himself, known as Professor Yana. Despite the actor that portrays The Master, John Simm, denying that he will return in the anniversary episode, could the prop return, as well as the Master?

So one again we are left rather clueless as to what the 50th Anniversary special will involve plot-wise, but we may have a small idea as to what will happen. As for the video, I guess it has done nothing more than tease Whovians worldwide.

I guess all we can do is wait for the 23rd November…

Liam

Sub Focus’ Torus (FULL REVIEW)

Now, I know some of you may remember my previous review of the album, however, that was based purely on track previews and not that of the tracks in full. So now that I have bought the whole album, I can review the album and create a bigger picture of the album.

My Review:

Torus, the latest album from electronic DJ Sub Focus, is a huge success. The 13-track standard album combines a wonderful variety of music with a diverse range of vibes ranging from traditional pop, to powerful drum and bass, to heavy grunge. Collaborations from musicians such as Alice Gold, Alpines and Alex Clare amongst many others are the icing on the cake for the track, providing extra essence to the melodies that Sub Focus creates.

There’s my review! Despite it being rather short, I cannot put into words how good the album is. Each track is unique in it’s own right, and for fans of Sub Focus who have had to eagerly anticipate the release of this album, it is well worth the wait.

Overall, it’s a great album, and I’ve been listening to it all the time since I’ve got it!

Liam

Weekly Update: My Book, Another Book, and Torus

Hello! So first of all, there has been some exciting news. After much planning and re-planning and organising plot holes and all that nonsense, I have finished planning part one of my book!

OK, so to recap, I had two other ideas that could be follow-on sequels. However, I only managed to come up with ideas for 20 chapters (which is not so good, as on average, I get around 1,700 words done per chapter). This would then lead to around 30,000 words, quite a fair bit shy of what agents and editors like to see – around 60,000 is good.

So, with that in mind, I decided to merge my sequel ideas into the same book, creating a three part book, each with around 20 chapters. This would then lead to me reaching my 60,000 word goal, which is good.

Going back to the exciting news, part one of three is now planned! So now I can quickly plan the last two parts before the exciting times come of writing it. Huzzah!

In Other News:

This “another book” I am referring to in the title is that of a rhyming dictionary. After seeing one recently I was rather overjoyed to find they exist (I tried searching for one ages ago, but to no avail). So I went and ordered it, and since it arrived on the doormat, it has been such a big help!

“Torus”, by the way, is Sub Focus’ new album, which I reviewed the previews recently. However, after getting the album I can provide a nice review of the overall album. That will be my Musical Discovery post for tomorrow, so you can look forward to that!

Have a good week!

Liam

Weekly Update: Further Book Progress and Personalised Stamps

So, I don’t have much to discuss this week, but the two things I want to discuss today are pretty exciting…

First off, the book’s going well. As I may have mentioned already, I’ve split the book into 3 sections. At this current moment in time I’m planning out the first part. Already that’s going well and it won’t be long before I can actually write the book! Yippee! But regarding an estimation on when I will actually start writing the book. Chances are it will probably be from the end of November at the earliest, with the start of next year being the latest. But it depends on how fast I plan! I shall once again keep you updated in the future…

Secondly, a quite interesting thing that happened this week was that I got given a stamp which you could personalise with your own text. Initially I was thinking of doing a motivational stamp, so something like “Completed” or “I did it!” so that every time I completed something, I could stamp it, and it would provide a sense of accomplishment (it would be great with helping me not to give up on my novels!). So I ruled out my name, as it would have less use. But now I have it, and it’s great! I test stamped it on a notebook, and it looks great, but the irony was that this notebook was a Royal Mail notebook… Haha!

Also, sidenote. I’m beginning to get more followers on my blog, despite the lack of posting recently due to exams and what not. Thank you! As well as that, I’ve recently just reached 11,000 views! That is awesome. Thanks everyone!

That’s it – Have a good week!

Liam

Weekly Update: Trying Coffee and More Writing

So this week was more school work (sorry for the lack of posting!), but aside from that, I mostly relaxed and used my time to work on my schoolwork (which I managed to complete). Then I decided to try something new, a new thing in my life…

I tried coffee. At first it tasted like tea, and I could tolerate it. But after a few more sips it became distasteful as I didn’t like that acrid coffee aftertaste after every sip, which I started to hate. I tried adding more sugar (even as much as to add enough to make it 4 sugars – crazy, I know). At that point, it tasted mostly of sugar, but the aftertaste remained.

It’s a shame as I love cafe’s like Starbucks and Caffe Nero (Caffe Nero is my favourite, by the way), but it seems as though despite it being rather obvious that they specialise in coffee, it looks like I’ll be one of those annoying awkward people that ask for a cup of tea or hot chocolate in a coffee shop. Oh well…

In other news though, there has been more re-jumbling when it comes to writing my book. I have now decided to combine possible sequel ideas into the one book, which has made it more fun and exciting, which is awesome. So far, I have planned 13 chapters of Part One of Three (20 in total, so 60 overall). Then, when that is done, I can start writing!

Also, since it is now October and I have yet to finish planning, it seems unlikely that I will be doing NaNoWriMo this year. Not only do I care a lot about this book – so much so that I don’t want to rush it by doing NaNo – but also because exams and coursework will be in the way and I don’t want those to be affected by it.

I suppose as well it could also make it into a chore, which wouldn’t be good. I like to have fun when writing and enjoy it, as that is the main point, forcing myself to complete a book through NaNoWriMo would lead to me no longer enjoying writing, but I might also give up on my current book idea – which I don’t want to do again!

I shall keep you posted… Have a good week!

Liam