Let’s just say…

The weekend has not been great.

Not that I want to sit and moan-type it all out, more that it is important to acknowledge that things aren’t going the way you planned, or wanted, and that sometimes it is just simply out of your control.

So the last couple of days have been pretty stressful and chaotic, but the week ahead is shaping up to be a busy and eventful time. I have two hospital placements coming up, one of which will be in the A&E department, as well as a learning forum event that -while I may usually sprint away from social events – I will make myself go to. And not just because they threaten to fine you if you don’t turn up, but it will be a valuable experience. The topic should focus on Parkinson’s Disease and as this is an important condition to understand for my future career, why not grab the opportunity with both hands and head to the event.

University projects are getting pretty heavy lately, and the revision is piling up around me (literally, my table is covered in books and notes so high its like a wall). So when I am not attending these events and placements, I should be hard at work studying. Hopefully it will all pay off some day.

 

So, just a brief update, but when I get more work done I will look to do more things and write them out.

 

 

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Belated update on my life

I suppose it has been a very long time since I wrote anything at all, but that is not because nothing has happened. Instead, it is that too much has happened for me to even know where to start with a blog post.

So I guess I should just start!

The last couple of months of my life have been dedicated mostly to my final year research project – A.K.A. The Dissertation. This is one huge commitment and is filled with many nasty little surprises. Like figuring out how the hell to use SPSS.

SPSS is a statistical software, which would very conveniently help in the analysis of my quantitative data if I only knew how to use SPSS in the first place. It is like Microsoft Excel, but on steroids and then having been to the gym for about a year. In other words, it does fancy things with numbers if you know how to tickle it properly. Which, I do not. In fact, I have managed to squeeze out of it some descriptive stats and a few histograms…but that was after some long, tortuous hours and the results are not nearly enough to interpret the data set.

UGH! I hate stats.

On the other hand, the qualitative research side of things has been fun. Conducting interviews, carrying out observations and case studies…it is actually a lot more interesting than it sounds. Ok, maybe only a little bit more interesting than it sounds – but hey! next to stats it looks like a dream.

So aside from my day in, day out research there have been many other things happening too. Like learning how to drive – not that I have my license yet. In fact, the first practical test I failed in about 6 minutes. It was embarrassingly stupid but I was feeling pretty nervous and I knew that this bloody awful spiral round about was coming up – anyway, I was so focused on being in the right place and not dying on the roundabout that I forgot to look for the lights… You guessed it. I ran a red light.

Well, almost. The instructor slammed his foot down – “RED LIGHT LYNDSEY” – and I knew in that moment that it was over. But, instead of ending the test there and then in the first few minutes, I had to sit through the rest and drive through my manoeuvres knowing full well that it had been a waste of time and money and I was not getting that license.

Oh well. It happens. It wasn’t great to have wasted that money or sit silently on the drive home with my instructor with the sense that he was feeling more than a little disappointed…but you know what, it really doesn’t matter that much. It’s a driving test, not heart surgery – if I fail (and I did) then nothing truly bad happened because of it. Yeah, I have to take it again, spend more money, wait a little longer. But that is all extra experience added onto the fact that I am now super aware of the traffic lights on that roundabout – so, really, I am a better driver for it.

Other things happening are that I gained a penfriend! It has been quite exciting to get GOOD post, about things other than bank stuff and bills and pizza flyers. Finding out what someone is life, what their life is like, finding out who they are, and then sending off my own letters has been a lot more fun than I ever thought it would be. Sometimes, you really do just need small things to make your whole day seem much better.

I would need much more time to write about all the other things going on – which I will get round to! – but for now, I’m off to revise (sigh) and then sleep (yay).

 

I hope you have a great day 🙂

 

-L

Return to River Cottage

At the start of September, I returned to one of my favourite places: River Cottage.

This time round, my sister and I were there for the River Cottage 10th Anniversary Bash and Book Launch – Phew! What a long name, but what a fantastic day. This particular event at River Cottage HQ was to celebrate 10 brilliant years of River Cottage, and to launch the latest cook book that brings together all those years of hard work and culinary expertise.

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One of the greatest draws to this event had to have been the attendance of the fabulous man himself, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. After an hour or so of exploring the Cottage, nibbling on tasty treats and nursing an almost palpable excitement, he appeared.

It was fantastic to watch and listen as he introduced each member of the team who had also contributed to the production of the enormous River Cottage A-Z Guide. He spoke about the book, their hard work and continual efforts.

While we waited for our chance to speak to the team directly, we explored the grounds and tasted the treats. Everywhere we went, we were shown such beauty from the West Country.

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Admiring the freshly picked flowers.

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The Cottage cat, snoozing amidst the excitement.

I was ecstatic to see my jam-making idol again, Pam “The Jam” Corbin. And to meet the gentlemanly head chef, Gill Meller, was also a treat. It was a fantastic opportunity to pick up tips, share excitement and celebrate the years of River Cottage.

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Meeting my culinary idol, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

 

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My sister and I nabbing a quick selfie with Gill Meller.

We had so much delicious and freshly cooked foods to eat, of course. As we continued to explore the Cottage grounds, stations were set up in different corners and enticed you in with such heavenly smells. The chefs themselves stood and prepared a feast before your eyes!

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Divine foods.

Staying until the very last moments, we caught the tractor back up and out of River Cottage. With us in the tractor sat John, Pam and Hugh – I was so nervous with excitement I could barely remember how to form a serious sentence. Everyone was so lovely, so welcoming and I was very sad but content to watch the lights of River Cottage fade away.

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Taking with me my signed copies of their books, and renewed enthusiasm for exploring recipes, I knew I would absolutely be returning again next year.

 

xxx

I should start with an apology…

Sorry! It has been a very long time since my last post, and so much has happened in between then and now that I could spend all day writing updates. For now, I will gather together a few of the big things that have been going on and will be happening…

University

I am now entering my fourth and final (eek!) year of the Master of Pharmacy course at UCL. This upcoming year is going to be crammed full of projects, research, learning and preparing myself for the big wide world.

The biggest challenge recently has been to secure a pre-registration position following my degree. As a requirement of qualifying to practice pharmacy, you have to complete the GPhC registration exam following one year of learning and working in either a community, hospital or industrial setting. Pre-reg places in industry are scarce, so many tackle the hospital and community pharmacy application processes. However, as there are so many of us now, it is exceptionally competitive to get that hospital offer! For me, the process went like this:

Written Application – I spent a long time writing, re-writing and worrying about this. The application is your first line in selling your skills and so crucial to get that balance of professionalism and personality showing through. There were a number of questions that focused on experience and meeting guidelines… it can be tricky to make yourself stand out! So to ensure my written application wasn’t the newest sedative medication, I inflicted my writing on anyone near me. Thankfully, the advice and criticism I received paid off as my refined application took me to the next stage…

Stage 1: The Dreaded Calculations – it is a sad day when you find yourself excited about pharmaceutical calculations… I spent many hours in the days leading up to the Stage 1 (don’t ask why the second step was called stage 1) practicing and preparing for an onslaught of clinical and calculation based questions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite expecting the questions on specific details of the logistics of the pre-reg year. But, though it took me by surprise, I managed to figure out answers and finish on time. At this stage, I was feeling pretty nervous. Just that morning I received two rejection e-mails! Without even having an interview! I was terrified and questioning my entire application… Luckily, my calculation enthusiasm must have paid off because I scored high enough to be called to interview for the hospitals in the South East and London…

Stage 2: Interview time – the dreaded interviews. No hiding. No running. No frantic Google searches for the online thesaurus. It was time to face the potential Big Boss. These interviews involved clinical questions, investigating experience and enthusiasm, even a small role play task to carry out! It was quite nerve wracking. But, to combat my nerves, I had on my battle armour…

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Results – waiting to hear from the hospitals…constantly checking e-mails…nervously pacing… It was the big day. And having had no offers so far, I was getting desperate to secure a place. When the e-mail popped up I was almost too nervous to take in the information – an offer! I had thankfully received an offer from both the South East (Darent Valley Hospital) and from London (Imperial College NHS Trust). I chose what was my very top preference – Imperial Hospitals! Yaaaay!

I am so thankful and excited for my upcoming pre-reg year at one of the Imperial College Hospitals. It is such a relief to know where I will be going in one year, and that it was the hospital trust of my dreams.

Before then, I just have to get through all of these fourth year projects!

xxx

Embracing the ‘fro

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Okay, so I usually kind of hate selfies – don’t get me wrong, I take hundreds of them. But they always seem so…vain, unimportant and just plain ridiculous. But here I am, posting a picture of my face! The reason is: new make up and new hair(style).

Firstly, the make up. I’m trying out a contouring technique with my mum’s new makeup. Its a Beverly Hills contouring kit and has so far taken me a couple of days to get used to all the blending. I find that the brushes are most important for creating the effect – a small brush is needed for the areas around the eyes, while a couple of larger brushes for the cheeks and forehead. It certainly takes a long time to get it looking slightly more natural, rather than having dark dirty smudges across my face. With more practice I hope it will get easier.

Secondly, my hair! Okay, so I have always had afro hair, but the big difference here is that I didn’t really know how to care for it properly until a couple of months ago. Of course,  I should have just Googled it. But I wasn’t quite sure what to look for and to be honest, I’d never truly accepted my appearance until recently. Now its time for the fun to start!

I wash my hair weekly, and apply products to it daily (sometimes twice a day). The products I am using currently are mostly all from the Shea Moisture range – the curl enhancing smoothie, the conditioners and lots and LOTS of oil. I also have gotten into the habit of wearing a sleeping bonnet. It makes me feel ridiculous, but the outcome in the morning is definitely worth it. It stops the fabric of the pillows from stealing my moisture!

I’m on the look out now for more products and ideas 😙

BooBoo has a Birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOOBOO!

Today is his first birthday, and as a surprise I bought him a massive bag of new toys. Most of them had to be Kong toys, the extra durable tough toys that seem to last the longest with him – although they aren’t indestructible! – and just a couple fluffy cute squeaky ones that he goes mad for. I gave him each toy individually, away from the rest of the pack, and we both had some Mummy and BooBoo time playing together. The others did get to join in with the birthday celebrations, chasing around with a lot of squeaking and barking and scrabbling of claws as they darted from room to room.

Unfortunately Mr Moustachio, the fluffy teddy in the mix, suffered a fatal drooling bite to his majestic moustache and is now no longer with us. But the birthday party must go on! Later, I have a birthday cake planned for my not-so-little BooBoo. The recipe is fully dog safe and will be covered in tasty dog treats.

Its time for the pack’s mid-morning nap but later I will stick on here some pictures of the birthday boy and his pack ❤

See you soon!

Marathon Training: Trying not to trip up

Two consecutive injuries can ruin any training plan. After two weeks devoid of proper running I am extremely worried about the race in under  seven weeks time. Adding to my fears is the car journey I took yesterday afternoon. Let’s just say that 26.2 miles is a VERY long distance.

I may have reached a peak of 10.5miles before my first injury but I am now back down the same level I was at the start of training.

Is there any way I can run a marathon in October?

REVIEWING: The Newsroom

Its raining slowly, the sky is white with clouds and there is nothing better to do on a bank holiday monday at the end of August than to catch up with all those TV series I missed. However, after finishing the disappointingly short, depressing – yet entertaining – third and final season of Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Newsroom’ I am struggling to bite into any more episodes. I was more entertained by the first season, less by the second and virutally stopped listening by the third. Its repetition of the idea of “good news” became boring and was emphatically highlighted with the contrast to reality: the righteousness of these characters does not exist in a real work environment.

And we are shown this reality, taught this reality, have it shoved down our throats with monologue after monologue after monlogue. I grew increasingly tired of the same agrument because each and everytime the effort is fruitless. The reality will not change. People of the news industry, of any industry, are driven by profit alone. No one does anything for nothing because the establishment would simply use that one for their own gain until their heart stopped beating.

Perhaps this is a cynical message to take from a fictional and idealistic story, and I know I am writing my own monlogue right now. But the depressingly accurate message is in your own lap before you can register. The news, today and yesterday and from years ago, has been ignored by the vast majority and misconstrued by many. The result? We are charging towards chaos. We are socially, psychologically and physically toxic to ourselves and this world.

‘The Newsroom’ grips you with an exciting and fast paced plot (the script sometimes a little too fast to keep up) but then drags you back down to the real world before its finale. A handful of righteous characters may not be able rewrite history, but the purpose of the series is very clear.

River Cottage Summer Fair

At this time one week ago, I was packing up a tiny tent in Charmouth, Dorset, with my sister and preparing to travel 200miles back home. It has taken me all this time to get over the post-holiday blues and write down here some of the best parts.

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The trek to Dorset began with too much luggage. A 60L rucksack bursting with clothes and food, a huge hold-all of tent gear and sleeping bags, an extra rucksack with a camping cooker and gas cannisters… add onto that what my sister was carrying and we were like two Buckaroos! When we reached Waterloo station we grabbed two free (but tiny) cans of Coke from a stall in the station centre and just made it in time for to catch our train.
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Unfortunately, we did not have seats for long. As we approached Salisbury the train divided. Georgia, I and about 50 other passengers were crammed together into three small carriages. Yaay for the smell of urine and sweat!

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However unpleasant it was to sit outside the toilets, we did befriend a cute 6 year old girl called Rosy with her father. Feeding her a bag of Magic Stars and playing hide and seek made the journey pass quickly!

Many hours later, we arrived in Axminster and took the bus to the Newlands Holiday Park in Charmouth. The views there are STUNNING.

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We found out very soon that our decision to pitch a tent beneath a tree was very bad. Do earwigs have nests? When the next morning came, we found a few dozen wriggling earwigs poking around our bags. Eek!

But nothing could have dampened down spirits. We were off to visit River Cottage HQ…

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This beautiful pocket of the Dorset countryside is even more beautiful than you can witness on the TV. The purifying taste of the air, the glorious heat of the sun, the sound of sheep and cows from the fields… gorgeous, beyond compare.

We took a tractor ride down to River Cottage, gratefully climbing into the open windowed tractor with outward facing benches.

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It brought us to the sounds of a banjo and the rumble of chatter. Large white tents were scattered across the festival field and were filled with representatives of businesses, farmers, individuals with interesting crafts and foods, stalls for fresh orchard cider, homebaked pastries, handpainted crockery – many exciting and fascinating people to meet. One of whom happened to Tim himself, who kindly signed the book I bought ( Nooo, of course I didn’t just buy the book to talk to him! That would be silly…).

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In the middle of the day we were delighted to have a foraging tour with John Wright. One if the highlights here being the finding of meadowsweet – as a studying pharmacist this coumarin containing plant was fascinating.

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Our lunch was purchased from a stall wafting the delicious aroma of slow roasting pork and apples. It was only after wolfing down the food that we discovered the winner of Masterchef 2014,  Ping Coombes, had cooked it.

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With full bellies and huge smiles my sister and I enrolled on a pickling masterclass -with Pam the Jam! Pam Corbin is an elegant, intelligent lady with a warm aura. She inspired me to learn more about preserves and to begin making jams myself. We made some delicous cucumber pickle and each kept our own, meaning three jars each.

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Our day came to an end, watching the sun set over River Cottage HQ whilst listening to the strange music of Tankus the Henge. There were so many fantastic opportunities, so much we took with us, we will absolutely return there next year.

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Jammin’ in the Kitchen

Yesterday, for the very first time, I made jam. Blackberry and apple jam.

It is a magical process, such a simple recipe and with such delightful results – I’m sure any jam makers reading will agree that the moment of beholding your own jar of jam is very special. I will absolutely be making many more jams!

It all starts with a massive 1.5kg of preserving sugar, 750g of freshly picked and peeled apples, and 1kg of foraged ripe blackberries.

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After softening the fruit for around 30minutes in a large pan (read: cauldron) on medium heat, the sugar can then be dissovled and rapidly brought to a rolling boil.

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All the while stirring continuously, scraping at the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and burning. This is such a beautiful and mysterious part. It feels a little like potion making.

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Eventually, after another half hour or so, and with careful checking of the bubbling mixture’s temperature, the pot is full of a rich red jam. The setting point should be checked – wrinkle test here! – and the thermometer reading at around 105 degrees Celsius.

Then its time to pot the jam. I used a large ladel and poured the steaming jam into some warmed jars. Although I managed to make an awful mess, it was very exciting.

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The final result was worth it! Some delicious jars of my very own jam…

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