A Vintage Week

After a brief week of hibernation to recharge my batteries, it’s safe to say we’ve come back with all guns blazing- the past seven days have been a series of sensational breakthroughs.

Sometimes a little rest is all that is needed to resume normality, other times the extra energy can propel you even further than anticipated.

There have been many memorable occasions this week, but two pieces of news stick out as the apogee in a burst of positive developments.

Firstly, I’ve finally been able to sort myself out with a job; like many a student this summer it came after a long saga of rejections, but a job’s a job. I’m helping out at the local, doing whatever hours come here and there. It’s nice to be able to gain experience in a variety of areas while earning money, and is the regular dose of productivity which I know I needed to maintain through the summer.

The people are nice, and the money looks good; I feel like there’s a huge tonne of pressure off my shoulders now. Additionally, I also get to give the 2014/2015 black sixth form shirt a revival, matched with my enormous trousers from year 11- I need to punch another hole into my belt!  img_8378-1

The next bit of news is a development that sprung from a mere UCAS subscriber email, and then spiralled immediately into application forms and airline tickets. I am both delighted and tremendously excited to announce that I have been accepted onto an Anglo-TEFL scholarship, where I shall spend three weeks next month in Warsaw, Poland teaching English classes to junior students!

The Anglo-TEFL Scholarship was an opportunity I knew couldn’t be missed. The accessibility of the programme is exceptional; with 97% of fees all covered under sponsorship, I only had to pay a tiny fee to register for the 120 hour online/210 hour practical course, alongside flight tickets. What’s included in the minuscule fee genuinely astonished me- three weeks of accommodation in a three-star hotel, all meals covered, and a free city tour at the beginning of the programme! Having spent most of the summer scanning the depressing array of expensive and overly competitive internships, this was like a gift when I discovered it, not to mention the fact that I will be fully TEFL qualified upon completing my course, which bodes very well for restarting my EFL platform for Japanese learners, ‘英GO!’.

I would seriously recommend giving the programme a look if you’re interested, because I believe there are still places available. You won’t just be limited to Warsaw either, there are other cities available, and other programmes that branch out into other European countries. Teaching English is an amazing way to go abroad and experience completely new cultures. It seems 2016/2017 isn’t over just yet, as one more adventure awaits us- I have no idea what to expect when I land in Warsaw on 5th August, but one thing’s for sure: I cannot wait.

Palmerstone Evenings

Another big positive from this week was getting to see my mates again, especially That Webb who has just returned from his own European adventure with Lily. With Brandon briefly free from the clutches of his jobs, and the sun blessing the Medway towns throughout the evening, all of the conditions were in place for a pleasant little kickabout on the holy turf of Palmerstone.

We spent a solid few hours putting our foot through Ethan’s new EPL Hi-Vis Ordem, which was camouflaged in the sun’s rays, matched by Gianni’s similarly-coloured SEGA-sponsored Arsenal away shirt- it was an evening with a pretty fine aesthetic.

To hydrate the boys in the sweltering heat were none other than a few cans from the off-licence. They seemed to work well too- Matt’s first touch of the day almost saw him smash in a first-time volley from distance, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the great Harry Lattimore caught the sweetest of strikes from a Connor Clarke cross that came from the opposite side of the fence last year on the day when England beat Wales at the Euros.

It was a jolly evening, and tremendous fun. It’s one of the small pleasures spending these glorious summer days at the park with mates and a football. It certainly gets you excited for the new football season too.

Later in the week we finally got around to fulfilling our ambitions to go to Bluewater, a trip we have traditionally done since 2013. Originally it was a one-off thing where we would all get the bus up there in the new year, but now that we’re equipped with four wheels and an engine, the trip has become a frequent event all year-round.

Before that however, we saw the idea of “the calm before the storm” completely reversed, as the sky growled loudly into the early hours of the morning with flashes of lightning so frequent viewer discretion was advised- it was an absolute rave outside. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t help my cause in my recent quest to get a good night’s sleep, but I wasn’t alone; Ethan and I lit up our group chat with videos of what the drama was like at our ends. The sky may have been raining total chaos, but there was a strange therapeutic effect to it. Summer storms are lovely; being warm and dry indoors while watching nature getting a much needed drench is surprisingly relaxing, even if my house did look like a set from a horror film for a few hours.

As if nothing had happened, the next morning the sky cleared, and the ground had completely dried. I piloted the Warren Whip to rendezvous with Ethan, Gianni, Rob, and later Matt who I took a brief turn-off at Gravesend to collect. Before long, the cosy five-man-full Peugeot 206 parked at Bluewater, and we set off on our shopping expedition, right after a spot of lunch.

We took full advantage of the weather, for once sitting outside wasn’t too windy.

Our first stop saw us have a solid look in HMV for vinyl, CDs, and DVDs. It was a look so solid that by the time we left we had almost spent an entire hour in there.

Next stop was the short walk across the bridge to GAME where, after Ethan nabbed FIFA 16 on the Xbox One for a couple of quid, and we all marvelled at the still non-existent stock of the Nintendo Switch, we took a hold of the PS4 demo console, and played a whole two games of FIFA 17. First Matt took on Gianni, where he took a cheeky 1-0 victory, before falling on penalties to Ethan in the second game after a 2-2 draw. A deserved victory for Ethan, who scored a screamer, and then generously gave Matt a chance by scoring an own-goal for penalties.

Just when I thought my FIFA days were long gone, I’m getting the familiar urge for the first time in years. Home consoles are a different world nowadays, but now that I’m earning, you never know- I may well end up making the Switch.

We had spent another incredible amount of time in one shop, and were unfortunately running out due to the new and unique restraint of my working hours. Despite this, we completed our trilogy of epic shop-viewings with a visit to Urban Outfitters.

I cannot lie, some of the shirts and jackets in there were gorgeous and I could’ve bought all of them, but in the end I settled to just pose with Matt in one of their tops.

Maximum urban edge:

We all tried various items on, but it was Matt who went as far as a purchase, buying the yellow shirt pictured.

Unfortunately, time restricted us to mainly those three shops, which in a way isn’t such a downer; in my mind this was part-one to our trip, the second part will be even more exciting with more shops, and hopefully the addition of an ace new sidekick in Blaze Stephens.

For the time being however, the day ended with the boys and their purchases lined up for the traditional Warren Whip commemorative photograph:

Another wonderful summer’s day.

Record-Breaking Runs

Back home it’s been another solid week of good breakfasts and even better runs. I’ve particularly been enjoying the addition of blackberries, which have been growing in abundance recently near me, with the familiar superfood favourite, blueberries. Once again, both pictured bowls are really filling, and when combined with a slice of wholemeal bread with peanut butter toasted, you have a real kick-starter to your day.

Perhaps these are why I’ve gone on to have what has undoubtedly been my greatest week of running yet. With a gentle increase in mileage, I approached this week planing to do three runs on three different courses, all with different lengths. For the midweek runs I would once again go for the 2,3,4,4,3,2 fartlek programme, and then just go for a fast long run on my Hollingbourne route at the weekend.

After weeks of fartlek training, eating well, core-strengthening, and of course steering clear of injury, I got another huge positive to this week, and the summer overall. The result was three personal bests on all three courses, including a 10K time of 48 minutes, my first time ever going below 50 minutes. It was incredible to see such drastic improvements, because I ran that course a whole 13 minutes faster than when I was training for the marathon. Right now, running is a true joy. My body is responding well to the training, and producing some really pleasing results. It’s always a tremendous pleasure updating my personal records with faster times; it motivates you to continue striving, and I’m hoping to soon be able to update one of my official records in a half-marathon.

At this stage, the training isn’t too do-or-die, which is perhaps why it’s been so enjoyable. In the next few months I plan to run a couple of half-marathons, with the next full marathon scheduled for March next year. Therefore for the next few months, it’s a nice feeling running without any of the pressure to be fit enough for a 26.2 mile race.

To celebrate these recent breakthroughs, I combined carbs and protein, i.e. oats and whey, to make a recipe I had in mind for a while- protein flapjacks.

Yes, the latest adventure from the kitchen of Bistro Warren sees us mix in protein powder with a simple flapjack recipe, the ingredients of which are as follows:

Flapwarrens:

  • 1-2 Scoops of protein powder (depends on serving size, mine’s 32g per scoop and I added two)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100g of Porridge Oats
  • 70g of Dried Fruit
  • 20g of Linseed
  • 20g of Honey

Mix it all together in a large bowl, grease a baking tin, and then stick in the oven at 180℃ for roughly 20 minutes until solid and brown- simple, yet packed with energy and muscle fuel. Contrary to most Bistro Warren creations, they also taste quite nice too, which is always a bonus.

A fine effort, for a productive and hard-worked week.

Even with so much now going on, the evenings are as still and tranquil as ever. The extra daylight allows for the sun to cast a golden veil over the infinite fields of wheat surrounding me. It offers more time with the neighbours, the six sheep which are always curious, and keen for a rich tea biscuit.

We’re at the time of the year when the skies melt into the most picturesque sunsets. To think that soon I’ll be there, up amongst the clouds on my way to unseen lands is a feeling of adventure and excitement I hoped to catch from the moment I looked down at the city from London’s Sky Garden.

It’s an experience that will be completely new, bringing a sense of fulfilment, and accomplishment. But most of all, it will bring that sense of adventure which truly captures the spirit of this past year.

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