University Challenge

Watching friends’ (and complete strangers’) social media feeds with all the goodbyes to their University-bound offspring, is giving me ‘all kinds of feels’.

I have two girls and whilst I am a fair way off that ‘Insta-moment’, I hope that one day they will head off to University to study their respective passions. (Currently no known degrees available in ‘Slime Management.’)

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I just can’t imagine them fleeing the nest. What will they eat? Will they clean their rooms? Will they wash their bedlinen properly and use a fabric sheet in the tumble drier?

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I have pretty clear recollections of that journey up to Manchester where I was off to study ‘Design & Art Direction’ for three whole years.

I remember the liberating feeling of gathering ‘bits’ for my new Northern life. I saw one friend recently doing the University shop for her triplets – TRIPLETS!!! No wonder the duvet cover selection in Primark was empty. Clean sweep.

My ‘digs’ were called ‘Student Village‘, right in the centre of town.

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Village of Students

We were the first group of students living there, so everything was brand-spanking new. Chairs not sat in, toilets not shat in. A pretty good start I’d say, compared to the horror stories of student accommodation that some friends were opting for.

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Standard. At least the bin’s not overflowing.

We were ‘the lucky ones’.

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Looking more like the Young Ones

Four of us from London were sharing a ‘mini flat’ – you had a front door with a shared bathroom and kitchen, then your own bedroom.

As I nervously navigated my way through the airless corridors, I found my room and was greeted by my friend in room C330, who was just unpacking the last of her stuff in her room – spacious, big, bright.

My room? C331. Dingy, Narrow. Dark. The other two rooms in our flat were pretty decent by comparison, so I had truly got the shit deal.

Can I go home now please?

I honestly couldn’t think of a worse living space to be in and was contemplating leaving for London, with my friend’s dad who was about to head back.

Seeing the disparity in our rooms, and the devastation in my eyes, friend’s dad got to work. It was all very Mission Impossible, but with less dangling from ceilings.

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This mission was possible

With a handy background in security, he changed the lock cylinder between my poxy box room and room C329, one of the other two vacant rooms. (sigh, let me explain…)

So, basically, my original key still fitted in the lock, yeah? With me so far?

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We simply shifted the lock barrel out of my original room (C331) and swapped it over with that of the more preferably room (C329).

Capiche? (Come see me at the end of the blog if still unclear.Unknown-6)

Oh, and we also prized off the door numbers and swapped them over too. If you’re going to do a job, do it properly.

Thinking back, it was proper criminal stuff. I could have got thrown out day one. get me! The student rebel.

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That’s my hand. Bottom left. Okay maybe not…

I’m not saying I ended up with a south-facing garden and en suite bathroom, but I really loved my new room.

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My room. Not actual, but very similar

It was glorious, with its basic furnishings and scratchy pube-style, stain resistant carpet. I decorated the shit out of it with every rave poster I could find on the streets of Manchester.

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Pretty much my bedroom

A whole happy year was spent in those halls, which even included a prison style riot. Over what, I can’t actually remember. One day everything just went a bit mad and people were chucking all kinds of shit out of their windows. Chairs, crockery….I think I threw a ream of paper. See? Rebel, I told you earlier.

 

 

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Buenos Aires brings in the new year by chucking old notes and memos from windows.      Credit: Flickr user dandeluca

The scholastic year came and went and the time was right to move out into the suburbs, where all the second years headed to for added ‘independence’. (Read as: smoking weed without a central smoke alarm going off in the building. More about that later…)

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Fallowfield. The mecca of second year students

I’ve mentioned it before – so I’ll touch on it again – but I lived in a house with a group of 6 girls, our strong bond formed through living out our year spent at student village.

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9 Mabfield Road. My road

Oh, what a schmutz-hole. But it was our schmutz-hole.

The walls were held up with more blue tack than the entire chain of WHSmiths.

I don’t even remember cleaning the fridge for the entire 2 years I lived there. Let alone mopping the floor.

The basement was more of a damp coal cellar where one housemate would sit at her sewing machine ’til the wee hours, to work on her Textile degree. (And it actually smelled of wee in the basement.)

We were all the same though – one friend had a futon in her room whereby you literally couldn’t see the difference between the edge of her bed and the piles of stuff all over the floor. It was just all ‘one level’.

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Do people even buy futons anymore?

Another friend would have these mad blitzes every now and then, where she would literally empty her entire room out into the hallway (brilliant for fire safety) and go for a mad clean up.

It wasn’t all disgusting though. There was some level of pride in our student schmutz. One flatmate had a glorious collection of trolls (the original ones, 90s style).

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The rest of the room could have been a pigsty, but the trolls were neat and tidy at all times. Until one nasty boy visited and chopped all of the trolls’ hair off. Literally scalped each and every one of them. Conniving sod that he was, he carefully placed each ‘troll toupee’ back on top of their heads, so my friend was none the wiser until the weekly cleaning ceremony, when she went to pick them up by theirbeautiful tufty hair. She was livid.

All this dirt and lack of hygiene is possibly why I am now so anal about my family home and keeping everything neat and tidy. That said, I didn’t turn out too badly having survived on a diet of Pot Noodle. And maybe a bit of actual pot…

Good luck to all those starting University. And try to wash your sheets once a week

x

P.s. No-one ever found about ‘room swap’. Until the day some of us were in my room and it got a bit smokey…ahem… and the building fire team came up to investigate why my smoke alarm went off.  Except they went to my original room, because that smoke alarm was still assigned to room C331.

 

 

 

 

 

Final Call…

I’m a big fan of getting to an airport on time early. There. I said it. I detest rushing. I will happily get up in the middle of the night (okay, so maybe it’s only 05:30), birds tweeting, to catch that first flight out of Luton. I’m not saying I would choose to rise that same time every single day, but there’s something exhilarating about watching the sky change colour, as you journey excitedly towards an airport.

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Highway to the danger zone… (okay, Malaga)

I’ve usually amassed about 4 hours sleep the night before because I have packed, unpacked and repacked to remove and replace various pieces of redundant clothing, additional medicines, another bottle of suncream, etc. I have also checked and double checked my alarm is set. Again, no rushing for me. I want my shower, I want my breakfast. Otherwise I’m not fun Mummy.

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Shower-fresh before a flight. Always

Travelling outfit is laid out ready for the whole family, because I physically don’t have it in me at 5am to concern myself with what everyone is wearing. And it would definitely become my concern.

Whatever I choose to wear, it will usually include a wrap-around scarf thing to mummify myself from plane seats (see earlier blog) and trainers with socks. I can’t deal with sandals in an airport –  too many trolley wheels and stampeding feet. I ‘sandalled’ once and at security we were told to remove shoes. Me. Barefoot. Airport floor. (*insert dry heave here*) Hence, always socks.

The packing side of things is a whole other blog (useful, if you’re after packing tips), but for years I avoided buying luggage scales. My bathroom scales were sufficiently accurate, if a little painful to read…

  1. Step on scales to set the display to ‘0.0.’
  2. Swiftly dump case on scales and pray that it doesn’t topple over
  3. Case topples over before registering a proper reading
  4. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until successful (usually 5 or 6 attempts)

As long as I was within a pound or two (weight, not money), I knew I was okay and could feign disbelief to husband at check-in, that official reading was a good 6 or 7 kilos more than my reading at home. “Ah, it must be because of our tiled floor surface.”

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However, those days of blagging extra kilos are long gone. (Even though, for the record,  the kids and my stuff weighs nothing and giant husband’s clothes are far heavier per item. Just saying.)

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Money saving travel outfit option 

One-click Amazon Prime a couple of years ago and I became the proud owner of a proper set of luggage scales which give an accurate digital reading.

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360kg? Sounds about right…

In fairness, and I have got better, (honest Guv) the majority of the weight-bulk in my case is toiletries. I can’t help it – I’m allergic to so much stuff that it’s not worth the risk of local purchases. I tan badly enough as it is. I don’t need an eczema flare-up on top of it.

Plus, holidays are a great excuse to go nuts buying new toiletries and bump up your Boots points. New toothbrushes, new toothpaste, new shower gel, new ‘shooshie’ – we love a shooshie in our house.

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Shooshies. Why? What do you call them?

I know someone who ‘sparks joy’ (that Marie Kondo method) at finishing something, such as a box of cereal or some face cream. For me, I’m all about new and not just around holiday time.

Butter – the peel-off of that paper bit on top – heavenly! And that first butter curl? The best. Just stay away with your toast crumbs please.

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Nutella – I’ll give the gold foil a satisfying stab, but then every single piece of foil needs peeling off. Every last bit.

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Unacceptable

Greek yoghurt – that protective paper film thing confused the hell out of me the first time I bought the product.

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How do you pronounce it?

Milk – Once the lid is off, I am wary of people who don’t fully remove the peel off part. I’m live with people who do similar to tins of sweetcorn and tuna. It pains me.

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The horror of it…

Face/eye cream – a BIG favourite, especially if it comes with a protective lid thingy that makes direct contact with the product. I can eek out at least a week’s worth of usage from lid excess, before even touching the product inside the pot.

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New toothpaste – those first few pumps to get the toothpaste out? That’s what dreams are made of. We are a pump dispenser family, although to save our marriage, I no longer share a dispenser with him. (FYI, He does still have his lid. It was discarded at first use, although it’s sits in the bathroom cupboard. ‘Just in case’.)

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His (on the left) is no longer my problem…

Must go to bed. I’m getting up in 4 hours and am still swapping things in and out of the case.

Happy summer. xxx

P.S. It’s pronounced ‘Fa-yeh’!

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No, really. It is.