I’ve moved – details in post

If you’re following my journey then thank you so much, I hope you can find it both interesting & helpful.

As the interest in my blog grew I decided to upgrade and have now moved over to a nice new site with a brand new name for moving forward. It’s still the same journey!

Please do visit http://www.growingmyknowing.com and continue to follow my journey there.

Thank you for your support,

Leanne x

I’m Moving Sites

As many of you know, I’ve been considering some big changes to my blog for a while now. Not the content, just the look, style, name and basically a general upgrade all round.

Today I FINALLY made the decision and just did it. I’ve bought a new domain name and theme and will be moving my blog to a sparkling new self-hosted site. I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m not technically minded. I have to work all the techy stuff out bit by bit as I go and I’m not even 100% certain that I’ll know how to do all of this. I guess I’ve taken the advice of Richard Branson on this one. He once said something along the lines of saying yes to an opportunity that presents itself and advised that you work out how to do it later – that’s what I’m doing.

So please be patient with me. I’ve opted to use Phil at PipDig and his lovely themes to give my blog a new look. He comes highly recommended and his superb work is said to be extremely user friendly – I hope so!

I should be making the move over the next few days so things might look very different soon. I’ll keep everyone updated where I can. Once I’ve made the move it may take me a while to get the site looking and working how I want it to but I’m pretty sure that it will be instantly better.

Please stick with me, I can’t wait to show the new blog off and as soon as I do, I have lots of new posts about my experiences and visit to The Open University campus last week.

Wish me luck,

Leanne Serendipity, History and Me

The One Where I Visit The OU Campus

It really happened and I really loved it.

You may know that I was invited to visit the OU campus this week. (If not then you can read about it in the blog post: An Invitation to the OU Campus ) I’ve now been and can say that I’m prouder than ever before to say that I am an OU student and part of the OU community. Campus was awesome, inspirational and kind of humbling. I’m so glad that I went and now I want to tell you all about it.

There’s going to be way too much to put into one blog post so I will do a mini series and break it all down. The campus deserves far more than for me to rush it into one little blog post so please bare with me.

I’ll try to give you a brief synopsis of what we did and how I felt – feelings are important here.

0730 – We were up and almost ready to leave. We had a long journey ahead of us and I was dreading getting lost in Milton Keynes – I had heard stories about everything looking the same!

0930 – We stopped VERY QUICKLY to grab a ‘healthy breakfast’ on the way. It’s important to set yourself up for a big day.

On route to the Open University

1015 – We realised that time was running out. Although we had kept moving most of the way, we did have fairly heavy traffic for most of our journey. Our sat nav was now estimating that we would arrive at 10.59 yet we were due to start at 11 – I nervously tweeted OU Students to apologise! This is what I got back, phew they were clearly a friendly bunch!

Tweet from OU Students Association

1110 – We arrived! (and we didn’t get lost at all). I was so excited that I made Steve stop in the middle of the road so that I could take pictures of the signs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then as we drove into the car park we began to wonder where we needed to go / what we should do. Again, there was no need to worry. This sign was right in front of us!

Reserved for Leanne Goodall

1115 – We walked into a room and were greeted by the lovely smiley faces of Jess and Heather from the OU Students Association and the friendly David from Surviving The OU. There was tea, coffee and cake and I immediately knew that everything was going to be OK.

** Now my timings may be a bit off from here on. It was a busy and fun day and keeping track of time was not at the forefront of my mind **

1140 – It was raining hard outside and our trip to the Observatory had been cancelled. Inside, we were given the power to takeover the OU Students social media accounts! David took the reigns on Facebook while I took over Twitter and Instagram – it was a lot of fun!

OUSA on Social Media

Student Takeover Selfie

We introduced ourselves to the students with this selfie.

1145 – We were taken to a very special place, a research lab (I’ve never been in one of those before) which I think was part of the physical science department but definitely dealt with some seriously cool space missions! The entrance to the lobby had a superb model of Rosetta.

Rosetta and the OU

The OU team had created some of the complex components which helped Rosetta to collect data. We got to see it all. Ben Dryer is a researcher there and kindly gave up some of his precious time to show us around and talk us through more of the things that he is working on. So when you next hear that one of these things has landed on a planet, comet or something else in space then I’m pretty sure that the OU will have been part of it. We got to see where all that happens and that is pretty cool! Ben was kind enough to let David and I grab a picture with him before we left.

Ben Dryer OU Researcher

1200 – We stopped for 5 minutes to catch up with our social media and tell the students what we had just done. Heather and Jess thought this was the perfect time to surprise us. David and I suddenly found ourselves on Periscope with an iPhone and a selfie stick. It was a kind of live TV channel which was filming us and tweeting links out so that students could watch! This was scary but so much fun. I’m not sure how professional we looked but it seemed to be a hit by the comments we were reading. Thank you to everyone who watched and sent us comments or hearts!

1215 – We arrived at the OU Library. This was a huge building which housed all of the module books and more. We spent some time sneaking about looking at potential course books and absolutely loved spotting the collection of old module materials which were sent to the very first OU students many moons ago. Did you know that biology students were sent a fish tank and asked to purchase a Siamese Fighting Fish? We had a real laugh with this and captured some of it live on Periscope too. One person watching the live footage happened to be in charge of the library. The next thing we knew she had come down and offered us a behind the scenes tour – thank you Selina!

1300 – We had a bit more of a tour around the grounds. We saw different buildings for different purposes, we saw the lovely grounds and flower beds (all kept to a very high standard). Dotted about were lots of sculptures which are generally by local artists. It’s a really nice touch to the feel of the place. Eventually we came across Walton Hall – where it all began. I’m going to blog more about this one another day as it deserves its own spot but here’s a snap that we tweeted out on the day:

Walton Hall, The Open University

1330 – Lunch! What a lovely café the OU staff have. There is so much choice in there and all of it was lovely stuff. I went straight to the healthy ‘clean eating’ section and was really impressed with the selection of brown rice pots, fresh salads and vegetables and smoothie cups with the fresh ingredients in ready to be blended for you. It was rather impressive but the array of soups, fresh sandwiches, homemade bread and cooked food was all too tempting! We were all treated to lunch and had more time to catch up on general chatter about the OU and our social media ‘student takeover’.

Student Takeover at the OU Campus

1400 – We asked to do more live streaming on Periscope. I wanted David to talk about his graduation in the hope of inspiring other students. Jess said that if we wanted to do that then we could pop round to the Legacy Garden, somewhere that I don’t think was on the original plan. This place was beautiful and again I want to give it its own blog post. Keep your eyes peeled, it’s a special place and I’m glad that we got to go there.

1500 – We walked back from the Legacy Garden as the sun shined and I really realised how beautiful campus is. It’s such a lovely place!

Beuatiful OU grounds

We were then invited into the OUSA office and greeted with more tea and cake. These guys know how to treat their guests! There was a really happy and relaxed feel in the office and I could tell that it was a great place to work. After a bit more tweeting to the students and taking pictures we sat in a cosy room to chat about future projects that are going on. Will also did a bit of recording and were given goodie bags from OUSA! It was in this room that I really understood that the OU Students Association is there FOR STUDENTS. Our opinions and ideas mattered and the staff there really wanted to do a great job for all of us. Again this is a subject that I’d love to blog more about so I’ll save it for now.

1640 – It was time to leave. I didn’t want to leave. I could’ve chatted for hours more yet and I knew that once I went it may be a very long time before I ever went back. In many ways the day had been a total whirlwind with so much to see, do and take in yet I didn’t want it to end. It was time to begin the long journey home and start digesting a very special day.

Thank you OU Students (Heather and Jess especially) for inviting us and making us feel so welcome.

That’s not the end, I have so much more that I want to say and indeed I plan to do so. More blog posts on this are coming soon. If you have something specific that you’d like to ask me about the day then I’d love to know. Please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer.

An Invitation to the OU Campus

I was beside myself with excitement when I opened the email…the one inviting me to come to the campus.

It’s tomorrow that I go and I admit that the nerves are creeping in now. Up until this point the OU has always been a thing which exists in the form of a logo and a provider of materials. It’s been a body of people which mostly seem to connect via the internet. A body that you don’t get to see too much of in a physical way but more in a way where you know that they’re there if you need them.

When I started my OU degree I made all the usual jokes about being a student. I wanted to eat pizza for breakfast, get discounts with my NUS card and have a fresher’s party but the sad truth is that being an OU student isn’t quite the same as the usual ‘brick uni’ one. You don’t quite get all of those fun bits. That’s not to say that it’s not worth it because it really is. It is the most rewarding thing ever but there’s always that little something inside that wishes you could’ve had your own campus to have fun on (like in the films).

As the OU is a distant learning university, there isn’t a general need for most students to visit the campus. Sadly, that means that many students never get to see it for real. I get the impression that it’s a thriving place, a base, a hub and a place of research and collaboration but I don’t actually know.

So tomorrow I’m going to visit and I intend on making the most of it. Although the OU campus is different to many, I know it’ll be an inspiring and special place. I can’t wait to stand on those grounds and say that I’m there, for real. It will no longer be a figment of my imagination or something I’ve seen on TV, it’ll be real.

I think that we have a really exciting day planned with all kinds of activities and I can’t wait to tell everyone about them so keep an eye out to find out all about the day. First I have to deal with an age old problem… what on earth am I going to wear???

Undone By His Kiss Blog Tour

Blog Tour | Undone By His Kiss by Anabelle Bryant (Interview)

I was given the opportunity to take part in a ‘blog tour’ for the launch of a brand new book and decided to jump at the chance. The fact that the book has been classed as historical fiction drew me in and I wanted to know more about the research and ideas behind the novel so instead of the usual book reviews or content posts I asked if I could interview the author, Anabelle Bryant – she said yes.

Undone By His Kiss Blog Tour

The Basics

Genre: Historical fiction, Romance.

Publication Date: 6th August 2015.

Publisher: Harlequin’s Carina

Blog Tour Host: Jenny in Neverland, Neverland Blog Tours

The Author

Undone By His Kiss Blog Tour Anabelle began reading at age three and never stopped. Her passion for reading soon turned into a passion for writing and an author was born. Happy to grab a suitcase if it ensures a new adventure, Anabelle finds endless inspiration in travel, especially imaginary jaunts into Regency England, a far cry from her home in New Jersey. Instead, her clever characters live out her daydreams because really, who wouldn’t want to dance with a handsome duke or kiss a wicked earl?

Though teaching keeps her grounded, photography, running and writing, counterbalance her wanderlust. Often found with her nose in a book, Anabelle earned her Master’s Degree and is completing her Doctorate Degree in education. Thrilled to be an author for Harlequin’s Carina line, Anabelle’s historical romances are character driven. She strives to provide a heartfelt connection between her hero, heroine, and the reader, believing the emotional journey on the path to true love is the most important bond. Clever secondary characters and lively conversation keep the pages turning.

The Interview

Q. Where did your main inspiration come from when writing this book?

My novels are character driven, so it is the personality of my hero and heroine that serves as my main inspiration. What do they want? How do they accomplish it? I love to reveal my character’s journey to love by including such deep emotion, the reader feels as though they are reading about a friend.

Q. How did you go about choosing the time frame for the setting of your story?

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical romance, most especially books set in Regency England. When I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, I wanted to describe a place I found familiar and also knew I could bring to life, because I’d love to travel back in time and experience all the culture of that time period.

Q. Did you conduct any research to ensure a level of historical accuracy?

Yes! Readers of historical fiction are intelligent and they will definitely question my credibility if I make an error. I must confess it’s a pet peeve of mine when I’m reading if the author uses words or situations that would not be correct for the time period, so I’m very careful to research my facts.

Q. Are any of the characters in your book based on real life people?

No, they are all figments of my imagination and I still have a very crowded mind with many more stories to write. I do believe though that all my characters have a little of me in their depiction.

Q. Are there any scenes in the story which were based on real life experiences?

As a lover of romance, I’ve tried to incorporate little snippets of real life experience in my stories, but nothing exact. Professions of love, confessions and apologies and quirky conversations are my favorite to write.

Q. What exactly is it about regency England that you are so drawn to?

I can’t imagine someone not being charmed by the etiquette, emotion and aristocratic affluence that reigned during this time. Attending an opulent ball, dancing with a handsome Earl and riding through Hyde Park to be seen, are all favorite daydreams. Life was filled with cultural indulgence and the allure of fashion, poetry, art, is a temptation I can’t resist.

Q. Are you inspired by any other authors or do you look up to any?

I admire several authors and their unique voice in romance. Sherry Thomas writes heart wrenching emotional stories. Julia Quinn’s are witty and light. Loretta Chase is a master at seduction. I admire Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas and Elizabeth Essex too, as they are all inspiring and masterful writers.

Q. If you were to consider a sequel to this story, where would you base it?

That is a clever question as Undone By His Kiss is book two in my new Regency Charms series. Both book one and two were set in London, but book three (available in November) will take the reader out of the city to Brighton. I’m intrigued to set my new romance near the ocean because I secretly love pirates, and my hero can be a bit of a aristocratic swashbuckler near the sea.

Q. If you could go back in time and meet any historical person to use as inspiration for your books, who would it be and why?

It may be an obvious choice, but Jane Austen has written such heartfelt romance I’d have to choose her. She had an uncanny perception of life and love, and her influence lives on nearly 200 years later.

Q. Which part of this book was your absolute favourite to write?

Jasper, the hero of Undone By His Kiss, stole my heart from the minute he appeared in book one, his brother’s love story. Jasper is quirky, handsome, and very clever. His unassuming personality is infectious, and the manner that he courts Emily is absolutely my most romantic writing to date. Any scene where Jasper had a moment, was my favorite to write.

Conclusion

I’ve been impressed by Anabelle’s interview responses and love the fact that historical inaccuracies are a pet peeve for her! For me, readers of historical fiction deserve a good degree of credible accuracy in order for the real feel of an era to come through and live on. It is only by understanding a time frame in its own right that we can fully understand a story. How about you, do you crave historical accuracy in your fiction?

Buy the Book

Amazon

Nook

Goodreads

Undone By His Kiss Blog Tour

Prparing for Uni

Preparing For Uni – A Student’s Guide

I’ll be honest, I’m enjoying my study break now. I only have a few precious weeks left and I’m making the most of them because I know that I’ll be working very hard as soon as my next module starts. It’s all good, I want to work hard but that’s why I know that I need to enjoy this time off.

Despite enjoying my free time this summer, I can’t help but turn my thoughts towards any preparations that I may or may not need to do for uni. I’ve been thinking about how I prepped in previous years and how any new students might be feeling now. With that in mind I’ve written a series of blog posts for Survivingtheou.com which are perfect for anyone getting ready for uni.

Surviving the OU

I’ve looked into how I best prepare for my return to uni and any advice that I can offer to new students. If that’s what you’re after then have a read of: OU Students – Preparing to Start Your Module.

Study Tips for your Open University Journey

My Desk

Stationary features heavily in most students minds when thinking of prep and so I’ve taken a light look at the items I have considered essential. Read about those in: Stationary – The Must-Have Items.

IMG_5060

I also took a light look at all the pointless items of stationary that I have acquired along the way. Hopefully the post: Stationary – The Pointless Items will save a few students a few of their precious pounds!

Things

So tell me, what are your stationary must-haves or pointless items and how do you prepare to go back (or start) uni?

8 Photos of hapinness

8 Photos of Happiness

A slightly different post today. I’ve been tagged by Helena’s Teabreak to take part in a challenge known among the blogging community as the 8 Photos of Happiness tag – thank you Helena!

This was a scheme set up by Ariel’s Little Corner of the Internet and is designed to get bloggers to share 8 photos that represent a moment, object, place or feeling that makes them happy. ‘What a lovely idea’ that’s what I first thought but then I set about trying to select some photos…

How on earth do I choose 8 pictures which represent happiness to me?

THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE!

I have so many happy memories and thousands of pictures to search through. Do I choose the ones that represent the day I married Steve and the days that our children were born? They are truly the happiest days that I can think of but what about the ones where I’ve laughed until my cheeks hurt or the ones that have filled me with pride, a different kind of happiness. The happiness that a Mum gets through her children is a whole new form but I could never choose the 8 best pictures that represent that. So I decided that I would choose 8 pictures that represent happy times for me and that are currently on my phone (Yes, this also makes it easier to find them).

So here goes, my photos of happiness:

Champagne at the end of a beautiful day and a beautiful holiday – in fact THE BEST holiday we’ve ever had. This was Steve and I toasting all the wonderful memories that we had made in Turkey.

OK – a bit odd posting a Christmas photo, I know. However, I really do love Christmas and decorating my tree is always a special occasion for me. I love, love, love my real Christmas trees once I’ve decorated them and this picture always reminds me of that.

I love this one. It’s our eldest on his 16th birthday. Not only does it represent that but it reminds me of all the crazy, funny parties that we’ve had. This one was themed as ‘Sweet 16’ and was such a fun day. I love our family parties!

Spending my senior school years in boarding school meant that my friends were as good as family. We’re spread out all over the world now but this photo was taken when a few of us got together last year. It was so good to see them (even if we were missing a few) and no matter where we are in the world or how long we’re apart, these girls will always be special and make me happy.

 

Fun times! OK this is back in Turkey again but I couldn’t help it. We were having a bit of a special holiday and were lucky enough to have a private cabana for the day (3 times!) on the pier. We spent the days sunbathing, drinking cocktails and nibbling at the fruit platters that our super friendly waiter brought to us. All the boys spent hours leaping, laughing and diving off the pier and into the sea. These were among the best days that we’ve ever had and thinking of them will always make me smile.

 

Family! This particular photo includes our three boys and a few of their cousins however I have used it to represent all of our family, which is very big! We have countless memories of fun with every single one of them and we put a lot into creating happy times for all the children.

 

This man – he makes me happy – every single day. This photo was taken at the wedding of our really good friend and so it doubles up as a photo of happiness for two reasons. Lots of our dear friends were there and we had an absolute blast. We laughed and we danced – it was a night to remember!

 

These boys. Every mummy know that it’s the children that hold the power. They just need to say or do the right thing or look at you with their smile and you’ve got instant happiness.

I was dreading writing this post but only because of trying to choose the photos. As it happens, I’ve had a great time getting lost in happy memories so thank you for nominating me!

Now I get to choose other bloggers to do this too. I don’t know too many other bloggers yet, I’m still finding my feet however I would love to nominate the following people and I hope that they have as much fun as I did:

Beth at Beventure.blogspot.co.uk

Leila at apolyglotmum.co.uk

Emma at thesecretwindow.co

Charlotte at twentysomethingxo.com

Kerrie at WifeMumStudentBum

Kirsty at effortlesslyexcessive.com

Jenny at Jennyinneverland.com

 

Rules and explanation of this tag:

  • Thank your nominator/s and link them in your post.
  • Link the creator (Ariel’s little corner of the internet)
  • Post your 8 photos of happiness;
  • The photos can be anything that represents a moment, object, place or feeling that makes you happy.
  • Pop in a brief description of the photo, why you chose it or let the photos do the talking!
  • Spread the happiness and tag up to ten other bloggers!

 

Happy memories!

 

The Exam: What Happened

It was two hours before the exam and I was in a great place. I had accepted what I knew and what I didn’t. I had found my strengths for answering exam questions and learnt how to tweak my answers accordingly. I put all of the negative things out of my mind and worked on building my confidence and controlling those awful nerves.

One hour to go and we danced. YES REALLY, Steve and I put on happy music and danced. I smiled I laughed and I recited dates and Historians as we did it. I got myself into a place that can only be described as ‘let’s do this’. Soon enough, it was time to go.

Then everything changed. I arrived with 40 minutes to spare, exactly as planned. I wanted to arrive early so that I could familiarise myself with the room, the paper and the format after all it had been 20 years since my last exam! So I had plenty of time to gather my thoughts and relax, WRONG!

There was a hold-up at reception and I wasn’t let into the building until 6 minutes before my exam was due to start! I sat down with 1 minute to spare and in a total rush. I had missed the instructions, I couldn’t gather my thoughts and everything became a blur. I can’t recite too much of what happened next, only that it didn’t go to plan and that I think I found out exactly where the term ‘blind panic’ comes from. I remember writing the most basic of facts because I just couldn’t get my brain to engage with the questions because of the panic that I had been unsuspectingly thrown into. This was a 3 hour exam which included 3 hour long essay questions with no time to spare. The huge ticking clock right in front of my desk was the icing on the cake. This wasn’t meant to happen. The exam finished and all I could do was wait…

I couldn’t help but feel frustrated. I had worked harder than ever before on this exam. My assignments had good marks and in some cases very good marks. I had done well on a course that I wasn’t sure I could handle. No more than well, I had thrived towards the end. I felt as if the result of this module may have just changed entirely in a 3 hour period and now I could do nothing about it. I had prepped for time. I made sure that I wasn’t late. I had done everything I was supposed to do to make sure I didn’t have problems on the day and then something happened that was out of my control.

Now, just before the results are due out I have had some time to get perspective. I may have done everything that I could have but I also realise that you can’t always prepare for every eventuality, no matter how hard you try. Life is a funny thing and we don’t know what is around the corner. Things happen and then we have to deal with them – and that’s OK.

The results will be out any time now and I am not sure what to expect. I may well get a grade that’s much lower than I was on track for but if I do then I will get over it. I will probably need a few days to get my head around it all but life goes on and this is one part of my bigger degree. I’ve already signed up to the next module and yes it does have an exam…but next time, I’ll conquer it 🙂