Monday, 23 October 2017

On a Whim

I do not like to waste annual leave sitting around doing nothing.  It just so happens that I have a spare six days this year without the boy.  Louis has a fortnight long October half term and I thought he'd be with me for one of the weeks.  But instead the lucky lad is off for a midweek-midweek trip to the Big Apple with his dad. So that gives me some rare time off all without a kid in tow.   Now I'm a creature who swings widely between party animal and hermit.  On this occasion I fancied  using the opportunity to go off alone.

I contemplated a week of navel gazing in Klaus the Knaus, my motorhome in Cornwall, a kind of mini retreat with a bottle or two of wine and a large pile of books.   But then the low cost of our flights to Lisbon in February half term got me thinking.  Surely I might be able to go somewhere for less than the cost of a train journey to London if I did my research properly?  Unfortunately Spain is out at the moment.  Boycotting the country is my way of protesting about heavy handed action taken by the authorities in Catalonia.  In my book democracy doesn't involve representatives of the government beating up people when they're going to vote even if the election isn't unofficially recognised.  That ruled out Mallorca and my beloved Andalucia, both as cheap as chips to get to.  I plugged my available dates into Skyscanner and came up with Malta, as an alternative, for just a tad over fifty pounds for return flights.

Now I am not flush at the moment.  I'd also like the chance of meeting some other travellers and chillin' with them.   So, even though I'm likely to be viewed as an old age pensioner by other guests, I've gone for a backpackers hostel rather than a proper grown up hotel.  My compromise is that I've booked a single room and will take ear plugs.  The prospect of sharing a mixed sex dorm with hipsters thirty years my junior was a step too far in the direction of economising.  Having a T-shirt printed with 'I am not a cougar' on it has already been suggested.

This is my first experience of solo travelling without Klaus the Knaus.  If you remember just me and him went away to Brittany together three years ago.    I never did the gap year thing and  I plan to be globetrotting around the world into my retirement.   Any reticence is superimposed with a great big dose of excitement.  I'm sure that I will have adventures!

Sunday, 22 October 2017


The latest addition to my hooch collection has been made from some of these.  I've found a secret scrumping sight on a lunch break with Disco Queen Vicky  I was in the market for crab apples to make the 2017 vintage of fruit infused whisky but spied these beasties on a tree instead.  I didn't know what the hell they were so had to go away and do a bit of research.

It turns out that they are medlars.  The Olde Englishe name for them is cat's arse.  It doesn't take much imagination to see why.  When unripe their innards look a little like a pear but they're not to eat when they're like that.  They need to be 'bletted', that is allowed to rot.  Trust me I've tried them.  I think that they taste like a cross between a cherry and a date that isn't quite as fibrous.

Unsurprisingly there arenot  many recipes for aperitifs made of medlars but I did find one using vodka and a bit of sugar.  I've made this unpromising looking jar of murkiness.  Apparently you leave it for six months before straining off the liquid.  The recipe said that the remaining fruit makes a good base for homemade mincemeat.  

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A Building Fit For Books

I've had an imaginary scenario running through my head since I saw a picture of the Kansas City Public Library for the first time a couple of days ago.  A passer-by asks for directions.  'Oh, it's easy.' says the city reside.  'You go straight down here.  Take the second right and the first left and then you're there.  You can't miss it!'.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Apps For Happiness

Over to you  lot to do some work today. It's rather good to delegate.  I'm trying to put together a little smorgasbord of apps from Google Play.  It's for the tablet of someone on my caseload at work who is depressed and not particularly au fait with modern technology.  Has anyone got any suggestions of what I should include?  Of course I've got some ideas of my own that might stimulate, educate or entertain.  But I'm interested to see what ideas others might come up with.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

My Other Louis

It's just dawned on me that I've never shared any Louis Armstrong music with you guys.  Let's rectify that now shall we?  This guy has journeyed with me for a while, since my university days.  Maybe he's the subconscious inspiration naming my son?

I had a cheap double cassette, probably from Woolworths which got played until the tape got stretchy.  This was one of the songs. As well as showcasing great musicianship it should give you a jolly good giggle.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The End of Ambition?

I had my annual appraisal yesterday and got a good star.  I am a hardworking, talented, compassionate clinician who my new manager enjoys having on her team.  Onwards and upwards then?  No, even though I've been ambitious in the past I've made a conscious decision that looking to advance my career in the NHS isn't going to happen.  I've chucked out all ideas of doing any self development work and have made a commitment for the next year that amounts to turning up and doing my mandatory training.

So what's happened?  Quite honestly there isn't any time for anything else but the most urgent care.  It wouldn't be safe if I threw anything else into the mix and my priority is towards doing the best for the people that I work with rather than being self serving.  So the career advancement projects and studying that I used to do have gone out of the window.  Without those there's no prospect of climbing the ladder in the health service especially as I'm geographically compromised because of having a child.   When I was a kid myself I was told that if I worked hard I would be rewarded.  But in the last three years I've driven myself harder than I've ever done before.  There's been no extrinsic reward, although thankfully there's still intrinsic benefits.    It's just been necessary to keep my nose above the water. 

But enough is enough.  I could have gone on moaning.  I used to do that.  Instead I decided to take control and have started on the path of self employment. I've been open and honest now about my plan.  In lots of ways it's a shame.  Most of us are passionate advocates of the NHS.  But it's getting to be a intolerable place to work.  I'll keep going for a while but, for my own sanity and health, I don't think that I can go on at the same pace that I've been sustaining in the recent past.

My plans for the near future are to change my working hours to give me more time to kickstart my business properly. I'm putting in a request to change my working pattern to a nine day fortnight.  Then when the pennies start coming in I'll bale out gradually.  I'm still ambitious and hopeful and believe that hard work can reap its own rewards.  I'm just following a different path to success these days.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

As If You Need One: A Reason For Kindness.

A ludicrous and unseasonal picture today but it serves to illustrate my point.  Yesterday in the car I was listening to this Youtube presentation by Wayne Dyer and he mentioned a piece of research that I felt compelled to pass on. 

But first, I thought I'd do a bit of delving myself to see if the study that he alluded to was robust enough to be taken seriously  I was going to set about the task of academic inquiry at bedtime last night, my final wanderings on the Internet for the day.  But I was shattered and instead got a fast track into the land of Nod.

So to hell with it!  I'm going to share this anyway because it's a nice idea.  Apparently whenever you are kind to someone, their serotonin levels increases.  This is the hormone, of course, that some anti-depressants seek to top up.  What's more your own levels rise too.  And furthermore anyone else watching the kind act gets a surge of happy chemicals as well.  Now isn't that something worth trying even if the evidence for this turns out to be half baked?