20? I’d quite like my teenage years back, please.

I turn 20 today, and that’s a pretty terrifying prospect for me. I’ve enjoyed my teen years a lot, and it’s strange to think that I’ll never get them back – regardless of how childish my behaviour might be. I’m not one for sentimentality, but I’d like to mark the end of teen-hood by ironing out a few common misconceptions about teenagers.

1. “All teenagers carry knives!”
WRONG. In fact, I know several people who don’t even carry a knife at night! Most of my friends only wear small knives, nothing to be scared of. Not ALL teenagers are cool enough to be in a turtle gang…

2. “Teenagers don’t have real feelings.”
Pur-lease! When a 14 year-old boy pronounces his unwavering love for his girlfriend of 2 weeks, don’t doubt the guy. He’s travelled the seven seas looking for the perfect gal, so to suggest that his relationship won’t withstand the test of time would be to scorn Cupid himself. Teenagers have 5-year plans these days.

3. “All teenagers do is play video games.”
This is definitely not true. Teenagers spend at least 30% more time than the average adult in bed. This is an incredible attestation to the “play hard, rest hard” approach to life that the majority of teenagers adopt. Inspirational.

4. “Today’s youth are so unimaginative, when I was a boy/girl…”
This statement is normally followed by a long, dreary tale of how Old Person X and Old Person Y would invent all sorts of games and would take long walks in the countryside. Bully for you! If you’d ever played Fifa or Mario Kart, you wouldn’t need to invent any other game..!

5. “Today’s teenagers haven’t mastered the English language…”
I will literally kill the next person who tries to convince me of this!

There are plenty of other misconceptions out there that I’d love to correct, but I need to go sharpen my knives before bed. It’s been a fun 8 years for me, but I’m now looking forward to what’s ahead. In 2 years time I’ll have finished with University; in 5 years time I’ll be in full-time employment with a house of my own. Well, that’s my 5-year plan anyway!



Portsmouth is [nearly] the complete city…

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It seems like forever since I sat down at my laptop and described my first experiences of Portsmouth, both as a University and as a city. In the eight [!!] months since then, I’ve completed a whole year of University. To me, that’s bizarre – time has flown! I’ve really enjoyed my first year at the University of Portsmouth, and here are 5 reasons I identified as to why:

1. Portsmouth is a fantastic city. I know that this seems a strange priority to set at the top of the list for a University student, but I firmly believe that to be comfortable in your learning environment, you first have to be comfortable in your living environment. As a city, Portsmouth has everything – beaches, parks, churches, shopping centres, bars, restaurants, Krispy Kreme do’nuts and even a giant dinosaur [until it was cremated by hooligans]. There is never a shortage of activity, especially in the city centre. It’s fair to say that Portsmouth is a “happening” city.

2. The University caters well. Although I should probably have achieved higher academically, I really felt supported and pushed by my tutors to meet deadlines, participate in discussion/debate and maintain a high standard of work. I’ve probably let them down at times, but the course [up to this point] has been refreshingly interesting and challenging. I particularly enjoyed getting the chance to study A Pilgrim’s Progress in seminary discussion, and look forward to my “Bible and Literature” module in the Autumn!

3. The Christian Union is strong. As a confident but relatively friendless Fresher, I was keen to form some strong Christian friendships from the off. The Christian Union was welcoming, encouraging and engaging. Those are some pretty key attributes for a society that is based in the Bible. In January I accepted an offer to assume Presidency of the CU. It was a Spirit-led decision, and one that I really had a lot of second thoughts over. I’ve enjoyed the last four months a lot – “President” is just a name, a title. The real leader of the CU is God, and if we continue to seek him and serve him then I firmly believe that he will bless us and guide us in return. It’s been fantastic to see many of my friends repeatedly step out and worship the Lord in acts of service, and the joy they experience in him is an incredible blessing.

4. Halls are a lot of fun [and also rather convenient too]. I was intent on getting into UoP’s Halls of Residence. Well, to be more precise, I was intent on getting into the James Watson Halls of Residence. The pictures in the brochure made my flat out to be shiny, modern and exciting [which it was…to an extent]. It perhaps wasn’t the princely palace I had anticipated, but having compared it to several other examples of University accommodation I now consider myself privileged. For £102 a week I enjoyed an en-suite, a generously-sized bedroom, a kitchen/diner with a view, a corridor to kick a football around in and, of course, 5 lovely flat mates. Lectures were a 3 minute walk away, as were shops and the train station. In fact, everywhere I needed to go was within 15 minutes walking distance – the town centre, church, the seafront, the supermarket. I doubt I’ll ever live anywhere else so convenient.

5. My Grandma is nearby. I love my Grandma, I think she’s brilliant. Admittedly she’s not 100% “with it”, but my visits to her house provide me with some welcome respite in the hectic life of a University student and CU President. It’s easy to become so heavily engrossed in student life that you lose sight of the real world. I enjoy spending time with people my age – we share similar interests, lifestyles and humour – but hanging out with my Grandma gives me a great chance to push the “pause” button on University and enjoy some quality family/old person time. She’ll normally set me to work around the house, asking for boxes to be moved and plants to be trimmed, but I find that I genuinely enjoy these menial tasks. It’s a little something of normality, a sense of life outside of what can rapidly become a fairly impregnable student bubble.

My one regret from my first year is that I’ve struggled to get heavily involved in church life. I hope that this is something I can rectify next year, and in the mean time I look forward to serving at my home church in Worcester. This summer promises to be a fine one.



Here are some fun facts I worked out about the number 2010

2010 is 133122 in base 4.
2010 is the maximal length of a rook’s tour on a 14 x 15 chessboard.
2010 is a number having exactly four distinct prime factors, for which the largest is greater than the square root of the number.
2010 = 1+2-(3-4-5)*6*7*8-9
Enough numbers! My head’s hurting…
Let me talk to you about the year 2010, and what I feel it held for me.
Those who have followed my blog throughout the
latter half of the year will perceive my emotional state as being one that rarely fluctuates outside of moderate aggravation or mirth. This does not go to say that I am without emotion – merely that I strive to maintain an air of unperturbed light-heartedness. That is the person I feel I have become throughout the course of 2010, starting during my service at Gaines Christian Youth Centre and culminating in the build-up to and period of Christmas.
Reflecting on one’s year is not an easy thing to do. Condensing the things we have learned and the ways in which we have grown over the past 365 days into one short blog post is like being asked to paint Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in ten minutes. We can portray the gist of what we intend to communicate, but most of the detail is missing and the end result is a pale imitation of the actual subject. So rather than deliver a blow-by-blow account of how my year went, I’d like to just summarise it in three points.
1. How I grew in my relationship with God
If a relationship with God had a learning curve, the line in 2010 would be going pretty steep. I feel I have drawn closer to my father more than ever before during this year, and felt his love and blessing in my life more than I could have thought possible. Admittedly he has had to give me the odd slap in the face when I start chasing selfish ambitions, but that’s all part of his loving nature! A good father lovingly disciplines his children when they fall short of his expectations. I do that all the time, yet am humbled by God’s grace. Although I will never come close to fully doing so, I am understanding more of his character and will through reading his word and learning of his promises to his people.
2. How my friendships grew

In 2010 I have learned a lot from my friends, but have also felt more and more able to repay some wisdom and example. I am truly blessed to have such a strong group of friends – at Church, University and, perhaps most preciously, still from school. Having met up with a bunch of them yesterday, I am reminded of how invaluable the time I get to spend with them is. My prayer is that I would continue to have opportunities to meet up with them and enjoy their company in 2011. They are truly delightful folk, and if they are reading this then I hope they already know how much I appreciate them!
Heading off to Portsmouth on my own was a daunting prospect, but since arriving there on September 18th as a baby-faced Fresh man, I have been making friends left, right and centre. Within a month I had my future housemates sorted. Within two, I had been back to my Christian flatmate’s home town for a weekend of fireworks, theatre and football. The term culminated in the whole of Floor 8 coming together for a Christmas meal – one great joint effort!
Some people who have especially been real blessings, influences and confidants over 2010:
My family! And then, in no particular order: Kirst, Larry, Mike, Becca, Debbie, Luke, Joel, Cornel, Josh, Josh, Dan, Ryan, Annie, Roy, Harv, Tim, Ben, Martha, Meriel, Nathan, Miriam, Meg, Nat, Jim, Frazer, Pat, Matt, Ceri, Tom, Catherine (who apparently gets a special mention?), Harriet, Lilly, Nathan, Tom, Hannah and Nick.
I’m almost certain to have left about 10 people out! So if your name isn’t here, a) you probably don’t care, b) I value you just as much as any of these people anyway and c) punch me in the face!
3. How I got involved
2010 has been a brilliantly busy year for me. I’ve been forced to step out of my teenage comfort zone on a number of occasions, both through challenging messages and challenging situations! Here are some things I did in 2010 which I would never have thought myself capable of doing:
1. I learned how to DIY, and applied those skills to the ongoing renovation of Gaines Christian Youth Centre. This included putting up ceilings, painting countless walls, laying tiles, removing heating systems and fitting hundreds of fire door closers!
2. I led a Church service. I was truly grateful for this remarkable opportunity – and although I was more nervous than a blind man crossing a motorway, I enjoyed and appreciated leading God’s people in worship. It’s not something every 18 year-old gets to do!
3. I spent Saturday and, more recently, Wednesday evenings handing out refreshments to clubbers. I have never considered myself a great conversationalist, but hanging out with bottles of water and lollipops in Worcester town centre presented me with the opportunity to have long, deep and meaningful conversations with complete strangers who showed an interest in what we (the GLOW team) were about. I felt totally at ease in that situation every time I went out.
4. I have developed a healthy 18 point lead in the Super Circuit. Sorry Kirst, Cornel and Luke. You’ve been good competition though, and always humble in defeat (haha).
5. I completed The Midlands Ministry Training Course. This involved a day in Birmingham every week of studying God’s word and learning some basic (and some not so basic) theology. It was also undertaken with the aim of being equipped for ministry in future years! A great deal of it what was said in that room went in one ear and out the other, but hearing the views of some of the wisest men (and women) in the county was fantastic.
6. I authored a blog. Well, to some extent anyway! I am aware of the hideous lack of blog activity in recent weeks, and the dangers of becoming apathetic, but when people ask me what I enjoy doing in my spare time I can now provide them with an answer other than “watch NFL” or “play guitar”.
2010 has been a year of thrills, frills and grills.
I’ve enjoyed the ride, and I certainly hope 2011 continues to present me with the unexpected, the exciting and the ridiculous. I wish you all the happiest of years!