University Freshers

Hey everyone! I moved into my new university halls last Sunday and have been at uni for a week now and I thought it would be a good idea to share some of what I’ve been up to and things you can do during Freshers (aside from going out of course!). I’m not a huge ‘party girl’, but yeh, I like to go out with friends and have a couple of drinks, go to the clubs etc. but not every night. So, during Freshers, its been interesting to see how much I can actually avoid going out and getting smashed like a lot of people love doing!

Getting a job

I have been transferred to a new branch of the company I work for, which has meant I have a secured job for me whilst I study. Of course, this will vary from company to company, but it is a good idea to see if they offer student transfers if the new city you’re moving to have a store! It has worked really well for me and my first shift was good! Even though I am in a new role in my new branch, I think that makes it more interesting as I have new things to learn!

Look out for part-time jobs on sites like indeed.co.uk as lots of places will be offering short term temporary contracts for students, that will be flexible around lecture times. Companies know that student timetables change, so will be willing to work with you at getting the best hours. Another popular idea is a part-time jobs fair at the university, which my university have held, and this is where companies and brands advertise their jobs specifically for students. One more idea that is excellent for students is working as a student ambassador for your university which usually working on open days and giving tours around campus (training is provided) and the pay rate at my university is £10/hour! Because it is based at university, they also work around your lecture times and know not to take you out of anything, and some work on a 0 hour contract meaning it is something you can really control around when you have the time free or not.

Meeting new people

Freshers week is so daunting at the beginning, moving into a flat full of people you don’t know, going to induction and enrolments with lecture theatres full of people you don’t know. But, the lecturers know that everyone is in the same position and they will do icebreakers and similar activities to get you more relaxed and allow you to introduce yourself to people on your course. This has really helped me meet people doing my course and we have then gone to other events together and got to know each other better. With flatmates, it’s not so easy sometimes! Instead of eating in your room, why don’t you eat in the kitchen and then if anyone comes in, introduce yourself! Be friendly! If there is a group chat for your flat, ask if anyone wants a drink or if you’re ordering take-out ask if anyone wants to join! My flatmates and I had a movie night this week and ordered a curry and it was a great chance to get to know them a bit better! If you’re planning on going to the campus at the same time, ask if they want to walk or get the bus together. It’s the little things that you wouldn’t necessarily ask about normally, but they are a great chance to get to know the people you live with!

Join a sports club or society

I have joined the Tennis club at my university. I had trials today, which was fun to go to and, again, meet new people, make new friends! Even if I don’t make the team, I will still play socially with my friends and it will be a great way to take my mind off work and lectures and relax (strangely enough)! Doing sport has always been important to me and it takes my mind off of stress and studying, as well as keeping me fit. I have played tennis since junior school and, as I said, even I just play socially, it will be really nice to make friends and have fun!

I have also joined a couple of societies, one of them being the society for my subject. Lots of subjects offer their own societies, and you don’t always have to be doing that course to join! It is another great way to meet new people, within and outside of your course. If that doesn’t seem like something you’d like, there are always a bunch of random and totally crazy societies that you can join. Some of my personal favourites that I spotted were Tea Society and Fashion Society! There really is something for everyone to choose from, so make sure you go to Freshers Fair and the Sports Fair to see what there is available! Try something new and have fun!

Keep in touch with friends and family

Moving away from home can be scary and nerve-wracking! But don’t forget! Your parents will be sad to see you go too… and your friends! So during that first week, make sure you stay in contact with friends from home and family, they will want to know what you’re up to and how you’re doing. My boyfriend has been to visit me and it’s been nice having a bit of home to visit, even if it has just been for the day. And don’t forget… people you know may have come to the same university as you! If you know someone and they are at your uni, drop them a message and get a drink or meet one day to look round the city centre. A friendly face in a crowd of new ones can really settle Freshers weeks nerves!

I hope everyone that has already moved to uni is having an amazing time, and anyone that is moving soon (or today!) you have an incredible Freshers week! Party hard and have fun!

Thank you all for reading and keep an eye out for updates of how university life is going for me!

Imogen ❤

A Level Results Day

Hey everyone! It is 11 days until A Level results day! Yes, I am counting down the days, not because I am petrified of finding out my results but because I am excited to see where I will be heading in September! I have previously written a piece about GCSE results day, as I knew a few younger people were quite nervous about receiving their results. Now, one year on, I am waiting for my A Level results, hoping to achieve the grades I need to get into my first choice of Universities!

Lots of people will be nervous about getting their results. Some of you may know that you smashed the exams after months of hard revising and you are confident you are going to do well! Others may think the exams have gone well but are staying quietly confident that you will get the necessary grades. And unfortunately, other people will be dreading the 16th, knowing that their exams did not go as they had hoped and that they are going to need a contingency plan if they get worse grades than the Universities are offering to accept.

Even if you are one of the confident individuals and you know that you have achieved your grades, having a back-up plan can never hurt! One thing I had forgotten is that if you do better than you had expected or have achieved higher grades that will get you into a higher University than is your first choice, you can go through Clearing to apply to the higher Universities. For example, you have a conditional offer from University of Liverpool for Mathematics for ABB, but you have achieved 3 A*’s! You could now apply through clearing to go to your other higher choice of UCL for A* A* A. If they have the spaces, they should accept you, as you have not only met the requirements, but have exceeded them. Keep this in mind if you do better than you had expected!

Similarly, if you have changed your mind about your first choice University, after checking the entry grades, and knowing that you have met them, you can apply through Clearing to your new choice. If you now want to go to University of Sussex (ABB) then you could apply through Clearing (as long as they have the spaces).

Clearing (through UCAS) works by creating a new application, and therefore a new UCAS Track profile. This will become active once your application is complete and you have received a welcome email. You can apply through Clearing for a number of reasons but the main ones include –

  • You have applied after the deadline of June 30th
  • You didn’t receive any offers
  • You don’t want to accept the offers you have been given
  • You do not meet the entry requirements of your University firm and insurance choices

If you don’t get the grades, don’t panic! If you really want to go to a specific University, ring them up and explain why you want to do your course there. Don’t try to make excuses about why your grades were lower than expected, unless there is a clearcut reason (for example a grievance or illness etc.). One thing to remember is that the Universities really want passionate and brilliant students, and often, with the rising number of other options instead of University (apprenticeships etc.) Universities may even be reaching out to fill the spaces they have for a course! Be hopeful, and don’t get flustered, if you do decide to ring them, try to stay calm. If you have become upset after receiving your results, just take a moment to compose yourself before you speak to the University.

If your University doesn’t have space on the course you want, you can try a different course, for example, if you were planning to do Psychology, try seeing if they have spaces on a Psychology with Education or something along those lines. Who knows? Perhaps the course will interest you more than you think! If it really isn’t your cup of tea, once you start your course, if you request to swap to your original course soon enough in the year, they may be able to fit more people in, due to drop-outs and people declining their offers.

The other option with Clearing is that other Universities may have spaces on the course you want to do. These may be Universities you hadn’t thought of, so be open minded and think; if I really want to do this course, does it matter which University I am at? Do try and look around any Universities before you confirm your place, or at least see if they offer a virtual tour online. Failing that, try using Google Maps Street View to look around the externals of the buildings to get a kind of feel for the campus.

If the exams have gone so badly wrong that you are not going to be able to get into a University you would like to go to, then perhaps you should rethink your options. Could you take a year out? Retake a subject? Work full time until you have a clearer idea of where you want to go? Do an apprenticeship? There are lots of options and although it might seem like a huge disaster on the day when the results aren’t what you hoped for, everything will be ok in the end!

A Level Results are released on the 16th August 2018 and are usually available for collection from your school/sixth form/college. Alternatively, if you know you can’t make it there on the day, you can receive them over the phone or arrange to have them emailed to you (check individual rules for your institution). This may also be the default option for some schools, as they have so many students, emailing out the results can be easier.

Good luck to everyone who is waiting for results in just over 10 days and I hope that you all get the grades you are hoping for and if not, you are still able to find a way to study something you love!

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on my blog for more content as I move to University and blog about questions and key topics that have been requested!

Imogen ❤

 

UCAS… What next?

Hello everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while, I’ve been concentrating on my courses and all the work that comes with doing A Levels, fellow strugglers, you know what I mean! I have sent my UCAS application off and have received offers back. But, I have been asking myself, what next? What do I do in this long wait between now and results day (aside from revision for my all important exams… obviously!)? And then I thought, maybe if I don’t know the next steps, others don’t either. So I thought I would do some research and compile a little guide as to your next move closer to starting University!

Of course, I know that not everyone chooses to go to university, and that’s great! Some people are suited to different styles of learning, others want to travel and work. Whatever you choose to do, as long as it is what you want to do, then it’s going to be okay! But, this post is focused on people who have applied through UCAS (hence the title) so if that’s not you, please feel free to either stay and read anyway or skip this post!

Receive your offers:

This will be dependent on a number of factors, such as how your predicted grades align with the grades the University is asking for (or tariff points if that’s the system they use). They will also consider how many places they have on offer, and if they have fewer applicants than they expected, they may offer you the place but on lower grades, which is great! They may also give you a ‘contextual offer’ if you attend an Aspiring College or Sixth Form, of which there is a list online for each University if your institution fits the criteria, or if you make that University your firm choice, then they will perhaps lower the grades too. All in all, the Universities are really searching for the people that show they want to be there and even if their grades aren’t ‘up there’ they will still be given a fair opportunity to bag a place!

Reply to your offers:

Congratulations if you have had offers back from Universities saying that they would like to give you a place! There are three responses you could have received; Conditional, Unconditional or Unsuccessful. Depending on which you have received will determine your next steps.

Conditional means you’ve got a place! That is, as long as you achieve the grades that the University are after.

Unconditional means congratulations! You’ve got a place at the University with whatever grades you get! Some people automatically assume that this means they don’t have to turn up for their exams, BUT! I would strongly recommend carrying on revising and working hard, not only because Universities can withdraw their offers, but it will also make the first year so much easier, having a strong base of knowledge at a higher level!

Unfortunately, if your application has been unsuccessful, that means you haven’t got a place at that University. But, the other 4 applications may be successful, so don’t lose hope! I have had unsuccessful applications and everyone sort of tiptoed around the topic if it came up, but the first thing I said was “Don’t worry! I’m sort of happy I got rejected… it makes choosing my top two easier!” You’ve just got to look on the positive side of these things and you’ll be fine!

Applying for Finance:

I will go into more detail about this on a separate post, but the basic gist of this is explained really well on the UCAS website, and through various emails advising you on the best course of action. UCAS will email you with the 16 digit code you need to set up a student bank account (this is slightly different to applying for finance but I’ll explain later). Other information you will need to apply is your UCAS Personal ID number, Passport number and National Insurance Number. The process takes about half an hour, and you then print a form to sign and send to the Student Finance HQ. They suggest that it will take roughly 6-8 weeks to process, but as soon as the application is in, it’s one less thing to worry about!

So there you have it, the next few steps after you have sent in your application. Of course, there is accommodation, applicant days and lots of revision, among other things, but I’m going to be writing some more in-depth posts for these bits as I think they just need their own posts. I know lots of people are quite daunted by the process, but it honestly isn’t that scary and once you do it, you feel so much better for being on top of it!

Thank you for reading and keep an eye out for new posts under the University tab on my page and I’ll be posting more content soon!

Imogen S.

UCAS Week

Hey everyone! So I thought I would give a little update on what’s going on at the moment in La Vida de Imogen… or in English; my life!

I am really happy with the week that has just gone, I feel like I got a significant amount of work completed for things that aren’t even due in yet! Trust me, that’s not something I do very often but I’m working on it 🙂 I worked both days at the weekend which exhausted me, and I am glad to be back to my normal shifts this week.

On Netflix, I continued with Skins and also season 1 of The Fresh Prince of Belair, which was nice after a day at college, just to relax. Talking of college, I helped at an Open Evening tonight, which was part of my Continuous Professional Development (CPD), and it was nice to spend some time with people outside of college hours, even if we were still at college!

I have been worried about my UCAS application, which is due in this Friday, so last week I tried to finish off the key element (the dreaded personal statement) and now this week will hopefully go smoothly without any last minute rushes. On the subject of UCAS, last week I also filmed a video which I will be uploading to my YouTube at some point, which summarises the application process and gives useful tips and information. (I hope!)

Image result for ucas google images

I’ve started the week prepared and I am going to try to keep it that way! Sorry, it’s been a short post, but this week a lot is happening, or it at least feels like that with UCAS, so I thought, perhaps you would like an update. I shall keep my social media posted with more information about my YouTube channel when I upload the video. Keep an eye out!

Thank you for reading and have a lovely week!

Imogen S.

Uni Open Days

UCAS has just opened applications for September 2018 undergraduate entry for universities. Part of the fun of uni is getting to explore new places and make new friends, and it all starts with researching what you want to do and where you want to go. Part of this research is visiting universities on an Open Day. I have been to a few as part of my research, and there have been some I have really liked, and others that just haven’t quite hit the spot.

Some important things to remember when you’re looking around are:

  • You don’t have to like it! Your friend might say it’s the best university in the world, but your friend isn’t spending 3+ years there for you to complete your degree. The league tables might say that it is top in the country for the subject you want to study, but if you don’t like it then it’s going to make studying more difficult and less enjoyable for you! Make sure you like it because you’re the one that will be living there.
  • Everyone (mostly) is as confused and unsure as you are. The majority of the prospective students around you, are probably similar to your age and haven’t got a definite plan for what they want to study, let alone do for the rest of their lives. It’s great if you have a plan because you know what courses and qualifications you need to get into that career! But, it also isn’t the be all and end all of the choices. Most students change their minds during their course as they learn new areas of their subject, so don’t feel too pressured to make a decision and have to stick to it.
  • Look out for the helpers and students from the university (they’ll probably be wearing a coloured top that matches the university, or be holding a big flag etc). There are often multiple registrations and help point tents scattered around the university, so just pop over and ask for help if you need it. It’s what they’re there for!
  • Take the time to go to talks or presentations. Some of these you might need to book in advance and get tickets, or others you can just turn up and see if there is any extra room. Or, if a talk doesn’t appeal to you, head to an informal Q&A that most departments will hold all day in their respective buildings. I would recommend going to the department section anyway because you can look at the facilities and lecture halls and see what kind of environment you will be studying in.
  • Pick up as many leaflets as possible. Don’t go too crazy, but do take the opportunity to get more information about specific things that are important to you.
  • Got a passion? Sport? Music? Reading? Go take a look around the facilities, because they might offer something that will be the winning factor! You could also take a look at the library, even if you rarely touch a book, as they are often the place for computer suites and study areas.
  • Tour the accommodation and be realistic. I know the thought of sharing a bathroom with 8 other people doesn’t sound overly appealing, but universities tend to bump up the price of a standard room to ensuite by roughly £40/week if you’re lucky! Keep an open mind and remember you won’t be spending the whole time at university in halls. More often than not, students move out in their second year to external student accommodation. Then again, if you know you have the money to pay for a private student flat for £200/week, then go ahead and splash the cash!
  • Lastly, ask yourself the harsh and realistic question of; Am I going to get the grades to come here? It is brilliant to aim high because it makes you strive for success and people always get better grades if they truly believe they can. But, on the other hand, if you have got a C at AS, are you going to get an A* at A2? I am not suggesting that you completely close off the option if the requirements are slightly higher than your predicted grades, but make sure you have a backup plan. If you do love a university and their grades are high, then great! It could motivate you to work really hard all year and get those grades but it could also demotivate you and stress you out, chasing grades that are not realistic.

These are some of the things I have done when visiting universities and I have found that it tends to help to go into the day with a rough plan, so have a think before you dive straight into a place you don’t know!

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Have fun looking around new places and meeting some friendly faces that are always happy to help!

Thank you for reading and I’ll be writing more soon about the UCAS application process as I go through it myself, so keep your eyes peeled!

Imogen ❤

Results Days

The 17th and 24th of August are important days for a lot of people this year… the dreaded days of results. I got my AS results today and I know friends who got A2 results, as well as next Thursday, friends who are getting GCSE results.

Before today, the most popular question I got was; ‘Are you nervous or worried?’ I think I mainly answered ‘No.’ This was usually met with a strange look or more questions about why I wasn’t having sleepless nights about ‘the day that’s the beginning of the end’.

My views on results days ( A-Level or GCSE) are nice and simple; once you have sat the exam (or handed in the coursework etc.) there is nothing that can be changed. Although that might be daunting if you think you’ve done badly, it also raises the question of why would you worry about something you can’t change?

If you got your results today; I hope you’ve done well and you are pleased with your grades. Congratulations if you have been given your place at the universities of choice, and if you haven’t, remember that A-Levels are not the be-all and end-all. If you don’t do as well as you hoped, don’t spend the next few weeks drinking the rest of your holidays away. You should research what your next options are. Are there other courses, at possibly different levels, that you can apply for? Can you go through clearing and get a place somewhere else? If you are truly passionate about the subject you want to study, I am sure there is a place available somewhere. There is no point hiding that you got lower grades than you wanted because otherwise, you wouldn’t be in clearing, so try and describe to universities how much you want to study your chosen subject and how much it would mean to be given another opportunity.

For GCSE students, it’s a similar story but instead of a university place, its college and sixth form offering you your next steps in education. I remember my GCSE results last year, and whilst I was happy with my grades as I had done quite well, I think I was expecting higher. I now look back and realize that the grades I got were a true reflection on how hard I worked. You honestly do only get out however much work you put in. I was fortunate to have teachers who really cared about their pupils and subjects, so I was at an advantage of good quality teaching. But, as I was at an independent school, the pressure it puts you under to achieve higher than average grades is huge, especially with many people around you with academic scholarships.

I am now at college studying A-Levels, and I am really enjoying myself. The thing that really hits hard in your first few months of college is; GCSE’s are just a ‘stepping stone’ (excuse the cliché) to your next choice. So, if you don’t get the grades, don’t worry about it! Because a D in geography at GCSE is NOT going to stop you getting anywhere in life, trust me on this. It is now one year since my GCSE results, and I can’t even remember what I got. That’s not just my terrible memory either. Multiple people, I have asked can’t even remember the subjects they studied.

I wish everyone the best of luck with their GCSE results next week, try not to panic too much and remember it will all be okay, whatever your grades are. If you’re off to university next month, good luck! I hope everyone has an amazing time. And if you are now looking at a different route to what you originally planned, don’t worry about it, because it will work itself out and if it’s meant to be, it will happen.

Thank you for reading this, especially today with everything else on your mind, and I hope I’ve reassured some people on next week. Once again, good luck!

Imogen ❤

Boardmasters 2017

I just got back from Boardmasters Festival in Cornwall with some friends from college, and it was absolutely incredible! I had such an amazing time and I made so many new friends; I can’t wait until next year.

It was my first festival, and I had been really excited about it for months. I spent months listening to the artists on the lineup and buying everything I would need for the 5 days I would spend there. The artists I was most looking forward to were Two Door Cinema Club, Alt-J, Becky Hill and Youngr. Somehow, I still managed to forget things that I really wish I had taken, so I am going to write a kind-of survival list of things that I would recommend taking. Just the basics though, because the list is endless!

Clothes:

Make sure you have something that not only will be cool if it’s really sunny and beautiful weather but if the weather turns nasty, you need clothes to keep you warm and dry. You might think that shorts and a crop top will be fine with a rain coat on top, but bitter winds coupled with cold rain is not nice on bare legs. I recommend a pack-a-mac and a jumper, long trousers, like jeans, and long sleeved t-shirts. Just generally, something that will keep you warm and things you can layer together.

Shoes are the same, but I wouldn’t recommend taking summery sandals or anything similar, as it can get pretty muddy even if it isn’t raining, so trainers and wellies are my staple festival footwear choice. To add some luxury, add wellie boot socks that will act as an extra layer of warmth on your legs!

Makeup & Toiletries:

I took minimal makeup, so no foundation, concealer, contour etc. I took plenty of highlight and glitter, in fact probably enough glitter for the whole campsite, but you can never have enough! I also took things like colored eyeliner from NYX.

For skin care, I took moisturizer, face wipes, extra sensitive baby wipes, deodorant, hand sanitizer and dry shampoo. I didn’t shower whilst there because the queues are crazy long and they are probably more dirty than clean! A baby wipe and deodorant is perfectly acceptable at a festival because everyone is the same, so don’t worry! And of course, I also took 50+ sun cream, but somehow managed to burn myself anyway so I would say to take after sun just in case.

Comfort & Sleeping:

My biggest lesson learned from this experience; take a tent that is designed for more people that you are putting in it. I was in a two man tent with two of us, and our luggage and it just did not work. Luckily there was a backup plan, but it would have been uncomfortable otherwise. I took a self-inflating matt rather than an air bed, as then I didn’t need a pump, a sleeping bag, and a blanket which I doubled as a pillow at night. Another huge regret? I didn’t take a chair, so I either sat on someone else’s whilst they queued for an hour for the portaloos or I sat on the floor, which was no fun at night or in the rain! It might seem a hassle to lug around a camping chair, but it will be your best friend by the end of the weekend!

Food & Drink:

This has to be one of the things I struggled with packing the most because I wasn’t sure what I would feel like eating. I took cereal bars, rice cakes, and pringles. It doesn’t sound appealing, but when I had had a few drinks, that’s all I really fancied. My friend also brought Chocolate Soya Milk and Coco Pops so we could all have a half-decent breakfast and I’ve never been so excited to eat cereal out of a cup with a plastic spoon!  There are so many different foods stands there too, and yes it might be slightly more expensive than a McDonalds, but it’s hot food. When it’s raining and cold, a greasy burger is heaven. They even had a halloumi stand and I fell in love with the veggie burgers they were selling too.

I drank a lot of water (and maybe a little alcohol too!) but I made sure to stay hydrated in general, mainly because I didn’t want to ruin my weekend with headaches and sickness. It’s obviously up to you how much you drink, and whatever else you do, but just remember that there is the morning after and all you have is a portaloo and maybe a dirty shower to help your hangover!

I don’t think you can ever plan perfectly for these things first time, so mistakes are bound to happen, but preparation is key and I was really glad about the things I did remember to take. Make a list the week before, and make sure you have everything you need from the shops etc. and you don’t leave it to the last minute.

Mainly though, have fun and go to artists you might not normally listen to because I can guarantee you’ll enjoy yourself even if you don’t know who they are! It was honestly one of the best weekends of my life and I can’t wait until next summer when I do it all again! I hope every body that went had an amazing time too, and I might get to see some of you there next year!

Imogen ❤

Engineer Work Experience @CoolConcernsLtd.

What have I been up to this week?

During this week, I’ve been doing a City and Guilds RAC Service and Maintenance course including an F-Gas assessment at Cool Concerns Ltd. Basically, what that means is; I am learning to work with refrigerants, i.e. the stuff that goes in our fridges and air conditioning systems to keep them cool, and learning other bits alongside, like how to test pressures, test for leaks of refrigerants and charging and evacuating a system. Everything on the course is designed to prepare you to go out into the field and work on a system to complete repairs, check for faults etc.

I haven’t got any plans as to what I would like to do as a career, so I am trying out a variety of things over the next few years and keeping my options open. This means I can broaden my knowledge in a wide range of areas and gain experience in things I might never have thought of, like the F-Gas qualification I am completing now.

I decided to complete the qualification because it gives me an insight into what a ‘hands on’ job is like, whether I would be any good in an engineering role, and on my CV it shows I am keeping my options open, as I mentioned before.

I have really enjoyed my week so far, and have to complete an assessment on Friday to pass the course and gain the Level 2 F-Gas qualification. It consists of an online theory test and a practical assessment where I have to show a certain level of competence with the system I have in front of me, which in my case, is a small air conditioning rig composed of a compressor, condenser, evaporator, receiver, and expansion valve, among other components, or, a ‘simple’ AC system.

This obviously doesn’t qualify me to come and fix your fridges when they stop working, but it has been really interesting. This is a more practical learning style but also links to classroom lessons, like in ‘traditional’ education, as there is a fair amount of theory to accompany it too.

I would really recommend getting a variety of work experience whilst you have a little free time, and don’t have to worry about university, working, kids running around etc.! If you are heading towards, or are currently completing, your A-Levels, try and find an opportunity to do something different to the subjects you are studying. Or, if you know which direction you want to go, get some experience in those areas too! I know friends who are doing work experience in areas such as; caring for the elderly, teacher training and accountancy, as well as what I am doing in engineering. There really are such a wide range of things to choose from so have an investigate, and don’t worry if you don’t get paid for it! The experience is worth it, and who knows, you might discover something you really enjoy doing!

This post has been a bit different to my regular ones, but I hope it has given a little insight into what I’m up to and some ideas for the future!

Thank you to Cool Concerns Ltd. who is the company I am completing the course with.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I’ll keep you posted as to other bits and bobs I will be doing!

Imogen ❤