So I’ll start off with a picture of Mournes scenery
R.I.P in peace
I’ve been on nights the past few weeks, and off this week- hence not many blog posts coming this way. But I’m finally having a lazy day and so am working my way through my to-do list.
Unsurprisingly, my week off has been a welcome change! Was down seeing the Mourne mountains on Wednesday for a trek around Bloody Bridge and saw some fantastic scenery. Spent the next two days in a fair bit of leg pain so obviously did something wrong along the way mind you. I’d never actually been round the Mournes before, despite my housemate constantly singing their praises, but some of the views were fantastic, and again there were those wee brown signs labelling them as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”. Well-deserved.
Headed to London on Thursday, as it was The Wife’s birthday on Friday, and she was having us all out for a karaoke night! Being the reserved and shy wallflower that I am I obviously wasn’t very excited about this event. At all. And obviously it came as a complete surprise to myself and all my friends when I lost my voice after about half an hour from all the high-volume “singing” I was doing. Initially when my friend told me she had booked the room for five hours, I thought “Isn’t five hours a bit long for karaoke?”
Rest assured I soon saw the error of my ways.
Hey, I’m just proud I managed to resist showing up with a cape or something ridiculous.
The night was brilliant fun, and I managed to get chatting to people for decent lengths of time in between renditions of Marvin Gaye and Maroon 5. The Wife seemed to enjoy her night too, and was much more composed with her singing. She took a tactical approach, avoiding the unexpected high notes I fell victim to by sticking to 90s boy bands and Emma Bunting, or as she labelled them “people who can’t actually really sing”.
Unfortunately I had to head off the next morning, and so didn’t get to stick around to see people on the Sunday, when another meet-up was planned to celebrate the engagement do of Yum and Miss Swoon, two of my friends from uni. It’s a bit of a shame that I booked my flights so far in advance and made Halloween plans, as obviously it’s a bit of a big deal. But that’s life living on another island, and sure I’ll be at the wedding come hell/high water/foot splinters.
It was a bit of a quick turnaround when I got back to NI- grabbed some food in a bus in a car park (happiest people in the world, highly recommended) and got a few things sorted for our Halloween party! I’ll post some photos shortly but rest assured there were plenty of creepy things in sight. We had hands floating in punch, giant spiders crawling up the walls, the token dead baby, a popcorn brain and a prize for the sexiest costume. Naturally this went to the priest. Not a bad housewarming! I decided to go as Professor Plum from Cluedo, and was fairly happy with my waistcoat and candlestick as things that are totally reusable for everyday life. Just need to wipe off some of the fake blood and you’ve got yourself a lovely Christmas centrepiece.
Last development in my life is Josh Ritter’s new album which is an absolute cracker. It’s got some of his classic bootslapper songs as well as some others like the brilliant Homecoming, which is filled with such yearning and eagerness. So yes give it a listen and bring yourself some joy.
I’m off to go tick off my next box. Only one more month of A&E before I get my life back..!
So in case you’re not a food-obsessed greedbag like I am, it was the finale of the Great British Bake Off last night, and so we all got together to celebrate with our very own Geektown Bake Off!
We did this last year for the final, and again at the start of this season. It’s always a fantastic opportunity to challenge your pancreas to make enough insulin, and to challenge your stomach to fit that last piece of cake in.
We hosted it in the new flat and it was great fun. I was happy to see Nadiya take the crown, as the whole series had kinda been about her #journey.
I ended up making a tiered cheesecake- seeing as it was the final I decided to push myself and go for a showstopper!
The flavours I went for were white chocolate, honeycomb and ginger and maaaan thankfully it turned out being delicious. Here follows my recipe!
Blitz the biscuits (3:2 ginger snaps:digestives) in a food processor, then add about 50-100g melted butter to bind the base together.
Mix the cream cheese and double cream mixture together, add in the ginger (>1 tsp ginger in big, half a tsp in small) and vanilla. Stir well.
It’s likely you will need some icing sugar to thicken the mixture and allow it to set but be aware this will sweeten it, especially as the white chocolate is still to come. This is where the ginger comes in handy so add some to taste
Melt the chocolate in a water bath saving some for the leaves. Be careful not to burn the chocolate, and most importantly don’t forget to lick the bowl when you’re done.
Slowly add in the chocolate, after allowing it to cool somewhat but not harden.
Once it’s all mixed together and you’re happy with the taste, gently stir in some of the honeycomb (leaving enough to decorate the cake after)
It’s important to put in the honeycomb last as otherwise it dissipates. You want a bit of crunch left over but also when it dissolves it leaves a delicious pool of caramel which is brilliant to get on the end of your fork.
Pour the mixtures into your cake tin(s) onto your now hardened base and if you’re making tiers this is the point when you should cut your dowels to size and pop them in your bottom tier
Put your cheesecake into the fridge to chill for a few hours, or the freezer if it’s particularly runny.
Rub your gold dust over the washed and dried leaves then brush them with melted white chocolate. Refrigerate or freeze while you wait for the rest of the cheesecake to set. When ready, peel them from the leaves.
Decorate the cake as desired with your white chocolate leaves, chunks of honeycomb and goldust, and finally dust with icing sugar as desired.
When the cheesecake has been refrigerated and has set (you should expect a bit of a wobble when you shake the tin) take them out of the tins and set them up where you’ll be displaying it.
Try to delay setting the cake out and putting the honeycomb on for as long as possible, as otherwise it may melt a bit at room temperature
Enjoy your feast! I managed to take home the title of star baker so will soon be putting the victory oven mits to good use!
Haven’t blogged here in a while as I haven’t had much access to the internet. Why? BECAUSE I’M IN A NICE NEW APARTMENT, THAT’S WHY. (And it doesn’t have internet yet shhh)
I’m living with the two school friends I’d been living with last year, and I was getting a bit worried we wouldn’t find anywhere if I’m honest, as our lease expired at the end of August and we still hadn’t found anywhere to live. I moved back home and thankfully we managed to find somewhere new- an apartment in South Belfast, allowing me to live out my dream of being a twenty-something living in an apartment. I just need a chick and duck and my transformation into a character from Friends will be complete.
I hadn’t actually seen the place before I moved in, so was trusting in my friend’s taste that it was a nice place, and decided to just go for it cause we were having trouble with people pipping us to the post. And it turns out she has great taste- the new digs are awesome. Much bigger than I was expecting, and with brilliant perks like a balcony, kitchen island and two showers in my en suite bathroom. Hell to the yeah. The rent’s obviously a fair bit more expensive than the previous house, but in comparison with places in England it’s still pretty great value.
It’s a bit further out than my last place which is one of the downsides. Previously I’d been able to walk to my hospital in about fifteen minutes, and when I move to my next hospital it would have been less than ten minutes. Sadly that’s not really possible so I’ve gotten myself a bike (and called it Nox), and am now cycling into work and back. Pedalling back uphill at midnight is less than fun, but that’s life.
I’m halfway through my time in A&E and am obviously still a bit crap at my job, but I’m getting slowly less incompetent which is nice. I think it’s likely not for me as a career in the end. While it’s fun and exciting, I’m not sure that the type of medicine practised is really for me: there’s more of a focus on making a general decision on where a patient needs to go, rather than the diagnostic work-up in medicine, with the feedback of getting a proper answer and most importantly being able to see the outcome of your hard graft. In the ED you do see results, but usually only on quick cases, not the ones you have to think hard about and work on. So I’ll probably be going down the route of core medicine training in the end. Reassuring to know.
That’s all for now folks, I’m off to get things ready for having a few people over to the new place tonight. It’s the GBBO final and we’re having our own Bake Off! Expect my next post to be a food blog.
On one of my rare weekends off my friends and I managed to fit in a nice bit of music, seeing two artists that I didn’t think I’d get to see in Ireland live, never mind in the same weekend: Sufjan Stevens and Feist. The former was playing two sold-out nights down in Dublin, and the latter was doing “An evening with…” as part of a local festival to celebrate the playwright Brian Friel. To be honest I had absolutely no idea what an evening with Leslie Feist would entail, but I wasn’t going to snuff at the ticket price of £15 to find out.
Four of us headed down to Dublin on the Saturday, stopping off at an artisan farm-house coffee shop/florist/grocer for a game of Spot The Middle Class Hipsters (I’ll stop making so many hyperlinks soon I promise) before a jaunt around Dublin for a few hours. I’d seen Sufjan once before, and remember being amazed as he finished off the show with his 25-minute long epic Impossible Soul, with giant balloons and beach balls falling from the ceiling into a crowd of indie ravers.
His newest album Carrie & Lowell has a slightly different tone, written following the death of his parents. It’s a beautiful (if heartbreaking) piece of work, and so on the night gone was the youthful exuberant wing-clad songster I’d seen before, and instead stood a man crafting some really beautiful music out of his grief. So many of the songs created such an encapsulating soundscape, each cast in front of brilliant backdrops: videos of his family growing up, or stunning vistas of sunsets, forests or oceans. Other songs were haunting: the audience not muttering a word, the whole concert hall together in silence.
The whole thing was just so impressive, that the imagination of one man could make such a beautiful and expressive show. I really enjoyed it. Also at one point he moved away from his acoustic roots and back towards his electronic ones and a space ship happened. It was class.
The Feist evening was a different affair, but one I still really enjoyed. Essentially she was interviewed by some woman (I think an actress but I don’t remember her name) about her musical influences, who inspired her to make the music she does, and where does her inspiration come from. Granted I would love to see her gig but this was the next best thing and I found the whole thing fascinating.
She gave a really intriguing history of her muses, in particular talking about the Archive of American Folk Song– something I didn’t know anything about. Basically a guy called Alan Lomax and his father travelled across America speaking to people in small towns and Native American tribes, capturing the music that the people were singing over the space of a decade. It was a really interesting talk exploring singing in the folk music/in the home setting versus modern day music, which she argued in a sense is being made for consumption rather than expression. It was all pretty fascinating.
She also played two songs at the end of the night, and answered a few questions from the audience. Obviously I wanted to take the opportunity to speak to her, so I stood up and asked some lame crap. But I don’t care how stupid it may or may not have been because now she totally knows my name.
Feist knows my name. She called me young man.
What a stud.
So I’ve moved on from my FY1 year and have been working in A&E for the past month now, and I think my experience so far can roughly be imagined by the fact that I’ve had three whole days off in that month. That includes weekends by the way.
In a word? Relentless.
Part of me is a little sad that I was off last weekend, because the whole “I’ve had one day off so far” was such a badge of pride at week three. But the majority of me is quite happy with the fact that I actually got some me-time.
The thing is though, that while I’m working essentially every day, the shifts aren’t that long: say like a 8-4:30, or 11-7, or 4-12. So you often get either the whole morning off or else the evening, and so I’ve actually been able to make a fair amount of plans over the past while, which has been nice. In my previous jobs I had days that were much longer, and so committing to things was harder in a different way.
I have been enjoying A&E, and I think over the four months I will have certainly learnt a lot. The place I’m working in just opened up a new A&E department, and man is it shiny. So it’s a nice place to work in. On a good day, you’re enthused by the variety of things you’re presented with, by the enthusiasm and hard graft of the people you’re working alongside, and by the hilarious people that come through the door (intentionally or otherwise).
On a bad day, you’re overrun by swarms of people coming through the door, you’re filled with blind fear and your mind is thinking “oh pants I have no idea what’s going on with this person and I’m too young for this crap and I can’t decide if they’re going to drop dead if I let them walk out the door or if they’re just a bit drunk/weird/insane” (delete as appropriate).
But I’m getting there. Getting a bit more confident with dealing with diagnostic uncertainty, with judging levels of safety, and assessing what the person actually wants you to do for them today. And there’s time for improvement. So obviously by the end of the four months I’ll be an absolute boss at everything. Obviously.
In other news I’ve moved out of my house and am currently back at home while we look for a new place to rent. Turns out it’s pretty difficult in Belfast to find somewhere suitable, but we’re making some progress with a place now and it should hopefully work out. I’ll also be starting up Chinese lessons again later this month- custard bun 4lyf