Sunday, May 30, 2010

Big family? dont even get me started...

Ok. So it has been requested that I share my thoughts and general perspective on my place at an all-boys boarding school. To start I will give you an introduction to my school, and what it means.

It is a catholic private boarding school, with about 1000 boys aging from 12-18. 10 years ago, it was a strict boarding school, however recently, day students have been accepted and so now about ½ of the total does not board at all. I was in that situation in the younger years, as I live only a short distance from the school. It was at the beginning of year 11 (February last year), that I began boarding. It is a very strong rugby union school, and playing rugby was even compulsory until the mid-late eighties. They now allow soccer and cross-country in the winter. Summer season involves tennis, cricket, basketball, water polo or rowing.

What boarding means is that you live in a dormitory that holds about 30 boys, and each year group has 4-6 dorms. In year 12 however, each boy has a separate room. This grants the ability of not having to study in a classroom every night, but instead returning to your own room.

In terms of my week, I am at school from about 8pm on Sunday nights, until 5.30pm on Saturday, when I leave for home after sporting commitments. So yes, I am only away from school for about 24 hours each week. This is a typical week for me:

Sunday: Return to school 8pm, go to mass, and an hour of study

Monday: Wake up at 7.30, go to breakfast in the dining room. Classes as normal from 8.40-3.30, then football training (Tennis in summer) until 5pm. Dinner at 5.30-6, then study from 6.30-10.

Tuesday: Morning training at 6.30, followed by classes as normal, training again from 3.30-5, and the usual dinner and study.

Wednesday: Classes finish early (2.30) accommodating for a double training session (this is because sport used to be played on Wednesday afternoons before it was moved to Saturdays). Then dinner and study as usual.

Thursday: Same as Monday

Friday: No training, and half of night study off for free time etc.

Saturday: Play sport (tennis in summer, football in winter), then stay for the rugby, which finishes at about 5.30, after which we are free to go home, or return to school for those not going home.

One of the questions raised, was what it is like having teachers around 24/7. Well, to be honest I have become accustomed to it, and I think one of the advantages of this is the increased awareness of the needs of students for the teachers, and in turn, a greater bond between the staff and the student body. And no, it’s not like Hogwarts.

Boarding with upwards of 200 boys in a year group gets extremely interesting. The group dynamics within a body of 200 adolescent boys sees the extremes of social emotions. However, because of the nature of boys that attend, bullying is generally not a problem, and the positivity within year groups generally increases as they go through. This is not to say there isn’t fights and general disagreements etc. Mostly, though, the group is a fantastic bunch of guys, and is a great one to be a part of. Living with friends for most of the week, despite it being at school, is often one filled with interest, laughing, but not much to be bored about (apart from sitting in maths).

I hope this gives you a bit of an insight into my life at an all-boys boarding school. If you have any questions about it, please just leave a comment and I will answer any queries you may have.

Thanks guys =]

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And now for something completely different!

Ok, so as a few of you are probably aware, I am currently in my final year of school. (For those who weren't aware, you are now =]) One of the subjects that I elected to do was one that involved the designing and production of a major work. This involves in essence: making something. I chose to build a foosball coffee table.

You would all know what foosball is right? (For those who don't, it's the table soccer game you see around the place). Well my project is functionally duplicitous as it not only fulfils the functionality of the foosball game, but can also be used for the purpose of a coffee table. In other words, it is a normal foosball table, just a foot lower, and with a glass inlay over the top.

What relevance this has to you guys is you are going to help me. While i take a little bit of time to document my progress through this blog, with the central purpose of showing you an insight into my year, and hopefully letting you follow my progress with interest. Your feedback on this part of my blog would be much appreciated, and may (with your permission), be used in compiling the design portfolio to be submitted alongside the project.

This is my progress up until now:

As you can see, I have a long way to go. What that^ basically is, is the box that will house the actual foosball game. The rods that hold the players will run across that box, which will be inside a "cabinet" of sorts. The cabinet will basically be the legs of the structure, and the housing of the game, as well as the glass top.

My next step is laminating the MDF playing surface, biscuit-joining the 4 sides together, then the MDF to each of them (all dry-fitted for the moment). from there i will begin the cabinet, then install the game, then fix all the parts together. Sounds pretty simple huh? .........Yeah right.

First question. What do you think about installing lights inside the game? Most likely LED strips running along each side, similar to floodlights on a real football field. Yes or No?

Cheers everyone =]

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2009 Football Tour - UK and Spain

Below is a collection of pictures from the most amazing 17 days I could have ever imagined. In April last year my school took 30 of us footballers to play, train, and watch the best in the world. This is the bare bones. Enjoy.

This me (on the right), in the players tunnel at Liverpool's home ground, Anfield.
This is the senior team before our first game against Rhyl in Wales. I think we lost 2-1, but it was a great game. I am third from the left, kneeling.

The next one is our first taste of english football. We saw Crystal Palace play out a 1-1 draw with Coventry, and despite the tasteless scoreline, we were not disappointed. The crowd was enthusiastic, and we even were granted the opportunity to meet Nicky Carle, one of the Australians flying the flag over in the European leagues.

Old Trafford, home ground of Manchester United. I'm in the white jumper. Magnificent stadium. I'll stop there.

We then headed over to Spain. This is at the Nou Camp, Barcelona's stadium. Barcelona was a magnificent city from what we had to see of it, but unfortunately our sightseeing was limited due to the fairly strict footballing itinery of the trip. We did get to La Rambla, the Barcelona Cathedral, and the Sagrada Familia.

So there you have it, a very, very brief (as in like 5 photos out of 3-400) look at my trip last year. I could possibly upload a few more, or maybe even show a few photos/ experiences from a few more trips. If you would like to see more photos, or more of my personal experiences, just leave a comment below. Cheers guys.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Domestic Violence - Guest Blogger!

Today we actually have a guest! I’m going to be interviewing someone who I am sure a few of you are familiar with. She is the daughter of an alcoholic, and has recently joined the blogging community to share her story about dealing with domestic violence and alcoholism, a social issue often suppressed from public view.

Right, thanks for your interest Kirsty, could you tell us a little about yourself?

I'm a 23 year old Mum of one baby girl. I am studying for a PhD in environmental radiochemistry and love my work! This interview came about because of contact through our blogs, I decided to start writing a blog to release some issues from within myself which have gradually built up over the years. My parents are both alcoholics and as a result of their drinking they have had a very unstable and often violent relationship since I was about 12 years old. Obviously this has contributed to many thoughts and feelings and any decisions I have had to make in my life and I thought it was about time I shared these experiences with others.

Ok, so obviously, you’ve grown up a bit since. What is the most important thing you’ve come away from your experience with?

There are a few lessons I have learnt growing up. Firstly that alcohol is more dangerous than a lot of people realise. So many of us take it for granted and incorporate it into our lives as a completely innocent thing but I have never been one to drink a lot because of the things I have seen. In a way I guess I missed out on some aspects of growing up, I wasn't hitting the bars and clubs when my friends were etc but I would rather it was like that so I have no regrets. I have also had learn how to seriously put myself first, I spent so many years making sure that what ever I did would still enable me to be there and care for my family, it took me a very long time to stop putting my life on hold and gain some independence where I didn't feel constantly tied to my family.

Being the oldest sibling in your family, did you ever feel a sense of personal responsibility in regards to your younger brothers and sisters?

I felt I had complete responsibility! In my mind if I was there to care for them then no harm would come to them. As we grew up it was me they came to with problems rather than my parents. Even now that we are all older I still feel I have some responsibility towards them. If there is a bad episode at home and one or both of my parents gets violent as a result, I feel terrible for not being there to support my siblings. I am almost certain that were one of them to get seriously hurt then I would blame myself.

Do you feel that as a result of your childhood, you have been granted perhaps a quality or trait that not everyone has? Have you matured as a result?

I think I matured very very quickly. I practically became a carer for my parents and a parent to my three younger siblings when I was just 13 years old. And to make things worse it was all behind closed doors so I couldn't turn to anyone for help or advice. As far as quality and traits are concerned, I have incredible self control, I never gave in to peer pressure when growing up, when my friends were experimenting with alcohol etc I never joined them, although they didn't know why!

If you were to give any piece of advice to a parent, or for that matter, a child, who is experiencing a similar thing, what would it be?

To a parent - if you are the one with the problem PLEASE get help. If your partner is the one with the problem then you have two options, get them help or leave. Having seen my parents and the way they are, no matter how much I loved my partner if they had a problem and wouldn't stop for me and my baby then I would leave them without a doubt - my child comes first. You may think they are not aware of what is going on but I can assure you they do. You can try and hide it but a child will always know when something is wrong. It ruined my childhood. It has since ruined some of my experiences as an adult. Please put your children first.

To a child - I know it is very difficult to talk to somebody outside of your home. There is the fear that the violence will get worse and things will be taken out on you. There are counsellors offered at every school, speak to your teacher or school nurse about getting in touch with them and making an appointment. These people will listen to you and can't repeat anything you say to them so at least you can get things otu of your system. If you feel you CAN talk to your parents but don't know what to say, let them know how it makes you feel, how it is affecting your life. Point out to them they are unlikely to see you marry or have children. Try and shock them into reality. It may not work but it is always worth a try.

Ok, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us. I'm sure the awareness that you are helping to raise will serve to better the social recognition of this issue. If anyone wants to check out Kirsty’s own blog, which shares a number of her experiences, you can do so at:

Once again, thanks for reading, many thanks to Kirsty, and thanks to everyone who is following, and have a good weekend, wherever in the world you may be.

On a final note. If there is anyone that feels they have something to share through either an interview or direct guest blog, drop us a line at, or leave a comment below. thanks guys.