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20 Things I Have Learnt Since Leaving School!

I had the realisation last week that I am officially an oldie. I commented about ‘those days’ and was mocked because it was, in fact, the good old 90’s! Before social media, before the internet and when you could get your older looking ‘mate’ to buy alcohol because they looked 18! I thought I’d share my experience of 20 things I have learnt in the 20 years since leaving school!

School Library
School Library

What Have I Learnt since leaving school?

It then dawned on me that it’s been 20 years since I left school. It got me thinking. What exactly have I learnt in my time away from compulsory education? We all think we know ‘shit’ as teenagers. We strut around acting like we know how the world works, like we will have this perfect life while life likes to trip you up! With that in mind, I thought I’d share 20 things I’ve learnt since leaving school!

20. Don’t be in a rush to grow up – remember to enjoy the moments as you never know when they will be the only memories you have left!

19. Things change, people change, and yes, you change – Just because you spent most of your high school education wanting to be a teacher doesn’t mean that you will always want to be a teacher! (I never wanted to be a teacher, just using it as a narrative).

18. Never let your school experience hold you back. We aren’t all lucky enough to be popular or pretty or a straight-A student (I was a C student, if you are interested), but that being said, never let your school experience hold you back from living life, from being who you want to be. High school is five years of your life! That’s five short years in the scheme of the rest of your life!

17. Remember the teachers that inspired you – Teachers are weird creatures, they spend five years trying to educate you, and we often remember the ones that were the angry ones or the difficult ones. Teachers are still humans!

16. You can’t excel at everything (but you can try) – We often spend our school experience competing against others whether it be sport, drama, music, most popular etc. This often extends well into adulthood, and we spend our 20s, and even 30’s believing that we need to compete for everything! That’s a lie; we don’t!

15. Work/Life Balance – Find a job that you enjoy and which makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning! But remember, all work and no play will only bring you down!

14. No one said you have to have it all planned out – We have this mentality that we have to conform to what society tells us, 9-5 job, house, marriage, kids, travel, it is okay not to go plan. It is okay to have all of those things, some of the things and none of those things!

13. Friends – During your school years, you will ultimately have some great friends, some will extend beyond those years, and others will not. That is not to say that the friendship wasn’t worth it, but we grow up, change, and live different lives, and suddenly your best friend since primary school is just a friend on your Facebook page. You will meet so many different people; some will become friends for years; others will come and go. Learn to treasure the ones that stick around!

12. Travel – Don’t put it off; if you want to backpack across Asia, do it! Whether you are 18 or 55, experience everything! Life is short, and we are all terrible at putting things off, saying we will do it ‘one day’, but not everyone gets that ‘one day’.

11. Not everyone will like you – It’s hard when we all want social acceptance, but over the years, I’ve learnt that we aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Sometimes you will meet people who won’t appreciate you, and do you know what, it’s okay.

10. You can’t please everyone, so please yourself – It’s harder now when we watch our lives viewed on Facebook or Instagram or for the very brave YouTube. There will always be people who want to bring you down or make you feel bad. If you enjoy doing it, don’t let others tell you otherwise because, for the one negative comment, there will be a positive.

9. That Night Out is long forgotten, or so it used to be – I’ve been a teenager, I’ve spent many nights out with my friends having a great time, and there is no record of it anywhere, not one photo! However, that drunken night is now available to any future employer, employee or contact who decides to go looking!

Friends sitting on a grassy hill

8. Social Media is not your friend – I have friends who embrace social media, are early adopters of all platforms, and have friends who don’t even have messenger. A friend of mine had been out on a Sunday night for a few drinks (nothing wrong with that); however, she sat on the train to work, she wrote on Facebook, ‘What a great night, feeling a little hungover this morning, lots of coffee needed!’ She’d been at work 20 minutes when HR and her direct manager called her into the office. She was accused of arriving at work ‘drunk’, she wasn’t drunk, but HR bought up the post. The evidence spoke for itself. Sadly she was used as an example for other employees and was fired after an investigation. At the time, Facebook was new; no one knew how to deal with this new ‘social media’ policy. It was a harsh lesson for her!

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7. Never be afraid to say ‘No’ – I’m one of those people who don’t like saying ‘no’. However, in the last few years, I have learned that we shouldn’t be afraid of the word. I was offered the perfect job last summer, it was everything I wanted and more, but my family circumstances made me realise that it just wasn’t ‘right’ at that moment. So I made the painful decision to turn it down. Another opportunity came along months later.

6. Do you need that coffee? – I am going to have to mention money/finances. I am the world’s worst person when it comes to spending, and it’s like it burns a hole in my pocket. I have, however, learnt to be more aware of what I’m spending. I have a couple of apps on my phone. One manages my income and expenditure; the other is a savings app. It has helped me save what I can afford and see what I spend my money on.

Modern Office space with hanging lights

5. Office Politics – There will always be’ Office’ politics depending on where you decide to spend your career. It will always be one rule for one and a rule for everyone else. No manager is ever the same, and it doesn’t have to be an office for you to feel on the outside. I told myself daily that ‘it was the money’ that kept me from just walking out there and then!

4. No one ever knows what the hell is going on (It’s a myth) – I’ve been a girlfriend, a wife, a best friend, an employee and a mother, and in all honesty, there is no science to doing any of it right. You get on with it and hope that it makes a difference. So don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day or feel like you are failing because you are not!

3. I’ve learnt to take it as it comes – My life hasn’t exactly turned out the way I pictured my beautiful life at 15. College, university, and a career travelling the world was how I imagined my 20s and early 30s before settling down and having a couple of kids, moving to the country, and relaxing. Instead, I got married at 22, had my 1st kid at 25 and my 2nd at 28, and nothing can prepare you for the special needs child; no planning will make that right. It’s okay to hit a few changes in life; everything happens for a reason.

2. Mental & Physical Health – In this journey, we call life, we often forget to take care of ‘us’ as in ‘you and me’. We spend so much time working, socialising, caring or living that we forget to take time out and ‘self-care’. When was the last time you did something for ‘you’ and either didn’t feel guilty or didn’t rush! Sometimes we need a little time out, so enjoy that walk in the park, enjoy that extra coffee with a friend; it’s good for zen.

1. Lastly, 20 years…a lot can change in 20 years, and at the same time, nothing can change at all. Remember to take time to smell the roses, enjoy the little things and take lots of photos! You never know when those photos will be all you have left!

Has it been a while since you left school? Have you learnt some things you’d like to share? Perhaps you’ve left school recently, and you still don’t know where you want to be? Please click like, share it around and maybe leave a little comment. I know I’d appreciate it! If you are interested, Cosmopolitan magazine ran a similar article back in 2018!

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Cornwall Family Travel Reviews Travel

Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park Review 2019

For those who don’t know, Perran Sands is a Holiday Park owned and managed by Haven Holidays (Bourne Leisure). Haven has a variety of holiday parks across the UK, with two in Cornwall. Perran Sands and Riviere Sands, in Hayle. Both are located near beautiful Cornish beaches and easily reach significant family attractions. This is an independent review; I have not been gifted or paid in any way. We were given a voucher for our holiday from the Family Fund. We are a family of four, and this was our seventh year staying at Perran Sands, but the first time visiting in May Half-Term and trying an adapted caravan. This is usually our annual summertime holiday in July, but we moved it forward. This is our Perran Sands Holiday Park Review. 

About Perran Sands

Perran Sands is an average-sized holiday park in North Cornwall, in a small seaside town named Perranporth; it’s pretty much the surfing capital of Cornwall! It has a private sandy beach with access from the park, but please be advised due to the stairs, it isn’t suitable for wheelchair users, pushchairs or those with mobility issues! Believe me, after a day at the beach, it’s a killer!

One of the reasons we return to Perran Sands year after year is the fantastic sea views. You can’t fault the location of the local beaches, with Perranporth beach just a short ride away. Tripadvisor is the best place to check them out if you want more reviews. Overall it has a great score, and we’ve only ever had issues that were not directly linked to Haven or the park.

Perran Sands park entrance taken in spring 2021
Haven (Perran Sands) Park Entrance – Photo by Gemma Cantan 2021

Check-In & Finding Our Way Around

Check-in is always smooth. Like last year, check-in was inside the Dune’s Bar. An enthusiastic and friendly team member greeted us, and he confirmed our accommodation and pointed us in the right direction of our caravan. The good thing about Perran Sands is that finding your way around is straightforward; the signposting is very obvious. If you find yourself lost, staff members often point you in the right direction.

As a side note: This year, we booked an adapted caravan for the first time; however, our son, who has special needs, was not impressed. This is not reflected in Haven and their standard of accommodation; it was neat, tidy and had direct access to the park, but unfortunately, he likes his routine and didn’t settle. So I spoke to reception to see if moving was possible. Thankfully they moved us to a three-bedroom prestige caravan with a partial sea view for four nights (we had to cut our trip short). Our caravan was located at the top of the park in an area called ‘Pentreath View’ and, ironically, right next door to the caravan we stayed in the year before. I have included a few photographs of the standard below.

Our caravan included: Microwave, dishwasher, hob, cooker and hood with fan, fridge with small freezer, digital TV with DVD player, Bluetooth sound system, ensuite toilet, TV in the bedroom, plenty of storage, radiators (believe me, it was cold for May) and plenty of space for a large family to spread out.

Interior of Prestige Caravan
Interior of Prestige Caravan

Onsite Facilities at Perran Sands

Let’s talk about food: Like most holiday parks, there are some excellent facilities on site, including The Surf Bay Restaurant, Cooks Fish & Chip Shop, Papa John’s Pizza, mini supermarket and laundrette. A large entertainment complex includes an indoor and outdoor swimming pool and an outside lazy river. Two bars, ‘The Dunes bar’, which was closed during our recent trip and the ‘Live Lounge’, where the primary entertainment is and just the spot to unwind late into the evening.

On previous visits, we have eaten at Surf Bay, a cross between a Harvester and a Beefeater—good quality food, with a bar located outside. You cannot pre-book, so you can expect a wait during busy times, but you get to eat in the ‘camper’ if you are lucky. Great atmosphere but busy! Always busy.

Ready for a change of pace? Book your next break and enjoy the great outdoors, adrenaline-boosting activities, on-site restaurants, and epic evening entertainment. Get ahead of the game by booking your UK holiday for 2023 now.

There are two takeaways onsite ‘Cooks’ Fish & Chips and Papa John’s. Both can be busy at times but convenient. Papa John’s even delivers to your caravan! Both offer a decent meal and right-size portions and are not hugely expensive compared to nearby Perranporth.

Outdoor seating area at Perran Sands Holiday park
Perran Sands Complex

The swimming pools are open to everyone from 9.30 am, and I suggest arriving early as we queued for over 45 minutes to enter due to the sheer volume of people in the pools. One large indoor pool, a separate slide, a smaller toddler pool and a large outdoor pool with a lazy river. It was too cold to venture outside this year, but the lazy river is extremely popular and worth investigating.

Aside from the central park, there are surf lessons, football pitches and plenty of play parks dotted around, and if you are all about arcades and pool tables, the Live Lounge area has that as well. There were large extended families with lots of younger children during our visit.

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If you prefer to venture further afield, Perran Sands places you at a great location as a base. You are an 8-minute drive from Perranporth, where you will find shops, bars, food outlets, ice cream and quaint gift shops. Newquay is only a 15 – 20-minute drive away, where you can find a large town, restaurants, bars, and supermarkets. Truro is the largest town, just 25 minutes away, with its beautiful cathedral, cobbled streets and Primark (sorry, I’m a sucker for some shopping). There are also some excellent coastal drives with the most amazing beaches, Porth, Mawgan Porth, Watergate Bay and Crantock, to name a few.

Perranporth beach from above
Perranporth Beach from above

Top Tips

As a family who likes a home-from-home, Perran Sands offers us the option of eating in or out while not feeling obligated to eat on-site. Many options exist, from camping to beach houses, glamping to chalets. Over our previous visits, we have stayed in various caravan classes, so there is a budget for everyone from standard to platinum with decking.

  1. Booking early can save you ££££. We often book nine months in advance and save 25%. Sometimes up to 50% depending on the offers available.
  2. In peak season (July/August), you often queue in the Live Lounge to access the launderette. So it’s best to get there early to avoid disappointment, as, in Summer 2017, we couldn’t even get into the main Live Lounge to get seats at 6.15 pm!
  3. If you are interested in activities, book in advance using the app; you will be surprised by how quickly everything fills up.
  4. There is much to see and do in the local area, from zoos and waterparks to railways and theme parks (Flambards is…amazing!)
  5. Get up and out early; you can imagine how busy places get in peak summer. We’ve struggled to park in Newquay in August due to the number of people.

So there you have it; next time you consider a ‘staycation’, maybe Perran Sands is worth a look. Perhaps, you’ve previously been? Maybe you are staying this year? Let me know if you have your comments to add.

Haven Perran Sands Holiday Park, Perranporth, Cornwall, TR6 0AQ

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Top 10 Tips for Attending a Job Interview

Feeling nervous and overwhelmed about attending a job interview? Don’t worry; it’s totally normal! To help calm those nerves and ace that interview, here are our top 10 tips for creating the perfect job interview experience. From ensuring your CV and cover letter are polished to offering some invaluable advice during the interview, we’ve got you covered. Follow these steps, and you’re sure to land that dream job!

1. Dress appropriately

A lot has changed since my first interview. From being at school, then college and beyond, I was told continuously that appearance was essential and wore a smart suit with smart shoes and felt uncomfortable for many years. That’s not to say not to, but consider the position. I’ve seen interviewees at Tesco dressed in suits and ties, looking extremely uncomfortable. That’s not to say that Tesco won’t appreciate your effort, but a smart pair of trousers and a shirt would probably be okay.

When deciding what to wear to a job interview, it’s important to dress appropriately. Although office attire is generally more relaxed these days, it’s still important to look put together and professional. Avoid wearing jeans or Converse shoes, but try incorporating some of your individual style and personality into your outfit. You don’t have to go all out in a suit and tie, but looking polished and presentable is always appreciated!

2. Research

Don’t ever underestimate the power of research. I’m going, to be honest, I’ve been to interviews fully equipped with background information on companies and never been asked one question about what I know, and then I’ve been to interviews and been asked questions that I could never have answered. Look at their social media pages; what’s one of the last things they’ve posted or shared? Do they have social media pages? I was recently at an interview and asked what I thought of the company’s website! I wasn’t prepared, but I had researched the company and managed to draw on some of the things I remembered.

Man and Woman Near Table
Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Preparing for a job interview can be a daunting task. To make sure you put your best foot forward, it’s important to research the role you are applying for and the company. This can help you develop relevant questions and conversation topics, demonstrating your knowledge and interest in the position and the organisation. Even picking up on recent news stories about the company that you can reference in conversation is an effective way to make an impression during the interview.

3. Preparation

You’ve bagged the interview of your dreams, so interview preparation is critical. Check if the interview requires you to supply a passport, national insurance number or a list of references. Some do at the interview stage, so best check any emails you receive. Ensure you know where you must be, how you will get there and when you will arrive. Is it going to be a walk, a car journey or are you relying on public transport?

Keep a folder of relevant documents, including your recent CV. You’ll be surprised how many interviews I’ve been to, and the interviewer has a CV on my Linkedin profile from six months earlier.

Make sure what you wear is ironed, clean and in a place that isn’t likely to get lost or dirty and don’t forget about the shoes! We all do it.

4. Arrive on time

I’m not going to lie. I’ve arrived at interviews flustered, tired and puffing. It’s not strictly professional. If you know it will take an hour by car, allow for at least an hour and a half. If you are using public transport, allow longer. I made the mistake of allowing two hours door to door. I missed my train because the station screens were down, and no one could find out which platform it was leaving. I arrived for my interview with two minutes to spare, looking flustered and like I’d run a marathon. Allowing 10 to 15 minutes is typical. I like to look around, check out my surroundings (nearest Costa) and ensure I feel calm and ready.

Person Holding Silver Retractable Pen in White Ruled Book
Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

5. Prepare Questions

On more than one occasion, I’ve been to an interview and failed to ask any questions, mainly due to being ill-prepared. I’ve learnt my lesson. I know to prepare at least three, and I use my research to help. I have included some examples:

Ask about the future of the company. Do they have any major plans? If you’ve seen something on their social media that interests you, don’t hesitate to ask about it! It will show that you have taken an interest. As someone keen to develop my career, I like to ask about employee development and the opportunities available. It shows that you are thinking about the future. Not all employers do department tours, especially if you are one of 10 interviews that week, so ask them about your working environment; it can help you get a feel for the role if you know that it’s an open-plan or a more enclosed office. You can always tie it in with a ‘day in the life’ question.

6. Make a good impression!

I have been to some interviews where the HR manager couldn’t have been less interested and either didn’t offer their hand or did an awful floppy shake. I would offer my hand anyway! Keep eye contact, looking from one to the other or to the person who asked the question. Smile a lot! Watch what you do with your hands; moving them around too much can make you seem unprofessional. Don’t forget to show your enthusiasm!

man and woman near table
Photo by fauxels on

7. Enthusiasm!

Applying for a job can be daunting, especially if you have a job interview coming up. It is essential to stay focused and positive in an interview and ensure that your enthusiasm shines through. Be sure to provide concise answers while demonstrating your passion and knowledge of the specific role. This can help to boost enthusiasm and reduce nerves leading up to the interview.

8. It’s about you as much as it is about them!

I had an interview with a great company with an excellent reputation. I arrived early and was kept waiting for 15 minutes, but I loved the view and the surroundings. The interviewer was sick, and from the moment the interview began, she made me feel uncomfortable. She was bold, hard-faced and to the point, allowing me no time to ask what I could do. She made me feel awkward and flustered and answered poorly. I wasn’t shocked to discover that they didn’t hire me! Employers sometimes forget that we are also interviewing them. We are not inclined to say yes if we feel uncomfortable or out of place during the interview, and I declined a few opportunities in my time. Some were okay, some pretty bad and some because it just didn’t feel right. I was made to feel like I couldn’t say no, that accepting the interview meant I was obliged to take the job that didn’t feel right. Go with your instincts. If it feels like the commute will be too hard, the job isn’t what you want, or you didn’t connect with your manager, consider whether you won’t want to run for the hills a week into the position.

Person Holding Black Tablet Computer
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

9. You become a salesperson…sell yourself!

I’m going to admit; that it’s hard to sell yourself. You get asked, ‘Tell me one thing you do well?’ I often ramble off something that has nothing to do with the position. Try and make it relevant!

CVs are the first time prospective employers meet us as job seekers. A proper and well-written CV stands between you and the paper shredder! Don’t shy away from mentioning an achievement. You raised £2k for charity doing a bike ride; say it! That’s a fantastic achievement. You’d be surprised that even the most qualified applicants can be turned down because the winning candidate responded with better answers. They proved that they would be a great fit within the company.

10. Follow-Up

There is a lot of misconception concerning ‘after’ the interview. If you have an email address or social media contact, send a quick note to thank the interviewer for their time, this gives them the opportunity to A) Remember you and B) That they can give you a response via email.

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You travel to an interview, take time off work, and hear nothing! Not even a ‘thank you’ for attending. If you have contact details, give them a quiet call or email and ask.

We should all be given feedback, but it doesn’t always happen.

My Personal Favourites:

A). You didn’t tick all the boxes (what am I meant to learn from that).

B). We went with someone who we felt suited the position more (And that helps me how)

C). We wanted someone who we could train and who had little experience (You wanted to pay £4.00 an hour)

D). We appreciate you attending the interview. We felt that you were a fantastic candidate. If anything should come up in the future, we would certainly consider you; however, we thought we wanted someone with more experience (How exactly do I get experience?)

E). It was a pleasure to meet you the other day; your enthusiasm was refreshing! But after careful consideration, we will not offer you the position; we just felt that the job required someone with more administration experience. (I have over ten years of administration experience!) It was, by far, my favourite!

If more people ask for feedback, it will eventually become the norm. So whether you are looking for your first job, an internship during your studies or a complete career change, these tips will help you feel more confident. 

So there you have it! My top 10 tips when attending a job interview! Do you have stories to share? Want to add anything that you’ve learnt? 

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