Discovering Family Roots in Ireland

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We often head abroad, to exotic countries, in search of a breathtaking backdrop – but, while we spend a lot of time complaining about our own country, particularly due to the weather, it is easy to forget that we actually have some incredible scenery right here on our doorstep. And, a couple of weeks ago, I was spoilt by it – with added rain, of course!

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Zazzle Climb Snowdon for Cancer Research


There are now an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK and this number is only expected to rise, according to Macmillan. Of those affected by this life threatening disease, around 160,000 will die each year and by 2020, almost one in two people are expected to get at least one of 200 potential cancers at some point in their lives.

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Guardian Masterclass: How to Write a Compelling Feature

photo (4)On Sunday morning I was up bright and early, at a time that, to me, felt like the middle of the night. But, in reality it was just after 6am and this particular morning I was excited to be meeting my content colleague Jade at Peterborough train station – for a day we had eagerly been anticipating for several months.

So why were we up SO early on a Sunday you ask? Well, I won’t leave you in suspense any longer… we were heading to The Guardian in London for a  workshop, where we would be learning how to write compelling features, with Freelance Journalist, Will Storr.

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10 Ways to Pave Your Career Path

work photoWhen I went to university the last thing on my mind was life after it or my career. I had primarily gone as it seemed the natural progression from school. But I actually had no idea what I was working towards, and I spent the majority of the three years searching for direction and an end goal.

At 17 years old as we sit in our Sixth Form block it is extremely difficult to know for sure what we want to with the rest of our lives, which is no small decision when we will potentially spend the following 3 or 4 years and thousands of pounds preparing to do it.

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Walking In My Sleep

sleep walking

I have been sleepwalking for as long as I can remember, and I am not alone. It is a relatively common thing to do, and according to research affects around 15% of children, whilst 30% of adults claim to have experienced sleepwalking at least once.

After writing a feature at work about a “A Sleepwalking Artist” – a guy who creates masterpieces in his sleep, which he sells for thousands (besides leaving paper and paint by my bed…) it got me thinking about my own sleepwalking experiences.

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The Year I Became An Adult

According to a Facebook status my new year’s resolution last year was to drink less in 2014, I think that was written bradleyduring a horrendous hangover after a New Year’s Eve involving a lot of Rosé and several Tequilas.

But as one year comes to an end and we head into the start of the next, aside from obviously being an excuse for a party and consuming copious amounts of alcohol, it does become a time for reflection, to look back on the year and where it has taken you. Obviously in reality not much changes as the clock strikes midnight except the date, but I think looking back over the year helps you to prepare for the next and think about where you want this one to take you. When I looked back on 2014 I realised that in many way it had been a bloody big life changing year for me; a year I finally became a real grown-up adult.. kind of.

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My “Surprisingly” Soft Staffie

It is true what they say, dogs really are man’s best friend, and despite varying opinions this includes Staffies. I hate to admit it and give up the “tough” reputation of my “status” dog, but my Staffordshire Bull Terrier is actually a big softy.

Obviously I understand the concern of the people who cross the road to avoid us. Or when dogs come up in conversation and the more often than not response to me having a Staffie is a look of shock along with “Oh, bit dangerous aren’t they…” Yes. You are of course right, there is a very high possibility you could be licked to death and who would want to come to such a slobbery end?

keira 4Staffies have been in my family for generations; with my brother and I personally growing up with one from very young ages. Perhaps surprisingly to some Staffies are one of few dogs described as ‘Nanny’ dogs, meaning they are particularly good with children. My dog shows overwhelming love and affection; when you are having a down day and all you want to do is cry she will make you smile. She will (literally) wee with excitement when someone comes round and there is nothing she enjoys more than snuggling up for a cuddle.

Dogs become part of the family and you can’t begin to imagine the pain of losing one unless you have experienced it. After we lost my first dog Ruby, who was the polar opposite to every negative there is of her breed, and the time came to get another one, it was never discussed because there was no doubt in any of our minds that it wouldn’t be a Staffie. You can never replace a dog, but with her quirky personality; including a love of diving under the water with only her curly tail remaining above, much to the amusement of passers-by, Keira fast became the newest member of our family.  Take a look at her deep river diving here .

However, sometimes man’s best friend is being treated as man’s worst enemy. It is extremely frustrating to see how Staffies are mis-represented which, along with ignorance and a lack of knowledge, results in many people having a terrible misconception of them. This is primarily through the media who portray them as vicious and aggressive, often if a breed of dog is un-known referring to it as a ‘staffie-type’.  As I scrolled through the thousands of pictures I have of Keira on my phone (trust me you are lucky I only chose a few), it is clear to see they are far from the snarling image of dog bearing its teeth that often looks back at us via the media. Obviously if one of my photos was used it wouldn’t back-up the story of these hounds from hell.

Secondly, more often than not it is the wrong end of the lead that gets the blame. The truth is there is no such thing as a bad dog, but bad owners. Like a human, dogs are not born bad, but ultimately it is the environment within which they are brought up that will determine their personalities. Brought up in a loving home full of care and attention, long walks and spoilt rotten my dog would not harm a fly. However, with a different owner this could have been a completely different story. It is a sad fact that some people do get them as status dogs; treating them badly and training them to fight. Cooped up inside without regular exercise resulting in energy that needs burning, ignored and mistreated it would not be surprising if the animal were to snap. Imagine if this was happening to you, it would be enough to make someone crazy.


Staffordshire Bull Terriers are intelligent, mine is of course the Einstein of dogs, appearing to understand every word I say. Until those words are “It is time to go home.” at the end of her walk and then she has no idea who I am, let alone what I am saying. They are full of love and trust for humans, as well as being both powerful, extremely loyal and eager to please their owners. This, when coupled with the wrong owner, is being used to their disadvantage, resulting in the reason behind their bad name. Any dog could have moments of aggression but this along with their strength is when it can lead to injury; small dogs could be just as aggressive but don’t have the power to cause any damage.

To me it is beyond ridiculous that some people want them on the dangerous dogs list, which has partly come about from their physical similarities to the banned breed Pitbulls.They have been given the stigma of dangerous fighting dogs, but in reality they are ideal family pet. They couldn’t love more or try harder to please, thriving on human companionship. Of course I am biased, but the The Kennel Club backs up my claim with this statement ‘with the human race, he is kindness itself, and his genuine love of children is well known.’

Staffies have suffered greatly at hands of irresponsible owners who use them as merely a ‘macho fashion accessory’ and the hostile press; both playing huge roles in creating a negative stereotype. It is not us that needs protecting from the dogs, but the dogs that need protection from the people who are treating them in this way.

However, recently Staffies have begun to be shown more for the wonderful breed they really are. Paul O’Grady, along with hosting ‘For the Love of Dogs’, has become a patron of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club and as he so rightly said ‘A bad owner could turn a Chihuahua into an evil dog’. Getting this insight into Battersea Dogs Home shows just how many Staffies end up there. Puppies are extremely energetic and excitable, perhaps too much so for some and due to their negative image they can often be hard to home when they are dumped. Honestly if I could give every single one of them a home I would, but through the programme showing Staffies how they truly are perhaps people will begin to see them in a good light. Further to this is the Battersea campaign ‘Staffies: They’re Softer Than You Think’, which has been set up to help people understand the true soft nature of Staffies and encourage potential dog owners to give them a chance.

So why not give Staffies a chance? They really are softer than you think!

keira 2


The Long Walk from Uni to Your Dream Job 

LOOK ApplicationFour years ago, as I came to the end of my time at university, I was ready to walk out of my graduation into my dream job. The job I had spent three years studying and working towards. A solid three whole years spent in the library with my head in a book… Maybe with the odd party thrown in-between here and there. When you start University you expect to leave knowing exactly what you want to do, but it is not always that easy. When I left I still wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to work in the media. I saw myself at the BBC perhaps Radio 1, a national newspaper or maybe a magazine. The easiest of jobs to get in to of course, so I naively thought or perhaps desperately hoped at the time.

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