Saturday, 24 August 2019

NIKKI: MY FIRST CRUISE!

Reader Nikki writes about her first cruise holiday... if you're not going anywhere this summer, curl up and read more... and start dreaming!

Nikki says:
I went on my first cruise just as I was starting High School. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it was incredible! All I’d heard about cruises was that they were for “old people” but that statement couldn’t have been more wrong - cruises are definitely for all age groups! I went with my mum, little brother and my grandparents and we each loved it for our own reasons. My little brother loved the cruise because he got to hang around in the kids club. It sounded pretty lame to me, but I spent a few days with them playing games and exploring the ship, and it was actually fun! My Mum loved the cruise because we went around the Canary Islands and it was super warm, so she got to relax by the pool and sunbathe all holiday. She doesn’t get a lot of time off work, so just being able to lie around and do nothing was the perfect holiday for her. My Nanna and Grandad had been on millions of cruises! My Grandad used to lecture on airplane crashes and since then, he has refused to fly, so a cruise was the perfect way for them to get around on a holiday.

I have many reasons why I love cruises… I feel like there’s a magic in the air. I love how everyone around you seems so calm and relaxed - we are all on holiday, after all! I love how cruises are like multiple holidays all in one, because you get to visit so many destinations in one trip. But my favourite thing is how much there is to do on a cruise. There are different activities and classes that you can do and constant entertainment and a show every night. You could never be bored!

I also love how fancy a cruise can be! There are formal nights that you can take part in and wear really fancy dresses and dine in a fancy restaurant. Or if you prefer, then you can eat at one of the many other food places on board ship and stay in your comfy clothes. The destinations are always incredible. When you dock in a port, there is always a beach nearby. On one of the stops, we took ourselves snorkelling at a nearby beach. I have never seen so many fish in my entire life! The water was so crystal clear that you could see everything - it was like swimming in an aquarium!

I guess cruises may not be for everyone - they would be pretty daunting if you were scared of water, or got sea sick. But they are so safe that sometimes you forget about being in the middle of the ocean. My Grandad often gets sea sick and sometimes they have to give him a needle in his bum to get rid of it! However he says that it’s definitely worth it for such an amazing trip. You’ll never know how much you love it until you try it, but for me, cruises are the perfect way to spend my summer holidays…

Cathy says:
Ooh... Nikki makes it sound so tempting! I have never been on a cruise - have YOU? COMMENT BELOW to tell us what you think!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SINGER-SONGWRITER...

Fourteen year old Justin from Northern Ireland gives us the inside story on dreams, determination and starting out as a young musician...

Justin says:
I didn’t take many guitar lessons but I learnt to play through music groups like the Rock School at Ossia Music in Belfast, and I also used the internet. I have a bad memory about what the first song I ever learnt on guitar was but I'm pretty sure it was 'Know Your Enemy' by Green Day. I've pretty much always known that I wanted to be a singer-songwriter. I grew up with Hannah Montana and Big Time Rush and was obsessed with the idea since then, but as time went on, I got more into theatre and art until social media was introduced to me and I discovered a bunch of underrated artists who I wanted to be like.

I love pretty much any genre of music (except for country. Yikes) but I adore punk music along with pop punk and indie music the best.  My favourite artists though would have to be Cavetown and The 1975, although neither of them are punk or pop punk. I really connect with their words. I've been listening to Cavetown for about 4-5 years and once I figured out he started writing when he was extremely young, I was very inspired and began writing. The 1975 are just beautiful; they don't only motivate me to write but they also encourage me to think, read, and to live my life to the fullest. I love both of them and they inspire me every day.

A lot of things encourage me to make music, like for example, listening to music and thinking "wow wouldn't it be cool if I wrote a song and people could hear it through their headphones" but to be completely honest, what encourages me the most is my family and going to concerts. Every time I go to a concert I just let out all my raw emotions, I scream, I cry, I laugh, and (not to be too self-obsessed, but) I want people to do that when they see me live. My family just inspires me everyday and I want to make them proud of me. The best thing about being a young artist is just being able to express yourself. I can write about mac n cheese and call it the best thing ever and nobody will mind because I'm a child, and getting compliments like "You're so young! how do you do it?" is always nice.

The worst thing though would have to be the pressure I put on myself. I still want to do well in my education and I still want to have a social life so I attempt to make any free time I have about music. I feel like I'm running out of time and I know I'm young and I shouldn't worry but I can't help thinking about all of the talented kids in the media that started before me. I'm also deeply afraid of kids making fun of me but I'm working on slowly putting myself out there more so it'll seem more natural to me.

What keeps me going on is the fact that I could actually live my dream life. I know that's a one in a million chance but I dream of performing on a stage where people want to see me, I dream of looking back on all the people that put me down and showing them I did it. I dream of having my own music on vinyl. I dream of being interviewed. Just little things and little dreams like that keep me going.

You can see Justin perform here... support new talent and pop over to give his song a like! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTHQuOl8pOs&feature=youtu.be
You can also follow Justin on Instagram here: @justinmcmillxn

Cathy says:
Wow... as the mum of two young muso's myself, I can tell that Justin is the real deal - amazing talent and confidence! I'll be following his career with interest and rooting for him all the way! Do YOU have a dream career you'd give anything to follow? Or do you want to leave a word of encouragement for Justin? Just COMMENT BELOW!

Monday, 12 August 2019

ANNA SEWELL: BLACK BEAUTY

Another in our occasional series about children's classics and their creators... we look at the life of Anna Sewell, author of BLACK BEAUTY...

Anna Sewell was yet another literary lady who despite all that was against her, overcame the odds and managed to write a timeless classic. Overcoming injury, poverty and the hardships of being a woman author in a man’s world, Anna Sewell, author of BLACK BEAUTY, also became an influential voice on animal cruelty.

Born in Great Yarmouth in 1820, Anna Sewell spent most of her early life in London. Her mother, Mary Wright Sewell, was also a successful children’s author, but despite the popularity of her books, the family still couldn’t quite afford to send Anna and her little brother Phillip to school and educated them at home.

At the age of fourteen, Anna finally had a chance to attend school in Stoke Newington. However, on the way home from school one day, she slipped and severely injured her ankles. Due to the family's precarious financial situation, treatment for Anna’s injury was poor and she never fully recovered. For the rest of her life, she could not stand for very long without a crutch. She started using horse drawn carriages for greater mobility, which contributed to her love for horses and concern for their welfare. Anna also owed quite a lot of her inspiration to her mother, Mary, whose own books and beliefs looked at social issues such as the abolition of slavery and alcoholism. Anna would often help to edit her mother’s books, and so she gained invaluable experience of how to be a successful author.

BLACK BEAUTY was Anna's only book, an emotional and hard-hitting story that showed the hardships and cruelties horses faced in Victorian society - it was clearly a labour of love. Written towards the end of her life, when she was an invalid and mostly bedridden, the payment upon publication was a flat rate of £40. The book is still one of the top ten bestselling children's books of all time. Although now considered a children’s classic, her original intended audience were those who cared and worked with horses. She wanted to inspire kindness, sympathy and understanding for them.

An American review of the book said: “We require use of this animal more than of any other, and either from want of though or ignorance we forget that the horse is a very fine and delicate animal, sensitive as man to pain and hardships and almost human in its sense of hearing and understanding…A horse lacks words with which to express its feelings..”

BLACK BEAUTY was published when Anna was fifty-seven years old, in 1877, though sadly she would not live long enough to see its great success - five months after its publication, Anna Sewell died of tuberculosis.

Cathy says:
Have YOU read BLACK BEAUTY or seen the film? It's very sad... it definitely made me cry as a child! Which children's classic do YOU love best? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 10 August 2019

FAIRYTALE...

How two girls at the turn of the last century took some amateur photographs that shook the experts... and made the UK believe in fairies. Was it real? Read on to find out more…

In 1917, down in the leafy Cottingley Glen near Shipley, West Yorkshire, sixteen year old Elsie and her cousin Frances, nine, claimed to have first seen fairies. Unsurprisingly, nobody believed the girls and in a bid to prove that the fairies were real, they begged Elsie's father to borrow his camera to take pictures so the family could see for themselves.

It was Elsie's father himself who developed the photographs - he was obviously astonished when the picture showed Frances, surrounded by a ring of dancing fairies! Once over the shock, helooked for a rational explanation and put the illusion down to cardboard cutouts that the girls had drawn.

It wasn't until 1919 that the photographs came to a wider audience. An expert commented on the photograph of Frances: "This plate is a single exposure. These dancing figures are not made of paper nor any fabric; they are not painted on a photographic background - but what gets me most is that all these figures have moved during the exposure."

Every little girl claims to have seen a fairy - but these girls had proof! The photographs were shown to the famous writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle was a member of the spiritualist movement and happened to be writing an article on fairy lore; he was fascinated by the pictures and wanted to include them in his feature. This is what brought them to the public eye. His article received much criticism but it also sparked a debate that would never really be solved until 1981, when Elsie and Frances, now old ladies,  admitted that the photographs had been faked. In spite of this, they still staunchly claimed to have seen fairies by the beck and argued that the fakes had been made to make people believe.

Why they took so long to admit the images were faked - or indeed the possibility that they were lying in that interview - are questions which are still being asked today. We will leave it to you to decide  - are fairies real?

Cathy says:
I've always loved the story of the girls who saw fairies in Cottingley... and my kids, in turn, loved the film version of the story, Fairytale, when they were growing up. At the time, the photographs convinced the UK... do YOU think there was anything to their story? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

YOUR STARS FOR AUGUST!

Skye Tanberry is back with your horoscope for August... let's hope it's a sizzlin' one!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
If someone has upset you, remember that you are a strong person and can rise above the situation. Try to see the bigger picture and let go of the hurt and anger... it's time to move on.  You'll feel lighter and more energised as a result... don't let hurt or anger bring you down.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Don’t stress about exam results and upcoming tests. Whatever the outcome, you can and will make it work for you! Now is a good time to think about future dreams and turn them into plans - if you work hard and find your passion, everything else will follow!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Filling your holiday with adventure and fun is your priority, and quite rightly. School/ college seems like a whole world away, but don’t forget to stay on top of work and reading as well as all the fun stuff, so you can hit the ground running when you go back!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Trying different things can sometimes be fun! Why not challenge yourself and see if you can go vegetarian for a week? Or go plastic-free? Or walk 10k steps each day? Just thinking about which challenge to pick can help you find out more about yourself!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
If something is going wrong in your life, try to find the silver linings and concentrate on the positives, rather than the negatives. There is always a solution... and once you stop panicking, you'll find it, promise!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
The efforts you have been making recently have not gone unnoticed - keep it up and that passion will drive you through life. Meanwhile, take a moment to feel proud at how hard you're trying... your determination is pretty awesome!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
It’s okay if you haven’t figured out what you want to be yet. Some people don’t find their true passion for a long time... and some of us will find there are many paths/ careers that could make us happy! You have all the time in the world - which means you can enjoy every moment this summer!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Why not try a new activity this summer? Grab a friend and try your hand at tennis, squash, diving or cycling? It could even be as simple as perfecting your cake baking talents! Learning new skills can be loads of fun and the stars will help make sure you learn a lot, too!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
If you always find yourself reading the same type of book, why not branch out and try something new? A new genre could surprise you and you may find something you love! Head for the library with an open mind and see what you can discover!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
Spending time with your friends and family is important, but if you've been feeling a little swamped lately, make sure to spend some quality time alone too. Quiet time can help top up your energy and keeps you in touch with your own feelings!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Make sure to get out and enjoy the sun this summer! If you're not the sunbathing kind, gather some friends and head off for a picnic, a bike ride, a trip to a museum or gallery or a day trip to your nearest big city. Being a tourist in your own town can be cool!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
It's easy to take those we love most for granted at times, but the last thing you want is for them to feel neglected. Let friends and family know that you appreciate them - it could be the tiniest gesture, but it will make their day!

Cathy says:
Ooh... some interesting predicitions here... do they ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

NIKKI - MY FIRST MUSIC FESTIVAL!

Reader Nikki tells us about her first experience of a music festival... complete with waterlogged tent! And yes, she's a convert!

Nikki says:
I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to my first music festival, so I chose to start with one of the smaller ones. I went to Eden Festival in Scotland and after being told how dinky it was meant to be, I was blown away by the size of the place! I definitely think that I would have been overwhelmed at one of the larger festivals to start with, but this was a perfect size to start off with. There were thirteen different music venues on the site, almost all of the food stalls offered vegan and gluten free options and there were posters promoting recycling all over the place! It was amazing! Everyone was so friendly and inclusive, so we were all surrounded by the nicest atmosphere! Much to my delight, there was a whole array of circus equipment for people to try out - I had a great time, but I have learnt that the unicycle is definitely not for me!


After exploring all there was to see, including 2 humongous stages and many different food and crafts stalls, we headed back to pitch our tent. I had never camped before and found that pitching a tent was surprisingly easy! We shared some of the food that we had brought and headed back out to listen to some music.

We started our music journey at a stage called Rabbie’s Tavern. It was one of the smaller stages, but I don’t think there was a single moment of the festival were it wasn’t jam packed! The music was wonderful, it was calm and folky and everyone listening to it seemed really relaxed and happy. We loved it so much that we ended up staying there all night and didn’t manage to see any of the other stages! We’d had a long drive and decided after a lovely evening, we wanted to get an early night, so we headed back to our tent.

It was meant to be raining all weekend, but we managed to bring the beautiful sun with us, until we tucked ourselves in for bed and it started to pour. After about half an hour or so, we noticed that our pillows were a bit wet. After turning on a torch for closer inspection, we realised that our tent was not waterproof at all and there were puddles forming around the edges. Our pillows weren’t just a little wet, they were soaked! We grabbed all of our bedding and clothes and ran to the car, which was parked a few fields away. We tried our best to make a comfy bed in the car, but it was horrible! Just thinking about sleeping in that car makes my back ache!

In the morning, once we had eaten some breakfast, we forgot about all of that and headed down to the main stage to listen to some more music. We ended up falling asleep for half an hour or so before lunch and when we awoke we felt refreshed and ready for the day!

After lunch we went to the second largest stage to watch a man called Mr Motivator. He appeared on ITV back in the 90’s to motivate people into doing more exercise. Around a thousand people were gathered around this stage squatting and lunging while this sixty seven year old man put us all to shame with his athleticism and enthusiasm. People in banana costumes were weaving in and out of the crowd handing out bananas, and if I looked to my left, I could see a man dressed as a bear. If I looked to my right, I could see women dressed as fairies, handing out leaflets to try and prevent climate change. Dancing along to Mr Motivator was one of the greatest and weirdest moments of my entire life!

As we had no tent to sleep in, we decided to finish our day back at the small stage and head home early. I would definitely recommend a festival to anyone who is a fan of music and camping! I will always remember my time at Eden Festival and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Cathy says:
Wow... this sounds brilliant! Have YOU ever been to a music festival? What did you think? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 28 July 2019

ADVENTURE: WHY WE NEED IT AND HOW TO FIND IT

Reader Katy blogs on why adventure is good for us... and why we all need to be be a little bit braver!

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live
Henry David Thoreau


Daydreaming is one of the healthiest forms of escapism but what use is it if all you ever do is dream? I know a lot of you are budding writers so pay heed to Mr. Thoreau’s words… often the best stories come from experience.

Why do we need adventure? 
Humans love routine. It’s comforting, reassuring, safe... but is it really living? While all this is an entirely natural, human trait, so is the need for adventure. The balance between the two is where we find the secret to happiness. We are storytellers, collectors of memory. In the modern world, it is so easy to travel to far and distant lands, we have it so easy compared to our predecessors. Take a ferry to Amsterdam? Grab a £30 flight to Madrid? I mean, it’s rude NOT to. Not only does it feed into our own happiness, stories of adventure inspire others to reach outside their comfort zone. It is contagious!

How to find it?
Now… there are three ingredients when it comes to cooking up an adventure. Excitement. Risk. Experience. Getting out of your comfort zone, exploring and pushing your limits. We will never remember the time we caught the bus for the 176th time into town unless, say, we strike up a conversation with a stranger. Something as simple as that can turn into a wonderful adventure. Maybe you are meeting a new best friend!

A lot of it is down to overcoming fear. For a lot of us, the thought of talking to a complete stranger is quite terrifying… but why? They’re usually just going about their lives, just like you are. Not scary at all. I made a very dear friend last year, whilst travelling in Budapest. I was just in the supermarket buying fruit when a girl, roughly the same age, approached me and asked if I knew where the nearest post box was. Incidentally, I truly didn't. But we got chatting; she was visiting too. We arranged to meet for a coffee and that was it! The rest of my time in Budapest was spent hanging out in her flat, exploring the Buda hills, exchanging music… and we still talk now. I plan to visit her in her student flat in Amsterdam soon. What I'm saying is, some of the best experiences have come from pushing through this fear of talking to people, just saying yes.

I can only ever speak for myself, but I believe we humans are never meant to stay in one place for too long. There is so much world to see, so many things to experience. But if travelling isn’t your thing, adventure can be found anywhere... on the bus, in a supermarket, at school. Literally anywhere. What are you waiting for?

Cathy says:
I am all for adventure... it's just around the corner, after all, if you know where to look! What was YOUR last big adventure? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Saturday, 27 July 2019

NATURE'S MAGIC

There is a growing trend of using natural herbs, oils and fruits  to make DIY face masks, conditioners and beauty potions... the way we did hundreds of years ago. They're a little bit of nature magic! Reader Clare shares a few simple tips...

COCONUT OIL
Women all over the world have used coconut oil for centuries as their go-to beauty companion! It can be used for anything from an intensive hair mask to skin moisturiser to a dental hygiene hack. Coconut oil is available in all big supermarkets now - don't be confused if it appears to be a solid rather than an oil, that's normal!

Here's a simple coconut oil face mask so you can see for yourself!
Ingredients:
1 tbsp. pure coconut oil
3 tbsp. oatmeal
Warm water
How to apply:
Put oatmeal in a bowl and pour in enough warm water to make a paste-like consistency (you can just guesstimate for this part.) Combine the coconut oil in with the oatmeal and mix well. Apply the mixture to your face, and exfoliate your skin by gently rubbing in a circular motion. Leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water and pat dry your face with a clean towel. Et voila!

AVOCADO
Not just a tasty, healthy snack, avocados can also be used to nourish the skin and hair. Why not try this recipe for a hair 'mask' to give a gorgeous shine?
To make:
Grab an avocado, a banana, and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Mash them all together in a bowl, then take that paste and rub into hair from root to tip. Wrap hair in an old towel or shower cap. Do something else for half an hour, and then get in the shower to shampoo and rinse.  Glossy hair that's naturally healthy!

HONEY
It's not just good on toast! Honey can be used on your skin and hair and has anti-bacterial properties as well as having moisturising powers, if you want a smoother and more even skin-tone. Try brushing a small dab of honey onto your skin. Massage gently and leave for twenty minutes. Spots may appear less aggressive and skin may feel smoother and more even!! Another tip - if you get hay fever, eat locally made honey - it can reduce symptoms of hay fever for some lucky people!

Note: If skin feels hot, sore or prickly at any point, wash the treatment off IMMEDIATELY... not all natural treatments are suited to sensitive skin!

Gorgeous artwork by the talented Millie Aked - thank you so much Millie! 

CATHY SAYS
Wow! Thank you Clare! These are cool... definitely going to try them out! LOVE the artwork too... brilliant, Millie! Do YOU have any old traditions or natural beauty tips? COMMENT BELOW!

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

DAISY, AMY & ASHLEIGH'S LIBRARY NEWS!

If you've been enjoying the library updates of young school librarians 'The Terrible Trio plus One' you will be sad to know that the trio have now left their posts as student middle school librarians to start High School. We wish them well - and welcome three new student librarians on board to blog for DREAMCATCHER!

Daisy, Amy & Ashleigh say:
We are the new librarians who are going to be letting you know all the things that go on in our brilliant middle school library... our names are Daisy, Amy and Ashleigh. We are looking forward to taking over from the Terrible Trio now that they've moved on to High School and keeping you updated on library life behind the scenes!

As it was the end of the term, and some of the librarians are moving on to high school, we celebrated in the library with a doughnut challenge... it was a lot of fun, as you can see! (And what do you mean, the librarian bribes us to help out with cake? No way!!! Cake and libraries go together perfectly, no?)

The challenge reminded us of some doughnut books we have in the library:

The Jam Doughnut That Ruined My Life by Mark Lowery, and The Donut Diaries of Dermot Milligan by Anthony McGowan, illustrated by David Tazzyman. Both are very funny in a luagh out loud way, and ideal for a light summery read - or for little brothers and sisters of course! What are YOUR favourite funny books? COMMENT BELOW to let us know, and we'll see if we have them in the library!

Summer is the perfect time for reading, and over the holidays we are planning to read Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell, Fortune Cookie by Cathy Cassidy and George’s Marvellous Medicine by the one and only Roald Dahl. Do YOU have a summer holiday reading list?

The Terrible Trio are sad to be leaving, but they are moving on to new challenges, and meanwhile WE are looking forward to coming back in September and letting you know all that we get up to! See you then!

Cathy says:
Welcome to DREAMCATCHER, Daisy, Amy & Ashleigh - we look forward to hearing much more about life as a student librarian soon! I love the idea of a summer reading list... do YOU have one? And don't forget to COMMENT BELOW to share your fave funny reads, too!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

SHORT STORY: EXTRA-ORDINARY!

Reader Anoushka from India shares a timely and though-provoking short story about hopes, dreams and the pressure to get perfect exam results...

'If you can dream it, you can do it...'

Shruti sighed and wished that these words were true. Sadly, it felt like they only applied to actors and glamorous fitness enthusiasts. They had no idea that these words hardly seemed to apply to ordinary students like her. She'd had enough of the media telling people that you can just dream and that it inevitably becomes reality. Shruti knew that in the fast-paced world of academics, it was hard to be recognised if you weren’t a topper. And all she really wanted was the recognition that she thought she deserved.

Shruti was an average student. Though she worked hard, she failed to match up to her classmates’ many capabilities.  She knew that school work wasn’t everything - she spent her free time playing the guitar, her passion - but it was hard to believe this when her parents and teachers stressed the importance of academic work and exams so much. They made it seem like excelling in school was the be all and end all of life - and that the only jobs worth having were a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer. Sometimes she felt like she was being left behind by everyone around her, as their sole focus was study and the constant need to excel and be at the top.

Shruti didn’t strive for excellence like a lot of her classmates did. She didn’t care if she got into Harvard or Yale, all she wanted was a sense of being contented and fulfilled instead of the constant need to achieve perfection. She felt that everyone should follow what their heart tells them to instead of doing what your parents always dreamed of becoming but were unable to follow through. She was sick of parents influencing their children’s career choices instead of letting them be what they aspired to be.

Could it be different for Shruti? Did she care enough about music to make it her career? A little voice inside told her that she did.

A decade on, Shruti was now an accomplished guitarist and a well respected speaker on mental health. Her parents had not supported their daughter at first, but soon understood their daughter’s lifelong dream. And right now, Shruti was standing in front of a crowd of hopeful teenagers. She stepped forward and concluded, 'So what if you don’t crack every exam, so what if you don’t earn as much as your sister does? Nothing can get in your way if you’re truly content with the way your life turns out. We all deserve a chance to be happy in our lives!' Shruti realised she was truly happy with her life, and now she was passing that message on - it couldn’t have been better.
                                                       
Cathy says:
I love the message in Anoushka's story... it's one we all need to hear! After all, we are all so much more than exam passes and academic achievements, right? What do YOU think? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 13 July 2019

CAROL: SWIMMING TEACHER!

Another in our fab series of dream careers... we talk to Carol, whose passion for swimming led to a career teaching others!

Carol says: 
I have always enjoyed swimming from a young age. My parents actually met at swimming lessons, when they were younger, so you could say swimming runs in the family! I always felt more at home in the water than on land. I was on the water polo team, I did synchronised swimming, I would take part in every swimming gala - I was never out of the pool, really!

I definitely fell into teaching swimming - I used to help my father, who was a swim instructor, from quite an early age. After many years of helping out, I finally decided to do my Swimming Teachers Qualification and actually start getting paid to do the thing that I love! I currently teach all sorts of swimming classes, from aqua-fitness, to tiny little babies, to an over fifties swimming group where our oldest member is eighty nine! I love it!

I find teaching so rewarding. People are so proud of themselves when they achieve something that they previously could not do, and I know that my instruction has helped them to get there. Plus, swimming is a very important skill to learn! My favourite anecdote is about Jenny, an eighty year old lady whose children told her that she was too old to swim. Five years down the line, Jenny can not only swim brilliantly but can do all four strokes - and she even managed to get her story in the local paper!

Teaching swimming may not be the best paid job in the world, but I feel like the luckiest girl in the world as I managed to turn my hobby and passion into my job! I now feel happy  every day of my life, because if you enjoy going to work every day, then you will at least enjoy the majority of your week!

Cathy says:
Brilliant... swimming is such an important skill to learn, and I love that Carol has turned her passion into a career! Do YOU dream of turning a hobby into a career? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

NIKKI: MY FIRST CRUISE!

Reader Nikki writes about her first cruise holiday... if you're not going anywhere this summer, curl up and read more... and start drea...