Reflecting upon a week at Blencathra Field Centre

I have to say, before I talk about the centre, because I haven’t really done so yet, that there are a couple of things that I have realised through blogging everyday. The first is that, having read over my previous posts from earlier this week, I’ve noticed that the weather can influence my mood as though there is sensor built into me. If the weather is bad, I’m in a foul mood (really, really, foul) whereas if the weather is good, everything else is good too. Seriously, I knew it affected my mood, but I didn’t realise quite how badly it did so, although, I was feeling ill, so maybe that had an impact, especially for the first few days. Secondly, I’ve realised that reading over what I have written, I now think about the week completely differently. Blogging this week has been a little like keeping a diary, just everything is there for anyone to read (probably not the best idea for someone who writes / speaks before they think, but oh well). I did exactly the same on my Duke of Edinburgh award expeditions – every step I wanted to be at home, yet if someone asked me now whether I wanted to go, I would say yes in a heartbeat. This week has been similar, in a way, though different because I didn’t want to be at home every minute I was at the centre, unlike DofE, I really, really, enjoyed a large amount of the time – it was just the rain (definite theme – mood and weather – here) that made me want to be tucked up in bed, hiding from the world, but it does that to me anyway, wherever I am. Anyway, I have also realised that the wordpress app means that I am a lot more concise in blog posts, but that’s unrelated to this post…

So the centre – Blencathra Field Studies Centre (I believe that’s the full, correct name). I’m going to split it into subheadings that I’d like to talk about.

Location: What a location. Seriously, it was gorgeous. At the start of the week I began questioning, “where is civilisation?” and by the end I didn’t want to come back to my house with its views of the street. It is situated at the foot of the Blencathra mountain and looks across the valley. I was lucky enough to be put in a room overlooking this valley so waking up and looking out over it was a treat every morning. It was even stunning covered in snow – yes, I did say that.

Rooms / Accommodation: The rooms were decent. Considering their purpose, they fitted it extremely well, to be honest. They were rather on the small side, but we didn’t spend a huge amount of time in them anyway at the end of the day, so it didn’t matter in the end. One thing the centre could do with is more showers and toilets – if not just loos. There were only two (that I could find) for about four (?) rooms and it was the same for the showers. The showers actually worked out okay, I had one quite late in the evening so I didn’t have to queue or wait for one, but I did have to wait for the toilet a couple of times. Other than that though, everything was kept really clean and tidy. I have to add this – the accommodation was lovely and warm. I’ve been on school trips where the heating has not worked or whatever, thankfully at the centre it was perfectly comfortable – something which I am very grateful about!

Facilities: These were really, really good. I must confess I was surprised at the amount there was for us. There were several classrooms (I saw four, but I didn’t wander round too much or visit the other outbuildings) which were equipped with new technology and so the lessons were much more interesting and interactive. Also, there was a library, two recreation / lounge rooms in the main building (my school occupied one of their cottages too which had its own lounge area – which is where I went), one of which had a pool, table tennis and football table in. All three that I saw had TVs. The library had computers for us to use whenever we wanted them, which would have been useful if I needed to type up some work or do further research (I personally didn’t, however I noticed other people at the centre using the computers). The centre wifi was a bonus as well. I was expecting it to only work in a couple of the downstairs, communal rooms, however it worked all over the centre (well, the cottage nearest the main building and my room, which was in the main building) and it was a really strong connection too – something teenagers definitely appreciate! There was also a drying room to leave our wet boots etc and a pantry where we could make ourselves a hot drink or squash and there would be cake when we arrived back after a day out. I know there was a shop too, but I never visited it!

Food: I’m going to start with the breakfast, as normally although I’m hungry in the morning, I really don’t like breakfast as I don’t enjoy breakfast foods. However, every morning I had cooked food and it was so good. The fact that there was the opportunity for tea and coffee helped my morning as well – I have to have a cup of tea in the morning! We had to make our own sandwiches for lunch, but that was fine because of the selection for fillings; tuna, ham, cheese, sausage, cucumber, the list goes on. It was very well thought through and laid out as well. The dinners were probably my least favourite meal of the day, but that does not mean that they were bad, I simply preferred the breakfast! I did like the way that they’d make you a jacket potato if you didn’t like what was on offer – that was a good touch.

Staff: I was with two main members of staff from the centre during the stay; Katy and Richard. I really have to say that they were both so lovely and relaxed, it made the whole experience better (there’s nothing worse than having a sour-faced teacher casting a dark cloud over every lesson). They’d both have a laugh and a joke and I couldn’t fault either of them – I really couldn’t – Thank you both. Katy always seemed to smile and was really patient (especially when we were lagging behind) and Richard would easily have a laugh with us and would wind us up. They both delivered the lessons in a way that didn’t send people to sleep (and although in my first post I said it wasn’t particularly helpful for me, I, in my bad mood, didn’t mention the fact that it was interactive and interesting – and it was definitely more applicable after going out the following day). All the other centre staff seemed friendly too, the instructors more so than the rest of the staff, but everyone seemed pleasant.

Fieldwork / Lessons: Seeing as this is the main reason we actually came to the centre, I can’t possibly miss it out! The way it worked was that we’d have a lesson the evening before we went out (for example on Tuesday we learnt about fieldwork techniques and what the exam would be asking us (which is quite a relief – I had no clue!) and then on Wednesday we went out and completed the fieldwork). Sometimes I didn’t see the relevance of the lesson until the next day, until I realised “That’s why we did that!”. I definitely preferred going out to sitting in the classroom (even on Tuesday in the bitter cold) because I just loved the Lake District and the countryside – it was so stunning! I realise now, when I was thinking about how much we’ve done over the week, how interesting the Keswick walk actually was – I definitely learned  something as I can remember a lot of the things Katy said about defences I’d never heard about before! Ditto the walk up to the corrie, although I enjoyed the walking part anyway! The Carlisle survey I found quite interesting as there were some things that I noticed which I would never normally take note of wherever I was. Today we kept it simple and had a tour of the site, where they showed us how the site was run and we learnt about their biomass and hydroelectric schemes, which I found more interesting than I thought I would as energy is probably my least favourite topic of the course. Hydrology is my favourite, so having two days focusing on rivers was a bonus for me! My favourite day was probably, thinking about it, Wednesday, when we took the river measurements. I learnt so much about fieldwork that day as before I’d only ever done really simple fieldwork with about three or four simple parts to it, whereas there was a lot more to do for this one which made it more interesting, in my opinion.

Overall: This week has been a weird one for me, but a good one all the same. It was not what I expected, because I didn’t know what to expect, instead it was better than I thought it could be. It truly has been an amazing opportunity in an incredibly beautiful location. I say this week was weird because it put me out of my comfort zone and also I never seemed to be able to make up my mind about how I liked everything. However, now, after reflecting upon the experience, I have come to the conclusion that actually, should someone say “Would you go again?” my answer would be a resounding “Yes.” because I would happily do it all again.

One final Lake District post will go up tomorrow; it will include a large number of photos from Tuesday especially, I have some beautiful pictures from that day.

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Lake District – Day Four

I have to start by mentioning how gorgeous the weather was today – it was barely chilly and didn’t rain once – today was a good day.

Also, we went into Carlisle. As much as I love the country and think it’s gorgeous there comes a time when I need to be among large numbers of people in a city. We had to fill in some surveys about the local area as part of our population studies but around lunch time we had a few minutes free and so my friend and I got a takeaway!

Doing the survey was interesting too, to be fair. I liked the way that everyone had a section to do and the sheets were simple (too often are we given confusing survey forms which make no sense). It was simple navigation (nothing Google maps couldn’t solve) and so it was a good day. Less physically challenging than the others too.

It’s our last day today, and that makes me kind of sad. I’m just getting used to this place and now my cold has practically gone, I feel like I could do it again! (Hiking with a cold in the rain = not fun)! But I know I would have enjoyed that walk a lot more had I been feeling better! I’m not the only one either.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about the centre itself more, because I haven’t mentioned it too much and I feel that it deserves more of a mention – especially the staff. Sometime, either tomorrow or Saturday, I’m going to post more of the pictures – because there are some gorgeous ones – the scenery here really is stunning!

Lake District – Day Three



Today we did some work for one of our exams in summer this year – which is based on field work that we have completed. For this we took various measurements of a river in the valley above the field centre we’re staying at.

I tell you, what a difference from yesterday though. The weather, albeit chilly at times, was a vast improvement – it wasn’t as cold, it only spat with rain once and the sun even decided to show its face a couple of times.

The fieldwork itself wasn’t too bad either, apart from a couple of occasions when trying to cross the river (wearing walking boots – I was too lazy to change to my wellies which I carried with me) but other than that it was absolutely fine. 

Tomorrow we’re going into Carlisle, to study population. But it’s a city and I think we’re all craving the feeling of walking through bustling streets (and a number of my friends are desperately planning to buy some fizzy drinks)! 

Lake District – Day Two



Today was a lot busier than yesterday – we were up at seven and out at nine (after having a pretty good breakfast, I have to say) off walking in an area just south of Keswick. We were out for quite a while and walked up into a corrie (a glacial feature in the tops of mountains). I’m going to be honest and say that the weather most definitely was not on our side, with hail, rain and snow falling upon us… There will be a later blog post contains photos – one which shows a hail storm coming in (which really hurt)! 

The walk was difficult – a poor night’s sleep, slippery footpaths and foul weather all attributed to this. However the views were incredible – as we got higher up it just improved and we could see a ribbon lake in the distance (Derwent water).

After we’d eaten lunch in the corrie, we headed back down, crossing a river in our path. That was eventful; my balance isn’t great at the best of time, let alone on wet rocks! 

We then went to a glacial feature alongside Derwent water which was extremely steep and muddy, but also had some breathtaking views at the top as it was elevated above the area. After that, we headed back to Blencathra Field Centre to go over some notes that we’d made, have dinner, prep for tomorrow’s fieldwork and socialise with friends. 



Lake District – Day One

As I said, this blog is for me to also talk about any geography fieldwork I’m doing or whatever and this week I’m in the Lake District…
Today we didn’t do much to be honest, it was lunchtime before we got here and then we had to sort everything out! Just leaving the school the coach driver managed to break the wing mirror – so that was a great start!
Anyway, this afternoon, we went for a walk into Keswick. It was alright, but the weather was awful. Rain, hail, wind. I hate the cold – I know hate is a strong word, but I really do. So that ruined that for me…
Aside from the trip into Keswick, we didn’t really do much, other than a bit of prepping for tomorrow’s walk and revision of glacial landscapes – which was not really that helpful to tell the truth.
The centre is nice enough, if a little secluded, and the scenery is beautiful (when it can be seen through the snow). I think that the main issue is that most of us would rather be at home in the warm!

Things That I’ve Been Loving Recently!

So I thought that this week I’d do a post talking about some of the things that everyone else is fed up of listening to me rave about… I’m not talking about books or anything in this post, apart from one, which is in a different way! So here are the things that I have been loving recently:

Apps

Poem Hunter
If you love poetry then I can guarantee that you will love this app. I found it when I was looking up Maya Angelou poems on the website (she is amazing. I can’t re-read her poems enough) and it suggested the app. I thought “why not?” as you do, and it is the best decision that I’ve made recently. It suggests a new poem and poet every day and there is a “random poem” when you open the app so that you can discover new people. This app is just brilliant and I would recommend it to anyone – whether you like to read one poem a year or several every day.

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Quiz Up
This is a quiz app with a difference. You choose from one of the seemingly endless topic lists and then it’ll partner you with someone across the world. The games are really quick which makes it a great game if you don’t have long or you have hours to kill. I play it a lot with my boyfriend, as you can play a round and they can play their turn later. It’ll add the points when both people have played. This one of my most played games recently because it is just so addictive!

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Trusper Tips
This I think is a similar platform to Pinterest (which I don’t use – so I could be completely wrong) where anyone can share tips that they’ve used and found to work. There is such a variety on this app: recipes, workouts, makeup tutorials, hair care. I have discovered so many useful things as a result of this app. I would definitely recommend this – my friend downloaded it the other day as well and I’ve passed some of the tips on.

Films
I don’t actually watch many films, but I have rediscovered my childish side and my love of Disney has returned. Frozen, Tangled and Brave are some of the more recent ones that I’ve watched, as well as Bolt (the dog is adorable). Just the other day ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Bambi’ and ‘Aristocats’ arrived, because I wanted to watch them. I really want to see Aladdin as well… For anyone reading this thinking “she’s seventeen, she should have grown out of Disney”. That is not possible, my friend. I will never grow out of Disney. *Mental four-year-old self stamps foot and crosses arms sulkily*.

Stationary

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Sticky Notes
Since I have discovered these revision has been so much easier and more interesting too. I used to either read over my notes or write everything out in long bullet points. Now I just summarise points on sticky notes. The ones in the picture are from Paperchase, which has to be one of my favourite shops. If not my favourite. They’re so gorgeous and make revision so much more interesting. I also use them to put notes in my planner from time to time. For christmas I was given some “sticky note bookmarks” (also from Paperchase). I’m trying to use them more often (I usually try to remember my page – and fail) and also they have a white space so on every one I try to write a poem.

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Fineliners
I use these with the sticky notes to revise and make notes. Colour coding makes everything so much clearer and more interesting, I find. They’re so useful in the editing of my english coursework and also when noting down homework and deadlines (I can colour code subjects etc). I’ve always loved fineliners, but I’m using them more than ever now. I use the Staedtler triplus fineliners, but there are so many brands. These are quite expensive! I really want to get the large set, though it’s quite pricey so I’m waiting for a sale in WHSmith. I have to admit that these are lifesavers when marking and making corrections etc in lessons.

Music

Lucy Spraggan
Singer-songwriter music is probably my favourite (though I’m pretty open with music) because usually the lyrics tell a story and have meaning. Ed Sheeran, Lucy Spraggan and Amy Macdonald are all examples I really enjoy. The thing about Lucy Spraggan’s lyrics is that they are so honest and apply to everyone. I go through phases with albums – I listen to them for a while then move on – but this is one I come back to, which is unusual. Bastille is another one I do this with. She can sound quite blunt with her lyrics, but I like that, because she says everything in a way that makes you go “yes, I know what she means”.

There are a lot of artists I love listening to; Bastille, Collabro, Amy Macdonald and Taylor Swift are just some – I’m not going to go on because that’ll take me ages!

News

This is something that I simply had to include. If you’ve read my “Let’s Talk About Books” post then you’ll know just how much I love “To Kill a Mockingbird”. You probably already know what I’m talking about… There is a sequel! *Squeals with excitement*. I went completely hyper when I read about it on twitter (after that feeling of questioning whether it was a Twitter prank or not). I cannot wait. July 14th cannot come soon enough. ‘Go Set a Watchman’ will be immediately preordered when it is available. Calm down Natalie. Calm….

Those are just a few of the things that I have been really enjoying recently. I could go on about so many apps or music artists, but I won’t. Thank you for reading!

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