Cautionary Tales

Woops I really haven’t updated this in a while. I’ve sorta had a few of those not doing much but actually doing a lot sort of weeks. I’ll try and interest you with some stories anyway.

Discovering my lightning-fast microwave

So I’ve been cooking for myself which is great because I’m a fussy eater and this way I can make myself delicious meals which I know I will love. The down side to this is that I cook in batch and then put the leftovers in the fridge and reheat when needed. I had been reheating by using the oven which is not the best method for keeping the food at a nice and tasty texture. And then… about 6 weeks after I’d moved in I was having a pizza evening with my housemates in our dining room and one of them moved behind me with a plate of pizza, fiddled around and I hear a whirring. I turned around to discover, low and behold, we had a microwave after all.

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Right next to the booze – how did I miss it!?

Perfect! Now it will only take me a matter of minutes to warm up my leftover meals. Except that our microwave likes to occasionally produce lightning inside which is pretty scary to say the least. So now every time I want to heat something up I have to make the decision between speed or possible death. I usually risk the death by lightning – what can I say I like to live on the edge.

The Age Old Marmite Debate

So when my parents came to visit they brought me some stuff from home which I haven’t been able to find over here. Marmite being one of these things. I was so happy to be able to have marmite on toast once more.

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You love it, you hate it, or you just don’t know it!

My Canadian housemate, Elliott, saw the marmite on the shelf and expressed his extreme dislike of the spread. I then decided to gather the rest of my housemates opinion. Most of them had never heard of it and upon trying some seemed to express neither love or hate of it.

So Marmite – You Love It, You Hate or You Just Don’t Know It

Todtnau Rodelbahn

It’s a rollercoaster down the side of a mountain. Sound cool right? That’s exactly what I thought so I organised with a few mates to go visit one Saturday. Then Friday night most of us got incredibly drunk and not many of us recovered in time to get up for the journey into the Black Forest the next day. I surprisingly managed it and met up with Carmen and her friend who was visiting from London.

When arriving in Todtnau we got to the chairlift to take us up the mountain only to discover that the damn thing is only open on Sundays! And this is why I don’t make plans.

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The beautiful church in Todtnau

Carmen saved the day and took us on a short walk to some nearby waterfalls where we posed for some pictures before wandering back down the valley to the town to catch the bus home.

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Nothing like exploring waterfalls in the fresh air!

The fresh mountain air was amazing for my hangover. I’d forgotten what a good cure a hike can be!

Weihnachtsmarkt/Christmas Markets

The Christmas Market in Freiburg opened this Monday. Come Tuesday, Carla and I still hadn’t visited and so decided to take a spontaneous and speedy trip between lectures.

We only had time for a crepe and some gluhwein. We had schokokuss (chocolate covered marshmallows) inside our crepes and these were delicious. The lovely lady who took my order was deaf and struggled to lip read my already appalling pronunciation and so it took a while to place my order but we got there eventually.

The gluhwein was slightly more rum-filled than we anticipated and left us slightly sleepy and out of it for our next lecture but it was so warm and tasty that it was perfect. Day-drinking mulled wine is the perfect solution to the cold winter days that have fallen upon us!

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Winter is coming – and it’s cold!



Freiburg ‘Freshers’

So this week I finally got going with the actually living in Freiburg stuff and all of the university things. I’ve also been on some pretty cool trips and met some pretty awesome people from many different countries.

Uni Life

I kicked off the week by going on a tour of the administration offices in Freiburg. This means registering as a resident, getting my health insurance, opening a German bank account and matrikulating in the university. All as fun as they sound…

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Now an official student at Freiburg!

I also went to many talks in order to figure out the bare minimum of work I could do here and check out the many opportunities for extra curricular events. I’m now nearly all signed up onto my course, 2 History modules, 2 English and my German language course. The real work starts next week now…

Handel Life

I called the title of this blog post Freshers. Freshers has connotations of lots of drinking. Germany has lots of bier. I’ll let you connect the dots.

I’ve had some pretty fun and massively cheap nights out at the student bars here. All of the different accommodation blocks have their own form of bar and the alcohol tends to be dead cheap. Can’t complain.

Cheap beer leads to crazy drinking games such as FlunkyBall…

At my accomodation block, Händelstraße, we also had a Händel-fest which ran from lunch time till 5am. There were couches and music outside and the weather stayed good enough for most of the night to be spent chilling and playing drinking games outside. When it got a bit too cold you could always go warm up with some crazy dancing, including a Céilí , in the bar.

#squad #ironic
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The accommodation was decorated beautifully drawing the day and became pure magic at night!
One of the most active drinking games I’ve ever played… so much running involved!


In stark juxtaposition to my Durham Freshers week I was actually active during the daytime quite a bit. I went on some beautiful walks in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). I hiked up both Schlossberg and Schönberg and was rewarded with some stunning views.

The view from halfway up Schlossberg
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We started the day in the grey but halfway up Schönberg the weather decided to become sunny and well schön…
Sunbathing on top of Schönberg
Sunbathing on top of Schönberg
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Views down on the vineyards… simply enchanting
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Walking through the vineyards picking and eating tasty grapes as we went… yummy!

Though I didn’t quite make it away from the alcohol, like a true fresher, and finished off one of these walks with a tasting of 5 local wines. Delicious!

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I also got to have a little UK reunion with my karate buddy Phil who is doing his ERASMUS nearby in Strasbourg. We met halfway between Freiburg and Strasbourg in what just so coincidentally happens to be Europe’s second biggest theme park and contains Europe’s highest rollercoaster! Needless to say great fun was had and my throat was sore the next day from all the thrilling screaming!

High Five for a great reunion!
High Five for a great reunion!
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Football toasted burger in the British section of the park!
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Got to the front seat of so many rides!
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We got a little lost on our way between rides but ended up with some incredible views of the roller-coasters anyway!
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SPLASH! Luckily we managed not to get to wet on all the water rides!
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Indeed we avoided the waterfall on the rapids!
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Sneaky game of laser quest built into a ride. Best thing ever. Even though I lost… just!
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We got to go on a ride… in a GIANT PUMPKIN!

First Week in Freiburg

Okay it’s been a bit more than a week since I’ve arrived here but I haven’t been up to anything tremendously exciting so I didn’t have much to write about… all the exciting stuff starts next week I promise. Anyway – I’ve come up with a few interesting events to tell you about!

A picnic in a graveyard…

The day Ben and I arrived in Freiburg it was lovely and sunny. So after finding our way to my accommodation, with a cheeky taxi ride, we ventured to the Lidl that was two minutes down the road bought a picnic and head off in search of a park to eat our picnic in.

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This looks like it could be a pretty park…

On google maps we saw a nearby massive green patch and decided that must be a park! So we headed in that direction. Upon arrival we found that the green patch was a lovely area filled with ponds and plants… just one downside… it was a graveyard. Nicht so gut!

Lesson learnt: Friedhof means graveyard!

Quidditch shenanigans

As most of you know I am an avid quidditch player. I love the sport, I love the people, I love everything about it. So I had already checked ahead to see if Freiburg had a team. They do: The Black Forest Bowtruckles. I looked up when their training was and where it was located and Ben and I ventured out one Thursday evening.

Team selfie!

It was a great practice with lots of tackling drills and fitness – just what we needed after lazing about most days.

There were also two girls, Nadine and Lisa, who were visiting from Darmstadt and informed us of a tournament there soon – I can’t wait to go!

Lesson learnt: Nothing I already didn’t know – quidditch and the people who play it are amazing!


Ben and I were invited out for a few drinks with the Bowtruckles and guests on Saturday evening. We headed to Hausbrauerei Feierling for the best beer in Freiburg. And it was pretty damn tasty and far too easy to drink. A few litres and some schnapps later it was time to head home. We had gone out at half 6, intending to have a few drinks and return around 9ish and have food then. Instead we went till half 12 – now that’s a liquid dinner for you!

I was a bit rough the next day but we both managed to make it to Sunday quidditch practice – at least this one was only at 3pm rather than the hideous 10am Sunday session I’m used to at Durham!

A slightly more hungover team selfie...
A slightly more hungover team selfie…

Lesson learnt: If you’re gonna party hard you better be prepared to play hard the next day!

Moonlit Megabus

So Ben left me on Monday, at 4am in the morning. We took a nice moonlit stroll to the train station and watched the moon eclipse and go red and all that jazz. I wasn’t even aware anything special was happening that night so it turned out to be pretty good timing that we would be awake at ridiculous hours anyway!

I waved Ben off and then had a slightly creepy solo walk back to my apartment. I got home and watched Downton Abbey before  heading to sleep. I finally went to sleep around half 6, woke up around lunch time and my body-clock is still feeling out of wack.

I forgot to take a picture of the moon so have a raunbow that was outside me bedroom window instead!
I forgot to take a picture of the moon so have a raunbow that was outside me bedroom window instead!

Lesson learnt: Try your hardest not to book Megabuses at stupid o’clock – unless a rare celestial event is occurring and then it might be worth it.

Running in the Black Forest

Today I decided to go for a run on a route I’d plotted out on google maps. It had a stream, it had wooded paths, it had pretty views and it had fields. It was beautiful. A little hilly but that’s because I live at the edge of the mountains! It was nice to get out and about somewhere other than Lidl or Aldi.

Various parts of my running route
Various parts of my running route

Lesson learnt: Going on runs really helps you to get to know the hidden areas around you!

Life in a blissful bubble in Blanzat (Blon-za)

So it’s been nearly a month since I left home in Caton and I still haven’t quite made it to Freiburg. After a hectic couple of weeks(so hectic I never found time to blog about it) which included a lovely time at the Edinburgh Fringe and fabulous weekend in Barcelona playing quidditch I finally settled down to have some rest in Blanzat. A lovely little town in the Auvergne region of France. I stayed at my boyfriend’s house but we didn’t have access to a car so here is my list of top five things to do near Blanzat if you’re ever having a relaxed holiday there.


The area is pretty mountainous and so has the potential for some fun yet strenuous bike rides. We only managed to have one day out on the bikes, due to being lazy gits, but it was a lovely day despite the route we chose being pretty damn overgrown. We also got slightly lost going through some fields and had to duck under electric fences and jump over barbed wire – but that’s what makes it fun! Indeed the forests and the fields are so pretty, and the views from high up in the hills make the steep climbs well worth it.

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About half way round our circuit we stopped for a photo shoot
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The route took us through lovely vineyards
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An artsy ‘oh look where I left my bike’ shot
Beautiful scenery along the route
Beautiful scenery along the route

Top tip when biking: never turn down padded underwear no matter how unattractive it makes you look. It’s not worth the pain in your bottom after a long day riding.


The surrounding landscape is also perfect for walking and running. Especially when you have a very excited dog who needs to be tired out every day to stop him being a nuisance. Again a lot of climbing is involved but the views make everything worthwhile.

The lovely view with my boiz in the forefront
A picturesque rural farmhouse that sold goat’s cheese

Top tip when walking: The area is volcanic so try and find some interesting craters to walk around and explore.


The volcano-themed amusement park. Complete with educational displays and exciting simulation rides. There were even some moving, roaring dinosaurs out top in the lovely grounds. The park is set in the middle of a whole range of volcanoes so you have lovely panoramas in whichever direction you look. The rides were surprisingly fun with some very intimate ‘4-D’ experiences – such as being sprayed with water.

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Photos showing off Vulcania’s dramatic scenery

Top tip: The Audio guides use in-ear headphones which mean you get to keep them after you return them. Bonus marks to Vulcania for hygiene and a bonus for you – free headphones!

Michelin Adventure

So this one is a bit out there. It’s a tyre museum. But it’s not just about tyres. There lots of history on show – lots of fascinating events the Michelin company had a hand in that I would never have guessed; early explorations into Africa and Asia as well as contributing to the war effort in both world wars. I quite happily spent over two hours wandering the many sections of the museum using the interactive screens. The only down side for me was the massive Michelin man who’s eyes blinked and winked – creepy!

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The incredibly creepy massive Michelinman

Top tip: If you like gaming make full use of the free Xbox driving games at the end of the tour. I’m awful at them so it took me about an hour to get round one course but if there your thing then go crazy, there’s no charge!


Okay, this one is not specific to Blanzat, but it was great fun. If you have a niche hobby, friendship group, or anything you can come up with a lot of puns and references for, then Make-Your-Own-Opoly is a great way to spend a relaxing yet interesting day anywhere. Ben and I made one for our uni corridor back in first year, which is basically our uni friendship group now, and had great fun making up Bad News and Good News cards. We posted our progress to our friends who all seem psyched to play it so hopefully the hours spent painstakingly printing, cutting and sticking will have been put to good use.

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The product of hours of hard work

Top tip: The version we used had quite different rules to a normal game of monopoly and didn’t play quite as well. However it was quite old and I am sure more modern version will have managed to come up with a way to make the home-made games more similar to the real game.

There and back again (and to Bristol inbetween)

So my journey back home began at Gotanda station at 9PM on Friday evening. Cutting it a bit late I went to ask for a ticket at the JR station. I was told the JR trains had stopped running and was helpfully rushed to the subway station, also in Gotanda. After realising I didn’t have enough yen left to purchase a ticket at the machine I attempted to purchase one at the ticket office using my bankcard. The ticket lady didn’t speak a word of English, other than sorry, and looked at my bankcard like she had never seen one before. I quicly realised I needed to find an ATM so headed back out, luggage and all, to get some cash. On my return I went back to the office only to be charged over 1000YEN extra to what the machine said – so I bought the ticket at the machine instead.

The subway system is pretty easy to understand so I hopped on to the next train and proceeded to fall asleep safe in the understanding that my only change was at the very end of the line. However I was woken up a mere 10 minutes later as apparently the train I got on only went so far down the line. No problem however, I just hopped on to the next train and continued my journey. I had now become expert of lugging around my rucksack, my fuji pole and my 23kg bag.

I made it to the end of the line and made the change on to the airport line. Now again I knew I could fall asleep as the airport was the end of the line. So I did. I then woke up as the train stopped at Narita. Being half asleep I saw Narita and thought ‘Ooh I’m here, better get off’. So I did. Without realising most of the train was still occupied, meaning we hadn’t gotten to the end of the line, meaning that I had gotten off at Narita rather than Narita airport. Dumb move Bex.

Now considering the time was currently 23.30 it wouldn’t have been surprising to find no more trains running. Luckily, I looked at the board to see a train for Narita Airport at 00:01. Thank god I wasn’t spending my evening in a train station waiting room, though my plan was to spend it in an airport waiting room so there’s not much difference – it just felt less trampy…

The only difference with this train was that it was a luxury nightliner so the guy on the station charged me and extra 400 yen – 2 more quid to make it to the airport, I’m not complaining! When trying to explain my situation to the ticket guy, just to make some conversation, he looked at me like an idiot and said ‘This is not Narita Airport…’, before walking off. Don’t try to make small talk with Japanese ticket officers!

I finally made it to the airport after a brief but lovely 20 minute ride on my luxury train. After catching a few hours sleep in the waiting room I proceeded through security and check in. I’d found out previously that Emma from my work team at the Jamboree and her mum were on my flight back. However, we had also randomly been allocated the seats next to each other which was a nice surprise!

On the plane I watched four movies and had some sleep. In Frankfurt I queued for yet another McDonalds whilst using the wifi to organise my pick-up from the airport. I had decided yesterday to not go straight home but to head straight down to Bristol with some friends for a friendly Quidditch tournament in order to see friends and say goodbye to many people before I bugger off to Germany next year.

So after the Frankfurt to Manchester flight I was picked up by Fraser and Zack to begin our journey down to Bristol. I was fighting through the jetlack in an attempt to stay awake- and managed.

All Star Weekend in Bristol was pretty damn amazing. It was lovely to see so many friends, have drunken games of ninja in the dark and to play some sexy quidditch. Winning the tournament was okay too I guess…

It was also really nice to see the family I have down in Bristol who I haven’t seen in a while and to try, and fail, to explain the wonder that is quidditch to them.

After the final I eventually headed back home, first to Manchester with Zack and then back to good old Caton with my parents.

Today I have slept for many hours and caught up on my blog. Reading everything over and showing my photos to my parents reminds me how awesome the experience was but also frustrates me because I can never truly express the brilliance of my time in Japan, not with photos or words. But I have tried and I hope you enjoy. Go visit Japan. Go do scouting. Go experience the world. Go be spontaneous. It’s awesome!

Action and Adventure: A post-Jamboree tour

This is a long one so bear with…

It was chaos on Sunday as all of the IST were leaving the Jamboree. Some had early starts some ahd late starts. I was somewhere in the middle (be there for 7AM to leave at 8). It was sad to leave and say goodbye to people but also exciting to be heading out on a tour of Japan.

The tour turned out to be jam-packed. On the first day we went and explored two caves. The first was ‘dull and featureless’ to quote our resident speleological expert, Edward Farrow, but the second had some exciting rock formations and a bit of a scrambely squeezy path to follow. We also went up to a view point to look around the surrounding scenery. It was very beautiful and extremely green. It was a bit creepy how it could almost have been the English countryside.

For lunch we had another Bento box with some tempura and sushi and tofu. I’ve constantly surprised myself by how much I’ve been eating new things this trip. I think I’ve finally learnt the lesson of don’t knock it before you try it.

We the headed to the hotel in Hiroshima where I had a lovely long shower/bath before heading down to dinner which was in buffet style. There was broccoli, there were sausages and ham steaks, there were potatoes and there was a chocolate fondue. It was incredible and just what everyone needed after two weeks of camp food. After dinner we went to the karaoke bar and had a few beers whilst belting out some classic.

The next morning we headed to Miyajima, Shrine Island, on the ferry. It was a very beautiful island and filled with loads of wild deer – many a deer selfie was taken. We visited a few shrines and temples and learnt about how the Shinto religion works. It is the indigenous religion of Japan and most Japanese people are both Shinto and Buddhist. The religion is based on spiritual powers called ‘kami’ in the natural world. The shrines are marked by Tori (archways). Shrines are dedicated to different kami such as to the sun goddess or to family and travellers. It was fascinating to learn about and more convincing a faith system to me than most others I have discovered.

After the shrines a few other sand I went caught the free shuttle bus ride up to the start of the cable car line. The ride was an experience in itself as we rammed as many passengers in as possible which meant I was sat on the floor by the gear stick in prime position to go through the windshield.

We had another traditional lunch near the ferry, some speedy souvenir shopping and then were whisked off to the bullet train to make the next stop on our journey. This was a traditional Japanese hotel with natural hot springs, futon style tatami matt beds and a 7 course, or thereabouts, traditional Japanese meal. It was exciting to experience everything, all whilst wearing the kimonos and sandals given to us in our rooms.

We had an early start to make it to Fuji in good time to start our climb. On the coach journey there we caught our first glimpse of the mountain and it was stunning. Mt Fuji stands alone in the countryside making the height and size all the more impressive. After lunch at the 5th station, 2300m, we headed up to the 7th station in groups of around 30 people with a guide for each group. The guides took us at a slow pace with breaks every half hour to adjust to the altitude. The walk itself wasn’t difficult just lots of zig-zags broken up by lodges and stations. At these station you could get a wooden pole, bought at the 5th station, branded with stamps which looks pretty cool.

On arrival at the 7th station lodge we had a large meal of curry and rice before heading to bed at 5pm so we could awaken at 11pm to climb to the summit at sunrise. The guides took us at a similar pace but people were beginning to struggle and so the walks got shorter and the waits got longer. Because of this I was getting super cold and so had to walk off by myself. Near the summit I encountered a queue! It turned out to be a Japanese national holiday and everyone was climbing Fuji, from 5 year old kids to 70 year old men! I nimbly snuck through the queue doing some scrambling and squeezing and reached the summit. 3,776 m, well before sunrise. At the top I found myself a nice view point and watched the colours in the sky appear and change. It was one of the most stunning things I have ever experienced.

As the sun continued to rise I walked around the summit in the hopes of finding some other scouts. I made it to the highest point, had some Japanese people take a photo of me and then completed my circuit. I didn’t find anyone until I made it back to the lodge at the top. We then counted heads before heading down. The walk back down was perhaps harder than the walk up as the path was very gravelly, dusty and slippy. We were back down before 9AM still.

After another lunch break at the 5th station, and some more souvenir shopping we headed via coach to Tokyo. Upon arrival at the hotel we were basically told this is your accommodation, fend for yourself for 2 days now. As everyone was knackered we all had long showers and naps before heading into town for food in the evening. I also got to skype friends back home which was lovely and needed at that point in the trip. Some of the people in my Fuji group and I headed to Shibuya to see the largest crossing in the world at night and then ended up eating at a Hooters because everyone fancied Western food. Never before has a burger tasted so good. Plus Hooters was definitely an experience.

I headed back early to the hotel as I was knackered and took another trip to the hotel’s Onsen, hot spring baths, before having an early night. The next day was similarly lazy, having already done most of the Tokyo tourism during my stay before the Jamboree. I woke up around 9 purely to have breakfast then got back in bed and watched Pretty Little Liars right up to the season finale where a big reveal left me feeling broken.

To calm my sorrows I took a trip to a whisky store with Chris and Rich where I tried a few different Japanese whiskies for 100 yen a taster glass (50p) before buying the nicest one for my Dad as a birthday present/souvenir. We then wandered Yaesu Underground Shopping Centre for a while enjoying all of the Japanese toy shops such as the Hello Kitty and Pokemon stores. A tasty McDonalds dinner before heading back to the hotel to get ready for a grand night out as this was to be most people’s last night in Japan. It was also A-level results night for many people.

Richard and I headed to Akihabara with Curtis to the electric city, to meet some people near the Sega. This didn’t quite work out, there being a few too many Sega stores in Akihabara, and so we had another McDonalds before heading back to the hotel tube stop to find people in the karaoke bar nearby.

The karaoke bar was fantastic and we managed to rack up a pretty impressive tab by the time we left. Never before have I attempted to order 5 pints and been delivered 2 massive pitchers of beer – I’m not complaining though! The rent of the karaoke party rooms is quite expensive so we didn’t stay too long and instead headed up to the hotel roof for some cigars and vending machine beers. Vending machine beers are genuinely one of the best inventions I have ever come across!

The next morning everyone had a lovely hungover breakfast. Most people were staying in the hotel till their coach to the airport as everyone had run out of money and a lot of people were still satisfying their wi-fi cravings. I however had some cash still to burn, though not much, and am not a fan of sitting in a hotel all day so headed to Shibuya with a group to do some last minute souvenir shopping and visit a lovely park and shrine. After returning to the hotel Caitlin and I waved the last coach to the airport off, we had both sorted out our own transport and were returning later.

We had a lovely last meal in an Italian restaurant with a penis statue lamp and a Japanese menu where we couldn’t read a word. Luckily the waiter understood Margherita and so we got exactly what we needed. Indeed the pizza was delicious with lots of basil and tomato – Japan does have the second best Italian food after Italy!

I then said my goodbye to Caitlin before venturing to the train station to begin my journey to the airport. And that journey is an entirely different adventure which deserves its own post…

Last days of the Jamboree (JAMBOREE)

Things were definitely starting to wind down at the Jamboree. I had finished work and had completely free time. Sadly to boiling heat meant that there wasn’t much you were able to do without keeling over from heatstroke.

I had a chill morning hooked up to the wifi, catching up on quidditch videos, my blog and life back home all whilst sat in front of a fan. Late in the day I went to the Onsen (hotspings) with some friends from work, Anna and Elise. We had an amusing journey figuring out the way on the trains and then from the station the hot spring. The baths were lovely and much more traditional than the other ones I’d tried. It was so nice to just feel clean and rested again!

We enjoyed it so long we stayed a wee bit too long and missed the train we were planning on getting back. This mean we were slightly late to the closing ceremony but we did get to see a steam train arrive at and leave the station which was pretty cool!

Luckily we didn’t miss too much of the closing ceremony and got there in time for the opening act, CUTE, who were super upbeat and surprisingly good. The best part by far of the ceremony however was the speeches given by a UN envoy, one from the gen sec and one of his own. They reminded me why the scouting movement is so important; how it brings countries and cultures together, how it teaches essential skills and instils positive morals, how it sends a message of peace and development. There is so much more to the movement than all of the fun activities and outdoors skills and that is what makes it such a fantastic addition to the world.

With nothing much to do on the last day I woke up early to pack my bags before the heat got unbearable. I then went for a walk along the coast with Becca before coming back to help my tent buddy Jeni put down the tent.

Late in the afternoon I went for a walk up a hill near the campsite. There were lots of shrines and statues and there were brilliant view of the sea, the islands, the campsite and the sunset at the top. So glad I managed to get the walk done, ever since I saw the hill at the beginning of the Jamboree I had been wanting to climb it.

We got back in time for the IST closing ceremony which was fabulous. So many talented people displaying their skills and prowess at singing and dancing and comedy. Plus when you get Scottish dancing to Irish music you know it’s a great party!

After the ceremony the real party began with an excellent DJ and fabulous dance crowd in the food court. It was a lovely to way to finish the Jamboree.

So here we have it. The end of the Jamboree. It has been a truly incredible experience. Meeting people from every corner, nook and cranny of the world, experiencing fabulous moment with them as well as immersing myself in Japanese culture. I’ve done so many things and met so many people that I would otherwise never have had the chance to do so and I am so grateful for the opportunity. It was so refreshingly beautiful to see so many countries and cultures joined together to create an event larger than the Olympics which demonstrated the talents and wonders of the amazing mix of people attending.

Working 9 till 5! (well more like 6.30-18.30)

My second stint at work ran much more smoothly than the first. Everyobdoy knew what they were doing and we had fixed the schedule so all of the kids now got 40 minutes in the sea rather than 10 – also the sea was actually deep, like swimming deep, for the first time!

It is safe to say that the best thing about work is the team. My beach flag team, my water 02 team, the whole water team and the offsite team. All of them are amazing and are why my jamboree experience has been so amazing. We have team ice cream, team sauna, team tea (dinner), team mafia, team parties and team outings. It’s incredible to meet so many lovely people from all over the world; Brazil, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Germany and Finland to name but a few. Working with them really gave me the opportunity to learn about other cultures and discover how, despite many differences, we are all unbelievably similar – which is why we got on so well!

There have been many evening activities which have been such great fun. One evening the Scottish held a ceilidh in the Eastern Hub which was AMAZING. It was so cool to see people from all over the world struggling to follow the instructions (shouted in an incredibly Scottish accent) and lovely to see them succeed. It has to be one of the largest ceilidhs I have had the pleasure of attending and definitely the one where I was most scared of being trampled to death by the throngs of eager dancers!

Most evenings we just hung out in the food courts and attended whichever countries party was going on there. The music was normally pretty good, but it was hard to dance like a crazy when on a dry site! However, the Italian party was appallingly DJ’d (he managed to somehow butcher both Queen and Uptown Funk) and so we left and went to have a DMC under the stars by the sea wall.

These late evening added up and I was beginning to get pretty tired. Still, when I learnt the Japanese IST needed help setting up earlier in the morning I volunteered to leave at 6.30AM and go help them. This did come with perks as they took us to a restaurant after where we could have chocolate cake, chips, and unlimited hot and cold drinks! It was really nice to chat to the Japanese more, all of them were very keen to practice their English and one got really emotional when we told him how good his English was. This was mainly because early in that day an English leader had told him his English was terrible which really upset him so he said he was proud to hear that we thought his English was fantastic – much better than my Japanese anyway!

On the last day of work the organisers of the Offsite program threw us a surprise work party. There were some really cute speeches and I got a present of a Japanese Jamboree t-shirt from one of my new Japanese IST friends. We also played a watermelon piñata game which was great fun and the watermelon was very tasty once we managed to break into it.

Working the Jamboree has been one of the best experiences of my life, and despite being knackered I would do it all over again in an instant – bring on North America 2019!

Chilled Out and Cultural

My first day off since starting work and I planned to have a lazy day and go swimming in the pool. Turns out that the Jamboree don’t hire the pool out so we can’t use it which is annoying. Instead I went to the supermarket and bought some kiwis – I’ve been missing proper fruit! I also bought a solar charger in the hopes that I could stop queuing for the charging tent but it turns out it’s too hot for them here! How daft is that?

Luckily I found some spare sockets in the food hall so sat and caught up with my blog for a bit and charged all my gizmos. I lacked energy to do anything amazing so it was nice when Becca found me as we could catch up and chat about our respective jobs – a zero energy task!

Later that day I was booked onto the hot springs tour which was amazing. I was a bit anxious I didn’t know anyone else that was going but I think that turned out to be a good thing seeing as you had to go stark naked. It was good fun though and there were lots of different pools from boiling to cold, a sauna, a tiny electric shock pool, some monkey bars and an outdoor waterfall pool. What was really touching was the Japanese ladies there who on seeing by sunburnt shoulders got really concerned and starting pouring cold water on them and patting them. One of them got me out of the pool and pulled me over to her station where she got out some ointment and an exfoliating pad and starting scrubbing me all over. She kept getting me to feel her skin to see how soft it was and telling me that doing all this would make my skin as soft – at least I think that was what she was saying, it was all in Japanese.

It was one of the ladies who came to the hot springs birthday and so we all went to the bar near the pool and had a round of drinks. It was nice to meet more new people even though now all I can thin when I see them is… I’ve seen you naked…

On my second day off me and Becca queued up early for the World Scout Shop and were the second people inside. I bought some souvenirs for myself and a house warming present for my brother, Michael and his girlfriend Sam. After we headed over to the subcamp area with Alex to see Unit 53 from West Lancs. We joined in the activities and had some of their ‘Hunter’s Hotpot’ and built a Blackpool Tower our of straws and blu tack. We then wandered around the subcamps trying lots of different food, from Brazilian banana sweets to Mexican chilli lollipops to Canadian maple syrup pancakes! I was stuffed. It really is amazing how many different cultures you have such easy access to!

The best thing was trying to find all of the Eastern European countries we had visited on our trip two years ago and getting a photo with all of the flags (Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary). Serbia was impossible to find but mainly because we forgot what the flag looked like and were looking for the wrong one for the majority of the time – we eventually googled the flag and managed to find their camp! I also finally managed to wangle myself a Hungarian necker!

After our long walk we refreshed ourselves with some pringles and coke zero at the supermarket and then headed to the culture ceremony at the arena. This ceremony was much better than the opening ceremony. There was a stunt jet pilot who performed all sorts of wacky manoeuvres and drew the Jamboree logo in the sky; the voice actress of the main character in the new pokemon series; lots of different singers and bands as well as speeches from the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister of Japan.

A quick late dinner and I headed over to Offsite HQ for a work meeting. We were informed that due to the tides some units may not be able to get into the sea during their water module slot and were asked to think of fun alternative. Someone suggested Ninja and we had an example game. The Japanese IST loved it and insisted on playing it over and over again – it felt strange to be teaching  game called ‘Ninja’ to the Japanese!

The team then headed to the food courts where I had some very tasty Hungarian donuts but because we all had work the next day everyone headed to be pretty early. It was still nice to sit and chat with the team – meeting and getting close to them all has genuinely been my favourite part of the Jamboree so far!

Let’s go to the BEACH, BEACH!!!

Let’s go to the beach, beach! I’ve had this song stuck in my head for days after finally learning my job allocation and I finally got to go to the beach! I woke up early, showered (so many showers, never before have I looked forward to a c old shower so much) and arrived at the coach point 45 minutes before arrival as scheduled. Always good to start a new job on time!

I fell asleep on the lovely air conditioned bus and when I woke up we had arrived. We ferried the scouts off the coach and led them down to the beach which was beautiful! Unfortuantely, there were still many procedures which hadn’t been ironed out yet and so there was a lot of confusion over what was going on and people were left standing out in the boiling sun all day (over 40 degrees Celsius!).

However we soon got some form of idea of how the day should run – the scout rotating between four activities; swimming, beach flag, beach volleyball and Frisbee. I ran the beach flag game which involved the scouts lining up in groups, lying on the floor facing away from the flag and on the whistle jumping up, turning round and racing to see who can grab the flag out of the floor first.

The main issue we encountered was a lack of lifeguards which meant only so many scouts could be in the sea at once and so they all had a 20 minute allocated spot. Due to the high tempereatures they all understandably kept trying to go in when it wasn’t their turn which messed up the system significantly. There were come British scouts who had been in the queue for the time slot but by the time they got to the front there were already too many people in the sea. I had to argue with the lifeguard to get them their well-deserved time in the sea and managed this successfully – who knew I was so good at arguing… Anyway, they were very grateful which was really nice.

The second day was much more organised and so more enjoyable however I still managed to get sunburnt despite having a hella load of suncream on.

The team I’m working with are amazing and we all get on really well. We have Team Tea (dinner) and Team Ice Cream. I was absolutely gutted because I missed Team Sauna as I didn’t show up to Team Breakfast – too lazy haha! The evenings have been super packed with socialising with the new group – we headed to the culture evening and saw the Bangladeshi National Anthem then went to the Braillian/Pride party one evening. Then, yesterday evening we went had Team Tea then went to the Belgian food tent for waffles for desert. They were out of waffles sadly so instead I went over to the Swiss food tent and got a chocolate croissant whilst having a very deep but very brief conversation with a Swiss and an American about my dissertation. It is really reassuring that every finds my vague idea interesting and thinks it would be useful for society!

After meeting up with the rest of team water we headed into the small town near the site and went into a karaoke bar which was packed with IST, mainly Irish and Scottish. The evening was great, the songs were amazing and the alcohol was cheap. We drank the bar out of draft beer and so turned to the sake and Japanese whisky. They then brought out some bottled beers so it really racked up!

On the way back with my Irish friends we ran into some Latin American IST who started teaching me to latin dance on the street corner. It was incredible. I stumbled back into my tent last night and woke up without a single hint of a hangover this morning – success!!!