Monday, 15 August 2016

Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace

Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace

The weekend before last, mum and I made a trip to the beautiful estate of Blenheim Palace for the first ever Countryfile Live.

I sort of got into Countryfile by accident. It just happened to be what was on TV in the evenings when I was making dinner. I still don't go out of my way to watch it, but I usually find it's a good choice for some light evening television while I'm cooking.

I love a day out, especially if it gets me out of the city, so I was really pleased to find that mum had a couple of free tickets thanks to her Sparks card.

We headed up to Blenheim Palace for the Saturday of the show - a gloriously sunny day! The event covered a huge area and was full of activities, displays, exhibitions and stalls, all with a countryside theme. In fact, there was so much going on that we didn't manage to see everything - it was as I was reading the show guide afterwards that I realised just how much we'd missed!

Countryfile Presenters Signs

We started off in the craft area, admiring some of the amazing work on display. If I had a big enough house and garden, I could happily buy all kinds of art and sculptures to fill them!

Woodwork display at Countryfile Live

Craft Tent

There were displays of tractors, from vintage machines to the gigantic modern day vehicles, all being brought to life in a demonstration of haymaking.

Vintage tractor
vintage farm potato sorter
 Blenheim was a beautiful setting for the event and it looked absolutely wonderful in the sunshine, with crowds of happy people of all ages wandering around. I'd love to be going back for the International Horse Trials later this year, but sadly I'm working that weekend :(

Blenheim Palace Countryfile Live
The Waterside at Countryfile Live
 My favourite parts of the event are all the animal features! With a dog ring, an equine ring and Adam's Farm, there were plenty of animals about. I came away from Adam's Farm with a long list of animals I'd like to have in future - better keep working those weekends in order to afford them (and somewhere to keep them)! There were all kinds of cute farm animals, from chicks and sheep to rabbits, pigs, goats and cows. It was possible to go in and pet them all, but that would have involved shoving little kids out of the way and I decided that was probably not a great move! I've had plenty of experience of petting farms as a child so I thought I'd let the children have their turn while I admired the animals from a distance.

Goats at Adams Farm
Bull Display at Adam's Farm Countryfile Live

Adam's Farm Suffolk Punch and donkeys

In the main arena was the 'Countryfile Calendar' performance, a show taking the audience through the seasons and life in the country. With circus performers, a herd of sheep and an enthusiastic group of young farmers, it was an action-packed display! Countryfile presenters Rani and Tom also made an appearance.

Cirque Bijou at Countryfile Live
Countryfile LiveRunning sheep

Countryfile Live BMX Display

Countryfile Live BMX Display

Anita Rani and Tom Heap
Countryfile Live Anita Rani and Oxford Young Farmers
 With dogs and horses being my favourite animals, the dog and equine arenas were always going to go down well! We watched a thrilling semi-final of the trials and scurry driving, with some very speedy ponies dashing around.

Scurry drivving

British Scurry and Trials Driving
Shetland Pony Scurry DrivingScurry Driving at countryfile live

Scurry Driving
Scurry Driving The  highlight of the show though for me? Being asked to volunteer with a dog in the Essex Dog Display Team! I was just about to sit down at the side of the ring when one of the handlers came and asked if I'd like to have a go. Luckily I've had a little bit of practice with Saffy at taking a dog round an agility course. They paired me up with a gorgeous little dog called Bella who was utterly perfect as she whizzed round the course not missing a single obstacle! We were the only pair to have a clear round which I was delighted with. Then the professionals took over and showed just how incredibly well trained their dogs are; jumping through fire, chasing down 'bad guys' and leaping over one another.

Essex Dog Display Team
Dog Agility at Countryfile Live

Essex Dog Display Team at Countryfile Live
Overall, it was a fantastic day and I really hope it's on the calendar again next year!


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Little Things I've Loved This Week #34

This has been a rather exciting week - my first week working as a doctor! It's been really enjoyable and I've had to learn quickly, but the rest of the team are so supportive that I haven't felt out of my depth. Now I normally try to have this post published in the morning each Sunday, but I made a spontaneous trip home last night and was without laptop until this evening. So a few hours later than normal, here are the little things I've loved this week...

Forgetting to be nervous about taking bloods for the first time in months! The last time I took bloods before starting on the ward this week was way back in March. It's something I'm quite comfortable doing, but normally I'm a bit anxious about it if I feel out of practice. Happily though I pretty much did it without thinking about it - I was chatting away to the patient and it was only as I was sending the bottle off to the lab that I realised this would once have been something I really worried about! Maybe I will be fine at this doctoring thing after all...

Finishing on time on Friday afternoon. I'm pretty sure this is something I should learn to appreciate when it happens, because the ward is a very busy one!

Listening to a Mary Berry audiobook. Turns out the Audible account I thought I'd cancelled revived itself. I'm trying to save money at the moment, so I've cancelled any monthly subscriptions like this. Seeing as I'd paid one more month though, I decided I might as well use the credit and bought Mary Berry's autobiography. I've got back into the habit of listening to an audiobook before bed - I like reading, but I find it even more relaxing to be able to lie in the dark, eyes closed and just listen!

 Taking part in a dog agility demonstration at Countryfile Live. I plan to do a whole post on this fantastic day out, however, first I need to sort out the 400 or so photos! But one of my favourite moments was being asked to volunteer in the Essex Dog Display Team's demonstration of agility with their fabulous dogs. I was paired with a gorgeous little dog called Bella, and although it wasn't really competitive we definitely had the most successful round!

Watching William Fox-Pitt in the Olympic eventing dressage. Actually, I'm really enjoying watching the Olympics full-stop - but it was especially great to watch William Fox-Pitt competing despite having been in an induced coma less than a year ago.

Actually this has been such a great week that I could have had a very long list of happy moments - but I'll leave it here for now! What have you been up to this week and what's made you smile?



Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Twist Recipe Book GIVEAWAY!

Twist by Martha Collison Book

Told you I'd be celebrating my two years of blogging!

As I said on my 'two years of blogging' post, I've learned so much from working on this little space of the internet and I've enjoyed it immensely. 

I definitely wouldn't have kept it going though if it wasn't for the people on the other end, the wonderful people who read everything I write!

And not just for reading the posts, but for commenting, following, chatting on Twitter and generally just making blogging so much more fun for me.

In order to celebrate this blogging milestone, I've decided to host a little giveaway - with a chance for someone to win a copy of Twist by Great British Bake Off contestant Martha Collison. It's a wonderful book and I've already given it a good review and testing on the blog so I know that whoever gets it will be very happy!

Twist recipe book by Martha Collison

(By the way, the prize is a brand new copy of the book - not the same one that I reviewed, I'm hanging on to my own copy thank you very much!)

I'd like to thank Ellie from This Country Girl's Journal for the inspiration behind the prize too! I knew I wanted to do a giveaway, but I couldn't decide on what would be a good thing to offer. Ellie tweeted me with this suggestion and I couldn't think of anything better suited! I had such a great reaction to the review post that I knew people would be really pleased to win a copy of Twist.

(While I know I have plenty of lovely international readers, unfortunately this is a UK-only giveaway due to funding the postage costs! Honestly, if it was cheaper to post across the world I'd happily open it up!)

So, how to enter? Simply follow the steps on the Rafflecopter giveaway! Good luck!

Terms & Conditions:
Prize will be one copy of Twist by Martha Collison
Giveaway will run from 03/08/2016 until 07/08/2016
Winner will be notified within 24 hours of the draw closing. The winner will have 7 days from notification in which to reply, otherwise a new winner will be drawn.
Entries via Rafflecopter
All entries will be verified
UK entries only
No purchase necessary for entry
Prize paid for by me, this is not a sponsored giveaway



Monday, 1 August 2016

Fruity Banana Flapjacks

Fruity banana flapjacks

These banana flapjacks are sweet, squidy and utterly delicious!

Shortly after moving into the new flat, I decided it was important to test out the kitchen and have a little baking trial run before the Great British Bake Off is back on telly.

I wanted something quick, simple and perfect for taking to work with me for a little energy boost - or as a home-time pick me up after a long day.

The millionaire's flapjacks I made the other week were lovely, but possibly a bit too rich for what I had in mind. So I decided on trying a rather lighter variation...

These are by no means 'super-healthy' flapjacks, but they are tasty and more naturally sweet with honey, bananas and dried fruit rather than a tonne of sugar. And because I haven't used sugar or syrup, they're much squidgier and don't crisp and burn quite so easily. (A tip I learned years ago trying to recreate Konditor & Cooks flapjacks is to always swap syrup for honey).

Stack of homemade banana flapjacks with seeds and fruits

Recipe for 12 to 16 flapjacks

270g oats
2 ripe bananas
6tbsp honey
125g butter
100g mixed dried fruits and seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
20x20cm tin 
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c (170°c fan) and line a tin with baking paper.
  2. Put the oats, dried fruit and seeds into a mixing bowl.
  3. Mash the bananas to a fairly smooth consistency (although you don't have to worry too much about getting every last lump).
  4. Put the bananas into a saucepan, along with the butter and honey. Melt over a medium heat and simmer until you have a well mixed liquid.
  5. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix together.
  6. Tip the mixture into the prepared baking tin and press down so that it is tightly packed. Use a spoon or spatula to smooth.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is starting to turn golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Then turn out and slice into rectangles.
How to make homemade banana flapjacks

Flapjack with fruits and seeds
Four homemade flapjacks on a plate And it's really just as simple as that! Let me know if you try them out - or if you have any other tasty recipes that make good snacks :)

Homemade fruity banana flapjacks recipe


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Little Things I've Loved This Week #33

Little things I've loved flatlay on Ginevrella
It's been a bit of funny week this one - tricky to keep track of the days! I moved in to my new flat on Monday, then spent Tuesday and Wednesday unpacking, shopping for bits and pieces and getting the flat laid out how I wanted it. Then Thursday and Friday were two days of induction at the hospital, meeting all my lovely new colleagues, hearing top tips from the current FY1 doctors and making sure our skills on resuscitation are up to scratch. Overall it's all been quite exciting - although I'll probably be less excited and more nervous by the time Wednesday rolls around and I'm actually working!

So here are the little things that I've enjoyed this week :)

A bit of GBBO appreciation for my post reviewing Martha Collison's new recipe book Twist. Not only did I get lots of lovely comments from you, my readers, but I also got a tweet from Martha to say thank you, and Mat Riley liked my tweet about the post too :) It's probably really sad to consider this something worth mentioning as a highlight of the week, but it made me happy!

Picking up my ID badge with 'FY1 Doctor' on it in place of 'Medical Student'. Ok, it means way more responsibility and expectation, but it's these little things that remind me just how far I've come since getting that place at medical school five years ago.

Laughing at Saffy's rubbish attempts at being a pigeon-scarer. On Monday evening my sister scattered some bread at the end of the garden for the smaller birds and tried to get our dog to act as a bird-scarer and keep the big pigeons away. Unfortunately Saffy was pretty terrible - firstly she wanted to do the job from bed, just by barking out the window. Then when she did head outside, she kept getting distracted, trying to eat and bury all the bread for herself! The working dog life is not for her...

Mini pots of rice pudding that came as a substitution on my grocery delivery. I made a big order ready for moving in to the new place and decided to buy a couple of tins of rice pudding to have in as a sort of comforting treat. It's not something I eat regularly, but sometimes it's just the thing! Turns out Tesco didn't have two tins of the stuff (who is buying it all?!?!), but they did give me eight mini pots instead which are actually a much better idea. Yum :)

Little things I've loved - mini rice pudding pots

Homeware shopping. It's fast becoming one of my favourite activities - although I've since downgraded to just window shopping until I get my first paycheck - and I've loved spending the start of the week picking up new furnishing and kitchenware.

Little things I've loved this week - homeware, pink and grey bedroom
Little things I've loved, pink peonies in vase

Yummy banana flapjacks that are deliciously soft and very more-ish. Luckily for you, I'm sharing the recipe here next week! They've been delicious as a snack to take with me during the day, or with a cup of tea in the evening.

Little things I've loved - fruity banana flapjacks

What have been the best bits of your week?


Friday, 29 July 2016

Two Years of Blogging

Two year blogging anniversary flatlay

It still amazes me that I can say I've been blogging over a year, let alone two years!

On Monday 25th July, it was officially two whole years since I put out the very first post on this blog - where on earth did that time go?!

Back then I was a third year medical student looking for something to fill the time at the end of the year and over the long summer. I had no idea that I'd keep this blog going, or the sheer number of things I'd learn.

I also didn't realise how many wonderful people blogging would put me in touch with, or how many of you would come and read the posts time and time again.

I didn't know that I'd be doing so much alongside simply publishing on the blog. Somewhere along the way I was picking up social media accounts left, right and centre - and now you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (occasionally anyway) and Pinterest. 

I've learned that blogging is something I love. Not just writing the posts or taking the photos, but actually interacting with  the blogging community. I've learned to really enjoy the satisfaction that comes with getting the best out of blog promotion. I actually find it sort of fun to check analytics and see how the hard work I put in turns into real numbers. And ok, they're comparatively small - but they are growing!

Two years of blogging on Ginevrella

And I'm proud of this blog. I might not shout about it much in real life (actually, I almost never mention it), but I've impressed myself by sticking with it this long and turning it into what it is today.

I want to celebrate this second blog anniversary, but I haven't quite decided how - so you'll just have to wait and see!

But for the mean time, I've decided to share some of my favourite posts from the past two years.

Posts I'm proud of

This has remained one of the most popular posts on my site ever since I published it. I wouldn't have got where I am today if it wasn't for the kind people who agreed to me observing their time in hospital or at the doctor's surgery, so this post was partly to thank them. I also wrote it to explain why medical students sit in and to hopefully relieve any worries you may have if you're asked if a student can be present.

There are no pretty photos and it's a little Christmassy in parts, but I liked the points behind this post on balancing living life with blogging about it.

Actually this is post I've been meaning to repeat at some point! I reckon we all search some pretty random things every day, so I collated a few from one week as a little insight into my thoughts...

This feels so long ago already as we had our ball before our electives. It was such a wonderful evening spent with some of my favourite people.

This was one of my favourite activities in Cape Town (although I have a long list of favourites)! It's a little bit too far away to go back, but I definitely want to do some more afternoon tea posts in the future.

The future...

So what's to come for Ginevrella? Hopefully a lot more still! I'm determined to keep the blog going despite having started full time work as a doctor. It's certainly a new challenge for me, especially as I've had months of free time to spend on it until recently. I'm sure working full time will affect the blog and what I can dedicate to it, but stick with me while I figure it all out.

Two years of blogging - plant pot and pink flowers on desk

Oh and by the way...

As I've only just been blogging for two years I still qualify in the 'Best New Blogger on the Block' category in the Bloggers Blog Awards. So you know, if you've still not nominated and fancied celebrating my blog anniversary, a little vote would be wonderful :)

Also - I'm thinking of maybe doing a little giveaway to celebrate! I haven't decided what just yet, and I want to make sure 'life etc.' settles down a bit beforehand but do stick around :)



Wednesday, 27 July 2016

20 Things You Don't Have to Do With Your Blog

Twenty things you don't have to do with your blog

The blogging community, the bloggersphere, team internet. They're great. Full of advice and tips and hints.

But sometimes, I feel like I'm a million miles behind. Everyone else seems to know exactly what they're doing with their blogs - and are good at it too. From Twitter chats to blog posts, there's all manner of blogging "how to's", "must-do's" and "you can too's". But do we really have to be doing everything? And are we all aiming in the same direction anyway?

Things you don't need to do with your blog

20 things you don't have to do with your blog

(if you don't want to...)

1. Have ALL the social media. Sure it's nice to have followers and more sources for traffic - but if you don't want to be hashtagging and filtering and snapchatting and liking and pinning all day, then don't.

2. Follow the trends. So what if micro-blogging is set to be the next 'big thing'? If you love your long, rambling, once a week pieces then keep on doing it!

3. Take flatlay photographs. They're bloomin' hard.

4. Earn money from it. Just because everyone else has rate cards and sponsored posts and advertising packages doesn't mean you need to.

5. Spend money on it. Custom domains and professional templates do not make a blog. You still have a blog even without them.

6. Get personal. You don't have to post all your deepest feelings just to be relatable. If you don't want to share something on your blog, you don't have to.

7. Run giveaways. I'm always amazed at how generous bloggers are, often funding these from their own pockets but there's no pressure to do one every time you hit a milestone.

8. Share with your friends, family and colleagues. Sometimes they make the most loyal readers. Sometimes they're a barrier to writing down exactly what you want to share. You can still be proud of your blog without making it a part of your 'real' life.

9. Have marble backgrounds, pink peonies and a houseful of copper and rose gold. But if you like all these things, then why not?!

10. Win prizes. It's wonderful to have your hard work acknowledged with nominations and titles - but it's ok to just blog for the sake of blogging too.

11. Write when you're not feeling it. There are no rules about how often you should post or how long you're allowed to go without writing something. If you're not in the mood to write, no one says you have to.

12. Keep it up forever. If your heart's no longer in it, you don't need to keep pushing. Take a break even if you don't think you'll come back. Your blog will be there waiting if you change your mind.

13. Care about stats and views and rankings. Some people do and this fine - it's nice to have goals and see yourself reach new levels. But there's no need to. A blog's a blog, even if you're the sole reader!

14. Stick to a niche. It's your blog. You write about whatever you fancy. If you mainly do beauty, who says you can't chuck in a favourite recipe now and again? A niche is no bad thing, but you don't have to limit yourself.

15. Aim to be professional. Just because you've started a blog doesn't mean this is where you have to go. You can take up baking without aiming to be a pro-baker, or start running without trying to be an Olympic athlete.

16. Try to be helpful or funny or inspiring or relatable. Don't worry about trying to be something specific. Many people will read a blog simply to be nosy, whether you've got great advice or not!

17. Turn every life moment into a blog post. Some days are simply meant to be enjoyed by you alone without needing to get photographs and the right words.

18. Understand SEO and keywords and all that other blog-tech-jargon. Sure, it's handy to have a grasp of if you're looking to grow your blog, but it's not for everyone. If it's getting in the way of just writing, you don't need to worry about it right now.

19. Be perfect at everything. So you're great at writing and the tech stuff, but can't quite get the ideal photo? Or you're a whizz with a DSLR and Photoshop but can't code a drop down navigation bar. Very few people can do it all. Ask for help - that's what the blog community is for!

20. Know what you're doing. You don't need to know whether you're aiming to be a pro or a contented hobbyist. You don't need to understand how to alt-tag your images and write a killer blog title. You don't need to know how to approach a brand or how to decide whether to write about fashion or beauty or a bit of everything. 

As I said. Twenty things you don't have to do if you don't want to. Actually, I do do some of these. And that's fine. It's fine if you do all of them! But it's also fine to do none of them. We're all individuals with different goals and opinions. And that's what makes blogging fab.

Things you don't have to do for your blog

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