The Open University

I’m two-thirds of the way through a degree with the Open University. I spent a lot of time considering what subject I wanted to study and whether I should go to a ‘normal’ university after all, but I decided that it was right for me to take one course at a time and see where it went.

This is how I came to start Open University, my experience so far, the courses I’ve taken, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of the system. Continue reading

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The Day We Nearly Killed Our Brother

Jonny was going through his ‘skater-boy’ phase. A hint of ‘emo’. He was about eleven years old. That day he was wearing his favourite red and black striped wrist bands, a peaked grey hat, black t-shirt, grey skinny jeans, and Converse. His clothes drew attention to his lanky body.

It was warm enough to be in the garden; a day when the sun dipped in and out of clouds, the breeze slightly chilling whenever the sun decided to hide. Jonny was the first to go outside, as was so often the case. Our older brother, David, had torn himself away from the computer and gone out to join him.

There had been a shed at the top of our garden, but it became so rotten that we’d torn it down and were preparing to lay the foundations for a new one. A tree was beginning to lean out over it.

I walked up the steps to see what my brothers were doing, tiptoeing in my sandled feet, carefully avoiding the patio cracks and the colony of ants that spilled out of them. I flicked one off my toe.

It looked like a construction sight up there, largely because of the planks of wood, breeze blocks, sticks and other items that Jonny had decided to collect. The boys were busy attaching a length of blue rope to one end of a small ladder which we had acquired from a rubbish tip.

‘Hi,’ said David, with a glint in his eye as he looked up at me. ‘Jonny’s going to stand on a rung, and we’ll chuck the end of the rope over the tree branch and hoist him up!’ Continue reading

Being Kind to Yourself

I’ve had an unusually hectic couple of weeks juggling scout music camp preparation, academic work, and commitments with family and friends. I’m out of routine and behind on a few things, and I tend to beat myself up about that. People often give the, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself,’ advice, but it’s easier said than done!

As I went into the New Year I decided to be gentler with myself and not take on more than I could handle. It was hard to do that with the busyness of last week. I didn’t have a free evening or weekend. I didn’t do any reading. I barely wrote anything. I didn’t manage to do a blog post. I was emotional and tearful.

Now I’m tired and trying to remember what ‘normal life’ is like, and how to get back to it. Instead of letting it worry me I’m doing my best to accept it and keep calm. I have to remember what I do if a friend is stressed, busy, and struggling to keep on top of everything. I try to be understanding, gentle, and feed them coffee and chocolate at regular intervals! Yet somehow it’s harder to give yourself that kind of consideration. Continue reading