Saturday, 31 January 2015

Favourite Posts - January

At the end of each month this year, I'd like to share the blog posts from other people that I've particularly enjoyed and think you should get to read too! It can be hard finding all the great content out there by yourself, but I think bloggers do a brilliant job of making sure all the best bits get a mention. Here are my picks from January:

Charlotte's post about listening to your body and healthy eating being so much more than just making a list of rules to stick to is one of the most sensible things I've read so far this year. Like she says, there's more to life than dress sizes and numbers on a scale, and it's far more important to be happy - something that's not easy when you're depriving yourself of what you want and need!

I save far more recipe posts than I actual get round to cooking, but this is sitting pretty near the top of my 'to-bake' list. Minimal ingredients and simplistic appearance, this cake sounds perfect. I've never cooked a cake with condensed milk before, but I really want to give this one a go soon.

on The Life and Loves of Nine Grand Student
Chloe's post includes an interest infographic about the skills that many university graduates do and don't come out of their degrees with. It was an interesting read, especially as someone studying a professional degree that is solely focused on preparing me for a particular career.

A White Haven on Louise Place
Reading this post on a drizzly, grey, sort-of-snowy afternoon was a bit of stark contrast from the beautiful photos of a stunning Australian beach. If you can't actually be on a nice beach at this time of year, then this is definitely your next best option!

If you've done a favourite link post please leave a link in the comments because I love finding more!
And let me know if you go to visit any of these lovely blogs. See you in February!


Thursday, 29 January 2015

Guest Post: A Perfect Winter Evening with Hannah

I love inviting my favourite bloggers to write posts for me and today I'm bringing another 'Perfect Winter Evening' guest post, this time from Hannah at Hannah Bakes Things. Before Christmas, Adele and Jasmin shared their ideas of what makes a perfect evening when it's cold and dark outside, and now Hannah is here to show you what she thinks is the best way to get through the chilly January nights...

Filled with cold nights and bad weather, winter is far from my favourite season. But while you're all suffering from the usual lack of enthusiasm or funds that January brings, it's the perfect time to invite a few of your pals over and get creative with staying in.

I love having friends over for the evening at home. I get all the fun of leaving the house but I don't actually have to leave my house. We can have an amazing meal or drink a bottle of gin and I can do it all in my pyjamas if I want to. You guys, staying in is seriously underrated. So find a night that all your friends are free and arrange to all convene indoors.

As a media graduate, I've always enjoyed 'movie nights', they're a great opportunity for me to share some of my favourite films and to try out some new ones as well. Just ask everyone to bring a film or two and settle in for a night of getting through as many as you can. You could also do a themed night if you wanted. It could be as vague as horror or as specific as films by Richard Curtis (we did this one, and we watched them in chronological order. It took a whole day but it was really good fun). We've also tried looser ‘themes’ for the night such as sharing each other's favourite films and once (with mixed success), challenged all guests to bring something no-one else in the group has watched before.

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Winter is also a perfect time for comfort food so don't forget to stock up on snacks. It can be as simple as some packets of Pringles or if you enjoy being in the kitchen, get adventurous with some sharers. I always get asked to cook Mexican food by most of my friends so we'll go for something like tacos or a spicy bake that's easy to share. For a film night or an evening with a theme, I like to see if I can find some fun food to match and ask guests to bring something along too. Pinterest is great for finding party and themed food recipes, it's usually the first place I look now for inspiration, you can check out my board of ideas here.

I’m a huge fan of cocktails, so if we’re staying at home and there’s a group of us, this will often be our drink of choice. You can each bring a different ingredient or two and then see what creative drinks you can come up with. But if you’re looking for something a little more relaxed for a midweek get together, break out the tea and biscuits and everyone will feel warmed and right at home.

How do you like to keep up with friends during the colder months?


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

What Kind of Social Media User Are You?

Whether intentional or not, we live in a time when more and more of our lives play out over social media. These descriptions are just a bit of fun, but you might find some truths in these personalities-by-social-media-preference!

The Instagrammer

A perfectionist, the Instagrammer won't settle until something is just right. They usually see the good in everything, or at least see potential for once a filter has been added. Usually an early-riser (in order to catch that perfect light as the sun comes up). Some might say they're materialistic, but they're actually equally as appreciative of the beauty of nature - sunsets, flowers and cute little creatures. The Instagrammer dreams of far flung travels to exotic beaches and stunning mountain ranges. They're the kind of person you'd go to with a wardrobe crisis - they know what looks good and how to finish off the perfect outfit.The Instgrammer is a very visual person and makes their choices in life based on what will be most photogenic. Online, they appear super tidy and naturally artistic - but they're very good at hiding the behind-the-scenes bombsite of clothes, spilled smoothies and pet treats they leave in their wake.

The Tweeter

photo credit: afagen via photopin cc

The Tweeter is always on the go, dashing around between appointments. Tweeters spend a lot of time on public transport, commuting between their important engagements. They're successful, or at least ambitious but remain nice with it. The Tweeter always knows exactly what's going on in the world, probably before it even happens. They're good with words and don't waste time getting to the point. They make you wish you spent a bit more time watching the news and reading punchy opinion articles, but they're also a dream to have on your pub quiz team.

The Facebooker

The Facebooker is the sensible one, the one you can depend on to be there when you need them with a bit of good advice. Their mantra is "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" and they know exactly what works for them. Following the latest trends isn't for them and they're quite comfortably still living somewhere circa 2012. Least likely to own a smart-phone, or if they do it's almost certainly not an iPhone. They are definitely a family person, as well as having a close-knit group of friends they can rely on. The Facebooker enjoys an occasional night out and may get a handful of nice pictures to share online the next day, but they're equally happy to have a quiet night in or a trip to the cinema (and will always check in wherever they go). 

The Snapchatter

photo credit: 1015 / J.L. McVay via photopin cc

The Snapchatter is happy-go-lucky and very down to earth and everyone needs at least one in their friendship circle. They're usually the life and soul of the party which is why they only have the time for a few quick snaps to capture the night - no messing around with filters, hashtags and uploading processes for them. The Snapchatter spends half their life doing fun and interesting things, but is equally happy to spend the other half lazing around in pyjamas sending ugly selfies. They're fun, spontaneous and have nothing to hide. They're also seriously trusting - so long as you don't abuse the screenshot function when they send something. They're the most likely to live for the moment without worrying about the past or what's to come.

The Pinterester

A complete daydreamer and master procrastinator the Pinterester has plenty of good intentions to cook nutritious super-food salads and do all the 30-day fitness challenges... but not until tomorrow.
They're usually incredibly organised and probably a bit of neat-freak with a place for everything. The Pinterester is likely to be the most creative, with a talent for knitting and cupcake decorating. They're the most likely to be a homebody and can easily spend an entire evening picking out wedding dresses, kitchen decor and lunch ideas. They're often everything the Instagrammer pretends to be and usually enjoy meditation and yoga without having to be doing it on a beach at sunset with a photo to prove it.

Which one are you?!


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Little Things I've Loved This Week

It's always nice to look back at what I've done over the past seven days and give some thought to the little things that have made me happy. A little positivity can never be a bad thing, right?! So without further ado, here are the things I've loved this week...

The last film night in Bath. Being out on placement can be really variable when it comes to the social side of things - I live away from my main flat in Bristol and with whoever else happens to share the same placement. After long days in the hospital and studying, it can be all too easy to just hide out in your room alone and not make any effort to be sociable. Luckily this placement, a few of us have made a point of stopping work  watching iplayer early in the evening, having dinner together and then watching a film - almost always with a selection of strawberry sweets from Tesco. We've got through a pretty good list of films, from terrible comedies to some action packed thrillers. We finished up with 'Starter For Ten' seeing as it's set at Bristol University we had to watch it!

Coming home from placement, to not only home made cookies - but a bowl of cookie dough in the fridge too! I love baking things myself, but there's something even nicer about arriving home laden with bags and bedding to find tasty treats waiting. 

Crinkly notebook paper. I've filled up a notebook with notes from my latest placement, and while I haven't especially enjoyed the hours spent writing them out, it's so satisfying to have them all done and the crinkling noise they make when you flick through the pages! 

Ed Sheeran's album, 'X'. I've lost track of how many times I've played it this week. I've been sticking it on while I work and not even noticing the time go by. No matter how many times I hear the songs I'm not sick of them and that's pretty impressive! (Also enjoyable have been the various renditions of Blank Space by Taylor Swift on our journeys between Bristol and Bath...)

Spending a whole hour reminiscing about our Beanie Baby collections with my housemates - it's amazing how many of the names we could remember! It's funny, but it's times like this that make me realise how lovely it is to live with a group of friends - you couldn't have half as much fun doing this if you lived alone. Also, we discovered some terribly named Beanie Babies - did you know there's a lamb called Chops?! Sad face.

I hope you've had a lovely week, feel free to share something you've enjoyed in the comments!




Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Book Review - Elizabeth Is Missing

Elizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey

"How do you solve a mystery when you can't remember the clues?"

"Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey just after the Second World War."

Maud knows Elizabeth is missing but no one else seems to be taking her seriously. Undeterred, Maud is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and find her missing friend. Unfortunately, Maud is forgetful. She has an ever growing collection of tinned peaches, often fails to recognise her daughter and grandaughter and frequently finds herself in places without quite knowing what she's there for. Despite all this, the note in her pocket keeps her reminded that Elizabeth is missing and she will solve this once and for all...

I came across this book having seen someone else review it and noted the title down on a to-read list in my notebook a few months ago. With reading more being one of my new year's resolutions, I found myself browsing Amazon in search of something new to download to my Kindle. I recalled the title, knew that I'd written it down because whatever had been written about it had intrigued me - but couldn't actually remember why I wanted to read this book in particular. Which is perfectly fitting for this wonderful novel about a lady with dementia who knows she's looking for someone, but can't remember quite what she's trying to find.

Mental health is one of my passions and conditions of old age such as dementia make up a huge part of it. One of the troubles with mental health problems is that it can be incredibly difficult to put yourself in the shoes of someone with them and really see the world from their perspective.

Dementia can feel like such a mystery, seem so illogical and random and difficult to understand. What this book does beautifully is really get into the mindset of the main character and portray dementia from a view point I've never been able to experience before. Emma manages to incorporate the slow progression of memory loss and confusion into the chapters. As the book gets towards the last chapters, the story would jump around between a past story and the the present story, entangling the two, or describing things that had happened but which had not been mentioned earlier in the book. At first I thought I was just getting tired and not properly understanding what was going on - but actually it's an incredibly clever way of demonstrating some of the difficulties, lost memories and confusions someone with dementia might be experiencing. 

It's sensitively written and harrowing realistic in dealing with the struggles of confusion and conflict, of frustration and sadness and the impact dementia has on surrounding family. From subtle things like replacing words that Maud cannot remember, to her daughter Helen's moments of exasperation as she cares for her mother, it all reflects the realities of dementia I've witnessed in real life. Even early on in the book, little details of how Maud feels about this cruel disease stripping her of her independence manage to evoke strong emotions in me as the reader.

With all the focus that has gone into creating such an accurate depiction of dementia, you could easily forgive Emma for a more simplistic storyline. But that's not the case with this book. Despite the additional challenges of writing in first person as someone losing their memory, this story still manages to have plenty of depth, twists and turns and unexpected plot developments. In fact - the dementia aspect enhances the story greatly as links are made, the past and present intertwined to reveal new clues in both storylines. 

This was a perfect read to take my into my new placement on Care of the Elderly, but would also be an excellent choice for anyone wanting a slightly different take on a mystery novel...

Sunday, 18 January 2015

RECIPE: Super Squidgy Banana Cake

I've been saving banana bread recipes all over the place for weeks now, but never timing it right to have super-ripe bananas at the precise moment I have free time to bake. Until this weekend. 

Now, despite having the perfectly ripe bananas (i.e. much more brown than yellow), I was actually lacking a few other bits and pieces for banana bread. Like a loaf tin. Or the right sugar. And, as usual with my uni baking, it had to be gluten free. So rather than banana bread, what I produced was a super squidgy, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, sticky, melt-in-the-mouth banana cake. Yum. Sure, there's some sugar in there, but the banana and honey I used gave a much more natural sweetness that makes it really easy to go back for slice after slice. Unlike banana bread, this cake isn't really dense. But it's not crumbly either - I think I might be getting the hang of this gluten free stuff! 

This isn't my most stylish of cakes. But I wasn't aiming for a showstopper here. Just a homely, comforting treat to make a weekend of writing notes a little bit easier. If you bothered to line the tin properly- unlike me just roughly crushing a sheet of greaseproof paper in - and added a few walnuts or pieces of dried fruit to the top as it cooled you could produce something pretty.

I also left it to cool while I went out for a run. The fastest run I've done yet. Having a freshly baked cake waiting at home seems to be good motivation! And as I'm writing up this post, half the cake has gone since taking it out of the oven just three hours ago. Always a good sign.

150g unsalted butter
80g golden caster sugar
50g demerara sugar
1tbsp honey

2 medium eggs

1/2tsp cinnamon
250g gluten free flour
2tsp baking powder
1tsp xantham gum

3 ripe bananas
2tbsp crème fraîche
75g walnuts - chopped

Preheat oven to 180°c. Grease and line a 23cm diameter cake tin.

Soften the butter then mix in a bowl with the sugar and honey using an electric whisk or wooden spoon until it is all combined and fluffy.

Beat the eggs together in a separate bowl or mug until just mixed, then slowly add to the butter and sugar, whisking as you go. 

Once all the egg has been added, sieve in the flower, cinnamon, baking powder and xantham gum and mix until just combined.

Mash the bananas to a pulp, then add to the mixture along with the crème fraîche and walnuts and mix well. 

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and put in the oven for an hour or until fully cooked (a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean). 

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool complete (or at least transfer it onto a plate before you and your housemates start digging in to warm cake). 

There you go. A delicious, squidgy, gluten free banana cake. Let me know if you give it a try!


Friday, 16 January 2015

5 Things I've Googled This Week

With the internet at our fingertips, we're just one click away from finding the answers to all those little questions that pop into our heads throughout the day. And the things we Google probably say quite a lot about us (in a totally non-dodgy way I hope!). A quick sum up of the things we search for offers a insight into what we think, what we get up to and what we are learning every day. 

Google is also such a habit for me that I don't even notice myself turning to it multiple times a day. Whether I'm studying, mid-conversation or just daydreaming I'll use it to find definitions, check facts or just find out exactly what that creme egg controversy is all about...

This post was an idea I had shortly before falling asleep one night, but still seemed a half-decent idea the next morning. Rather than mindlessly type things into the search bar, I decided to save at least some of them, write them down here and let you all into my mind for a moment to see how your own Google habits compare! You might even learn something new...

1. "Bulletproof coffee"
I overheard my housemates discussing this and thought I misheard at first. 'Bulletproof' coffee? Butter in coffee?! What on earth could this be all about?
The answer - it's a paleo food/drink made from a mix of coffee, butter and oil. I found a blog on the Guardian that talked about it. Safe to say their review has not enticed me to try this new fad - in fact I'm feeling a little sick and don't want to see any oil or butter for a while...

2. "Bezoar"
This word came up while writing notes on causes of vomiting in children (I know, I know... my degree is so glamorous). I recognised the word, briefly goats came to mind... and Harry Potter. It all seemed a bit bizarre until the list of search results came up. The number two hit was on Harry Potter Wiki - a Bezoar is a poison antidote from the stomach of a goat that the Potions students learn about apparently. Strangely though this is not a common cause of vomiting in children - a bezoar can actually be any kind of mass trapped in the gastrointestinal system and it's not exclusive to goats!

3. "Bristol City" / "Bristol Rovers"
Settling a debate between housemates - how many football teams does Bristol have? None of us even like football, but you know when you have a burning question that cannot be left unanswered? The answer was that there are in fact two, not a single "Bristol City Rovers"...

4. "Tell a friend they are fat day"
Ohhhh my. I had vaguely seen this crop up on twitter and then this week saw a few blog posts responding to it. It's a tricky subject, and not one I'm going to go into right now, but I wanted to find out a bit more about exactly what this proposal was about and whether it's as bad as everyone seems to be saying, or whether it's just completely overhyped. It's a subject with some very strong opinions on either side, and finding a completely non-biased article was near enough impossible it seems. So, as I was supposed to be studying rather than googling random things (although it kind of counts as work for a medical student, right?!) I settled for a Daily Mail article. And resisted spending the rest of the day reading the 346 comments, although I'm sure there would be some gold in there!

Source: "Would YOU tell someone they're chubby?" Femail, Mail Online

5. "Bunny Boiler Film"
Most of the random stuff I google seems to be because of conversations with housemates. Someone said that the presenter of Millionaire Matchmaker (yes, we watch all the quality TV in our flat) was notorious for being a "bunny boiler" but a couple of the others had never heard the phrase. After explaining what it meant, I remembered that it came from a film but could not think which one it was. And luckily, with my phone right beside me, I didn't need to spend ages with it annoying me - a quick search and Fatal Attraction is the answer. A film I've never seen.

Source: Wikipedia - Fatal Attraction

How often do you find yourself quickly searching for the answer to random thoughts from the day?!


Sunday, 11 January 2015

10 Top Tips When Looking At Student Houses

It's approaching that time of year when students across the country start thinking housing for next year already. This will be my fourth (and final- hopefully!) time looking for a student house, so I thought it would be a good idea to share some of what I've learned over the years when it comes to picking somewhere to live for the next academic year.

I thought about writing a checklist of things to make sure your future house has, but actually it's pretty hard to write something useful that would apply for everyone. What might be a total deal-breaker for one group might not be an issue at all for another and so it's really up to you to discuss what you do and don't expect in a student house. Instead I've decided to share some general tips for the process of student-house hunting...

1. Book viewings on anything that has potential
It's easy to sit online, finding nice houses and posting them to each other, but you need to go and see a few too! Seeing houses makes it much easier to work out what is and isn't important to your group and the more you see, the more of a feel you get for what it is you want. 

2. Try and visit the house yourself
I didn't go to view my house this year because I wasn't in Bristol at the time. I trust the judgement of my friends, but it was a little bit nerve-wracking signing for, and moving into, a house I'd never actually seen. Luckily I really like living in it, but I was certainly more comfortable moving into houses I'd actually looked at.

3. Take photos
Student housing moves quickly and so usually you'll only get to view a house once, for maybe about 20 minutes, before you decide whether or not you want to sign for it. It's fine, it works like that, but when you view the house about six or seven months before moving in, you've completely forgotten what it looks like! Having photos makes it easier to remember what's there and what isn't. Get good shots of the bedrooms in particular, makes life so much easier when it comes to picking rooms.

4. Talk to the current tenants if they're in
They'll know better than the agents what it's like to actually live there. Ask about bills, neighbours, any difficulties they've had and what they like about living there. Ask what they landlord/ agency has been like with them- are things sorted promptly or have there been issues? I'd also suggest asking about security/ whether they've been burgled. It's a horrible thing to think about, but it happens to a lot of students and it's something no one else is going to tell you.

5. Confirm what does and doesn't come with the house
Especially things like TVs, microwaves and washing machines. These are generally easy enough to source if they're not included, but it's better to know in advance rather than have to sort out after you've moved in.

6. Don't be put off by mess!
Student houses don't have the best reputation for being clean and tidy, but try and see past it. My bedroom this year had probably not had the curtains or window opened all year, someone had been smoking in there and it was generally just disgusting. A good airing, a lick of paint and a new mattress later and it's absolutely fine now. 

7. Is it somewhere convenient?
Is it easy to get to uni, but also to a supermarket/ gym/ train station etc.? Think about which places you need to be close to, and which things you can compromise on a little bit. Consider things like heavy food shopping, whether you'll use a gym if it's out of the way and whether you travel frequently and want to be near bus routes or train stations.

8. Some things are worth negotiating
In my experience, haggling on the rent price is pretty pointless (although it may not be the case everywhere- if you know different, do leave a comment!) because if you won't pay the full amount, another group probably will. On the other hand, we managed to reduce our agency fees this year by speaking to the lettings agents because they were charging something so ridiculously above the normal rate. We were in a better position to do this because we left it relatively late to sign for a house and I think they were keen to have it let rather than it remain empty because of high agency costs. It did take a bit of persuasion and stubborness, as well as researching what other agencies were charging but it paid off.

We also arranged viewings of some houses that were only supposed to be offered to post-graduate students. I'm still an undergraduate, but being in fourth year puts me in the same year as someone on a postgraduate course so the landlords were happy to consider us as postgrads.

9. Search regularly and in lots of places
As well as looking on agency websites, I spent a lot of time on Rightmove and Zoopla keeping an eye on new properties coming up every couple of days. I also searched on the university's accommodation page and on sites such as Gumtree. Properties get advertised in loads of places so you'll find more choice by searching widely.

10. Most importantly - don't panic!
You will find somewhere. Don't settle for the first place you see if you're not sure about it. It can be worth waiting it out a little longer for something better to come along.

There's a lot of variety in student housing, so hopefully you manage to find something nice! Good luck!


ps - yes, one of my previous student houses did indeed have an Aga in the kitchen! (Sadly it couldn't be turned on)

Friday, 9 January 2015

The First Run of 2015

If you read my New Year's Resolutions post, you'll know that number two on the list was running more regularly. Having nosed my way through plenty of other people's new year resolutions I've found that loads of you also plan to run in 2015- whether that's taking it up as a complete beginner, or pushing yourself to run further, faster or take on a challenge like a marathon.

As I mentioned in that post, I'd actually already laid some of the foundations for this last year - I treated myself to some new running clothes and figured out a good route to take. I got into running a bit more regularly in about September/ October time but moving away for placement and general end of term fatigue got in the way a bit so I didn't run for quite a few weeks.

There are loads of people out there with great running series on their blogs, plus lots of my friends and coursemates are pretty dedicated runners and this is all great motivation to run. But what really inspires me is when I find someone who I can really relate to. Someone at a similar level and experience to myself. So I thought I'd document my own running every now and again in the hope that someone out there will relate to it too! My aim is to be completely honest and hopefully inspire some confidence in other people.

At school I was probably a lot fitter than I am now and I wasn't a bad runner at all. I was probably a bit of a bad friend on cross country day in PE - promising on the start line to stick with my friends and all run together, but then sprinting off to somewhere near the front as soon as we all started! I also ran for my school cross country team on a few occasions. So the ability is there somewhere, it just got lost along the way. 

In order to get back into running, it was really a case of getting rid of all my excuses and simply just getting on with it. It's taken about two years to really sort them all but I'm pleased I did!

Excuse 1: "But I don't have decent footwear. I'll wreck my feet/knees..." 
Solution 1: Buy decent running shoes! Actually, mum bought them for me on the condition that I actually use them. 

Excuse 2: "I don't have proper running clothes. Everyone else round here does..."
Solution 2: Buy running clothes. Yes they were expensive. But this just made me more determined to actually get good value from them. I don't know about other people, but certainly at uni/ in central Bristol pretty much every runner you see is in fancy running kit. It's not an essential - at home I'd happily run in just tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt so long as they weren't too warm - but it was an excuse I was making for myself!

Excuse 3: "I don't know any good routes..."
Solution 3: I went running with friends who did! There's a nice 5km loop with a downhill bit at the crucial time. It's also not hard to look online and find routes or just plan them yourself.

Excuse 4: "I can't run more than a few minutes before stopping..."
Solution 4: Again, running with other people and sticking on some music (something I'd never tried before weirdly!) was good motivation to keep going a bit longer and actually I realised that I was stopping for absolutely no reason because I was physically able to go a lot further than I thought. After that, I decided to try and keep running regularly to see an improvement, rather than sporadically deciding to go, seeing no improvement and just being disappointed.

So with all that sorted out last year, it should be much easier now to keep to this resolution! And today was the first run of 2015. A gentle 5km in about 35 minutes. I've spent about a month not running and not even having to do any great amount of walking, so my current fitness level isn't especially good. And I'll be honest, I did have to slow to a brisk walk for a couple of minutes at about the 3km mark for a few minutes. But I just reminded myself of a quote I'd spotted on Pinterest - "No matter how slow you go, you're still lapping everyone on the couch" - so long as you're trying, it counts as something and it's much better than not trying at all! There were other moments I almost stopped, but then spotted other runners and it gave me just that  little bit of a boost of determination to keep going. And at the end, I was pleased and felt much better for having done it. Not only does running make me feel fitter, it also helps improve my circulation in my hands and feet and makes my skin even out and glow much better than any make up could! (Once I've cooled down, obviously. I might be lucky enough not to resemble a tomato after exercise but no one looks their absolute best at right that moment in time...)

I'll wrap it up there, but do leave me a comment if you liked this post! 



Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Luxury of Not Knowing Where Life is Taking You

I've been meaning to write a post like this for a while now. Mostly because I keep leaving long and rambly comments on the subject on other people's posts so I thought it probably makes more sense to just write my thoughts here! It's a long one, but stick with me...

I'm not sure what exactly triggered it off, but a while ago there was a spate of blog posts all along the same kind of lines of how it felt to not know where life was going. Many of them written by young women about my age, recently graduated from university or starting to outgrow their first jobs. All of them felt daunted about the prospect of entering the big wide world without really having any idea of what they wanted to do with their lives. They all knew that there are any number of possibilities for careers out there but hadn't yet set their heart on one, or even felt some kind of inkling about which direction they'd actually like to take. They also said that they felt pressured to make the right decision now and get working towards securing a dream job. I'm sure there are many, many more of you who will think this sounds familiar. 

Now almost every single one of these blog posts finished positively, concluding somewhere along the lines of regarding this as their time of freedom to really explore life and its opportunities, feeling optimistic that the right career will come along in time and realising that actually it's pretty normal to feel like this. I admire this attitude and made sure I said so every time I commented on one of these posts.

I wanted to write though from the perspective of someone on the other side. Someone who, give or take a few details, has a career path planned out ahead of me for, well, ever. It is however very much a case of the grass being greener on the other side. 

I'll quickly explain where my life is headed right now in case you're new round here. I'm 21 and in my fourth year of university studying medicine. I'm confident I made the right choice because I love the course most of the time and genuinely really enjoy what I do. I've got another year of university before I graduate, aged 23, ready to begin my proper adult working life. From there I'll start work as a junior doctor somewhere in the country and complete two foundation years, rotating through different areas of medicine. That takes me to 25. Then I'll start a training pathway to specialise in whichever area has taken my fancy (assuming I get onto that particular pathway). For the sake of things, let's say I still stick with my current interest- pyschiatry. That's a six year programme. Once that's finished, I can apply for consultant jobs. Assuming I haven't taken any years out along the way, that's me aged 31. That's the next ten years of my working life roughly planned out for me.

Like I said, I love what I do. Medicine excites me and apart from the odd bad day, I know it is definitely the career that I want to follow right now. And I do try to appreciate the fact that, assuming I pass my exams and nothing catastrophic happens to the whole system, I have a lot of security with this plan. I know where I'm going with it for the next ten years and more. So why have I entitled this post 'The Luxury of Not Knowing Where Life is Taking You'?

Because actually, sometimes I long to be in the position of everyone who doesn't know where they're going. The world seems so much more open for them. I don't always want to know what the future holds, I'd love to be excited by the thought that my life could go almost anywhere! I'd love to experience the ability to decide that something wasn't working, go in a new direction and not compromise the end goal. I'd love to take a few detours off the beaten track, discover things I didn't even know existed, create new things. It can be scary having your life planned out so far in advance and just as pressurised. What if I want to travel, get married, buy a house? Obviously these things do fit in, but do I really want to be able to figure out the best timing for them years and years in advance? It's not the strongest of analogies, but it's a little bit like being told your future by a fortune teller and then simply just waiting for it all to happen. I already know about exams I won't have to sit for another four years or so - now who wants that?!

All in all, it is probably like I've already said - a case of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence. But sometimes it's nice to hear from someone on the other side point out what's so good about yours. And I'm saying that sometimes a deal of uncertainty isn't necessarily a bad thing.



Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Roman Baths, Bath

The Christmas break is over and today it was time to get myself back to university ready to start the new term. Mum and I decided to make the most of the last day with a stop off in Bath for a wander round the city and dinner. We also visited the Roman Baths, the best preserved of Roman bathing complexes in Europe.

Mid-afternoon on a Sunday in early January proved to be the ideal time to visit- it wasn't too busy and the setting sun and cool air made the place look stunning. Without children running all over the place, watching the misty steam rise over the blue-green water was wonderfully calming. I doubt that's how the baths would have been in their day but it was lovely nevertheless to just step back in time for an hour or so.

Even just looking back at the photos makes me feel relaxed - just what I need to do before my 12 hour day on the children's ward tomorrow!


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