iPhone


Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come! I have finally joined the world of smart-phones, apps and mobile contracts! That's right, I just got myself an iPhone.

After years on pay-as-you-go, I figured I'd spend less money on a contract per month than I am topping up at the moment. And with many contracts, you can now get yourself a smart-phone, such as BlackBerry, iPhone, N97 or X6.

My other half has been going on about getting himself a N97 mini for ages now, and finally made good on the promise. However, I had a play around with his new phone, and didn't find it intuitive enough for me.

So I went to the store and actually tested the BlackBerry, iPhone and N97, to see which one I could get used to, and the iPhone came out on top. Easy to handle, you know that there's an app out there for everything you could possibly want and it's a touchscreen phone - no keypad whatsoever.

However, now that I got my phone out of the box, I find it's not as straight-forward as I had hoped. First, you have to download the latest version of iTunes onto your computer (a hard and long task, if you've got mobile broadband with a bad connection). Then you have to set up your Apple ID for the iTunes Store, from which you download your applications. I do have iTunes, but never purchased anything before... It took absolutely ages, and keeps wanting to register the phone again and again. It also keeps logging me out. And because I've kept my phone number, I'll only be able to actually use the new phone from Tuesday onwards.

I still think it's easy to handle and the best of the lot, but setting it up does test your patience.

Exam Time

The problem with this university degree in travel journalism that I've been doing for the las three years is: it's not NCTJ accredited. Which means, in order to actually work as a journalist in the UK, I'll have to get these sought-after qualifications another way.

There are 6 preliminary exams in total, only two of which I can actually do right now. One is Newswriting and the other is handing in a portfolio of work.

I've just sat my Newswriting exam today, in which I had to write a 325-word news story, an 80-word story, a 50-word story as well as come up with sources and possible interview questions and how to make use of the internet for a pretend news story within the space of two hours. It's my only third year exam, and it's not even set by the University of Cumbria.

The portfolio will be handed in soon, just need one more story for that. Now I just have to sort out where and how to learn shorthand, PA, law etc. which I will need for the full qualification.

I'm just glad that with this exam, university is really over!

Empty room

It's weird seeing your life packed up in boxes. qall your memories fit into four cardboard walls.

My student life in Carlisle has come to an end, which means that my other half and I can finally live together! Last week, straight after handing my last assessment in, we moved in together, and are now living in the room he has had for the past year as part of a house he shares with two good mates.

Since everyone else has been in the house for a year, I currently have nowhere to put my stuff. Bags, and boxes are everywhere, from the cupboard under the stairs to the garage. But it's getting there.

Today, we hired a transit van and drove back up to Carlisle, to collect the bulk of my belongings. Since I don't have any furniture - the student house came fully furnished - I only had a couple of boxes for my uni folders, books, magazines and clothes, as well as two DVD shelves and a bike. Loading it all into the van only took a few minutes, really, and now I'm told it all lives in the garage in Southport for the time being.
Typically, we did the trip on the hottest day of the year, and the 2 1/2 hour trip up the A6 and lunch in the beergarden left me completely sunburnt.

While my boyfriend drove back down to Southport, I had to stay behind because I will be writing an exam on Tuesday. Which means, that I am currently sitting in an empty room. The only things left here are my duvet, pillows, printer (I still need to print things out for uni), bathroom stuff and kitchen stuff, all of which I will take with me when I graduate. It's the strangest thing, to see your room empty and the walls bare for the first time in three years.
I never moved house during my time at uni, so whether I wanted it to or not, this place has been home for me.

The Italian Job minus the Mini

Over the last few months my boyfriend, Champion motoring guru David Simister, has planned a Mini event to take place in Parbold.

The idea was to get the Mini SOD club members and other Mini clubs in the area to meet at the Mini SOD's pub of choice Scotch Piper in Lydiate, and then drive in convoy to Parbold. There, the old Minis and Mini Coopers would be displayed in the parking lot of the Parbold Village Hall for an hour, before the 1969 original of The Italian Job with Michael Caine would be shown on the big screen inside.

A brilliant plan, and a rare chance to see the movie in a cinema setting, and lots of people were really excited by it. So was David, planning it, corresponding with the organisers at the Village Hall, advertising it on his blog and on the radio during Martin Hovden's show on Dune FM on Fridays. I was appointed photographer.

Today was the day. The Mini Run took place. So we dressed up in our club t-shirts, washed David's 1983 Mini Mayfair, polished it, cleaned the windows and chrome, filled her up with fuel and went on our way.


With four people in the car, we didn't want to take the bumpy road over the Moss, so we decided to detour through Formby to Lydiate. As he was the organiser, David insisted on leaving early so we'd be there when everyone arrived. Lucky we left early, because as soon as we turned off the dual carriageway and onto the country road behind the Tesco in Formby, something happened.

While doing 40mph down the country lane, over potholes and round bends, all of a sudden, we heard a bang and the front left wheel gave in. At first we thought it was a blowout, as we skidded to a stop. We were right before a blind bend and luckily had not yet started to turn. But as soon as we got out, we saw what had really happened. The entire tyre had caved in, and was now stuck at an angle underneath the wheel arch. There was no way we could have driven it any further, infact the Mini had to be lifted onto the footpath not even steering it worked. So we called a recovery truck and waited... after 45 mins, a mechanic in a transit van shows up, looks at the car, looks at us and goes "that needs recovering"... you don't say! Another 45 mins later, and the truck finally arrives. By that point, we have missed the set off of the convoy.


A friend and fellow Mini club member took over organising at the pub and coordinating how much space would be allocated to the car display. The truck driver was kind and agreed to drop our Mini off home and drop the keys in the letterbox, so that we could hitch a ride and still make it to the show.

We got there with 10 mins to spare before the film started, exhausted, sunburnt and slightly disappointed that after all the lovely treatment, the car decided to break down today out of all days. In the end, we had eight Minis on display and the screening of The Italian Job was a success. Just a shame that the car we travelled in was not roadworthy anymore. I'm not into cars, nor could I point out all the parts, bolts or anything else attached to it (excluding the engine, lights and windscreen wipers) but I am told it was the driveshaft that gave up and knocked out a swivel joint.

If you go "huh?" at the moment, don't worry I'm not quite sure what that means either, however, I can show you what it looks like:




For all those who can never quite remember how to calculate braking distances, head out towards and past the Formby Tesco, and look for the tyre marks on the road. Measure it, and you'll know how long it takes to go from 40 to 0 in a Mini within a second... We're just glad it happened where it happened, and not on the dual carriageway or in a bend... it would have thrown us right off course and we could have ended up in a ditch or even worse, in oncoming traffic. The car is fixable, I'm told, and we're all in one piece, but that car sure has a way of showing its appreciation...

Last university assessment ever

I have just handed in my very last university assessment for the B.A. (Hons) Travel Journalism.

The assessment was to look at post-modern management at a World Heritage Site or other attraction. For mine, I chose Stonehenge, and created a website on which I can show my findings... very post-modern indeed.

Anyway, have a look at Managing Stonehenge to see what I found out.

Now that university is over, I can finally concentrate on the important things, like moving in with my other half and finding a job!

15.938 words, 0 sleep. Dissertation countdown

After several all-nighters, countless cups of coffee and very, very little sleep, it's finally done! I have just handed in my dissertation for the B.A. (Hons) degree in Travel Journalism.

"In what ways do travel magazines define their readership and how does their style and content refelct this? An analysis of the travel market" was my topic, and I looked at travel magazines Wanderlust, Lonely Planet Magazine, The Sunday Times Travel and National Geographic Traveler in terms of writing style, features, pictures, colours and advertising, to find their readership. For this I also had to know how market segments can be defined and what methods are used.

In total, I have written 15.938 words, excluding quotes, abstract, declarations, lists, captions and references. 60 pages including the cover, and the overall word count of everything I have written is 19.028.

I found that I had to cut a lot out. Writing the Literature Review, and the first few chapters explaining Market Segments, Travel Writing and Magazine Style was pretty straight-forward, based on quotes and my own interpretations. However, the four case studies were not that easy to write. I did one after the other, so I wouldn't get confused with the magazines. I looked at each one from many different angles, and really had to focus so I wouldn't write too much. The hardest part was then to link it all up, compare, contrast and add quotes and references to earlier chapters. I found that nailing down a specific readership is not possible in most cases, even though every book on the subject advises editors to have a very clear reader profile in mind when designing the publication.

I actually finished my dissertation in the early hours of yesterday. However, I still had to write an abstract, which took me most of the day, as I had to sum up nearly 16.000 words in 250 words or less.

Once the results are published, I will publish my dissertation for you to judge!

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