Top Rugby World Cup Moment

Rugby World Cup is upon us and this first weekend of matches has been captivating – from the “earth shattered” opening followed by a heart stopping win for England, Japan’s shocking win over the current World cup holders to the emotions as players exude as they sing their national anthem before they represent their country.

It is not surprising that there are many competitions at the moment then with the event taking over our screens, ads and stadiums. Currys are running one at the moment where you share your favourite rugby moment for the chance to win tickets. I thought that I would share mine; though I doubt I will win I thought that my story might interest others and even inspire.

For me I know when I fell in love with the sport – it was 2001 shortly after my dad moved into his first flat after my parents broke up. Before this I would spend Saturdays at horse riding competitions, playing in the garden or up in my room, going for a bike ride with my family or annoying my sister. In 2001 that all changed and I had afternoons filled with walking along the beach, watching F1 for the first time and being introduced to Rugby.

While there were few matches that we got to see over the next few years as I was only ever about for an afternoon every week and he wanted to make the most of it, this time was still something that I held dear. My sister around this time got interested in Rugby but for very different reasons as she oogled over the tight shorts and big muscled men.

When 2003 came around, while my dad no longer lived alone when it came to Saturday it would still just be me and him as we watched the matches that he had recorded. For me this was my favourite moment about the Rugby World Cup – the time I got to giggle and talk to my dad over something that only something we wanted to watch or talk about. Most of the time I was around there at that point I never really got much time alone with him as he wanted to make the most of his Saturdays with his new family so I often ended up what felt like babysitting my cousin while he giggled with Anne. When the World Cup Rugby came around however, it was back to just me and my dad and we after months of hardly a minute to ourselves got to giggle and enjoy some time alone together.

I was 16 at the time and asking so many questions from rules to tactics that my head was buzzing with information and I loved it. Here was an interesting sport that was played by kind, smart yet towering men (especially compared to my 5″2 stature, where unlike football they would try to keep going no matter what, and even appeared to be very friendly to their counterparts afterwards but most of all it was a sport me and my dad could talk about with excitement. I remember him pulling out a table at point and using it was a pitch to help him explain the 22 yard rule before giving up as he couldn’t find suitable things to act as the players or his description of the eruption he’d witnessed after England scored.

F1 can be interesting but it will always lose out to rugby for me; most of all it won’t compare to that feeling of despite how my dad had watched England win surrounded by friends that he still recorded it so we could sit and enjoy it together the next time I saw him. I don’t remember the plays, the outcomes (other than England winning and the now infamous kick) but I still remember the flurry of joy when I realised that he had come to love these moments too and didn’t want me to miss out. The match it self was a blur after that – my parents divorce was a messy one and this was one of those top moments of the whole year even for me.

Rugby for me is still now about those feelings of connecting with my dad, my university friends and now with my BF. I now have more positive experience to do with rugby, such as watching my first live match surrounded by university friends, watching a 6 Nations match with my BF (along with 700 other guys) after he’d done a 10 mile walk for charity where he got to walk and talk along with some of the players from Exeter, or describing when he met the Welsh rugby team in Edinburgh airport and had a man hug from Sam Warberton (he couldn’t stop grinning for a month). Even this week BF had the great joy of seeing the Japanese team in Fo in Brighton ahead of their incredible match against South Africa.

Now as the matches roll on I know I’ll make more memories – though the Japanese last minute win I think will stick in my mind for a very long time – and it will be all because of watching matches back with my day all those years ago.

What is your favourite moment from the Rugby World Cup? Do you have an emotional tie with Rugby? Or with another sport? I would love to hear from you so leave a comment below.

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Strawberry Tarts Recipe

Yet another pastry week on bake off went by and excitement buzzed as everyone knew a soggy bottom was coming – but who would it be! I love pastry week – pies, tarts and puff pastry are amazing fun to make but I often find it is surprising just how popular they are. I guess we are constantly surrounded by homemade cupcakes – these seem to be the standard go to item when it comes to home baking but we often overlook the wonders of home made pastry.

strawberry tart on a wire rackIt is probably because it seems overly complex or that it is easier to cheat and grab pre-made pastry making it feel less of a victory in the kitchen. I’m not ashamed to say that until I really started making my own pastry that I was the same – though I’ve still not bee confident enough to dive into attempting filo or puff just yet. Making Lemon Pie really opened up my understanding though of just how much fun and easy it was to make and experiment with.

A sweet shortcrust pastry is actually really easy but often involves chilling it – another reason many people are put off by making their own as it extends the baking time and many recipes involve twiddling of thumbs while you wait for this.

For my recipe with Silver Mushroom, I thought that I would share my recent pastry find with this very cute yet easy Strawberry tart recipe.

For this recipe you will need the following:

  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 100g plain flour (plus a little extra)
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 90ml creme fraiche
  • 2tbsp lemon curd
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Icing sugar (optional)

strawberry tart on a black backgroundStart by mixing the ground almonds, flour and caster sugar. Once mixed add in the butter and with your hands rub together the mixture until it all becomes like fine breadcrumbs. It is as this point that you will need to add in 1-3 tbsp until the mixture becomes a nice dough that you can roll into a ball. Wrap the ball in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. At this point heat the oven to 190 degree (or gas mark 5).

Now you have 30 minutes while you wait – I generally do some washing up or put on some songs to sing a long but you don’t need to belt out a ballad to kill this time.

If you have silicon bun tins or tartlet tins you can skip greasing them; metal ones however will need to be greased up so that you can remove them once cooked. Once the the pastry is chilled roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface; I generally love my silicon mat for dealing with dough as it just makes it so much easier and often means that I don’t need to use dusting flour as much. With this recipe you should get about 12 tartlets so roll the pastry thin and then cut out with a cookie cutter or glass to fit in the tartlet tins . Make the most of this pastry and squish together the leftovers and then roll out again until you manage to use it all up.

Make sure that you press the pastry into your moulds – I use heart shapes so often have to make sure that it is been pressed into the deep corner but it is worth doing this with even simple circular moulds so that it will make uniform shapes. Now take a fork and prick the base of each tart before putting it in the oven for 12-15 minutes.

strawberry tart on a black backgroundNow as the filling takes very little time to make I suggest putting on a couple of songs while you wait – you could also watch a couple episodes of Zero Punctuation or read.

Once the cases are crisp and golden, take them out of the oven and place on a wire rack. I find that they cool really quickly so mix together creme fraiche and lemon curd carefully and slice the strawberries up. By the time you have managed all this you will find that the cases are normally almost completely cooled (though this may be cause I’m eating the leftover lemon curd or chopping down strawberries).

Spoon in equal amounts of filling into each tartlets and then top with strawberries. To finish gently dust them with a little bit of icing sugar and then nom down as many as you want before offering them to others… I mean these can be served immediately.

While this recipe is utterly wonderful, I have recently tried making them with Greens Strawberry Jelly and found them highly popular. The jelly is just 90p for two sachets and involves adding 200ml water and 25 g sugar then boiling the mixture for a minute and letting it cool only for two minutes before pouring into each case. This variation of the recipe does look spectacular and is just as easy. Despite involving a lot more work, it feels to me like a cop out compared to the lemony filling – it does involve more skill though as if you boil it too long it is then un-usable and if you leave it to cool too long it solidifies.

Even though I have only found this recipe in the last few months, the exciting level of experimenting with fillings, fruit and even adding 1/2 tsp of cinnamon has provided lots of yummy tarts. I would suggest the same – try both the lemon and jelly filling, or with different fruit or even play with the pastry.

So will you try out this yummy but flexible recipe? Do you prefer the lemony filling or would you prefer the jelly variation? Will you try this with strawberries or other fruit like pineapple, blackberries or even kiwi? Do you have a tart recipe that you love? Leave a comment below as it would be great to hear from you!

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Lemon pie recipe

The Great British Bake off has been back a few weeks now and I’m finding myself getting more and more excited each week as the intro music starts. Last week’s episode of free-from foods was yet another impressive episode filled with sugar-free cakes, gluten-free bread and dairy-free ice cream roll things.

lemon-pie-cupcake-rule-of-thirdsI love baking but I am not where as good as the contestants. Growing up cakes were my favourite thing to make (and eat) but now things have changed. I have made oatmeal cookies, strawberry tarts, and bread all with impressive results but none compare to my lemon pie.

Over a year ago I asked BF to give me suggestions of what to make and straight away he gave me a quick quip of “lemon pie or oatmeal and raisin cookies”. Of course, to make sure that he would actually enjoy the baking result, I made cookies first as they were much easier to make and to much praise. A few weeks later I tried to make lemon pie thinking that my first attempt would be possibly a complete mess only to find out quite the opposite – my lemon pie is now infamous among BF and his colleagues who are now used to occasional bakes turning up.

I’ve shared the recipe with lots of family and friends – this normally happens after they have tried it. Only one person has tried to make it so far as it is a 2 hour long bake – most people now just suggest lemon pie when I ask what they would like me to bake for when they visit.

Now with Bake off back on the screens, my baking bug is in full swing so along with a load of other bloggers I am taking part in a baking project with Silver Mushroom where we share and compete each week for the best recipe. I thought that I’d start things off with a bang by sharing my current favourite sweet bake via my infamous Lemon Pie.

Now if you’re going to make this incredible pie you will need the following:

  • 250g plain flour
  • vanilla extract
  • cinnamon power
  • 6 egg yokes
  • 125g non-salted butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 400g condensed milk (though I use a can of 395g fine)
  • 3 lemons

The reason that this takes so long is because of the pastry – it needs to be chilled and cooled at various points for the best result.

Start by making the pastry by putting  250g of flour, 1tsp vanilla extract, 1 egg yoke, 1tsp cinnamon powder and 125g of finely chopped butter in a bowl and mixing with a knife. The trick with this pastry is to avoid handling with hands (especially palms) as much as possible to keep the butter as solid as possible. I often start with a knife then starting using a fork before finally kneading the mixture into a ball. Wrapping the balled mixture in cling film, putting it in the fridge will help chill the butter down again.

While the pastry is chilling, turn on the oven to 180 degrees and then focus on making the filling by grating the three lemons of their zest before juicing them into a separate jug (make sure that you remove any bits or seeds from the juice).

First beat 5 egg yokes and 50g of caster sugar until it is pale and creamy before stirring in the condensed milk and finally adding in the lemon juice and zest. Mix this until it is thoroughly mixed and creamy. It should be a nice soft yet thick yellow liquid.

By now the pastry has probably chilled for an hour (well it is for me at least!)

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and here is where paths of practice will change depending on what you use. I for one love silicon pie pan and cupcake moulds. This means that I don’t need to butter then but it does make it harder to remove the final bake. If you use a metal pie pan make sure at this stage that you butter it so that you can remove it – it is also possible to line it with baking paper.

Lay the pastry inside the pan and make sure that there is an even layer across the pastry and then use a fork to stab it on the bottom a number of times . I often find that I have leftover pastry and use the remaining pastry in cupcake moulds to make miniature lemon pies.

Put the pie pan in for 15 minutes and then remove from the oven to cool. If you have cupcake sized leftovers, I put these in for only 5 minutes. Now as this recipe is made up of only egg yokes, this is normally when I whisk up only two-three egg whites until it is white and stiff before whisking in about 25g of sugar. This will mean that you can add meringue if you want and finding good use of this leftover ingredient. Making it now while the pastry is in the oven, it should be ready by the time the whole pie needs to go in the oven.

Once the pastry is cool, carefully pour in the lemon filling into the pie (and cupcake sized minions). If you have made meringue, this is the time that you carefully spread it on top making sure to add peaks, spikes and swirls to add texture. It is now ready to go in the oven for 35-40 minutes to bake.

Now once the pie has initially cooled it is ready to eat but I find that I make this late and put it in the fridge over night as it tastes best when chilled.

I adore this recipe – it is easy enough instructions yet because of the time it takes it feels like an achievement and tastes so wonderful. It is a joy to both make and eat but it is the squeals of delight from others the first time that they try it as the sweet yet lemony filling works so well with the very plain pastry that holds it and adds a crumbly texture.

Will you try to make it? Have you tried to make it before but to a different recipe? Do you have any tips to making lemon pie? Do you have a recipe that you think that I should attempt? Make sure that you leave a comment below as I would love to hear from you!

Next week I’m planning to share my newly found strawberry tart recipe that takes less than an hour so I hope that you will come back next week! If you want to find more amazing recipes – check out #BWBO or @silvermushroom1 on Twitter.

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Photo challenge – a rule of thirds

It has been a few months since I last took part in a photo challenge as I have been chaotically busy. August’s theme for A Lilhoohaa’s photo challenge was all about a rule of thirds so I thought that I should try and take part.

My photography style generally doesn’t fit the rule of thirds – I try to capture pure emotion and colour rather than using composition of a photo to make it more exciting. I do not shy though from trying to push my skills so this was a perfect theme for me to experiment with.

Basically the rule says that when you take a photo that to make it more exciting by setting up the focus or lines of the image with imagined lines that split the image into 9 equal parts.

rainbow flag at brighton pride being wavedI started doing photography covering events and I still love to capture amazing events throughout Brighton. Pride in Brighton is the biggest event for the city – every year the excitement slowly builds up till the parade and party.

This year after a bomb scare I had to change from a perfect photo location to one facing the bright sun. For me this meant that a lot of my photography was based at a much lower height or I got what happened here with a burst of light across the photo. For this photo though I loved how it made the colours of the flag almost glow as well as show the burning sun that gave many of the waiting crowds vivid red sun burn.

Sleeping dog with only feet in focusFor my second post I had to include this photograph from where I dog sat for 4 days. While I got a number of beautiful photos of him, this is the best rule of third photo of him as he snoozed on the sofa.

Everyone tells me how hard black dogs are but I love how vivid they are compared to everything around them and in this photo, despite being very blurred in the background he still stands out perfectly.

lemon pie cupcake on a wooden tableThis month I have started taking part in a blogging challenge to celebrate the return of the Bake Off so I have been baking again. This has included my famous lemon pie recipe – which I will be sharing later this week. Capturing these delicious treats has been fun and a great chance to experiment with using the rule of thirds.

 

glass ring on a wooden table

I love jewelry – a lot of mine has a story behind why it means so much to me. This one was purchased from Camden not long after Christmas at a moment when I was feeling low. It seemed to be my way of thinking of wishing upon a star and still makes me smile. I love how it shines and sparkles in every but it seems to change in every different type of light almost glowing in the sunlight.

yellow daisyThe last photo for me is my favourite from this challenge – it is definatly the most simple but that in a way captures the flower’s beauty. Playing with the light to capture this flower was fun with out the use of light boxes or other lamps was fun and exciting all while trying to get that dramatic use of the rule of thirds. I also love this photo for another reason – this is from a bunch of flowers that BF got me. He gets me flowers occasionally and this time he got me a mix of these daisy like flowers in bright red and yellow.

I adore flowers but this bright yellow one seems to just dazzle against the grey background and makes me smile every time I see it.

So these are this month’s photos – do you like them? Do you like using the rule of thirds? What is your favourite photo that follows this rule? Will you try this composition rule on your photography? Leave a comment below as I would love to hear from you and see your photos!


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Day 30 – Interview with BSLBT

It is already day 30 of my challenge to learn 125 signs in a month and I have been lucky to be able to interview the incredible organisation BSLBT.

BSLBT is an organisation that was set up in 2008 to create shows for Deaf people by deaf people. Even though they are less than 10 years old they have a massive amount of awards for a lot of their different shows and a catch up service online called BSL Zone. Despite being a very unique and amazing service they are a small charity with only 4 full time members of staff.

At the beginning of the month I found the service and was so happy when I found their hours upon hours of shows with people signing. There were interviews, cooking shows, history programmes and documentaries all made for and by deaf people.

Their recent documentary about Andre a deaf climber was really interesting for me as someone who used to climb. His drive and focus on climbing echos what a lot of my university friends do. The fact that he trains regularly with Adrian Baxter is definitely something that will make them very jealous.

Now in BSLBT fashion, they very kindly signed the whole interview for me – I still can’t believe how incredibly amazing they were to take time to do this as well as send across the written answers. Check out the video below to see their response to see what they do, what they have planned, why they are so successful as well as a tip on how to improve your sign language.

If you don’t sign then turn on captions on the video or continue to read the transcript to the interview. If you want to find out more or check out some incredible award winning shows available online for free, visit www.bslzone.co.uk now.

Thank you to everyone at BSLBT and BSL Zone – I am already picking up new words and practicing the words that I have learnt this month.

Have you heard of BSLBT or BSL Zone before? Have you seen any of their programmes – if so which is your favourite? Will you check out some of their shows now? Have you found programmes with signers helpful to learning BSL? Have you used programmes and music to help learn other languages? I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment below!

 


 

Video interview with BSLBT transcript:

Hello, I am Sam Calder, the production manager at BSLBT
What is BSL Zone and BSLBT?
British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust was set up in 2008, with Ofcom’s approval, to offer an alternative way for commercial broadcasters to meet their regulatory requirements to provide sign language on their qualifying channels.

Research had shown that in-vision programming was not meeting the needs of Deaf people and that Deaf people were not watching interpreted programmes. The BSL Zone is the home, where we show out programmes on television (in a half hour slot) and on line: www.bslzone.co.uk

What sort of response and feedback have you had from the BSL community since setting up the trust in 2008?
We have had a good response, although the audience will always want more programmes. We commission a wide range of content from drama, to factual, magazine and childrens programmes. We continue to encourage written feedback on our website and are developing a tool for feedback in sign language.

You cover such a broad range of shows – are there some new ones that BSLBT have planned coming soon?
Filming starts in September on our 4 part sitcom series, Small World, plus 6 new 15 minute Secret Lab programmes are in production ( a children’s science programme)

You include subtitles, music and other audio aimed at those with hearing – how much of a hearing audience do you have?
It is difficult for us to get accurate audience viewing figures and feedback. But we do know that the majority of Deaf children have hearing parents, so we endeavour to make our programmes accessible for a mixed audience for a shared experience.

In such a short time your organisation has won an impressive number of awards for your shows – what do you think is the leading reason for your success?
We are a unique commissioning body, there is nothing like us in the world. There is a demand for programmes which use sign language and explore Deaf culture and experience. We have also been concerned with producing high quality programmes from the start.

For people learning BSL, do you have any tips?
Watch our programmes on www.bslzone.co.uk


A month of learning BSL on blue background with hand gestures


Review: The Scandalous Lady W

Ah the joys of the BBC – they really do make some incredible shows. This weekend I have been dog sitting so my normal dependence on Netflix is not really possible but no worries as I have been enjoying the delights of catching up on BBC programmes.

On Friday I came across The Scandalous Lady W, a programme that had only just aired a day or two before with Game of Thrones and Hunger Games star Natalie Dormer in dressed in a beautiful Georgian dress in the thumbnail image. I love Game of Thrones and with Natalie finding a lot of success in other movies I thought that this was going to be an interesting. I will admit that I have a soft spot for Georgian dramas – most people seem to think that they are due but as this drama was going to be quick to prove this was scandalously interesting. As I felt promoted to watch this I passed reading the description and just dived in only to be promoted with a warning about the “sexual” topics covered. As this is the BBC it will be tastefully done but it turns out that this would be all about the biggest sex scandal of the time.

Today we still have many feminists still fighting that equality has not been achieved, this drama highlights the vast improvements achieved. The premise of this true story is that women were then seen as property. That is right, women were subjected to doing their husbands will and if they had proof that someone had shagged their wife that they could get compensation for “damages” through the courts.

While I will not spoil this very layered story which jumps constantly throughout the whole timeline darting from the last time Lord and Lady Worsley see each other to her scandalous affair back to the first time that she met her husband. At first it seems confusing as she calls two very different men her husband – 10 minutes in though it starts to make sense. This story is so complex and the approach gives the audience a great way of feeling how the nation did as it unfolded.

I must say that Natalie’s portrayal of Lady Worsley starts very much like that of her Margaery from Game of Thrones as she plays a rich aristocrat devoted to making her new husband happy. I know that Margaery’s character is complex – she knows to maintain a lovable edge at all times as her popularity allows her the ability to achieve her goals and ambitions. Her take on Lady Worsley starts like Margaery – scarily so that I worried she was being type cast and then slowly before you know it she has become this defiant, strong and compelling character that is determined to control her life. By the halfway point I was drawn to her and so was everyone else – again this has been so cleverly crafted.

The others cast for this drama are also fantastic – Shaun Evans does an equally incredible job at showing the deep development of Lord Worsley from a Prince Charming like character to an almost sickening abusive man who has lost everything. The format makes you feel sympathetic towards him in the opening scenes as Lady Worsley has run off with another man and really based on the laws of the land at the time he was technically in his right in how he treated her. He was after all obsessed and in love with her but I think this interpretation of the story paints him highly manipulative and power hungry that could be to drive the point of the complexities (and horrors) of owning the person you love.

Natalie Dormer as the Lady WorlseyEvan’s and Dormer’s opposing casting makes its a vividly interesting drama but mixed with the incredible sets and costumes just elevates it further. The first scene is in an ornate bright white room with Dormer’s red outfit standing out highlighting her conflict from where we find is her property (which due to the laws at the time she was unable to own). Every single one of Lady Worsleys outfits has been gracefully and thoughtfully planned providing an idea of where in the storyline each scene is at as her outfits go from elegant yet pale and floral to bold and striking. Each outfit really does denote her journey from shy and reserved to an outspoken lady who wanted her freedom from an abusive life.

This really was a delight that I think will be seared into my mind as an outstanding success that I can’t wait to watch again. I think it will not be as shocking or powerful as the original viewing but I still feel that the storyline, acting, costumes and sets will still make it an overwhelming treat. I would definitely recommend this to watch, especially those who love period dramas. I know that while BF may have complained at first over this being put on but with this fast paced and highly sexed take on the true story that most partners will silently enjoy.

Without spoiling the storyline it really does highlight the terrible abuse and unfair laws that women endured at the time as well as the sex story that shocked the nation. Everything that Lord Worsley did was lawful and yet it was a cornerstone moment where opinion did start to shift in woman rights. Even now this story is shocking and interesting and the BBC has done such an amazing job at bringing it to life.

It is a 10/10 – though with the very sexual nature of the storyline and need for certain visualisation of the sordid abuse women had to endure when they were considered property this is definitely for an mature audience. 

Bravo BBC for something that I am surprised was not released as a film – it is certainly one of the best dramas I have seen in a while. It is pieces like this that prove we need to protect it so please sign a petition to stop the cuts.

Have you seen the Scandalous Lady W – what did you think of it? What did you think of the storyline? Will you now check it out?


A month of learning BSL on blue background with hand gestures in the background

Day 20 – the importance of learning styles

I have not been using Flashsticks for 6 days now and it is hard.

I know that what I am doing is relearning signs now from 5 years ago but without the ability to get a video of the sign it is much harder. I also miss not having them around the house so I don’t have those nice little reminders throughout the day.
Learning a language is hard, especially on your own, so it is best to choose a style that suits you. I think this is why those signs that me and BF have to talk about I now always remember. Talking has always been such a great way to learn things – that is why classes were discussion was involved were my strongest subjects. I excelled at History for my GCSE’s because the teacher realised that we needed to be able to defend or “discuss” various points in an exam and doing that in a fun and open conversation was the best way to do this. The same was for Religious Education and despite having to learn a lot about two religions that were not my own (I did Islam and Judaism) I managed to get an A without any revision.
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5 years ago when I was learning sign language in Bournemouth, it was not an accredited course but a student who wanted to help increase those who knew the basics. The course was full of staff, like my self, and students who all wanted to learn it for varying reasons. For many it was to help them with their job – whether that was a current role to talk to students, or something that would help students in the care or tourist industry later on in life. Others were there due to an general interest in language, to talk to family members or in one case to be able to chat up a girl.

We had two students who had known sign language all their lives leading the classes; one had a father who was a translator and the other had a brother who was deaf. While they lead the classes with lots of talking and discussion, they were always very open with just how strict all of their classes had been – in sign language classes there is normally no talking what so ever. For me this would be terrible – I am best learning vocal words with the sign or paired with a funny story or way to remember various signs. I would love to go back to classes but I know that I would struggle in such a strict environment.

In the past I have tried to learn words to French, Italian and Spanish songs for my grade 6 and 7 singing exams. It was always so difficult and my singing teacher found it a struggle as I never had an issue at the technical songs that he would send my way. I have tried again with another teacher who tried a different approach – she would make funny jokes or stories to make these random sounds make sense. It took so much longer yet it did work – compared to before where it would take 6 months to learn a song in another language I was able to pick up one in less than a month! Learning style does really make a difference and this month covering two different styles has really highlighted this.

Tomorrow I will go back to using Flashsticks again – and I am not ashamed to say that I will not miss trying to learn it off the old vocabulary sheets (even though I have learnt them all before). I have lost a lot of the drive and guidance that I had using flash sticks. As I would pull off the word and stick it around the house as well as the handy list of the back that I had a clear indication of what I had covered. It was easier for BF to get involved and easier for him to test me on that days words and passed ones covered. Now he has to file through the flash sticks list and piles of paper – it is not as fun or easy so he is not as inspired to take part.

As I am now passed the halfway point and I only have 11 days left that remembering all of these words are buzzing around my head. There are many now ingrained but keeping all of them in seems to be difficult – I am not sure if this is because of the different learning style or the vast number of signs covering. I am actually tempted to feel like it is more about the learning style.

The last 6 days have been such a vivid reminder of how important it is to learn in a way that suits you best. Hopefully when I go back to flashsticks tomorrow that I will have the fun time at the start of this challenge with BF getting more involved in the challenge again.

Do you have a preferred learning style? Do you have a tip on learning signs or languages? Do you struggle with learning new languages – have you given up or have you found a trick that helps you? I would love to hear from you so leave a comment below.

Please note that I am not being paid by flash sticks and all of this is my own opinion. They have only provided me with a set of their beginners BSL flash sticks set after I approached them concerning this project with the plan to review them at the end of the month – this is what I plan to do at the end of the challenge.


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Day 11 – It is starting to get hard

I am over the 10 day stage and tomorrow I’ll have over 50 signs to remember! Keeping all 47 current signs is starting to be challenging. Not only is the difficulty coming from the large number of signs in a short period but also in how the signs are becoming more and more difficult.

Compared to the first day with signs like eat and drink to today’s of funny and know are so much harder as they aren’t as obvious.  After three days of practicing them they seem to be so much easier to recall but the day after initially learning them is always so hard! Today I have had to remind myself what “better” was from yesterday – this seems to be happening more as the vast array or words I am trying to remember in a short time increases. I have after all managed to learn and remember 47 new words in BSL in only 11 days – this is not something that was possible in the past when I have tried to learn a language.

I think that I have managed this impressive feat due to a mix of how I have challenged myself to learn 4 each day, be tested by BF on all these words regularly and using flashsticks dotted around the flat to remind me every so often. It seems to be working, I have passed all of BF’s tests so far (other than occasional disagreements over the paper vs video version of the sign). My favourite sign has to be bread – those that know me will know just how much I love eating and making bread! Currently the bread post it sits on the food processor and makes me giggle whenever I go in the kitchen. I know BF’s is between “good” and “difficult” due to a joke we have running between the two of us.

I must say that despite having the difficulty increasing that this is still a thrilling challenge – each day has its own challenges of what the new words will be. Tomorrow I will have over 50 signs under my belt in 12 days. It is a fantastic feeling and it makes me feel so proud each time I pass BF’s tests.

Flashsticks have been so useful but there is a flaw in using the post it notes around the flat – me. I am never great at deciding where to put things and this goes with post its too. I still can’t decide where to put about 8 of my previously learned words so they are above the mirror in my office. It is things like “bad” and “0” – where would you put the word bad in a flat?  Most words have an obvious place but I still need to work out where these few oddities should live. I can’t wait until the app is updated – it will be interesting to see how different it is from the current one.

I can’t wait now until tomorrow and having 50 words under my belt! I can’t believe that this key milestone is coming around so quickly – I never thought that it would be this easy, fun and challenging all at once.

Have you got any tips for learning new signs? Or a new language? Have you used flashsticks before – what do you think of them? Where do you think I should put the “bad” post it note? Leave a comment below as I would love to hear from you!

A month of learning BSL on blue background with hand gestures

 


a month of BSL day 6

Day 6 – An Explaination

As anyone who followed last month’s challenge will know, the biggest struggle of last month was blogging everyday. It seems it has continued in a similar vain this month for similar and very different reasons.

At the moment I have 24 signs that I have learnt in 6 days – something that I am managing quite well but I am still only learning 4 signs a day. This months challenge is having a very different effect on my day to day life at the moment with post it notes of signs slowly appearing around the flat and BF slowly finding his quiz master role everyday addictive. There is not much though to talk about – I really thought that even at this point it would be harder but it seems that using the flashsticks is quite effective.

I am still recovering as well after a crazy insane month of fruit and veg as well as the insane schedule to blog everyday. I have taken a rest for a couple of days and had the chance to finally catch up on admin and analytics to find something interesting – while I had more views this month, it was not significantly higher. I also went back through old blog posts only to shudder at the quality of them. Normally I love to have images carefully made and planned out and yet so many times I used the same images again and again as I was rushed off my feet each day.

So with all of that hard work I was putting out sub-par blogposts which were getting lower than average views and I was shattered doing it! A lot of the stress and strain of the challenge this month already has been more about the blogging than the BSL and that is not what I wanted with these projects.

With this in mind, along with the ever growing work load, I have decided to change my blogging schedule to be a lot more suitable for not only me but those who want to follow the project or get updates from other projects. Each week I am going to blog two times a week where one will be about the challenge and the other is open to cover updates, reviews and other one-off projects. I will still plan to have at least one vlog for each week of the project as well meaning that there will be two updates.

I must say that I have felt bad for not keeping the blogging up but with the vast amount of work building from other areas and the clear impact on quality I felt that it was much better to change it for the better.

In terms of learning BSL at the moment, it has been a lot of fun and useful. BF is so happy that now he can silently ask for bread and cheese (I wouldn’t be surprised if he googled how to sign for a cheese and ketchup sandwich very soon).  I really have fallen in love with flash sticks – the ability to scan the post its and stick them anywhere is so cool. They have an incredible new app coming out that I also want to try – it lets you scan house hold items and it will tell you what it is in your chosen language. While that aspect might be for a premium service, when learning a language like BSL I can imagine how useful it would be! Hopefully I’ll get access very soon so that I can cover it this month but until then I still am happily plodding along with the current one.

I have found that quite a few signs are very different from the ones I was taught in Bournemouth – I have had to remember when BF is testing me that I need to remember which version I need to sign! Just like areas have accents, there are some signs that are regional and that is one of the issues with flash sticks as it will ignore the regional sign for the general one. One of the things I loved was how southwest signs London – it is the same sign for crazy as they feel it is crazy there. I would be interested in how flash sticks would sign London!

So tomorrow I will do my first vlog for this challenge and I am currently working on an interview with two incredible BSL based organisations that I am so excited to share!

Have you ever tried to blog everyday? How often do you blog? Are you more likely to follow this challenge now? Have you tried flash sticks or online videos to learn any BSL? Have you learnt a language with a partner? I would love to hear from you so leave a comment below!

a month of BSL day 6


a month of learning BSL on purple background

Day 2 – What is on paper

Today when BF tested me on the days signs, we came to a disagreement – he told me I got a sign wrong. It turns out that sometimes the drawing and description vary slightly from the video app. Turns out that student in BSL written down looks slightly different to the video by flashsticks.

It seems that this is sometimes the issue – often the mouthing or emotive aspect of signing is lost on paper. This is often why I have avoided trying to learn BSL from books as I have gotten in wrong in the past before but I currently can’t afford lessons.

I think that this only adds to why flashsticks is good – I can find out what it really looks like just by scanning the post it with my phone and I’ll get a quick video of the sign.

So far with my signs I am doing well to remember them – I am trying to do them throughout the day but when BF is around it is easier to practise across the room at him (it seems he loves certain words like difficult). While he plays games he might across if it is a difficult game now with a big grin on his face.

BF seems to be enjoying this challenge more than last month’s – I think he likes the power of testing me and learning something new. I am enjoying it too – it doesn’t seem to be as disruptive as last months challenge but then I hope it does has just as big as an effect.