Shift 2 – Simply the best

 

Panorama of StadiumYou really do forget just how big the stadium really is, especially when you walk out onto the track again. But it’s hard to put it all into perspective when, once again, it was a morning shift and I was far from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – these 4am starts and over two-hour drives were starting to take its toll…

Nevertheless, most of us had made it to check-in with time to spare (rather impressive for a Sunday morning) but the start of the transportation issues surfaced for a few unlucky team members. One of the women in our group may only live about 7 miles away from the stadium, but the joys of restricted tube services on Sundays meant that Tweet to Clare Baldingthe journey took 90 minutes instead. However, there was a silver lining to another commuter story and our trusty WhatsApp group played a role.

Another of our lovely ladies was stuck at Stratford International Tube Station and would miss the start of training before the session began. But the power of social media was amazing. Not only did she let us know so we could tell our Team Leaders, but she decided to also tweet Clare Balding whilst waiting: next thing you know, she’s being mentioned on Clare’s morning BBC 2 Radio show! Always good news when the volunteers are getting recognition!

You’d think that once you’d done a full session, you’d know exactly what to do for shift 2; how wrong were we all… The previous day had left us completely shattered and then, new starting block set-ups were being thrown at us. We would like to say that we took it all in our stride – in reality, most of us were stressing about putting the lane marker in the right place and wondering if our tired arms would be able to pick up the starting Cablingblocks without putting another part of our bodies out of alignment. And that’s before we even get to the cabling.

The cabling is Satan. It’s as simple as that. Trying to create a figure of 8 with cables that have kinks in them and are at least 10 metres long is difficult enough. But trying to do that as fast as the blocks coming back in and avoiding getting tangled up with the next lane’s cables is nigh on impossible. I’m a lefty as well, so for me, everything is backwards, so my brain is automatically screaming out at me saying I’m doing it wrong, but on the 100m start, there is one set of cables out of the 9 lanes where everyone else shares my pain!

What makes it even more confusing is that each race distance has a different way of clearing the track, and there are certain races that need different set-ups. For instance, the completely blind runners who have guides helping them round the track (T11) need to have the starting blocks alongside each other. Can you see the cogs turning in our brains?!

Starting Blocks TeamBut the training is doing us the world of good – the session was as smooth as we could have hoped for and we finally got to relax and enjoy some of the action up-close and personal. We got to witness the fastest Paralympian in the world, Ireland’s Jason Smyth, race in the heats of the 100m, watch Britain’s Aled Davies smash the Championship record in the F42 Discus and claim gold, and be a part of two different world records being obliterated. It was a magical morning for us volunteers.

Shift 2 selfieAnd it didn’t end there: we were all settling down after the session for our debrief and the feedback was incredible. The official timekeeping company for the Championships, Seiko, said that our team for the morning session were the best group of volunteers that they had seen in 30 years. We were simply the best. We are the dream team!

 

We’ve covered most of the bases by now – surely shift 3 would be a doddle?!

Shift 1 – The chaos has begun

Training Day

So I am one of the fortunate ones – I am a volunteer for the 2017 World Para-Athletics Championships in London (and I will never tire of saying that!) Just three weeks ago, I wasn’t even a part of the event, but there was no way on earth I was ever going to turn down this kind of opportunity.

Our training day just confirmed everything I wanted and more; a volunteer family for the 10-day event, I was going to fit in just fine! The second we all walked in to the lecture hall, the buzz of excitement was deafening with everyone chatting for the very first time – some of the stories I found out were incredible. Three of them had volunteered for the Olympics in London back in 2012, two others had flown out to Rio last year, and someone else had been volunteering for the last 20 years for everything from the Moonwalk to Athletics competitions. The only thing missing was a partridge and a pear tree!

Fast forward another week and it was time to pick up our uniform and accreditations – getting out of Westfield Shopping Centre was like trying to escape the Crystal Maze; no-one made it particularly clear that to get to the stadium, going up a floor was a necessity. So by the time any of us actually made it to the pop-up centre, we’d all been running Accreditationaround like blue-ass flies to ensure we didn’t miss our timeslot, and no-one had warned us of the photo opportunity on arrival. Mine was more like a mugshot. Not impressed in the slightest. And what’s worse – officials actually have to look at that monstrosity to let me in.

The uniform is great and Asics have covered all the bases – we have everything from tops (which are a luminous pink so that people in passing planes can see us) to waterproof jackets (that will come in useful, I don’t know if London can go 10 days without some form of rainfall!) to socks and trainers, all of which we can keep after the event. But as with all new trainers, breaking them in is vitally important, so mine have been making appearances in the office, despite the strict dress code. Not entirely sure bright aqua-coloured trainers fit in with the ‘smart casual’ theme…

So that’s the background, now comes the action!

Our first day was chaotic, incredible, mind-boggling and exciting, and that’s before any of the racing actually began! We have a great team of Lane Markers and Starting Blocks people, but I’m not at my best first thing in the morning; waking up at 4am to drive up from Southampton to get to the stadium for 8am is usually unacceptable for me, especially on a Saturday morning, but for this, I’ll make an exception to the rule. I did have to apologise to my team though for my less than sunny demeanour. I liken myself to Garfield in the mornings…

Starting blocks There’s so many different things to remember before and after each race, and manoeuvring the starting blocks can be a little tricky – turns out, they are a lot heavier than they look on TV – but we’re all hoping it gets a little easier as the shifts go on. On the plus side, our Team Leaders are great and are teaching us as much as possible to make it look seamless. They’ve done this countless many times and know exactly what the officials want us to do, so we are effectively sheep – we’ll follow them and go wherever we’re told for now!

The team dynamic is fantastic and everyone has some incredible stories to tell. I’m one of the babies of the group at 22, so my life experiences are a little mute compared to some of the seasoned veterans of volunteer work, but I can guarantee I’ll learn a ton just by being around these incredible people from around the country and further afield. But it’s one of those situations where even if you have never met them before, they are still willing to help.

Me and DeniseI am more than happy to admit my sense of direction is atrocious – I may have also mentioned that in my interview for this role which probably wasn’t my greatest move – so getting to the stadium and then the right bridge for check-in could have been problematic, but I found another person in a pink shirt and got chatting away. Turns out, she’s been working behind the scenes at the Olympic Park for the last three months and walked with me to where I needed to be, stopping off and showing me all the landmarks on the way. The generosity of the volunteers is incredible, and so far, I still have my bearings!

WhatsApp LogoWe’ve even set up a WhatsApp group for our team so we can share memories and photos throughout the event and stay in contact afterwards. So far there’s only about 8 of us in it, but I’m sure as the days go on, it will grow stronger, and so will the bond between us all. I’ve only met around 20-25 of us from shift one, but there are plenty of others to meet and grill them about their lives. After all, I’m a journalist and therefore a nosy bugger!

Can’t wait to get started for shift 2 now, roll on the morning!

The trials and tribulations of a Paralympic hopeful – Chapter Two

I am in a world of pain. A world of pain I have never experienced before, and wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. A pain that SAS hopefuls pray won’t happen to them in the selection process, and all this pain from sporting exercise. One day I will learn my lesson – I hope from now on I remember padded shorts will forever be my friend on a bike, and use this version of hell as a horrific anecdote of what happens if you don’t.

Rewind one excruciatingly painful week…

alarmHearing your alarm go off at 3.45am is about as pleasant as gauging your eyes out with forks whilst standing on hot charcoal. I’d imagine. I’ve never been particularly good in the mornings, let alone on a pitch-black night in the middle of November, so I was pleasantly surprised I managed to get out of the house and into the car without waking up everyone else down the street. The tricky part was to get my incredibly patient boyfriend awake enough to sit in the driver’s seat and do the four-hour journey up to Manchester for the second time in the space of two weeks – mission successful… just about. Two Red Bulls and a Square bar later anyway!

I’ll be honest, the drive up is all a little bit of a blur to me, mostly because I was seeing it through my eyelids. Clearly a distinct lack of sleep was catching up to me, but I woke up just in time to arrive at the National Cycling Centre. To my surprise, only eight of us were there for testing, but recognised a couple from the Athletics trials so I felt right at home. (Feel free to have a read of the Athletics blog – it explains a lot more about how I got here!)

I’d been to the Manchester Velodrome a few times before, but not in the same capacity, at all. Cheerleading competitions seem to have no relation whatsoever to going round and round in circles on a bike that weighs about as much as my left arm. The actual cycling part of the trial was eventful in itself. Considering I haven’t been on a bike since I was about para-cycling-line-up14 and my lack of balance on two feet – let alone two wheels – is almost non-existent, I wasn’t expecting to become Laura Trott after just one attempt.

Much to my relief, and everyone else’s, we were on static bikes for the day and not let loose on the Velodrome just yet. Baby steps Chachi. Instead, we were introduced to speed and endurance testing – a whole new version of fresh hell! We knew roughly what we were getting into, but jeez, I don’t think I was quite prepared for it.

For starters, it took about 20 minutes to get all eight of us set up on the bikes, and it was the first time I’ve ever been strapped onto a bike. Definitely a new experience, especially when you wanted to get off for a drink or needed assistance in order to fall off after interval training. Four sets of six-seconds flat-out to show your top speed, followed by three gruelling minutes of pedalling as fast as possible. And all this includes changing the gears with my right hand that has no co-ordination and no way of defining which handle I’m moving.

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Trust me, it doesn’t show just how steep it really is…

 

My body isn’t used to hard-core physical exercise (or exercise in general) at the moment; after just a minute, my legs were burning, 30 seconds later, my knee was cracking with every single rotation and two minutes in I was literally screaming in pain. I’d say that was most probably the longest three minutes of my life, quickly followed by collapsing on the handlebars, and then falling off the bike. I’ve never been a particularly graceful person, but trust me, that wasn’t exactly one of my proudest moments…

Leaving the inside of the track walking like John Wayne also wasn’t pleasant, but still, the comedic value was worth it for everyone else watching. Three and a half long hours pass waiting for my personal classification testing – the minutes elapse, time is killed walking around the local shops and the Etihad Stadium with my ever-patient img_3421boyfriend, and yet we still have more than two hours to kill. Perfect. Eventually, the safest solution is for him to kip in the car for an hour or two in preparation for the drive home, whilst I aimlessly sit around in the café in silence. At least the Rugby is on.

Finally, I’m called into the medical room to determine whether my disability is actually severe enough to even be classified (if not, the morning’s cycling efforts would have been for nothing). Technically, each individual session was supposed to last 30 minutes – Me be awkward as always, mine lasted 75 minutes. Never one to fit in with the crowd and be (in relative terms) normal.

 

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I’m in the red top and clearly suffering with sitting down already!

It turns out that amongst many of the tests I had done, I have no reflexes at all on either side of my body, leaving the physiotherapists completely dumbfounded as to why. But after endless poking and prodding from two different people, it’s official, I have a classification. I would be a C5 athlete (the least severe of the categories) but I thought I wouldn’t even be put in a class. The pain, the genuine screaming, the burning legs hotter than an erupting volcano was all worth it.

My dream is slowly becoming a reality – Tokyo 2020 is almost impossible, but with every step, the closer I will get and there will be light at the end of the tunnel. I have been defying expectations since I was born, why stop that now?

Bruges on the waves: an insight into the ‘Venice of the North’

As the Belgian city bustles with over three million tourists each year, Talia Jones writes about the heart and soul of the city from the calmer waters of the canal routes.

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“…And whatever you do, don’t fall in, yes?” muffles our tour guide through plastic headphones as we tentatively step into the sun-soaked canal boat. That was exactly the confidence boost we needed to hear. Michel had been explaining Bruges’ history and culture for the last three hours in his broken English, adding ‘yes?’ to every other sentence. It was as though even he was not certain of his facts.

We had spent most of the tour lagging behind the guide; amidst copious photographic opportunities of the idyllic surroundings and only two good ankles between the pair of us, my mother and I had firmly found our place as the tortoises of the group. Dipping in and out of headphone range left a constant static ringing through our ears, but we didn’t care – it was her 50th birthday and we were going to enjoy ourselves.

28The boat appeared derelict at best, with rotting wood and an attempt at covering up the cracks with a translucent-looking lick of white paint, so we were grateful when Vincent offered us a helping hand onto the water. Very grateful indeed. He was a gorgeous specimen of a man – exactly the physique and chiselled jawline you’d expect to grace the London Fashion Week catwalk. This was a welcome distraction from Michel’s constant, incessant mumblings.

Unfortunately, the moment was abruptly ended by my inability to fathom where I was going, having to be saved from face-planting into the canal. Not exactly my finest hour.

Picturesque views were at every sweeping corner in the city they named ‘The Venice of the North’; the 12th century hospital still stands with the original brickwork and has been resurrected as a museum almost rivalling the Louvre. Meandering up the river, you encounter a piece of modern art living in the canal made entirely of white steel pipes standing three storeys high – something Tracy Emin would have been immensely proud of creating. And all this before you get to experience the three tallest buildings within the five-mile city walls.

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“Get your cameras out now,” Vincent says, with a knowing grin on his face, “The Church of Our Lady is straight ahead of us.” And he isn’t wrong about wanting to capture this hugely impressive feat of architecture on film – it is a thing of absolute, man-made beauty. The 13th century, gothic-style cathedral has been modified with a Victorian era twist to give the building a more modern interpretation in the historical centre of the city. “Oh, and one of Michelangelo’s sculptures lives there too. I think it’s called Madonna,” he adds, as if this unintentional comment was just an afterthought and not one of the most widely recognisable pieces of artwork in the world.

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The other two masterpieces of Bruges’ skyline are also cathedrals of varying style and stature, but equally outstanding in the dusky lighting. But these startling structures were to be just three of the many highlights of the canal tour. “If you look to your right, you’ll see Marilyn Monroe in the window,” Vincent nonchalantly declares, as if it is a sight you would see anywhere in the world. Marilyn’s iconic pose resides in one of the shop windows and would send shivers down even the coldest of spines.

People wax lyrically about the unequivocal beauty of the autumnal colours dissipating into the narrow waterways, but observing the reddish-green leaves falling around you under the sunset sends you into some zen-like trance. Until the women at the back of the boat giggle like schoolgirls so much that the boat nearly overturns – magical moment gone.

22We had already been given a warning before we even started covering the sparkling water – Vincent had the audacity to ask one of the larger women on the boat to kindly sit on the other side, attempting to even the balance out. He was obviously one who was unafraid of offending people, but we found him oddly charming in spite of this. In fact, all the middle-aged ladies were hanging on to his every word throughout the tour like pre-teens at a One Direction concert.

It was lucky we were so attentive to his stories – we may have only met him twenty minutes previously, but he clearly had an understanding of the females on board, pointing out the best chocolate shops across the city, in between the historical highlights and majestic museums. But it’s the houses on the river that stand out the most. The pastel-coloured, medieval-style buildings that line the canal front astound me. It is like the adult, real life version of Balamory.

Before we knew it, our journey through the centre of Bruges was over and we would have to go back to the rather dull musings of Michel, suffering once more with headphones too big to fit comfortably in our ears and contend with static that would haunt us for the next three days. But half an hour with a dishy-looking man, husky voice and a sat down tour around a city with undoubtedly rich history: Priceless.

19This overwhelmingly stunning city has hidden treasures encompassed within the five-mile radius of handmade bricked wall; from chocolatiers that share melt-in-the-mouth milk chocolate with tourists for free (which, incidentally, we exploited as much as we could) to the obliging natives who direct the clueless among us without a moment’s consideration. Bruges is not just a medieval city; it is a land of unwavering possibilities.

Welcome to the life of a 3rd year University student…

I am happy to admit that being a third year sports journalism student is chaotic, frustrating, time-consuming and draining. But it is possibly the most rewarding thing I will ever do in my career. It will be setting me up for life!

So I thought it would be a good time to show you exactly what our university students do when they aren’t drinking to drown their sorrows! Here is only our 2nd ever fully live broadcast that went on air from Solent University.

Me and my team of five created the last package on celebrating 130 years of AFC Totton, a local football club who have had more then their share of ups and downs. Watch the video, feel free to share as much as you like and comment away!!

Stags bounce back in the New Forest derby

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AFC Totton started with the same line up as the defeat to Cinderford Town last Saturday.

AFC Totton’s comprehensive 4-0 win over local rivals, Bashley Town, have ensured the Stags’ rise up the table after three wins in the last four games despite an uncharacteristically slow performance.

It was a largely uneventful first half, with Totton having most of the possession but nothing to show for their efforts. However, Nathaniel Sherborne was to be a threat from the outset after the goalkeeper had to produce a one-handed save in just the second minute.

Sherborne’s determination paid off on 24 minutes, after his solo run from the half way line brought him to the penalty box and he effortlessly dispatched the ball past Bashley goalkeeper, Rob Gillett to give the stags the lead.

Both teams appeared lacklustre and low in confidence after defeats in their last matches, and it took 36 minutes for Bashley to trouble Totton’s resident goalkeeper, Steve Mowthorpe, who made a routine catch to maintain his clean sheet.

Chances were few and far between after half time until a lay off from Sherborne found Craig Feeney on the penalty spot, and he wpid-img_20150929_235742.jpg the ball into the bottom right corner to double their lead.

It was definitely not Totton’s best performance of the season, but were still managing to create goal-scoring opportunities, and on 71 minutes, Sherborne blasted the ball home from close range, leaving Gillett with no chance to prevent his second of the game.

Misplaced passes from both teams left the game feeling a little disjointed, especially in the second half, but substitutes Jake Rawkins, James Roden and Matthew Brewer, breathed new air into the Totton side.

Brewer, who made his debut on Saturday in the 3-0 defeat to Cinderford, nearly made it four goals to the home side, but for a sliding tackle.

But with five minutes remaining, Rawkins’ curling cross into the box found Mike Gosney who headed the ball into the top right corner and just out of reach of Gillett once more.

Totton will be grateful to leave the Testwood Stadium with the three points in the bag after a good result but an unconvincing performance. The win lifts them one place in the table to 17th, and Bashley rock bottom and in serious trouble already.

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Mike Gosney re-signed for Totton at the start of this season. Pictured with manager, Steve Hillock.

The Stags play Tiverton Town in the FA Trophy on Saturday, but Gosney believes that the squad will have to revise their strategy for the weekend: “We were okay in patches today but will have to improve a lot against Tiverton.

“Tiverton will be a big test for us, and we will have to up the tempo a lot more, but it would be great if we could get a result and go on a cup run.”

AFC Totton team: Mowthorpe, Hibberd, Diaper, Williams, Dempsey**, Simpson, Burgess*, Allen, Feeney***, Sherborne, Gosney.

Subs: Rawkins*, Roden**, Brewer***

Snipers Cheerleading Head Coach is vying for top spot at Nationals with brand new squad

11130226_10153831678254922_6390578610167157099_nSnipers Cheerleading Academy may have only been up and running since Easter, but their coach targets a National title in their first full season.

The squad, based in Hounsdown in the New Forest, are aiming for the same success they had with Southern Sirens Cheerleading Squad, before relations within the team broke down and all members made the transition four months ago.

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Head Coach Sam Youren is taking 7 routines to the Eastbourne competition in just 10 weeks’ time

Sam Youren, Snipers Head Coach, sees their first competition in Eastbourne in early November as a warm up to the National Championships in March, but doesn’t want to pressurise her new team.

“We’ve had a lot of success in the past few years at Eastbourne and I want the team to do well after putting in so much time and effort over the last few months. But I know that it may be a little scary for some of the newest members.

“There’s a lot of good competitive squads going in November, but I don’t see why we couldn’t place in the top three – our stunts are harder, our dance is faster and tighter, we could do really well as long as no-one panics.”

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Lia Jackson raised over £300 alone to help Snipers reach their target

However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing for the new team, and uniforms do not come cheap for cheerleaders. To kick-start their sponsorship, one plucky parent completed a 10,000ft skydive just two weeks ago raising over £2300 to cover the costume costs of everyone in the squad.

There are other fundraising ideas coming up for Snipers, with bag-packing at their local stores and performing at events being the main options for new safety equipment and training facilities.

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Lia caught in the act on the way down

If you would like to donate to their JustGiving page, please follow this link:

http://www.gofundme.com/y8wa9h6x?fb_action_ids=10154061945224922&fb_action_types=og.shares&fb_ref=fb_cr_n

To hear more on the skydive story, click the link below for video footage:

The daily struggles of a twenty-something

images2XE68VO1So our twenties are supposed to be the time in our lives where we get our shit together, find the job we’ve been working towards since we started school aged 4, find the man of our dreams and settle down. But truthfully, this is the decade where we drink until we hit the floor, weep over endless amounts of exams that none of us have revised for and generally screw ourselves up just in time for our thirties.

imagesHAKNWPEMThe relationship thing just seems to be a nightmare for everyone, no matter what age. Whether it’s going to town three nights a week to find ‘Mr Right’ or signing up for online dating, (because everyone you’ve met in town turns out to be a creep and you’ve given up) the wait to find the one is a bitch. There are so many stories of people finding their childhood sweethearts, and then there’s us; the people who are busier falling in love with Mr Grey (whips and paddles and fictional characters and all) than actually going out to find, in Pinocchio’s words, a real boy.

Then we start scrolling through Facebook, – a daily ritual – and spot another couple we went to school with who are now engaged and flaunting a very sparkly and flashy ring, making our egos shrink to the size of Yoda again. If everyone else can manage it, what are we doing untitled (18)wrong?! None of us were ever warned in school how difficult it is to find someone, let alone hold down a relationship without killing our partners, surely it’s time to add commitment struggles to the curriculum?

But on the days where no engagements are fully documented with soppy statuses and no end of generous well-wishers, we go downstairs to open the post only to find a wedding invitation tucked in between your latest bank statement and yet another phone book. It’s like we’re being mocked at every opportunity that we’re alone. This is the moment when we realise that Bridget Jones is no longer just fiction; it’s now our life.

The next thing our families expect in our twenties are kids. Endless amounts of kids. Every family party you go to, there’s always that one aunt who comes up to you at the buffet table with that knowing smile that her remark could go one of two ways. “Are you pregnant? You’re starting to show.” No, that would be from last night after eating half my body weight in ice-cream, knowing I was coming to this party. I shall name the food baby Ben. Or Jerry.

untitled (20)Of course we’re broody. Every friend we’ve had since the age of seven is pregnant or a housewife with two kids already. The amount of baby showers we’re expected to buy gifts for leaves us more broke than when we were 16 and jobless, but the second someone mentions the word baby, we’re like putty in their hands. The only joy of not yet being a parent is being able to act like the fun pretend aunt when babysitting but still have the option of giving them back.

untitled (21)Unfortunately, we don’t the same option of giving university modules a few attempts to get better results, even though it’s no secret how useful it would be. It’s obvious to tell which year we’re in by what we’re doing;

  • First year, we get stupidly drunk at least twice a week, turn up to more lectures hungover than sober and barely scrape through with the required 40%.
  • Second year, the social life still exists but we’ve had to cut our drinking sessions to once a week now we’re paying for the house and bills, and results actually count towards our degree so slightly more effort is put into revising for exams
  • Third year, no social life whatsoever, many alcoholic drinks just live in the fridge so we don’t have to leave the house, and our dissertations leave us confused as to whether we need to punch someone, have a hug or do six tequila shots without taking a breath.

imagesRIVEURO0 (2)And then to top it off, there’s the annual nightmare of sorting out student finance. Between trying to work out which tax year they are after this time round, and getting our parents to actually remember their memorable information before the Alzheimer’s sets in, we end up wanting to pull our hair out before we even start the new term. The best screw up with student finance though, is when the parents don’t follow the procedures properly and find themselves applying for their own student finance instead of enhancing ours. There’s nothing funnier or more bewildering than seeing your mum apply to do Sports Coaching at university when she struggles to make it up the stairs without losing her breath.

We’d rather be skiing down a black slope with a blindfold on and going backwards rather than the thought of holding down one job in our twenties, and yet we find ourselves with three part time jobs just to make ends meet after uni. This wasn’t how we planned it. Our plan at graduation was to meet a famous footballer in town that night, fall in love, never have the need to work and reach the ultimate goal of a closet of shoes. Instead, we spend our daytime attempting to catch up on sleep and creating a never-ending list of CVs, the evening are spent stacking shelves at the local supermarket, and the nights as a bartender at the local club. No, it wasn’t meant to be like this.

untitled (22)But the jobs are essential to pay for our shopping addictions and numerous first (and only) dates, it’s just a shame we now have to shop online because we no longer have the energy to make it into town. We can’t get away with wearing the same outfit you wore on the last date, despite being a completely different person. They might not know, but we would, and that’s just unacceptable. Starting to feel like a vicious circle, no?

And as if this wasn’t enough to deal with every day, then you also have the family to contend with on a daily basis. After all, we’re fed up of Dad’s sexist and no-so-funny jokes that he keeps bringing home from the lads at work, as well as his tendency to humiliate you out in public at every given opportunity. Then there’s mum; clearly the menopause has started and the HRT hasn’t completely kicked in yet. Obviously, it would explain the mile a minute mood swings and the memory loss, but does she have to take it out on us?

imagesJ17G8FGUThere’s nothing and no-one who is willing to warn us how rough our twenties are going to be, not least the people who have already survived this horrific decade – they want to see us suffer! Wouldn’t you just love to be four years old again, without a care in the world, and marrying a different boy each week with Haribo rings for your wedding? No bills or student loans to pay for, or going days on end without any sleep, just having sleepovers and chasing boys in the playground. But then again, you’re able to drink many many cocktails in your twenties; maybe it isn’t so bad after all…