31 things that University of Leicester graduates will remember

If you've been to university, you automatically think your uni is the best.  But, unfortunately, unless you went to the University of Leicester, you're wrong.  (I joke!)  But if you did go to University of Leicester, here's a little trip down memory lane to remind you why we all love it so much.

1. Riding the paternoster.

2. The safety bus not quite living up to its name.


4. Avoiding Victoria Park like the plague after dark.

5. And instantly regretting your decision to use it as a short cut to the union after your bar crawl.

6. £1 everything at Liquid on a Monday (RIP I Love Mondays)

7. Getting lost in Republic and discovering a new room every time you went.

8. DMWho?

9. Being blessed with three Nando's all within walking distance.

10. The car park at halls turning into a trolley park for all the abandoned, stolen trollies from Asda.

11. The bus from Oadby to uni was troublesome enough but Ratcliffe Road with a hangover? Disaster loomed.

12. Having your things 'virtually stolen' from the library when you went for a wee.

13. Maryland chicken seeming like the best idea ever when you've had a few drinks.

14. Turkey Cafe's flavoured vodkas were essential to every bar crawl/night out in the city.

15. The devastation when the Scholar closed and you could no longer sit in there all day eating nachos and drinking wine.

16. Having to dodge the concrete square between the library, the Attenborough building and the union during student election times to avoid being bombarded with leaflets.

17. Mosh on a Tuesday - because it was too long to wait from a Liquid/Republic Monday until Red Leicester on Wednesday.

18. Always dropping in the fact that we were one of the first universities in the UK to have our very own Quidditch team. Proud.

19. Having to get to the library in March so you have a seat ready for your summer exam revision.

20. Eating a Bombay Bites when you had places to go the next day at your own peril.

21. Richard III.

22. Never understanding why the library toilets had won awards when there was never any toilet paper.

23. Starting every day in uni with a trip to Starbucks.

24. Discovering that the library café sold a selection of wines, ciders and beers and never getting any work done again.

25. Having to do an exam in the Covenant Life Church during summer and coming out like a pork scratching.

26. The library's Quiet Patrol being on the biggest power trip as they march around confiscating water bottles.

27. Going to any event where DMU students will be and immediately chanting 'LESTAHH! LESTAHH! LESTAHH'

28. Staying at the Summer Ball until 6am determined to make the survivors photo.

29. The Dry Dock, The Loaded Dog & Varsity being the go-to post-exam pubs.

30. The post-varsity night out always being a jubilant one as we celebrated our thumping of DMU.

31. Holding back the tears as you drive out of Leicester at the end of your time at UoL.

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12 types of girl you meet in the ladies loos on a night out

It's a place where friendships are forged, scandals are swapped and lipsticks are loaned - the female toilets in any pub, club or bar on a night out are a hive of activity and drama.

The ladies loos are sometimes more interesting than what is going on outside, and you always meet at least one of these people while paying a visit...

1. Your soul sister
It often goes something like this: 'Oh my god, we have, like, so much in common! And you look so beautiful in that dress! You're so skinny! Oh my god, like, we have to go have a dance. I'll buy you a drink! Where do you live? We have to go out together soon for drinks!!' But, once outside of the realms of the toilets, you never see each other again. To all the ones who got away - thanks for those special moments.

2. The heartbroken girl
She's just been finished and her mates dragged her out to cheer her up, but she's just seen her ex and he's dancing with another girl so, obviously, she's escaped to the safety of the toilets for a good cry. Cue a whole host of strangers cuddling her and telling her 'Don't worry babe, men are all idiots. You're gorgeous and seem dead nice, you'll find someone else!' Tissues, mascara and concealer are exchanged ahead of the heartbroken girl heading for a taxi home.

3. The 'she's too drunk' girl
Usually found in a cubicle with her head down the loo while the toilet door swings open. Her friends are usually outside arguing with the bouncer to let them bring a glass of water in for their intoxicated friend. She'll claim she's 'not had that much to drink' and 'must have eaten something dodgy' in between being sick.

4. A former classmate or work colleague
The 'how have you been? What are you doing now? Have you seen so-and-so recently?' conversation will follow as you try to figure out who exactly it is that you are talking to.

5. The overly friendly girl
You don't really know her but she's hugging you; complimenting you, your outfit and your make-up; and she's started stroking your hair. For a second, you wonder if you do know her, but usually it's just a very drunk, very friendly stranger. 

6. The designated driver
Always the one who is most bothered that there's no toilet paper and that the doors don't lock. Drunk girls don't seem to care about that but, for the sober soldiers, it could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. The designated drivers are easy to spot - they tend to not have a hair out of place, their make-up still looks pristine, they aren't speaking at 100mph and will not need to lean against the wall to stand upright.

7. The photographer
The ladies toilets is where the best photo shoots on a night out take place. But, for them to be possible, you need to meet a kind stranger who is willing to snap away as you and your friends pull ridiculous poses. Without these kind-hearted souls, thousands of drunk, embarrassing night out photos would not exist.

8. The ones sharing a cubicle
You've been waiting for what feels like an eternity for the toilet and when the door opens you realise why - four girls pile out. Girls toilet cubicles must be like a tardis - it's amazing how many people you can fit in there at once.

9. The friends trying to stage an intervention
'Stop it, he's using you! Don't go there, stay with us and don't look at him. He's a bad person, you need to get your head together. Be strong!' Soon, every girl in the toilets is chipping in with their words of support and encouragement for this intervention. Go on sister!

10. The girl wearing the same outfit as you
This could go one of two ways. It either leads to some very dirty looks being exchanged and a couple of 'well, I look better in it' remarks being dropped or it is totally laughed off and hugged out: 'oh my god you look amazing in it, I wish it looked that good on me!'

11. The crier
She's not had her heart broken, she's not grieving, she's not lost her friends - she's just sad. Nothing anybody says can console her and nobody can understand why she is even crying. Cue everyone leaving and her being left sat on the sink sobbing.

12. The angry drunk
She doesn't like queuing, she doesn't like the music being played, and she definitely doesn't like anyone else around her. She's probably an absolute dear when she's sober and won't even remember her angry bitch tendencies.

So there you have it. If men ever wondered why women go to the toilet in groups, or why it takes us so long, there is your answer. There are so many weird, wonderful and wacky people to meet in the girls toilets on a night out. We meet our short-term best friends - never seen again after the first meeting - and we discover every drunk person on the spectrum.

Never mind having met at least one of these on a night out, we've all been them!

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Unlike Bruce Springsteen, I wasn't born to run.

It was inevitable when I said that I was taking on a challenge involving running that I would be the butt of everyone's jokes, especially as my brother is involved in the event too.

As I've previously mentioned, I don't do running.  I've never liked it and unless I get some sort of epiphany while doing this 10k, I can't see me ever liking it.  But, as I said, that's precisely why I am doing the York 10k Run For All - because by doing something I don't like/am not good at, I will raise more money.

In terms of being the butt of everyone's jokes, I'm used to that.  My dad and my brother would regularly  tease me and wind me up about how long I'd been single and what not.  Now that I am moved out and engaged, though, they had to find new ammunition - and here it is!

My brother was the first to take a swipe, getting his joke in there before everyone else when he announced on his Facebook that we were taking part in the run together...

I was quick to add that I had just ran (and jogged a bit and walked a bit) 7km in the gym that night and that my training was going fine. I don't need his help! **insert quote about being a strong, independent woman here**

My dad's was my favourite so far, though....

To be fair, this would probably be feasible.

I'll probably be at the half way point as he is finishing, so it would be a good cool down for him to come back to me and drag me the rest of the way.

Despite everyone having a joke and a giggle with me about it, we have had some really lovely messages of support from our family and friends.  And, if anything, the jokes are only motivating me to train harder and run faster.  I am one of those people that, if you tell me you don't think I can do something, I'll try ten times harder to do it, do it well, and prove you wrong.

As tempted as I will be to let Jack piggy back me round the route, I am determined to be as hot on his heels as I can manage.

We are already over a quarter of the way to our fundraising target of £500 which is amazing!!  Thank you so much to the friends and family who have already sponsored us, it means so, so much.  It's a cause very close to our family's hearts and is very poignant at the moment.

If you would like to read more about our reasons for taking part, you can visit our JustGiving page by clicking on this link.  If you have a few pennies spare, please sponsor us while you are there.  I promise I will make it worth your while and try to make the gap between me and Jack as small as possible!

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"I wish I was as 'fat' as the first time I thought I was fat"

"I wish I was as 'fat' as I was the first time I thought I was fat" is a quote I see frequently on a nice pastel background in a fancy font on Instagram or shared on Facebook, and my god is it true!

I am sure every girl in her 20's, and probably even some blokes if they're being really honest, will totally agree that those body woes we had during our teens were nothing but an awkward teenage phase.

I can remember, clear as day, looking at myself in the mirror and seeing this 'whale' looking back at me. 

Body hang-ups and image issues were as regular as breathing for me. Because I've always been tall, and pretty much been the same shape/size since I was 13/14, I've been in size 10 clothes for almost 10 years.

When I stopped being able to shop in 915 at New Look or buy the same things as my friends in Tammy it just made me feel even worse. 

One day me and my mum went shopping for jeans at Matalan. I tried on the age 14 (I was about 12/13 at the time but, being tall, I always had to shop a few ages older) and I couldn't even get them over my knees. Age 15 went a bit further, age 16 were still no good. Size 8 - nope. Size 10 - could get them on but they wouldn't fasten and if I tried to bend they would definitely rip. At 12-years-old I was comfortably fitting into a size 12 pair of jeans. I was mortified. I refused to (let my mum) buy them.

Looking back now, I realise that I wasn't actually fat at all. Compared to all my friends and other girls my age, I was bigger - but that's because I was a different shape. My hips, curves, bum and boobs (well, kinda boobs) developed much quicker. So much so that I still sometimes wear my old school trousers, bought when I started year 10. This is only on a good, slim day, I should add.

Back to my original point, when I was stood there in front of my bedroom mirror all those times worrying that I was fat and wondering what fad diet or exercise regime I could try to be 'skinny' I didn't realise that there wasn't anything wrong with my body shape or size.

I'm sure in 10-20 years time when I've (hopefully) had children, I'll look back to now and wish I could return to this size and shape. 

Everybody has body hang-ups and can find things they don't like about themselves. I bet even Michelle Keegan could list you a load of things that she sees as flaws. But to the rest of the world, she is perfect.

Body confidence comes from within and it doesn't matter how many people tell you that you look great and don't need to lose any weight, you can still never see it yourself.

Everyone is different. Different shapes and different sizes. Comparing yourselves to others is futile because, while they may look like everything you aspire to be, there will be things that they are unhappy with and want to change about themselves. The key is being happy in your own skin and keeping healthy.

I'd rather have my love handles, curves and wobbly bits and keep happy and healthy than be super slim, needing to exercise every day and eat like a rabbit to maintain it.

So yes, while I do wish I was as 'fat' as the first time I thought I was fat, I also know that I will look back at myself today and, one day, wish that I could be this size again.

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Paula Radcliffe, I'm coming for you!

Okay, that was maybe an exaggeration, I'm not actually planning on doing anything even worthy of comparing myself to Paula Radcliffe (although, we do both have asthma...)

I've done it, though - I've signed up to a challenge and, whilst it might not be a challenge to many, it certainly will be to me.

On Sunday, August 2 I will be taking part in the York 10k with my brother.

Those who know me and Jack will know that we are polar opposites when it comes to running and exercise.  He is pretty much a pro athlete - he's on an athletics scholarship at a university in America and spends every single day running and most weekends competing.  

I, on the other hand, am a pro spectator.  I know all the right cheers and all the best encouraging chants to shout as I sit on the sidelines.

But, to raise money for a charity that is now close to both of our hearts, we have decided to join forces and take on a 10k together.

Recently, our nana was diagnosed with bowel cancer and only has about a year to live. That's why we are raising money for Bowel Cancer UK - to help other people who are suffering and hopefully fund more research into this disease. Unfortunately, there's not much they can do for our nana now other than to make sure she's as comfortable and pain free as possible, but hopefully our fundraising can help save or prolong someone else's life. 

You may have read my post yesterday about feeling like I needed to make a difference and after much searching and deliberating I decided a 10k was a good way for me to start.

I am still doing the 5k Race for Life Pretty Muddy in July, which will be a nice warm-up for me ready for the 10k just four weeks later!

I don't doubt that Jack will finish the run before I'm even at 5k, but I'm not doing this to win or to set a PB (which won't be hard cos I've never run 10k before in my life!), or to beat my brother - I'm doing this to raise money, awareness and to help people.

If you would like to read more about mine & Jack's reasons for taking on this challenge (or normal Sunday run in Jack's case) then please visit our JustGiving page and, if you're feeling generous or have a bit of money to spare, please sponsor us.  

When I feel like giving up at about 1.5k, I'll need something to spur me on and remind me why I am putting myself through this torture and that will be the thought of how much money I will be raising for this worthy cause.


Recently I've been feeling like I need to make a difference...

Recently I've been feeling like I need to make a difference.  I want to look back at the end of this year and be able to say 'yes, Nat, you really did help someone and managed to make a difference with that'.

After recent events, I've been left feeling like I need to be doing something meaningful with my spare time and doing something to help people/charities/groups.  I'm lucky to be blessed with good health now and feel like I should be making the most of that to help those who aren't as fortunate as me.

Sat at work this afternoon I've been racking my brains about what I can do to set the wheels in motion and act upon this sudden desire that's washed over me.

Last weekend, I did a 25 mile bike ride for charity - and I loved every second.  Those who know me well will know that exercise isn't something I particularly enjoy doing.  I go to the gym so that I can eat rubbish food and not feel as guilty about it.  I certainly do not go for fun.  So I was surprised that I enjoyed the bike ride so much.

The fact it was sunny and the route was picturesque probably helped a lot, but it was also strictly 'not a race' and was full of people of all ages and abilities which made for a really fun, relaxed atmosphere.

After I watched the London Marathon last month I got that aching feeling in my stomach - I wanted to run a marathon.  I don't actually want to run a marathon - I could see that being a complete and utter hell for the many hours it would take me.  But that is precisely why it is the sort of thing that I would want to do for charity.  I don't want to be doing something I enjoy while raising money, because people won't sponsor me to do that.  If that was the case, I'd be doing a sponsored shop or a sponsored drinking session or a sponsored sleep.

I want to do something that is going to test me, challenge me and push me so that I know that every second I am enduring whatever it is I choose to do, someone, somewhere will be benefitting from my pain.  (I could insert a quote here about pain being temporary but I'll save that until I've chosen said challenge and overuse it then!)

In 2011 I did a skydive and raised over £700 for Great Ormond Street Hospital.  From what I can remember, I did not enjoy that for one single second.  The fact that soon after I got pneumonia and almost died encourage me to do anything like that ever again, so I'm thinking my next endeavour will see me keep both of my feet firmly on the ground.

In July, me and a couple of girls from work are doing the Pretty Muddy Race for Life, which is just like the standard 5km Race for Life but with lots of mud and an obstacle course.

The bike ride and Race for Life don't seem to be enough to satisfy this feeling that I've got of wanting to do something to help people.

I'm not sure yet who I want to help (there are some local charities I want to help raise money for as well as national charities like the British Lung Foundation and Bowel Cancer UK) or what I want to do to help them, but I am determined to do something.  And this year.

This blog post doesn't have a specific aim or reason, it's merely just to share this aching desire that I have to help with the world.  That way, I'll be more inclined to follow it up and take part in some challenges - whether it be a 10k run or a 24 hour bike ride in the gym.

Any suggestions of what I can do would be greatly appreciated.  Of course, I could set up a standing order each month and donate money to these charities but that's too easy.  I want to raise awareness as well as money and that will only happen if I push myself to my limits.

I'll keep you updated with my quest to make a difference.  Now it's in writing and on the internet I'll feel even more compelled to follow up this sudden urge that I have.  I definitely, under no circumstances, will be doing another skydive, though!