Saturday, 24 March 2012

Operation Fitness.

As I type this, I am eating a chocolate digestive and have never ran for longer than a minute in my life. This may give you a good idea as to how huge this post is going to be.

As you all know, if you've been following my blog since the new year, I set myself the goal of losing 14lb by my graduation in July 2012. Well, I further updated you to say that I lost 14lb in January... so that goal was over and done with. But I decided that it isn't actually the weight I wanted to lose that was most important. I just wanted to get fitter and it's my dream to be able to run. I know it might sound silly to anyone who is fit or active but never in my life have I really ran. I mean, yes, jogged in PE lessons or for a bus... but never ran any considerable distance. So, this summer, I've set myself a challenge.

On June 10th at 6pm, I fly to Paris for a week with a friend from university. But at 10pm the night before (and through the night), I will be doing an 8 mile sponsored walk for Wigan and Leigh Hospice. The walk is called Startrekkers and it's a women only walk to raise funds to keep the hospice open and provide the valuable care that families suffering through the terminal illness of a loved one need. It starts at 10pm and goes on until you finish. I will post a sponsor link if one is made available at a later date.

Last year's Startrekkers walk.
Eight miles in one walk is a bit of a way but it shouldn't be too much of a challenge. But... and this is the big one for me... Two days after I get back from Paris, on Sunday 17th June, (the eight year anniversary of my grandmother's death somewhat aptly), I will be a five kilometer RUN for Cancer Research UK. For those of you not familiar with the Race for Life, it is an annual event held all over the UK where women can either walk, jog or run five or ten kilometers to raise money for Cancer Research. This year, as a personal goal just to prove to myself that I can, I will be RUNNING (bloody running!) the 5k. To sponsor us, even by 50p, please click here.

I am genuinely excited for the challenge of the latter. It's going to be both a big step for me and a little but valued help towards finally finding a cure for cancer. Training for the latter will start on Monday 2nd April and I'll probably let you know how close I am to death throughout the whole experience.  :)

Monday, 19 March 2012

Operation 80s.

In July, Gary and I are going to Bristol on an 80s themed night out for Hannah's birthday. I must admit, nights out are one thing Gary and I don't usually do. We've never been on one together and I've only been on two in my life. I think Gary marginally beats me but it's not something we ever think of as a good way to spend the evening. We are more than willing to make an exception for the lovely Hannah's birthday though and so we'll be driving down to Bristol with her boyfriend (and Gary's bezzie) Scully for the weekend.

The eighties theme was completely new to me though. I mean, I wasn't even born when it actually happened. So I figured I'd better give the make up a bit of a practise. When it comes to hair, eighties practically just means 'permed mullet' so with my natural afro that won't be a problem... :) But the face is a different matter and so tonight I gave an 80s face a bash.


To start with, I essentially went mad with my foundation and plastered it on like I was trying to fill cracks in a wall. I then did the craziest eye shadow I have ever seen. A really dark eye at the bottom graduating up to white and glittery beneath the brow. Given the 80s was like an accident in a blusher factory, I slapped on two straight lines of Benefit's red lip gloss (on my cheeks... yes, I know) and, because it's quite sticky, stuck some powdered blush to the gloss to get the colour necessary to look like a Madonna throwback.

The look itself was quite a success. It took me four washes to get the stuff off and even then I've been left with an orange smudge on my freshly washed face towel. Marvellous. Imagine that with a perm. Go on... You know I'll look sensational.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Operation Kony 2012.

This is not going to be just another post supporting Kony 2012... Because I don't support them. I do agree that what Joseph Kony is doing is beyond barbaric. It thoroughly saddens me and it is horrible to think that this sort of thing, unfortunately so repetitive of horrors of society gone by, still occurs so frequently in today's society. But I thoroughly and whole-heartedly do not, and will not, support Kony 2012. A blog entitled VisibleChildren, not to be confused with the Invisible Children group, succinctly concludes why this is: 

"I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY twenty-twelve have great intentions, nor do I doubt for a second that Joseph Kony is a very evil man. But despite this, I’m strongly opposed to the KONY twenty-twelve campaign. KONY twenty-twelve is the product of a group called Invisible Children, a controversial activist group and not-for-profit. They’ve released eleven films, most with an accompanying bracelet colour (KONY twenty-twelve is fittingly red), all of which focus on Joseph Kony. When we buy merch from them, when we link to their video, when we put up posters linking to their website, we support the organization. I don’t think that’s a good thing, and I’m not alone. 

Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent eight million, six hundred and seventy six thousand, six hundred and fourteen dollars. Only thirty-two percent went to direct services (page six), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal for an issue which arguably needs action and aid, not awareness, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability two out of eight stars because they lack an external audit committee. But it goes way deeper than that.

The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since two thousand and six by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending."

I only wish people weren't so quick to jump onto bandwagons before thoroughly researching what they're paying into. In order to stop child abuse and rape, you're directly trying to fund an organisation (the Ugandan army) with a prolific history of rape and crimes against society. Only 32% of all the money raised actually goes anywhere near the cause you donated to. 

"According to Jason Russell’s appearance on the Today show several days ago, over five-hundred thousand action kits have been ordered at thirty dollars a piece, meaning this campaign has brought in a minimum of fifteen million dollars in revenue this week." 

While I think highlighting the disgusting actions of a tyrant are, of course, important, I do not think donating to Kony 2012 is the right way to go about it.

For more information as to why I do not support this campaign, please read the VisibleChildren blog.
Please note, I have had to handwrite the numbers as they all corrupt when in number format. Please read all little sixes as fs too. I have no idea why they won't just appear as I have written them.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Operation Pinterest.

A selection of my favourite pins from the past couple of weeks.

This is something I would totally do. There is nothing more frustrating than spending time with someone who is constantly on the phone to someone else. It's one of the worst things to do in company, in my opinion, and such bad manners.

Well isn't that just the sweetest? A nice little ceramic pillbox with the ring and message written inside. The romantic in me squealed a little bit (silently, of course...) when I saw this. How adorable.

I saw these drawers on Pinterest and fell in love with the colour. I imagine them in a sky blue and grey themed bedroom with a golden antique style lamp atop each bedside unit. Such a lovely colour.

I think the following sentence is all I need to say. This is a 1952 Christian Dior Palmyre couture jewelled evening gown. Thank you and goodnight.

Pretty simple, huh? But nevertheless something that I hadn't thought of, despite how very true it is.

How beautiful would these be? Fresh from the oven with a big dollop of rocky road ice cream... Phwoar.

Such beautiful, spring time colours.

Pretty pink milk with even prettier pink straws. How sweet.

I absolutely adore the colour and vibrancy of Indian weddings. This picture is absolutely beautiful to me.

Finally, the prettiest little china cup. I wouldn't drink out of it, mind. I'd just sit and look at it. It defeats the point but I don't mind. :) If you'd like to find me on Pinterest, I believe that I am linked up through Twitter (@Toyahah), or find the button in my right hand navigation buttons.

Operation Final Weeks.

Hello, lovely people. Long time no speak. Apologies for that - life has been pretty full to the brim of things I don't necessarily want to do and aren't necessarily happy with. The above photo obviously isn't one of them. It was taken during a drive a friend and I went on last week through Wales. We did a three hour round trip on the narrowest and most treacherous roads (surely) in Ceredigion, all to go to a lake that was actually less than we were expecting it to be. It was just a looong and sickly drive in a two door Citroen C1. Nevertheless, the scenery was lovely and it was nice to get away from looming deadlines, if only for a couple of hours.

Back to reality, university has been massively hectic and, thank God, it is now only twelve days until I can leave this place for good. When I say for good, I mean I don't have to live here any more. I have to nip back twice - once for a presentation and once for an exam - and eventually for my graduation ceremony but they will literally be day trips. I can't wait to leave. University is supposed to be the happiest years of your life but they've thoroughly been my most miserable. First year was okay - I met some lovely people and had some great times - but I was always homesick. Even though I'd known him since before starting university, Gary and I only became a couple in the first summer of university and, of course, that made the distance I had to be away from home (four hours, 200 miles) even harder. Only getting to see him and my parents every three weekends took its toll and, coupled with really bad living conditions and an absence of friends in my second year, I had all the symptoms of a nervous breakdown by the time I moved out for the second summer break. This year, my final and most important year, has been a bit of a mixed bag. My landlady has driven me insane, my house mate is the most infuriating person I've ever lived with and I've spent around £500 in petrol going to and from home. Alas there are only twelve days until I get to move back there and I couldn't be happier. I'm so eager to leave that I packed all of my things over a week ago. I've been living out of boxes just so that I can set off even sooner when I'm allowed to!

Last week, to put the icing on the terrible work load cake, this happened. I got a nail in my tyre. I've no idea how or where from but, alas, I rolled up to university one morning and saw what had happened. I text a picture to my Dad and was a typical damsel in distress. I rang the AA and they took my call immediately. Someone arrived within 45 minutes (which is fantastic given that Lampeter is an hour from the next major town) and I genuinely couldn't fault their service.

Other than tyres, my workload is gradually decreasing. I've finished two of the three essays I have to hand in before I leave, sat one of the two exams and only have two things to come back for. I was really quite chuffed with my Arabic aural exam grade - I got 23 and a half out of 25, which is 94%. Considering I've only been learning Arabic for 2hrs a week since October, excluding holidays, that's not half bad! I have my oral exam next Wednesday and my final, deadly written exam in May. Eek. My 7,000 word dissertation on Nazism as an NRM was handed in at the start of term and the above picture is a screen shot of a group presentation I have to do on the Muslim veil within contemporary society. Thank goodness the work is slowing down now. Just one more essay to start and complete until I'm out of here.

You may be wondering what happened to being vegan. Well, a tuna sandwich was what happened. A bloody good one too, I might add. I was getting really down about it all! It sounds silly but it's just incredibly boring. I got utterly fed up of living off literally just fruit and veg. I couldn't add nuts to my diet to shake things up because I'm allergic to them. I don't like lentils. Beans get boring after a few tins. Carbs aren't exactly my best friends either. So I walked to the Student Union and ate a tuna and cheese roll. Let me tell you this: I will not be going back to trying veganism any time soon. If ever. Fair play to the people who do it and love it... but I personally think you've got to be rather dull. :)