Yearly Round-Up (2017)

I know I have barely blogged his year – but I couldn’t see the year out without doing my yearly round up quiz. May need to look at tweaking some of the questions next year as I’ve been using the same one for around 10 years… So without further ado…

In 2017:

1. What did you do that you’d never done before? Got engaged!! Ahem, and tried out gliding which was scary and awsome! 


2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Resolutions from last year were to exercise more. This has been a bit up and down this year due to changing jobs where I’m now office based as opposed to running around A&E for 12 hours a day so slowly saw the pounds creeping on. However, I did train and complete a 5k race for life and recently joined a gym in my area and pushing myself to do 2-3 classes a week that I enjoy.


3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My cousin had a baby boy.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No.

5. What countries did you visit? Hungary, Wales and the Peak District if that counts..!

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017? More travel – which will be easy to beat with Lisbon, Vegas and Malta already in planning. I also want to be better at making the most use of my spare time and see friends/family a bit more regularly.

7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory? Getting Engaged and getting a new (and 9-5!) specialist nursing role and J’s Graduation day. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Landing my new job. 

9. Did you suffer illness or injury? Dental issues – but what’s new?

10. What was the best thing you bought? Going for a boring/adult answer here, but probably a tumble dryer. Has made the world of difference..!

11. Whose behavior merited celebration? Probably my Mum and partner for commuting endlessly to work and having to pretty much live in a hotel for 6 months whilst waiting for their new house to be completed..! Also J for all the support throughout the last year. 

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? No one I can think of.

13. Where did most of your money go? Bills!  

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Being engaged? That was/still is an exciting time. Also – FRIENDS Fest! 


15. What song/album will always remind you of 2016? Song – probably Ed Sheeran – Perfect.

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Happier!

ii. thinner or fatter? FATTER

iii. richer or poorer? The same?  So basically fat and happy!

17. What do you wish you’d done more of? Seeing friends.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying and Procrastinting. Same as last year, but definitely feels like I did less of it this year. 

19. How will you be spending Christmas?: I spent it with my family Christmas Day and  J’s family boxing day – plus the yearly secret santa guys gift exchange and meet up                   

                                                             

20. Did you fall in love in 2017? Already in it and stayed very much in it 

21. How many one night stands in this last year? None.

22. What was your favorite TV program this year? Greys Anatomy

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No hate this year..!

25. What was the best book you read? The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells and Harry Potter – The Order of the Phoenix

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Pass. Not really kept up to date with music this year – although did enjoy Paramore’s new album and new sound.

27. What did you want and get? A new laptop and a new job 

28. What did you want and not get? Nothing springs to mind.

29. What was your favorite film of this year? The second kingsman film probably

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 29 and celebrated my birthday (and engagement) with a BBQ at ours with close friends 

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Not having enough time with family/ friends due to work and other commitments and blogging

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017? Not greatly changed. 

33. What kept you sane? J


34. Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most? Hmmm, not sure.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Nursing Pay Cap 

36. Who did you miss? Some friends I’ve not seen in a while. 

37. Who was the best new person you met? All my new work colleagues!

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017: If you need help, ask for it.

Hopes for 2018:

– Continue to exercise regularly and nourish my body better with good food that nourishes my body. 

– That both me and J enjoy wedding planning without toooo much stress..! 

– That I continue to enjoy my job and work hard pass my courses relevant to it. 

– Blog more. Blog more. Blog more! 

– Enjoy celebrating most of my friends 30th Birthdays (including my own!) 

– Read more books and enforce it into my bedtime routine. 

Thanks 2017, you were life changing (for the better!) 

2018, let’s be having ya! x

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Yays & Nays (#18) 

Yes you read that right – first yays and nays in 7 months! 

I was debating giving it up but after 17 of them – seemed silly to.

So what’s being going on? 

Yays

New Job

I packed in my A&E job for a specialist role in paediatric diabetes! 

I had been on the lookout for a specialist role for a while as A&E, although a fantastic learning and team environment  – just got too exhausting for me mentally and physically – (see previous post ‘cutting myself some slack’ to give you a picture of where I was at). This new role is completely different to anything I’ve ever done before and feel that’s it’s exactly what I needed to reboot myself. I want to be the best nurse I can be and I feel by focusing, specialising and developing myself in one particular field and becoming awesome at it will for sure help me do that. 

I now work Monday – Friday 9-5, something I have never experienced before and although I am now in 5 days a week as opposed to 3 or 4, boy am I enjoying having evenings to do what ever I like with. To just go to bed at a reasonable hour, to go running or Zumba or even chilling in front of Netflix at home because I CAN. 

My mental state feels so much better for it, although taking on a new role has its challenges and there is a lot to learn and courses to do etc, my head is so much more clearer. I can focus on the things that matter where I feel I didn’t have the capacity to even do that 2 months ago. 

Happy times.

I went gliding! 

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a thing for planes and aircraft in general. The road nearby us has a gliding centre (not going to lie, one of the reasons I moved here, although not the sole reason) and regularly watch the gliders take off and fly over my house. I was super stoked when I found out J had got me some trial winch flights for Christmas. Sweeeet! 

I got two flights and although they are relitively short flights (8-15 minutes – this is dependant on wind/weather) they were terrifyingly brilliant. I did both flights one after the other so barely had time to recover from the first! 

It’s such a weird feeling being in aircraft with no engine whatsoever. Not weird, quite liberatingly terrifying. The winch takes you up so quick that we were on the floor to 1500ft in 20 seconds or so. Like a friggin catapult..! As soon as the winch rope is realeased from the glider though and you’ve actually taken a breath, the feeling is so surreal. Although being in the smallest metal aircraft ever with no engine, once you forget about that it’s actually quite a blissful experience and the views, well, spectacular! 

Let’s just say that it’s not going to be my last go that’s for sure.

It’s quite an expensive activity to do and get into, but if you live around the Oxford area, I think they’re still doing Groupon offers for trial flights – so go check it out if it’s sounds like your kinda thing! (Hopefully what I’ve said hasn’t actually put you off) 


Fitness

With my now much freer evenings I have signed up to my local Zumba class (hadn’t done Zumba in 2/3 years or so) and also downloaded the Couch to 5k app and signed up to Race for Life in Oxford in July. 

Exercise makes me feel good about myself and really helps me get out of my mind / body funks and eliviate stress and bad moods. I’ve even gone so far as to book a Race for Life 5k (despite only being on week 2 of 8 of couch to 5k) but I’m sick of starting things and never finishing them so felt I had to in order to prove it to myself that I can do it and give me that kick up my backside to keep at it. 

Travel

Since we last spoke, I have been to Weymouth with J and Budapest for a friends birthday. Both short trips and both places in which I’ve done before (Weymouth is practically my second home) but was really nice to just escape life for a while, especially when these trips were around the end of my time in A&E and were definitely needed! Budapest was better the second time round, mainly cause it wasn’t based around drinking every night and got round to seeing things I didn’t last time and spend some quality time with my best friend.


Blogging

Now that I have my evenings back, I’m gunna put a bit more time and effort into this blog. I’m going to try not to think of it as something I have to ‘work’ on or have on my ‘to do’ list, but actually just post whatever I feel like when I feel like. It’s what I’ve always used it for and don’t want to become a chore. I will however though, state that there will be some difference in post content. I’m looking to do a few on house buying and decoration, music, product reviews and more importantly and one that will always be a staple: my yays and nays. 

Nays

Not really a nay as such but couldn’t leave it empty – it’s more of a reflective thought – with what I said in my fitness part of this post, you can tell that I’m still pushing myself and I know in myself I still give myself a hard time for, well, no reason. The counselleing that I had did, has and will continue to help tonnes, but it’s still something I’m working on. I’m in a miles better place than I was two months ago, so this should probably be in Yays… Now hopefully with this new work / life balance, things will only continue to improve.

Till next time! 

Gem x

Things I won’t miss about commuting 


Things I won’t miss about commuting 

I am eagerly looking forward to my new job. 

Out of the whole prospect of taking on a completely new role in a new hospital, a new area and taking a 9-5 job as opposed to shift work I’m used to, one of the things I’m looking forward to the most is not having to commute via public transport for hours on end at stupid o’clock in the morning. 
I’ve complied a list of everything that sucks about commuting by public transport (from London Underground, National Rail and more recent addition, bicycle) to keep my excitement going a bit longer prior to starting next month.

I’m sure with time I could make a list about commuting by car and having to use my car for work use, but I can’t comment on that until I do it. 

If that sucks even more I’ll be sure to do a blog post on it, but I really can’t see that list being longer than this one. 

Here goes…. 

  • The mass panic looking at the busy platform and how many potential train seats are left and wondering how you can blag a seat by complaining about a made up ailment. I somehow don’t think “sorry I’m about to take over an Children’s A&E department for 13 hours which will probably busy horrendously busy, so do you mind if I actually try and sit down / sleep whilst I can? Cheers mate” would really cut it. 
  • Having good intentions for your hour long journey (reading, writing, sifting through my to do list) then spend it catching up on sleep. Every. Single. Time.
  • People giving you ‘the look’ when they plonk themselves next to you after you’ve just done a 13 hour night shift and smell of god knows what. “No love, I have in fact already been to work, saving children’s lives I’ll have you know and do you really think I would choose to look like this first thing in the morning?” Just go sit elsewhere and leave me alone if it offends you that much. 
  • Men. Speaking really loud into their mobiles at 6AM about some work related thing or other that really could have waited until they got there. Like, who are you even taking to at this ungodly hour and have you ever heard of an indoor voice?!
  • Having to watch women apply their make up on the train. I mean seriously, can’t you just give yourself 10 more minutes in the morning and do it at home or once you’re at work? Cause then I (and everyone else on the carriage) wont have to sit through the tense 20 minute application of your mascara praying for the train to jolt just at the right moment. Just don’t do it love, you look ridiculous and EVERYONE is watching you. 
  • Having to rely on the Underground, in particular the Metropolitan Line (before I moved out to Bicester). Enough said. 
  • THAT awkward position. You sitting on chair. Male standing and holding hand rail above you. Do. Not. Look. At. His. Crotch. Best get my book out and pretend to read on my lap.
  • The revolting position. Being on a crammed train in the ‘summer’ at rush hour and being rammed under some sweaty guys pit for at least 30 minutes. Mmmmm. #smallgirlproblems.
  • It alway deciding to rain JUST as I’m leaving home or work and have to cycle in it and end up looking totally wrecked before I’ve even started work in muddy trousers and lion mane hair. YAY. 
  • The fact that my bike locks alone weigh 2kg let alone my work gear itself…
  • The fact that currently, based on the average amount of times I travel into work a week (4), times the amount of time spent each day commuting (3-4hours a day there and back), I spent approximately 8 hours a week traveling. That’s the length of a standard working day and I’ve not even included work in that! 
  • In addition to the above, my monthly train fare is currently the same amount of money as what I receive for my Inner City Allowance, so I’m actually no financially better off working in London. Yay me! 

Now do you see why I’m excited to start? No more 5:40am wake ups, no more nights and helloooo weekends! 

Weird.

Till next time! 

Gem x

Cutting Myself Some Slack

I was writing out my Yays and Nays post the other evening when I just stopped. 

I didn’t want to write about that. 

I wanted to write that in fact, due to a lot of stresses over the last month, I’m going to actually write what I want to write right now, I’m not going to worry about what people think. 

This is half the reason I don’t blog as often as I ‘should’ be, because I constantly wonder not only what people will think of me as a blogger, but every think of every part of me and it’s exhausting. 

Even debating whether to post this or not has taken me the best part of a week to do.

It’s exhausting because I don’t just have this mindset towards blogging, I have this mindset in most other areas of my life. 

What I needed, was someone to tell me how to process all 101 thoughts in constantly going round in my head, which get so piled up on top of each other, it feels as though I don’t have the brain capacity to know how to deal with them – and if I do – I worry about the potential consequences doing something about it.

A vicious circle indeed. 

This revelation has not come out of the blue. 

It wasn’t until an unfortunate incident at work last month that got to me much more personally than it would normally do, to the point where I could no longer actually function. I literally came to a standstill for 3 days straight while my brain tried to process not only this incident, but everything else I’d been trying to juggle.

I talk with J and my Mum all the time about work stresses and cannot thank and appreciate them enough for their support and advice – but this time I needed someone to tell me why this incident affected me more than it should and how the hell I can begin to clear the chaos that goes on inside my brain on a daily basis. 

I decided I needed to get out of this state. After discussing it through with J – I decided to do something I would never normally do. 

Speak to a complete stranger about it all in attempt to gain another view of things as I could only focus on what was in my brain, but even that itself I couldn’t focus on. 

After a couple of sessions it was clear that in fact this self doubt and feeling the need to constantly please people has always been there deep down. Ive struggled to make friends at school, and when I do, I’m so worried about loosing them I don’t show them any signs of weakness incase they feel as though I’m demanding for them. Instead I’ve always been the friend who will listen and support at a moments notice, which is why I feel a lot of them rely (and I’m happy to give it of course) on me as a go to source of advice and support. 

I have now been given little affirmations to say to myself when things get too much and attempting to find my own way of de-stressing (at the moment it’s going for walks and keeping a to do list and reflection diary). Although when I started this and went back to tell this person , she told me I was still putting pressure on myself to want to correct everything right away and that I will slowly learn with time that not everything going on needs to be sorted out right now- just face one problem at a time and the others will naturally resolve as I’ll then have more ‘capacity’ to deal with them. 

That’s not to say I’m going to stop caring about any one anymore, but I just need to recognise when I need to slow things down and take time out to look after myself, to cut myself some slack in a bid to avoid these massive build ups leading to break downs. 

I need to remember that while I may only have a select group of friends and family, these are invaluable relationships that I have built up and should remember that these people love me for who I am and that I shouldn’t feel ashamed at all of showing signs of weakness. It’s time to use my support group and actually take from it as opposed to just giving. 

I’m so glad I sought help, because that in itself I felt was a massive weakness in myself. I am now recognising the need to slow down and care less. I wouldn’t say I’m a ‘totally changed new person’ but I sure am making progress. 

Till next time 

Gem x 

The Yearly Rundown (2016)

Every year pretty much since I started blogging (even back in my livejournal days!) I have done this yearly review.

I just love having something to look back on in the years to come and see how far I’ve come. This year for sure has been quite something! Apologies for the lack of blog posts this year – but if you read on, you can see I’ve been a bit busy…

In 2016:

1. What did you do that you’d never done before? Bought my first home, went scuba diving and got myself a ginger cat!


2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? To exercise more, buy a house and improve clinical skills at work. Well the last two happened..! For 2017 I want to go back to number 1 on last years last years list which – to exercise more. I did about 7 weeks of the couch to 5K over Jan/Feb and then gave up. Back on it in January. Need to look up Zumba classes around Bicester too. Although I am cycling to and from Bicester station now so that’s something..!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? One of my friends had a gorgeous baby girl, Emilia 🙂

4. Did anyone close to you die? No.

5. What countries did you visit? France, Spain (Barcelona and Valencia) and Furteventura


6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? I honestly feel like I’m not lacking anything right now. Life is pretty darn sweet…

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory? Moving into my first home with J was a pretty big date and J finishing his Nursing degree at University.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Passing the Advanced Paediatric Life Support Course, Buying a House and getting the balls to try scuba diving 💪

9. Did you suffer illness or injury? Not much apart from the odd D&V 👌

10. What was the best thing you bought?  House, Tigger (cat) and Holiday to Fuerteventura with J

11. Whose behavior merited celebration? Mum for supporting me greatly with the house buying and J for still putting up with me 😂

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? An old college friend of mine and someone I’d rather not mention as they’ll probably read this.

13. Where did most of your money go? Household Appliances and Furniture..!

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Again – Holiday and House..!

15. What song/album will always remind you of 2016? Craig David – When the baseline drops. Welcome back Craig David!!

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier!
ii. thinner or fatter? The same
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer but worth it ☺️

17. What do you wish you’d done more of? Exercising.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worrying and Procrastinting

19. How will you be spending Christmas?: I spent it working night shifts but managed to see family in between. Looking forward to New Years with friends ☺️

20. Did you fall in love in 2016? Only more in love than I was already – now that I have two favourite boys ☺️


21. How many one night stands in this last year? None.

22. What was your favorite TV program this year?  Probably Bake Off and surprisingly Planet Earth. Proper grown up now!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Not hate – but dislike yes.

25. What was the best book you read? Harry Potter 1-3

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Seeing Elshay back in Cafe 1001 took me by complete surprise. Miss going to underground gigs and seeing unsigned talent first hand.


27. What did you want and get? A House and a Cat – got both 👌

28. What did you want and not get? Nothing springs to mind

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Probably Fantastic Beasts and where to find them. Also enjoyed finally watching Inside Out.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 28 and did a joint birthday do at Junkyard Golf Club in Shoreditch and was treated my J to a slap up meal at the Crazy Bear in Beaconsfield


31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? B big more productive with my time and having more time for family / friends.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? Not greatly changed to be honest.

33. What kept you sane? J, for sure.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most?

35. What political issue stirred you the most? Erm, Brexit?!

36. Who did you miss? Seeing close friends more often.

37. Who was the best new person you met? Some new work colleagues 


**Please excuse  the mid-nights, eye bag posing **

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016: If you put your mind to it, you can and will achieve it.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year? “If you gave me a chance I would take it – It’s a shot in the dark but I’ll make it – Know with all of your heart, you can’t shake me – When I am with you, there’s no place I’d rather be”

Best of 2016:

1. Party: My brothers Disney Themed 30th!

2. Show: Didn’t see any *hides in shame*

3. Album: KT Tunstall’s new music

4. Movie: Fantatsic Beasts and where to find them

5. Song: Craig David – When the baseline drops

6. Experience: Scuba Diving and moving into new home with J.


7. Concert: Erm… don’t think I went to any? 😱

8. Book: Harry Potter 1-3

9. Month: May, August, September and October

10. Day: A friends wedding in May and Moving House Day in October

Hopes for 2017:

1. Predict something that you think will happen in 2017?: It’s going to take a lot to beat it…!

2. What do you hope changes about your country?: People see the benefits of the NHS and stop abusing it

3. What do you hope for yourself?: That I get a little fitter and progress further in my career

4. What do you hope for your family?: That we all remain in good health.

5. What do you hope for your best friend?: That they’re happy.

During 2016:

1. Where were you when it began?: In bed trying to sleep between day shifts

2. Did you stay up?: Till 12:30

3. What was your new year wish?: Didn’t make one

4. How many boy/girlfriends?: One.

5. Break up?:  0 👌

6. Have any crushes?: Nope.

7. Care to mention names?:

8. New friends?: Few work colleagues

9. Had to say goodbye?: Nope.

10. Missed anyone?: Some close friends

11. Win anything?: Just at life 👌

12. Best place you went to?: Valencia


13. Worse place you went to?: Can’t think of any.

14. Happiest moment?: Going on holiday with J, watching friends get married, getting my own house and bringing Tigger (cat) home

15. How was your birthday?: Pretty different trying out Junkyard Golf and experiencing dinner at the Crazy Bear.

16. Best present?: Dinner at the Crazy Bear with new dress & heels to go with it, Smart TV for new home, and 2 glider lessons and membership for Bicester Gliding Centre.

The best present I got someone was J’s birthday present – Scuba Diving with Penguins in Torquay’s zoo and aquarium.


Well that concludes an awesome year that was 2016.

My goal for 2017 is mainly just to use my time and plan things a bit better, without giving myself too much of a hard time! Blogging more is definitely on the list though. Maybe I should start using an actual paper diary again. Yes. That worked well before, when I actually used it that is…


Till next time (year)!

Gem x

Hughenden Manor, High Wycombe 

On a gorgeous sunny day last month, me and J finally had a day off together with no plans. We (mainly I) decided that I wanted to make the most of the day and head out and explore! We stuck to the local area and decided on the National Trust site Hughenden Manor in High Wycombe.

We do love a good picnic we do, and so doing as we do best, selected the finest freshest baked goods from the local Waitrose. No Tesco Meal Deals, no sirree! 

On a arrival to the site, we waved my parents NT passes (shush, I intend on getting my own soon..!) and parked up no problem. 


Hughenden Manor was the country home of the Victorian statesman and charismatic fellow Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who lived here from 1848 – 1881. 

The Manor itself has certainly been refurbished since then, but has been done very well and in still in keeping with the era. 


The formal gardens to the front and back of the manor have been recreated based on the original designs of Mary Anne Disraeli. Surrounding the manor and gardens there are ample pathways for you to explore more of the parkland surrounding it.


We were lucky enough to time our visit just right to catch a free 30 minute talk on the history of Benjamin Desralei, his character, his role within the government and royal family and his personal life and aspirations to become a novelist. The talk really covered all the basics and was truely insightful and surprisingly not dull. 

Not only did we catch this talk but we also managed to catch a second talk whilst here – in how the Manor House was used during the war and how pilot maps were made here to allow pilots to track and plan their attacks. I do have quite an interest in WW2 history, in particular aircraft used, so found this quite interesting too.
Overall, I really enjoyed my day out here at Hughenden Manor with J and was really nice making a day off a relaxing but still a somewhat productive one..! 

For more information on Hughenden Manor, including prices, facilities and directions, head over to the National Trust Website 

Till next time! 

Gem x

.

Yays & Nays #15

So another 2 months has passed since my last little life round up, so here’s what I’ve been up to during March and April 

Yays 

Sushi class @ Yo Sushi 

As one of our Christmas pressies, me and J got a sushi making class and even though I’d not really had sushi (apart from a few months prior when J made me try it) I’ve got to say this class was so enjoyable. It was a good 2 hours long, we made soooo much sushi (of which ate throughout and took some home after) and I’ve now definitely converted! We even recreated it back at home to pretty good results! We got a little cookbook with the pack so we can refer back to it for future reference! 

Baking

I made brownies! And they were yummy! And didn’t kill anyone! Definitely given me motivation to experiment a bit more now as those of you that know me know that I tend to avoid cooking/baking at all costs. Just another benefit of being with J 🙂 

Hen Do

Had a spa day and Abba Tribute night at Whittlebury Hall for a friends Hen do. Despite not knowing many people going, it was a really lovely day getting to know J’s friends a bit more, being pampered and boogying away to Abba! 

APLS (Advanced Paediatric Life Support) 

After stressing for weeks prior to it and having to complete 18 modules prior to even going on the 2 day course – I can say with much much relief that I actually passed APLS! It was so mentally exhausting being continually assessed on life threatening situations for 2 days straight but looking back now, I actually learnt a hell of a lot and it’s definitely given me the confidence boost I needed!


Afternoon Tea @ Crowne Plaza Marlow 

Last weekend me and J finally got to use up our second afternoon tea (we both got afternoon teas for eachother for Valentines Day… Meant to be right!?) and so we headed off to the swanky Crowne Plaza and stuffed our faces with sandwiches, scones and sweet treats… and 2 huge pots of tea of course! Instead of coming out on 3 stacked plates, it came out on what can only be described as a wooden IKEA draw… looks pretty neat though don’t you think? 


Friends 

These last 2 months have been pretty hectic in trying to meet up with friends, but when we have its been a right good old catch up. Had a lovely Indian at Rajdoot for a friends birthday, a lovely Sunday lunch for another friends birthday – but need to see them other than just birthdays really. Damn conflicting schedules! At least I finally got to meet up with the uni gals and have an epic catch up over Nandos! Hadn’t seen some of them in nearly 2 years which is just a joke! Again, distance and work schedules make it difficult to get everyone together at one time! We can only try our best.

Travel Plans 

I finally have some travel plans sorted for the rest of this year! Been feeling a bit bogged down with the APLS course, work and house hunting that I needed to book a trip somewhere! So next week I’m visiting Bath for a day along with some surrounding villages, June I’m going solo to Barcelona and Valencia for a week and in September I’m off to Fuerteventura with J for our first proper holiday together and hopefully take me scuba diving for the first time… eeek! 

Hoping to hit up Weymouth too obviously at some point and maybe even a short camping trip with J (as the last one was pretty cool) but we’ll see what the year brings us! 

Nays 

Even though looking at it I’ve actually done a fair amount in these last 2 months, I’m finding it hard to get motivated at the moment. Running has totally gone on the back burner, along with blogging too and feel myself wasting away days off again. Need to stick with my diary planner again as I’ve been slack with that which is how I’ve slipped into my old unmotivated self again. Yes. Planning. 

So here’s to May – bring it on. 

Till next time! 

Gem x

What’s in my work bag? (Nurse Edition)

My commute to work involves carrying a lot of crap with me. When I started out I was using a shoulder / weekender type bag, but carrying all this gear started to really do my shoulder and back in (not great when you’re back aches anyway from doing 13hour shifts). But I feared not as there are a number cute backpacks out there now and ones that don’t look as though I’m going on an epic expedition across the Antarctic and don’t cost a small fortune!

I could leave a few bits at work in my locker, although my locker is the size of a letterbox (no, really, it is) so I don’t really have an option there!

So, what is it that I actually need to carry to and from work on a daily basis?

All the stuff below is just my ‘nursing bits’ – I haven’t even included my oyster card, purse, phone, iPod or reading book in here, you know, the life essentials. Oh and my tea flask. Would never leave home without that badboy.

Uniform – Due to Infection Control reasons, we are not allowed to wear our uniform outside work before or after shift (and to be honest I wouldn’t want to anyway, ergh)

ID Badge (please excuse the mugshot) – Has to be worn at all times whilst at work and for security reasons cannot be left at work either, should i get called in to a Major Incident when they will only let people with ID in the site (fail whale!)

Notebook – To write vital signs, weights, phone numbers – anything you name it. Which then gets ripped out and put in confidential waste at the end of each shift. It saves using countless numbers of scrap paper which you then inevitably lose at some point throughout shift and wondering where on earth that parent’s phone number went!

Calculator – For drug calculations – checking not only how much to give but making sure the dose prescribed is actually right for the child’s age and/or weight.

Pens – This will vary, I will usually start with three and end up with either none or ten, none of which are the same ones from when i started. Its a serious problem amongst nurses and doctors!

Pen Torch – For checking pupil size (and having a gander in a child’s mouth when they’re being reluctant to open it wide for you!)

Fob Watch – Due to infection control, nurses and doctors should be bare below the elbows at all times during work and this includes no watches. So a fob watch is a handy way of monitoring vital signs over a minute, whilst still being able to keep your hands free (and of course checking the time to see how many hours you’ve yet to go…)

Scissors – Have many many uses. For cutting through clothes, bandages, dressing packs, opening boxes.

Tape – Same applies and come in many forms. I usually have a roll of something kicking around in my bag, this week it’s Elastoplast!

Bubbles – This is definitely an essential piece of kit when it comes to nursing children. Many, if not most, under 5’s are not compliant in investigations such as vital signs, examinations and dressing changes and it’s amazing something so simple can make the task so much easier with a bit of distraction! We do have play specialists employed to help distract children, but when they’re not available its us nurses with bubbles to the rescue! 

Emergency Nursing Handbook – A handy guide for when things come up at work that either I or another member of staff haven’t seen or come across before or what things to consider and what plan of care to take with certain conditions, illnesses or injuries.

Vaseline / Handcream – Vaseline or some sort of lip balm for when i haven’t drunk barely a cup of water all shift (2 litres a day, yeah right!) and the hand cream for after washing my hands around 8-10 times an hour!

Cereal Bar – For my morning breakfast or evening snack break, if I manage one that is!

And not forgetting of course all the everyday essentials too…

Purse
Oyster Card
iPod / Book
Tea flask
Oh, and nearly forgot… food!

Now you see why nurses have such bad backs! Well, not just to what we carry, a lot of it’s down to poor manual handling… but lets not go into that right now shall we?

Till next time!
Gem x

Plans for 2016

So, unfortunately blogging has taken a bit of a back seat as of recent. January always seems to be a busy time of year, spring cleaning routines, starting new resolutions as well as working shifts full time yada yada yada.

Anyway, enough of the excuses for now, but speaking of resolutions and new starts and all that, I realised I hadn’t actually written out my plans for 2016!

  

Buy a property
So for the last year and a half I have been saving pretty hard for a deposit and my aim is to hopefully be moved out before this year is up, ambitious sure, and all depends on what comes up. I have a long way to go yet – namely actually my head around mortgages in general, let alone house hunting but do have a general idea in mind of what I’m looking for. My first step is going to be meeting with a mortgage advisor in the next month or two to get my head around things and discuss my different options. Anyone reading who has bought a property in the last year, any advice would be greatly appreciated! Luckily J works at an Estate Agents part time and has grown up around the Wycombe area (which is where I’m looking at) so that’s really helped me feel more at ease about the whole thing!

Continue to better myself in my career
I had my appraisal back in December which was overall positive, but also made me really think about what it is I want to get out of my career and this role. I feel that I have done well in my new Band 6 role since starting back in June, however there are certain areas, namely knowledge and experience gaps that need to be improved upon with time and well – experience. Ways I plan to do this is by self-directed learning (own research), clinical practice (with support of colleagues) and hopefully going on more training courses this year. I’m already down to do APLS training in April and I’ve got my fingers crossed tightly for a Paediatric A&E course in September. If I don’t get that course funded though, I have researched other courses which are available and would look at self funding if it were to come to it. I’m six years into my career now and only have one post-grad course since then (minus odd study days) which is Mentorship. I really want to get another solid course out of the way before bigger future plans and lack of money get in the way. So that’s the plan.

Travel in the UK
In a bit to keep saving more money until I move out, and likely thereafter, I do plan on taking fewer trips abroad this year (sad face) but explore more of the UK to make up for it. I’m looking to do more day trips to UK cities I haven’t yet touched and even explore more of what’s on my doorstep here in London. The only ‘abroad’ plans so far are France next week with friends and a two week holiday to Fuerteventura in October with J (which I’m pretty excited about already) but I’m sure there will be more thrown in somewhere… maybe a sneaky European city break or two…

See more of my friends
Seeing as its now mid February, I think I have met up with my guys like… twice since Christmas? Not really on. Work has been busy yes, but it needs to stop becoming an excuse and I need to start planning things ahead more, rather than getting to mid week, finally being off work and wondering why I don’t have plans. Not only do I want to see more of the guys this year, I want to touch base with a few people I’ve neglected over the last year or so. Yes, you heard me, year. Its not on. So when I get back from France next week, I’m going to be looking at getting in contact with a few missed friendly faces!

Keep on running
Yes. I started running. Thanks to a new year recommendation from J and something for both of us to do together *cough cough* I’m currently halfway through the Couch to 5K program and I’ve got to say, its been really enjoyable – which I NEVER thought id say about running. I think having a structured week by week program has really helped build up my fitness slowly without getting burnt out and just giving up. Tempted to sign up to a 5K in the summer, but will see how the next 5 weeks pan out first! Will definitely be doing a blog post review of the app too once completed!

Keep on planning
I bought a pretty 2016 paper diary this year and every week I have filled out what I plan to do/ achieve that week. My shifts are all written in there, my runs are planned out, social events and even blog post ideas and things to research for work are all written out and ticked off once done. I felt that I was wasting days off not getting the things I needed to get done, well  done, so having it written out in front of me has really helped me not to procrastinate.

Keep on Blogging!
Errr, yeah Gemma. Stop faffing about and keep blogging!
Till next time..!

Gem x 

Pros and Cons of Solo Travel

The reason for this somewhat random post is to give some insight to those travellers and friends I know who are debating whether to embark on their first solo adventure this year. 

Speaking from experience, I am a huge fan of solo travel. It’s rewarding, liberating and such a confidence booster. I know the feeling of hovering over the ‘Buy Ticket Now’ button not knowing what is out there waiting for you and what you may come across and the hurdles you may face. Once you’ve done it and you’ve done your first trip though, you’ll want to do it again and again! 

      

I’ve compiled a list of the pros and some cons of solo travel and things you should consider prior to embarking on your solo trip.

Pros:

You can do what you like, when you like and at your own pace – Going solo gives you the total freedom in going where you want, choosing where you want to stay and what it is you wish to see and do there. 

Time – Funnily enough, it actually feels as though you have more time on your trip when going solo. You’re not having to spend time on your trip debating with the other person/people you’re with about what the itinerary is for the day, where to eat 3 times a day and waiting for everyone to get ready in the mornings (and evenings!) 

You will easily learn to budget – Once you’ve done your first solo trip you will not want to stop. People ask me how I manage to go away so often and it’s all down to with budgeting (and fitting trips in between shifts). When I go away I stay in hostels, I eat food from supermarkets and make the most of the deals for the local attractions in tourist leaflets and hostel kitchens to help keep costs down. I fly with the likes of Ryanair, Wizzair and Easyjet and while it’s by any means luxury – it does the same job as other airlines – it gets you from A to B. It’s amazing how cheap some flights actually are. Mid-week flights tend to be cheapest and also goes for when you actually BOOK them too. The same goes for hostel/hotel accomadation – so if you do shift work like me and work weekends, you’re actually better off and sure makes working lots of weekends a little easier to handle! Also sign up to mailing lists from the likes of Wowcher, Lastminute.com, Ryanair, Easyjet, Hostelbookers, Expedia – the list is endless. 

Using your initiative – Travelling alone involves making every decision along the way by yourself through using your judgement and trusting your instincts. This may be easier for some than others, but it sure can take a while adjusting to when you’re mid-breakdown in a ‘what the hell do I do now!?’ situation, but by using your brain and getting through and out of sticky situations are so rewarding, knowing that you did it yourself. 

Improves social skills – Staying in hostels will improve your social skills dramatically, even if you’re the shyest of people. If you don’t talk to them first, people will talk to you instead to get things flowing and there’s usually SOME common ground between you seeing as your in the same place, same time, usually both on YOLO solo trip also. Plus I always find it more comfortable if I know a little bit about the people I’m sharing a room and bathroom with. I also find walking tours a great way of meeting new people – plus a cheap option of knocking the must-see sights out in one go! If you like a drink/party then nights out arranged by the hostel staff are another way of throwing yourself out there and mingling with people you’ve just met. Again, usually a cheaper option with drink/entry offers available if you go as part of a group from the hostel as opposed to off your own back.

  
More time to reflect – I feel solo travel sometimes puts me in such a reflective mindset – not on what I want to see/do and get out of my trip – but on my life back home and who I am becoming as a person. It can be hard to do this when you’re stuck in the routine of things at home and equally as hard when travelling with a companion (especially if you’re like me and actually talk to yourself quite a lot. Weirdo.) Yeah, it really helps put your life into perspective is what I’m trying to get at here.

Cons: 

Money – Some things are just cheaper done as a two or as a group. Cab journeys, hotel rooms, luggage (sharing cases) to name a few. 

Safety – is a pretty big one to consider here. If you’re alone and get attacked, no one will know about it but you. If you get mugged or your property stolen, there’s no one with you to help you out. With this in mind, my advice to you is this. Be extra vigilant. Don’t travel alone at night. Keep your belongings hidden and bags closed and in sight (in front of you) and lock your property away when leaving hostel rooms. Always note the emergency services number when you arrive in the country should you encounter a problem and its handy to keep the hostel business card (telephone number and address) should you need to contact them or to give the police an address of where your staying of need be. If you can, keep your passport and driving license separate from each other and same goes for the money you have with you. That way if you do get things stolen – you will have SOME backup ID and money. 

Loneliness – I haven’t really experienced real said ‘loneliness’ when on a solo trip, however I have fallen ill on a trip to the point where I didn’t have the strength to leave my hotel room. We needed to catch a 4 hour long bus ridein just 5 hours time and after being up all night ill – it just seemed impossible. I was fortunate that I had my best friend with me this time round who went and spoke to our host and explained the situation who then let me stay in our room past checkout to let me sleep, went to the pharmacy and tried to explain my symptoms to which she brought me back medicine for and just generally picked me back up and helped me carry on. Really grateful for that. So  yes, a friend along the way definitely had its advantages! 

Sharing experiences with someone – I tend to be quite a reserved person when it comes to talking about my trips after I’ve been on them and only tend to tell people about it who ask and even then don’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to seem as though I’m bragging. Sharing experiences with someone not only helps eliminate that sense of bragging as it’ll becoming from both of us just how awesome our trip was, but experiencing something amazing with friends just adds another depth to the experience. In December me and 3 friends went to Iceland to which we were super lucky to experience the Aurora Bouralis in all their glory. Sharing that experience with friends just made the experience just even more special and something we can all look back on in years to come. Priceless.

  
Just a few other things to consider…

If you’re new to solo travel I would start small and do a short 3 day city trip. Say Dublin, Budapest or Copenhagen for example. Many of the locals will speak good English here should you encounter any problems along the way – be it accomadation issues, directions or even just being able to ask someone where the nearest loo is! 

Always do some research before embarking on your trip – emergency phone numbers, how much things should cost so you don’t get ripped off, things to avoid or scams to look out for. What may be normal back home may offend people in another country so a getting a small pocket guide book is a good shout and will tell you some dos/dont’s of your destination. 

I hope some of this information was useful and if you’re debating whether solo travel still – just go for it! Then obviously come back and tell me about it! 

Are you a fan of solo travel? Do you have more tips or experiences you’d love to share?  – I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Till next time! 

Gem x