Monday, 26 November 2012


I have a love-hate relationship with essays.
  • I love planning them.
  • I hate writing them.
  • I love editing them.
  • I love submitting them.
  • I hate waiting for them to come back.
  • I hate referencing them.
  • I love reading for them.
  • I love the ordered chaos around my desk as they are written.
  • I hate typing them up.
  • I love rubbing in hand cream as I pause for thought mid-sentence.
  • I hate losing my train of thought and grinding to a halt.
  • I love that carefree feeling once they are handed in.
Essay deadline
My desk - and surrounds - this weekend

Monday, 19 November 2012

Embracing autumn

It's my very favourite time of year, but this time round I've barely been outside to enjoy it.  This weekend I fixed that, and headed out with Graham early on Sunday morning for a brisk walk through Epping Forest.

Autumn colours in Epping Forest
The colours, the wind, the chill, the colours, the damp smells, the leaves, the colours - they're all still there.

Autumn leaves in Epping Forest
I breathed deeply, turned my face towards the sky and my camera towards the colours.
Sunrise in Epping Forest
I came back home and knit a few more rows of my autumn hurricane hat.  Then without realising it, the hat was finished.  I feel like this hat knitted itself without me really noticing.  Surely the sign of a good pattern?
Autumn hurricane hat

This means I now need to go back to the forest and photograph my hat (and my autumnal scarf) amongst the leaves.  Maybe this weekend.  Autumn's nearly over, and I've barely noticed it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Seen on the tube - very early one morning

Central Line - Leyton to St Paul's
  • A young man, loudly chewing gum and trying to spike up his hair with the palms of his hands.
  • A teenage schoolboy asleep in a corner seat, rubbing his eyes occasionally.
  • Five builders in a row. Each wearing multiple layers of jumpers finished with a tatty grey hoodie, plus steel capped boots and shaven heads; each clutching a can of redbull and with a hard hat on their lap or by their feet.
  • Two women, heads together, handbags tightly clasped on their laps, whispering intently before one passed the other a wad of folded money

Dawn over Leyton
Leaving the house at dawn
The early morning tubes - before about 7:10 - are full of semi-asleep builders.  They are very peaceful trains, with an air of respectful pre-dawn camaraderie amongst the travellers.  I don't usually get a seat - even at that time - but I lean against a pillar, reading my Kindle and looking up occasionally to watch everybody else doze.  It's a surprisingly unstressful time of day to travel.

Friday, 9 November 2012

The next step

The first term's teaching is finished, and we have covered what the undergraduates cover in their first year in just seven weeks.  Yes, really.

Caroline Bowen in Nurse's Uniform by Roy L. Parsons
I am reeling, tired, thrilled, motivated, emotional and overwhelmed all at the same time.  I'm also in the middle of another essay.

Joan Saxton, by Frank Cadogan Cowper

I now have my uniform and am about to embark on a four month placement of actual nursing.  The first little bit in mock wards at the University, and then on real wards, with real people, in a real hospital.

Nurse at work, unknown artist

My uniform is not as elegant as the ones in these paintings.  I don't think any of the uniforms in these paintings are made from nylon.

Portrait of a Nurse, by Eric Meadus

Nor do I feel as serene as these nurses appear to be.  I flip between being incredibly excited and incredibly nervous, several times a minute.

Nurse Ellis, by Beryl Trist Newman

But I have already made some wonderful friends on the course, and I know that they all have the same jumble of feelings that I do.  Once we're wearing those uniforms, and walking through those hospitals, we're going to start to feel like nurses.  That's going to be quite something.

Nurse giving an injection of penicilin, by Henry Marvell Carr

All these pictures are from the wonderful Your Paintings website.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Happy and lucky

As a Friday treat I left my flask at home and bought myself a cup of coffee when I got to the campus early this morning.  I settled into a window seat, with a view over the square (the same square I ate my breakfast in during the first few weeks of term), plugged myself into my iPod (listening to this, which always reminds me of lying in the sunshine at summer festivals) and finished off a piece of work.

Breakfast view - inside
Breakfast view - outside
And as I sat there - with beautiful music, a glorious view, a hot cup of coffee and interesting work - I thought how very lucky I am to be this happy at 8:30 on a Friday morning in November.