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

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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