The Big Porthcawl Storm of 2014

The strong winds and rain returned to batter Porthcawl’s poor seafront once more this weekend. More damage was caused to the promenade near to the pier and Life Boat Station, and even more devastatingly, it broke a palm tree in my grandparents garden!! ;-)

Last night the police closed off much of the main road running parallel with the seafront but as usual people weren’t deterred and were out in force to take pictures of the waves – despite rocks and stones being thrown onto the pavements and road by the sea! Some with families, including small children.

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I’m Back!

I’ve neglected my blog due to an exam, Christmas, and starting a new job. Fairly poor excuses – but I’m back!

I’ve been working in the British Heart Foundation’s Wales office in Cardiff since December 2013. The position is a communications and multimedia internship ending on 21st Feb. I’m really enjoying it so far and it’s providing me with a fantastic opportunity to further develop my comms skills, learn more about PR, and gain experience of working for a national charity. I’ll leave you with a pic of a section of my walk to work from the railway station to Cathedral Road!

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The End of the Charger?

This is brilliant news – particularly for fellow iPhone users (!). Two engineering students from the Edmund Pratt School of Engineering in North Carolina, USA, have created a device that would enable a smart phone to be charged using wifi signals. I can’t claim to understand how it works (metamaterials are used to capture energy waves and convert them into an electric current, and the amount of voltage produced is said to be more powerful than that produced via current USB chargers), but I don’t really care, as long as it works.

I know it’s wrong to generalise, but there does seem to be a consensus among iPhone users that their battery life isn’t exactly the best. Yes, I acknowledge and accept the argument that smart phones have more features and functionality than mobile phones have ever had before which are bound to drain the battery, but manufacturers know this, so why can’t they improve the batteries at the same time as improving the functionality and features of their phones!

Take last weekend for example. As described in my previous blog post, I attended the ATP World Tour Tennis finals at the 02 in London. As the tournament featured the best of the best in men’s tennis, coupled with the fact that it is an expensive weekend and it is fairly difficult to get tickets for the latter stages of the tournament, I wanted to make sure I took photos in case I didn’t get the opportunity again.

Rather than lug around a separate camera, I used the camera on my phone. By 4pm my battery was on 16% and there was still one match to go (plus an entire evening!). I will admit that in addition to taking a few photos I also used my phone to send a couple of emails, texts, and check Twitter / Facebook, but that’s what it is for. 16%?!?! I know I could have used an actual camera to help preserve the battery, but smart phone cameras are now so good, a separate camera is not always required. Furthermore, the point of a smart phone is to incorporate a number of features and apps in one device, meaning carrying others around is often unnecessary.

I therefore really hope that this new device can be incorporated into smart phones so they can be charged while out and about. I was a late convert to the iPhone (just couldn’t give up my blackberry), but now I wouldn’t have any other phone – unless the battery life remains this poor on future models as it really gets on my nerves!

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ATP World Tour Finals

I love watching tennis and this weekend I went to watch the ATP World Tour Finals in the 02 Arena in London, which is a competition between the top 8 male tennis players in the world (singles and doubles). I booked tickets for the 2 semi finals with the hope of seeing the very best of the top 8.

Unfortunately Andy Murray pulled out of the competition due to a back problem which was disappointing as I’d really wanted to see him play, particularly in the year he won Wimbledon. However, I have no complaints about the players I did end up seeing – the first semi final match was between Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, and the second was between Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka!

I’m so glad I’ve been lucky enough to watch both Federer and Nadal play live, particularly due to the injuries that seem to plague Nadal and the fact that Federer is probably nearing the end of his career at 32 (though he still believes otherwise so who knows). I also can’t believe that I was lucky enough to see them play each other. After seeing Federer play live I now understand why his tennis is described as elegant and effortless.

I saw Djokovic play Del Potro in the 2012 London Olympics bronze medal match on grass in Wimbledon but I’m so glad I’ve also seen him play on a hard court, as the rallies and shots he hit were even more amazing and ridiculously fast. It was also great to see Wawrinka as he’s had such a great year and I really want him to do well next year.

In the doubles I saw the Bryan Bros who are currently ranked the world number 1 doubles team play Peya and Soares, and Dodig and Melo play Marrero and Verdasco.

The atmosphere with the music, lights, and smoke machines was completely over the top and some are not fans of it, but I loved it as it created a much more exciting atmosphere.

However, my ultimate goal is to go to Wimbledon. I’ve just applied for 2014 tickets via the public ballot so fingers crossed!

Here are some pictures from the 02 –

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Dry Eyes

I’ve been suffering with dry eyes for the last year or so, though recently they have become noticeably worse. My eyes constantly ache and feel hot, and on days were they are particularly dry, they sometimes burn if any water gets into them. To try and relieve the symptoms, I’ve pretty much tried everything that is available from a pharmacy; artificial tears, drops, gels, mist sprays – you name it, I’ve tried it! Though unfortunately, nothing provides lasting relief.

I was initially told by my optician that the oil produced in the meibomian glands that cover the surface of the eye to lubricate it and prevent the tear film from evaporating was too thick, and was subsequently blocking the glands. The cure for this is to apply a warm compress to the eyes to liquefy the oil to release it from the glands. However, after trying this every day for a few months, my eyes did not feel much better.

During my most recent appointment, the optician conducted another examination, and concluded that unfortunately, the glands are not actually producing any oil at all! I’ve now been referred to an ophthalmologist for a further examination, and despite the apparent lack of concrete cures for dry eye, I’m really hoping that they can provide relief somehow.

Do you suffer from chronic dry eyes? If so, it would be great if you could share any techniques or products that have helped you. In my opinion, Viscotears Liquid Gel is the best product (that I have tried) and is far superior to liquid drops (which feel lovely for about 10 seconds and then don’t do anything / actually run out of your eye!). A final tip which I have only just been made aware of is to take omega 3 oil, particularly triple omega (3.6.9) oil. In addition to other health benefits, it is meant to help vision and dry eyes.

I’ll update after the ophthalmologist appointment and will share any tips / treatments they may provide (fingers crossed there will be some!).

Movember

Movember starts today, meaning there will be bad moustaches grown galore for an entire month in aid of raising money for, and awareness of, prostate and testicular cancer.

This morning I realised that I didn’t know how on earth it started, and randomly found myself looking it up on Google – though in doing so I found some impressive facts and figures.

It all started in 2003 in a bar in Melbourne, Australia, where two friends were discussing fashion trends and decided that it was about time the moustache made a comeback. They subsequently persuaded 30 friends to grow a “mo” for charity at 10 dollars a go. Unfortunately, they didn’t raise much more than that, but they persevered with the concept, and raised an impressive A$54,000 (£32,000) for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia the following year.

The idea soon spread, and today Movember operates in 21 countries, generating £27 million in the UK and more than £92 million around the globe last year. In total, £300 million has been raised for research into prostate and testicular cancer since that day in the Melbourne pub.

Why is it so successful? Justin Coghlan , Movember’s founders, puts it down to the male urge to bond and one of my least favourite words that I am reluctant to type, banter.

Justin says “It’s a fun thing to do with your friends and it sparks conversations with complete strangers too. It’s all about guys coming together, but for a serious reason.”

Personally, I don’t like the moustaches and random (often patchy) facial hair growth of Movember (and I do have my suspicions that some people do it for a “laugh” rather than it’s intended purpose which renders their efforts fairly pointless), but the concept works and it’s all in aid of a brilliant cause so I will definitely do my bit and donate!

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