Cadetships: Officer of the Watch Orals

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RFA Cadetships: Definitely not the Royal Navy

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  • Phase One – Nautical College (19 weeks).
  • Phase Two – Sea (34 weeks)
  • Phase Three – Nautical College (34 weeks)
  • Phase Four – Sea (40 weeks)
  • Phase Five – Nautical College & final oral examination (12 weeks)

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RFA Cadetships: Nautical College (Phase One)

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  • Phase One – Nautical College (19 weeks)
  • Phase Two – Sea (34 weeks)
  • Phase Three – Nautical College (34 weeks)
  • Phase Four – Sea (40 weeks)
  • Phase Five – Nautical College & final oral exam. (12 weeks)

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Cane & Grain: Ribs, Beer & Bourbon

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20140716-145447-53687973.jpgOverall, our experience of Cane & Grain was a good one and I’d definitely go back again. The music was an eclectic mix of indie/rock from the past few decades and was loud enough to hear but not intrusive. The waiting on staff were friendly and made sure we were well looked after. Seeing that we were in a bar specialising in bourbon, I asked what they’d recommend – the waiting on staff actually sent a barman over to us to ask what sort of bourbon we’d like to sample. He listened and came back with three distinct bourbons – if I’d been more wealthy I would quite happily have pulled up a stool at the bar and drank bourbon all night. And that, to me, is the sign of a good bar. 20140716-150116-54076505.jpg

buy cialis online I have not been asked to write this post nor was I gifted anything in return for writing it.  viagra cheap If you want to sample the place yourself, you can find Cane & Grain at 49-51 Thomas Street, Manchester (call 0161 839 7033 for bookings).  

 

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Sigg Thermo Mug: Perfect Companion?

I’ve been fan of SIGG bottles since I was a teenager (which was a very long time ago): they’re sturdy; last a lifetime and they look pretty cool too! I’m an outdoorsy, ‘busy’ type of person and my SIGG products have travelled the world with me, turning heads wherever I go. The latest addition to the family is the Thermo, an insulated bottle that keeps drinks hot or cold (depending on what you put in them). This is due to the high-grade 18/8 stainless steel and the vacuum-insulation used to make the Thermo.

I was sent the SIGG Thermo 0.5L mug to review and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I’ve always used a traditional flask when out for a day and a screw top thermal mug to take a brew away with me in the car. At 0.5L the Thermo certainly has the capacity of a decent sized hill walking flask but I wasn’t sure if it would keep my coffee as hot for as long. The Thermo definitely looks the part: it’s slim, cool to the touch and has a lid which is really easy to hold. I took my Thermo everywhere, and I mean everywhere…

I’m in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) and have just been through all my Basic Training for Seafarers courses. I took my Thermo to lectures, to the lake whilst doing lifeboat training and I also tested the cold properties of the Thermo when doing my firefighting.

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I played around with the thermal properties of the Thermo, following the instructions to the letter (preheat the Thermo with boiling water prior to filling with drink) and also throwing caution to the wind and NOT preheating it. When I did it properly, I made a brew at 0845 and got bored of waiting for it to get cold at 2215. In all fairness I did leave the lid on tight , only opening it occasionally over that time and whilst the coffee wasn’t steaming hot at 2215, it was still a very drinkable brew. When I made my brew maverick style, again at 0845, my coffee was still drinkable at 1500. That’s a better performance than my traditional flask and way better than any thermal screw top mug I’ve ever owned – they usually keep a drink warm for about 2 hours. As for the keeping water cold, it also performed very well indeed – definitely welcome after coming out of a burning container wearing full fire fighting kit!

The Thermo mug has a removable tea strainer, which does what it says on the tin. I made some green tea and it worked pretty well, I didn’t test it with loose leaf tea so I can’t comment on whether the strainer is fine enough for that but it definitely works well for using tea bags. No messy fishing it out of the mug!

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I work hard and like to play equally as hard and I took my SIGG Thermo to Northern Ireland with me to provide a hot, home made brew wherever I went on my road trip. It really was the perfect companion on my trip, slim, unassuming and keeping my drink hot for hours. It was something special to have a coffee on the Giant’s Causeway! My friends who’ve been with me whilst testing the SIGG Thermo have tried to whisk it away on several occasions – it’s definitely a bottle that’ll turn heads!

I’m not sure that I would take the Thermo 0.5L away as a flask on the hills as I like to pour out my coffee and drink it from a mug BUT the larger sized Thermo bottles actually have a mug. Given the performance of the 0.5L I am sure the larger SIGG Thermo’s would be excellent pieces of kit for a day on the hills. I am more than happy to say that the SIGG Thermo 0.5L is the perfect companion for work and play, and I highly recommend it.

The SIGG Thermo is available in 0.3L, 05.L, 0.75L and 1L bottles.

cialis for sale I was sent this product for the purposes of this review, all opinions are my own.

RFA BRNC Dartmouth Course

When I first tell people that I work for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) the first thing people ask is “Don’t you mean the RAF?”. After explaining what I do, I’m then asked “I thought you said you weren’t in the Royal Navy, so why were you at Dartmouth and what did you do?”  It’s a good question and it’s one that I am only able to answer now that I’ve been there and come out the other side. There was very little information available as to what to expect, and those seemingly in the know muttered things about ‘learning how to use a knife and fork’. It was of course much, much more than that and most people weren’t expecting the course to be anything like it was.  I write this post in the hope that it will provide future intakes with some useful information. 

I’m going to start at the end: the photograph below shows my Passing Out Parade at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Dartmouth back in November 2013 and it marked the end of an 8 week course that all new Officer entrants to the RFA have to do. It’s a condition of employment to attend this course whether you’re already a qualified Officer, starting a Cadetship or an RFA rating becoming an Officer. It’s worth noting that where relevant, your employment with the RFA starts the day you report at BRNC.

RFA BRNC Passing Out Parade

In a very busy 8 weeks the RFA course at BRNC covers: Leadership; Communication; Teamwork; Roles of the RFA & RN; History of the RFA; Seamanship; Etiquette; Ceremonial Training (Drill); Meteorology & Fitness. All very worthwhile and useful stuff but the bigger question is how all this fits together…

canada drugs.com EDIT: THIS COURSE HAS NOW CHANGED. THE LEADERSHIP ELEMENT IS NOW MOSTLY BASED ON THE RIVER. THE RFA COURSE IS A CONSTANTLY CHANGING BEAST.

what is cialis Week 1 You arrive at BRNC on a Saturday wearing a suit and get an introduction to BRNC and both the RN & RFA. Your uniform will be in your cabin waiting for you. From now on, you will refer to BRNC as a ship and apply all appropriate naval terms (get your hands on a copy of ‘Jackspeak’, it’ll come in handy). The RFA course starts two weeks into the first phase  of the RN Commissioning course, a phase of 10 weeks known as ‘Militarisation’, you will spend a lot of time with your RN counterparts – talk to them, you have things to learn from them and vice versa. You’ll get talks from various high ranking Officers both RN and RFA, fill in loads of paperwork and you’ll start lectures delivered by Royal Marines from the Royal Naval Leadership Academy. It is crucial that you listen to the lectures and lessons from the Leadership Academy and then DO EXACTLY AS YOU’RE TOLD. There is also the fitness tests… you will be required to complete the Royal Navy Fitness Test (RNFT), which is a 1.5 mile run. Whilst you don’t have to pass it to complete the RFA course, you will find yourself resitting it every weekend until you do. You’ll also get the delights of the swimming test, again you don’t have to pass it but resitting is a tad inconvenient. 

cialis canada Week 2 After applying EXACTLY WHAT YOU’VE BEEN TOLD from the lessons by the Marines you will be heading off with your RN colleagues to complete the Basic Leadership Development package or BLD– Carried out at Okehampton Battle Camp in Dartmoor. You will be staying in an Army training camp and being taught basic infantry skills such as living in the field, why things are seen, rations and making a shelter. Be under no illusions, it will be everything you’ve ever imagined about Army – 20 man rooms, basic shower facilities, wearing combat uniform, and being outside in whatever the weather has to throw at you. Yes, you didn’t join the Army and sure, you’ll be cold but this is how the military ‘does’ leadership. It makes you cold and uncomfortable and then asks you to make decisions, solve problems and lead your team. And yes, I am well aware that the RFA are civilians and I am sure you will hear some grumbling about being cold, wet, hungry, miserable and not ‘signing up for this’. Just remember that you did sign up for this, you joined a very specialised organisation that works shoulder to shoulder with the RN. The RFA cadets have it easier compared to the RN – we don’t carry full bergens, webbing or a weapon. BLD ends with two days ‘bivvying’ in the grounds of BRNC, getting very little sleep and completing two days of practical leadership tasks.

viagra 50mg Week 3 Is mostly about basic boat handling in motor whalers and lectures covering all facets of the Royal Navy operations including Royal Marines, Logistics and Maritime ops. Finally, you’ll get to do some boaty type things, and it’s a very welcome break from BLD the week before.

buy cialis Week 4 Sees your newly acquired boating skills developed as you learn manoeuvres in a bigger boat, expanding on the basics taught in the previous week. You’ll also get a series of Strategic Studies lectures which cover naval history and the Falklands campaign including lessons learnt and the RFAs role in it. In English lessons you’ll cover basic grammar rules and learn how to present to your peers, culminating in a 5 minute presentation to the group on a defence subject. There’s also a series of lectures out the RFA itself covering:manning levels; career progression and the appointing system.

sildenafil 100 mg wirkungsdauer Week 5 More time on the River Dart, (I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun) with an introduction to big ship seamanship.  anchoring, buoy jumping and a mock light line transfer Replenishment at Sea (RAS). RFA Specific seamanship is also taught to highlight the differences between the two organisations. There’s also a  RIB acquaint and clay pigeon shooting.

canada viagra Week 6 This is pretty heavy academic week with further Strategic Studies, meteorology and Ship Technology lessons and you have to pass a test about the RFA.

viagra preço Week 7 sees you return to Dartmoor to complete the the Assessed Basic Leadership Exercise (ABLE) which involves a march carrying your bags followed by 3 nights on Dartmoor where you’ll have to lead 2 practical leadership tasks per student. Again, just do exactly as you’ve been told before – if the Marines tell you to sleep in trainers and socks, then that is what you should do. This is the big one of the RFA course and this is the assessment of you as a leader and a team member. It is hard and you will be tired but you’ll also feel a massive sense of pride when you finish it. You will be completing ABLE alongside your RN colleagues, talk to them, help where you can – however hard you’re finding it, they’re probably finding it worse. RFA cadets carry daysacks but RN ones carry full kit at all times including webbing and a weapon. RN cadets regulary get ‘beastings’ from the Marines but because we’re civvies, we don’t. Believe me when I say that having to stand and watch your colleagues get a beasting is a humbling experience. You should feel justifiably proud to have completed ABLE.

canadian pharmacies online Week 8 The time has flown by and every morning this week will see you doing doing ceremonial training practise for the Pass out Parade on Thursday. There is also a Maritime leadership exercise involving up to 3 boats being deployed on the river building stuff you learned in week 3. It may be the last week but there’s still time to work on team building and leadership - you’ll spend a morning dangling from ropes on the high ropes course.

And suddenly you’re on the parade square at BRNC in front of your family and friends having successfully completed the RFA Initial Officer’s course. It’s a proud moment and one you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Here are my top tips for the RFA at BRNC Course:

  • Bring suitable clothing, you’ll spend all your evenings in ‘dog robbers’ – think chinos, tie & blazers (minus tie for the girls though).
  • Be prepared to be eating your meals in a very grand hall, wearing smart clothes
  • Work on your fitness. Passing the RNFT in week one will keep your stress levels down.
  • You will be issued some Army combat boots before you start the course – make sure you break them in. You will be thankful for it on BLD.
  • Take a kettle and brew making facilities.
  • You will have your own cabin but take things to make it feel more like home. Photographs, duvet covers etc
  • Invest in decent waterproof black gloves. You won’t be able to use them for BLD but you will be very grateful for them on ABLE.
  • Same for a headtorch with a red filter!
  • Same for dry bags! (Think canoeing)
  • Compression shorts are an excellent choice of underwear for long days on the moors (reduces/eliminates chafing).
  • Buy the most expensive iron you can afford.
  • When you buy sandwich bags (it’s on the kit list) get the ones that press to close not the zip ones. You will need more than you think you will.
  • You don’t need to spend money on a fountain pen, you don’t really need one…
  • Don’t bother with denim, it’s the devil’s cloth.
  • Do exactly what you’re told to do and nothing more/less.

There are things that I’ve not detailed here but I don’t want to completely ruin the surprise: Good luck and enjoy!

RFA Cadetships: The application process

For those of you who are interested in joining the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the application process is as follows:

1. Call RFA hotline to determine eligibility to apply: 08456 040520, 0900 to 2100 Monday to Sunday except Bank Holidays.

2. Receive application pack, fill it in and post it off.

3. If your application passes a paper sift, you’ll be invited to take the Royal Navy Recruit Test (RT) at an Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO) near you. You sit the test, leave and the AFCO will pass on your score to RFA recruiting, you do not find out this score.

4. If RT is passed you will be invited down to Portsmouth for a sift interview with RFA recruiting where they will assess your suitability for a cadetship and whether to put you forward for the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB).

5. AIB. Three days of Officer Selection to look forward too and it as at this point you will have a fitness test. Be prepared to sit the bleep test, which is scored by age and gender. Whilst there is no pass mark for the RFA, you are assessed on effort – it’s not too much of a challenge to work on your fitness before going to AIB… You will be told whether you have passed or failed the AIB at the end of the three days but if you pass it doesn’t mean you have been successful in getting a cadetship. It’s a very good sign but you’re not there just yet.

6. Conditional offer of a job from the RFA subject to a few things namely: getting an MCA ENG1 medical with no limitations; a security check; innoculations and getting a discharge book.

7. Once all the paperwork is in and clearance given, the RFA will make you a formal offer and send you your contract. It’s a condition of employment that you attend a two month course at BRNC Dartmouth. These currently run twice a year in September and May.

Presuming you make it that far and once BRNC is a mere memory, you will start the civilian phase of your training at Fleetwood Nautical College.

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RFA Cadetships: Training

As many of you know I’ve recently fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition by joining the military, except that I haven’t really because I’ve joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) which is a civilian manned MOD owned fleet. It’s pretty warry for a civilian job, we go to war zones, wear uniform and have big guns but we’re still civvies at the end of the day. The RFA is a unique organisation that lies somewhere between the Merchant fleet and the Royal Navy, because of this my training will consist of both civilian and military courses. Most people I’ve spoken too are pretty confused as to what I’ll be doing over the next few years so I thought a blog post would be useful.

I’ve joined the RFA as a Deck Officer Cadet and I’ll be training to become an ‘Officer of the Watch’ meaning I’ll be responsible for the safety of the crew and the ship for each of the four hour periods I’m in charge on the bridge. I’ll be trained to use advanced satellite navigation systems, how to assess weather conditions, to conduct Replenishments at Sea (RAS), moor the ship and how to load cargo.

The first stage of my cadetship was a two month course at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Dartmouth, developing leadership, communication and teamwork skills – these two months warrants a whole blog post all of its own! The next stage for me will be to join cadets from other parts of the Merchant Navy (MN) at one of the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) accredited training establishments to begin a three-year course. I’ll be studying for a Foundation Degree (FdSc) in Nautical Science because I’ve got a few UCAS points in addition to the required GCSE results (I’ll write another post on entry/selection to the RFA). Those without the required UCAS points work towards a Higher National Diploma (HND). Both routes also lead to the Certificate of Competency: Officer of the Watch qualification allowing you to work on a MN ship. The three year course is split into five phases interspersing time at college with time at sea, ensuring plenty of time onboard ship shadowing qualified officers to build skill and knowledge. The course culminates in a gruelling MCA Oral examination and after successfully sitting that, I’ll be qualified and wearing the rank of Third Officer.

My Royal Navy training will also be fitted in as and when is appropriate, as a Deck Cadet (and hopefully a qualified Officer) I will have to do quite a few RN courses as we work so closely with the Navy. It’s certainly going to be an interesting few years and I’m looking forward to it: I’m being paid a decent salary to get a degree, an MCA qualification and to see the world. I’m pretty happy with that.

I should also add that the RFA (and other Merchant Navy companies) offer cadetships in Marine Engineering and Systems Engineering, but why would you want to study them? Everyone knows that Deck is the best department…