There's a reason I'm not a poet

Hear Me Roar

Like several other million people in the world, I’ve been hungrily watching the last 8 episodes in the new series of Game of Thrones. I’ve read all the books over the past two years or so, and since moving back to NI have been having a right royal binge through the previous episodes, in order to get myself up-to-date to watch the most recent series alongside my friends.

I’ve really enjoyed this series in particular: the show has now reached a point where there are significant deviations in story lines from the books, so I’m left not at all knowing what’s going to happen next. The books also have the drawback of having to sit through the endless whining of characters that you don’t like- whereas on the show they’re on-screen for like six minutes top and then you move on and don’t have to endure the half hour it takes to read through them moaning about their mummy/daddy/daughter/sister issues.

The series also provides great opportunities to geek out. Last year my housemates got a Game of Thrones board game for their birthdays, and we had a pretty brutal session which involved the perfect amount of attacking each other, stabbing people in the back, and generally kicking each other in the crotch when we were down. Always fun.

Geeking out also has its rewards: a group of us went to a Game of Thrones pub quiz last week. And it’s no underestimate when I say that we bloody well tanked it. Not only did we come first, but we also won the speed round (winning £45 for our team) and didn’t get a single question wrong the whole night. I mean, they were kinda piss-easy, but that didn’t stop sitting on the Iron Throne they had made at the end of the night any less sweet.

When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. Ain’t no white walkers here

M

Mao-tivated

Slight delay in posting this but my Chinese classes have ended! Aww. By the way in case you didn’t know I’ve been taking Chinese classes. And they’ve been great fun! It was a bit strange cause nearly everyone else in the class had come from the “level one” beforehand, and so there were a bunch of times when they were talking about vocab that I didn’t know as if it were common knowledge. But generally it wasn’t difficult to keep up, and the course I did a few years ago gave me a really good grounding in the language, so I was quite happy in the class.

I feel like I made a bit of progress with the language, but as I’ve obviously been working this time I haven’t really had the time much to sit down and just geek out on my zhongwen like I did a few years ago. And as the course wasn’t as intense (ie there weren’t two exams at the end of it) there wasn’t really any pressure to study in between classes either. So I probably didn’t advance as much as I could have done. Which isn’t really the end of the world.

So it raises the question of what to do next. I’m currently thinking of taking a gap yah after F2, and during that time I’d quite like to go to China for a bit and explore. Ideally I’d like to be able to survive on my own while I’m out there, which would obviously involve a bit of speaking the language. I don’t feel like I’m there yet, so a bit more learning is required.

My next placement is A&E, and what with the irregular shift patterns I don’t think I could realistically commit to going to a class at the same time each week. Well, maybe I could, but I feel like I need a contingency plan. So I’m thinking about the possibility of getting private lessons; they’d be less fun obviously because you’re on your lonesome, but I feel like I’d learn quite a lot.

So yeah, the dream of becoming Asian is still alive.

M

It’s a fact universally acknowledged that all people who have had three graduations will be in want of a fourth.

So, I headed back last Friday to the old Alma Mater with my parents to pick up a free degree. After six years in the place, I’ve got a BA as well as my medical degree, but all undergrads who’ve studied there become eligible to have their Bachelor of Arts converted into a Master of Arts degree. Without any extra work being required! All you have to do is remain an upstanding member of society, ie avoid getting

  1. Bankrupt
  2. Thrown in jail
  3. Divorced

Yeah.

We flew over and I picked up my stuff for graduation, and immediately started running into a huge number of familiar faces, setting up the theme for the weekend. It was pretty great seeing so many people again, as practically the whole year was back at the same time. There was maybe 100-150 people from my year in college, so there was a whole bunch of people I’d lost contact with who it was great fun catching up with. People are doing Real Life Things like moving to exciting locations, buying property, heck one guy even brought his daughter along.

Of course, with a year group that big, there have to be people that you weren’t best buds with, that you at best exchanged awkward hellos with when you came across them in the street. Aaaaaand that was another part of the weekend: there was a hefty number of times accidentally getting caught chatting to someone while walking towards one of your actual friends/alcohol. It was flipping hilarious watching people go through this, and deliciously painful when it happened to me.

Graduation was preceded by a dinner the night before, which again was a great hark back to old times. Food, wine and port was served, we got screwed over by seating mayhem, and the serving staff told us off for being too noisy. The ceremony itself involved a lot of standing, a lot of waiting, and a lot of Latin. All the pomp and fuss is quite fun, but by the time I went up to the front I was a bit keen to get out pf there into the sun! We had lunch in college and hung around on the grass chatting- we ended up being the very last to leave out of the 300 or so people there, as one of my friends was taking 595 photos. Yup.

That night we headed out for dinner to a South American tapas place for my birthday. It ended up being a bit of a logistic nightmare, what with sixteen people ordering off three different menus and sharing 2 for 1 cocktails, but the food was class and the craic was 90, and the sitting down meant I had a bit more time to chat to one or two people I hadn’t really managed to yet.

We ended the night with a walk around college at dusk, reminiscing and stirring up nostalgia. With a sit on the fountain I said goodbye to college life. For the first time I don’t know when I’ll next be back in Cambridge, which is strange. I had a flipping great six years there, but that’s all over, and Cambridge is now just a place I used to live.

M

Island Getaway

It’s my birthday this Saturday (woooo!) and I’m going to be over in England for my last in a long line of graduations. I’ve taken this week off (another woooo!) and decided to head out to Rathlin Island last weekend with a few friends, partly to see the place and partly to celebrate my birthday.

I’ve seen the island from afar quite a large number of times from the north coast, but as far as I can remember I’ve never actually been there. It’s quite a small island, about 6 miles long with around 100 people on it. We got the ferry over, working on our quads against the rocking of the boat, and made our way to a hostel a few minutes walk from the harbour. We got a bit sidetracked along the way when we found an OUTDOOR GYM, getting a bit excited as it was essentially a playground.

We went for a walk around the island before heading to the pub for some grub and some drinks. Inevitably this turned into a bit of a boogie. There were only around twenty people in the bar, and most of them all knew each other of course, but the atmosphere was so friendly and welcoming that it meant for some brilliant craic. We hogged the jukebox a little bit and had a boogie, and a bunch of the locals joined in. The electricity wasn’t working in half of the bar so it was just like being in a dark nightclub in the real world.

We ended up staying out quite late, dancing/chatting/eating birthday cake/getting offered jeeps until the early hours of the morning, and it had been a while since I’d had a drunken boogieing night out with my friends, so I was in a pretty great mood by the end of it and well tuckered out. We slept in a fair bit the next day to work off the alcohol, so missed the morning, but then headed out, got one of the world’s best sausage rolls, and then went for a trek up round the island.

The weather wasn’t too kind to us over the weekend: there was a fair amount of rain, and an awful lot of wind. This meant we didn’t really get to do the whole cycling/puffin-watching set of activities I had mentally planned in my head, but the scenery on the island was still pretty great. I don’t tend to do too many outdoorsy-type stuff, but when I do I appreciate how much of it Northern Ireland has to offer.

So yeah, bit of a short trip but really enjoyed myself. I’ll definitely go back some day, if for nothing else to finally see those puffins!

M

1. Dancing your heart out in walking boots can be sore

2. Baby guinnesses are glorious

3. If you’re nice enough a woman called Nuala will lend you her jeep to drive around the island.

Life is going quite nicely at the minute. I’ve been on surgery for just over two months now and I’ve been really enjoying my job. Unlike my placement in medicine, it’s essentially what I was expecting my job to be like this year: I’m going on ward rounds, reviewing sick patients, and going around with my clipboard running the show (read: frantically trying to stay afloat). The surgical doctors are all really friendly, with a great atmosphere of camaraderie, and as a general rule the surgical nurses are flipping fantastic.

Compared to other hospitals in surgical wards in NI, I’ve been told that the ratio of FY1s to patients is the lowest in the region. I’m not sure how true that is, but there are days when things are extremely busy and so you end up leaving quite a bit later than you’re meant to. But inevitably that’s a part of the job that I was expecting- and I’d rather get things sorted and finished, doing a good job essentially, rather than managing to leave an hour or two earlier each day. I suppose it’s nice that I’m in a job where motivation to work hard is easy to come by, and it’s a good feeling to be both doing a good job and doing good.

Another advantage of being on surgery is that due to the slightly longer shifts, we get more scheduled days off than in medicine. Add in some booked days of annual leave, and it’s meant I’ve actually been able to get a fair amount of time away from the hospital! So despite enjoying my work, I’ve had the past week off and it’s been glorious. I’ve had a bunch of lazy days where I haven’t done very much, but I’ve also done some Organised Social Gatherings. My housemates and I had a party last Saturday which went well apart from the standard end-of-night-too-much-to-drink drama, I made a cake for the new series of Game of Thrones, and then a few days ago three of us went up to the North Coast.

We went for a fair few treks around the area of Ballycastle, in places I’d not been to before but one of my friends knew. The weather was beautiful with no clouds in the sky, meaning that because we were right beside the sea the views were truly stunning. #suchblue. After a walk through some swampy ground we ended up at one point on the top of giant craggy cliffs, with huge sheer drops down to the ocean, and man the place was just incredible. NI’s coast is labelled as an area of outstanding beauty, and the place really showed me how true that is- on a day with nice weather Northern Ireland really is just as great a place to be as anywhere else in the world. Happy to be here!

Another place we went to was Kinbane Head, a narrow outcrop of limestone where a castle was built in the sixteenth century, although has since been destroyed presumably due to time and the ocean, so it’s just ruins now. This photoshopped photo makes it look pretty class, but without the CGI it was a very impressive location. Again sitting out in the glorious sunshine lying in grass with the blue ocean and seabirds beneath you was one heck of a relaxing moment.

So yeah- lovin lyf 2k15 at the minute.

M

Slight delay in getting round to writing about it, but on Monday I came back from sunny Barcelona! I’m currently wearing my Barcelona Beer Festival t-shirt and it’s keeping me cheery.

Two of my friends decided to run the marathon, and being the kind-hearted, selfless individuals we are, a group of my friends and I decided to go along and support them. We arrived and left at different times but overall I think there were ten of us, so obviously the holiday was great craic. It had been a good few years since I’ve been on holiday with a group of my school friends, so it was a nice opportunity to all hang out together.

Barcelona as a place, it turns out, is class. I had heard about Gaudi’s buildings and his interesting architecture, but I hadn’t realised how the whole city is filled with intricately designed buildings, and so I had a great time dandering about gawking upwards. We had this apartment and oh my god it was so sweet- there was a massive kitchen and huge ceilings and two giant sofas and a huge TV and several bedrooms and an office desk and a BALCONY.

I took photos but I’ve tried and I have no idea how to upload them from my phone so you’ll just have to imagine the pretty scenery. Of which there was a fair amount- we had a great walk around the area where the Olympics were, and along the beach/marina, and where the marathon started/ended with its bajillion fountains and waterfalls. Rest assured it was National Geographic level of quality. One of my friends actually brought along a GoPro with him and catalogued the trip in true hipster fashion.

Spanish everyday culture was a bit different to what we were used to. For one thing pretty much everyone has a wee nap in the afternoon, and when they’re not napping they’re floating about on micro scooters. Between us we also got offered enough drugs to write two Beatles albums. I took no drugs, rode no scooters and siesta’d no siestas- clearly didn’t get into the spirit of things enough.

This wouldn’t be one of my blogs without talking about the fooooooooood. I was expecting to get bled dry with the amount I was planning on eating, however stuff actually didn’t cost very much which just increased the sickening volume of stuff that I bought. One night we went to this tapas place and people were getting like four things between two people. We had fourteen between four, and it was glorious. One of em was foie gras and it still only came to 20 euro. Life is good. I had a nice sample of horchata, paella, seafoody stuff, tapas, cheesecakes upon cheesecakes, Spanish bready things and the glory that was white chocolate-covered Oreos.

We also went to a beer festival and it was great one of them tasted like bacon the end.

M

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