Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year's Resolutions

It's almost exactly a year ago that midnight arrived while my sister and I sat in the dog's basket comforting a terrified pup as the fireworks boomed all around bringing in 2014. I'd like to hope that I won't be repeating that this year, but as my current plans for New Year's Eve are simply to stay at home with my family, there's a pretty good chance of me ending the year in the same place I started it!

I've been trying to think about what 2015 will bring for me - sadly the first things that spring to mind are lots of exams! A year from now I'll have taken my written finals for my medical degree, but another year will have passed and I still won't have graduated, even though lots of my school friends will be finishing a second degree and even my younger brother will have finished university. But hopefully there will be plenty of good things about 2015 too. More placements, new people and new places. In order to really make the most of the next twelve months, I've decided to come up with a few resolutions. 

I often change my opinion about making new year's resolutions. Sometimes I think they're not worth making because I'll just break them anyway. Or that I make silly promises to myself simply because everyone else is doing the same. I can't completely change who I am just because the date has rolled forward by another year. But at other times, the first of January seems like the perfect marker of a fresh start, a chance to incorporate something new into my life and to see where it takes me. I try not to be really strict with myself when it comes to resolutions. They're not new rules by which to live my life. Just ideas, things I'd like to try. If they don't work out, I haven't failed. This year I'm doing something new by writing them down and sharing them with you all. 

So here you go, my 2015 New Year's Resolutions:

1. Continue Blogging
I started my blog back in the summer and really didn't think I'd have kept it going for this long. The past couple of months I have lost some of the enthusiasm and found things I enjoyed more than blogging, but having the time over Christmas to read some of my favourite blogs, as well as still receiving lovely comments on the few posts I've put out myself, has inspired me to keep it going. I'm not going to be anymore specific than simply to 'continue blogging'. I just want to carry on writing when I have things to share and to see what comes out of it.

2. Run
This was sort of my 'back to uni resolution' this year. Since stopping horse riding, I hadn't been doing any real sporting activity and was feeling rather unfit. So I splashed out on new running clothes as an incentive to get into it and actually rather enjoyed getting into running. I've been really on and off with it though, so I'd like to be a bit more consistent from now on. I recently read this blog post by The Sunday Blah guest posting for Hazel Jane and because I could relate to so much of it,  it reminded me of why I run. I loved that Lore is completely honest about her running and showed that not every blogger out there just jumps out of bed and runs a half marathon for the fun of it. If people would be interested in reading it, I thought about writing my own 'real-girl running' posts as someone who is a complete running novice- especially if anyone else out there is thinking about running as a new year's resolution!

3. Read More
I used to love reading when I was a lot younger - before I used my free time on Facebook etc. I was wondering how on earth I ever used to find the time to read, but actually it's not hard to swap some of the time I spend mindlessly browsing the internet or watching TV programmes just for the sake of it. I bought a couple of fiction books last term and tried to make an effort to read for a little while before going to bed. Neither of the books I bought turned out to be that good in the end, but it definitely improved my sleep. I have a Kindle that's being rather neglected at the moment, so this year I plan to get more use from it and finish off all the books that I'm about three pages into on each. I also signed up to a local library in Bristol but have yet to actually borrow a single book from them...

4. Stretch
A couple of years ago I made it my new year's resolution to do a bit of yoga every single day. I did manage to keep it up for about three months and I definitely noticed a difference. I'm not sure what stopped me, but I know that as soon as I missed a single day then I pretty much gave up completely. I spend a lot of my day sat down at the moment- working at my desk, sitting in clinics and sitting down at the end of the day using my laptop. This has left me with lots of  tight muscles and embarrassing stiffness for someone who used to be a gymnast! I've made myself a Pinterest board to keep lots of resources for stretching and yoga poses and hopefully I'll be feeling a lot more stretchy by the end of the year!

None of my resolutions are particularly difficult or require anything I don't already have - they simply require me to make a bit of time and work them into my daily routine. In fact, none of them are even new things, so hopefully making them work will be achievable. Let me know what your New Year's Resolutions are, and I hope you enjoy seeing in the new year however you plan to do it! (Hopefully none of us will be sat in a dog's basket...)

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Catch-Up

After three busy days of festivities, I've finally got the chance to sit down, tuck into the last of the Quality Street (we seem to only have the pink fudge ones left now) and look back at the past few days. I'm also looking forward to getting to bed before 1am tonight- it's a good thing Christmas only comes around once a year because I'm exhausted now!

2014 will be known as the year of the Christmas Tree napkins. Mum spotted these online and so I spent ages on Christmas Day folding them before everyone came round. The napkins were brand new though and didn't really want to hold the folds so we had to press them all with an iron -fortunately the effort was much appreciated! On Boxing Day I taught a few more people how to do them, then a day later I was doing them all over again for another big family dinner at home. I'd like not to have to do any napkin folding again for a very long time!

This book was dug out on Boxing Day - our family get-togethers are a lot more fun than this photo might suggest though! 

One of my favourite activities this Christmas was going to see the Nutcracker ballet at the London Coliseum yesterday. I haven't been to the ballet in years so it was a treat to go again. I've seen a few different versions of the Nutcracker and I was pleased to find that they are back to a more traditional performance than the last time I went to see one. The dancers are incredible, as is the music - I had to keep looking down at the orchestra to remind myself that every singel note of the music is entirely live.

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and is getting plenty of time now to relax after the business of it all!


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Home For Christmas

It really feels like Christmas when I get to come home to a lit up Christmas tree, an endless supply of chocolates and a serious shortage of sellotape...

The other week I was shopping with friends who persuaded me that I simply had to buy Saffy this Christmas jumper from Accessorize. And having seen her running round the house looking all cute and Christmassy, I'm pretty pleased that I did!

Something I love about the holidays is having free time to be creative without feeling like I could be using the time to work. Drawing animal fur is something I find really tricky, but without practising I'll never get any better so I decided to copy a photo of a fox in the snow and I'm pleased with how it turned out. 

Does anyone else ever think about what a strange concept a Christmas tree is?! A tree. Indoors. Covered in decorations. Having said all that though, I love them and seeing how everyone else decorates their's!

My sister and I decided to bake some gingerbread biscuits this afternoon. I had visions of beautiful biscuits with delicate patterns in white icing... of course we actually ended up with brightly coloured icing dripping off them and attempts at creating ourselves in biscuit form.

I hope everyone's having a lovely Christmas so far... and that you've managed to get all your Christmas shopping done!


Thursday, 18 December 2014

End of Term - Let Christmas Begin!

The first term of fourth year has finally come to end and I'm looking forward to getting home tomorrow and having a couple of weeks off. Not that I haven't enjoyed this term- the time I've spent in the hospital doing anaesthetics and paediatric medicine has been good fun and I feel like I've actually learned stuff which is always a bonus! (I've also escaped the children's ward without catching anything it would seem, which is even more of a bonus.)

House Christmas Dinner
Being on a children's ward at Christmas time has also been a great experience. The play specialists and nurses have decorated it beautifully- including some impressive penguins made from balloons. The patients on the ward have also added to the display of elves we had a go at making at the start of the placement. And I got to spend time at a pre-school nursery singing Christmas songs and listening to 'Santa Needs a Wee' at story time- I'm definitely not ready to go back to adult medicine just yet!

Last weekend I came back to Bristol for an especially festive few days. We cooked a house Christmas lunch on the Saturday (the first one I've actually done at university- good job this is a five year course because I don't know how people fit all these extras into the usual three!!), went ice skating at Clifton on Ice (I managed the entire hour session without falling over so I was pretty pleased with myself for that!) and went to a carol service on Sunday evening with mince pies and mulled wine. Sadly, despite being there on placement, I didn't get a chance to visit the Bath Christmas markets this year- next year perhaps...

I can't believe there's only a week left until Christmas- I still haven't quite finished my Christmas shopping so that's my number one priority for when I get home. Hopefully I'll have the right balance of fun goings-on and free time to write a few more posts over the holidays, and to read what everyone else is getting up to!


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Countdown to Christmas: Merry Christmas in 12 Different Languages

I love languages- in fact if I wasn't studying medicine, I think I'd have gone down the languages route and continued with French and Italian. I might not get to spend every day studying a foreign language (debatable. Medicine is pretty much its own language), but I still like to pick up new words and phrases here and there. So here's a quick list of how to say 'Merry Christmas' in a few different languages:
(If you spot a mistake, do let me know!)

If you've got more, let me know in the comments!


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Countdown to Christmas: 15 Christmas Memories

Christmas is a pretty memorable time of year and I love looking back on Christmasses past. Today my 'Countdown to Christmas' post is a recollection of some of my favourite memories.

1. Horse riding on Christmas Eve. I used to ride once a week for a number of years and on a few occasions the last lesson before Christmas fell on Christmas Eve. We'd put tinsel on the ponies, play Christmas music and play gymkhana games. It was such a good way to pass the time on Christmas Eve.

2.  Realising we had no crackers about an hour before Christmas dinner a couple of years ago. Christmas dinner just isn't complete without crackers so I had a busy hour quickly improvising with card and wrapping paper, and printing off jokes from the internet. I even made paper hats (although they actually fitted even worse than normal ones!).

3. Christmas curry in second year. It was our first year with our own kitchen (we lived in catered halls in first year) and we'd decided to do a Christmas dinner. Except we kept inviting more and more people and eventually accepted there was no way we could cater for so many. The alternative was to invite everyone round and coordinate a huge takeaway curry order which worked out perfectly.

4. Turning down my one and only offer to be Mary in the nativity when I was about five years old. I can't even remember why I said no and wanted to be a shepherd instead, but I never got another chance at a lead role!

5. The first day each year in primary school that the hall Christmas decorations went up. We'd go in at lunch time and it would be so exciting to see it transformed for the next few weeks.

6. Going to Australia after Christmas when I was 10. I've never spent Christmas away from home, but we did go pretty soon after Christmas and I remember it being really strange to be somewhere so warm and find that our friends had been on the beach on Christmas Day!

7. Christmas Time at the Fun Song Factory on video. A pretty hazy memory seeing as apparently this video is from 1996, but I can just about remember an old lady (who could well have a been a man come to think of it) dressed in a tutu singing about her two front teeth... Pleaseeee someone else have been a Fun Song Factory fan as a child?!

8. Playmobil Advent Calendars. I loved Playmobil, and we got the Advent calendars once or twice. Every day had a small box to open with a piece of Playmobil inside and they all came together to make a Christmas scene.

9. As a young child I didn't really write Christmas lists, but I do remember when I was about four years old I wrote to Father Christmas asking if I could have a photo of him. I was always a bit of a cynical child... p.s. sorry to my little brother for telling you that Father Christmas didn't exist as soon as I figured it out!

10. Trying to make my siblings act out the Nativity when we were really little. I played a shepherd (again) and an innkeeper and managed to convince the other two to play Mary and Joseph. All I really remember is using the stool from a dressing table as a donkey, and finding it absolutely hilarious when the baby doll fell off.

11. Trips to see The Nutcracker ballet. I'm not sure how many times I've been, but even all these years later I know it's my favourite. I also have the CD. And listen to it.

12. Spending whole days at school just making paper chains. And you knew it was serious because the teachers provided us with the pre-cut strips of paper  that all you had to do was lick to make them stick so you could quickly produce miles of paper chains.

13. Dressing as an elf for a very complicated opening to our form's Christmas assembly one year. I can't even really remember what the assembly was about, but I know it involved my friend, dressed as a reindeer, giving me a piggyback across the hall while someone dressed as Father Christmas chased us....

14. Christmas Dinner Selfies. I was going through old photos on my laptop looking for inspiration for this post and found my Christmas 2013 album with some delightful photos of the family pulling ugly faces. Fortunately for them I won't be featuring the evidence in this post!

15. Filming everything last Christmas on the video camera mum got from dad. I still don't think she's ever learned to use it because we were so quick to take it!

What's your favourite memory from Christmas in the past?


Saturday, 6 December 2014

Blogging vs Living in the Moment

If it wasn't for the fact that I scheduled some posts when I had basically a four day weekend last week, you might have thought I'd disappeared. I feel like I've disappeared from blogging! But allow me to fill you in...

When I started this blog back in July, it was the perfect activity for filling in some of my free time- summer holidays, weekends, evenings. It really helped me to have something purposeful to do with all those otherwise empty hours and I felt good for it. 

But this past week or so, I've suddenly had so many other things to do with that time and blogging took a bit of a back seat. From a tapas night, to champagne tasting, to developing an addiction to watching Suits on Netflix, to simply just making time to finally finish my book, life has felt pretty busy lately! Writing here and reading through the growing list of blogs on my Bloglovin feed just hasn't happened.

I love reading blog posts about what other people get up, and I genuinely mean to share some of the things I do too. The trouble is, I also like just enjoying something for what it is right there and then, not trying to capture a pretty picture of it and start trying to work out how to put it in words. And that causes a bit of a conflict when it comes to also writing a blog!

Even without a blog, there's still the temptation to try and record everything. Maybe it's because it's so easy to do these days- most of us have a camera phone, plus a multitude of places to share photos, whether that's Instagram, Facebook or elsewhere. It's part of today's culture to share with our friends and family exactly what we're doing, what we're enjoying. Blogging is an extension of that. 

Sometimes though, it's nice to just enjoy something for yourself, be completely appreciative of it and not distracted thinking of a catchy post title or hashtag to sum it up. 

I think it's particularly relevant at this time of year. I'm sure plenty of you will agree that Christmas has a 'feeling' to it, and for lots of people that's one of the best things about Christmas. That little shiver of excitement when you hear carols, or walk home down a road lit with decorations. But if your instant reaction is to need to share it, don't you just miss out a little bit?

And so that's why, despite what's been a really lovely week (well, apart from full days of lectures on epidemiology), I haven't posted about any of it until now. That's not to say I'm never going to post about the things I get up to, it's just that I intend to enjoy the moments - and it's a bonus if I have a good picture and the time to share my thoughts afterwards!

How do you balance blogging and just enjoying things as they happen?

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