Travel: American street fighting, cool chairs, markets, beer gardens and fast rides!

Last Wednesday was a quiet day at camp as half of Teenside went on a trip. I therefore took pictures and worked on the calendar.

Thursday consisted of similar activities as did Friday. On Friday evening I left camp with Ashley and headed to her house in Long Island. We ate McDonalds in the car on the way home before arriving at her house at around 9pm.

I immediately planted myself in her bed and found it very difficult to move from that spot. Later on in the evening one of Ashley’s closest friends came over with a friend of his (Chris and Mac, like Mac and Cheese – I found that funny!). Chris was what I can only describe as your stereotypical frat boy. They both said ‘YO’ after pretty much every sentence and I began to find it funny.

They both seemed very friendly! A while later one of them mentioned pizza and my ears pricked up…I could definitely move for some pizza, so we all ended up piling into Chris’ snazzy car.

Ashley drove and as usual she did something crazy like not stopping at a stop sign. We can laugh about it now as we survived but I am pretty sure it is a serious thing to skip a stop sign.

As we arrived at our pizza destination we went to find a parking spot but was rudely interpreted by a mass fighting session. Very large, what I assume were American men, just starting flailing their fists at each other in an attempt to severely harm one another. Sat in the safety of the car, mouth slightly ajar, I began to laugh at how ridiculous the whole thing was. Shimmying forward slightly we were able to make it past the fighting gang in order to park.

As we walked down the street people were trying to break up the fight to our right whilst a man on our left sat on a wall reading a book with the strangest smile on his face. I mean, who on earth sits on a wall, at gone midnight, casually reading a book whilst a fight occurs on the opposite side of the street?! I couldn’t quite grasp the events that occurred and I still look back with utter wonderment at who the book reading, smiling man was. I sort of think you have to have seen the man to realise how strange the whole situation was. This man was surely from another planet or something!!!!

We then proceeded to walk past a huge log that had been fitted with chair backs – it was a log chair! I was amazed.

We crossed the road and I began to excitedly walk to the pizza shop until I was interrupted, yet again, by another outburst from the big bald American fighters. One man went a little far by grabbing a small blonde and forcing her to cross the road. The poor girl started screaming and tried to put a stop to him picking her up by putting her feet on the floor. The strength of him and the size of her plus her very high heels just did not help matters and she ended up being dropped on her bum in the middle of the road, for all to see.

Sadly it all died down pretty much after the girl got up, swore and walked away.

The pizza shop mission continued and I was very happy to taste the goodness that is Little V’s margarita pizza. I am sad I will never get to eat another slice!

Once we had all finished we headed back to the car and I have to say that I was a little excited to see the log chair and smiling book man again.

This time I actually got to test out the chair and was surprised to find out that is wasn’t that comfy. I should have known.

Up the road I could see that one of the ‘professional’ fighters was wobbling around on the pavement. With nervous footsteps I proceeded to walk past him only to be stopped by him stroking my face and bopping my nose.

After the nights events I wasn’t surprised that he did that. I calming and cooly shrugged it off and got in the car.

The next day we traveled 2 hours to the New Jersey, 6 flags theme park. What a day! I still, to this day, do not know how the three of them managed to get me on the rides. I am not a roller coaster person. They are just so fast and I definitely could not breath whilst I was whizzed aimlessly around. Some even went upside down! I found closing my eyes and yelling at Ashley the whole way round was the best way to get through it.

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The day was a lot of fun yet extremely tiring. We didn’t end up getting back to Ashley’s until 12pm and we were up at 5am to travel back to camp ready for visiting day.

Sunday was a long day and I don’t think I have ever been as tired. I was so tired I nearly started crying whilst I stood taking pictures of all the kids embracing their parents in humongous hugs. I miss the famalam! Sucking it up I continued to wonder round the tents taking pictures of all the families that had descended on our camp.

After lunch I was required to stand and direct cars out of camp. It is amazing how difficult that job was, simply because no one listened or looked at my very clear arm directions. Then the rain came and I was all lovely and soaked by the end of the day, in need of a hot shower and a comfy bed.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of usual camp activities. I photographed the campers and edited the calendar.

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During the week all the Israeli staff worked hard to put together a whole day of activities for the campers. In the morning everyone gathered in the Eddie Canter theatre and watched them perform a little skit. I found it hilarious as the majority of it consisted of them taking the mic out of all the American and English staff. I love the Israelis!

I proceeded to take photographs all day and in the evening the Isreali Friendship Caravan people came to perform. They danced and sang and one even managed to pull me onto the stage to dance with him. It was very awkward because of my awful dancing abilities!

On Friday, I took pictures and completed creating the calendar. It has been a mammoth task as lots of photographs needed to be crammed onto 12 pages. I am however pleased with the result.

Sadly, Friday evening was Kerry’s last night at camp so we all headed to the diner for a fair well meal. As shocking as it may seem, I did not have the French onion soup this time, instead I opted for BBQ ribs. Slightly disappointingly they weren’t as good as Frankie and Benny’s ribs but they were a lot better than anything camp could have fed me.

It was a lovely meal and at the end we got someone to take a group picture…the Super Saturday Specialist Squad :).

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The following day my alarm went off at 6.30am and I sleepily switched it off and fell back to sleep. I was completely oblivious to what the noise actually meant and it was only after my alarm went off again at 6.40am that I realised I was supposed to get out of bed. It was painful but I new a day in the city would justify the early wake up call.

This weekend the camp driver happened to be traveling into the city so we (Casey, Dan and I) were able to catch a free ride in. Typical of John, he slept through his alarms and missed both the bus and train ride. ‘He so stoopid!’

The bus drive was pretty silent due to the early hour but when we made it closer everyone peered out the window and got a glimpse of the Bronx and Harlem.

Dan and I decided we wanted to go to the photography museum in Times Square so we separated from Casey and caught the subway. Whilst we waited to board the cart a woman got off the train with a bag containing a little dog – I found it amusing.

The photography museum was amazing. I was able to see a lot of new photographers work that I hadn’t seen before. One of my favourite installations was a collaboration between photographers Michael Subotzky and
Patrick Waterhouse. The piece was a photographic investigation into the lives of people living in the iconic 54 story Ponte City residential tower in Johannesburg. The photographers had gone into everyone’s flat in the 54 story building and taken a photograph of their television screen, the residents within their homes and their doors. Each project was displayed within a tall light box which complimented the images due to the many silhouetted figures that were featured in the Windows, Ponte City, 2009 piece. It also worked well with the Televisions, Ponte City, 2008 piece because it made the images feel more like mini television screens. The Doors, Ponte City, 2009 piece didn’t necessarily need the light box but as a set it worked well.

Another great piece was by a man named Sohei Nishino, in fact it was more than great. He produces huge diorama maps of his exploration of different cities using a 35mm film camera, yes FILM! He shoots up to 10,000 pictures during his month long journey on foot throughout entire cities. It was absolutely amazing and I aspire to one day produce something as spectacular as that.

Diorama map, New York, February – July 2006

Diorama map, Jerusalem, September 2012 – January 2013

There were many other photographers work that I found interesting and I plan on creating various blog posts about each one when I return from my travels.

After leaving the museum, I headed round the corner towards the New York Library to meet Casey as Dan headed to meet his friends. On my way I bought a ham and cheese baguette from Pret A Manger to eat on the steps whilst I waited for her.

I felt honored to be walking round such a well known building. I can totally understand why everyone makes such a big fuss about the place and I did find it funny how there were more tourists wondering around the place than people actually sitting and reading the books.

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On leaving the library, Casey got a text from John letting us know that he was on the train into the city. We then decided that we had best get an hour or so shopping in before he came to meet us. We went into Zara and I was very good because I didn’t buy a thing. We then walked along the street and popped into a few shops along the way before reaching a huge Forever 21 clothes shop. It was like Topshop in London, ridiculously big with too many people in it. When I was in the changing room I overheard someone say they had been in the place for 2 hours. Again, I was good because I put all the clothes I had collected back on the rails before I left the shop.

John then met us outside the Hard Rock Cafe and Casey decided she wanted to shop on her own so we split up. John and I both wanted to buy some Havaianas and John wanted to walk along the High Line so I followed him. He seemed to aimlessly wonder around the city with a lack of care for whether he was going in the right direction. I sort of just went along with it because I new how much he liked to explore – TEVA! It turned out to be a good thing because we found lots of ‘snazzy’ things along the way and did actually end up at the High Line eventually. I couldn’t quite tell you where exactly we walked but we found a little market that sold lots of old things, including cameras. I was happy to explore the market and true to form I touched all the bits and bobs, stroked the fur coats and tried on all the different rings. If my Dad was there he would have been copying my actions with a bemused facial expression and comments such as ‘why do women always touch the clothes?’

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The High Line was lovely to walk along and I would recommend every tourist visiting New York. As we were walking we found a ‘hip and happening’ bar called Gastro Market that sold their drinks in jam jars. I was very excited by this so we bought a couple of drinks and sat out in the beer garden. We were both fascinated by the rocking metal chairs and I found it very difficult to get back up once I had sat down. The garden had hanging lanterns above your head which I imagine look lovely at nighttime. If I had the money, I would definitely go back there to eat. Lacking in the funds we sadly left the rocking chairs behind and continued our journey along the High Line.

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It was fascinating seeing the old rail tracks amongst newly planted trees and the views across the Hudson river were just great. Half way along John found a friend with matching hair and the guy asked to have a photo with him. We also saw a bride and groom and the rest of the wedding party having photographs. I was very pleased that John had suggested we walk along it!

As we neared the end of the strip, finally getting closer to the Havaianas shop, we heard and then saw a bar that looked lively and fun so we promised to return there once we had bought our shoes. When we entered the Havaianas shop I immediately saw the flip flops I wanted. I hunted through the sizes, trying a lot of them on to actually figure out what American size I was. Meanwhile John was not having as much luck. The mens section of the shop consisted of a small stand in the corner. They did not have the ones he wanted and he was very upset. When I bought mine, I immediately relished in the delights of no longer having paper thin flip flops. I did feel quite bad when I saw John’s sad and envious face…but what can you do?!

I finally found out that I was in Chelsea and just like the London version, it was expensive and fancy.

We then walked alongside the rivers edge and found the lively bar that we passed on the High Line; the Brass Monkey. It was very busy out in the beer garden but we managed to find a seat at the end of someone else’s table. By this time it was around 7pm and my stomach was definitely in need of some food. I was extremely happy to see that the food wasn’t all burger and pizza. I ordered fish and chips and John wanted bangers and mash and we both agreed to share them both. When it came I was in food heaven. The chips had a spicy tang to them and the bangers and mash was very flavorsome. I would definitely go back and eat there again. The atmosphere was great, they sold interestingly named beers on tap so John was happy and you could watch the sunset over the river; lovely.

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After eating we headed back in the direction of Times Square, by this time my feet were in agony and I do not know how I managed to make it back.

On Sunday evening camp put on a staff banquette and we all dressed up to attend. I still can’t believe I wore a dress and heels whilst at camp when usually I am in dirty clothes and flip flops. I danced, laughed, posed for pictures and ate some tasty veggie kebabs. A great way to end an enjoyable week.

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p.s. Check out how long my hair is…when did that happen?

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Travel: I love being a tourist

On Wednesday the rest of the campers arrived for session two. As usual I took pictures of all the arrivals and later in the day I officially moved into a new bunk with Ashley.

I am extremely happy with my new bunk, mainly because I share it with Ashley but also because I no longer have to walk all the way up the hill, battling against all the flies!

The rest of the day was pretty relaxed as all the new and old campers unpacked their stuff and made their bunks their homes for the next month.

I cannot quite believe that session one has already finished. Orientation week seems so long ago but the whole of my time at camp also feels like it has flown by.

That night I sat OD but was relieved fairly sharpish so I was able to get an early night.

The next day I took pictures in the morning and then caught up on a lot of different things in the office. I planned what I am going to do with the campers as I now know what to expect having learnt from session one.

In the evening Ashley drove Casey, Dan, Nick (a lovely guy from England) and I to Walmart and then the diner. I bet you can guess what I had…French onion soup for $4 :).

On Friday I met the campers that have chosen to learn photography whilst they are at camp. I am so impressed at how well I managed to remember their names this session. They all seem like a good group and I am looking forward to seeing what they can produce.

In the evening Ashley and I watched a film and ate all our junk food. I ended up falling asleep half way through the film though so we will have to watch it again.

The next day my alarm went off at half 7 and somehow I immediately got out of bed to get ready for my day in the city.

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When we arrived we got the tube straight down to downtown New York as we wanted to go and see the memorial for 9/11.

We queued for about half an hour but none of us seemed to mind. When we got inside I was immediately overwhelmed by the amount of people that lined the memorial. The huge waterfalls that mapped out the foundations of where the building used to stand were beautiful and I am glad they got chosen to represent such tragic losses.

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Even the sound of the waterfalls made you feel detached from the city. It was as though they drowned out the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing you to really think about the people who lost their lives that day.

I was also shocked to discover that a tree had managed to survive such a disaster. The stump of the tree was found by workers amongst the wreckage. They removed it and New York City park nursed it back to health. In March 2010, the tree was uprooted by severe storms and still managed to pull through yet again. Then in December 2010, the tree returned to the World Trade Centre plot. It was a honour to be able to touch the leaves of such a magnificent plant. As the guide points out, it really does embody the story of survival and resilience.

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I am glad I was able to visit the memorial to pay my respects.

We then all walked towards the Statue of Liberty. Looking across the sea I was wondering where the statue was and then suddenly, as I walked past a column, there it was. It was one of those moments were I stopped and thought, wow I am in New York right now. These moments happen a lot!

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I have to say, it was a lot smaller than I imagined it to be. Unfortunately we were unable to get the ferry to Ellis island to actually see the statue as we were to late so I will have to do it another time.

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As we walked towards the Brooklyn bridge we passed a lively street filled with small shops and stalls. True to his nature, John Teva wanted to explore and I was happy to go along with it. We wandered through the streets and ended up in a sweet shop. I was pleased with myself for resisting the urge to buy anything.

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We wondered further and found ourselves a small garden so John decided to water the plants.

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Finally we made it to the bridge and started our trek across. Lots of people were walking across it, many of them looked like tourists. Mid walk we saw lots of people had signed their names on the bridge and some had put padlocks inscribed with their names on. Without a padlock at hand, Mia and I decided to use a trusty sharpie to sign our own names.

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We also bought the most amazing mango which happened to be on a stick, it was lovely!

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Just before we made it into Brooklyn we passed a herd of Amish who stood out in their hand made clothes. I found it a little odd especially as all the younger children were crying.

Stepping into Brooklyn felt like a small victory. Once there we found a subway and made our way back to midtown New York to meet Dan and Steve in the MET museum.

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It was about 7pm by this point, I was hungry and my feet were hurting so I don’t think I fully appreciated all the art that filled the building. I did enjoy the photography exhibits, especially when I recognised some photographers work, such as Sally Mann, William Eggleston and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. My favourite piece was by an American man named Larry Sultan of his grandfather reading a newspaper. Something about the mystery of who hid behind the paper had something to do with my attraction, I think.

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As a group we all went to shake shack and I had fries for dinner. For desert I had some amazing custard, ice cream stuff that was really smooth and creamy. I loved it!

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After eating we all began the tiresome journey back to camp. I think we all slept on the train home. City life is tiring but not as bad as camp life.

As usual, on the following day, my eyes refused to open and I begrudgingly got up out of bed to head to breakfast. It was a rainy day at camp so taking pictures was slightly mundane. With the hobby kids I set up a white background and taught them about portraiture. I also started the calendar which I have to create before camp ends. In the evening staff from a different camp came to compete in a basketball game against staff from our camp. There entrance was something I will never forget as they bounded in equipped with their hippy gear on. They all seemed very friendly and certainly weren’t taking any of it seriously. I am glad Steve made me go and watch.

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Monday was a good day. Camp turned into a carnival and all the specialists had to be in charge of a certain booth. I got to run a face painting booth and I had tonnes of fun doing it. During the break from the kids, John painted a glorious rainbow right across my face! I looked like part of gay pride and I am proud to say I left camp and entered the real world with said rainbow still intact.

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In the evening Ronny Ron, a hypnotist, came and hypnotized some of the staff members for the viewing pleasure of the campers. It was hilarious, especially when ‘Big Poppa Korn’ slumped to the floor due to be so relaxed.

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The next day consisted of usual camp activities, I took pictures and taught speciality.

The weather at camp has also improved! It is no longer humid, just nice and sunny with a bit of a breeze. I hope it remains this way because I don’t think I can handle the heat again. As soon as I would get out of a shower my body would immediately feel sweaty. It was not a pleasant experience and I am sure all of camp would agree!

For the first time since I left England, camp provided us with a good meal; chicken, potatoe and green beans. I was happy!

I am also not sure if I have posted a proper photograph of where I am currently living, it is a lovely place…

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Travel: Thick toilet paper, clean sheets, balloon extravaganza and a swimming pool

This weeks day off was spectacular! On Friday evening Kerry’s (an American friend) mum came and picked some of the gang up and Mia (another American friend) drove the rest to Kerry’s house in New Jersey.

It took about 2 hours to drive there and I enjoyed the luxury of sitting in the front of a very big, nice car.

When we turned onto the street Kerry lived on I was amazed at how beautiful the houses looked. In my opinion they all looked like typical American houses even down to the mail boxes at the end of the drives.

We were greeted by an extremely excitable and friendly dog. I would even go as far as saying that the dog was the cutest one I have ever seen.

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Once we arrived we had freshly delivered pizzas waiting for us in the gazebo. Kerry’s dad had even gone to the trouble of decorating the gazebo with fairy lights and the pool (oh yes there was a pool) was surrounded by torched lanterns.

We all sat around the table in the gazebo and tucked into our pizzas that contained both meat and cheese!

A while after we all decided to jump in the pool. By this time it was about 11pm and I expected the pool to be cold because it wasn’t heated. Timidly dipping my feet in I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that bad. Then before I had chance to gently walk into the water I was hurdled into the air and chucked in, all thanks to Dan. I suppose it was a quicker way to do it!

It was a very active nights swim as the boys began diving, back flipping and jumping off the diving board. I stuck to my star jumps and balled up bombs as I didn’t think my bikini would hold up if I decided to dive in.

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After swimming I had a wonderful shower were I didn’t have to dodge the bugs or fear any body part hitting the sides of the shower cubicle. It was blissful!

I was also happy to discover that not all American toilet paper is wafer thin! It really is the simple things you miss when you are at camp!

All showered and in my pjs we dragged mattresses into the lounge and created one big bed. With air con, a decent mattress and feeling the cleanest I have ever felt since leaving England, I slept like a queen.

In the middle of the night I was awoken to Dan pulling my sponge bob blanket off me. I was not pleased until I realised there was another blanket right next to me. I quickly drifted back to sleep and didn’t wake up until 10am. It was ‘awesoooome’.

Once we were up and about we noticed all the food in the kitchen. It was as though the magic fairy, in the form of Kerry’s mum, had come and delivered all this food for us. Strawberries, normal yogurt, cups of tea, bagels, mini muffins, blueberries and healthy cereal!! We were all so grateful to be there!

After filling out faces we all crashed back on our giant mattress and lounged about some more. It was so nice to be able to relax.

Later in the afternoon we all went back in the pool and messed around. More jumping, diving, swimming and handstands.

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Hours passed in what felt like minutes. At around 5pm we started to retreat back into the house by which time Kerry’s mum had returned with yet more food for a BBQ!

Meat and cheese, normal tasting hot dogs, corn on the cob that we hand peeled! It was all delicious and I couldn’t have been more grateful!

After eating we decided to watch a film and for some reason the film that was chosen turned out to be Grease! I thought it was a very strange choice of film considering all the boys that were with us. Sam (a guy from New Zealand) was particularly into the film whilst I accidentally fell asleep.

At about half 9 we all packed up the car and headed home. Dan casually mooned the others who were sat in Kerry’s car whilst we drove on the ‘highway’, which was pretty funny.

I did not want to return to camp after experiencing such luxuries, but back we all went. I am now just looking forward to next Friday evening when we all head to Ashley’s house.

The following day my alarm woke me up and it took me a good 10 minutes before I could move out of bed to begin the day. I imagined Sunday would be difficult because it was visiting day whereby all the parents descend onto camp to see there children. I had been warned that all I will get all day is complaints from parents asking why there child hadn’t been photographed!

I was therefore very surprised when parents called me over to their gazebos (yes they brought big ass gazebos filled with food) to tell me how wonderful the photography has been this year in comparison to last year. Such relief washed over me every time someone complimented the work I had been doing!

I took photographs throughout the day and at 4pm I was finally able to escape the madness by returning to my bunk for a couple of hours.

I seriously cannot believe how excessive visiting day was. When you visit your child why do you need to bring everything plus the kitchen sink?! I am sure many Brits will respond by saying, ‘that’s Americans for you!’

That evening all of Teenside trekked it across to Mainside for a balloon extravaganza. As always I was there with my camera and on this occasion I kept forgetting to use it as I found the magical John Cassidy so captivating. Every magician amazes! How can someone guess what card you choose and have flashing billboards all prepared before you even pick it? He even got inside a huge red balloon and pulled faces through it – he was just nuts.

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Before I was entertained by Mr Cassidy I was feeling pretty down. Simply because I had hardly eaten anything all day because the camp food has begun to make me want to vomit. After dinner I came away wanting desperately to eat some of my mums roast potatoes, feeling frustrated and a little homesick. After the show, I walked the half a mile back to my unit smiling to myself at the fact that every time I am down, something crazy like a balloon magician, always lifts my spirits!

That night I also had to sit OD but luckily one of the campers lent me a DVD to watch; ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’. It’s got to be pretty epic with a title like that, right?!

Monday consisted of usual camp business but on Tuesday, camp went all Zen. By Zen I mean spiritual, which involved a lot of tiedying and stick and wool making.

I also tried yoga for the first time and one camper told me I was pretty good at it! I think I may go to a few yoga classes when I get home. After the yoga I did feel very zen!

At lunchtime on Wednesday, Steve and I took our teenagers to the cinema to see Despicable Me 2 as part of an animation workshop. It was a very stressful and hectic trip and I have the utmost sympathy for my old teachers whenever they took us on a trip somewhere.

Wednesday evening was the all camp show which was lovely to watch. The younger kids were adorable as they acted out Hercules for the rest of camp.

During the intermission we all had ice cream sandwiched between two cookies. It was amazing and I am looking forward to the next all camp show to eat one again.

On Thursday I spent the entire day by the lake taking pictures for the end of camp slideshow. As the lake is one of my favourite places at camp, I had a great day. Half of Teenside were on a trip so it was pretty quiet and relaxed.

For the first time whilst being at camp I got sunburnt! It was about 40 degrees so no amount of suncream would of protected me from the inevitable sunburn.

That evening I went to the diner with John, Carlo and Dan and yet again I had the french onion soup, it’s just so good.

It was also the staff banquet and everyone got dressed up for it. I wore these ridiculously tight paint sprayed shorts with a tank top – what have I become?! It was pretty funny considering no alcohol was to be consumed.

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On Friday, all I did was look forward to my evening and following day off. Come 7.30, ‘the gang’ all piled into Ashley’s and Kerry’s car and headed to Long Island to stay at Ashely’s.

Once we arrived we headed to a pizza place and ordered your average huge American pizzas. The staff must have taken a liking to us as we kept getting given free food. Either that or it was because it was the end of the day and they still had food left.

After pizza we went back to Ashley’s and all squished into her hot tub. I don’t think I have ever seen so many tangled up bodies in one hot tub before. The water level definitely decreased by the time we all got out!

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The evening rolled into the morning and I ended up falling asleep listening to Dan tell a very ‘red flag’ story!

The next day we went to a huge shopping mall and I treated myself to a new bikini from Victoria Secret. I was very pleased with my purchase!

I slept in the car in our way back to camp and also ended up going to bed at 8pm. I don’t think any amount of sleep will help prepare me for a day at camp!

On Sunday I took lots of pictures of the campers doing different activities related to birds. Then at 12.30 we all watched a bird show which was very interesting.

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In the afternoon I ended up half taking pictures and half filming a video for Steve’s birthday. Making the video was pretty funny especially as John didn’t initially want to be filmed but ended up being in it the most.

At 9pm everyone gathered in the Eddie Canter theatre to watch the end of session 1 slideshow that Steve and I had created. I was pretty nervous as Steve hit play, just hoping nothing went wrong and all the campers liked it.Β I think it was a success as many people applauded and left in tears. If no-one cried, Steve and I took it as a failed attempt!

The next day lots of campers packed there bags and left camp. The ones that stayed will be here for another session but before that begins they have trip break. During trip break all the specialists have to be counsellors whilst the normal counsellors have time off.

After lunch, all the remaining campers and specialist counsellors chilled out on the beach and in the lake. Later in the evening we all headed to the canteen and chilled out some more.

On Tuesday we woke up for breakfast, which was blueberry pancakes and then got onto a yellow school bus. The whole of camp headed for the movies and I got to fall asleep whilst all the kids watched The Croods.

Once we got back to camp we had lunch and then Mia (American friend) , Elisia (fellow English girl) and I all went to get out nails done as we all felt we deserved a treat.

That evening I had to sit OD which turned out to be the worst OD so far. The majority of my unit did not go to sleep and refused to turn their lights out. All I wanted to do was go to sleep but the rude campers prevented me from doing so. An apology from the campers the following morning was appreciated.

The next day, lots of other children arrived for the beginning of session two. I took photographs all day and was happy to finally be in bed come the evening.

Travel: “Best overnight ever”

After camp Olympics, I thought any other day would be pretty hard to match it. However on Friday evening a group of us decided to make the most if our night off and head out of camp.

We didnt escape the luxuries that come with camp as the bugs, sweaty bodies and uncomfortable nights sleep still existed on this particular night.

We went hiking up a huge hill, sleeping bag and bikini readily packed. I must be the lamest hiker at camp as I plodded along at the back, complaining, sweating and nearly dying! I daren’t dream of what I must of looked like once I reached the top!!

By the time we reached the top I was so tired I could barely hold a conversation with anyone.

As soon as we got there, John Teva’s survival instincts set in and he went off into the jungle to gather some fire wood.

Callum, a New Zealand adventurer, used magnesium stuff to light the fire. It is pretty handy having a group of guys who all seem to be really into building fires! Actually I think it is generally all males who like playing with fire!

The night consisted of making s’mores, chomping on steak and campfire stories. It was a very enjoyable evening spent with a great group of people.

It was so enjoyable we didn’t end up drifting off to sleep until 4am, by which time the sun was coming up.

Snuggling down in my sleeping bag, crammed between two strong men (for protection from the two dear we saw and bears) in a four way spoon, I actually managed to get a reasonably good few hours sleep.

When I woke up, Steve was already in the middle of cooking breakfast; bacon, egg and sausage with Sunny D! As I was drinking the Sunny D I was reminded of how my mum used to only allow my sister and I to drink it occasionally because it apparently made us hyper.

Steve made me breakfast as I lounged about on my sleeping bag. Ashley had leant me her black pants that are apparently really big in America; Solos. They were pretty comfy and to me they just looked like yoga pants. John was so ‘frickin’ Teva’ he decided to not bring a sleeping bag and ended up sleeping in a ball wrapped in just a sheet – must have been so comfy!

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Once I had let my breakfast digest (I have been taught well, I didn’t want cramp lol) I went jumping off a rock into the lake. It took me a while to build up the courage to actually jump but I did it in the end. It was very refreshing and we all ended up spending the majority of the morning mulling around in the lake.

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At about 12 we started to pack up our belongings and decided to head back to camp. The hike down hill was quite enjoyable in comparison to the hike up. I was able to appreciate the Forrest with the all its creatures, including frogs and mini little orange lizard things.

Once I finally made it back to my unit I ended up sleeping from half 2 until half 7 in Ashley’s bunk. Her bed is so comfy and her fan is very powerful which makes it the perfect spot to nap. It has become a regular thing that I nap in Ashley’s bunk now and she just laughs about it!

That evening, Steve, Ashley, Casey, Laura and I went out to eat at a local diner. I had the French onion soup with a side order of fries which was a nice change from camp food.

So far this week camp has been pretty mellow. It has been so hot that I found it difficult to walk the half a mile between Teenside and Mainside. I managed to spend a lot of time in the air conditioned office, which was heaven, as I have begun preparing the all camp slideshow. This involved skimming through all the photographs that have been taken so far and choosing a few hundred. A difficult task considering we take, on average, 400 photos a day.

At the beginning of the week it rained a fair amount and the loud thunder feels like it is shaking you. The weather here goes from one extreme to the other. I can’t really complain about the rain as it at least cools down a little.

The campers in Ashley’s bunk always seem to have amazing food. I have been introduced to double stuffed Oreos dipped in Nutella! I don’t think I will be loosing any weight whilst I am at camp now!!

The last couple of days have been, what I describe as, your typical days at camp. 8.15am breakfast, teach some kids photography, take pictures of kids doing their activities, walk half a mile to the office and upload pictures, 1pm lunch, take some more pictures of kids doing activities, walk back to Teenside, nap, dinner, bed.

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On Monday evening a muscial band known as the Shlomones came to camp and everyone gathered in the Eddie Canter Theatre to watch them perform. I had to take pictures of the event but half way through I ended up cheering and dancing along with it all. I am pretty sure most people found it horrifically cheesey but for some strange and shameful reason I always seem to love the camp shows that they put on.

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After the show we went back to the diner and I had the soup again. It is so good! I also ordered lemon meringue pie which was ok! Huge but just ok.

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On Wednesday night I had to sit on duty (OD) which requires you to make sure all the campers are in their bunks and stay in their bunks until they drift to sleep. I have done 2 so far and they are normally very boring and tiresome. This time was pretty fun as another counselor ended up drawing a beautiful henna tattoo on my hand.

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Yesterday night it was Casey’s birthday so we all piled into Ashley’s car and headed for a nearby bowling alley. On the way we got lost and Casey and I went a little crazy. I have no idea why we found saying hashtag before every sentence so hysterical but we did and I think it will forever be hilarious. I felt like dressing up last night so I did my hair and makeup for the first time in like 2 weeks. It felt goooood!

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As always, the week has been tiring yet a lot of fun.

 

A lot of the photographs featured on this post are curtesy of Dan Cleare πŸ™‚

Travel: Orientation at Camp

The last three days have been such a whirlwind of different activities and talks that relate to camp.

We have sat through hours of first aide and I have been trained to do CPR! I think my sister, who is studying to be a nurse, will be proud!

At camp the word ANNOUNCEMENTS is apparently a big deal. I found this out the other day as I sat in the dining hall. The camp director mentioned the word and the whole staff started chanting and banging on the table.

Table banging has also become a big deal! I think you are considered a failure if you do not make the salt and pepper shakers fall all over the place. It is very amusing!

On Wednesday evening we all gathered at the canteen (an area at camp where staff can go to chill out whilst on their breaks) for music, games, dancing, cookies and milk. There was also a photo booth that allowed us to take funny pictures. I feel this party helped all staff members interconnect and relax. It has definitely been a high point of the last few days for me.

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At the party we had to wear PJs and we played a game called Coke and Pepsi. This required a lot of running and team work. My partner was very competitive which worked well for me.

That night was extremely cold and the thin mattress was starting to get to me. The next day I decided to go and ask for a sleeping bag to put on top of the mattress to make it softer.

During the day we had more talks from the camp director and various other key staff members.

After lunch we had a health orientation and got our heads checked for lice. I was relieved to be told I did not have them.

We then got an induction into what the adventure specialists offer the campers. I now know how to put on a harness. It all involved more teamwork and fun activities.

My favourite part of that day was the buddy up, buddy down game. I won’t bother explaining how it all worked but it was really fun even if we did have to run in a circle like idiots.

All these games and activities have forced me to become friends with lots of different people. I can also say that I have officially got an American BFF, lol. Her name is Ashley and she finds everything I do hilarious, even to the extent of filming me talk so she can show her friends.

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One lunch time she couldn’t believe I was cutting up my chips and chicken nuggets. she claimed they were finger food! So American! She has also offered to be my tour guide around NY so I am looking forward to that.

Thursday evening, Ashley took me and a couple of other people to Wallmart. I was so amazed by all the different brands. She made me buy some Hershey’s chocolate which English people apparently think is disgusting. I am still yet to taste it!

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Whilst out of camp I had my first McDonalds! I don’t think it is as good as the UKs though. However they do Oreo McFlurries which are amazing!

Once we returned from Wallmart, Ashley and I watched Pretty Little Liars on her laptop. I am so pleased to have found someone who likes to watch the show.

On Friday, similar events took place. I touched a snake which was very strange! They didn’t feel like I expected them to feel!

I also swam in the lake for the first time. It was very refreshing after spending the day in the humid, sticky weather.

In the evening I attended my first Shabat service. It was very interesting to see a different religion.

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It has been a very hectic yet enjoyable few days.

Comment: What a way to end it…

This weekend, my three years at university came to an end. On Thursday evening, I returned to Bristol with my mum in preparation to hang my final year photographs on the wall in the Philadelphia Street Gallery in Cabot Circus.

Throughout the year I have been working towards this point on a project that explores surveillance and voyeurism. All my hard work has been recorded on another blog which comprised a percentage of my final grade, feel free to have a gander.

On Friday I was up early and out the door before 10am. We arrived at Philadelphia Street Gallery with drill and supplies in hand. As soon as we got there I was shown to the area of the gallery which had been allocated for me to display my images. We immediately got to work, plotting the places where they were to be hung.

The hanging process was slightly complicated as I was not just putting frames onto a wall. After 9 hours of solid work and with the help of a fellow student (my knight in shining armour), I finally had an exhibition piece that I could be proud of.

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We did not end up leaving until 7pm, hungry and tired we headed to Bella Italia and I enjoyed a lovely pizza.

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The following evening was the opening night of the exhibition. Lots of people arrived to celebrate all the students hard work. I feel it was a great way to end my three years at the university.

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A few weeks beforehand, I attended the UWE Summer Ball and enjoyed an evening of dancing, drinking, dodgem rides and candy floss. This was another great way to end the three years at uni and we took some lovely photographs of that night which I wish to share…

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University has been packed full with new experiences, friendships and a lot of work. Like anything in life, there has been good and bad points to the three years I have spent in Bristol.

I have loved, lost and laughed my way through it all and have finally come out the other end with a whole new set of possibilities for my future. Without a shadow of a doubt, third year has definitely been the best year for me. I lived in a lovely house with three girls that couldn’t be more different from each other. I think that is what made life at uni so interesting. I joined the dance society and ended up performing a hip hop routine in the show, I must mention I cannot dance. I made friends with two lovely men and have learnt a lot from witnessing their solid relationship with one another. I rekindled a friendship with my ex boyfriend and feel proud to say that I can be friends with an ex without complications, simply because we make better friends than we did boyfriend/girlfriend. I have also explored the city a bit more and found some lovely cafes that serve cake and my favourite tipple, tea.

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Second year was probably one of the toughest, dealing with a break up and living with dead, rotting rats that produced flies was not ideal. That said, with my flatmates in tow, we lived in the rat house and made some amazing memories that actually make me miss the place. I think the one of the best questions I have ever been asked, happened in that house…Lauren: “Where does all the rubbish go?!” I guess you had to be there! Beyonce’s album will forever be linked to the car journeys I had with my flatmate Lauren that year!

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And first year was the most bizarre and unimaginable year out of them all. When I think back to that year I can hardly believe it was part of the same chapter, it could not have been more different to what my life is like now.

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With no regrets I now look forward to my future and whatever adventures that may bring. Goodbye Bristol and the people I met there! You will all be missed!