Saturday, 31 December 2016

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Clichéd and cheesy or not, I rather like the end of the year as a time for reflection and a chance to look back over the past twelve months.

Although on the grander scale, 2016 is being described as something of a disaster year, I've found it wonderfully refreshing to read how it's been a year of personal positivity for many people. And I'm including myself in this. It's only when I take the time to sit back and think that I realise just how much I've accomplished in 2016.

Right at the start of the year, I was still at university - a final year medical student anticipating all the final milestones on my journey to graduation. I found out I'd passed my medical school finals, then a few weeks later was delighted to hear that I'd been confirmed to have a job as a doctor once I'd graduated. Come the summer, in the midst of that heatwave, I donned a black gown and graduated from student to doctor - undoubtedly my biggest achievement of 2016.

It wasn't all about educational achievements though. I also took on a challenge I'd never have dreamed of a few years ago. I can hardly consider the annual PE cross country day and two or three schools' competitions aged about 14 much of a running career, but it was all the experience I had when I signed up for the Bath Half Marathon (under the influence of my equally inexperienced housemate and a good dose of prosecco each). But I religiously completed the three months of training - beautiful sunrise jogs around Clifton and less beautiful, rainy slogs through the backstreets of Yeovil - and actually really enjoyed myself on the streets of Bath!

2016 was also an outstanding year for me in terms of travelling. I was fortunate enough to spend a full two months in Cape Town, South Africa, mixing work and pleasure as I finished off my degree with an elective period in a psychiatric department. Then after a brief unpack/wash/repack of my luggage, I headed off for a a mini-tour of Milan, Budapest and the coast of Croatia.

Holidays over, I moved into a new flat all ready to start my new job as a doctor. I've already completed my first four month rotation, and I'm getting stuck into job number two. 

So with all that behind me, what's to come for 2017?

Well, first and foremost - I'm still planning on keeping this blog going! A hectic last few months has made it tricky, but I do love writing here and keeping up with the blogging world. I'm planning on taking things back to basics, worrying less about numbers/ social media presence/ flashy photography and more on just writing about the ins and outs of day-to-day life.

Secondly, despite the previous point - I do want to work on my photography. Buying my camera this summer has honestly been one of my best investments. I love taking it out and about with me and I've finally plucked up the courage over the past few weeks to learn to use it in manual mode. My job doesn't allow for a lot of creativity, so this has been my outlet and I'm keen to keep learning.

Keep cooking. I'm very good at looking through all the cookbooks, recipe cards and food magazines on my shelf - less good at trying new things very often! I want to try and make an effort to continue experimenting and finding new favourite meals.

Well this one is definitely a cliché and I'm trying not to care too much about that! But, err, I joined the local gym... As someone's who's never set foot in a gym before this is slightly terrifying but I'm hoping it will bring good things. So any bloggers with advice - please share!

Self care. Towards the end of my last job, I was getting into bad habits of finishing work late (due to workload rather than choice), eating rubbish dinners and then pretty much getting straight into bed. Now I'm trying to make more of my evenings and actually enjoying my free time - whether that's going out and seeing people, or simply getting comfy and working through the pile of books on my bedside table...

The year will also bring a further two new jobs, yet another move and hopefully some more travel along the way!

What have been your achievements in 2016 and what are you looking forward to in 2017? Let me know!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Winter Scenes

Grey swan, cygnet

Without a doubt, my best purchase this year has been my camera. 

Whenever I'm feeling bored and cooped up on a day off, I grab my camera bag and head out to play with it. It's a great excuse to get out, enjoy some fresh air and look at the world in a different way.

It's also meant I've witnessed the changing of the seasons as summer turned to autumn and autumn gave way to winter. 

A grey Monday afternoon in December doesn't necessarily sound like the ideal photo opportunity, but I ventured out nonetheless and snapped a few pictures.

Despite being two in the afternoon, the day had an eery quality to it, with the faintest hint of mist and a empty greyness.

Through the autumn, I enjoyed capturing the colours of the trees - rich reds and oranges as the leaves changed. Now they're bare, I love the way the branches stand out against a cloudy sky - dark lines swirling against the background.

Bare branches of tree in winter

And for the most elegant of photo subjects? Well it has to be the swans, floating serenely up the river and their cygnets maturing from ugly ducklings to fully grown adults.


Monday, 12 December 2016

Feeling Christmassy

 I barely even noticed December sneaking up on us, let alone the Christmas season! Settling in to my job, I felt as if I'd only just gotten past the sweltering heat of the hospital in late summer and now all of a sudden I'm writing December dates in all the notes.

As the start of December actually marked the transition in to my second rotation (goodbye gastroenterology, hello orthopaedics...), I was much more focused on this than on the fact that Christmas was approaching. 

Also - I'm really quite stubborn about not doing anything Christmassy until December hits!

A week of on-call work in a new job meant I hadn't been feeling very festive at all - in fact when carol singers came to the ward on Saturday afternoon, I was initially irritated at them interrupting my thought flow while trying to juggle writing discharge letters and managing any sick patients! 

However, I used my day off to get myself into the spirit of things. Mince pies, sparkly decorations and burning the gorgeous scented tealights from my PartyLite advent calendar. All accompanied with a Christmas soundtrack to really get myself in the mood.

I'm planning on heading home to my parents' for the week before Christmas so haven't gone all out on decorating my flat - just some fairy lights, flowers and some glittery decorations I picked up in Tesco. I've also left all my Christmas jumpers there, so it's just some reindeer socks for festive attire right now!

I'm already feeling much more excited for Christmas - now all I need is a bit more present-buying success because I am struggling this year!!

What have you been up to in order to get in the Christmas mood?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Little Things I've Loved This Week #38

This has felt a very, very long week indeed. I worked last weekend, so by Friday evening I was very ready for a break! There had also been a couple of sad cases at work this week, so I've been especially keen to look out for the happy moments instead. And as always, there have been plenty. Here are some of the things I've noticed bring a smile to my face this week...

1. Sunlight through autumn leaves. The bright sunshine was irresistible this morning - I've been trying to make an effort to keep practising with my camera, so I bundled myself up against the cold and headed out in search of scenery. Luckily at this time of year I really don't have to look hard at all!

2. Marmalade on toast. I've been rewatching Downton Abbey and the breakfast scenes always give me marmalade toast cravings! I'm sure it would taste even better if I was having it served to me on bone china plates with a silver pot of homemade marmalade, but I've settled for supermarket own-brand sevrved upon Ikea plates for now...

3. New gloves. Colder weather made me realise that I hadn't seen my gloves since taking them out of my handbag shortly before I went to Cape Town. With no idea where I'd put them, I treated myself to a beautiful pair of green leather ones. And, err, then found my old pair on the same day... 

4. A new Netflix series. I hadn't heard anything about The Crown until the day before it was released - but I'm glad I did hear about it! Just the thing I need to keep me occupied now that all I want to do is stay indoors and keep cosy.

5. Yoghurt with blackberries and honey. I've realised I eat blackberries very rarely! But I put some onto my grocery order recently and they've been delicious served on Greek yoghurt, drizzled with a little honey.

6. Pearl barley risotto. So half of the points on this list are food. And what? There's a delicious recipe for a pearl barley tomato risotto in the cookbook 'Jerusalem' and it's one of my favourites. Full of flavour, warming, filling and just the thing on a cold evening.

What have you been enjoying this week?


Monday, 31 October 2016

Autumn Walking

I think autumn might be my favourite season.

Don't get me wrong, I love a long summer's day, warm sunshine and not carrying a coat - but there's jut something rather lovely about crisp evenings, wrapping up warm and an excuse for all the tasty autumn food.

It felt like we clung on to summer for a long while this year but the seasons did eventually tick over and autumn has arrived in all it's beauty.

Now I hate wasting a good day off. And although doing the laundry and mending a broken shower head was a pretty satisfying Sunday morning, it wasn't exactly all that fun. I couldn't ignore the bright sunshine streaming through the windows, so I packed my camera and set out for a solo stroll along the river. 

I'm loving my new location and the fact that it's so easy to wander down to the riverside footpath for an adventure. 

Having grown up in London, I always used to associate the River Thames with the city centre - a section that's bustling and beautiful in its own way, but worlds away from the peaceful setting it courses through further out west.

Red berries besides River Thames

I was not the only person out walking that afternoon - plenty of people were enjoying the scenery on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. 

Fresh air, autumn colours, a gentle breeze and sparkling sunshine. Autumn, you're pretty wonderful.

River Thames in October


Friday, 28 October 2016

Post Night Shift Self Care

It's already been a week since I finished my first full week of night shifts at the hospital. I've successfully gotten back into a normal daytime routine and I'm enjoying actually seeing some daylight again rather than forcing myself to sleep through it!

The nights themselves weren't too bad - we had a good team of people on and we were able to work steadily through the night seeing the patients referred to us by A&E. Nevertheless, I was very pleased when the sun came up on Friday morning and the clock ticked round to 8.30am... all that was left to do was present the patients to the consultant and then head home!

I felt that I deserved a bit of a post-nights treat so, after a four-hour recovery nap, I headed out to the shops for a few goodies :)

First things first. Fresh flowers. A bunch of autumnal blooms as a congratulations to myself! Fresh flowers in the flat always make me feel like I've got my life together - which is definitely the feeling you want to instill after having turned your life upside down for a week...

I spent the day  just relaxing, listening to the radio with some scented candles and enjoying my favourite Dutch Shortcake biscuits. 

And then to really feel revived and recovered, I bought a handful of face masks and tried out the 7th Heaven Tea Tree mask which promised to refresh tired skin - exactly what I was in need of. 

If I thought transition in to night shifts was hard, coming out of them again was something else! I'm hoping that with experience, it'll start to get easier - but making the effort to do nice things for myself definitely helped a lot.

How do you recover after a busy week at work, or a run of night shifts?

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Little Things I've Loved This Week #37

Well this has been rather an unusual week indeed! I worked my first week of night shifts, so it's been somewhat all over the place the last seven days. They went far better than I expected, although I'm very glad to be done with night-shifts for a while - staying up all night does not come naturally to me at all! Day or night though, here are the little things I've loved this week...

1. Half-price flowers in M&S. They were reduced as they'd reached their sell-by date, but were still looking in perfect condition. I said in my bedroom tour post that I've been sticking to false flowers recently, but this was a bargain too good to pass up.

2. The little boy in the supermarket who gave me a massive grin and an enthusiastic wave on Friday morning. What a cutie.

3. Toasted homemade bread. To save mealtime confusion while working nights, I decided just to make pretty much every meal breakfast. Think beans on toast, scrambled eggs on toast, poached eggs and avocado on toast... All made just that little bit better by having thick slices of chewy, buttery homemade bread that is so much more flavoursome than sliced shop-bought loaves!

4. Heading down to the docks at Southampton with my sister, admiring the boats - big and small!

5. Rewatching Downton Abbey from the beginning. All the series are on Amazon Prime and I had forgotten just HOW GOOD it is! I'm not a huge TV series watcher, and this is one of the very few series that I actually can't wait to watch the next episode of.

6. Watching as it gets light outside, knowing it means my shift is coming to an end. There was something pretty nice about knowing I'd managed to work through another entire night and that it would only be a few more hours until I could go home!

7. Crisp autumn walks along the river this afternoon. I packed my camera and set out for a stroll along the Thames, capturing the beautiful autumnal scenery in the afternoon sunshine. Blue skies, red leaves and sparkling water - idyllic :)

Hope that you've all had a lovely week!



Sunday, 16 October 2016

Little Things I've Loved This Week #36

I'm writing this feeling ever so lazy still sat in bed on a Sunday morning! (Ok, I have already gotten up and put a wash on because the guilt was too much.) I'm preparing for night shifts next week, so today's a day for a lazy morning, as late a night as I can manage and then hopefully getting some sleep during the day tomorrow before working the night. Anyway, that's next week. Here are the little things I've loved from this week:

A Saffy-style welcome home. I went home on Saturday to go for lunch with my mum and of course to see my beautiful little terrier, Saffy. They always say dogs give the best welcome and it's so true. Saffy's getting to be more of a "mature lady" in age nowadays, but there's still something so puppy-ish about her whirling tail and flying paws as she hurries to say hello when I'm back!

A live orchestral performance. One of my closest friends plays in an orchestra and she invited me down to Paddington for their autumn concert this weekend. They played some of my absolute favourite classical music - The Nutcracker Suite - which never fails to make me smile. There's something so enthralling about being up close to an orchestra and seeing how every sound you hear is coming from the people and instruments in front of you!

The patient who, upon me asking how she was that morning, replied "all the better for seeing you!". I know I shouldn't have favourite patients, but she's working her way towards it!

Matchmakers. They were on sale in Tesco and I may have bought myself a box. Or two. 

Being able to fill my fridge with fresh food. Basically, I'd had a faulty fridge since moving in to my flat and finally it got replaced the other week. Since then, I've been loving being able to buy lots of fruit and vegetables without worrying about them going off. It's also meant I can prepare my lunches for the week! (I've also been enjoying the ability to have fridge cold chocolate too...)

Jadu Tea's Spa Afternoon loose leaf tea*. This was sent to me a while ago and I've only just gotten around to trying this particular one. It's minty and refreshing and I have been enjoying it by the potful, sipping it from my beautiful Bombay Duck tea cups. It's a beautiful blend of spearmint, Chinese Oolong tea and nettle, dandelion, burdock and milk thistle. 

What have you been up to this week?

Monday, 10 October 2016

A Bedroom Tour

You know how ages ago I promised a tour of my new bedroom?!

Well, finally, I've gotten round to doing it! I moved into a new flat back at the end of July so maybe it's not such a new bedroom anymore, but better late then never :)

Pink and grey bedroom
When I moved, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to go for a new style with my bedroom. I spent a lot of time searching for inspiration on Pinterest and blogs - making it only fair to share some photos of my own finished room. 

The room was pretty much a blank canvas when I arrived - all white furniture and walls just waiting for an injection of colour. 

White bedroom
I really loved the idea of a sophisticated pink and grey room and set about most my favourite activity in the world - homeware shopping!

At the age of twenty-three, I think I can finally trust myself not to destroy white bedding and so opted for a simple waffle-patterned set from John Lewis that would be the perfect base for adding blankets and cushions to.

Pink satin cushion on white bedding
Many, many hours of my life have now been spent in Home Sense which is where I found a beautiful soft, grey blanket that's ideal for breaking up the 'whiteness' of the bed - and is wonderfully cozy now that it's starting to get a little cooler!

Pink and grey cushions on bed

Finding pink cushions turned out to be a much harder mission than I anticipated, but I eventually tracked down a couple of bright pink ones in Tesco and a lighter, satin-textured round one in M&S. The grey cushions were also an M&S find.

Pink and grey cushions on bed

I knew I wanted some flowers to brighten up the room, but despite loving fresh flowers I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain them and so opted for some fakes instead (shh!). These beautiful pink peonies came from Hobbycraft, and fit perfectly into the vase supplied by my landlady.

Fake pink peonies
Pink peonies, candle and photo frame on bedside tableFake pink peonies in white vase
 I love having a dressing table, but easily fall into the habit of having everything out all the time! I've tried to be tidy with it this time and only have out brushes and some moisturisers, while all my make up is stored in the drawer below. Keeping it as clutter free as possible means there's space for a few scented candles which I light in the evenings when I'm winding down for bed.

Brushes and make up on white dressing table
 Scented candles on dressing table

Lake Sunset Yankee Candle jar

I've also freed up some dressing table space by storing all my haircare things in this wicker basket from Dunelm. No more tangled hairdryer wires!

Wicker basket with magazines
Pile of magazines
 My bedroom is easily my favourite part of the flat and as my bed is a million times more comfortable than the sofa, I spend a lot of time sitting in here! There's still more I'd like to do with it, like maybe getting some fairy lights to wrap along the bed, and I'd love to be able to change up the questionable canvasses that were here when I moved in. (Not pictured here, but for some reason they thought a photo of a creepy forest opposite the bed would be just the thing to fall asleep to...). If it was my own property, I'd probably also swap the blinds for something a little more stylish, but I guess I can't have everything!

Pink, white and grey bedroom

I'd love to know what you think of the room. And if you've got a room tour post, pleaseeeeee  leave me a link because I'm really nosey :)

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