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The Life of Leviathan – Depression, Bullying, Fatigue and Other Obstacles Watch

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    (Original post by Leviathan1741)
    Thanks Matrix! Yeah, this particular day wasn't too hellish, thankfully! The next chapter is a different story though!
    No worries! Thank goodness for that! Ohhh dear...

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    Good morning everyone! This will (probably) be the longest chapter, about the Mont Blanc hike! I hope you enjoy it

    Day 3 – Mont Blanc and the Mer de Glace Glacier

    Today was the day I had been dreading the most: the day we were going to hike up Mont Blanc. I’d had to set my alarm for 6am instead of 6.30, as breakfast was going to be served at 7 instead of 7.45. It was going to be a long day!

    After breakfast, Alan explained that we would be taking the cable car half way up Mont Blanc, going on a 6km hike to Montenvers, walking down to the Grotte de Glace (Ice Cave) beneath the Mer de Glace glacier, and then returning to the coach via train. We then gathered up our rucksacks, boarded the coach, and headed off.

    It took about 45 minutes to reach the coach park at Chamonix. As we entered the cable car station, there was a sign saying that we had another 45 minutes to wait before we would be able to get onto the cable car. While we were waiting in line, I looked out of the window at the cable cars going up and down the wire. They looked very steep and flimsy, and I was starting to get quite nervous at the prospect of using them!

    When our turn came to board the cable car, I made sure to stand next to one of the poles just inside the door, and hold onto it to make myself feel a bit more comfortable. The cable car moved up the cable surprisingly quickly, and it only took about 10 minutes to reach our stop, at the Plan de l’Aiguille station. After everyone had arrived at the Plan de l’Aiguille station (there were too many of us to fit in just one of the cable cars), Alan told us to make sure we were all wearing sun cream, and to put on a sunhat if we had one. I had the sun cream, but not the sunhat. Unfortunately, I had completely misjudged what the weather was going to be like, and I’d brought a woolly hat instead. Obviously I couldn’t wear that, because the sun was blazing and it was getting on for 30°C already, so I was going to have to go without.

    We then set off along the Grand Balcony hiking trail. For the first 20 minutes, I was able to keep up relatively well, as the path was generally either flat or gently sloping downwards. Unfortunately though, after a while the path began to become more uneven, with steep inclines becoming more frequent. It was at this point that my asthma, which is generally exercise-induced, began to play up. I’d used my inhaler beforehand in the hope that that would stave off the worst of it, but the thin mountain air and unexpectedly hot weather was making it significantly worse. My breathing became more and more laboured, and my lungs and throat felt like they were burning! One of the members of staff who was walking with me, Pat, wasn’t really helping either. She kept on saying, “You’re going to have to walk faster Anna, you’re falling behind”, seemingly ignoring my distress. I felt like saying back to her “do I look like I can walk any quicker? I feel like I’m going to pass out!” but of course I didn’t.

    Eventually I fell so far behind the others that we actually couldn’t see them anymore. There was no point in trying to keep up at that point, so I carried on at my own pace, quietly seething over Pat’s complete lack of any sort of compassion. I mean, I understand that if you haven’t got/had asthma yourself, it might be hard to appreciate just how horrible it is. But if someone is obviously struggling, why hassle them?!

    Finally though, the rest of the group came back into view. When I reached them, Alan came over to me and asked how I was. I explained that my asthma was making it difficult for me to keep up. He told me that a bit later down the trail, the path split into two. The path on the right was the one we were meant to take, which was more challenging but shorter. The path on the left was physically easier, but more hazardous and would take longer to complete. He said that I could take easier path if I wanted, as another student had twisted their ankle and was going to be taking that route too.

    Alan then pointed out a landform known as a ‘roche moutonnée’, an exposed, rounded area of bedrock with a steep, rough side and a gentle smooth side, formed by glacial erosion. He also pointed out a large boulder called an erratic, deposited there by a former glacier. Erratics are so-called because they are made from rock which is not that of the local rock type, and are often quite isolated from one another. He then asked us to try and work out the weight of the erratic, before leading us further up the path.

    We continued on until we came to another rocky outcrop, where Alan told us we’d be having lunch. I sat by myself and tried to enjoy my baguette, although it had become warm in my rucksack, so it wasn’t particularly appetising. I also took the opportunity to take a few photos; we had a lovely view of Chamonix from where we were sitting.

    Once everyone had eaten, Alan asked us to perform some more lichenometry tests on the surrounding boulders. I went with Merryn, Alister and Jasper to measure the biggest piece of lichen we could find. When we were finished, Alan took us further along the path, until it split into two. Dan, Pat, the guy with the twisted ankle and I then set off along the left path, ‘The Zigzag of Despair’ as Dan called it! As I picked my way along the worryingly narrow path, I started to regret choosing to go that way. My asthma had calmed down a lot, but the slippery, loose rock fragments covering the path and the steep drop immediately to my left made me wonder whether I’d have been better off just going the way the others had gone.

    The guy with the twisted ankle was going along at considerable speed, and I was beginning to wonder whether he had actually twisted it at all. He was walking much quicker than I was, and eventually I lost sight of him as he had gone so far ahead. Dan decided to go after him, so I was left with Pat. Fortunately though, I was faster than she was, and I lost sight of her too. I know that probably sounds mean, but I really didn’t like her attitude! After a while, I encountered a small group of hikers coming the opposite way. We said hi to each other as we passed, and I carried on alone, with only the sound of the trees rustling in the wind and the odd bird for company.

    Sometime later, the path widened a bit, and I took the opportunity to sit down just off the path, so as not to be in anyone’s way, and just enjoy the view. I got out my bottle of water, which had warmed up in the hot weather, and took a swig. While I was sitting there, another couple of hikers appeared. As they passed me, one of them slipped and fell off the path. Luckily though, he landed in a bush, and was able to climb back up quite easily. “Ça va?” I heard his partner ask. He nodded, and they continued on their way.

    As I sat there, I contemplated waiting for Pat. Even though I didn’t like her, I felt a bit guilty about leaving her on her own, so I decided to stay and wait for her. Eventually she appeared a little way down the path. When I stood up to greet her, however, she pretty much ignored me. That’s the last time I try to be nice to you, I thought.

    Despite the fact Pat had the demeanour of a sour grape; I stayed with her for the rest of the walk until we finally reached Montenvers. We were actually the first to arrive (apart from Dan and the other guy), which surprised me considering Alan said that our route was meant to take longer. Alan and the rest of the group arrived about 15 minutes later. I told Alan I was feeling a lot better, but that I didn’t think I’d be able to manage the Ice Cave, which could only be accessed by going down (and then back up) more than 400 steps. Alan said that was fine, and that I could skip it if I wanted to. He then told everyone that we were going to be boarding the gondola lift, which would take us down to a platform from which the steps to the Ice Cave descended.

    The gondola ride was much shorter than the previous cable car, which was a relief! It also hugged the side of the mountain more closely, so the height of it also didn’t bother me as much. Once were all down on the platform, Alan took the rest of the group down the steps to the Ice Cave, however Dan, Pat, the guy with the twisted ankle and I stayed on the platform, sitting on the benches placed there for visitors to use. While the others were gone, I took the opportunity to take a few photographs. The view was quite spectacular, although disappointingly the Mer de Glace had retreated back around the corner, so it was just out of view.

    The group returned from the Ice Cave about half an hour later. Many of them were obviously struggling on the walk back up, their legs were shaking! I knew I’d made the right decision to stay behind; I never would’ve made it back if even they were finding it hard! We then took the gondola lift back up to the main promenade (not sure if that’s the right term, but it’ll do), where Alan asked us to draw a sketch of the Mer de Glace and the surrounding mountains, including the Grand Jorasses and the Grand Dru.

    When we were finished, we walked to Montenvers Station, where we boarded the train to take us back to Chamonix. The journey took about half an hour, and it would’ve been quite nice had the peace not been disturbed by my classmates, who had entered a *very loud* conversation about a rather inappropriate topic. I could tell that the elderly Japanese tourists next to me disapproved of their behaviour, so I apologised to them, hopefully they understood!

    We then got back onto the coach, and headed back to the hotel. At dinner, I piled a lot of the pasta and tuna salad onto my plate, along with the coleslaw. The main meal was some sort of bacon, cheese and potato pie, which I didn’t like the sound of, so I decided to skip it.

    During evening class, Alan went over what we had done so far, including the lichenometry tests and the till fabric analysis. We drew a rose diagram for the till fabric analysis, which showed that the clasts (rock fragments) had an orientation of north-east, indicating that the glacier was flowing north-east.

    After evening class had finished, Fran, Lisa and I returned to our room to chat for a bit, before going to bed early at 10pm.

    The photos:
    The Aiguille du Midi
    Glacier next to the Plan de l'Aiguille cable car station
    Chamonix as seen from the Grand Balcony trail
    The Mer de Glace glacier (although the glacier is just round the corner)
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    thank you very much. I will read your sequel
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    (Original post by Leviathan1741)
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    Wow, another well written post! I would also be extremely nervous if I was going in a cable car! Well done for getting through that Those people sound awful to keep pushing you along like that when you couldn't for obvious reasons. Gosh! The day sure does sound very eventful and the pictures are great! The scenery sure does look lovely :yep:

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    (Original post by Matrix123)
    Wow, another well written post! I would also be extremely nervous if I was going in a cable car! Well done for getting through that Those people sound awful to keep pushing you along like that when you couldn't for obvious reasons. Gosh! The day sure does sound very eventful and the pictures are great! The scenery sure does look lovely :yep:

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    Thank you Matrix! I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds cable cars nerve wracking! The scenery was amazing, I wish we'd had more time to just sit and appreciate the places we visited. But that's school trips for you!

    Also, apologies for the delay with the next chapter, it's still only half-written
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    (Original post by Leviathan1741)
    Thank you Matrix! I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds cable cars nerve wracking! The scenery was amazing, I wish we'd had more time to just sit and appreciate the places we visited. But that's school trips for you!

    Also, apologies for the delay with the next chapter, it's still only half-written
    :five:
    Yeah! It is a shame. Hopefully you can go back there on holiday sometime

    No worries! Sorry about my late response - I left for holiday on the day you made your last post and just returned today Anyways, it's better to have a great, late post than a notso great, rushed one
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    (Original post by Matrix123)
    :five:
    Yeah! It is a shame. Hopefully you can go back there on holiday sometime

    No worries! Sorry about my late response - I left for holiday on the day you made your last post and just returned today Anyways, it's better to have a great, late post than a notso great, rushed one
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    That's okay! Did you have a good holiday?
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    (Original post by Leviathan1741)
    That's okay! Did you have a good holiday?
    I did thanks

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    (Original post by Matrix123)
    I did thanks

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    Excellent! I'm glad you did
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    Hello all,

    I realised that I hadn’t made a blog post in a really long time, so I decided to write another one and give you a quick update on what I’m up to at the moment. I’m also aware that I’ve got another two chapters of the Alps trip to post, but I’ve been so busy these last few months that I haven’t got round to finishing them, so I sincerely apologise for the wait regarding them.

    In terms of what I’m doing at the moment, I am currently at Keele University in my first year of Geoscience! I haven’t clicked with my flatmates at all and don’t talk to them much, however I have made a little group of friends on my course, they are all lovely people and I’m very grateful to have them. I was so worried before starting uni that I wouldn’t make any friends (judging by my previous experiences in high school and sixth form), but thankfully I have managed to find a group of people who I get on well with and talk to fairly regularly.

    My confidence and independence levels have also increased quite dramatically since I started university (which was exactly a month ago today!), and I’m incredibly proud of myself for getting this far.

    In summary, I just wanted to let you all know that I haven’t forgotten about this blog, I do have a few ideas for future blog posts which I’m hoping you’ll like.

    Thank you all so much for sticking with me on this journey, I hope you’ll continue to do so for the foreseeable future!

    Levi
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    (Original post by Leviathan1741)
    Hello all,

    I realised that I hadn’t made a blog post in a really long time, so I decided to write another one and give you a quick update on what I’m up to at the moment. I’m also aware that I’ve got another two chapters of the Alps trip to post, but I’ve been so busy these last few months that I haven’t got round to finishing them, so I sincerely apologise for the wait regarding them.

    In terms of what I’m doing at the moment, I am currently at Keele University in my first year of Geoscience! I haven’t clicked with my flatmates at all and don’t talk to them much, however I have made a little group of friends on my course, they are all lovely people and I’m very grateful to have them. I was so worried before starting uni that I wouldn’t make any friends (judging by my previous experiences in high school and sixth form), but thankfully I have managed to find a group of people who I get on well with and talk to fairly regularly.

    My confidence and independence levels have also increased quite dramatically since I started university (which was exactly a month ago today!), and I’m incredibly proud of myself for getting this far.

    In summary, I just wanted to let you all know that I haven’t forgotten about this blog, I do have a few ideas for future blog posts which I’m hoping you’ll like.

    Thank you all so much for sticking with me on this journey, I hope you’ll continue to do so for the foreseeable future!

    Levi
    Awesome! I'm really glad that your course is going well.
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    (Original post by Leviathan1741)
    Hello all,

    I realised that I hadn’t made a blog post in a really long time, so I decided to write another one and give you a quick update on what I’m up to at the moment. I’m also aware that I’ve got another two chapters of the Alps trip to post, but I’ve been so busy these last few months that I haven’t got round to finishing them, so I sincerely apologise for the wait regarding them.

    In terms of what I’m doing at the moment, I am currently at Keele University in my first year of Geoscience! I haven’t clicked with my flatmates at all and don’t talk to them much, however I have made a little group of friends on my course, they are all lovely people and I’m very grateful to have them. I was so worried before starting uni that I wouldn’t make any friends (judging by my previous experiences in high school and sixth form), but thankfully I have managed to find a group of people who I get on well with and talk to fairly regularly.

    My confidence and independence levels have also increased quite dramatically since I started university (which was exactly a month ago today!), and I’m incredibly proud of myself for getting this far.

    In summary, I just wanted to let you all know that I haven’t forgotten about this blog, I do have a few ideas for future blog posts which I’m hoping you’ll like.

    Thank you all so much for sticking with me on this journey, I hope you’ll continue to do so for the foreseeable future!

    Levi
    So glad to hear this!! Look forward to another blog post soon :heart:
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    (Original post by Plagioclase)
    Awesome! I'm really glad that your course is going well.
    (Original post by iEthan)
    So glad to hear this!! Look forward to another blog post soon :heart:
    Thank you both, I appreciate all your support
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    (Original post by Leviathan1741)
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    I'm glad to hear that your time at university has been going well so far and that you have made some friends. How is the geology course itself going?

    It's OK; there's no need to apologise. Your posts are very interesting so I look forward to the next one but take your as much time as you need.
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    (Original post by Matrix123)
    I'm glad to hear that your time at university has been going well so far and that you have made some friends. How is the geology course itself going?

    It's OK; there's no need to apologise. Your posts are very interesting so I look forward to the next one but take your as much time as you need.
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    The course itself is going alright so far, I have one dodgy lecturer who often doesn't show up and speaks really quietly when she does, so no one can tell what she's saying. The course content is quite interesting, obviously there are some modules which are more interesting to me than others! Overall it's going okay though, we went on our first field trip yesterday which was actually quite enjoyable, probably because we were really lucky with the weather
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    (Original post by Leviathan1741)
    The course itself is going alright so far, I have one dodgy lecturer who often doesn't show up and speaks really quietly when she does, so no one can tell what she's saying. The course content is quite interesting, obviously there are some modules which are more interesting to me than others! Overall it's going okay though, we went on our first field trip yesterday which was actually quite enjoyable, probably because we were really lucky with the weather
    Good good. Ohh I see! At least that's just the one lecturer :yep: That is true, and it's great to hear that. Wow! I'm glad it was enjoyable. Haha true!

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    Hi guys!

    I know it's been a very long time since I last posted on here, I am truly sorry for that! Please forgive me :hide:

    I'm back now though, and this time I've got the final part of the Alps trip finished! I don't know if anyone is even interested in reading it anymore since it's been so long since I posted about it previously, but in case anyone does want to read the rest, then here it is :yep:

    St Gervais and the Journey Back

    I woke up at 6am this morning, and used the extra time before breakfast to make sure I’d remembered to pack everything for the journey home. Once everything was packed up and I was sure I hadn’t left anything lying around, I decided to try and have a shower. Lisa and Fran had previously told me that in the morning, the water from the shower was cold (the water was only hot at night). I didn’t realise just how cold it was going to be though - it was icy! It was so cold that I couldn’t actually get into the shower, so I gave up and decided to just have a wash instead.

    At breakfast, Alan explained the itinerary for the day. It turned out that we weren’t going to head home straight away. Instead, we were going to do a few more microclimate surveys in St Gervais first. Hurrah!

    Once everyone had eaten, Alan called us all outside for a group photo. He then instructed us to go and load our suitcases onto the coach, and then meet him at the hotel entrance, from which we were going to make our way to the Le Bettex cable car station, which would take us into St Gervais.

    By the time I made it to the coach, the majority of seats had already been claimed, however I did manage to find a free seat close to the back. I had no idea who I’d have to sit next to, but there wasn’t time to worry about that. We returned to the hotel entrance through the concrete pipe, where Alan was waiting for us. We assembled in our fieldwork groups and followed him up the hill to the Le Bettex cable car station.

    Upon entering the station, the first thing I noticed was that the cable cars didn’t actually stop while passengers got on, they just kept going. The thought of trying to hop onto a moving cable car while trying to negotiate the other students and carry a heavy rucksack didn’t exactly fill me with confidence, but as with every uncomfortable and/or nerve-wracking thing on school trips, I didn’t have a choice. Thankfully though, I was able to board the cable car without any major problems. It was quite a rickety ride though, and I was glad to get off.

    Once everyone had made it down, Alan took us along the road and pointed out the spots where each group was going to take microclimate measurements. After everyone was ready, he led us off the main road and down an uneven, muddy track. The track suddenly steepened, and as we carefully picked our way down the slope, Alan stopped each group every so often in order to take more measurements, with group 1 at the top, and my group, 11, at the very bottom.

    After everyone had finished, we continued further along the path until it turned into a bridge, with a small river flowing underneath. Alan instructed us to calculate the hydrothermal power potential of the river once again. We also got the opportunity to have a brief rest, which was greatly appreciated, as everyone was fairly broken by that point.

    As we continued, the uneven path turned into a paved road, which took a sharp turn upwards. By the time I had made it about halfway up, I felt like I might pass out at any moment. Even my classmates were struggling, and it was like being in Arran all over again.

    Eventually though, we made it to the top. We emerged into the main market square of St Gervais, and got a few strange looks as we trudged through the crowds, wheezing and covered in mud. I noticed a stall selling all sorts of pretty gems and crystals, and I made a mental note to try and go back to it if we had time later. Alan gave each group a map of St Gervais, and marked on the locations where we’d be taking our final measurements. As usual, my group had to walk the furthest. The Sun had also come out during our walk to the centre of St Gervais, and it was boiling - as if we hadn’t fried enough already!

    It took about 20 minutes for me and my group to walk to and from our survey location, and sadly, by the time we got back to the market, the crystal stall had already been packed away. I didn’t have time to be disappointed though, because a few of the girls from another group came over and asked Merryn and I to go shopping with them. I didn’t really have the option to say no, so I had to go along with it.

    It felt like an eternity before Alan finally called us all over to a small park-like area for a lunch stop. He gave us one last talk about the local area, and finally, we began the trek back to the coach station, to begin the long slog home. At last, the nightmare was almost over. But not quite.

    As I sat staring out of the coach window, contemplating everything that had happened thus far and how I was going to survive another marathon coach journey, I became aware of several problems with where I was sitting. Firstly, the window next to me didn’t have a curtain, so that meant that for the next few hours at least, I was going to be blinded by the Sun, which unfortunately, was on the same side of the coach as I was. The second thing I noticed, was that if I looked up towards the top of my window, there were a lot of flies. Yes, I had chosen the seat underneath a nest of flies. They were crawling all over the window, so I wasn’t even able to rest my head against it to have a nap.

    I got out my Walkman and tried to ignore the whole situation, but it wasn’t long before my peace was interrupted by squealing and swearing coming from the people behind me. When I turned round to find out what was going on, a girl pointed to my window and shouted “there’s a horse fly!! It’ll take out the entire coach!” Before I could say anything, the boy next to me announced “I’ll get it!”, then leaned over me and swatted at it with his magazine. After the initial commotion, I looked down to find the horsefly, which may or may not have been dead, sitting in my lap. “Ah, erm… sorry” the guy who had knocked the fly down awkwardly reached into my lap to retrieve it, then proceeded to throw it on the floor and stamp on it. “I have slain the beast!” he cheered. Once everyone was satisfied that the horsefly had been dealt with, I was able to blank everything out for a while and get a small amount of proper rest.

    It was dark by the time we reached Calais, and well past midnight. The original plan had been to wait in the terminal and take the 4am ferry, but with what was quite possibly the only bit of good luck on the entire trip, we had arrived early enough to take the 2am ferry instead. We jumped off the coach to have our passports checked, then boarded the ferry for the final leg of the journey.

    It took about 1 and a half hours to complete the crossing. Some of the girls had taken their pillows onto the ferry and attempted to sleep in one of the bars. For most of the crossing, I sat, staring at the wall in an exhausted haze; not even the shouts and screams of drunken passengers on the nearby tables could bother me at that point. I also texted my mum to let her know that we were on our way back, to which she responded, understandably, with a massive cheer.

    By the time we’d boarded the coach and rolled off the ferry, it was already getting light outside, and the jarring reality of the gridlocked, pothole-ridden British roads compared to the smooth French motorway was making it impossible to sleep.

    I must’ve dozed off at some point though, because at around 6am I woke up to find the coach pulling into a service station. Alan told us it was a breakfast stop, and we were given half an hour or so to buy some food and stretch our legs. I was so exhausted that after I’d gone in and been to the loo, I headed straight back to the coach and tried to fall asleep again whilst it was relatively empty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before the girl and her friends from the horsefly incident returned and started a loud conversation about Harry Potter, crushing my hope of getting any more sleep.

    The rest of the journey passed without incident, and we arrived back at college at around 11am. I was really struggling to keep my eyes open by then, so it was great to finally get off and walk around properly. I lugged my suitcase home as quickly as I could, and collapsed on the sofa. I had survived - the field trip that had haunted me from the moment I started sixth form was over...for good.

    So there we are guys, the end of the Alps saga! Again, I'm so sorry to keep you all waiting on this, but I know you're all lovely, understanding people

    I'm hoping to try and revive this blog again over the summer, when I'll have more time to post here and on TSR in general. As always, if there is anything you'd like me to write about, then I'd love to hear your ideas! :heart:

    Levi

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    Leviathan1741 Hi! :wavey: :hugs:

    It's great to see another post in your blog! (I was so excited when I got the notification )
    Of course you are forgiven for taking a break hope you've been well!

    That trip certainly seems to have not gone easy on you at the end! What do you think was your favourite part of the whole trip? Is there anything in particular you'd do differently if you were (if ) to do it again?
    By the way, those cable cars sound terrifying!

    Do I hear of a possible revival? This will be awesome!
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    (Original post by Matrix123)
    Leviathan1741 Hi! :wavey: :hugs:

    It's great to see another post in your blog! (I was so excited when I got the notification )
    Of course you are forgiven for taking a break hope you've been well!

    That trip certainly seems to have not gone easy on you at the end! What do you think was your favourite part of the whole trip? Is there anything in particular you'd do differently if you were (if ) to do it again?
    By the way, those cable cars sound terrifying!

    Do I hear of a possible revival? This will be awesome!
    Aw Matrix, you're the best :hugs:

    It's been quite a tough year for me, but I'm still hanging in there. Definitely in need of a break though, as many of us are! I hope you have been well too!

    I think my favourite aspect of the trip was all of the beautiful views, of the mountains, the dam and so on. I actually do enjoy coach journeys, it was nice just sitting and watching the world go by

    If I had to do that trip again, I would definitely make sure to put sun cream on!

    Yep! I am hoping to post more often on this thread, though I'm not sure what I can write about that I haven't already. I mentioned having future post ideas the last time I posted here, but honestly I can't remember what they were at this point
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    As someone with no vested interest whatsoever (:ninja:), you could do something about your experiences at uni and how you've adapted to the change or something?
 
 
 
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