The one before the kids came

After an intense week of training, much of which I wish I paid more attention to, the day has finally arrived; the kids are coming. 

Having done this sort of thing before, I thought that’d prepare me, at least mentally, for this, but as the hour draws closer, I’m brimming with dread. This is mainly because of the age group, with the fights and the toilet training and what they expect from you as a Councillor, which is a lot more than ever before, which is good and bad because despite how much planning is yet to be done, maybe I’ll come out of it more useful at my home camp!

Altogether, it’s not been the best of days for many reasons, but despite all of it, there are some wonderful stories told by other staff members that have me holding out a bit of hope, and I remember feeling similarly the night before my first Nefyn which turned out amazingly.

So here’s to hope, see you on the other side!




The one where we made s’mores


Wandering up Amsterdam Ave. I spotted two beautiful churches, the architecture and design made me feel right at home



Everyone drives wrong here!






The view from Central Park Reservoir!


This is our lake…


Sunrises are wonderful here


It stretches forever in its awesome stillness


Sunsets are just as nice


Our first hike to the nature centre, little family of ducks


Swimming in open water is definitely something new I’ve learned, the water is a beautifully cold change from the torrid 30 degree sun,




We got to see the lillies come alive


What a view!


Kayaking on the lake, it’s just so still and calm, often there are other old couples that come by and fish, drinking in the tranquility afforded by nature and the surrounding mountains








Focusing on the X100 is definitely a pain, it’s hard to get it quite right and compose at the same time due to the offset viewfinder


I need more of these in my life, they are the best things in the world! Let’s not talk about the calories, however.


We learned to make fires and have cookouts on bunk nights when the kids arrive


£.79, hello heaven?

Today was our first official day off! So we took a school bus (classic) and headed out to the nearest mall, the Palisades Centre! Having been bereft of good internet for a week, I’ve done a lot, a lot more than I can describe over free WiFi at least! Suffice to say, however, camp is wonderful, with its ups and its downs. I’ve made some really fantastic new friends at the cost of my British accent, although it’s not to America I lost but to Ireland!

This week we’ve just been training and a part of me is pretty nervous because I’ve never had kid as young (5-8) and from such backgrounds. Some of the stories are horrifying and others are absolutely incredible, so I’m definitely in for something big and I hope I make it out in one piece! The people are lovely, and we’ve had some absolutely incredible nights under the stars and around the campfire! CHB is definitely different from anything I’ve ever done before, but I’ll wait till the kids get here to be able to tell fully!

Till then



The one with no internet

Most of today was spent lounging around enjoying the sun in NYC. Central Park is beautiful but sadly, I can;t upload my pictures as I’m sharing the internet with 90 other people in the middle of nowhere, so I shall have to find a Starbucks somewhere!

We arrived at camp after about an hours drive up state, and my word it is beautiful! The lake house is so picturesque set against the background of Bear Mt (named, nonsurprisingly because it has bears, a fact that literally surprised us all today!
 We named her Debbie).

It’s …different, to anything I’ve done before to put it that way, both in the bad and the good, but more on that as the whole experience unfolds. This week is mostly going to be spent training and getting ready for the campers’ arrival on Saturday. There’s a WalMart trip in there somewhere to purchase all the things I forgot to pack with money that I’m burning through like there’s no tomorrow. It’s almost like because it doesn’t feel like real money, I don’t ascribe it the same worth and so have gone through over $100 in less than a day!


We did get nearly unlimited Ben and Jerry’s today, and Hagen Daaz, so for now, I am happy.


p.s. posts may be few and far between due to being in the middle of nowhere! 

The first one

I survived!


Getting to Heathrow was fun, despite the constant nagging sensation that I’d forgotten something.


On the tube there I got talking to this one lady (I can already hear the gasps of disapproval from legions of Londoners) after both our spinner suitcases were subject to the acceleration of the piccadilly line. Turns out, we were both born in Kenya which made for an interesting chat about current affairs, intermingled with wistful nostalgia. Kenya seems to be a fantastic little trump card for making new friend in the most unlikely circumstances! Long story short, I made a new travel friend! She even gave me her card, forgetting, throughout the whole conversation, to mention that she works at *insert very large investment bank here* so I guess coffee is on her!


Despite the fact that my pre booked flight seat was stolen (Grr!) the view never ceased to amaze


I’ve never seen so many flags in such a short space of time, ‘murica!


This was a slightly lucky shot through the grimy window opposite me on the JFK shuttle to NYC. The buildings are extremely tall, so you feel slightly dwarfed by their sun blocking monolithic stature. The grid like layout of the roads makes for some really cool contrast though, if only cameras had the HDR of our eyes


Can’t say the same about my current area though, quite glad to only be here for the night..


After dropping off our luggage, we decided to hit up central. The weather clearly had other plans for us, and decided to open up, leaving us in the worst rain I’ve experienced in a long while. It was warm, so I couldn’t wear a jacket, but it did make our attempt to explore slightly depressing.


Times Sq.


It was so packed!




I travel almost 4000 miles for a KFC, and it was awful. Truly, I do not recommend this to anyone, what a waste of $7


Helvetica is the only redeeming feature of the NYC subway. Otherwise, it’s a dingy, sketchy version of Her Majesty’s finest. Oh tube, how I miss you, I shall never complain again. They do have AC, although it does take it do icy temperatures, so you’re either roasting or a popsicle.


Hurray for wide angle long exposure! The short focal length of the X100 means you can reduce the shutter speed to 1/8th with minimal blur. Also, people really don’t tend to bother you as much, as it just looks like another digital camera, which has its good and its bad points. I feel I’m slightly getting used to it now, it’s just a bit sluggish compared to a DSLR, but the size more than makes up for it when it comes to travel at least, and you still get good shots. Physical controls for aperture and shutter speed are definitely a plus, they get you to think about it before you shoot, and I can almost be prepared to expose a shot correctly, although that’s definitely a work in progress! The A mode always tends to overexpose, although can be good when the opportunity is unmissable.


It’s all getting a little too real

Yesterday was my last full day at home, and that is mildly terrifying.

It’s not that I’m not excited, nor that I think I’m going to feel excessively homesick, as I’ve stayed away from home at university for longer. It’s just the little things like changing money (Dollars feel awfully like monopoly cash, I’m gonna miss you Queenie) that remind you you’re going off into a whole new place for a really long time, which is a little unsettling!

We had a family meal today as a little send off, for which we chose Prezzo in Salford’s Media City. It’s quite  a new development onto the area surrounding the Lowry theatre, which used to be a bit of an eyesore, now extremely modern with high rise offices such as those for the Beeb and lots of open space to walk around and take it all in, brilliantly contrasted with the industrial remnants of the quay by way of the bridge and surrounding structures.

All of these were made even more stunning by the glorious turn of weather, giving us a fantastic opportunity to try out the panorama roof on the new car; the Yaris’ very own hat full of sky!

T minus two!



Setting sun has the fantastic ability to light up plane trails




It makes such a difference to the inside of the car!



Anglia-8 Anglia-7 Anglia-6

More gems from The Northern Quarter

I always go on about this place, and each time I walk around it, I always find something new! Today, Manchester’s own little bit of East London yielded Oklahoma gift shop. It’s pretty much your standard fare for an indie gift shop: small and crammed floor to ceiling with small, cute, backbreaking things you never thought you needed until today! However, resist your subconscious urge to buy everything you see,  walk further into its depths and you’ll find a cool little coffee shop! Odd tables, primary school like chairs, bright colours on everything, it’s like I’m five!


Once we’d finished in there, we kept walking round and peering inside all the cool bars and stores and then spotted this bad boy. I’m not too hot on my car knowledge, but it does remind me of the Anglia from the Chamber of Secrets!

DXO anglia

That’s all for now!



Breakfast ribs? I think so!

Today was Founders day at Hard Rock Cafe, and to celebrate ether 43rd anniversary, for one sacred hour, they reverted their menu and prices to those of the 70s. This, guys, means burgers are £.6 and racks of ribs £.8! Added to this, floats were £.25, sundaes £.4 and ice cream was basically free too! We were pretty over zealous with the queuing time, which resulted in us being pretty much first, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t have skipped breakfast to make the train! Suffice to say the wait was worth it and we had an absolute whale of a time, for less than the Manchester train fare to boot!




The Roadhouse Ribs were incredible


The humble beginnings of my all time favourite burger, the 10oz legendary!


This was my sister’s first float!


There was pretty much no room in the inn when it came to dessert, but how could you turn this bad boy down?


et la pièce de résistance..


Adventures in your own backyard

Yesterday was one of those mythical days, like a unicorn of meteorology, only rarer, yes, it was sunny, all day in The North! Pippa came over from Nottingham and we had a pretty fantastic day.

After my nightmarish attempt at meatballs, the second time around was much improved, although the spice mix is still a work in progress! However, it made for a lovely lunch in my greenhouse conservatory. After lunch, it was down to Manchester for a beautifully indulgent afternoon out and the first road test for the X100.


100% No compromise hipster_

The toy-like size of the X100 makes for some fun hipster times!



This church has been under construction for as long as I’ve known St. Anne’s Square. It’s now finished and open to the public. It is absolutely wonderful, I’m sure my architect and history of art friends would have an absolute whale of a time. There weren’t many people inside, save for some elderly gentlemen paying their respects, a few ladies chatting in the back, assumedly working here, and a man playing the lone organ. It is a magnificent work of art, but admittedly, a little too grandiose for me, especially as a regular! The x100 struggled under the low light, but at 3200 ISO there’s barely any noise!


We finally managed to get seats at Home Sweet Home! Which is a decent little spot in the Northern Quarter. It doesn’t quite knock off Teacup, but the “Cookie Monster” Milkshake (now my favourite cold beverage) was wonderful, crafted with home made cookies with one extra! I did forget to add malt though which was a mistake in hindsight! They were a bit on the small side for the price (£4-5), and the cream wasn’t the best, but they were definitely a feast for the eyes and the visit alone was worth it. 



It’s small size does also mean you can try out some public shots without looking too imposing. This was a pretty badly composed long exposure shot of the train’s arrival. The Framing is still something to get used to, as the viewfinder is offset, but the exposure metre is quite good for coarse adjustments, and having physical buttons to adjust things is nice. 


(almost) Goodbye

The last few days have involved travelling well over 1000 mi on the train between my two homes, in and out of meetings, restaurants and coffee shops, lots of spring cleaning and an intense house hunt; there truly is no rest for the wicked! Mixed in with all this have been lots of goodbyes. Some, harder than others, but all slightly dampening the excitement of the upcoming summer. Lots of people I know are starting entirely new chapters of their lives as they get ready to take their studies all around the world, from New Zealand to Chile! This is one thing I’ll miss by being a medical student, well, until sixth year.

It has made for some pretty great afternoons and nights in though!


These guys are from my bible study group at church, most of whom are going abroad next year or into work, which is sad but also exciting! This photo was taken after a very poorly organised (by me) dinner party! Taking one example, it “started” at 8 but food wasn’t served till 10, hah! I have crippling time management issues..

This blurry mess was the debut of my new Rangefinder. They look really nice but are pretty awkward to transition to from a DSLR due to the fact that the viewfinder is offset from the sensor, and lots of Autofocus issues. But they are really, really small!
DSCF0145It was so good I had to get it again!



Halfway through the icebreaker activity, frantically trying to plan with Heidi what to do for the rest of the meeting, Ben comes up to me and says have you got your results yet? I, completely oblivious that we were receiving them today, quickly whip out my phone, not remembering that I was in front of a whole crowd of people, and with ravenous delight discover that, yes, I passed! 

Words can’t even describe how I feel right now. We hugged it out right there, with a mutual understanding that this leg of the marathon was over, at least for another few months, and we could well and truly start enjoying summer!