29 April 2012

Baking: Wholemeal Muffins

I was looking for something I could eat for breakfast when I get to college, that was fairly healthy and easy to eat. I've started making these recently and take one every morning to eat at college as I leave the house at 7 and don't have time to eat breakfast at home.


Makes 12
Cooking time: 20 minutes

375g wholemeal self-raising flour
75g demerara sugar
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
75g of butter (melted)
315ml buttermilk*

* This is what was stated in the recipe I used but I use less than this as the buttermilk comes in a 284ml carton and so I use this amount.

1. Preheat the oven to 210°C (415°F/Gas 6-7). Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tray.

 2. Add the flour and sugar to a mixing bowl.

3. Stir well, making a well in the center.

4. Melt the butter in a bowl. This can be done by putting it on the microwave for 1 min.

5. Add the buttermilk and mix together.

6. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl.

7. Add the buttermilk, butter and eggs into the well in the mixing bowl.

8. Mix until all the ingredient are combined and it resembles a dough consistency. Don't worry of it looks lumpy.

9. Spoon the mixture into the muffin holes.

10. Bake in the oven for about 20 mins, or until starting to brown on top.

11. When cool enough to touch, lift the muffins out and put them on a cooling rack.

Ready to eat! You could also freeze these to keep for longer, and take them out when you need them. And although these look quite boring they do have a hint of sweetness to them so taste good!

28 April 2012

Book Review: 'A Walk to Remember' by Nicholas Sparks

'A Walk to Remember' is a story of two teenagers who fall in love, despite there differences. Jamie and Landon, although knowing who each other are since they were young, live completely separate lives.
Jamie is the daughter of the town's Baptist minister. She is seen by others as someone who does no wrong, helps anyone and lives a carefree life. She lives her life apart from other teenagers, spending her time taking care of her father, volunteering at the local orphanage and rescuing hurt animals. Landon on the other hand is a typical teenage boy, spending his time hanging around with his friends and staying out too late.
It took me a while to get into this book as at the beginning its hard to see where the story is leading, but as with most of Nicholas Sparks' books it's the ending where everything comes together. There is unexpected twist at the end which completely changes their lives forever. This story shows the joy of giving, the pain of loss and how you can grow to love someone more than you ever imagined possible, so much that you would be willing to do anything for them.
Although I am not religious, the character Jamie in this book is and she carries a Bible around with here wherever she goes. There are a couple of quotes put into this book from the Bible and I particularly liked this one about love:
"Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude of selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes."

A sign???

This is me thinking too deeply! Read the label on the back of the T-shirt I just brought...

'Falmer' - also the name of the village where the University I'm thinking of going to is. At the bottom is written 'fulfill your dreams' ... A sign???

23 April 2012

DNA Technology

Today in Biology we were learning about The Human Genome Project; what the project aims to do, the benefits and the ethical concerns of the project. I found this discussion very interesting and would like to share some of the topics discussed and my views on them.

 The developments of scientific research in the last decade have significantly advanced our understanding of DNA, and how our genetic code controls who we are. In 2003 human DNA was sequenced for the first time. Since then many people have been able to have their DNA sequenced and the applications of this have expanded greatly. It can now be used to carry out DNA screening/testing, as well as forensics, identity testing and research into evolutionary history. Genetic screening/testing includes pre-implantation screening (on embryos when IVF is carried out), pre-natal screening, newborn screening, genetic disease carrier screening and diagnosis of genetic diseases. Although these may be beneficial there are also many social/ethical concerns which accompany them.

Human embryo created by IVF
If say a couple knew that they were both carriers of a genetic disease  then they may opt for some kind of genetic screening to eliminate the chances of their children having the disease. This could be done pre-implantation if IVF is carried out, or pre-natal. In this case either the embryos which test positive for the disease would be destroyed before the remaining ones are implanted back into the mother, or foetuses which have the disease will be terminated. Some people are very much against this process being used for many reasons. You may think that in this situation it is very beneficial as it is preventing a genetic disease being passed on and so most likely giving the child a better quality of life, but is this what would have happened naturally. If not, are we 'playing God' by selecting the offspring we have? Some people are also very much against the embryos being destroyed or foetuses being terminated. Peoples views on this vary depending on when life is considered to begin (but that is a whole other topic for another day!).

What if you had been designed?

There is also the issue that in using this technology we could reduce the genetic variation of our species. Now that we better understand what different genes code for and have the technology to manipulate DNA the idea of genetically engineered babies has come about. It is the idea that we can produce a baby with preferred genes, say the gene for brown hair if that was a desired characteristic. This removes the natural selection of characteristics which could lead to us being less able to adapt to change, and even the possibility of us designing everyone so that they were 'perfect' so we all became a bunch of clones. Also if some characteristics are chosen over others this could be a form of discrimination.

There is also a risk that by eliminating genes seen as 'bad' for causing genetic diseases we could in the process get rid of genes that are beneficial. Such as the gene for cystic fibrosis. This is a recessive gene and so you would only suffer from cystic fibrosis if you had two copies of the gene. However, if you only have one copy of the gene you are simply are carrier of the gene and this has been shown to protect against the disease tuberculosis (TB). There are other cases similar to this, such as being a carrier of the gene for sickle cell anaemia gives protection against malaria.

Newborn babies and young children can also be screened for genetic diseases at the request of their parents. There are issues with this as the child does not get a choice whether or not they want to be tested. If they are found to have a genetic disease, is it right for them to be told? Is it right for the parents to keep it from them? If you had a choice, would you want to know the future of your health? If there was no treatment for the disease, would you rather live your life as normal without knowing?

There is also an issue that if you are tested for genetic diseases as an adult, who gets to know the results. For health insurance companies it is a requirement that you must disclose any health issues that you know of. If you have a genetic disease it may mean higher costs, but is this discriminating against people for their genes which can't be controlled or changed? Also this makes it beneficial not to be tested as you would not know and so would not be obliged to tell anyone. There are also issues as to who else gets to know, such as employers. Does an employer have the right to know if a potential employee has got a genetic disease which could affect how long they could be working?

The discussions on this topic are endless, but I have my own opinions on some of these issues. I think that the idea of genetically engineered babies will always be wrong and unnatural. I think that newborn babies and young children should not be tested for genetic diseases unless they are showing symptoms of a disease. We should be allowed to choose when old enough if we would like to be tested for genetic diseases, and fully think through the decision and the implications of that decision beforehand. Now this technology is available to most people it would be reasonable for everyone to think about whether if they had a genetic disease, would they like to know about it or would they rather live none the wiser. As for genetic screening before we are born I am not so sure I have a solid view on this. When IVF is involved, that in itself is already an artificial procedure. Because there is (although extremely unlikely) a possibility that the same egg and sperm fertilised during IVF could have been fertilised naturally, there is then just the choice of which embryos get implanted back into the mother and this also could have happened naturally. Although when a foetus is screened and then terminated if it is found to have a genetic disease, I think this is more unnatural. As the foetus was conceived naturally and if it weren't for the technology we have now there would be no way of knowing this. Also the foetus is a lot more developed than the embryos that would be discarded after IVF. If there was no intervention then the baby would be born naturally and nobody would choose not to have been born and to have lived.

20 April 2012

University Decisions

It's come to the time when I need to make my decision as to where I would most want to go to University. I've applied for 5 courses at 4 different Universities and luckily I have received conditional offers for all 5 of these. I have applied for 3 Biomedical Science courses and Healthcare Science at Nottingham and Plymouth also.

I have been to visit all of them except The University of Nottingham. I think I have ruled this one out though. I applied there because the course looked OK and I thought it wouldn't be too bad living there as I have some family that live close by. But after thinking about it, I really don't want to live there!
Plymouth had always been pretty high on my list as I know the place fairly well, it's very close, the course looks good and I know a couple of people who have been there and enjoyed it. But I did want to keep my options open, compare them all and not just go for Plymouth because it was the easy option. So I went to visit The University of Southampton and The University of Sussex, at least so I had something to compare Plymouth University to. I am very glad I was able to do this because it has definatley affected my decisions. They are both much further away so it would be harder to come back to visit often but I don't think I would be doing that much anyway, wherever I was, as I wouldn't want to be missing out on anything at Uni. I want to go to somewhere where I am going to enjoy my time at best at; somewhere where there are good lecturers (because a good/bad teacher can completely change how much you enjoy studying a subject), somewhere where there are lots of things going on, and somewhere that's in a nice location where I would enjoy living.
After comparing them all I think I can quite easily see myself living and studying at the University of Sussex best. Although, I am thinking about whether the Healthcare Science or Biomedical Science course would be best for what I want to do after I have completed the degree. I think the course content of both is very similar but the main difference is that the Healthcare Science course is designed for those that want to be working as a Healthcare Scientist in the NHS and so the course includes a lot of work experience and practical skills. If this is what I wanted to do I was wondering if it would also be possible to do this after completing the Biomedical Science course. I have emailed The University of Sussex to find out more about this. I suppose either way, what I'm thinking of doing for my decision is to have the University of Sussex (Biomedical Science) as my firm (first) choice and Plymouth University (Healthcare Science) as my insurance choice. I have about two weeks to send my decision to UCAS, but the sooner the better.

17 April 2012

Some views/things I hate :/

One of my teachers at school once said that 'hate' was a very strong word; I agree. I would never say that I hate a person, I could only say that I hate something they have done/do.
I hate it when someone says someone is ugly; no one is ugly, and no one deserves to be called ugly.
I hate it when someone says someone is weird; they're not weird. That person may be different to you, and the people you're used to seeing but we're all different from one another. We're individual, we are who we are and should be ourselves.
I hate it when someone is judged without being known by the person taking judgement. If you don't know someone you don't know what their life is like, why they act the way they do or are in the situation they are in.
I hate it when someone says they need something when really they mean they just want that thing. They may think that it's something they need, but really there are very few things in life we actually need, almost everything is things we want that aren't essential.

16 April 2012

University Visit

At the end of last week I went to visit 2 of the Universities I'd had offers from: University of Southampton and University of Sussex. I was specifically going to the admissions day I'd booked a place at at the University of Sussex, but soon as though Southampton was on the way we briefly stopped there to have a look too.
We only stayed at the University of Southampton for an hour or two. All the people we met there were nice. We wandered around the campus and had a look inside the new building which would be where the course I'd applied for would be studied. I don't know much about Southampton or what it what be like to live there, but although the Uni campus wasn't near the city centre it was very much in the city.
After staying one night in a terrible Travelodge in Brighton (which we decided not to stay another night at!) we spent the day at the University of Sussex. The campus there was completely different to the other ones I'd seen. It was outside the city of Brighton and was surrounded by countryside, right next to a national park. All the buildings were very spread out compared to other campuses.

Library Square and the Library building at the University of Sussex
The library there was the biggest one I'd ever seen, and they have enough accommodation on campus to guarantee all first years a place in them. We had a look around two different halls of residence. They had some new accommodation that had all en-suite rooms, which I really liked but is the most expensive.

Northfield accommodation at the University of Sussex
 I think it's very much a campus life university, it's like a little student village with everything you'd need.
After looking for somewhere else to stay we ended up staying in a hotel on the seafront in Brighton. There was no comparison between the two places we stayed, there was nothing to complain about at the hotel. We walked around Brighton for a while and had dinner in an Italian restaurant, before going back to the hotel.

Me outside Brighton Pavilions
I don't think Brighton would be a bad place to live if I ended up going to University there. I actually started to like the idea as I spent some time there; it's right by the sea, next to the countryside and a national park, got a lot more shops than we're used to in Cornwall and plenty of things to do.

8 April 2012

Get up and go!

I hate having lazy days, spending half the day in bed and not getting anything done. It feels like such a waste of time! I'd rather get up and ready for the day, and go out to do something, or at least do something productive.
It's the Easter holidays at the moment (two weeks off college), and it's great to have a break. Although I find that when I'm not busy, I just get very lazy, where as if I'm doing lots of things I will continue to be busy - once I get going I carry on going. Kinda goes in circles. Right now though, I feel pretty bad 'cause I've been very lazy! The time seems to be going so quickly and I just haven't really done anything. I really need to get motivated and doing things; like revising for my exams that are coming up (need to get the grades to get into Uni!), getting stuff ready to go away at the end of this week (going to visit a Uni) and getting more organised.

3 April 2012

I Love Music!

Music is a passion of mine and something I truly love. Since I was really young, I can remember always dreaming that one day I could be a singer. I love to sing, all the time. It was just a dream that I thought would never be possible, that maybe I wasn't good enough. Even so, I have always enjoyed it and honestly don't care if I'm no good cause it's something I enjoy most. I also love dancing to music, and the type of music I would dance to is usually very different to the types of songs I like to sing.
I'm always listening to music too. I like all types of different music; R&B, rock, acoustic, hip-hop etc. but I especially love it when they've got a good voice. Some of my favourite artists (e.g. Christina Aguilera, Charice, Mariah Carey) are people who I think have got amazing voices and can really sing. I love to watch live performances and discover unsigned singers who put videos up on youtube. For some people this is how they've achieved recognition and made it as a singer in the music industry.

Some of my favourite live performances to watch:

1 April 2012


Family are so important. They are pretty much the only people you will have throughout your whole life who will stick by you, love you, and support you, no matter what you do. They are some of the few people we can trust, depend on and talk to about anything. Sometimes we take for that for granted and don't appreciate all the things they do, but I don't ever want to forget how special the people in my life are and all the times they've been there for me. Families have their ups and downs, but a family will always get through those times. You don't choose your family, they are who they are and I guess that's why family's are always there for each other.

One day I want to have a family of my own, that's one of my dreams. I think about everything I want to have for my family and what I want it to be like. The way I'd like to bring my children up. One thing I think that's pretty important is maintaining traditions, old and new. Everything from putting up the Christmas tree on the 12th of December, to eating pancakes on Pancake Day, making Birthdays special and getting into fancy dress for Halloween. As well as things like homemade traditional meals, Sunday roasts, family walks, days at the beach, and just spending time together to make everyday special.