Top Gear 2017 Series 24 Review

Now since the scandal that was ‘fracas gate’ way back in 2015 the future of BBC’s Top Gear has been seemingly bleak, the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May seemed to seal the fate of Top Gear and the appointment of Chris Evans was the final nail in the coffin with terrible viewing figures and scathing reviews of Series 23 it looked like there was no way back for Top Gear.

Worry not though it seems like Series 24 could be about to change that. I was an avid viewer and MASSIVE fan of Top Gear hosted by Clarkson, Hammond and May ever since 2002. In 2015 I even got to drive around the test track (as talked about in another blog). After the departure of the iconic hosts in 2015 I personally think the BBC really needed to re-invent the show, a simple case of swapping out the presenters was never going to work. Chris Evans was also a massively unpopular choice amongst fans and critics and his shouting, wooden presenting and gobshite attitude put many fans off. Matt LeBlanc seemed to be the show’s saving grace (along with Chris Harris and Rory Reid who received high praise). The Star in a Rally Cross car, the abysmal interview tactics of Chris Evans and other subtle tweaks really weren’t enough to reprise the once award winning show and format.

Skip forward to series 24, 05/03/2017 Sunday 8pm BBC2 and I am pleasantly surprised. Unlike many Top Gear fans who enjoyed watching it fail under Chris Evans I really wanted it to succeed. As a car lover the thought of having 2 big car shows (the other of course being The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime) was amazing but sadly that was not to be, until now it seems.  Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid are bringing the show back as a threesome. There is a new studio, new Star in a Reasonably Fast Car segment and some actual banter  that we missed in the previous series. Although it’s not a total overhaul going back to the basics of what we loved from the Clarkson, Hammond and May era seems to have paid off.

The presenters gel well and actually get along, there is no awkwardness that we got from Evans presenting style and the show seems certain in its direction. Clarkson Hammond and May had their own version of Top Gear that will never be again, we have The Grand Tour for that and I think finally the BBC are starting to accept that and move on. We don’t need a bolshy presenter throwing digs and shade at Clarkson we just want a car show about cars presented by people who know and more importantly love cars. Back in 2002 when Andy Wilman and Jeremy Clarkson re-created Top Gear they created it for people who love cars . It was more than just a consumer advice show and evolved massively over the years into what it was in Series 22 when Clarkson was sacked, a show about 3 blokes mucking about and having a laugh. You didn’t need to be a car enthusiast to watch Top Gear before but in series 23 I think it went too far the other way back to ‘old Top Gear’. There was too much emphasis on cars and all the boring facts that come with them in series 23, the first segment of series being a pointless dog fight between Evans, and Sabine Schmitz that was neither fun nor entertaining.

Episode 1 of Series 24 was a good mixture between cars and fun, there was a segment about the Ferrari La Ferrari FXX-K  and then a challenge to test the reliability of cars which involved Harris, Reid and LeBlanc each having to buy a car that had done over 480,000 miles and take part in a series of challenges. It was like being back in the good old days and I thoroughly enjoyed the episode and genuinely am looking forward to next week. I struggled through episode 1 with Chris Evans as host because I wanted to see what it would be like, I hated and cringed through every second and didn’t watch any more of series 23, which was a great shame. I was actually sad that I had lost the love I had once felt for my one time favourite TV show.

The re-creation of Top Gear was always going to be a tough job with big shoes to fill and was never going to be an immediate success but after watching Episode 1 of Series 24 I can honestly say that I think it is back on the right tracks and I can proudly say I am a fan again.

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A Quick Update…

This is just a quick update about my blog… I realise I haven’t been very active on here but that’s about to change. Over the past couple of months I have been very busy going through a career change which has been quite stressful. My spare time has either involved work or chilling out and I haven’t really had anything worth while to blog about.

I am going to re-launch my blog in coming weeks and will then create regular contact. I was so excited and enthusiastic to start a blog but became too busy and rather than posting pointless rubbish I decided to take time out and launch this blog properly.

I just thought I would write a quick explanation as to where I’ve been and what going on.

See you all soon!

Going to a festival – Essentials

As you’re reading this I’ll be on my way to V Festival 2016 and it has been a long time coming. It feels like only yesterday I was booking the tickets and as usual I have been prepared for a few weeks, getting things that I know I’ll need as and when I see them. Apart from a tent (unless you’re rich and can afford a camper van or VIP Camping, which I can’t) there are many things you’ll need if you want to have as comfortable a time a possible whilst you’re there. Here is my not-so-short shortlist of camping and festival essentials.

In no particular order… Wipes. Baby wipes and face wipes will be essential for a festival, especially if there aren’t any showers or you can’t be bothered to shower. Face wipes will be refreshing after a long day outside and baby wipes will help you to steer clear or body odour, which let’s face it, no one wants.

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Now as I say I’m going to V Festival and the location I’m going to is Weston Park in Stafford. We all know the British Summertime isn’t exactly to be relied upon for nice weather but just incase the sun decides to appear from behind the clouds, even for a minute, sun cream is a must. When I went to the suncare aisle I noticed a myriad of different brands and SPF factors but one that stood out to me was Soltan’s Protect and Repel Suncare Spray SPF 15. This sun cream has insect repellent in it which in my eyes makes it perfect. (I featured this in my July Favourites also).

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Although this is my first festival I’m no stranger to what happens at festivals, mainly a lot of drinking alcohol. I’m not a massive drinker but if I do decide to go a bit overboard I’d like to know that I have go something to make it all better…Paracetamol. Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, anything that will help heal a sore head will be essential, as will my hay fever medication. Although I mainly suffer in the early part of the season I don’t want to be stuck in a field, surrounded by grass and trees, with nothing to help.

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As I was taking the photo below I couldn’t help thinking I may be taking a bit too much but I really don’t want to stink. Personal hygiene is important and as I will be going at least 2 days without washing I wanted to be prepared. Roll on deodorant, body spray, dry shampoo, hand sanitiser and toothpaste will be essential in helping me stay feeling as fresh as possible. I’ve also included lip balms as you never know what the weather will do.

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Again, another item I featured in my July favourites that I bought specifically for V Festival was the Imuto 20,000 mAh Power Bank. Since buying this I’ve discovered they have means for recharging mobile phones at V Festival but this will be handy to keep in the tent and has enough to charge my iPhone 6 8 times!

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British Summertime really isn’t to be relied upon and a shower or downpour is often just around the corner. I can’t imagine anything worse than walking around all day soaking wet so I’ve invested a whole 1 Pound (I’m unsure where the pound sign key is on my MacBook Air so bear with) in a Waterproof Poncho.

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In the evenings and for the drive down snacks will be essential. I’ve bought a multipack of crisps and cereals bars to have as a snack in the evenings, water of course and some Fruit Pastilles for the drive down.

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Finally I come onto the often worst part of camping and festivals, the dreaded toilets. I managed to track down a way to purchase a pass to posh toilets that are well maintained through the website clubclassevents.com. For me 20 pounds for unlimited use of the posh loos for the weekend was a no brainer and I purchased a pass without haste. To keep me feeling extra fresh I decided to pack Andrew Washlets Wet Toilet Tissues. Bin bags are a great idea to help keep your tent tidy. They are great for putting dirty clothes and wet towels into along with any rubbish so you can keep it together before you take it to the bins. I should have featured this in with the hygiene products but I missed it out. A 5ml travel size mouthwash will help to freshen breath in the mornings, especially if you’ve had a lot to drink the night before. And finally (as I said this is in no particular order) a camping lantern. I bought this to keep in the tent at night to prevent fumbling around aimlessly for things in the pitch black darkness. I know my phone has a light on but that will drain the battery and it will be much easier to hang a lantern up for some light and faff around shining my phone around.

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I hope you enjoyed this post and found it a little bit helpful. I will try to do a post V Festival blog if i get any good pictures of the event.

 

Dealing with Stress and Anxiety

Hello, in todays blog post I just want to talk a little bit about anxiety and stress and how I deal with both.

If you go on Google and type in anxiety there are a myriad of different results that come up. It seems that more and more people suffer from anxiety and are now beginning to share their experiences with the world.

One major factor in this I think is the increased media coverage of anxiety which has probably stemmed from YouTube, specifically Zoella. If you don’t know who Zoella AKA Zoë Sugg is then where have you been frankly. Basically Zoë is a 26 year old blogger, vlogger, Business woman and author who started out on YouTube in 2009 and now has over 10 million subscribers (as of August 2016). Strictly speaking she started with her blog, Zoella, and moved onto YouTube after being asked by some of her readers. She, along with many other YouTubers including her brother Joe Sugg AKA Thatcher Joe and Boyfriend Alfie Deyes AKA PointlessBlog, post videos about their life to their millions of subscribers on a regular basis. Zoe has a huge following, particularly amongst teens and young adults and is very influential. She has appeared on many mainstream media platforms such as Great British Bake Off, Loose Women and This Morning.

Anyway to get to the point, Zoella suffers with anxiety and has expressed this to her fans on many occasions. I’m telling you this because this is how I discovered I suffer with anxiety. For me it all started in Sixth Form. One day it all became too much and I had a massive panic attack (which at the time I had no idea what one was and genuinely thought I was having a heart attack). I was sat watching Big Brother, procrastinating and trying to avoid revising when I started getting palpitations. My heart was racing, I felt breathless and completely out of control. After about an hour it subsided and I just sat on my bed shaking uncontrollably. It was the day before the first day of Spring Term and I had tried to push college and my upcoming exams to the back of my mind and enjoy Christmas and I can only think that that was what triggered my attack. Obviously I know that now but at the time I was clueless. I booked an appointment with my doctor, seriously fearing that I had had a heart attack, and went about trying to forget what had happened. I went for countless check ups and scans and thankfully they all came back clear. The doctor put it down to stress. As soon as I knew it wasn’t anything life threatening a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.

Months went by before I had another attack and although I knew it wasn’t a heart attack and that it was stress related I still knew very little about my triggers or how to calm myself down. At the time the only thing I could do that calmed me was to do things that kept my brain distracted. I used to play games on my Nintendo DS or watch TV (Bullseye became a favourite), basically anything to take my mind of the fact I was getting overwhelmed. Anyway one day I was watching a ThatcherJoe video and in the suggestions below was a video titled: Dealing with Panic Attacks & Anxiety | Zoella. I clicked on it and it was a revelation. Everything she was describing I could relate to. A lightbulb in my head flicked on and I realised that I must suffer with anxiety and panic attacks.

Ever since I realised this my anxiety has improved massively. Don’t get me wrong I still have days where I feel really anxious and on edge and there are still many situations that cause me to have panic attacks but I am now a lot more aware of my triggers and coping techniques. For me I become anxious in situations that are unfamiliar to me and are beyond my control. I try to set myself a routine and anything that breaks that often triggers my anxiety. I realise now that having control is my best was of coping, by taking control of a situation I can minimise the likelihood of it affecting me. Today I am feeling quite anxious, which is why I decided to write this blog post. I am currently in the process of changing job roles and stores. I was recently promoted to Assistant Manager and put on a training programme which requires me to work in a new store somewhere I don’t know and in a role I am unfamiliar with. As you can imagine this has had a massive impact on my anxiety. I can only describe it as like having butterflies in my stomach constantly. Tomorrow I will be going to my new store. This store is a lot further away from where I live, somewhere unfamiliar to me, and it involves driving on the motorway (another of my triggers although I am getting better at it). I have had a drive down to the store which has eased my anxiety somewhat but it’s still there in the pit of my stomach. I’m sure in a few days time I will be a lot more relaxed and the anxiety will subside but until then I will have to try and deal with it.

The method which I find most effective in dealing my my anxiety is to distract myself. I find that if I sit and think about what is making my anxious I will end up winding myself up and making it worse. I often go on my phone and flick through Facebook, YouTube etc anything that will take my mind off things and give me a moment to relax. Sometimes this doesn’t work in which case going for a walk is a great way to de-stress (I find). One of my favourite places to go is Lymm Dam. It’s not too far from me, around a 20 minute drive, and when the weather is pleasant it is a beautiful place to walk around. I think the fact that I used to go to Lymm a lot when I was younger helps as I associate it was positive memories and it is familiar to me.

*I am not an expert on anxiety and I need to write this as everyone is different. Some people have it mildly and some have it really badly. Anxiety is a mental condition after all and can be extremely serious. I am writing to you about my experiences and the coping mechanisms I use. If you are struggling with anxiety, stress, panic attacks or any mental problems then get professional help from a doctor.

Thank you again for reading my blog post. This one in particular has been quite cathartic as I say I have been feeling a little anxious for a couple of days and speaking about it helps me to feel a little more in control.

July Favourites

We may be almost half way through August but better late than never, here is my July Favourites.

I was a little disorganised and quite busy last month hence why this favourites is a bit late but here goes… my first ever favourites post.

First of all TV. We all love a bit (or a lot) of TV, I certainly do especially after a hard day of work. I Love soaps and dramas but as I get home from work around 6 there isn’t much on that I like at that time of day so I tend to watch a DVD or YouTube whilst eating my tea.

At the moment I am working my way through my Waterloo Road DVD Boxsets. I am currently on Series 4 Spring Term. I have always been a fan and watched Waterloo Road when it was on TV and I decided last month to start again from Series 1. I have all the DVD’s so it’s perfect to binge watch especially on a Sunday. There are so many fantastic actors and storylines and it reminds me how much I used to look forward to watching it on TV.

Next up on my list is my favourite skincare products. Believe it or not it is actually Summer in the UK now so my first favourite item which I would class as skincare is Boots Soltan SPF 15 Sun Spray with Insect Repellent. The main reason I had for buying this was because it has insect repellent built in which is a life saver if, like me, you attract the little buggers that bit and sting. As well as keeping the bugs at bay it is mainly a sun protection and it applies to the skin really well, it is non-greasy and moisturises and smells really pleasant.

Now onto facial cleansing (the posh way of saying washing your face). I recently discovered  Liz Earle For Men Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. This product smells absolutely fantastic! In the morning I massage two pumps onto my dry face then wash it off with a hot (comfortably hot) muslin cloth. It leaves my skin feeling really soft and looking extremely clean and fresh. I repeat the same steps in the evening too. Since using this I have noticed a massive difference in my skin. I don’t have nearly as many breakouts as I used to and my skin looks better overall.

Sticking with my skincare faves my next new  addition to my routine is the Origins GinZing Refreshing eye cream. I don’t know about you but I suffer terribly with puffy, tired looking eyes especially in the morning. I have tried so many eye creams and suffice to say none have impressed me. I saw this eye cream on Boots.com and thought it sounded like just what I needed. I had a read of the reviews and watched a couple of YouTube videos and decided to give it a try. It’s not cheap but for me it’s totally worth the money. First of all it smells great. I’m not very good when it comes to describing smells but it really does smells very fresh and clean. As well as smelling nice it actually works (for me). I find that it lightens under my eyes and keeps them moisturised all day which gets rid of those pesky morning bags and little wrinkles that have started creeping in. It really feels like it’s doing some good to my skin so I will definitely repurchase this.

Coming away from skincare now and onto gadgets. At the end of this week (20th August) I’m going to V Festival. I’m not a camping person (I’ve never been) and I have never been to a festival so I don’t really know what to take but the first thing on my mind (being that I spend most days glued to my iPhone) was how to keep my phone charged up whilst being in the middle of a field. I typed battery booster into Amazon and had a look down the page. I have a battery booster already buts thats just to get you enough charge until you can fully charge your phone whereas this time I need one that can fully charge my phone on more than one occasion (as all iPhone users will know they don’t last long). In the end it was my friend (who I’m going to V Festival with) who showed me the Imuto Taurus X4 Smart Power 20,000 mAh battery pack. This has enough power to charge an iPhone 6 over 8 times! It was only 22.99 which is a bargain if it means keeping my phone charged for the weekend. I got it in white (to match my phone) but its comes in black too and has a screen on it to tell you how much power it has remaining. I know it will be essential .

Onto my last favourite for you now and it is actually what I’m writing this post on right now, my MacBook Air. I had always been a Windows user from my first ever computer, an old IBM which my Mum’s friend gave us which was running Windows 95, to a couple of months ago I’ve always used Windows. I think over the years I’ve used most operating systems and upgraded to the latest Windows whenever a new one got released… until Windows 8 that is. I had Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista (which I hated) and then Windows 7 but when Windows 8 was released I decided I’d just stick with Windows 7 until something better came along. My laptop had other ideas though, one day it just wouldn’t boot. Luckily I backed everything up on a regular basis so I didn’t lose too much information but I was without a laptop. I managed with no computer for a while, I mainly use my iPhone and iPad now to be honest as they are much quicker and more convenient but there are some things that I prefer doing on a computer and some things that I can’t do without one. I was time to start looking as I had gone through so many Windows PCs and Laptops recently I was beginning to lose faith in Windows and the quality of modern Laptops and PCs. I went on eBay (my favourite app on my iPhone although not featured in this monthly faves as I’ve loved it for years) and typed in MacBooks. So many came up and I scrolled through hundreds, bidding on a few and losing them all. Anyway in the end I won a White plastic MacBook which I was so excited about. It took a little bit of getting used to going from Windows to Mac but I managed to and even installed Microsoft Office Mac so I had all the programs I’d need. Anyway as with all technology nowadays, it soon became time to upgrade and I have now fully converted to Apple and OSX. I went on eBay again and picked up a brand new 11.6 inch MacBook air. I love it. The battery is phenomenal and the overall aesthetics and usability are great. It effortlessly runs the internet and I browse multiple sites with ease. And I know that there is plenty of processing power there if I ever need it for more demanding tasks.

I hope you enjoyed my July Favourites and I will have a new blog for you on Wednesday.

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Top Gear Track Day Experience

As you can tell from the titles of this blog post, I will be telling you all about the time I did the Top Gear Track Experience. As a car fan I obviously enjoy (or rather enjoyed) the car program Top Gear and have watched it for many years. In 2014 I found out that the Top Gear test track was going to be opened to the public for track days. For my 21st birthday I got given the track day experience to drive around the Top Gear Star In a Reasonably Priced Car track. There are other options such as driving the Ariel Atom, having a hot lap with The Stig in a Bentley or the 4×4 off road course.

I drove down to Surrey with my Dad and had a fantastic couple of days. It is such a beautiful area and as it would take 4 hours to get from Manchester to Guildford we decided it would be better to drive down the night before and stay over. We stayed in The Cranley Hotel which was 15 minutes drive from the Aerodrome. It was a lovely Hotel and very well priced. The next morning we arrived at the track at 9am and were taken by minibus into the hangar/studio where they film the Top Gear episodes. Upon arrival I was given a pass with a USB dongle on it which was used to record a video of my lap. You are allowed around 30-60 minutes to explore the studio. I got to look at some of the star cars (cars that have featured in various Top Gear Challenges over the years), look around the studio and sit on the iconic seats where Clarkson, Hammond and May used to sit when doing segments of the show such as “the news” and “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”. There is also a row of consoles that run a simulator of the Top Gear track for participants to have a practice on before doing the real thing.

When my name was called I met with my instructor and was taken to the Kia Cee’d. To get to the runway, which is the start of the track, I had to drive around the studio and then wait for the other cars that were finishing their laps. At first I got to do a practice lap to drive around the track a bit slower and get used to the car and the track. Then it was time. Sitting at that iconic start line on that iconic track of my favourite TV show is such a surreal feeling. My “hot lap” ,which was probably more korma than vindaloo, was epic. I can honestly say I have never done anything so adrenaline pumping and exhilarating ever (before or since). The car roared around the track grunting and growling, hanging on for grip as the tyres screamed in pain all around me. I hooned it around that track in a time of 1:51 (it felt faster).

To anyone who is a car fan or a fan of Top Gear (or both) I would 100% whole heartedly recommend you do it. It doesn’t cost much more than an ordinary track day, with the added bonus of it being around the Top Gear track. I had an absolute blast!

 

My passion for cars!

Hi there. This is my second official blog post so I’m still quite new to all this. Today I thought I’d write about my passion for cars and driving.

Since a young age I’ve loved cars, my first word was actually Citroën! I always played with car toys and dreamt of the day when I could start lessons. I genuinely remember on my tenth birthday saying to my dad “only seven more years until I can start driving”.

Anyway the day came around, my 17th birthday, and I got driving lessons. I was over the moon. I booked my first lesson for the following week and I could not wait! That week felt seven years but finally my first lesson came around. I would be driving a 2008 Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch 1.8 SRI. If you’re not a car buff that won’t mean much to you but to me I was really excited. Now I don’t know about your first driving lesson (if you’ve had one) but mine didn’t go that smoothly. Bare in mind this is of course the first time I’ve driven a car.  I got into the driving seat and was briefed by my instructor about controlling the car etc. Then it was time to drive. That excitement turned into anxiety. I turned the key, press the clutch in, selected first gear and… floored it. I had no concept of how hard to press the accelerator and so I rammed my foot to floor. The car shot forward at about 1,000,000 mile per hour then stalled. I sh*t my pants. It didn’t end there either. After realising I needed to apply much less pressure to the pedals I was finally off. It was a bit of a choppy drive down the road but as I got used to the car on the deserted straight road it was plain sailing…until I approached a junction. Luckily it wasn’t a busy road but I was quite nervous and so began the stalling. I kangaroo hopped towards the junction, struggling to find the biting point and therefore over compensating with a lot of throttle. The engine was roaring, the car was jerking and as if it couldn’t get any worse I see a pedestrian on the pavement look at me and literally run in the opposite direction like something off Grand Theft Auto!

Anyway after 4 driving test (I’m a good drive, honest) I FINALLY passed my test. Now any young drivers currently learning or who have just passed their test will know that getting your first car is expensive. I decided not to get a car straight away. I saved up money from my 18th birthday and working for my Dad and finally had enough for a car. In March 2013 I went car shopping and it is such a great feeling. Of course all the cars I looked at were really small and a few years old but that’s what a first car is (unless you are rich). I found my first car, a black 2004 Renault Clio Dynamique with 58,000 on the clock. Love at first sight. I was supposed to be viewing a further 4 cars but I knew when I saw that I had to have it. I bought it there and then and picked it up the following week. Now paying for the car is one thing but the expensive part is insurance. I shopped around several companies using comparison sites and the quotes coming back were astronomical! Considering I bought the car for £1,795 some of the quotes were exceeding £5,000. Then my friend recommended to get a “black box” insurance policy. These are very common now but back then only Co-operative Insurance offered it. It is basically a telematics box that is connected to your car and monitors several factors of your driving such as speed, time of day you drive, cornering speed, braking, types of roads you use etc. The idea being that the more carefully you drive, the more money you save per year. If you drive well your premium is decreased month after month if you pay monthly or you get a refund at the end of the year if you pay annually.

After 2 years of driving safely and racking up 2 years no claims bonus I decided the time had come to upgrade the Clio and get a new car. That and the fact the sunroof had started leaking like a colander. I remember driving to the Lake District with 3 of my friends to hike up Lansdale Pike and the weather was terrible. It was October so it was raining heavily and I literally had a puddle in my footwell. I ended up buying a roll of gaffa tape to try and stop the leak although it all came off on the motorway. Anyway I was looking for a new car and, much like the first car, found it at a local garage and knew straight away I wanted it. I went to the garage and asked about it then rushed home and got on the computer to get an insurance quote. The car was cheap and the insurance, although more expensive than the Clio, was affordable. I went back that afternoon in the pissing rain (apparently you should never buy a car in the rain) and bought it. A 2005 silver Vauxhall Astra SXi. I was over joyed. It was the same car I learnt to drive in, albeit a few years older. It was a much bigger car, a complete step up from my Renault and I showed off to whoever I could.

A further 2 years later and the honeymoon period with the Astra was well and truly over. I took it for a service and was advised it needed over £2,000 worth of repairs (I only bought£1,695 for it 2 years prior) so that was that, time to look for a new car. I’d been saving money up for it because I wanted something newer this time. I browsed Auto Trader and my local car dealerships with no particular make or model in mind. On December 23rd I found the car I wanted. A 2012 Peugeot 208. On 27th December I bought the car and have loved it since.

I didn’t intend on this blog post being so long but as titled I really am passionate about my cars. I have done a track day and modified my cars in several different ways (I’ll save those stories for some other blog posts).

I hope you enjoyed reading about my car history and calamities and I’m going to do a post (including pictures and the video) about the track day I did last year this week.

Thanks for reading.

At a crossroads: life after college or sixth form

This first blog is a bit about me and my life now after leaving college (sixth form). Many people will be going through tough decisions now after leaving school/college and wondering what is next for them. It isn’t an easy decision and not one that should be taken lightly. Everyone is different so make sure you are comfortable with your decisions, whether people are screaming at you to go onto higher education or get a job, it’s your decision. And whatever you decide it doesn’t define the rest of your life. Here’s a bit about when I went through that process after leaving sixth form.

A bit about me…I am called Tom (incase you hadn’t guessed), I’m 22, I live in sunny Manchester (you’ll get used to my sarcasm) and I work in retail. I left sixth form in four years ago and went into retail as what I though would be a stop gap between then and deciding whether I wanted to go to university. I had always wanted to be a teacher growing up and all through high school, I even went into teaching for my work experience. I chose my A-Levels in sixth form based on what subjects I enjoyed and would want to teach and got good grades in the end. But when it came to doing UCAS and deciding what courses to do and where to go I just wasn’t inspired anymore. Despite teachers advising me to go to uni I knew I didn’t want to go anymore. When September came and most of my friends were either in uni or had jobs I was at home in a bit of a rut trying to decide what to do. I knew I had to get a job. For one I had a car to pay for and any teenage drivers will know that insurance is not cheap. I looked online and decided I would find a job in retail and stick at that for a year then decide. If i hated it I’d go to uni, if i liked it I could take it from there.

In November 2012 I started my new job working for Boots. I was so excited. That feeling of getting my own job was amazing. Even though I’d joined at the peak of the Christmas season I loved the hussle and bussle of it all. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work, very hard work but I stuck at it and over 3 years later I still work for Boots. I have moved stores a few times, which is nice to see different sides of the business, and I am just in the process of going into management.

Retail isn’t like it used to be. I know there is a lot of stigma attached to working in a shop but it really isn’t like that anymore. If you enjoy it and work hard you can go very far and have a very rewarding career. Needless to say I stuck at it and enjoyed it. Although there have been moments where I’ve sat with my head in my hands and wondered what it would be like if I’d gone to uni. I would have qualified this year had I gone but I can honestly say I know I made the right decision. The days where I think about what it could be like are few and far between and they are basically ‘shit days’ where everything goes wrong and you sit and think about anything other than work.

Basically I just wanted to say to all those people out there who are currently at those crossroads, take your time and really think about what you want to achieve. If you’re not sure about higher education maybe consider a job or time off in the meantime to decide what you want. Ultimately whatever you decide you can change at any point if you don’t like it. If you choose uni and hate it you can leave likewise if you choose a career over higher education and hate it you can still apply for uni at a later time.

I hope anyone who read this enjoyed it. As I say I will just be doing the odd blog post here and there about whatever takes my fancy. Thanks for reading.