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[NaBloPoMo] Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Ah, it’s November again and NaBloPoMo is upon us (along with NaNoWriMo). While I won’t promise to write a post every single day, I will do my best to keep up my blog. Or at least, start to keep up my blog, since I’ve gone for months on end without posting anything interesting.

But we’ll see.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Good
• We had a great time in Edinburgh
• I passed my Life in the UK test
• We visited Tim’s best mate in Shoreham-by-Sea
• I spent 2 days with my friend Jessy in Winchester

The Bad
• I got shoved into a wet paint pole at the railway station and got paint all down the arm of a new cardigan
• The car broke down on the way home from Shoreham-by-Sea

The Ugly
• After waiting outside in the cold for 5 hours with the car, I no longer have a voice and have a bad cold.
• Car repairs totalled £450

As a result, I’ve had to drop NaBloPoMo…I missed too many days in there and forgot to schedule things. *sigh*. But then again, with the move over to BlogHer, I somehow missed getting myself on the official rollcall list for it anyway. Oh well. I’ll try to post each day until the end of the month, but with skipping five days, I don’t think I can consider myself a participant any more.

One more good – White Spirit took the paint off my cardigan. It still reeks after a trip through the washing machine, but I’ve got it hanging outside to air it out.

I’ll write about the car in another entry. It’s an interesting story.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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Taking the Life in the UK Test

I took my Life in the UK test today and passed! The test honestly took 5 minutes and that included going back over a few questions I was unsure of and reviewing all my answers….and I only started studying about three days ago. This post will NOT tell you what questions will be on the test (it’s randomized anyway), but it could help you prepare for it.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Life in the UK test (LiUK) is the test everyone must pass before they can obtain permanent residency/citizenship. The test is in English, so if English isn’t your first language you will be certified as part of an English course. I have no idea if you get given the same test or not, but I’ll assume if you’re reading this that you speak English!

Before you can book a test, you will need to register on the Life in the UK test website. After you register, you will have the option of booking your test. You put in your postcode, and the site will tell you where the closest testing centre is. If you click on the centre you want to take your test at, it will take you to a calendar page and show you the available dates and times for that centre. If you don’t like the dates on offer, you can go back and pick a different centre. This is how I wound up taking my test at Nottingham since the Lincoln centre only does tests every other Friday.

The test costs £50, which you will need to pay when you book it. You also will need to enter details from your identification. It is very important that you bring that same piece of identification with you when you take the test. If your ID does not match exactly, you will automatically fail the test. The computer system allows three tries to match an ID before it locks someone out of taking the test. If you get disqualified from taking the test, you will not be refunded and you will need to re-book a test.

As far as studying goes, your best bet is to purchase the official guidebooks published by the UKBA. That book has everything you need to know in it (link to be posted later), including some additional information about Britain’s history, ILR, and citizenship. The important chapters are chapters 2-6. You can also purchase other guides, but make sure they contain chapters 2-6 of the official guide or you might not learn the correct information. The official books will be the most accurate and the most up-to-date, as the test is not updated annually. Purchasing a book that says it has been “updated for the 2011 census” will not help you since the test was last updated in 2007 or so.

If you do not want to purchase the books, you can borrow the official books from your local library. Now that I’ve passed my test, I can offer the first person to comment on this entry directly on my blog (http://blog.beccajanestclair.com) the copies of the book I used, which I received second hand from my friend Jessy after she passed her test last year. I have both the official Journey to Citizenship book and the practice question book. I also purchased a non-official study guide that has quizzes for each chapter I will pass along. I do not want any money for them, but I will only send them within the UK.

I also wound up downloading a non-official study guide for my Kindle, too. I found it much easier for me as I could read the Kindle version anytime and anywhere. There also are websites to help you and Tim and I even saw a computer program for it, so there are loads of options out there.

The practice tests I took really helped, even if I did blitz about 10 of them the night before. I even had 2 questions on my test nearly word-for-word out of one of the practice tests!

Taking the Test

The test is pass/fail, but you need to get at least 18 out of 24 questions right. The test will be a combination of multiple choice and true/false. There are no open-ended questions, and no room to add any comments.

Navigating the test is pretty easy. There will be a row of 24 boxes at the top for the questions. If you have selected an answer, the box will be coloured in (blue). If you have looked at the question but not answered it, the box will have a blue outline. A plain box indicates that you have not yet looked at the question or answered it. Opposite the boxes will be your timer. You have 45 minutes to take the test, and the test is set up to give you warnings at the halfway mark, 10 and 2 minutes remaining. The middle section is where the questions and answers are. The bottom left has buttons to move between the previous and next question, and the bottom right has the “finish test” button. DO NOT CLICK “FINISH TEST” UNTIL YOU ARE SURE YOU ARE DONE. If you accidentally click it, there will be a second screen asking you if you are sure, but if you exit the test you cannot get back into it and if you did not complete the test, you risk failing it.

You will not be allowed to have anything with you on the desk other than your ID, but you can ask for paper and a pencil. I was the only one who asked for it, but I found it helpful when I was asked a statistic question and I was able to write down all the numbers I could remember from the book. I also used my paper to keep track of which questions I wanted to make sure I went back and looked at again. I had four questions I wasn’t positive of the answer, but since you only need 18 correct to pass, I was confident when I walked out.

You are not allowed to talk or look at someone else’s computer while taking the test. Both will result in an automatic fail. The testing centre I was at allowed you to bring in personal items (handbags, phones, etc), but you had to turn OFF the phones and leave everything under your desk. We were told that if they even heard a phone vibrating while you were taking the test that you would be disqualified.

Like I said, you will have 45 minutes to complete your test in, but in my honest opinion, you only need at the most 20. Most of my friends who have taken it before me have said it took them 5-10 minutes. I was done in about 5, including double-checking my answers. The test is not a race though, so take as much of the 45 minutes that you need!

This may be specific to the testing centre in Nottingham only, but when I was done with my test, I was able to leave the room and join Tim in the waiting room by raising my hand. Tim and I talked about the test, and I talked with another person who had taken the test. We were then called in individually to get our score, but we were called in while people were still taking the test. I understand at some centres, you need to wait until everyone has finished before getting results. I was walking out the door well before the 45 minutes would have passed. Your result will not tell you how many questions you got right or wrong, only if you passed or failed. Your pass certificate will get stamped and signed, and you need to keep this safe as you cannot get a second copy. If you lose it, you will have to take the test all over again.

To those of you taking the test in the future, good luck!

[Please note that any information about the Life in the UK test or ILR and citizenship requirements are valid as of 10 November 2011. If you are reading this for advice in the future, please double check the information against the official UKBA website.]

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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Life in the UK

No time for a real entry today, it’s time to cram, cram, cram.

I have my Life in the UK test tomorrow in Nottingham. I have to pass this test in order to be eligible to apply for my ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) also known as permanent residency. It’s a short test, but there’s a lot riding on it. I’ve been studying like mad for the past few weeks and it will all come to head tomorrow morning.

I’m taking my test in Nottingham because the testing centre in Lincoln only does tests every other Friday and when I went to book a test, the first date wasn’t until the 25th. Fortunately, the testing centre in Nottingham is only about a mile from the railway station.

Wish me luck!!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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LJ Idol Week One Re-Post

I started participating in a writing competition on Livejournal called LJ Idol. A friend of mine had participated in past years, and it looked like fun. Our first week’s topic was “When you pray, move your feet”. Below is my entry for LJ Idol. I landed about 11th in my tribe overall in terms of voting. If you’re interested in voting, you can check the LJ Idol page each week.

We crossed the border into Mexico and were greeted by dirty, sweaty men. The road we were driving on was not paved, there were no lines on the road, no rest stops, and no conveniences. The first night, we slept on the floor of a church. I can still remember the girls not wanting to be separated from the boys, so the girls slept on the stage and the boys in the orchestra pit below us. My friend Alison and I woke up screaming at 3 in the morning because a cockroach was crawling near us. Alison’s boyfriend woke up and smashed the roach inches away from my sleeping boyfriend’s head. The next morning we continued on to our “dormitory”. There were two long rooms set up for us – one for boys, and one for girls. The mattresses were worn and dirty and we were all glad we had brought sleeping bags to sleep in so we wouldn’t have to lay directly on the mattresses. We couldn’t drink the water out of the tap, instead we had to purchase 5 gallon drums of water from the grocery store. This water also had to be used for washing, brushing our teeth, and cooking. Some of us braved using the water from the outside tap to wash ourselves, but most of us relied on a baby wipe wipe down each morning and evening. The toilets flushed, but you couldn’t put any toilet paper down them, so each stall had a large black bin for it that we were responsible for emptying daily. When we turned out the lights at night, all the bugs would come out and crawl all over the floor, walls, and ceilings. You soon learned to sleep wearing your sneakers in case you needed a nighttime trip to the bathroom. This was to be our home while we were there.

Our job while we were there was to provide bible school to some of the local children, and to assist with building houses. On our first morning teaching we met our children for the week – girls barely older than 8 taking care of babies, boys with dirty clothes on, babies who looked like they were in desperate need of a bath or a clean diaper. None of the children wore shoes. There was an old, hard, leather ball outside that served as a football, basketball, soccer ball, volleyball, and kickball. Pregnant teenagers younger than ourselves sat at tables inside the classroom waiting for us. The one thought running through my head was how on earth are we going to teach them?.

My Spanish was non-existent. I studied German, a language which was helpful when I travelled in Europe the previous Spring, but completely useless South of the border. The children did not speak English. I had a piece of paper my boyfriend had made me with some Spanish phrases on it and I had him translate some of the songs I was to teach into Spanish for me so at least the children would know what they were singing about.

It was a mess. The children didn’t understand me, and even though I had a paper full of helpful phrases, nothing prepared me for being left alone in a room with 20 children. I tried teaching them a song I had translated into Spanish with very little luck, so I started singing “Jesus Loves Me” instead. To my surprise, the children knew the tune and they taught me the Spanish words – Jesu, Mi Amo. I tried again with another translated song, this one with movements. I soon had the group all singing and dancing. I gave up on my translated songs and started singing to them in English, and some of the older children taught me some of the songs they knew in Spanish.

My friends outside weren’t having any luck, either. The worn ball that the church had barely had any air in it, and it was so hard it was too heavy to kick. One of the boys finally returned to our dormitories and came back with a ball he had brought with him for our own leisure. The faces of the children lit up at the sight of the black and white ball and were soon showing off their skills. At the end of the week, we left the new ball behind.

The group sent out to work on construction sites met similar problems. Even the people in our group who claimed fluency in Spanish and passed their AP exams with flying colours were having problems following along as they didn’t learn those kinds of words in their lessons. Armed with a battered dictionary and lots of hand gestures, they soon figured out what the foreman wanted them to do.

That evening we headed back to our dorms, exhausted from our day of teaching and building. We still managed to sit around outside in the small courtyard between the dorms to talk about our day. Someone got out a guitar, and we built a campfire and all sang and danced in the warm glow. Despite a horrible beginning to our week, we were sure we would be able to make a difference by the end of the week. That week, we learned that being a Christian was more than just praying on your knees to God each Sunday. It was the work you did with your hands, voice, and feet that also counted.

[This has been an entry for The Real LJ Idol.]

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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Not Much to Blog Today….

Just a short post to say I’ve blogged daily.

I’m off to see John Barrowman tonight!

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Frugal Living: Apples for Free

Yesterday I did something I never would have done living in America. Tim and I were out on an exploration. Armed with Ordinance Survey maps of the county that Tim had drawn blue and red lines on, we were off in search of our fictitious railway. We had a good time. I’ll write more about the search for our railway in another entry and post some of the photos later.

We were stopped somewhere along a narrow, winding back country road between farmer’s fields. We were stopped to take pictures of where a level crossing would have been and I was walking back towards the car when I spotted something round a red growing on one of the trees alongside the road. I paused and discovered that I had found a wild apple tree. Curious, I picked an apple and bit into it. It was the tastiest apple I have ever tried! The apples were redish pink at the top fading down to a yellow shade of green. We don’t know what kind of apples they were, but we sure didn’t waste any time in picking as many as we could fit into a bag!

Now all I have to do is figure out how to store them…these are too good to cut up and freeze!

We often go foraging for blackberries – brambles, as they get referred to here. Brambles seem to grow everywhere in this country. We find them growing alongside the many public footpaths we frequent, branches dipping into canals, and we even find them growing alongside railway tracks. This year, we ate most of the blackberries right away, but last year I had a bagful in my freezer that lasted through the winter.

I love free food. I won’t go dumpster diving or anything crazy like that, but if mother nature wants to give it to us, we’ll take it!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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I’m a Winner!!

Here’s a full list of my posts for November:

Nov 1 – It’s NaBloPoMo
Nov 2 – A Day on the Welshpool and Llanfair
Nov 3 – A Call to NHS Direct
Nov 4 – Last Day in Wales: Ffestiniog Railway
Nov 5 – Happy Anniversary
Nov 6 – A trio of Vlogs
Nov 7 – Lincolnshire Life
Nov 8 – London Transport and War
Nov 9 – A Visit to the Seaside
Nov 10 –York, not to be Confused with New York or York PA
Nov 11 – Safety First
Nov 12 – Building a Railway
Nov 13 – Swagbucks Update
Nov 14 – Why Are You Here?
Nov 15 – Halfway!
Nov 16 – Wildlife in our House
Nov 17 – When Filters Go Bad
Nov 18 – Lincolnshire Sausage Festival
Nov 19 – Bonfire Night!
Nov 20 – Harry Potter and the Chorus Concert
Nov 21 – Wii Socialization
Nov 22 – Filler Post
Nov 23 – I am an Immigrant
Nov 24 – Tattershall Castle
Nov 25 – Abbey in the Backyard, Part 2
Nov 26 – Recipe: Potato Scramble
Nov 27 – Save your Feet
Nov 28 – Thanksgiving
Nov 29 – Warning
Nov 30 – Still Infected

It was fun. I had to put up a filler post on one day because I was sick and didn’t want to skip out on my commitment, and the last two days of the month were not what I had intended to post at all, thanks to a hacker (I had planned on doing this post on November 30), but I think I did good.

I still have to blog about Austria, and I will do my best to get those done before my mom arrives on December 16th! I will be most likely taking off from the 15th to 31st so I can spend time with my mom, and then start my new goals in the new year!

And I promise, this is my last blog post for today!

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Filler Post

I don’t want to shirk on my NaBloPoMo commitment, but today I’m not feeling very well. So, this will have to do for a post. If I’m feeling better later, I will post a regular entry. But right now? I just want to curl up on the sofa with my snuggie and a book.

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Halfway!

We’re halfway through the month for NaBloPoMo, and so far I’m actually reaching my goal of one post/day, and I still have plenty to blog about!

After the month is up, I will probably scale back my posting, but in the new year, I’m hoping for a few goals regarding my blog:

1. Blogging at least three times/week. It could mean M-W-F, it could mean F-Sa-Su, but I want to blog at least three times each week. Four, five, six, or seven times will be a bonus! I’ll also try not to post twice in one day like I sometimes have to spread out the posts. I can’t always guarantee brilliant posts, but I will try!

2. More vlogs, even if it’s of mundane things. You guys seem to really like the vlogs (especially if Tim talks!), so I want to give you what you want! I still don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, so I’ll still be talking from behind the scenes most likely. Also, a house tour at some point in 2011.

3. Regular recipe posts. I want to try to post recipes once every fortnight (that’s 14 days/two weeks). I’d go for more often, but I don’t want my blog to turn into a recipe blog….even if my friend Lynne thinks I should write a cookbook. (I wouldn’t know where to start)

4. On time posts! No more “I was here back in March”. I am going to try to get blog posts up the same month the event happens. Preferably within a week of it happening, but I will give myself a goal of within the month. Maybe a better goal is “within four weeks”, so if I do something on the 29th of the month I’m not left scrambling to get an entry up before the end of the month!

I’m really enjoying writing daily, and even though some of the things I’m blogging about are past events, I’m still having a great time doing it. If I don’t get all caught up on previous events, I will get them all finished by the end of 2010. Save for anything I do while my mom is visiting, because I probably will want to spend time with her and not blog!

At the end of NabloPoMo, I will revisit my list of things I wanted to blog about, and I will make another list and make sure I get them all done.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users can comment directly on Facebook.]

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It’s NaBloPoMo!

It’s November 1, and in addition to it being All Saint’s Day and my friend John’s birthday, it’s also the start of NaNoWriMo, a month long writing project for people all over the world….but it’s also NaBloPoMo. NaBloPoMo is for those of us who don’t want to be committed (or can’t!) to writing a full-length novel in a month, but still want to participate. All you have to do is commit to writing one blog post per day for the entire month of November. If you succeed, you are even eligible for prizes at the end of the month.

I’ve signed up. I have so many things to backlog, I figure a month of solid posting will be good for me. Hopefully, I’ll have time and remember.

Oh, and BTW, this is Post #1, as today is still 1 November….for an hour and 45 minutes here, anyway.

If you’re a fellow NaBloPoMo, you can get to my profile page here.

I can’t guarantee brilliant posts every single day, but I can hopefully promise at least one post per day with something in it.

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