Tuesday, 11 November 2014

London's sculpture trails

Back in 2010, a parade of elephants came to London to raise awareness of the need for elephant conservation.  The children and Graham and I had such a fun summer going elephant spotting around town - ticking the elephants we found off the checklist, taking photos and deciding which ones were our favourites.

Cam, elephant, Livvy
A 10-year old Cam and a 7-year old Livvy with an elephant in Green Park

Livvy checks the map
Livvy crossing elephants off the map in 2010

I thought at the time, what a wonderful idea it was.  The project really captured the public's imagination; everyone in London seemed to be talking about it.  It got us all out as a family, exploring London and sharing with each other the places we knew best (Graham knows the Royal Parks extremely well from cycling through them on his way to work for years, but I rarely go there) and the elephants were just very lovely works of art in their own right - sometimes beautiful and sometimes amusing.

So I was delighted to find that there are two really good new sculpture trails in London this autumn.  

There is a trail of fifty Paddington Bears scattered around London to mark the release of the Paddington film and to raise money for the NSPCC.  The bears have all been designed by different people, and are mostly clustered in a few parts of London so that you could easily see a whole bunch in an hour or two (although I am perversely tempted to trek all the way out to Heathrow to see the Chief Scout Bear designed by Bear Grylls).  The Paddingtons will be in London until the end of the year, so you still have a couple of months to see them all.

The second trail is to mark the 2014 Year of the Bus (I know - who knew?).  This one I stumbled across completely by accident as I was walking in the Olympic Park last week.  I found a beautiful, floral bus sculpture, read the label on it, and knew immediately that I had to come back soon with my smallest nephew - bus-and-train-mad, four-year-old Leo - to see how many of the rest of them we could find.  

Year of the Bus sculptures

At the weekend, my brother-in-law and Leo joined Livvy and me for a stroll around the park to find the buses.  Well, Leo scooted at high speed while the rest of us strolled.  Instead of the paper map that Livvy checked off the elephants with in 2010, this time we had an app with a QR reader so that we could 'zap' the buses as we found them and mark them off the map on my phone.  We had so much fun, and Leo adored looking out for the different buses.  The trail around the Olympic Park is one of three bus trails - the others are in Westminster and around St Paul's and the Tate Modern. 

Year of the Bus sculptures
Livvy and Leo find a bus in front of the stadium
Year of the Bus sculptures
Self portrait in the mirrored bus
Year of the Bus sculptures
David and Leo with the number bus
Year of the Bus sculptures
Found another one!
Year of the Bus sculptures
This paralympic themed bus was mine and David's favourite

Year of the Bus sculptures
The floral bus from the other side - in front of the Broadcast Centre

I've got a whole, happy autumn of bus and bear hunting around London ahead of me trying to spot as many of them as I can - sometimes on my own or with a friend on a weekday day off, and sometimes with the family at the weekend.  That makes me very content.  

Monday, 3 November 2014

Lanyard love

Every nurse loves a lanyard.  We use them to display our security IDs and keep our computer access cards safe.  They ensure we have rolls of tape handy and hold little aide-memoire cards that we've been given.  The paediatric nurses like to cover theirs with colourful stickers.


My current one in use is the big chunky black one on the right.  I got it for taking part in a virus testing week which my trust was promoting early in October.  When the research nurses came to visit us to tell us about the campaign, the first question anybody asked was "Do you have any lanyards?".  Happily, they'd ordered plenty so most of us in A&E are wearing them at the moment.  And these are very good quality lanyards with a nice big clip and a long, wide strap.  They sit really neatly around your neck.

The A&E Porters all have black HEMS lanyards with little red helicopters on them (HEMS is the emergency helicopter service, which is based at our hospital and which we're all very proud of).  People really covet the HEMS lanyards, and if they were ever being given away there might be ugly scenes as I can imagine people might be tempted to snatch.  I don't know how the Porters got theirs!

I also have a blue NHS one (which my friend Sue bought off Amazon - I somehow thought you might have to prove you worked for the NHS to get one, but no).  Its a little too flimsy for A&E use, so it's retired at the moment but may well get used again in the future.

I have a very pretty Cath Kidston one too.  Cath Kidston is on to a good thing with her branded lanyards as pretty much every single nurse I know owns at least one.  I don't use this red one for work any more because it doesn't have a break-away clip at the back of the neck.  Many  drunk or agitated patients find a lanyard very tempting and will pull on them, so you really want a break-away clip.  Happily Cath is now taking this into account and her new range of lanyards has safety clips at the back.  I love this midnight blue one with stars, and this spotty pink one.  I would love it if Kaffe Fassett or Orla Kiely started making lanyards.

Amazon has a few decent ones too.  I like this blue one that simply says NURSE - it could be good when I am in my new job where everyone wears scrubs and it's difficult to remember who's a doctor, who's a healthcare assistant and who's a nurse.  There's also this excellent pink one with an integral nurse's watch in it.


On my lanyard I carry my ID card, which I need to get in and out of the staffroom, the wards, and all the different parts of A&E (Resus, the Clinical Decision Unit, Paediatrics, Majors), a roll of transpore tape, a blue tape measure (mainly used for measuring wounds or measuring people for anti-embolism stockings), and a card on pressure ulcer prevention.  Its always the last thing I put on when I get changed, and once it's round my neck I know I'm ready to start work.  It's my daily medal, and it tells people who I am and what my job is.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Seen in A&E

We do three or four twelve hour shifts a week, and we see EVERYTHING.
  • A nurse covered in white splashes of plaster of paris.
  • A patient being kept nil-by-mouth before going to theatre for emergency surgery, trying to sneak a swig of beer from a can in his bag.
  • A bike helmet, crushed like an eggshell.
  • A floor awash with urine.
  • Doctors and paramedics in bright orange helicopter jumpsuits.
  • Relatives crying and hugging each other.
  • A passport drenched in blood.
  • Porters pushing trolleys around with incredible skill.  How do they never hit anything?
  • Nurses and doctors crowded around the radiographer, who is looking at a patient's brain scan.
  • Nervous looking medical students.
  • People practising walking down the corridors with crutches.
  • A linen skip full of discarded red ambulance blankets.
  • A nurse talking to a patient about cupcake recipes as she puts a needle in his vein to take blood.
  • A man handcuffed to a trolley, escorted everywhere by two tall policemen with crackling radios. 
  • Many, many people whose problems will be solved by going home, taking a paracetamol, and seeing their GP next week.
The new (blue) hospital behind the  old (now a listed building) #london #londonlove #rlh #whitechapel #nofilter
The new, blue, hospital behind the old one

Friday, 17 October 2014

Run Report - motivation

Motivational messages for runners in the Olympic Park

A friend sent me an email last week, asking if I would write about how I became a runner.  I thought about her request a great deal - mainly while I was out running - and decided that the starting to run story was quite ordinary, but the more interesting issue has become how and why I continued to run.  I feel very strongly that to call yourself 'A Runner' you don't have to be fast, or even improving, you just have to go running regularly.

I started running because Olivia announced that she wanted to do a Race for Life and raise some money for Cancer Research.  We did the very popular NHS Couch to 5K programme and at the end of the 9 weeks, we did our Race for Life in Cambridge in July 2013.

At this point Olivia stopped running regularly, but I carried on.  The reason that I am still running fifteen months later is quite simply that I enjoy it.  However, enjoying running is in itself a complex business - I enjoy running for so many, varied reasons.  
  • I have made some wonderful friends through running - at my local parkrun, and now at my running club
  • I relish being fit enough to run up the escalators on the tube.
  • I love how all I need to do to stay fit is go out for a run for about 30 minutes three times a week.  It doesn't require a great deal of time commitment.
  • I like having bare legs and wearing shorts.
  • I love my post-run oat and banana milkshake.
  • I love being outside.
  • I adore the euphoria that comes from running faster or further than I thought was possible.  It doesn't happen very often, but it's all the sweeter for that.
  • I appreciate the time to myself.
  • I like how I can just run straight from my front door if I want to.  Sometimes I drive out to the more remote parts of Epping Forest, or cycle over to the Olympic Park to run, but if I can't be bothered I can still run from my front door and enjoy being outside in the local parks.
  • I relish the rituals that come with running: setting the playlist on my iPod if I am running by myself, making sure my shoes are laced tightly, tying up my hair, walking to warm up, stretching afterwards (sometimes I forget to do this, I am so eager for a sit down and then a nice long bath).
  • I love the energy it gives me.
  • I love how easy it is.  It is not easy to run fast, or run efficiently, but just changing into running kit, pulling on my shoes, and going for a run is easy.  
The fact that I continue to go running even when I'm tired or not in the mood is why I feel happy calling myself a runner.  Running has become a part of what I do now - like cooking, sewing or reading - and it became a part of what I do because I just went outside and ran. I enjoyed it, and so I kept on running.

Just ran my fastest 5k ever (27:36). Channeling my inner Jo Pavey. Yeehah! #running #pb #qeop
The euphoria (and astonishment) after finishing a 5k run with a new pb this week
My race number at a club event in September
Back home after a run - where's my milkshake?

Friday, 3 October 2014

Seen on the bus

Number W15 - Leyton to Hackney
  • A extremely portly man, snoring so loudly that even the people wearing headphones could hear him.
  • A teenage girl, taking her little brother to primary school, quietly reading out loud to him as he sits on her lap. 
  • A tall man, with a rakish cut over one eyebrow, carrying a spade.
  • An elegant lady with a bright pink scarf knotted jauntily around her throat, who sits very still with her eyes shut.
  • A mother with five swarming children all in primary school uniform who like to jump off the seats and swing from the poles.
  • A man with a pair of women's opaque black tights on his head.
  • A boy and his Dad trying to do maths homework together.
  • A rainbow of chattering teenagers, in the various brightly coloured blazers of Hackney's high schools and academies.  At least two local schools require their pupils to wear vivid purple blazers and ties.

Homework on the bus
Two heads are better than one - maths homework on the bus

The man in the seat in front of me was wearing a pair of women's opaque tights on his head #onlyinhackney #bus #London
Tights on head

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The new normal

I am back at work; charging so very fast towards mid-December when I will qualify.

It is good to be working again, and to feel useful and skilled, but I'd forgotten how busy and chaotic everything can seem when I am working.  I am trying to remember to use my commute as a way of easing in and out of the working day. 

These past three weeks, I've been working in Hackney - very close to home.  I commute by bus, which is far more frustrating and unreliable than taking the tube, but has more interesting views.

Reflections. It was cold this morning. #london #reflections #window #hackney

Welcome to Leyton #london #leyton #home #sky

7:20am - walking to the bus stop. A perfect crisp, sunny autumn morning. #london #nofilter #sky

Seen from the bus: lovely houses along the canal at Hackney Marshes #hackney #london #sky

The bin man has lost his gloves #hackney #london #lost

A very elegant woman in a magnificent green pashmina, with the velodrome in the background. #onthebus #london #joysofcommuting

Oh bus, where art thou? #joysofcommuting #london #leyton #bus #sky

Despite a ban on bikes on the buses, the kind bus driver picked up a cyclist who'd had an accident. She's okay - just a nasty gash to her leg - but the bike has a broken chain. Luckily Hackney has plenty of bike repair shops as well as a hospital. #joysof  

I'm tired, energised, busy, constantly carrying around a heavy bag of books and clothes, losing track of which day it is, spritzing hairspray on my up do, texting the children to remind them to do their chores, feeling full of purpose...and also starting to feel a little bit as though this is the new normal.  And this is A Good Thing.  

Friday, 5 September 2014

Back to it

These days I don't feel as bereft as I used to when the children go back to school in September.  The silence in the house is still deafening, and I miss their wild enthusiasms and crazy logic spinning through my day, but these days they really need to get stuck back into school by the time September comes around - and more importantly they want to get back to it too.  

Olivia has left primary school and is now at high school with Cam, which they are both very pleased about.  I am delighted too because the days of the school run have finally come to an end.  To celebrate, I have waved them off to school each morning this week still in my pyjamas - standing on the doorstep, with a cup of coffee in my hand, as I watch them walk up the road together.  Utter luxury.

"Cam, why are you so tall?" #backtoschool

In one more week I go back to work too.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I have just fourteen more weeks of placement, and then I will be qualified - so exciting.  Yesterday, my parents-in-law sent me these tiny little nurse figurines to mark the final stage of my training.  They are sitting by my desk, reminding me of everything that is still to come.

A wonderful, surprise present from my lovely in-laws @turnedupto11 and @jmnewmalden - three perfect, tiny vintage nurse figurines.  I love them.  The Sister in the middle has a particularly realistic pose - her ward would be very well run! #nurses #figuri          

Saturday, 30 August 2014

10 things

  • Graham and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary.  We went camping again - and Olivia insisted on doing a photo shoot of us snuggling up on a bench together.  She took close to 400 photos, just by holding the button down on my phone camera and telling us to smile.  There was just one I liked.  We took an anniversary selfie instead, which I am much happier with.  Sorry, Olivia!
 ...and a more formal, posed anniversary picture (by Livvy) #anniversaryAnniversary selfie #anniversary
  • The children and I went to Brick Lane, ate pakoras in the sunshine as we wandered around, and came home with a huge bag of bagels for the weekend.
 Eating pakoras, walking down Brick Lane in the sunshine #london #summerClever me for buying such a huge bag when I was in Brick Lane yesterday #bagelsallweekend
  • Cam likes his bagels with kippers for breakfast.  I like mine with avocado.
 A Brick Lane bagel, and a perfectly ripe avocado. The breakfast of champions (I hope - am off to parkrun shortly) #breakfast #avo #bagel #weekend
  • I did my first parkrun in my new running club t-shirt this morning.  Rumours that I chose this club because I find the shade of blue on their shirt particularly pleasing, are entirely false.
    My first run wearing my new running club t-shirt! Another fast-ish parkrun; my times are coming back down again  #running #etonmanorac #parkrun
  • We have a new dishwasher.  It is so quiet, it purrs.
  • Olivia sewed herself a top.  This is the first time she has done any dressmaking, and I was so impressed with the results.  She did everything herself, and all I did was explain some unfamiliar terms on the pattern.  The pattern is the Oliver + S Ice Cream Dress/Top, in the age 12 size.  It comes out quite short on her - she is a couple of months shy of turning 12, but is very tall.  She is keen to make another, and add a few centimetres onto the length.
  • I did some dressmaking too, and made myself a new dress - another Lisette Portfolio dress.  It has a seagull ribbon trim on the hem, which I bought in Whitby, and contrast fabric inside the pockets.  It may be my most favourite dress I've ever made for myself - or it may just be that whatever I've made most recently is my favourite.
 New dress finished! Ready to go camping in the morning now. The pattern is the Lisette portfolio dress (Simplicity 2245) #dressmaking #sewing #dress #handmade #pattern
  • I am keen to make more clothes while I am still on my long summer holiday.  Perhaps the Lisette Diplomat Dress, which I have the pattern for, but have not yet made.  Or maybe this Everyday Skirt?
  • My sister and her two small girls came for a visit.  The littlest cousin was completely unfazed by the two big teenagers thrusting their cameras at her every time she smiled, did something cute, or moved.
 Rosetta gets papped
  • I made 22 raspberry madeleines yesterday afternoon.  There are only five left this afternoon.
     22 raspberry madeleines. Utterly delicious. Took me less than 5 mins to make and just 9 mins to bake. Very satisfying. #baking #cake #madeleines #raspberry

Friday, 22 August 2014

Run report - a running club

Finishing an early morning run - red face clashing nicely with my orange t-shirt
Joining a running club is something I've been mulling over for about six months.  The running magazine I read (Women's Running - do you read it? I am a big fan) frequently tells me that joining a running club would be: 
  • good for my running, 
  • good for my social life, and 
  • not at all intimidating.  
To be honest, I've been a little sceptical about those last two points.  The mere phrase 'running club' is pretty intimidating.  But Graham is also a member of a local running club, as are many of my friends at Hackney Marshes parkrun, and they tell me the same thing.

One of the major factors that put me off club running, was the commitment: I work full time, I work antisocial shift patterns, and I have plenty of other things I need to fit into my life.  Was joining a running club trying to fit too much in?  Would they expect me to be on committees and doing races every other weekend?  Again, Graham and other running friends assured me not.

The running club closest to where we live is Eton Manor Athletics Club - a 101 year old club, with a permanent clubhouse in a large, picturesque park, just a ten minute walk away from our house.  It has the added benefit of not being the same club that Graham belongs to - he is so much faster and fitter than me, and I didn't want to join somewhere where I might always be known as 'Graham's slower wife'!  When I looked at Eton Manor AC's training schedule, I saw that they train on three evenings during the week, as well as organise weekend group runs - so even with my unpredictable shifts, I should surely be able to manage to go along once a week? 

And still I dithered.  I've been running for just over a year now, and yet I still feel like a bit of an imposter most of the time.  Am I a real runner?  Well, a real runner is just someone who runs regularly, so of course I am.  I also worried that a running club would be be made up of super-fast young people, full of disdain for my 28 minute 5k time.  This of course, was ridiculous.  I know from going to parkrun every weekend, that running is actually an incredibly inclusive sport - where elite runners cheer on the beginners, beginners can run alongside people who've been running for decades, and everyone, aged from 7 to 87, is impressed with everyone else's time and effort.  

Last night I decided to put aside my uncharacteristic nervousness and give club running a go.  I went along to Eton Manor AC, for their weekly interval training session.  Right from the minute I turned up, everybody was so very welcoming and friendly.  They asked me about my running experiences, were impressed that I go to parkrun every Saturday, reassured me that the club was full of runners of many different abilities and speeds, and generally put me at my ease.

We ran in a big pack through the local parks to Walthamstow Marshes, chatting as we ran.  This was a very new experience for me as I generally do all my running by myself, listening to music on headphones.  Surprisingly I found I could chat and run at the same time though.  Once at the marshes, we found a straight, paved path and started interval training: two minutes running hard (the guide for 'hard' was at your fastest 10k pace, but as I don't run 10ks I tried to run at my hardest parkrun, 5k pace) followed by one minute walking or slow jogging (I walked - as did most people).  The first two minutes felt like the longest two minutes I'd ever run - it seemed to go on forever!  But after that I got used to it, and managed absolutely fine.  The nice thing about interval training is that everybody gets to run at the pace which is 'hard' for them, and yet as we were running back and forth along the same straight piece of track, you always had somebody in your sights and felt very much a part of the club.  We did this for 30 minutes, before jogging back together to the clubhouse for tea and biscuits and more chat.  

Someone told me at the end that we'd run 8k altogether - which is by far the furthest I have ever managed.  I've only run further than 5k once or twice before.  I couldn't believe what I had achieved - a longer distance than I had ever run before, and at a harder pace than I would ever do by myself.  I was so pleased!  This, ultimately, is why I will definitely be joining Eton Manor AC and incorporating a club run into my life once a week.  I was on such a high when I finished.  Running with a club will improve my running like nothing else, and push me to do more.  But in a friendly, sociable and surprisingly uncompetetive environment.

What about you?  Would you join a sports club?  Do you have similar hang-ups to the ones I had, and wonder if they are only for super-fit, semi-professional athletes?  

I'm really looking forward to the new developments in my running that I know being a club runner will bring.  I'll let you know how I get on, once my achey legs have recovered and I've managed to get out of the bath.

I am in great need of a muscle therapy bubble bath this evening. I went running with my local running club this evening and ran almost twice as far as I've ever run before! #running #legsdontworkanymore #intervaltraining #etonmanorac #london #bath #bubble
I really earned this muscle therapy bubble bath last night!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Books and sky

We went to North Yorkshire for a week, and camped on the edge of Dalby Forest on the North York Moors.  I realised that one of the most important reasons I love camping is because it forces me to slow down and do nothing.  

We went for long walks during the day, and in the late afternoon and evening I passed the time by reading (four and a half novels in five days - what a treat!) and gazing at the sky.





That's it - books and sky.  




Yorkshire sunset, seen from the tent doorway last night. This photo doesn't reveal how windy it is camping on the edge of the moors! #camping #yorkshire #sunset #summer

But honestly - what more do you need?

Forest walks through the tall trees of Dalby #summer #forest #walk

I ❤️ Yorkshire #summer #camping #sky #sunset