Sunday, 24 September 2017

Little Things I've Loved This Week #54

Little things I've Loved This Week

The first night-time sleep after a night shift. I feel like I mentioned last weekend's night shift so much, you'd think I was the first person to ever work one - so er, sorry about that! But honestly, they pretty much turn your life upside down so it does become a bit of a big deal. Anyway, night shifts done, it was so nice to lie down in actual darkness on Monday night to go to sleep. Really one of those little things I take for granted and forget to appreciate!

After work drinks and pizza. I'm working in a community job at the moment which means I don't see much of the other F2 doctors. So it was lovely to head into Oxford on Friday night to catch up with a few of them. And even lovelier that everyone appreciated an early night - I was home and in bed by 11pm, having seen all the university students just making their way out!

Trying new recipes. I really enjoy cooking at home, but the past couple of months I'd gotten into a bit of rut and was just cooking the same things over and over again. This week though, I sought out the recipes I'd bookmarked in magazines and tried a couple out. I made potato and parsnip latkes with halloumi and fig, and a delicious aubergine curry.

Parsnip latkes with fig and halloumi

Aubergine curry

A really good run on Tuesday morning. I'd been in two minds about whether to run at all. I was slightly behind on my half marathon training thanks to the oncall weekend but was also feeling a bit tired. I decided it was worth a try though and ended up going for one of the best training runs I've had so far on this plan! I actually ran faster than normal, and the hilly route I've been using (since discovering how nice it is to be running out in the countryside) felt easier than normal.

autumn conkers in hand

Path with trees

Seeing patients get better. I've been working in this job for almost two months now which means I've had a chance to follow up a few patients. And while recovery from mental health problems isn't necessarily a quick one for most people, there are certainly some patients I've noticed a change in and that's been so good to see.

Catching up with old school friends. My friend invited me round for her birthday this weekend - perfect timing as I was on my back home that day anyway! I don't see my school friends as often as I'd like anymore, so it was lovely to spend a few hours updating one another.

The creamiest cheesecake I've ever eaten. We went out to a local restaurant for lunch this afternoon. Last time I was there, the waiter recommended the vanilla cheesecake but I picked something else. This time around though, I ordered the cheesecake and I can see exactly why he liked it so much!

Tea and book
What little things has everyone been enjoying this week? 


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Osbourne House, Isle of Wight


Osborne House, seaside summer home of Queen Victoria.

I'd completely forgotten that I never got around to sharing my pictures of this beautiful royal residence! I visited way back in May while staying on the Isle of Wight and promised in that post that I'd share my photos from the English Heritage property. So better late than never, right?!

English Heritage Osborne House

Osborne House is one of the filming locations for the new film, Victoria and Abdul, and it's all the promotion around this that reminded me I had yet to share a post on the place.

First up - it's beautiful. It is so different from many of the other stately homes and palaces I've visited in the past. Queen Victoria deliberately wanted it to be a light, summery residence and the bright decor is like nothing I've seen elsewhere. Walking through the house, I almost didn't know where to look - the stunning colours and patterns on the floors, walls and ceiling caught my eye in every room.

Coloured freize ceiling

Staircase and artwork

Palace corridors

Rooms in Osborne House

coloured glass chandelier


Dining room

Something of a surprise was the Durbar Room - an ornate dining room with heavy Indian influence in its decor. Laid out as if prepared for a banquet, it's really something to behold. It feels completely unexpected among the rest of the house!

Dining table Durbar room

Banquet table

Dunbar room

It's not just the house that's amazing though - the rest of the grounds make for a wonderful walk! It's easy to see why Queen Victoria chose to spend so much time here with beautiful woodlands and a private beach looking out over the Solent. 

View over Solent

Bridge to beach

Gate in woodland


When I visited in the springtime, the gardens were blooming with colour and the whole place looked magnificent in the bright sunshine.

Deckchairs with Queen Victoria quote

Flowers outside Osborne House

Garden Gate

Osborne House is certainly worth a visit if you find yourself on the Isle of Wight, and do look out for it in the film!


Monday, 18 September 2017

A Couple of Forgotten Favourites

Fresh bread

I love finding new activities, new ways to entertain myself.

But in this quest to find new and exciting hobbies, I often find myself neglecting some of my forgotten favourites. The things I know I love but forget to make time for.

Homemade Bread

First of all - baking bread. I go through phases with baking in general - usually dependent on whether I'll have anyone around to help me eat what I make! But one of the things I definitely don't do enough is baking my own fresh bread. It's so simple and there's something so satisfying about it when it goes right; watching as flour, water and a little yeast magically bloom into a fresh loaf.

I really got into making bread a couple of summers ago, in the long break between finishing medical school and starting work. I could wake early and have a fresh loaf out of the oven and cooling just in time for lunch.

Slices of home baked bread

Fresh bread tastes infinitely better, yet I just forget to make it! The other afternoon, however, I opened a fresh bag of flour, a new tin of yeast and pulled out my favourite bread recipe book. What I love about the simple recipe is that it's not overly messy or hard work - there's not a lot of kneading or rolling it around on the surfaces. Sure the kitchen worktop can get a little floury but it's never quite as much effort as I assume. And of course, it's always worth it to fill the house with the smell of baking bread!

My other forgotten favourite is watercolour painting. Now, this really is a forgotten one! I often have colouring pencils nearby, but with all my house moves and years at university, my paints have sat rather sadly in my wardrobe at home. When I've been packing and unpacking on such a frequent basis, they've sat rather low in my priorities and I realise now what a shame this is.

Watercolour paints and painting

The weekend at the end of my annual leave, I was feeling creative and these days this normally takes the form of refreshing my blog! Browsing Youtube videos for watercolour graphic tutorials inspired me to get my own paints and brushes and down. And as soon as I did, I remembered just how much I enjoy it. I can spend hours painting and drawing, becoming totally consumed and losing track of the time (which was a blessing during my GCSE Art years and all the associated coursework).

Watercolour palette

Painting flowers

I love the way watercolours blend together, washing to create so many beautiful shades and colours, all the different effects you can make. I created my watercolour blog graphic but also enjoyed painting floral patterns, letting my imagination run.

Watercolour painting of flowers

I'm already planning to bring my paints back with me next time I go home - because what's one more bag when I eventually have to pack up an entire flat next summer?!

What are some of the things you know you enjoy but just don't give them time to anymore?

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Audley End House and Gardens

Gardens at Audley End

 Somehow I've become the sort of person who could spend hours just wandering around beautifully laid out gardens...

While we were in Essex, we weren't too far from Audley End House & Gardens, a 17th Century mansion house and English Heritage property.

Similarly to Ham House I wasn't overly enamoured with the house itself, although I did like the service wing - somehow I always find the "below stairs" aspects far more interesting to imagine.

The gardens however, well they were something to behold!

Behind the house, the garden was an explosion of colour - all beautifully laid out around a fountain. Photos really don't do it justice, in the bright afternoon sunshine it was magnificent.

Formal gardens in summer

Garden Flowers

Mansion and Gardens

I love photographing gardens and flowers. There's so much to play with - catching dew drops on a petal, the beautiful symmetry and geometry of nature, bees and butterflies flitting about...

Bee on Lavender Plants

Yellow flowers

Pink Pom Pom Dahlia

Water droplets on flower petal

As for my personal favourite part of the estate? The walled kitchen gardens. I love the idea of home-grown fruit and vegetables, and a perfectly curated kitchen garden is the ultimate version of this dream! It's amazing how colourful the gardens can be, simply with fruit and vegetable plants. Greenhouses filled with tomatoes, grapes and potted plants. Apple and pear varieties going back hundreds of years. Row upon row of greens, and vegetables topped with an array of colourful leaves.

Flowerpots shelves

Walled kitchen garden

Growing apples

Greenhouse grape vines

I'd love to have my own version, if on rather a smaller scale! However we recently killed a cactus so my green fingers are still in development it seems... I'll just leave it up to the professionals for now.

Rows of vegetables

Tomato Plant

Pear Tree against brick wall


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Getting Out of Town

Harvested fields

There's something rather beautiful about the British countryside in all its variety. 

I grew up in the suburbs of London, then spent five years at university living in the centre of Bristol. Since then I've moved twice, both times to the middle of large towns. And as convenient as it is, I'm always hunting out the open spaces, fresh air and greenery of the countryside. 

I sometimes wonder if it's just that I associate the countryside with being on holiday. There's almost certainly an element of that - everything feels much dreamier when you don't have to worry about any of the normal aspects of daily life! That said, while many of my peers dream of careers and lives in the centre of London,  I just know that's not really my thing. London's a fabulous place and I'm so grateful to have grown up with it on my doorstep, but I don't miss it all that much when I'm away.

And while some people find themselves itching to travel to cities around the world, I'm just as likely to be craving a week or so out of town and into the peace and quiet of a more rural location.

As I mentioned in my Little Things I've Loved post, I spent last week staying in a cottage on a farm a few miles from Saffron Walden in Essex. It's not necessarily somewhere I would have picked initially, but it turned out to be an excellent choice. A bustling market town, surrounded by plenty of pretty villages and miles and miles of open fields. We relaxed, took Saffy on walks to explore new places and dined well - The Cricketers pub deserves a special mention for an excellent menu (and also happens to be the pub owned by Jamie Oliver's parents), as well as stopping in various restaurants and tea rooms.

Fields and hedgerows

Wild grasses

Dawn over fields

Wild blackberries

Harvested wheat fields

Windmill Thaxted

It was refreshing to wake in the morning to the sound of birds and the odd tractor (and ok, the Stansted arrivals and departures but I quite like planes so I'm not complaining!), rather than traffic and sirens. 

Refreshing to look out the window at a view of the fields while eating breakfast, rather than flats and offices. 

Refreshing to be able to take a walk down the footpaths without having to cross a single road. To spot wildlife that isn't just scabby pigeons.

I'm definitely at my happiest out in the open... anyone else with me?!

Fields and trees

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