How to make the most of your study leave!

My study leave for my A-levels started Monday, and as usual, I made a pretty clear idea of what I want to do between now and when my exams end. Here are a few tips how to profit best from these stressful weeks to come.

  1. Come up with a plan for what you want to do in a day. You don’t have to write it down, and you can make it as vague as you want, but it’s a good idea to know when you wake up in the morning what you’re going to do in a day, including free-time, eating lunch and what revision at what time.
  2. Don’t stay in bed too late! At this point, you will start to appreciate how much during school time you really get done during the day. For example, if you’re getting up after 10, it will be 11 after you’ve showered, got dressed and had a cup of tea before you start your studying, and then you’ll barely get started before it’s lunchtime! I like to get up between 8 and 9, so I can get up slowly and get things done in the morning.
  3. Pace yourself. Don’t do too much revision at once! Free-time is important, as it will make you feel good. Doing straight revision for several hours will make you extremely bored, and you’ll end up not concentrating, and therefore wasteyour time.
  4. Exercise is important. It increase air flow to your brain and helps you to think clearer and feel good. You only have to do something for 20 minutes, so you won’t get distracted for too long.
  5. Be sociable. I don’t mean spending the whole day with your friends or family, but talking to people for several minutes at a time will increase your articulacy, and the ability to quickly phrase words on paper as well.
  6. Tone down the social life. If you’re stopping out until late and drinking, you won’t be as switched on the next day, and you will definitely be tired! Also, alcohol aids memory loss, so you might want to tone that down, too. But don’t become a recluse, either. You’ll drive yourself mad!
  7. Keep fueled. Having snacks can work as a good incentive for studying, as you can tell yourself that you can have your next one after you’ve completed a certain section of work, or after you’ve learnt a certain amount of key terms off by heart. For a healthy option, try some plain popcorn or some grapes. For a naughty treat, try some Maltesers or Doritos.

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I’m in a bra-funk.

It’s true. I find it quite difficult to find bras in my size, even though I know for a fact that I have far from abnormally massive tits. My problem is that I am large, yet proportionate. The shops and websites that specialise in “curvy”/large-breasted bras really only specialise in bras for women who have had implants: small chest sizes, large bust sizes. I am just large and large. A shop which generally has some “boob-equality” is Marks and Spencer, but their bras can be really poorly made. Being jabbed in the middle of the day by a wire is not uncommon. Another problem I have with their bras is that the strap adjustment slips under the weight of my boobs, so I start the day slightly more perkier than I end it. Shopping with them is no picnic, either. I asked an assistant for some advice about which type of bra would keep me contained for the longest. She sighed, showed me to the minimisers, which I then said I wasn’t interested in, so she suggested that maybe this wasn’t the place for me. Rude. So, I’ve done some research online to show you which affordable bras (all under £25) are the best types for us well-endowed females:

My favourite website to look at was Debenhams, because many of the lines did a small-boob balconette style, along with a larger-boob balconette style, which is virtually unheard of. The next website I tried was Ann Summers, but all their bras had teeny-tiny cups, which would lend themselves to escapage. The third bra along was from ASOS, which I was really disappointed with. Upon reaching their bra page, they boasted a range of about 400 bras, but when I input my size, only 7 results showed up. Seriously. But this was a really nice, basic bra. There were loads of those £20 two-packs on Figleaves, which all seemed pretty nice, so I just put on my favourite. The last bra was from a website I’d never heard of before called brastop. Their range was variable, but I came across this little gem which I thought was really pretty, and because of the high cup and no dipping cleavage, lends itself to virtually no escapage.

Anyone know of anywhere else great to get bras?

Drinking: How to pace yourself, girl!

Before you read this post, I ought to cover my back to make sure you aren’t:

  1. Underage drinking (lol)
  2. Driving and/or operating heavy machinery.


On Friday, I finished school. Finally! This was, of course, a cause for celebration. And when you’re 18, celebration=booze. We were partying the night before, and about to do it all over again.

We must have started drinking that day at about 12.30. The AS-level students were cooking us a BBQ, and we were drinking cider. I had one pint, drank it slowly and mingled. It was VERY hot, and didn’t want to feel nasty too quickly, or make a fool of myself (a common side-effect of mine on alcohol) around the teachers. About an hour later, my friends and I made our way to the pub for our afternoon party, a fifteen minute walk away. Getting some fresh air was good for keeping well.

At the pub, I started off on perry (pear cider) which was very sweet and had a reasonably low alcohol percentage. With cider and beer, the percentage tends to be between 3-5.5%. The higher the percentage, the quicker you are going to get drunk. I tend to go with something 4.5% or lower, as I can enjoy my tipsy state for longer. I had a couple of pints of perry, before someone suggested I try a cider called Ashton Press. It was really nice, and again not to strong. It was probably not a bad idea to stay on that, because the people who were drinking Desperados (beer with tequila) were pretty wrecked VERY quickly.

Clockwise from bottom left: Kacey, Steve, Tom, Eddy, Cerian, Mary, Lewis, Emma, and me, as the cat.

After the pub, my friends and I went to Tesco’s to buy booze before going back to mine. We bought Sourz Fusions, Pina Colada, Everyday Value Vodka (70cl for £8!) and cider for the boys. We came back to mine, where we ate pizza and pasta bake. Stodgy food is a good foundation for booze as it stops you getting sick. We drank A LOT then, and got pretty silly. We played a few games, danced a bit, and then got ready for the final part of the day: the club.

The club our leavers’ party was at was called Capones, a pretty cheesy place with a zebra print ceiling. I had a lot of fun dancing, had some Smirnoff Ice, danced some more, then went outside with a few people to tell them how much I “appreciated” them. According to my friends, when I’m drunk, appreciating someone=sticking my tongue down their throat (whether they want it there or not) and sitting on their lap. Woops. Oh well, at least I wasn’t ill.

The two Matts, clubbin’ it up!

I could tell I’d had enough of Capones when my feet were starting to become unbearably sore in my fabulous ’90s-style platform sandals. My mum picked me up (I don’t know what time it was, but it was definitely after 4) and I had a couple of pints of water before going to bed. Waking up the next day, my feet were sore, my legs were sore, but my head wasn’t. I was tired, but definitely not ill.

And that is how you pace yourself! Remember guys, drink responsibly!

Why you shouldn’t call someone a “slut”, and other words.

Slut/whore/skank/slag, these words get thrown around a lot. I hear them all the time where I live. They are just banded about in normal conversation. But let me tell you, these words should not be so commonly used in general conversation. But why? Why shouldn’t we judge someone for wearing next to nothing?

Because, ladies and gentlemen, one shouldn’t be judged on what one likes to wear or one’s general appearance. This is what is wrong with today’s rape culture. Too many people think wearing a teeny-tiny miniskirt with 6 inch heels = gagging for sex. This is far from the truth. Too many rapists claim that a woman is “asking for it” as soon as they show some skin on their legs or their chests, or put a little make up on. This is wrong. Let me tell you the definition of rape: rape is when a man has penetrative sex with anyone (man or woman) without their consent. No one asks to be raped.

We shouldn’t judge people by what they choose to wear. If a girl is wearing a short skirt with 6 inch heels she is not saying: “Come and get me, boys, I can be overpowered,” she is saying: “Yes, I’m proud of my body. I work hard to get it to look this good, and I’m doing this for me.” Girls: we should always dress for ourselves, not for anyone else. Feminism is all about choice; what we want to do with our bodies, our relationships, our lives is up to us. If you want to stay at home to look after your children, that’s fine. If you want to work in a strip club, that’s fine too, because as long as you aren’t personally intending to hurt someone else, that’s ok. While we no longer have to stay at home 24/7 and not get taken seriously, men have found other ways to oppress us, by making us look bad for making independent choices in our lives, and interfering with what we can and can’t do with our bodies.

So, to conclude: it’s okay to call someone a slut. If you’re an uneducated sack of sh*t.
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How to break up with your driving instructor.

I’m going to tell you a story about my first driving instructor, when I began learning to drive aged 17. I was sucked in by her business card in Tesco’s, which read: “Experienced female driving instructor! Patient!” I was relieved to have found her at the time, because in my area it is really confusing to find a qualified female instructor, which, at the time, I thought was really important. Let me tell you: one’s gender does not make a good driving instructor.

While none of the things (let’s call her Shelley) wrote on her business card were lies, they were not necessarily the most important things one needs from driving tuition. In my first lesson, Shelley seemed to be a really friendly, chatty, encouraging woman. But too chatty. She spent one hour taking my details, then spent the next hour telling me horror stories about her other pupils. On returning to school after my lesson, I told my friends about it. They seemed more concerned than I did: apparently, you’re supposed to spend the second hour of your first lesson driving around a business park, learning to start and stop.

Yet that wasn’t the thing they were most concerned about. Shelley would take my money for the next lesson before it had even happened, as she would claim that she would make appointments with pupils who wouldn’t turn up, thus wasting her time and money. But she was the one who wouldn’t turn up for the lesson. I would receive a text about 10/20 minutes before she was due to pick me up, stating that she had to take her cat to the vet, or some other emergency. On several occasions, I went for a walk upon learning my lesson was cancelled, and spotted her out with another pupil. I tried calling her up on this, but she would say that a pupil was just about to take their test, but needed some extra help. I knew for a fact that this was a lie, as a lot of the people I saw her out with had only just turned 17.

Our lessons would pan out like this: Shelley would pick me up about 15 minutes late for my lesson, complaining that the queue at the petrol station was ridiculously long. I would go to swap places with her, but she would insist I sat in the passenger’s seat. We would go somewhere quiet, swap over, then spend so much time driving around country lanes, while she complained about her other pupils and went in to too much detail about her and her boyfriend’s sex life. It was not uncommon for her to make me switch places with her again, so she could drive to Tesco to get groceries during the lesson. I would sit in the car for 15 minutes, waiting for her to come out. She tended to finish lessons up to 30 minutes early, and not give me a refund.

After four months, I started to get impatient. Was it normal for me to have made so little progress? Loads of people had passed their tests already, and I hadn’t even started doing any manoeuvres. After 5 months, I asked Shelley if we could do some manoeuvres, but she said I didn’t have enough control yet to even think about doing them. I then asked if she had an idea of how long it would be before I could take my theory test. She told me I wasn’t ready. Seriously. She wouldn’t even let me use 5th gear!

After that lesson, I told her I would be too busy to take regular lessons, so I would let her know when I was ready to take the next lesson so I didn’t have to give her any money. Since then, she kept hounding me, even trying to call me up during an exam. I was complaining about this to a girl at work, who told me I really ought to leave her. I was nervous about confronting her at first, and in a way wussed out, because I ended up sending her a text, saying: “I’m sorry but I really can’t afford to take driving lessons at the moment. I’ll let you know when I have enough to start again.” A bit later, she replied: “Ok, just let me know.” And I never contacted her again.

It’s important to know that a lot of driving instructors are not really interested in teaching their students to drive. They are just looking for an easy way to make £20 an hour. They will tend to stretch your lessons out as long as possible. I moved on to a male instructor two weeks after finishing with Shelley. I passed my test only a few months later, and he was much more fair.
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Tips for starting a new school

This is always a daunting prospect, whether it’s secondary school, college, high school or university. Here are some tips for making that first day so much easier:

  1. If you’re in to music, wear a band T-shirt on your first day. Someone may come up to you to compliment your good taste! If not, go up to someone yourself and compliment their good taste.
  2. Join a club. You’re bound to meet loads of people there!
  3. See a group of people having a good time? Don’t be shy, go up and talk to them! Just ask them politely if you can join in. If they say no, don’t try to force yourself on them, try someone else.
  4. Get your teachers’ or lecturers’ e-mail addresses. That way if you have a problem with the work set or in class,  you can ask them quickly and easily.
  5. Do some baking! Make some fairy cakes or some cookies to hand out. When people ask for one, ask for their name!
  6. Prepare the night before as much as you can. Put out your outfit, your books, maybe even your make-up. Changeable weather where you are? Put out two outfits!
  7. Dress smartly. It makes a good impression on potential friends, and on your teachers, too. A tea dress and some flats? A perfectly presentable outfit. Uggs and jogging bottoms? A definite no.
  8. Have to walk across a big campus? Wear sensible shoes. Obviously not hiking boots or anything, but shoes you know you’re comfortable in. No one wants to talk to the weird hobbly girl.
  9. Don’t look so miserable. Yes, you have to return to the grind after having a wonderful time off, but someone who smiles is a lot more approachable than someone who moans.
  10. Wear a quirky accessory. Or bring quirky stationary. They’re great conversation starters. Try a character pencil case, or a a fun hair bow.



What to do with your exam results

Today, I got my AS results. They were okay – not brilliant – but okay nonetheless. I had set myself up to fail, so it was a pleasant surprise when I opened up my letter to find that I had not failed a single class, including maths, which I had freaked out about.

The chances are, you have done exactly as expected: received the grades you were predicted, and are looking forward to pursuing the next part of your life, which you have spent the last year or two mapping out. However, there are two other ways your grades could have gone; better than expected, or worse.

If your exams had gone better than expected, congratulations! But what had you planned on doing now? If you’ve got a university acceptance already, that’s great, but is there a possibility that you could end up at an even better establishment? In the UK, UCAS run an “Extra” programme, which shows you all the places that are available in your area of study and match your results. If your GCSEs are better than expected, it’s really easy to get into a college of further education. You just have to act fast. As soon as you get your results, ring up all the local colleges and I’m sure there will be one that is right for you. Did you know that as long as your grades are the minimum requirement, they are not allowed to turn you way?

If your exam results weren’t quite as spectacular as you hoped they would be, don’t panic! Believe me, I’ve been there! What was your plan? Can it be altered? UCAS’ “Extra” programme can also help students look for places in universities with lower grade requirements than the ones you may have initially chosen. If university or college is no longer an option, maybe you could try a gap year. You could have so much fun travelling, or you could get a job and attempt to retake some of your classes from the previous year. You never know, having some extra life skills could enhance your CV or resume, and may even get you accepted a year later to university. There are also foundation degrees, which are year-long qualifications at university which could help you decide if university is really the right path for you. If it is, you can continue straight away onto the undergraduate course. After your GCSEs, you could take the level below in your choice qualification. For example, instead of doing a B-tec level 3 you could do a level 2 or 1 instead. Although it adds another year onto your study, it’s worth it to get exactly where you want to go.

I hope this has been useful to you. If you need some more advice, don’t forget to e-mail me. I love receiving your messages!

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