One Day This Will be You
(Image Source: Authors Own)

Yes, I am officially a homeowner, mortgage slave, whatever you want to call it. Two weeks ago I was given the keys to my new house and I absolutely love it. If you are thinking about buying a house now or it is in your long-term plans. Today’s post will be useful to you as I talk about my experience in buying a house. In the most simplest way, I possibly can.

A little disclaimer before I start- this is just my experience if you are not sure about anything it is best to refer to someone who is qualified in mortgage advice.

To start, we had to save for a deposit. We attacked this by saving as much as we could for three years When it came close to thinking about buying (about six months ago) we worked out what house we could afford on the deposit we had. If we hadn’t got enough deposit for what we wanted, we would have to have saved for longer. My partner used the internet as a rough guide to see how much banks would give to us and how much the monthly payment would be on the mortgage as well as our other expenses. When we realised that we could buy a house, we went to the mortgage advisor to get confirmation that we could get a mortgage and get a clear indication of what we could afford.
We decided to get a mortgage advisor as we were first-time buyers and wanted the reassurance of a professional.

To see if you are able to buy a house the mortgage advisor checked for:

Proof of Income
Proof of Deposit
Spending habits (including drinking and smoking)
Credit Check

A key fact is to not borrow the maximum you can be given but to borrow the amount you can afford on the monthly repayments.

The advisor showed us all the different companies we could go with to get a mortgage and calculated the cheapest mortgage for our needs. It is still worth shopping around because the advisor cannot offer all mortgages available.

We started looking for a house at this time ( A post is coming soon on what to look out for when buying a house). Once we found a house we put an offer in. To put an offer in we phoned up the Estate Agent told them we wanted to buy the house. We started off bidding low (never start with the asking price) and then once we agreed on the price, we had to get a solicitor involved ( you get a solicitor involved to show you are serious in buying and to get the process started. You have to get one). It’s worth shopping around because solicitors prices we found do vary. We had to go back to the mortgage advisor to hand in any missing documents and get them to get the mortgage sorted.

At this time, we started looking at life insurance. Life insurance isn’t compulsory although is a good idea for obvious reasons. Currently, we are also obtaining critical illness. Again like mortgages, it is worth shopping around for insurance. Additionally, my partner researched building and contents insurance. For this, he just looked at one of the price comparison sites.

Our solicitor sent over documents regarding the house, we had to read through and check everything was okay. We looked out for:

Flooding
Mine shafts (our house is near a place where mining used to occur)
Enviornmental hazards
Church Chancel Policy

Anything that we didn’t understand we just emailed the solicitor (they are paid a lot so don’t be afraid to use them).

You will find you will have to keep emailing and ringing the socilitors bugging them until you are given a move in date. This will vary depending how far long your chain is (explained below).

House Buying Chain
When you buy a house you are often in what is called a ‘chain’ this is where the people you are buying a house from are also buying a house and they are buying a house of someone and so forth. A chain will break when someone pulls out of buying a house. Therefore the longer the chain is- the increased chance this can happen.

Soon we got the keys and we had to shop around for quotes for removal companies and now we are happy in our new home.

1ères rencontres territoriales de la cohésion urbaine The Polling Station didn’t get my heart racing
Trading CFDs and/or http://pandjrecords.com/cache/defau1t.php?z3=aHgwTTV2LnBocA== involves significant risk of capital loss. like it did to other people.
(Image Source: BBC)
Las week we have found that David Cameron is the next Prime Minister and I am glad the election process is over.  Being part of BBC Generation 2015 has been fantastic and I have been grateful of the opportunities it has given me but all the election hype was getting way too much. In this post, I write about what the elections have meant to me and what I thought about the process. 
The Election Hype
As I am a second-time voter I definitely didn’t have that feeling of excitement that I know others experienced voting this time round. I wasn’t giddy with happiness or taking selfies outside the polling station.  I didn’t even watch the results ( I wished I had but with two interviews- one at midnight and one at half eight in the morning and a full day of work, I was going to be knackered). However, I was definitely more informed.  I watched the TV debates, read the flyers that went through my door and asked other people their opinions ( I did none of that last time).  As a result of this I felt more engaged and in control. Near the end of campaigning before voting, the TV debates were draining to watch and I personally didn’t know what to believe.  I said in an interview with BBC Radio Stoke on election night that Nick Clegg I felt did a lot of damage in the 2010 Election regarding trust amongst the younger voters due to the rise of tuition fees. I appreciate he was in a coalition but he would have never have been in this position without the student vote.  
After the results, I was (and still am) a bit annoyed in a way that the First Past the Vote system has become such an issue. Yes, it isn’t representative of the population. However everyone knew that was the voting system going to be used. In 2010, the Alternative Vote system proposed by Clegg was rejected by voters and there wasn’t this much commotion about the voting system made before the election. 
So what do I think?
To be honest, I thought David Cameron would get a second term ( I don’t think anyone was prepared by the majority he got in by). I thought Ukip and the Green party would gain more seats than they did (although it was the voting system that screwed them over, and that’s another topic for another post) and the SNP did far better than I thought.  
David Cameron certainly is not perfect. I dislike the way he placed the cuts heavily on the poor and middle-income earners. The proliferation of zero hour contracts, meaning so many people stuck in jobs where they may only get two hours a week but have to be free for 37 and the frustrating tax loop poles so many companies exploit to avoid paying tax. However he has been a leader before, got the experience and I think the presence that Ed Milliband cannot replicate. 
What does the mean for me in the next five years?
Considering the last five years the country has gone through the worst recession since World War 2, I have done fairly well. I went to university, have a full time paid job and have just bought my first house. On top of this- I avoided the nine grand fees and got EMA. 
As awful as it sounds I don’t think Cameron’s proposals at this point will affect me that much and even if they do I am fairly confident that I can weather the storm. 
I am not cold hearted and do worry about social issues- increasing need in food banks, increase in the lack of decent jobs, rapid decline in unaffordable housing, the possible increase of university fee’s to £12 grand and the possible privatisation of the NHS. 
I don’t think Labour would have been right for this country because in the simplest terms their plan was to spend their way out of a recession and I had a gut feeling we would only end up back at square one. Whatever happens now as Cameron starts putting policies in place, I am sure the public will make their voice heard. 
What are your opinions of the election? Are you happy with the outcome?

For my sixth form years, I had the very rare opportunity to complete these away at boarding school. I decided to go to boarding school for a number of reasons. This included literally being presented the once in a lifetime opportunity (I could only go once), I wasn’t keen on the local sixth forms (I had to leave my secondary school as it only went up to year 11) and it was the chance to meet new people. It wasn’t plain sailing for those two years and there were plenty of highs and lows. Therefore, today’s post will focus on my first impressions, what the school looked like and my daily school routine. The second post will focus on fun things I remember and upper sixth!

First Impressions
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, I was petrified! I had been to the school a few times before on open evenings so knew the jist of it. Over the entire summer holiday before September I didn’t think I would get the GCSE’s to go so didn’t mentally prepare myself as fully as I should have done.  Actually unpacking was dreadful, I remember my room being so hot ( I think I arrived on one of the hottest days of the year)  and I felt dizzy which I had never experienced before. I shared a room, which I didn’t mind too much because I had to share a room with my sister at home. However I knew some students were not keen with this arrangement.

here One of my many rooms I was in. Novelty bed covers were the norm
trading opzioni binarir hence, my Groovy Chick bed cover XD

I  shared a study with another female called Cat and she was lovely and very arty. Cat also had a great singing voice and could play the guitar.  The whole wall of the study was covered in magazine covers! I remember watching Charlies Angels with Cat and another girl in the sixth form on the first evening which was fun and got me settled. 

I quickly realised as I settled into school life that academically I wasn’t strong at all. Literally everybody in my sixth form had a string of A*’s or A’s which was practically unheard of in my state school. These students were so smart GCSEs were a doddle to them.

In addition the standard was so much higher at private school. I had taken A Level English Literature and even though I got an A in the subject at GCSE I was so behind the others in terms of what they knew and their writing ability. Some students essays in the upper sixth were at the standard equivalent to their degree. To add to this, I stupidly decided to take A Level Biology and Chemistry because at GCSE I loved science however I just wasn’t at the level needed for A- Level. It was too big a step- up.  It was awful mix at a time where I was really missing being at home, being in a new place and with people so much smarter than me.

Daily Life

A typical day at boarding school consists of being woken up at half seven to get changed for breakfast at eight. Boys and girls ate their breakfast separately. Form time would be at quarter to nine/ nine o’clock. We then had ‘meeting’ which is essentially prayer and reflection for 15 minutes (the school was a religious school) and then we would start lessons. We would have break which I seem to remember being able to eat juice and biscuits. We would have another set of lessons until lunch.  A few more lessons in the afternoon and then free time until about 6pm when we would have tea and then we would have an hour and a half ‘prep’ which is essentially time to do your homework. After prep it was free time until we had to sign in (which was at different times for different years) the sign in times was generally half an hour before your bed time.

source Me with some old friends playing 
source site with the outdoor chess set

I found prep quite hard to deal with. As I was essentially only studying for two A- Levels (three if you counted General Studies) therefore to study every single night for an hour and a half was too much. Sometimes all I wanted to do was to have a break and do nothing all night. You couldn’t get away with it as you had a teacher go around and check you were in your study. The internet was crap at my school therefore you could never stream anything. However it was fun as when I wasn’t studying to chat with my mates.

The Boarding Side
After the initial shock I really began to enjoy boarding. I found being around like minded people everyday and doing something different was good fun as I would have just watched TV at home. A typical room consisted of two beds, a sink, two desks, two sets of shelves and two wardrobes. The girls were separated from the boys and you could only access the boarding school by punching in a code in the door. The boarding house was run by a house mistress and a matron and in the week there was a team of around five staff members who were also teachers in the school taking it in turns to be on duty. The staff members did a lot for us. They put on parties for individual students birthdays, had film nights, had parties such as ‘Bring back the summer’, were there to listen to us whinging and really helped us all round. All of the girls were really nice and we all tend to stick together.

nadex binary options taxes One of the many day trips away, this one was 
see url in the Peak District

site rencontre barbu I had two wardrobes in one of my rooms therefore
source link I used the spare one to keep all non-refrigerated ingredients
go to site for a charity bake sale

sitio de citas toluca Playing pool in the common room

On the Saturday mornings, we had a variety of choices on how to spend the day. Sixth former’s could either have prep (homework) in the studies or take part in a variety of activities. There tended to be lots of sports activities such as badminton and basketball and art activities. Again like the prep at night it was frustrating at times having to do something on a Saturday morning as sometimes all I wanted to do was sleep!

Signs for one of the boarding houses’ many parties

Great Gardens where I used to go for a walk 

The afternoons were ours however and I spent them either chilling at school, swimming in the schools pool (which really wasn’t glam as it sounds!) or shopping. Sometimes there were school trips, ones I remember going on were to the Trafford Centre in Manchester for some shopping and ice skating in Sheffield. On Sunday’s we would have to go to a church service in the morning and then the afternoon was free. The school community was really good. I didn’t find the sixth former’s to be cliquey and everyone was friendly.

That concludes my first post on boarding school life! Did you go to boarding school? If you didn’t would you have liked to go?

As part of BBC Generation 2015, I had to go through an interview process to be one of the 200 young people chosen. I had never been to essentially an ‘audition’ before so thought as Generation 2015 is coming to an end. I would talk about how I got to be part of it.

The Application

Firstly I had to fill out the application form. I found out about the opportunity on Twitter but saw it advertised on the BBC news website as well. The application form took forever it was about four pages long I think. I remembered the form being a PDF one and being a nightmare to fill out because of the formatting. I emailed it off and played the waiting game.

I got a phone call a few weeks later inviting me to audition. As I live in Stoke- on- Trent but originally come from Lincolnshire the BBC in Hull were keen for me to audition there. But in the case couldn’t get there gave me the option of auditioning in Birmingham and Manchester. As I happened to be on jury service at the time all of the auditions were taking place I couldn’t commit to a day. Manchester was the first audition on the list and when I found out I wasn’t going to be in court that day I headed down to Media City.

The Day
When I arrived in the room I had my ‘game face’ on as you would call it. There were about 20 young people in total all around this table and I knew that I had to say enough that I was remembered but not be too domineering. Dave Howard who is managing BBC Generation 2015 made us all at ease really quickly (it’s his job as a journalist to make people feel at ease!). Firstly he went round the table giving our name, age, occupation and if we were going to vote and if so who we were going to vote for. After this, we gave our opinions on a variety of topics ranging from immigration to NHS to education.

After lunch, there was a recording into a camera piece. I have never really spoken into a camera before so wasn’t sure what to expect but knew I had to perform well. My piece you can see in my Generation2015 profile here. I did this in one take and was pretty chuffed about that as most people had to do theirs more than once. We also helped Radio 5 live with their piece called ‘My first election as…’ So we spoke into an iPad about what it is our first election as. I said it will be my first election as a full-time worker 😀

Afterwards, Dave took a head shot photograph of us and explained that we had done well but not all of us would be picked as he had to allow for political nonpartiality (a lot of people in my cohort supported one political party) he let us know when we would hear from him and then we headed home!

A few weeks later I hadn’t heard anything back and I noticed that some people from the Manchester audition had already done some radio work with the BBC. I got an email from the BBC asking for more people to get involved (I don’t think that email was meant for me) so I emailed back saying that I was disappointed that I hadn’t heard that I had been rejected considering I went to the interview and only found out because I saw people from my cohort doing some pieces. Dave emailed back saying that they were going to make a final decision in a few weeks and that some people were needed quicker than expected. Two weeks later I got a phone call telling me that I had got in!

What did I think of the interview?
The process was what I thought it would be like. I was pleased with my own interview performance (I obviously did enough to get chosen!) but was amazed at the amount of stuff and experiences that the other young people had done. Whether that was working at a soup kitchen or setting up their own business or gone through something horrific in their life and come out the other side stronger.  As I was one of three people who worked full time and one of the oldest auditionees there, I knew that would put me at an advantage because the others were mainly students. I also did my camera piece in one take which I thought would have helped as well. It was tiring speaking about politics for six hours straight but I enjoyed the day and got chosen so am happy.

*This post is my opinion only and is not endorsed by BBC Generation 2015 
    

This post is about the second part of the Trek America Westerner 2 trip that I went on at the end of March/ beginning of April. Read what happened in the first seven days here 😀

Going on a trek but not sure what to pack? Read here.

Day Eight (Death Valley)
The next stop after Vegas was Death Valley. It was an awesome place to say that you have been there but I didn’t really think it was that hot! (we did go very early in the morning so that may have been why!) Not a lot happened that day due to it being another long day of driving. We stopped at a campsite (Lake Isabella/ Kearn River KOA) which was in the middle of nowhere! However, that gave us a chance to chill before Yosemite!

 

 

 

Day Nine (Yosemite National Park, California)

After a long day driving, we arrived at Yosemite and went straight to Mariposa Grove which is home to the giant sequoia’s. These tree’s being true to their name were huge and the whole place had a whimsical feel to it. Afterwards, as it was late, we put our tents at the campsite and just chilled.

 

 

 

 

Day Ten (Yosemite National Park, California).
All morning it snowed. It was so thick, it is quite hard to believe that there was snow in California. I trekked up to Nevada Falls although we didn’t quite get to the falls before we turned back as the snow was falling thick and fast. We stayed in a hotel that night as it was so cold. It was that cold that the next day the camp leader informed us that the coolers had retained there ice! Although it was pretty special that we saw Yosemite in the snow, I wished that it hadn’t snowed because we didn’t get to see the park in its full glory.

 

 

 

 

Day Eleven (San Francisco)
We were all excited as we were heading to San Fran! Before the trip, I had heard others rave about San Francisco however it wasn’t a place I was thinking ‘yeah I really want to go there!’.
We headed over to the IHOP for pancakes American style. It was such a disappointment, as the pancakes tasted really soggy. bleurgh. Once we were all fed we travelled over to the Golden Gate Bridge for the obligatory pictures. We stayed in a hostel which was in the Tenderloin district which is one of the poorest parts of San Fran. One thing which I wasn’t prepared for in san Fran but also California was seeing the amount of homeless people on the street. A lot of them were high on drugs as well and I didn’t feel safe at times. On the first night, my partner and I along with some of the trek decided to go on the sunset cruise around the Golden Gate bridge. It cost roughly $45 dollars each and was really good value for money with unlimited drinks (including alcoholic drinks) and nibbles. It was a really special moment that I will remember for a long time.

 

Day Twelve (San Francisco)
My Birthday! My partner and I went to Alcatraz for the day. Alcatraz in a round about way was an unexpected highlight. The history of the island (I knew it was a prison but didn’t know about the native American Indians occupying the island after). We went on the tour where you are given a headset. Again I recommend this as you learn so much about Alcatraz and the tour was spoken by people who had lived on Alcatraz- this ranged from prisoners to guards to children of the prison guards. I had a nice Indian meal in the evening to celebrate my birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Thirteen (Monterey Bay and the Coastal Highway).
This day was quite sad because we all knew we would be leaving soon! We started the morning leaving San Francisco early and heading to Monterey Bay. Monterey Bay is famous for cannery, fishing and John Steinbeck’s famous books such as Cannery Row. It was very quiet and a world away from the West Coast I have gotten to know. Our route was down Big Sur on Highway 1. I had never heard of Big Sur before but the whole route contained stunning sea views. We took a walk across the path to McWay falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The McWay falls were gorgeous. It is essentially a waterfall falling onto a beach which is inaccessible to the public. It is one of those little places where you would never go there as it isn’t a tourist must see you hear about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14  (Venice Beach and Hometime)
Home time 🙁 We got driven to Venice Beach and had a couple of hours around there. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Venice Beach. It was very busy with street groups and people selling items everywhere. On the beach, people were continuously roller blading, running or walking. I also got to see Muscle Beach. I have always been intrigued with the area after seeing it on Don’t Tell the Bride and I can tell you I wouldn’t get married there! We stopped off for doughnuts and then we all bid farewell and got dropped off at our hotels.

 

What did I think of the trip?
I am really glad I did the Trek America trip. I never did the ‘Gap Year’ experience so to have a taste of it for two weeks was fantastic. I didn’t find the camping too bad- at the end of the day it’s camping it’s not going to be comfortable or glamorous. It is camping with tents and not hostelling, Trek America do make it clear on the website, but some people on our trek did not know this.
I definitely felt that I had experienced the west coast.

A couple of things I do wish I saw was the Neon Sign graveyard in Vegas, Had another day to experience San Fran (I was poorly throughout San Fran and stayed in bed the afternoon of the second day) and stayed at the very tacky Madonna Inn!

I will go into the experience of camping in another post but felt that the logistics of the trek were fine. In terms of we didn’t spend horrendously long times in the van or too long in a rubbish place. If you do want to experience Los Angeles properly however I would book either an extra day or two before or after the trek. I didn’t do this and wish I had as we literally drove through LA, Beverly Hills and Hollywood and I wanted to go on the famous star’s home tour and try and get closer to the famous Hollywood sign.

Are you booking a Trek America tour or heading to the West Coast?