Category Archives: General

Living in a Tent

Is basically what we’re doing for 10 days… Well, no – this afternoon we’ve returned home after one nights camping, and tomorrow Mr B departs for 8 days camping, and I join him on Tuesday. You might imagine it’s been a slight logistical nightmare, but I quite enjoy organisational marathrons like that, so it’s been fine.

Yesterday we went to a wedding of two friends of ours. The ceremony was beautiful, tearful and popular, although it had too many smells and bells for my liking. I’d never been to a wedding with communion before. It was lovely in a way, to see the bride and groom share communion together, but giving it out to the 150+ guests meant the service was very long. Afterwards we went over the road to the chaplaincy gardens where we enjoyed bubbly and photos, before all of the guests made the 30 mile journey to the reception location. The reception was in a lovely, large house which is owned and lived in by a family, but it’s so massive they also rent it out to wedding parties! They had a large garden which we utilised a lot – there was a yurt in it which was decorated with rugs, cushions and lights which was a brilliant chill out space. On the lawn there were large garden games set out for people to play, chairs and tables and a gazebo with the cake (a fairy tale castle cake!) underneath. When we arrived to the reception there was tea and cake for everyone to enjoy, then the speeches were delieved out on the lawn, after which the cake was cut, and then dinner commenced. Dinner was a bring and share arrangement – on their wedding site beforehand there were about 10 different receipes that people were invited to make and bring. It worked very well – we were definitely not short of food! Once you’d collected your dinner you could choose which room of the house or garden you ate in – there was a large dining room but not everyone could fit in it! After dinner there was the first dance, and everyone continued dancing till the early hours.

As the reception was so far away, the invitation gave you details of local B&Bs or gave you the option of camping at the reception. At the back of the house was a field owned by the house owners, which they allowed guests to camp in overnight for free. It was very odd – as soon as we’d parked the car at the reception, we got the tents out and proceeded to put them up. In our wedding suits and dresses… It made for some amusing photographs! I was wearing a dress for the wedding, but had a hoodie for camping – so whilst assembling the tent I simply put my ‘Swansea Uni’ hoodie on over my posh frock! I almost wished I could have kept it on – it was more than a little chilly being outside for so much of the evening. I should have bought a smarter, warm jumper that I could have worn – I ended up borrowing Mr B’s jacket!

Anyway, we decided that as we were camping so much, we might as well do it properly. We’d had to get out all the camping stuff for Mr B leaving for Greenbelt tomorrow anyway, so we just picked out the bits we wanted at the wedding. This included chairs, stove and eggs and bacon for breakfast. Everyone else had thrown a tent in as a last minute thought, and it was lovely to be able to share our bacon and eggs with our friends this morning.

If you’re planning to come to Greenbelt, I will see you there. I will be playing ‘Spot Jen’s Bunting’.

Shock

This man was my boss. My team leader, the person I talked to about work stuff, the person who always made me smile, the proud father of 2 small boys and a dedicated husband. He should have come to work yesterday, but didn’t turn up. They assumed he was late, until a phonecall told the bad news – that he was critically ill. A man who had spent his life caring for critically ill people was now being cared for.

The doctors covered for the nurses as they were all taken off to be told the news. They prayed together, but soon afterwards the news came through that they’d had to turn off all the machines. Everyone was shocked, devastated, but somehow had to regain enough composure to go back to work.

I’ve just finished two night shifts. At the end of the first one I could tell something wasn’t right. The sister who was taking over for the day shift looked too flustered and stressed, given we weren’t very busy. But I didn’t think anything else of it, and went home to bed. I was woken at one point by a phone call, but was too half-asleep to realise what it was in time, so went back to sleep. Then, as I was cooking dinner, a friend from work phoned to ‘see if I was ok’. Yeah… I said. She asked if work had phoned me. No, I’m going in tonight, I replied, although I recalled the previous missed call. And so she told me. I stood in the kitchen with my jaw hung open for a minute or two, unable to believe what I was hearing. I ate my dinner, but didn’t have the same appetite as before. Mr B dropped me off at work and the atmosphere immediately dropped, compared to elsewhere. Nobody could believe it.

Overnight everyone was very supportive of each other. We were encouraged to take extra breaks and a couple of free staff went out to buy food and (non-alcoholic) drink for everyone. I’d been holding it together, until the sister who was in charge, asked me if I was ok. I cried all over her, which I immediately felt bad about, but she insisted it was ok. I was supposed to be in a cubicle by myself all night, but she said I should prop the door open and join the others outside. At 2am I went to the prayer room, which was another good chance to let out some of my emotions. At the end of the shift, not feeling like sleeping yet, I went over the road and had a hot chocolate and cookie.

I just can’t imagine how his wife and children must be feeling. Or the people who have worked beside him for over 10 years. His children are old enough to have known him, to have enjoyed him, to have loved him. Old enough to know that he’s not there anymore. But not old enough to know what to do with all these messed up feelings.

It feels, in a way, like day ja vue from two and a half years ago. Only a different group of people. Someone I knew well enough to miss, has gone. And it has affected everyone in work. The senior staff on yesterday had to phone over 100 people to tell them the news. I think it’s going to be a while before things return to normal in work.

Hen Night

So I got back from holiday on Friday and suddenly had to think about the hen night I’d been invited to on Saturday. The email stated that we needed to wear a dress, bring 2 peices of ribbon, picnic food (specifically including a cup cake) and drink. After examining my wardrobe I realised that the only dresses I owned were either a ball gown dress or distinivitely wintery dresses (velvet and three quarter sleeves aren’t exactly appropriate in this heat!). So I went dress shopping.

If Mr B had been around then he would have come too – he’s surprisingly good at picking out clothes that I like and that complement my figure. And it would have been much more bearable. Don’t get me wrong, I mostly like shopping, but none of the dresses I looked at for the first 2 hours were anything like what I wanted. I imagined finding a nice, light, casual(ish) summer dress. I kept on passing people wearing such items, but couldn’t find anything that wasn’t horrible in the shops. After a while I thought that I should open my mind up to other alternatives – go for something I wouldn’t normally buy, or not without a good friend or Mr B’s encouragement anyway. So I found this shop which seemed to sell unique items, possibly made by the shop owners, but they were suprisingly cheap. So I tried on a few. They were quite difficult to get into – they all had bits of material that needed tying in strange ways. But I figured it out. And they looked alright on me. I just felt like I was lacking that encouragement from a shopping partner. So, I took a photograph of my mirror image with my phone, and sent it to Mr B, asking for a opinion. Which I thought was quite a good idea. Whilst I was waiting on a reply, I decided which dress I prefered, and as I was going to till to buy it I received a message back assuring me that it looked v.nice.

Having sorted the dress problem, I headed in search of an ice cream. Thornton’s seemed like a good idea, so I picked out the mint choc chip flavour, and as I was waiting for it I noticed they had discounted (soon to be out-dated) chocolates from valentines day by the till. And there was some ribbon tying the box together. So I purchased them as well, solving the ribbon problem. I then headed to M&S and bought some nice picnic food to share, including a cup cake, before I headed home.

It was then that I began to think about how I was going to get to this party. It was being held in a park the other side of the city. Mr B had the car out of town, so driving was out of the question. A bus would only take me half way there, which seemed a bit silly. So I decided that cycling would make sense. My dress had enough flexibility in it. So after relaxing, showering and getting ready, I packed up my picnic food, 2 bottles of wine, the ribbon, my bike lights and sunglasses, and strapped everything to the back of my bike. It was only once I’d started cycling that I began to realise how much of a breeze there was. And my dress had a slit up either side, creating a lovely flap. So I had to cycle with one hand on my dress. It was fine when I was going downhill, because I free-wheeled so my dress stayed in the one place. Towards the end I had to go uphill, so I gave up and pushed.

The picnic was lovely. It was a gorgeous summers evening, and we sat on the grass, in our dresses, eating lots and drinking more. There was a funny quiz game for the hen, where she had to guess what answers her fiance had given. And then we had to find men with different characteristics and get them to kiss us. This mostly involved telling male passer-bys that we were on a hen night and we needed to get them to kiss us because they had X characteristic. Most abliged a kiss on the cheek, only a couple ran away in terror.

One of the bottles of wine I’d brought was a bottle of homemade rubbard and raspberry wine, which tasted just like fruit juice. But given how tipsy I ended up, I’m guessing it isn’t just like fruit juice… When it was beginning to get dark we cleared up our clutter and moved to a local bar and the drunker of our party decided they *had* to complete their kissing challenges. I decided I was drunk enough and I still had to get myself and my bike home, so I said farewell. But it was a v.good evening.

Holidays

Mr B and I are currently enjoying a 2 week holiday away from work. Last week we walked (most of) Hadrian’s Wall. It went well. The first couple of days were tough, because we weren’t used to carrying our big rucksacks for 10 miles a day. But surprisingly, after that, we got used to it and we got quicker and less achy. It didn’t help that during the first 2 days the ‘Hadrian’s Wall bus’ didn’t go along that bit of the wall. On the second day by 5pm we’d done 10 miles and still had another 5 to go, the strong wind had been blowing in our faces all afternoon and we were knackered, so we called for a taxi. Which seemed like a cop out, but I think it was the sensible thing to do. In the middle of the week we had a rest day, where we went to Vindolanda and the Roman Army museum, caught the bus inbetween the two, and then walked 4 miles to the B&B. I was very impressed with Vindalanda – they are constantly excavating and the number of roman artifacts they’ve found is really quite amazing.

My ankle didn’t hurt half as much as I was expecting it to. I wore my support bandage, took ibuprofen everyday and used my walking poles, and it was fine. Occasionally it would be a bit sore, but nothing like it was doing with my 12 hour shifts. I had thought that maybe it was better, but then yesterday when we were walking around shops, it was more sore again. Maybe it’s to do with the shoes I’m wearing or the different kind of strains on it.

We’re now on the second half of our holiday – a relaxing week in Birmingham. The only responsibilities we have is to look after 13 animals… it’s not as bad as it sounds. We’re looking after a dog, and a cat… and the cat next door whose owner has had a stroke, and 10 fish. It was sold as ‘dog-sitting’ whilst it’s family (close friends of Mr B’s) go to Spain. But then when we got here we were also given instructions about the cats and the fish (which they’d only acquired the day before!). Its fine though, the cats only really need feeding, and the dog’s quite old so he sleeps a lot. And the fish… well, I haven’t seen any of them yet. They’re outside in a barrell, fulled with cloudy water and a few plants. And I’m beginning to think they might all be dead. Either because the water doesn’t have enough oxygen or because a heron has eaten them. Or they could just be hiding at the bottom and eating natural food rather than the food I’ve put in. I got the impression they were more of an experiment and the family haven’t had chance to become attached yet, so if any of them are going to die, I’m glad its the fish!

As well as caring for the menagery, we’re going to do touristy stuff in Birmingham – go to museums, parks and generally relax. Until Friday anyway, when Mr B goes off to work at a festival and I go back home.

Ankle

Yesterday I referred myself to the physios (a service the trust provides), as my ankle has been playing up, and one of them rang me back this afternoon.  I spent some time answering lots of questions and moving my foot in different directions and describing the pain.  And at the end of it all she said she didn’t think my ankle was sprained.  Which actually makes sense because I don’t remember twisting it, it was more of a gradual increase in pain over several days.  She thinks I’ve damaged a tendon in my foot.  She’s requested an ‘urgent’ appointment for me.  Which means it should be sent out in the next 10 days.  In the meantime sh has recommended some exercises and said I should keep active on it, but also rest it.

It’s this exercise / rest balance which has been casuing some issues, especially with work.  Initially after the doctor told me it was sprained, I phoned up work and arranged my shifts for the next 5 or 6 days, so that I had some time off.  I would have had more time off, but they rang me back, desperate for me to do a short shift (7.5 hours) because they were short staffed.  I agreed, and I managed without too much difficulty.  Then because I was ‘back’ from being ‘off sick’, the sisters assumed I could do the night after.  Nights are generally quieter than days, so I figured I could managed.  Which I did, just about.  Then the problem was, that as I’d managed to do a 12 hour shift with my bad ankle, I didn’t feel comfortable demanding that my shifts this week should be changed to short shifts.  So I carried on with my shifts as scheduled.  I did long days on Wednesday and Thursday, both of which werer really busy, and at the end of it – surprise surprise, my foot was swollen and painful.

I wanted to say something about it sooner than I did, but it was so busy, and the nurse in charge on those days wasn’t the most approachable person.  So I kept on putting it off.  All the time, getting more and more nervous about the whole thing.  Anyway, luckily my team leader was in charge last night, so I rang up and told him all about it.  He was lovely.  He insisted that I shouldn’t  do any more shifts this week, and he changed my shifts for next week to short shifts.  After that I’m on annual leave for 2 weeks.

Which would be perfect timing.  Except that we’ve planned and booked to walk across Hadrian’s Wall in the first week.  I really don’t want it to wreck up our holiday – either by my ankle being too sore to walk at all, meaning we have to travel by public transport, or by walking too much and being in too much pain to enjoy the scenary.  We’re still going to go.  And we’re going to take each day as it comes.  I just wish I could click my fingers and make my ankle better.

Mysterious Sprain

Last weekend we went to London and as we were walking around, I noticed my ankle was hurting a bit.  It mostly hurt when I was wearing my usually comfy trainers, but also had periods when I could walk in them without it hurting.  I didn’t really think very much of it.  Then on Monday it got slightly worse – it was hurting a bit more, but I still managed to get into and around town, and come back and clean up for a social occasion at our place on Tuesday, without too much difficulty.  It was hurting a reasonable amount by the time I went to bed, but I put that down to having had a busy day.

Then on Tuesday I went to work, did a 12 hour shift.  It hurt walking to work, but once I had my work shoes on, which are a lower cut, it was a bit better.  Work was busy, so I rushed around for 12 hours, limping occasionally, but mostly not really registering the fact that my ankle was hurting.  The patients were sicker than me, I just got on with the job.  Getting home was interesting… back in my trainers it hurt a lot more.  Mr B had to entertain the guests that had started to arrive, so although I rang him, he couldn’t pick me up.  And my bike had been in work’s garage and really needed to come home with me.  So I cycled to the bottom of the hill, which was actually not very painful – as long as I took it gently.  Somehow cycling didn’t put the injury under excessive pressure, like walking in my trainers did.  The hill was the worse – I never normally cycle the whole way, if I’m feeling fit I’ll give it a go, but as you’ve already gathered – I wasn’t feeling fit!  Walking uphill is the worst position for my ankle to be in.  And trying to get a bike to the top as well as me, was interesting.  When it wasn’t too steep I could use my bike as a support, but on the steep bit that was impossible.  But I made it.

I walked in, said hello to people (our entire church community), got some food, sat down and put my leg up.  I took off my sock to realise that I could no longer see where my ankle bone was.  It was just a big swollen lump.  Oh.  Mr B took one look at it, and went off to get an ice pack.  This morning I made an appointment with my GP, who examined it and declared it was sprained.  He said that I should stay active, but ensure I have periods of resting in between.  And no twelve hour shifts till its better.

There are two things I can’t believe about this – I can’t believe that I don’t remember injuring it originally, and I can’t believe I was walking around on a sprained ankle for 14 hours yesterday without the pain being bad enough for me to stop.

Paranoia

Only readers who know the real me will (probably) know that 2 years ago I was diagnosed with a melanoma on my leg.  I had to have two minor operations to have three moles removed and the area around the nasty mole removed.  Thanks to my training and my awareness of such dangers, it was caught early and I have never had any major problems since.  Every 3 months I attend a dermatology clinic, where I strip off, a consultant dermatologist examines my body, tells me that everything is fine, and I go on my way.  So why, am I still so paranoid about it???

I had my 3 month check this afternoon.  Last night I was strangely quiet.  I just wanted to sit in a corner and listen to music.  I think ‘thoughtful’ is  the best way to describe my mood.  Physically I felt fine.  I just didn’t feel like doing anything.  Except thinking.  Mr B, I could tell, was worried about me.  He ran me a bath, cooked me dinner, and when still hadn’t perked up, asked me what was up.  I honestly replied that I didn’t know.  Then about an hour later my musings took me to my computer – I looked up the photographs that I’d taken of my moles 2 years ago.  And thoroughly compared them to my current body.  I *think* it was ok.  It’s difficult to tell with my ameteur photos.  Professional photos have been taken by both health care trusts that have seen me, but they’ve only been actively used once.  And my current trust don’t have copies of the original ones from 2 years ago.  Which seems a bit stupid to me.

Practically everytime I’m in the shower I have a quick look at my moles.  But I have a lot, and I don’t have a photographic memory.  So there’s always one which I question it’s previous existent and size.  I know that there is a minuscule of my previous melanoma re-occurring.  But my skin has shown that it can house these cancerous cells, if I’m out in the sun too much. So I’m just as afraid of getting a new one, as the old one coming back.  Before all of this I’ve never laid out on a beach in Spain and I was always been reasonably careful with suntan lotion.  Now I don’t spend more than a few minutes in the sun without applying factor 50.  If I was reasonably careful before, I’ve got to be vigilant now.  Just as I have to keep an eye on my moles.

At the same time as knowing I’ve got to be really careful, I also feel very aware that I’m being paranoid.  Mr B says its perfectly understandable paranoia.  But I still feel silly for being so paranoid.  On the other side though, it scares me that often it feels down to me to notice changes in my moles, and if I don’t, these cells have the power to kill.

Driving

In the last few weeks I’ve started driving on the motorway, which surprisingly has been going okish.   I first drove on the M5 three weeks ago, and I only did about 60 miles before Mr B took over again.  After only slightly more motorway experience, I ended up driving on the M6, in the dark and rain last Friday night.  I thought I’d done alright, given the conditions.  The hardest thing was the fact that I couldn’t tell how far away the cars were, when I looked in my mirrors – all I could see was lights.  I’ve since been told that the central mirror has a fancy fitting which stops the light glare – nobody had ever told me this before!

I drove back part way yesterday, and got a bit flustered when the M6 traffic slowed down to an almost stop – I was in motorway driving mode, and was confused about what I should do with gears, etc on the motorway when driving so slowly.  I did change down, but then changed up too quickly when it cleared and couldn’t accelerate quick enough.  Overall it was alright – except when I got caught up in the roadwork signs and missed the signs which said my line was going to turn into the M42…  I have a history with that motorway, although thankfully we were able to turn around before we’d gone 20 miles in the wrong direction!

Overall motorway driving is going ok – I feel relatively confident about changing lane and coping with common motorway issues.  Where my confidence is severely lacking is parking and general maneuvers.  When I was learning to drive I was fine with it.  My instructor explained the logistics and I mostly understood it, and I didn’t have any major problem.  Now though, I just mess it up.  I know which way to turn the wheel in theory, but in practice I always do it wrong.  And I haven’t even attempted parallel parking yet.

I think I’m going to have to find a big, empty space and just practice reversing the car round in different ways.  And if that doesn’t work, I might have to get a couple of extra lessons.  I know all I really need is lots of practice.  But it’s difficult when I don’t particularly like driving and will do anything to get out of it.

I’ve also got to get over the hurdle of driving on my own.  When I do mess things up, Mr B is the one who tells me how to fix it.  So the thought of being stuck in a car somewhere, completely unable to park, just terrifies me.

The stupid thing is, I feel I was overall better at driving when I passed my test, than I am now, four and a half years later.  It’s what happens when you don’t drive for four years.

Packing

Am I completely mad for being addicted to packing?  Maybe it’s just because I’m excited about this house move, or maybe it’s just cos I’m strange, but I have this incredibly urge to pack everything NOW!  And I’m not moving for two weeks!

I’ve known I’m going to move at the end of February for some time now, so when I’ve been bored on nights shifts, I’ve planned out the move.  I’ve moved so many times in the past couple of years, that I know which items go in which boxes, etc, so I planned out when I was going to pack which bits, for example books, folders, food, material, clothes, shoes, etc.  But before I could do any packing, I needed to build all of the boxes which had been flatted out in the top of my wardrobe, since my last house move, last May.  So todays job was to re-build the boxes.  That was it.  Except I got carried away and decided to pack half of them….  I’ve only packed the smaller ones, with pretty much all of my books.  It makes sense to do them first, as I’m unlikely to need many of them in the next two weeks.  And I am in work a lot over the next two weeks, so I need to start packing early.  But still.  I do feel slightly mad / over-organised / excited (depending which way you look at it).  Oh well, it’s done now.  I only have to sit on my itching-to-pack-hands for another half hour, when Mr B is picking me up so we can go Up North for the weekend.

2009

I doubt if there were any readers who could work out what I was referring to in my last post – I only vaguely knew what I was talking about! Well, I did…it kind of applied to two things at the same time. One of which has worked out fine (I even got a round of applause in the pub for it! :$ ), and the second thing…well, I’m on a break from that. So I’m not allowed to talk about it. I just dream about it instead. Oh well, it’ll be ok.

I just wanted to let you know that things were alright in this corner of the world. I have a list as long as my arm of jobs to do, and all I’ve done is spend money – that’s life! It seems like half the shops in town as going bust, so I keep on finding really good bargains! Tomorrow I *have* to crack on with my list of Stuff To Do. At the end of the week I’m off Down South to see my relatives and Grandparents, while they’re still around. Surprise, surprise, they’re old. Every time I speak to my mum she informs me of another fall, hospital appointment or necessary blood test. And it’s very frustrating being relatively knowledgeable about medicine and getting 3rd hand information about the family, who aren’t medical in the slightest. It’s like building a jigsaw when half the pieces are missing!

Anyway, that’s enough of my babbling – I’m off to finish one of my Things To Do – sewing up the hole in my skirt, before going to bed. Hope you all have a fabulous 2009!